Sunday, November 29, 2015's a bust.'s a bust. I wasn't able to finish even the first few chapters of my novel this year.

I'm continuing to see that writing nonfiction is more my thing than fiction. But what really threw me was the long-term substitute teaching position that fell into my lap without any warning the second week of November.

I just might not have what it takes to finish a book, after all. I guess time will tell.

2015's NaNoWriMo is a bust, but I'll still keep reading and writing and book reviewing here at Fresh-Brewed Writer as long as I am able.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

National Novel Writing Month 2015

And now...fiction. I'll be working on a novel during the month of November. We'll see if I actually finish this year!

In Conclusion: 31 Days of Friendship

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Even though I've written about friendship for an entire month, I feel as if there is more to say. It's interesting that on September 30, I wondered if I'd have enough for 31 full days--and now that it's October 31 I still have several other stories and topics I haven't even touched.

As I conclude my series, I'd like to offer a list the characteristics of a good friendship.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Day 30: What does the Bible say? Part 5 {31 Days of Friendship}

For this last entry into the "What does the Bible Say about Friendship" miniseries in my #31daysoffriendship series for the Write 31 Days challenge, I would like to talk about Jesus.

When I was a child growing up in a Christian home and going to church, we sang many songs about Jesus being our friend. I'm not really sure I knew what it meant until I felt Him in a more real sense, in college and in sad times, when I was going through some of the situations I've described in this series with friendships, and during my parents' divorce.

The Gospels tell us about Jesus's disciples (there were 12), his closest friends or the "inner circle" of best friends (there were 3), Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha, and of course the group that traveled with Him and His disciples as he preached and taught about His Father (unnumbered and many were unnamed, but we know they were present).

There are many analyses out there about the friendship model Jesus set for us: have a circle of friends, a tighter circle of confidantes, an adopted family of friends. The list could go on and on. But I wonder sometimes if it isn't supposed to be that complicated.

Here is what Jesus says in John 15:

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love.10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
Love first. Love God first, then love each other, and joy will abound. Pretty simple.

This is my last Bible-related post, and it's going to be online late after a busy week. So maybe as I write this with a tired brain and a full heart, I'm feeling a bit sentimental about ending this series on my blog about friendship. I wonder if we worry about friendships too much. Maybe we need to spend more of our time cultivating our friendship with Jesus, with His Father, more than with others first. If we let the friends be our primary focus, maybe that is missing the point. Let's put our focus on Jesus, and on learning God's Word, and cultivating that relationship first, before we worry about whether or not Jane* likes us or if we should invite her for coffee, or whatever. I know that the Lord will lead me where He wants me, and He has often placed people in my path (oh who am I kidding, every day I exit my house I talk to people outside my social circle!). He has provided me with friends before, and He will do so again. He already has for me here.

Tomorrow will be my wrap-up post about my friendship series. I hope you'll join me, and if you've enjoyed my musings on friendship, I hope you'll let me know - or better yet, share with one of your friends.

*Jane Austen nicknames are used in this series, and all month I never used Jane. So here she is!

Mini-series on What does the Bible Say about Friendship?
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

To read the introductory post for this #write31days series, click here.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Day 29: Being a Good Friend {31 Days of Friendship}

It might seem weird that I am concluding with this topic, but for me it feels as if I'm coming full-circle after a long journey through the memories I've sorted through this month.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Day 27: Sandpaper Friends {31 Days of Friendship}

As iron sharpens iron,
    so a friend sharpens a friend.

We need people in our lives who challenge us, test us, and spur us on to action. To be better than we are alone. To be smoother.

There are a few people I meet and with whom I interact who are irritating. They rub me the wrong way, if you will. You know the kind I mean. They get the smartphone upgrade a year before you're eligible. Their kids are smarter and more talented than yours--and you know because they are great at the humble brag. Their hair never looks grey. They get to go on vacation to exotic locations, while your "vacation," such as it is, is more of a staycation. Or, they might even score one more point than you on the ACT. I call them "sandpaper friends."

So the ACT reference might seem out of place, but this really happened to me. My friend Lucy* was a high school friend. We bonded through our shared love of youth choir and boys. She was a very good friend to me, don't get me wrong. She never broke a confidence or gossiped, or meant to hurt me. But without any effort at all, she one-upped me every time I turned around. (Or at least it felt that way.) The last straw that made me truly cry in my room for awhile was her ACT score one point higher than mine. I thought I was doomed to mediocrity because I couldn't get a higher score. (Later years would prove that I had a pretty dang good score on my own, but when my point of reference was this friend, I had a hard time seeing myself objectively.)

Sandpaper friends are in our lives for a reason. They are there to sharpen us and to smooth out our splinters--all by rubbing the rough parts away. I have had several sandpaper friends: in church, at the dance studio, even online. I used to get really upset about these women and their irritating ways--but now I call them my spiritual sandpaper. If we believe God plans our lives and places us together with others for specific reasons, then perhaps I need to be open to the possibility that the reason may very well be my own spiritual growth and edification. I have learned to try to look at the positive side of having sandpaper friends, looking toward how I can encourage them, perhaps help them, and learn from them.

