20150501-Keife-ForgedSoil

I pull my hands from the water and wipe them soapy straight on my jeans. I crouch down to see eye to eye with my four-year-old, breathe deep, and listen to his most urgent cry:

“Mommy, my brudders are not being kind and caring for me at all! They aren’t playing with me or helping me fight the lava monsters! And that is rude!”

We talk again about using our words and how sometimes we need to join what someone else is doing or play alone. Elias swipes his runny nose along his sleeve and dinosaur stomps back to his room, big tears holding fast in the corners of his eyes.

I turn back to the dishes and let my gaze rest on the sunflower-filled mason jar sitting on the windowsill. Deep yellow petals encircle mocha centers like golden crowns. Blooms of sunshine resting on sturdy, green stems.

Flowers from a friend.

I understand how my middle boy feels. He wants to be with. He longs to be seen. Known. Valued and included.

I get it.

Suddenly I well with tears of my own. Not because I’m distressed about Elias. But because I’m newly impressed with the deep soul blessings God has poured out on me through friends.

I have known the ache of emptiness. The deep pain of loneliness. And I know the joy of being filled.

These happy blossoms catching afternoon light are just one of many beautiful gifts born from the seed of friendship.

I think back to Monday morning and what started with a simple How was your weekend? text from a friend. I shared the highlight of a nature scavenger hunt and gratitude for my husband returning from a work trip.

I almost left it at that.

But I chose to be fully real and reveal that the weekend in fact didn’t end so great. My two-year-old woke up in the night with a sudden onset of croup. Unable to breathe, I rushed him to the ER where we spent an unpleasant four hours.

“We didn’t get home till after 3 am, so now I feel like Zombie Mommy. But thankfully Jude is doing much better, and I’m hopeful for the chance of an afternoon nap.”

Without skipping a beat, Sara replied back, “Oh, no! Can I bring you dinner?”

Now I faced another decision: decline help because I could handle the day on my own OR accept dinner and be tangibly blessed while deepening our friendship.

The leftover refried beans in the fridge flashed in my mind, and I reasoned how I could ask my husband to pick up tortillas and we’d be fine for dinner.

Yes, I would be fine without help.

But what if being fine isn’t the point?

I accepted my gracious friend’s offer, and a few hours later, I heard a soft knock. I opened the door to arms full of delicious delights: shredded barbeque chicken with soft rolls for sandwiches, tender crisp green beans, sliced strawberries, olive oil chips, and Caesar salad. A little “Get Well” balloon peeked through the spectacular smorgasbord. I grew giddy when I spied a box of Magnum Mini ice cream bars, because apparently Zombie Mommies need dark chocolate to survive.

Oh, yes.

I thanked my friend profusely. The light in her eyes beamed a genuine pleasure for the opportunity to help.

The next day she sent a follow-up text to see how my little guy was feeling and asked if I needed anything from the store. Again I hemmed and hawed in my mind — we could get by for a few more days without milk and bananas; I really didn’t want to put her out.

But, again, the deeper truth about my situation rang clear in my heart: I need deep friendships.

Over the last few years on my journey — from isolation in a new city and new life-stage, to thriving in a community of do-life-with friends — I have learned over and over that meaningful friendships are forged in the soil of service.

We are meant to come alongside. To lean in and be held up. To do the holding.

Later, Sara arrived with the items I texted her . . . and a bouquet of sunflowers.

Related: Remind a friend of the blessing she is to you and to others. Bless her with words of encouragement in this inspirational art print: Friendship Is a Gift!

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  • Annetta

    This touched my heart. When our daughter experienced a major health crisis the sister of a friend stood at our door with a homemade chicken pot pie. I knew the sister but not well. Thirty years later this is a blessing I remember with deep gratitude. Also it inspires me to follow nudges that may seem strange. I trust that I don’t need to know why but to obey. Sometimes I see why and sometimes not. This also reminds me of the joy and friendship of letting others do for me/us. It is not easy to be on the receiving end. What a great message to remind me that by me being a receiver God is blessing a giver.

