About the Author

Denise is a lover of words and the Word. She's the author of #DeeperWaters and the Bible study series #WordWriters.

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  1. Denise,
    Having moved around the country a fair bit, I learned this lesson first hand. When you are literally the “new kid on the block”, people may make a kind gesture like bringing fresh baked goods when you move in, but then it will probably stop there. One neighborhood into which we moved….no one came bearing any smiles, words, or zucchini bread welcomes. Like you, I’ve waited for someone to come to be my friend. Sadly, if we wait, it often won’t happen. I learned that God was calling me (even if I was the new one) to extend my hand in friendship, to suggest a coffee date, or invite someone and their child for a play date. Yes, it sometimes seemed unfair and I did get the sting of rejection, but, in the long run, I found that when I reached out, others responded. When I learned to leave my unmet expectations behind and be the one to go first, good things happened (usually). I learned to not take the rejections personally. Each “No thank you” was me getting one step closer to a “Yes, I’d love to.” Walking in obedience is hard, but well worth the challenge. Awesome post!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

  2. Denise, thanks for Friday words that can save so much wasted time!
    When my kids were small, I lamented my lack of friends, but God opened my eyes to the group of women who worshiped with me every week–my kids’ friends’ mums who were right under my nose and needed friends as well. I started a Bible study with that group (the kids were thrilled) and so many good friendships still continue from that long ago decision to accept with gratitude the people God had given rather than longing for a different gift.

  3. You are so right. Who knows who may need us if we only allow ourselves to be open and share. We get so caught up in the busyness of this life, we forget to even glance to those who may need help. We call ourselves Christians and forget to be warm and inviting to others. I read somewhere in a quote and it says, you never know what battles the person next to you are fighting so be kind before you start judging. This is so true. One small act of kindness to open and share our life may indeed change someone else’s life in a big way. Let us encourage one another and be the first to take the step in sharing with others… Thank you for this message!

    • Maylee, I think you are so right to point out that — maybe it’s not ill-intentioned feelings toward us, but rather just the plain ole’ busyness of life that gets in the way. That’s a wonderful reminder for us all to slow down and look around.

      xo

      Denise

  4. Very true. Thank you for this. It shows us how self-centered we are, but then shows what we should do. 🙂

  5. Ah, Denise, what a great reminder to me to open my eyes to neighbors in my midst. I have worried about being the new kid on the block as well, but I’m going to continue to ask The Lord to give me his eyes to people in front of me who need a friend. I pray I will be “Jesus with skin on” to those I meet.

    Praise God from Whom all Blessings flow!

    In Him,
    Lara <

    • From Ginny

      My 96 yr old Mother recently moved to a senior living community. She’s very lonely and feels that all the women already have formed friendships as many have lived there for 6-10 yrs. In our Bible study this week she finally opened up about this and a few of our members said what this devotional has emphasized. To make a friend one must take the first step, the initiative, and ask if one woman or another would like to come to her apartment for coffee. Few women will seek her out first. Yes, she’ll encounter several rejections until one woman gladly accepts – perhaps lonely as well. Plus Mom just lost my dad In January and is still grieving this huge loss of her life (married 72 yrs.) I wish I could help more but I can’t be with her every day. I know she’d love that but I’m married and have a husband who must come first. I want to show her this devo and your responses but now my reply will be here too! Preferably I don’t want her to see this.
      In Him, Ginny

  6. I don’t know… I get weary of always feeling like I’m the one to make the effort. I am the one who typically sits alone… and I’ve reached out numerous times to others. I’ve been the Martha and the Mary… but seldom do I feel that I am an actual part of the group. It’s incredibly hard to continually feel you’re on the outside. I don’t think it’s as easy as ‘just reaching out’. At some point there needs to be something coming back into your own spiritual bucket of validation. It IS a two way street — everyone needs to be on the look out for the ones sitting alone, the ones that are a bit more quiet and reserved. I think we need to be cautious about saying if you’re alone YOU need to reach out… everyone needs to reach out. We need to get out of the cliques (single vs married, kids vs no kids, youth vs mature) and ‘home court’ groups (attended there forever) and actually make a genuine effort to cross those invisible boundaries.