So what about my friend Lucy Steele? Well, she continued to beat me at everything; her class rank was 12, mine was 13; she got something in front of her cum laude at college graduation, while I got a plain old cum laude; I went on to earn a master's, she got an MD. I became a teacher, and she became a doctor. But you know what? We're still friends 30 years later. We are both serving Christ and we're both happy in our own situations. Who could ask for anything more, really?

Oh yeah, smooth edges. I have those now.

* Name has been changed. I'm using Austenian pseudonyms for this series. Lucy Steele was a sandpaper friend to Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility. Not that this particular friend has tried to lay prior claim to the man I loved, as Lucy did to Elinor with Edward...but you get the idea. Plus this friend's real-life name has two syllables too.

To read the introductory post for this #write31days series, click here.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Day 26: Imbalance in Friendship {31 Days of Friendship}

Yesterday in my Friendship Quotation Sunday post, I included this gem from Jane Austen:
 "There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves; it is not my nature." - Jane Austen
This quotation describes me to a T.
With my friends, I am loyal and giving. Always have been, always will be. And most of the time, my friends are the same with me. Here's an example:

Pictured is my friend Emma* whom I've written about before. This photo is from a mall on one of our "meet ya halfway" trips to see each other one of the summers I lived on the other side of the state while my husband began his new job, wherever he was at the time. She is my very best friend, and whenever we can we meet each other halfway. It's been that way since college days.

Having a friend who always gives to us can be great. Having a friend who gives, and to whom we can give, is even better. But having to be the one who gives all the time, over and over again, can be so very tiring. It's exhausting emotionally and spiritually, isn't it? In my own best and longest-lasting friendships, it's been a lot of give and take. Sometimes, though, it feels imbalanced. And that's when I check my feelings for the truth.

On my very first introductory post, someone wrote a comment that she felt imbalance in her friendships. I can identify. Emma and I have this joke that we both can't be going through a rough patch at the same time, or else we're in trouble! When we were a threesome (and we have been in with different other ladies over the past 30-plus years we've known each other), we say that we hope if she and I are both having difficult days, that our third person is able to be positive for the two of us!

This brings to mind the verses from Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Amen, amen.

So what do you do if you're the one constantly giving, giving, giving--or you feel that way? First, pray about it. Then, I would suggest that you stop and think about it as objectively as you can. (This can be difficult if you're feeling hurt or emotional.) Is it true that you're always the one giving, or does it just feel like it? Sometimes our feelings are deceiving--and that is saying a lot from someone who really does go with her gut quite often. Try and keep track in your journal, or make a note in your planner, each time you contact your friend. This will give you a visual to see if it really is one-sided. If so, I'd suggest pulling back a bit from that friendship and again, keep track of it. Not that you're keeping evidence against the person; you're merely tracking if your emotions are an accurate assessment of the situation. If you indeed are the only one keeping the friendship going, you could talk to the friend. If the friendship isn't healthy, I suggest pulling back and see what happens. Sometimes, the friendship will revive. Sometimes, it will fade away. Only time will tell.

And sometimes, life throws some wild pitches. During those really hard times, there will indeed be an imbalance. But if it's a true friendship, it will even out eventually. I firmly believe that.

* Name has been changed. I'm using Austenian pseudonyms for this series. Emma Woodhouse from Jane Austen's Emma is one of my favorites. Not that this particular friend has tried to regulate my life as Emma did with Harriet, but you know, favorite friends get favorite Austen names.

To read the introductory post for this #write31days series, click here.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Day 25: Friendship Quotations Part 4 {31 Days of Friendship}

"There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves; it is not my nature." - Jane Austen

"The only thing to do is to hug one's friends tight and do one's job." - Edith Wharton

"Real friends are those who, when you've made a fool of yourself, don't feel that you've done a permanent job." - Erwin T. Randall


To read the introductory post for this #write31days series, click here.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Day 24: I Want to Be Your Friend {31 Days of Friendship}

Our family moves around quite a bit. With each move I must consciously make the choice to be openhearted, to be friends with women I don’t yet know, and to allow myself to know the sweet peace of safe community among sisters in Christ.

One of my most precious friendship experiences came to me at a time when I least expected it.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Day 23: What does the Bible say? Part 4 {31 Days of Friendship}

The Bible has much to say to us about relationships and friendship. That's why today is the fourth part of what has become a series-within-a-series this month.

Parts 2 and 3 were a bit the same--we need to watch what we say, and encourage each other. But what about trustworthiness? That is a great topic when referring to friends, because determining whether or not a person is trustworthy will ultimately determine whether or not you'll become friends and/or remain friends in the long run.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Day 22: Forgiveness {31 Days of Friendship}

“[H]urting people hurt others,” author and speaker John Maxwell said. It is true. When others lash out at us, it can be excruciatingly painful, and it's often hard to see that the pain being inflicted has a source--and very often it has nothing to do with us.