    • http://www.beckykeife.com/ Becky Keife

      Oh, Annetta, what a beautiful example to cling to through the years of God’s grace poured out through an unexpected friend. It IS hard to be on the receiving end, but you’re so right, we become a conduit of blessing when we allow ourselves to be served. xoxo Follow those nudges, friend, and watch for the blessings!

  • http://ChasingHoliness.com/ Brenda

    Awe, everyone needs a Sara in their lives. And, may we all look for opportunities to be a “Sara” to those around us. :)

    Thank you for sharing ~ (from one mom of three boys to another. :) ).

    • http://www.beckykeife.com/ Becky Keife

      Absolutely, Brenda! The world would be a more beautiful place with more beautiful Sara hearts. I’m so thankful for her in my life and hope to learn and live by her example. Thanks for being here today! #boymamafistbump

  • Kris

    Oh my. I’m the person you considered being….the one who never needs help and is unwilling to presume on others. On those rare occasions when I do accept help, I struggle to relax with it and believe the giver really WANTED to give, rather than felt obligated to offer. I think it reflects much of my character, where I’ve offered too to help so many times because I felt I had to, but I really didn’t want to. Or I offered because the pain of knowing the need was there was greater than the effort associated with meeting the need.

    Lest you think I am hugely selfish, I usually love to give and to help. But there is no balancing flow of help coming back to me. So after 40 years of giving out, I literally gave out and stopped helping anyone.

    That was nearly three years ago and I’ve had a lot of healing. I’ve become very discerning in choosing when and where to give to others. But until I read your post, I hadn’t realized that I also need to become discerning and wise in accepting help. I can’t afford to continue to refuse just because I’m afraid. It needs to be a two way flow, give and take. Thank you for helping me grow. xx

    • http://www.beckykeife.com/ Becky Keife

      Kris, I’m so grateful God brought this story across your path. It sounds like pieces of your journey have been so painful, but what a God we know who can redeem all things! You are a testimony to His enduring grace and the opportunity to grow through and past the pain. Surely God has new and meaningful friendship He desires to grow in your life…praying for you now that the soil in your heart and in others would be rich with joy-filled service.

      • Kris

        <3 (If this doesn't turn into a heart, that's what I meant.) LoL. Thank you for your words of encouragement. xx

  • Mindy Rogers

    My heart burst reading you here today Becky!
    You live this message and I am so blessed to have a friend like you!
    *FISTBUMP* from one Zombie Mommie to another!

    • http://www.beckykeife.com/ Becky Keife

      FIST. BUMP!!! my friend. YOU are a gift to me, Mindy. You have been this kind of friend to me too many times to count, too. Love you more than all the Magnum Ice Cream Bars in the world!

  • Abby

    This is beautiful, Becky. I am often tempted to role out my “I’m fine” cape and decline help too, but some of the deepest friendships in my life have been forged out of honesty and a willingness to admit I need help. Lord knows I can’t do this motherhood thing alone. Thank you for sharing here today. Loved this.

    • http://www.beckykeife.com/ Becky Keife

      Oh, the “I’m fine” cape! Yes, Abby!! Let’s retire that old rag for good and put on our gardening gloves to dig deep with friends, letting ourselves be held and then doing some of the holding. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone in the struggle or on the beautiful journey.

  • http://www.wendyspeake.com/ Wendy Speake

    This is lovely. Thank you. Just last night I needed an entire community to rally together and care for my family. What a blessing it was. Thank you, Becky, for being part of my online circle of fellowship! Dear love.

    • http://www.beckykeife.com/ Becky Keife

      Wendy, I’m so grateful God used His Body to lift your family up last night. To truly know someone and be known can rarely happen apart from coming along side one another in times of need. Community is one of God’s most beautiful designs. Hugs and prayers and praises on your behalf, sweet friend.

  • Susan

    Becky and Sara, I learned a long time ago that to say no is to rob someone of a blessing. Our pride and our “I can do this” get in the way oft times but I truly believe Father wants us to humbly accept these offerings to be the two-fold blessing they are intended to be!