    • Kelley, I feel your pain. I’ve been that person, too. You’re right – we can only give our 100%, and we can’t make relationships work if others are unwilling. May God direct you to those who are as willing as you are to invest in satisfying friendships, and may He be your comfort when people fall short. Hugs, sister.

      • Thank you — I know that are MANY who have struggled with the same sense of being on the outside… but it IS so easy to get caught up in the thinking of it’s just me… when in actuality there are a lot of me’s.. I really just want people to keep pushing their own boundaries of who they (or how) they interact with people. (I hope that made sense)… but thank you so much for your validation.

        K

    • You’re right – it shouldn’t be just you. But, if you wait and they don’t, you’re still alone. I’ve prayed about finding friends, especially one “good” friend, and I haven’t really found that soul mate friend. But I have found that I have one friend who I can share my art with, and another friend I can talk about prayer concerns with, and another friend to laugh with…and I’m trusting God for companionship. I work for a ministry, my friends are connected to the workplace, and retirement looms on the horizon. I wonder, who wilI I have to be friends with when that happens? It’s a scary feeling! (Lots of nighttime prayers about that, I’m not joking!) And then I think, God has a plan, I only need to trust Him. And reach out to the new staff member, who’s trying to fit in, the quiet one at church, who’s not part of a group. Just to smile and say hi, and share a few words…isn’t that what we are called to do? When they’ve found their niche, it may not be in my circle, (and I may not have a seat-mate!) but they’re still friendly. I think the hardest part for me is to reach out to someone in another walk of life – the young Mom at church, or the modern teenager with the piercings – I’m a single 60ish woman, what do I have in common with her? But a smile and a kind word, and who knows? God may have a special friendship waiting, or maybe I’m just doing His work. I pray that the Lord blesses your efforts with a special friend!

      • ^^^YES! Trudi, I LOVE that you mentioned this. I have spent (wasted?) so many years looking for that “soul mate” of a friend. What I found instead was one friend who loved to go to tea shoppes with me, another friend who liked to talk quilting with me, and another friend who totally gets my love of football! (Yes, I love tea and quilts and football. I’m kinda weird that way.)

        Thank you, Trudi, for speaking such wisdom here! This whole topic is really worthy of another post (or several!). I’ll get started right away!

        xo

        Denise

      • Yes, I get that. As the quote goes… ‘never, never, ever, give up’…. but yet there is still the seed of need there — down deep. The need to be seen, heard and cared for. As a single person, with no children who is the main caregiver of an elderly parent ,while I do still work my world has begun to narrow significantly. Friends have shifted over the years… they now have kids/grandkids and all those crazy events to keep them occupied and connected… while it feels as though my world only continues to shrink.

        I continue to reach out, host events (I have befriended the college students who need home cooked meals), attended book clubs and craft events… yet vary rarely does it feel as thought people really want to peel back the layers and know the ‘real’ me… and some of that I completely own… I’m NOT the easiest person to get to know. 🙂

        So, I guess my basic concern is that as our society becomes even more entrenched in technology.. and social media we can’t forget to look around and continue to reach out and make those deeper, face to face connections. And… never, never, ever give up.

        K

    • Kelley, I’m right there with you! Yes, all long-lasting relationships are definitely a two-way street. I get weary, too, of feeling like I’m the one making all the effort. I think it’s about managing my expectations. I have to remind myself to choose to give of myself and reach out, and then hold my expectations loosely. But, yeah, there have definitely been seasons when it just felt too long before someone else did the “reaching out.” And, yeah, I’ve experienced many disappointments along the way.