I've described some pretty painful situations this month in my blog series on friendship, but today I want to write about where to go when you're in pain and the friendship is fractured. Can you heal? Can the relationship heal? Will it ever be the way it was?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Day 21: When a Friendship Feels Like an Attack {31 Days of Friendship}

When I was a young mom, my husband was shepherding a church. I had a job and friends at church. I felt blessed indeed. One gal* in particular was a good friend of mine. She was friendly and had children and sang in the choir. Her husband was the mayor of our town, so she had prestige and position. Everyone knew her and it seemed like everyone was her friend. She even loaned me maternity clothes when I got a teaching job while expecting, and she and her friends would invite me to scrapbook with them a couple times a month. Everything was great--until it wasn't.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Day 20: Junior High Hurts {31 Days of Friendship}

Did you know there was a #write31days giveaway? You can find the Rafflecopter entry form here for a $500 Dayspring here to enter.

Junior high is hard.

It really is.

I tried so hard to fit in, especially at church. Feathered hair, Lee Jeans (Jordache and Calvin Klein were not in my budget), blouses with grosgrain ribbon ties.

I was friends with all the seventh grade popular girls. We were in the same Sunday school class, and we hung out together on Sunday evenings for youth group. I felt like I was a part of the group, most of the time, even though I was a step or two behind in the fashion department, and in pop culture (no Atari or MTV at our house). I was also a year younger, thanks to starting school in another state.

My best friend at the time was Kitty.* We had met in sixth grade Sunday school and had been to each others' houses to play. I wanted to be like her: taller, with curly hair in the style of the time (feathered back but not as feathery as my straight fine hair was--more like sausage curls brushed to perfection) and naturally straight teeth and clear skin.

One night, after choir but before Bible study, she pulled me aside from the group and said these painful words to me:

I don't want to be your friend anymore. You're holding me back.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Day 19: Hospitality {31 Days of Friendship}

Did you know there was a #write31days giveaway? You can find the Rafflecopter entry form here for a $500 Dayspring here to enter.


I began this week with watching Lysa TerKeurst's videos about the writing life. One thing she said was that great writers are wrestlers with their own struggles. That is what this month has been about for me: trying to find a good balance with writing about what I struggle with and have had painful experiences with--friendship--while also encouraging all of us to keep going and keep making friends.

We all have strengths and weaknesses, don't we? As a person with a perfectionist personality, I am painfully aware of each of my flaws and weaknesses. I have not always been a good friend to my friends. Sometimes I'm the one who is selfish. Sometimes I forget to call or check in on an important day. So when I point out flaws in my friendships, I do so knowing full well that I'm not perfect--and I will disclose my errors in upcoming days, I promise.

One of the weaknesses I see in myself is this: Hospitality is rarely easy for me. It's not in my nature to open my home and invite people over on a whim, or even on a plan. I was raised by parents who didn't often entertain, so I didn't really have a model for hospitality. Over and over again throughout my ministry marriage, I've been stretched in this area. For me, the book Bread & Wine was an experience not only in cooking, another weakness I see in myself, but also in challenging me to open my home. That's why you saw it in this book pile the other day:
Do you see Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist? Middle right pile.

More than any other book I've ever read, this book challenged me to be authentic in opening my home to others. Community happens around the table--or open contained outdoor flame.

Yesterday we practiced hospitality: my husband and daughter and I opened our home (well, the backyard and fire pit) to another chapel family. Their two boys enjoy throwing sticks in the fire (remember that we have PLENTY of firewood now!) and watching marshmallows burn, so we had them over for hot dogs and hamburgers and s'mores around the fire. It was awesome. We lingered over melting marshmallows and conversation while the boys threw sticks in and played with an ancient football we found in my in-laws' boxes in the garage.

It was fun.

I highly recommend it.


You can go to the first day's post and find links to the rest of my #write31days #31daysoffriendship series by clicking here.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Day 18: Friendship Quotations Part 3 {31 Days of Friendship}

"I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

"There is an intimate laughter to be found only among friends."
Maya Angelou

"Friends . . . they cherish one another's hopes. They are kind to one another's dreams."
Henry David Thoreau

"A faithful friend is an image of God."
French Proverb

To read the introductory post for this #write31days series, click here.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Day 17: If a tree falls when you're not home . . . {31 Days of Friendship}

Today is Saturday, and to be honest I procrastinated writing this morning in order to spend time with my family--and then it slipped my mind completely. Then we had a chapel event. When we got home after being gone only two hours on one of the most beautiful days we've had since moving south, we discovered that the dead pine tree in our front yard had fallen. Thankfully, it fell away from the driveway (where my car was parked), away from the house (where if it had fallen, it would have ruined one of the two new windows we just had installed this week), and away from the street (where surely it would have made our neighbors hate us or worse, injured a passing car). 

We joked later, "So, if a tree falls in the yard and you don't hear it, did it really fall?" Just being silly, you know, because if it had fallen any other direction, it may have been devastating. It's just a minor inconvenience right now, so we can joke about it.

I suppose in all of this I could make some sort of intellectual metaphor about the tree and friendship, but really, I'll just leave that to you, gentle reader, to figure out. Or not.

Because if a tree falls when you're not home, you are grateful for all your friends who express concern for your well-being and who are happy with you and rejoice with you that you aren't facing the devastation any number of degrees' difference in trajectory may have wrought.

To read the introductory post and find links for my whole #write31days series, click here.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Day 16: What does the Bible say? Part 3 {31 Days of Friendship}

What does the Bible say about friendship? Quite a lot, actually....