    • http://www.beckykeife.com/ Becky Keife

      So so true, Susan. Thanks for echoing such graceful wisdom. Words of life to live by. Appreciate you being here and sharing!

  • http://www.perceptionsandpassions.blogspot.com Kaitlin_Perceptions&Passions

    Friendships have also been placed on my heart in this season of my life. I am learning to be both open-handed, but also intentional simultaneously. It’s a careful balance, but I believe the crux is exactly as you described it: community is God given and something to be delighted and “yes”d in!

    • http://www.beckykeife.com/ Becky Keife

      Love that perspective, Kaitlin. May God continue to guide you and bless you as you walk with open-handed intention. xoxo

  • Anna

    What a beautiful story of friendship and mutual blessing. I’ve been the “I’m fine” Mum for a long time and am only just taking my first steps in opening up to my struggles. But unlike my fear of it showing me up as a “failure” (before I came back to faith), it is now bringing me so much closer to those I love, as they are now also being made comfortable enough to share their own struggles with me as well…and in that there is a powerful blessing from God for us both. We are learning to say “I’m not fine, but God is SO very good and faithful”. So, I guess with me it’s not the practical help I need, but the love and acceptance for where I’m at at the moment in my struggles with depression and PTSD.

    • http://www.beckykeife.com/ Becky Keife

      Anna, yes, yes! Letting go of the “I’m fine” is not only needed for tangible help but emotional support as well. It’s often not until we let down our guard enough to let someone in that others will be willing to find that safe place in us as well. I’m so glad to hear that you are now experiencing that blessing of true community. Praying for you now and praising our SO very good and faithful God. Much love.

      • Anna

        Thank you for your words and prayer, Becky. And praise God for His mighty Goodness and Faithfulness to us both.

        Thank you again for this powerful reminder of the vulnerability God calls us to, in order to bless both us and others.

    • Beth Williams

      Anna,
      Prayers for you! May God heal you and bring about a peace in your soul! Praising God for the emotional comfort He is providing!
      Blessings my sister!

  • Kristi Woods

    But it’s so easy to say, “It’s okay. You really don’t have to do that,” and walk away from their offer. Been there. Done that. It was nearly my undoing during deployment time. However, your post shows otherwise, Becky. It’s emits the fragrance of Jesus, the whiff of love, simply through allowing a friend to help. Sweet nuggets of encouragement in this lovely post. Thank you, Becky.

    • http://www.beckykeife.com/ Becky Keife

      SO easy, Kristi. I’ve been there, too. Missed out on being blessed and deepening friendships because the shallow “I’m fine” and perceived comfort of doing it on my own felt safer. …but I’m so grateful God is teaching my heart a better way to respond. Thanks for your sweet encouragement! So glad you are here.

  • Karen Del Tatto

    Your statement, “I have learned over and over that meaningful friendships are forged in the soil of service.” spoke to me. The Lord has also been impressing this upon my heart of late.

    We have recently begun attending a new church which is about a half hour away. With busy schedules and working, it is harder to be as involved as I’d like with an hour round trip commuting time.

    I am also in a season where friends lives are busier as well and our opportunities to get together are not as often as I would like.

    Just the other day, I felt as though the Lord was encouraging me to “step out of my comfort zone” and seek out an area of service where I can be intentional and meet new friends.

    Your words spurred me on!

    Thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.beckykeife.com/ Becky Keife

      What a blessing to hear your story, Karen! I’m so thankful these words were so timely for you. Yes, I can totally relate that some seasons take a lot more intentionality to foster meaningful friendships. Proud of you for prayerfully considering how God would want you to invest your time in building new relationships…step outside of that comfort zone and into the unknown blessings that await! <3

  • http://martysmoosetracks.blogspot.com/ Marty

    Love this post. Over the course of our marriage, we have been on the receiving end of many kind expressions of friendship and love. For me, I like to be the giver…and, in our early years, it was really hard to accept anything from anyone. I’ve gotten better at it, because I’ve seen how much it blesses the giver. Thank you for this great reminder to dig deep in the soil of friendship. :)

    • http://www.beckykeife.com/ Becky Keife

      Right? When we’re the one being helped we worry about putting someone out. But you are so right, the giver is blessed in their service, too. Thanks for being here, Marty, and offering these sweet words of encouragement.