      I wish we could share a pot of tea and share our stories, face to face. That’s really where my heart is at. I’m grateful for you and your honesty in this space. That’s what it’s for.

      xo

      Denise

      • Denise —
        Thank you for your words and kindness… and yes. I would LOVE to have tea and talk, laugh and listen.

        As a young woman I attended a very small Christian College in the middle of nowhere.. I lived in the dorm.. had a room mate with a very tiny room… and I absolutely LOVED it. There was ALWAYS someone around to be silly with, to study with, to just BE with… those were truly the best years of my life… (although people think I’m crazy)… but I miss the availability that we had then — to reach out and comfort each other.

        Although we have technology — and I love to connect via that platform… I miss the human face to face connection! 🙂

        Thank you so much– again, for your kind and thoughtful comments.
        Kelley

  7. Once again, Denise, you have touched my heart. After living in the same general area all of our lives, my husband and I relocated to Greater Boston a little over a year ago and then moved a second time in September to have an easier commute for work. I have felt very lonely! All my friends are “back home”. I’ve made a couple friends at work, but we don’t live near each other so don’t get together socially. After visiting several churches, we finally found one near our first location. Then the process started over when we moved again, because the church we’d found is now over an hour away. The bottom line is I’ve been waiting for others to come knocking at my door to be my friends! Not surprisingly, I’m still waiting. I’m 57 years old, for heaven’s sake, will I ever get over the paralyzing insecurity that has always prevented me from being the “one to go first”? The first step is the hurdle. I know that nothing will change until I take that step.

    • Ellen, I don’t believe you’re alone at all. No matter what our age may be, we’re still longing and looking for genuine friendship wherever we go.

      A couple years ago, I flew into Boston in October, and I’ll never forget the colors of the fall trees from the sky. I thought Boston was one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen (at least from the sky!). 🙂 Out here in California, we just don’t get fall trees like that. And Palm trees just aren’t the same.

      Sorry for the tangent there. 🙂 If I ever fly into Boston again, I’d love to have tea!

      xo

      Denise

  8. Denise, it’s easier said than done, isn’t it? It’s hard to accept my life is a one-way pouring out into others’ lives regardless of their response. It definitely gives me reason to keep close to Jesus – the One who will always pour into me. When we moved to our current home, I didn’t wait for anyone to welcome us to the neighborhood. I made homemade cinnamon rolls and brought them to a few of the closest houses to introduce myself. It’s a constant shift in thinking to remember I carry His light, and I’m responsible for how I carry it. Thank you for this reminder, Denise.

    • “It’s hard to accept my life is a one-way pouring out into others’ lives regardless of their response. It definitely gives me reason to keep close to Jesus – the One who will always pour into me.”

      ^^^ Yes! This!

      And homemade cinnamon rolls? I’m in.

      xo

      Denise

  9. I’ll be upfront and honest: this stepped on my toes a little. My mind immediately went to my workplace (I work primarily with three older women and between the four of us and four and a half years of working together, we’ve had our issues), and then to a friend/mother and mother-in-law of two friends, to my own mother, to moms of other friends and to countless women that I interact with only once in a lifetime. My mind has gone to my future mother-in-law and sisters-in-law, my future daughters…and how often I wait for all these people to be the ones to move first. How I wait for them to act better, nicer, or even simply to be the first one to say a welcoming word upon greeting. I also thought of Jen Schmidt’s post earlier this week about hospitality and how Jesus called us to be hospitable to one another, in the way that the bible depicts as opposed to the way that the world depicts. I think that Jen’s and Denise’s messages this week go hand-in-hand; hospitality is being the one to make the first move to be kind and welcoming and warm-hearted towards the other. It is not about how you can serve me, but about how I can serve you. So being a Good Samaritan and exhibiting true, biblical hospitality seem to be two things that go perfectly together!
    This week has really rekindled my desire towards the women’s ministry that I had imagined and dreamed about a year and a half ago and sort of put off to the side after realizing I wasn’t as a good a leader as I had thought. But now I think I’m back on track and understanding that just because I’m not where I want to be yet doesn’t mean that I’m not where I need to be and that I should just give up on that call to ministry. It’s just not time for that ministry to be born yet. This is a time of personal growth and learning, a time mainly to be taught by others and to work towards being in a position where I’m truly ready to start my ministry.
    I’m honestly about ready to cry tears of joy for the things that I’ve learned this week and the way that Holy Spirit has been moving in my life!