That's why today is the third part of what seems to be a series-within-a-series, which has been a good thing!

This might be my favorite topic, though, because it's what I do best: encourage.

Today I want to write about encouraging our friends. I am an encourager, and I love to encourage others. I also need encouragement myself, as affirming words are my love language.

Proverbs 12:25 says this in the New Living Translation,
Worry weighs a person down;
    an encouraging word cheers a person up.
That is the truth, isn't it? Worry weighs us down, spiritually, emotionally, and yes, even physically (just google the number of illnesses exacerbated by anxiety and stress, and you'll see what I mean). Having a friend speak or write encouraging words lessens our worry and lightens our load, even if only for a short time.

The apostle Paul said it this way in his first letter to the church at Thessalonica:
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
That's pretty clear as well. We are to build one another up, not tear one another down. Besides, it is much more fun to encourage rather than discourage.

I want to mention that not all words are encouraging, and not all friends are true friends. This verse in the New Living Translation speaks volumes to that:
There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

This verse reminds me that there are people who seem hell-bent on destroying others. I haven't written about several of my most painful friendship experiences, and frankly I'm getting cold feet about writing about them at all. If you think of me, please pray that if God wants me to write the story, that He gives me confirmation. If you've had a painful friendship experience, and you need to know you are not alone, please leave me a comment on this post. Your words may be what I need to press on.

How do we encourage our friends? We text them and let them know we're thinking of them. We call them to chat. We send them cards just because. We take dinner over when we know they've had a tough day (if we're blessed to live nearby). We pay attention and we listen and we cry with them and grieve with them and rejoice with them. That's what encouraging our friends looks like.

To read part 1, click here; part 2, click here.

To read the introductory post and find links for my whole #write31days series, click here.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Day 15: Online Friends are Not Make-Believe {31 Days of Friendship}

I think many people nowadays have friends they've made over the internet. Whether it's through blogs, Facebook, message boards, forums, or other social media platforms, it's not at all unusual for people to become virtual friends before they meet IRL (in real life). I see it happen all the time. I've even met up with gals I've met via computer, and I have even set up friend-connections (which I'll discuss another day). I know there's a lot of bad stuff on the internet, but there's some great stuff too.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Day 14: Friendship Across the Miles {31 Days of Friendship}

I think many people nowadays have friends they've made over the internet. Whether it's through blogs, Facebook, message boards, forums, or other social media platforms, it's not at all unusual for people to become virtual friends before they meet IRL (in real life).

I want to talk about a writer friend of mine, and I've already named her Anne*.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Day 13: Malt Attack! {31 Days of Friendship}

It's already evening and the day got away from me somehow--and all my lofty writing ideas that were floating around in my head during my morning walk just kept swimming, and I felt like Doug in Up (to mix my Pixar metaphors a bit) - "Squirrel!"

Anyway, tonight I'm going to share a favorite college memory with you about one of my best friends ever, Emma. (I wrote about Emma* the other day.) Emma and I knew each other in church youth choir, and then three years later we met back up in college. It was awesome. She knew me, she knew my family; I knew her and had met her family too. We had that awkward get-to-know-you out of the way and had the opportunity to really connect as young adults in college and bond.

One of the ways we bonded was the occasional walk to the local Sonic. At first, neither of us had a car (this was before she had her tiny brown Honda Civic), so she'd call or come by my dorm room and say two words: MALT ATTACK! I'd grab whatever change I wasn't saving for laundry and we'd walk over to Sonic and order chocolate malts and just talk. It was awesome.

Friendship doesn't always cost a lot of money, and it isn't always fancy. Sometimes it's just a walk and some chocolate.


* Name has been changed. I'm using Austenian pseudonyms, because it's actually rather fun. Emma Woodhouse from Jane Austen's Emma is one of my favorites. Not that this particular friend has tried to regulate my life as Emma did with Harriet, but you know, favorite friends get favorite Austen names.

To read the introductory post and find links for my whole #write31days series, click here.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Day 12: More Books {31 Days of Friendship}

Friendship Resources I've Collected

I'm a resource girl--I love books, as I've already talked about before. And as I've mentioned before, I have thought about and seriously considered writing a series on friendship for a long time. Maybe two years, even. I can't really remember when first the idea occurred to me; however, when I told a writer friend of mine whom I'll call Anne*, she was enthusiastic in her affirmation of my idea. I believe her exact words were, "Write it, girl!" (Anne is always an encouragement to me as a writer. That's not the only reason we're friends, but it is what brought us together in the first place.)

So in typical Pattie fashion, I began collecting my resources so I could do research about friendship. If I was going to write a series for women about friendship, by golly, I wasn't going to just write my own story. Oh no. I was going to write what the experts said. I was going to collect all the good stuff and share it with everyone else so they could avoid the pitfalls and mistakes I had in my own friendship history.

Enter resource overload paralysis.

(I honestly don't know if that's a real thing or not, but for me, it is definitely real.)

I collected books and resources, then we moved a long way away. And even in the chaos of the move and everything else from this year, I never really forgot about my idea to write about friendship.

