For us to dance in God's presence we need to guard our heart against unforgiveness, disappointment and fear.

Mum Heart Australia would not be here without the godly, wise influence and input from American author SALLY CLARKSON. Sally has become a personal friend through her encouragement and mentoring to establish this ministry in Australia.

Sally first visited Toowoomba with her daughter Joy in 2006 for a conference that touched many lives with inspiration that has borne beautiful fruit in families. Even last year, a mum specifically wanted to tell me what a difference that meeting made in her life.

The impact of Sally’s ministry here blossomed into our first Mum Heart Conference in Queensland in 2012 and now we have conferences in three different states this year. Sally and Clay have produced numerous books and resources with their children, that have blessed mothers and their families throughout the world for more than 20 years.

Sally’s words never cease to lift me to a higher place. As iron sharpens iron, with godly insight and biblical encouragement, I am called to seek God in a deeper way to “live into my capacity”.

Good friends stretch us. Good friends come alongside to comfort and strengthen us in our weaker moments with honest words of affirmation and exhortation to keep our courage up. “You can do it!” “I believe in you!” These words uplift us to aim high.

It is wonderful to have such friends nearby. Some may live further away and some friends are those wise mentors found in the books we read.

Some of us have been blessed to meet Sally in person. You may have met her through her books or podcast. If you haven’t made her acquaintance, I highly recommend you discover the treasure of her writing.

Sally and her daughters, Sarah and Joy, have just published a new book called Girls’ Club about cultivating friendship. At this time in history, when many women feel lonely and isolated, these words are a call to embrace the delight and comfort that can be found in life-giving friendships.

The following is from an excerpt Sally wrote in “Girls’ Club” about her friendship with a dear older lady named Gwen.

 “Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God.”                            1 Samuel 23:16

“God knew we would need friends to walk beside us and to give us the strength to pursue His ideals against much opposition.

Our friendship helped provide the spiritual strength to keep following hard after Christ as we lived faithfully through all dark and joyful seasons of life.

Perhaps God plans to fulfill our deep needs for friendship so that we can better feel His love in a world where we hunger for companionship as we do His Kingdom work. As I look back over the years, it occurs to me that the context for friendship, especially friendship in the Lord, is so important to keep us growing toward His desire for us to know Him intimately. God is always doing more than we can think or imagine, and even though the gift of a friend may seem like a wonderful personal gift, He always has more in mind. Spiritual friendships are not just about personal fulfillment but also about the scope and journey of what God wants to accomplish in our lives and how He wants us to live in His Kingdom ways. We could not do this without friends.

In a world where most people feel isolated, alone, unseen, and lonely, we need this view of friendship as something that shows us the fullness of God’s love more than ever. To cherish and guard friendships can be a safeguard from personal pettiness and a reminder to be selfless. To embrace a friendship in full-fledged commitment provides us with a visible picture and personal experience of what we hope for in God: one who will love us, help us, and respond to us, no matter our failures, our needs, our vulnerabilities, or our prickly moments. It is a picture of a forever-and-always love that gives life. As I look around, sometimes it feels like the fabric of society is falling apart— people are lonely, marriages are disintegrating, children do not know if they are wanted or loved, nothing in areas of ethics or morality can be counted on. The deadly effects of this cultural slide are painfully obvious—from the social and political implications of leaders falling to people in power abusing those in positions of weakness to the deeply personal pains of broken families.

I think part of that destruction comes from people lacking godly support and friendly encouragement, from not having a cloud of witnesses surrounding them to spur them on to faithfulness in living out biblical ideals. When we are devoid of the support or sympathy that comes from deep, close, loving relationships, we are more easily tempted to look for temporal things to fulfill our needs, to compromise our previous heartfelt commitment to follow hard after Christ. This kind of support— the accountability of godly friends— reminds us to be faithful in our own stories, to remember the legacy of believers who have gone before us. God designed family, friendships, and church to help sustain us personally in following Him and serving Him.

We were not created to handle the demands of life alone. Even as we would never send a soldier into battle without a battalion to give support and strength or an officer to provide leadership and wisdom, we should not be fighting our spiritual battles alone. Yet many believers have become so alienated in their lives, so isolated from real relationships, that they don’t even perceive that they are failing to thrive. They don’t know what they were designed to have—real people, real relationships, real accountability, real compassion, real help. That is why cultivating, cherishing, and nurturing godly friendships is not just a luxury but a necessity to be able to sustain a healthy spiritual life.”

 

Sarah, Joy and Sally talk about how to Cultivate Deep Friendships

  1. Take initiative and reach out. Remember; cultivate means “to devote oneself to”. Ask the Lord to show you ways to cultivate a friendship with someone.
  2. Encourage—look at the friend’s eyes—what do they tell you? How might you give words of encouragement to lift the other up.
  3. Listen. Be someone who listens, not just talks. Make sure you know you are available to listen. People are not mind readers. You must tell them.
  4. Support and do acts of kindness. Ask the Lord ways in which you can show love in action to friends.
  5. Pray. Pray for your friends. Tell them you are praying for them. Ask them how you can pray for them. Ask them to pray for you.
  6. Be dependable—through all seasons of life. Be a safe friend who can be trusted not to judge or criticize, but to love—Remember: love covers a multitude of sin.

Girls’ Club is full of stories to help keep all of us faithful to God and our ideals He has called us to.

We encourage mums in a geographical area to gather together and build relationship and support with each other.  If you meet monthly you may find these reflective questions helpful to guide your discussion.

Feel free to share your thoughts here in the comment section

 

1 Comment

  1. Sally Clarkson

    Dearest Barb,
    What a deeply meaningful article and such beautiful encouragement. I have watched you be faithful, generous, loving, and caring for a whole nation of women who long for fellowship and friendship and love. Thank you for being such a worthy friend to me, and such a great encouragement through all my seasons. Love you so much and so honored to work with you through this journey of loving women well.

    Reply

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Barb Somervaille

Barb Somervaille

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