  • Amy L. Sullivan

    Decline or accept? Decline or accept? I struggle to accept. Thanks for this sweet post reminding me to resist the urge to decline.

    • http://www.beckykeife.com/ Becky Keife

      That’s the hem-haw conversation I have with myself all the time, too! Next time let’s both get off the seesaw of struggle and soak up the blessing of deeper friendship through accepting service! :) Thanks for being here, Amy.

  • Amy

    I am still struggling to fight the urge to decline the Sara’s in my life. Thank you for showing the other side of how it is also a blessing to the Saras to be allowed to give.

    • http://www.beckykeife.com/ Becky Keife

      I feel you, Amy. Praying now that the next time a Sara offers you genuine love through service, you’ll be able to answer a peace-filled, hope-filled “Yes” and then be amazed at the mutual blessings that follow. Thanks for sharing here, friend.

  • Linda Packard

    Love this post. We are a self-sufficient bunch, aren’t we. We don’t need anything. I see that in myself and in others all the time. And have lately begun feeling so sad at us and our ignorance. Thank you for the reminder of how to allow friends the honor of blessing me. And how I can bless back.

    • http://www.beckykeife.com/ Becky Keife

      Thanks, Linda. Yep, we’re living in the “I’m fine” and “I don’t need help” generation. Let’s claim it back with Christ-like love and service! xoxo Thanks for being here.

  • Sarah Sandifer

    Made tears spring to my eyes- overflowing with joy for you that you are experiencing such grace but also with a deep longing to have what you have. We’re in a season of transition and new and I look forward to the day when I have deep community once again. What a beautiful reminder of what builds deep friendships- accepting help, but also being the one to step out and offer as well.

    • http://www.beckykeife.com/ Becky Keife

      Oh, Sarah, for more than two years I prayed that God would give me just one significant, do-life-with friend, someone to be in my inner circle, not just a friend miles away or on the periphery of my heart. Years later, He has blessed me with many heart-sisters in my same place and and life-stage…beyond my expectations!

      I know that lonely place of transition. And I am praying for you now. That God would swiftly answer the desire of your heart for community, that He would encourage and sustain you in the waiting, and that He would embolden you with courage to step through doors of opportunity to initiate, serve others, and ask for help when you need it. I’m so glad you were here today. (((hugs)))

    • Beth Williams

      Sarah,
      Prayers for God to bring you deep community loving friends. Even just one covenant friend to share all of life with is precious! May you feel His loving arms swooping down to hold you during this transition! Prayers for peace and contentment!
      ((((Hugs))))

  • Beth Williams

    Becky,
    Thank you for accepting your friend’s offer of help. I know from experience that it blessed her to be able to lend a hand. I believe that God ordained that phone call.
    People have often helped me without my asking. I moved out of state for college years ago. I had a neighbor who brought me dinner my first night alone. She and her family would have me over often without asking or saying much.
    Having been on the receiving end a number of times I now get to be on the doing end. I just love it. last year I cooked/got 3 meals for a good friend who had family in the hospital at various times. My gift is encouragement and I enjoy sending little e-mails, texts, or cards to people to let them know I care about them and their welfare.
    Blessings :)

    • http://www.beckykeife.com/ Becky Keife

      Beautiful examples, Beth! Yes, truly, serving is a blessing not only to those who receive but those who give as well. Thank you for being a sweet testimony to that truth.

  • http://Strainme.wordpress.com/ Sarah Donegan

    Why do we resist asking for help, when we are meant to live in community? I know your struggle to gloss over the bad, so I am proud of you for accepting help!

    • http://www.beckykeife.com/ Becky Keife

      Thank you, Sarah. <3