So here I am, writing about friendship. And not just the stories from the "experts" and published writers. My own stories. Guess what I'm still learning in my mid-forties? Personal stories matter. Personal experiences are infinitely more powerful than statistics. Personal experiences give other people that "You too?" moment (see yesterday's C.S. Lewis quotation). Personal narrative is powerful. (I must have been onto something way back in 2003 when I chose "Personal Narratives in the Classroom" as my National Writing Project workshop project.)

As I unpacked my books and teaching materials here in our new home, I was able to shelve a mini-collection of friendship books. Now, in the interest of full disclosure I must admit I have not read all of them all the way through. However, for me to keep a book right now I have to look at it and hold it in my hand and ask myself: if I've read it, will I read it again; or if I haven't read it, do I plan to? The answer to all of these is "yes."

Here is the list:

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Day 11: Friendship Quotations Part 2 {31 Days of Friendship}

Here is a hodgepodge of quotations for your Sunday.

"Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: 'What! You too? I thought that no one but myself...'" ― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

"Friendship! mysterious cement of the soul!
Sweetener of life! and solder of society!" ― Robert Blair, The Grave

"A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths; feels your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your spirit; recognizes your disabilities but emphasizes your possibilities." ― William Arthur Ward

To read the introductory post and find links for the rest of this #write31days series, click here.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Day 10: Friends for a Season {31 Days of Friendship}

I don't remember when or where I first heard about the concept of seasons. Not the seasons of the year, or the seasons of a person's life (which is where we get the idea of a May-December relationship, for example). What I mean is the idea that we are in certain times of life where things are busy, or slow, or crazy, or whatever--the season of having babies, or the season of parenting toddlers and never going to the bathroom alone, or the season of being a working mom. The concept of seasons of life feeling like they'll go on forever, yet they do not, was a game-changer for me. It moved my cheese, to borrow from the title of an erstwhile-famous corporate book I was assigned to read by my principal in 2000.

If something is only for a season, I can get through it. Deployments, while they feel like forever, are only for a season. Parenting littles, while it feels like you'll never have a moment alone again, also lasts only for a season.

In the same way, some friendships are only for a season. Sometimes this is a good and right thing, and it's understood and it's great. Other times, though, it can be painful.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Day 9: What does the Bible say? Part 2 {31 Days of Friendship}

What does the Bible say about friendship?

I didn't realize until I started to make a list of verses that the Bible says a whole lot about friendship. In fact, I've divided it up for my own purposes into five posts for the five Fridays of October during this 31 days of writing about friendship adventure. You can find part 1 here.

Today I want to talk about words. Specifically, the words friends say to one another.

What's one of the best things about having a friend? Well, at least for many women, it's to have someone to talk to, right? Someone besides our family members, that is. We've already determined that the Bible prioritizes love, unity, and loyalty among people. But how do we often exemplify those characteristics? Through our actions, of course, but also our words.

Let's look at what the Bible has to say about what we say:

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Day 8: Knitting {31 Days of Friendship}

My friend Emma* taught me how to knit.

Neither one of us knew how, although we both knew crochet from our childhoods. But Emma learned to knit from a how-to-knit book (this was before YouTube was the big deal it is now). Basically, she taught herself to knit. When I expressed a desire to learn, she came over to my house one day and started to teach me.

I wish now that I could find my first piece and show you. It was crooked and had a hole (both typical rookie mistakes, as all knitters will immediately recognize). I used it to set plants on for a long time.

We have both moved beyond dropping stitches and cast-on-cast-off errors, but I will never forget her sharing with me the art of knitting.

Knitting and friendship go well together, I think. Emma and I have been friends for a very long time, and even though the miles have separated us for more than half our friendship, we are knit together at the heart.

Two book series about friendship and knitting:

Kate Jacobs' trilogy that begins with The Friday Night Knitting Club

Debbie Macomber's Blossom Street series

To read another story with Emma, click here.


* Name has been changed. I'm using Austenian pseudonyms, because it's actually rather fun. Emma Woodhouse from Jane Austen's Emma is one of my favorites. Not that this particular friend has tried to regulate my life as Emma did with Harriet, but you know, favorite friends get favorite Austen names.

To read the introductory post and find links for the whole #write31days series, click here.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Day 7: Secrets {31 Days of Friendship}

Have you ever told a secret to a friend, only to find out that she told someone else?

Yeah, me too. It really hurts.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Day 6: Book: Nobody's Cuter Than You {31 Days of Friendship}

Today I want to talk about a book I am reading, Nobody's Cuter Than You: A Memoir About the Beauty of Friendship by Melanie Shankle.

I feel like I should begin with a disclaimer or two. First, I haven't finished reading this book yet. I am, however, really enjoying it. Second, I have not read either of Melanie Shankle's previous books in their entirety, although I did begin her Sparkly Green Earrings book on parenting once upon a time. I never finished it, though--sometimes it's hard to relive those early parenting years now that my girls are older. I survived it, you will too, and I guess I didn't feel the need to revisit those years with someone else at the time.

Anyway, I picked up this friendship book at Lifeway, because I had decided to write about friendship during the month of October and it looked like a fun book to read. The introduction grabbed me immediately: "Real friendship requires effort." Yes, ma'am, it does. She goes on to say, "there is nothing as precious in life as a friend who knows you and loves you in spite of yourself."