    • Katheryn, I’m praying with you that God will embolden you to take the next step for His Kingdom in love and authenticity! Cheering you on!

    • Katheryn, thank you for sharing so honestly here in this space. I hear you, all the way!

      “This week has really rekindled my desire towards the women’s ministry…”

      ^^^ And this? My heart, totally. My heart’s desire has long been towards women’s ministry. Please keep in touch how it’s going!

      xo

      Denise

  10. Wow! I keep getting this similar message this past week from many different sources, so I’m tuning in to listen. I’ve heard or read about true hospitality, about being vulnerable and “going first” (from this post and elsewhere), and our pastor is doing a series on praying for one person (or asking God to whom we can show love today), and I may have even forgotten others.

    I also had an emotional few days, which let me to thinking, talking to family and praying, as I realized that I am feeling a bit lonely right now. I’m thankful I have a few trusted friends and am involved in ministries and groups (so have many acquaintances), and also have a dear sister and family I’m very close to (but they all live 500 miles away). But in thinking back over the past few months, I suddenly determined that I’m lacking in the “close friends” department right now.

    So your message is timely. I’ll be praying and thinking about not just whom God might bring to me, but to whom I might take a step and be a friend.

    • “I’ll be praying and thinking about not just whom God might bring to me, but to whom I might take a step and be a friend.”

      ^^^ Beautiful, friend, just beautiful.

      xo

      Denise

  11. Your story, Denise, reminded me of a retreat experience of my own from years ago. Another woman and I were paired up for an exercise–someone I never would have chosen as a friend because she seemed a bit tough and assertive. Well! She turned out to be SO much different from my first impression, once we started talking. And we became very good friends after that, spending much time together, participating in a Bible study and praying together. You’d think I would have learned my lesson once and for all, but I still have to remind myself: don’t judge a book by its cover. The story inside may very well become a favorite. And the key to discovering that story is to “lean in and listen,” just as you said, Denise!

  12. I know this feeling. I have walked into many conferences, retreats, churches by myself. I am always full of hope but have left feeling cynical too many times. Knowing how I felt in these circumstances I work to be the person who looks for the woman who is all alone. I want all people to feel welcomed and accepted. I am not perfect but it certainly will change the ending to their story when I reach out. Thank you for these words today.

  13. I had situation happen to me once that I compare to the story of the Samaritan. Would you walk past someone in tears? Sobbing? I was the one in tears. If we look hard, we will see our lives in many stories, mostly I think I run across the moat and beam.

  14. Denise,

    I remember being the “newbie” at church some 14+ years ago. I was there with hubby & knew no one else. I will never forget this lady came right to my pew after church & welcomed me. It was so warming & nice. Now that I’m an “oldie” I do the same for others. Walking up to those I don’t know & say hello welcome to the church. I feel that if they take the time to come & worship with me they deserve a hug or a polite hello. Wanting to make everyone feel welcome & at home. That is what Jesus would do!! BTW: our church is small 80 at most for Sunday morning. It is super easy to spot new comers!

    Blessings 🙂

  15. I love this! Thank you for writing this post – I thought I was the only one! I have had this experience and I agree – to have a friend you have to be a friend. It takes courage to take the first step and it’s often uncomfortable. But Jesus didn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to love God and love one another. Love always gives and I think, love goes first. Wonderful post I will share!

  16. Well said. It’s easier to point out how everyone else isn’t doing their Christian duty instead of how we can do ours better. Thanks for the reminder.