Monday, October 05, 2015

Day 5: Why write about friendship? {31 Days of Friendship}

I touched on my purpose briefly in the series introduction, but I wanted to write a bit more about why I chose to write about friendship.

Friendship has not always been very easy for me.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Day 4: Friendship Quotations Part 1 {31 Days of Friendship}

I will share with you some of my favorite friendship quotations on each of the four Sundays in October.

Today's quotations are both from Helen Keller.

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.

It is that my friends have made the story of my life. In a thousand ways they have turned my limitations into beautiful privileges, and enabled me to walk serene and happy in the shadow cast by my deprivation.

To read the introductory post for this #write31days series, click here.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Day 3: An Elementary School Friendship Story {31 Days of Friendship}

Once upon a time, there was a girl living in a small Midwest town, in a new housing development planted among the cornfields. Her family moved there from California in the winter of her 3rd grade year, so it was a winter full of changes. In that rural school district, the bus rides were thirty minutes long. She was surprised to learn that she would have to change schools again the next year, because one school had grades K-3 and the other had grades 4-6.

One of the first hot and sweaty August days of 4th grade, she got on the bus at the bus stop and looked for an empty seat. There was one next to a smiling blonde girl named Jane*, so she asked if she could sit and Jane said, "Sure, if you don't mind sharing with my trumpet."** The girl looked down and saw that the trumpet case was indeed taking up quite a bit of room. However, knowing that she was one of the shortest girls in her class, this did not deter her from sharing with Jane, so she sat down. The girls exchanged names, happily discovered they were in the same grade, and then realized they had reading class together (in this school the students rotated to different classrooms for reading and math).

Thus, a friendship was forged.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Day 2: What does the Bible say? Part 1 {31 Days of Friendship}

What does the Bible say about friendship? Quite a lot, actually....

God has so much to say in His Word about friendship, relationships, and how we are to treat each other. In fact, there is such a plethora of material that I plan to spend each of the next five Fridays talking about friendship in the Bible. It's almost like a series-within-a-series, as it turns out!

Today I wanted to begin with a few things I've found in God's Word that make a good friendship. First is unity. Without some sort of unity, there is no relationship. If you stop for a moment and think about friends you have now, or have had before, I would suppose that there are at least a few commonalities between you: movies, books, children the same age, grew up on the same cul-de-sac, roomed in the same dorm in college, sang in the church choir get the idea. Being together as friends means there is unity.

Why is there unity, apart from things we share in common? Well, I think part of it is certainly a sense of mutual respect, or maybe even adoration--at the very least, there is some sort of affection. But really, it's about love. We love our friends.

A friend loves at all times,
    and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

How do we keep this unity and love going? Well, let's examine what the apostle Paul says in the book of Ephesians:

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.

Friendship with true unity means we have to be humble, gentle, patient, allow for each other's faults, binding with each other in peace, and of course, LOVE. The love part should help us with the gentleness and allowing for each other's faults part.

I believe if there is a real friendship in place, there is unity that causes the friends to "stick together" and be loyal to one another.

Proverbs 18:24 says,

There are “friends” who destroy each other,
    but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.

Unity, love, and loyalty. Three important ingredients in a good solid friendship.

To read the introductory post for this #write31days series, click here.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

31 Days of Friendship at Fresh-Brewed Writer

Join me this month for the #write31days challenge over at my main blog, Fresh-Brewed Writer, as I explore what friendship means, what to do and what not to do, Bible verses, and other encouraging words from famous people about friendship. It's going to be a great month!

31 Days of Friendship

31 days. 31 posts. Word count to be determined.

I'm very excited to begin writing this month on a topic that is both dear and difficult to me. Like two sides of a coin, or the comedy/tragedy masks sitting side by side, I have experienced both the happy and the sad parts of friendships--sometimes in the same day!

I have thought for a couple of years now how I could best write about friendship in general, and maybe a bit of my own experience in particular, but what kept me quiet was fear. Not just fear of being sued for libel (ha ha, you think I'm kidding...), but fear of hurting feelings, of dredging up pain from the past, of violating someone's privacy. But it's time to write about what I've learned, because I've seen the pain of broken friendships tear people up inside. And even though I have no delusions of grandeur here at this tiny little blog that is an old lady in Internet years, I know that eventually, someday, someone who needs to read what I have written will find it here and feel encouraged and strengthened and blessed by God.

I have moved around my entire life--in fact, our most recent move was my 16th. The longest place I've ever lived was 7 1/2 years, and the shortest was just under a year. It goes without saying that I have been the New Girl pretty often. It never really gets easier. So, I'm writing from a place full of "the feels" - loneliness from missing good friends, a few tears from missing my college daughter (who is also my friend), happiness for the friends I have here so far, and a fun night to celebrate a new friend's birthday just this week.

If you have friends, or want more friends, I hope this blog series will offer you encouragement, hope, resources, and of course some fun thrown in. Having fun with friends is one of life's greatest pleasures.

A note about specifics like names and locations:

People who know me know where I've lived and who my friends are, and they may recognize situations I will describe here no matter how much I disguise them. And disguise them I must. In some cases I'll combine two or three similar incidents or persons, because believe it or not I've had the same things happen to me more than once. People who know me know that I am handling this with grace and kindness. This is not a place for my own personal vindication. This is a place of kindness and encouragement, and, I hope, healing as well.

In short, most names and locations and situations will be changed to protect everyone, because the goal of writing about friendship isn't to make myself out to be a saint, or point fingers at every single person who has hurt me in my life. My goal is to show what I have learned about God, myself, and relationships--and to glorify the work of God in my life and in my friends' lives. So yes, names are going to be changed in about 95% of cases. The remaining 5% are a few of my friends who have already talked about me online and so I'll return the favor ("All good things, all good things," to channel a bit of Frozen's Olaf.). So please, no defamation or libel lawsuits. If you want to contact me, my email is freshbrewedwriter (at)

This is the landing page for the entire series, and I will link each day's post here:

Day 1: Introduction                                                 
Day 2: Part 1: What does the Bible say?                 
Day 3: An Elementary School Friendship Story     
Day 4:  Quotations: Part 1                                       
Day 5:  Why Friendship?                                      
Day 6: Book: Nobody's Cuter than You               
Day 7: Secrets                                                         
Day 8: Knitting                                                       
Day 9: What does the Bible say? (Part 2)         
Day 10: Friends for a Season                            
Day 11: Quotations: Part 2                              
Day 12: Books about Friendship
Day 13: Malt Attack! (a chocolate story)                  
Day 14: Friendship Across the Miles                          
Day 15: Online Friends are Not Make-Believe                            
Day 16: What does the Bible say? (Part 3)
Day 17: If a tree falls in your yard...
Day 18: Quotations: Part 3
Day 19: Hospitality
Day 20: Junior High Hurts
Day 21: When a Friendship Feels Like an Attack
Day 22: Forgiveness
Day 23: What does the Bible say? (Part 4)
Day 24: I Want to Be Your Friend
Day 25: Quotations: Part 4
Day 26: Imbalance in Friendship
Day 27: Sandpaper Friends
Day 28: Friendship Matchmaker
Day 29: Being a Good Friend
Day 30: What does the Bible say? (Part 5: Jesus)
Day 31: Conclusion and Series Wrap-Up

If you would like to learn more about writing for 31 days in a row, please visit and learn more about it. I chose the "Too Awesome to Categorize" category for my own blog this month, and I'm blog #11 in the list!

Previous 31 Day Series:
2014: #31Days of Books
2013: #31Days of Inspiring Quotations
2011: #31Days of Writing

Monday, September 28, 2015

CFBA presents: The Bones will Speak by Carrie Stuart Parks

My review is at the end of the CFBA post below.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Bones Will Speak
Thomas Nelson (August 11, 2015)
Carrie Stuart Parks


Carrie Stuart Parks is an award-winning fine artist and internationally known forensic artist. Along with her husband, Rick, she travels across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement as well as civilian participants. She has won numerous awards for career excellence. Carrie is a popular platform speaker, presenting a variety of topics from crime to creativity.

Animals have always been a large part of her life. Her parents, Ned and Evelyn Stuart, started Skeel Kennel Great Pyrenees in 1960. Carrie inherited the kennel and continues with her beloved dogs as both an AKC judge and former president of the Great Pyrenees Club of America. She lives on the same ranch she grew up on in Northern Idaho.


A killer with a penchant for torture has taken notice of forensic expert Gwen Marcey . . . and her daughter.
When Gwen Marcey’s dog comes home with a human skull and then leads her to a cabin in the woods near her Montana home, she realizes there’s a serial killer in her community. And when she finds a tortured young girl clinging to life on the cabin floor, she knows this killer is a lunatic.

Yet what unsettles Gwen most is that the victim looks uncannily like her daughter. The search for the torturer leads back in time to a neo-Nazi bombing in Washington state—a bombing with only one connection to Montana: Gwen. The group has a race-not-grace model of salvation . . . and they’ve marked Gwen as a race traitor. When it becomes clear that the killer has a score to settle, Gwen finds herself in a battle against time. She will have to use all of her forensic skills to find the killer before he can carry out his threat to destroy her—and the only family she has left.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Bones Will Speak, go HERE.

Pattie's Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Our family started watching the television series Bones this past summer, and we are all fascinated with how much can be learned from a crime scene. (We also watch NCIS, but not CSI--at which show the author pokes a bit of fun.)

Anyway, I couldn't put this book down. It came to my door on Friday night, and I finished it late Sunday night (I couldn't sleep until they caught the Bad Guy--you know how it is). 

As you can see from the synopsis, Gwen is a forensic artist. The details on her profession were fascinating, and I enjoyed the technical aspects very much. The inter-agency arguing was kind of funny and frustrating, and since I know that jurisdiction is really a thing that part seemed very real-life to me. 

The different parts of the mystery were really well-written, and I liked all of it.

The Christian message is not overly strong in this book, although there is prayer and quite a bit of Scripture due to Gwen's friend Beth and the white supremacist church. I gather from the fact that this is book #2 in the series that perhaps Gwen's spiritual struggle was in book #1. I would have enjoyed a bit more of that story, because here it seemed she was just avoiding Bible study and prayer and the urging of her friend out of sheer stubbornness.

I have to give a shout-out to dogs, who play a big role in this novel. Gwen's dog Winston is a Great Pyrenees, which is a sheep dog. I think the author's experience with the breed played a large part in Winston's character being so lifelike. We had a puppy early in our married life who was half Pyrenees, half blue-heeler. She was of course smaller than Winston, but no slouch in the energy and persistence departments. We loved her, but she was not a good house pet. We gave her to a family with a farm, and the farmer was thrilled because she was still young enough to train to run cattle. It was obvious with all the party tricks we'd taught her that she was a smart, bright dog (and smarter than her siblings, all of whom died by either running into traffic or farm equipment). I hope she had a busy and long life.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I recommend this book with four out of five stars.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Girl Meets Change

Change is inevitable. I have often said that the only things in life that are constant are God and change. It’s true, isn’t it? It’s almost as if I start to feel comfortable or at home in a place, Change knocks on the door, breezes into the house, hugs me too tightly, and plops down on the couch to make herself at home, dropping a few tasks and often lugging in some moving boxes as her cloying perfume cloud wafts around the room.

 Can you tell I’m not a huge fan of change? Oh friends, I’m really not. I don’t dread change, but I don’t always welcome it with open arms and an adventurous heart either. I’m somewhere in the middle.

 Enter Kristen Strong's new book, releasing today, titled Girl Meets Change: Truths to Carry You Through Life’s Transitions. Kristen is no stranger to change; her husband was an active duty service member for most of their marriage, and he retired last year after twenty-six years. This book is Kristen’s own story, anchored in Biblical truth and the wisdom of her experiences. She also includes some inspiring stories from her friends to reinforce the truth that God is always, always with us, especially during times of change.

 I read this book on the heels of the season with the most change I think I’ve yet encountered in my 40-plus years on this earth: older daughter graduating high school, a cross-continental PCS from one climate extreme to another, settling younger daughter into a high school three times the size of her previous one, and delivering older daughter to college a thousand miles away–all while (fruitlessly) job searching.

To read the rest of my review and an interview with the author, AND to enter the giveaway I'm hosting, please join me over at Wives of Faith.

Monday, August 31, 2015

What I Learned in August

What did I learn in August?

Well, friends, I learned a lot about myself and not all of it was pretty. But I'll be honest and say that some of it is good for me to know, so that I can continue growing and learning and changing as an adult.

Adulting is hard.

In fact, let's make that the first in the list....

Austen in August Update


I did not finish even one book by Jane Austen during the month of August.

I feel like I've failed.

Except, I didn't.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Simply Tuesday - more than just a day of the week

To say that I was excited about reading Emily Freeman's new book Simply Tuesday: Small-Moment Living in a Fast-Moving World is truly an understatement. Even if you're only an occasional visitor to Fresh-Brewed Writer, you know that I've been in a season of great change for quite some time now.  The idea of a book that focuses on small-moment living truly appealed to me.

"Tuesday holds the ordinary, the everyday, and the small," Freeman writes. But did she decide to dismiss Tuesday? Ignore Tuesday? On the contrary, "I decided to mark them, to celebrate on purpose the messy, the lovely, and the unexpected moments of life."

In essence, celebrating "Simply Tuesday" has become so much more. On Instagram there is the fun hashtag #itssimplytuesday wherein the community of Tuesday dwellers celebrates the ordinary, small things in our lives that are worth noting. For me, it has become a way to look at the small, to take moments to sit and breathe, and to celebrate the ever-constant, often-quiet presence of Emmanuel, "God With Us" in this very human and often unsacred life.

The best chapters, for me, were "Success and Envy" and "Stairwells and Stages." I think the important wisdom offered there was perfect for me as I read this book in the midst of living as simply as I ever have--in our new house in Georgia with air mattresses and suitcases until our belongings and furniture arrived from Alaska.

If you're looking for a quiet moment to breathe in the midst of turmoil or busyness or even just LIFE, please order this book from your favorite bookseller. {I don't offer affiliate links.}

Barnes & Noble

Special thanks to Revell books for a review copy of this wonderful book, and thank you to Emily Freeman and Daniel Decker for inviting me to be a part of the launch team.

Monday, August 17, 2015

For the Love Review

I got this book as I was preparing to move across North America. For the Love gave me laughter, it gave me teary-eyed moments, and it gave me new phrases, like "off the beam" and "leggings as pants" (just say no, friends...) and the best of all: "Be Kind. Be You. Love Jesus."

If there is a book you want to give to all your friends, this would be the one. Jen Hatmaker has a smart and sassy sense of humor, and this book makes all of us feel that she's our very own bestie. She speaks truth in love and humor.

Here is my endorsement of the book. It wasn't chosen to be printed in the book itself, but it's on the website.

Biblical, humorous, poignant, and sometimes just a little bit irreverent, every chapter in Jen Hatmaker’s latest book For the Love is focused on what the title says: Everything we do, we do for the Love: love for God, love for His Son Jesus, love for His people. All His people: the people in our homes, in our churches, in our communities, in the world. I laughed and cried in turn, and my heart was moved to love God and His people in real and tangible ways. What more could one ask for in one book?

Review: The Dinner List

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle My rating: 4 of 5 stars I heard about this novel last month. It sounded great, because who hasn't m...