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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Of Friends and Fellowship

We had a lovely weekend. Saturday was spent going for Z's swim class in the morning, followed by his usual nap before we headed off to spend the afternoon with one of Mark's very good friends, Edwin, and his wife Christine. They have three girls.


It was a time of rest and catching up. The fellowship was comfortable, our shared commonalities made for insightful conversation, the children played well together, and most of all, we once again felt refreshed in the presence of good friends. 


I have come to not take these moments for granted. Ten years ago, in my yet unmarried state, no housework or babies to tend to, these moments were far easier to obtain and I believe I must have taken them for granted. In my university days, or just starting work, there seemed to be so many more evenings which could be spent just hanging out with friends for dinner, or catching a show. There have also been friends who have come and gone through the years, and I have learnt to take friendship with an open hand, knowing that it is only God who chooses to bless and He can also take away, in His infinite wisdom and grace.


Indeed, Mark and I feel that our circle of friends has gradually shrunk over the years. Sometimes, I wonder if it was any fault of ours. There seem to be so few people we are genuinely comfortable with, or even have the time for - there are more whom we are in a ministering capacity with, and then there is always the great support from our families - but it is not the same as having mutual company, people who can understand our shared journeys, who celebrate and mourn with you and whose presence does not impose.


We are very grateful that God has allowed us to find such friends recently; it has been an answered prayer, for believe it or not, married and family life too can feel lonely at times! With so many of our friends going through similar life transitions, most of us can scarce afford the time to meet up, burdened as we are with work and family commitments. 


Two such examples came to mind this week. Last Tuesday, one of our friends, Jared, asked if he could come and share in our family meal. I was delighted when I heard that he wanted to visit - it had been several months since we had caught up, but more than that, I was so glad that he was comfortable enough with our family that he would ask to come over for dinner and fellowship with us. I wished more people would have the initiative to invite themselves over for dinner - to me, it indicates the level of comfort and familiarity of our friendship. Jared was our wedding photographer, and has since journeyed with us through several family photoshoots. Mark, Z and I all enjoyed the company, particularly Z, who refused to sleep till Uncle Jared went home, and even then tried to ask him to go for a walk so late at night!


Then there was the wonderful time we had with Edwin and Christine on Saturday. They blessed us with a wonderful meal of vongole made with the freshest clams, just bought from the market that morning, and a dessert of moist chocolate cake. Z played really well with their second daughter, D. It was wonderful to see our son's face light up with glee with the presence of a playmate. He does not often have a chance to play with other children, being surrounded by adults most of the time. I believe such interaction is crucial as he grows and learns to give and share with other children. Z is blessed by their presence, as they are a godly family and share very much the same values as we do. I see him being encouraged and affirmed for who he is, and that does wonders for his sense of self.


We ended the evening with a stroll down the new Punggol Waterway. It was a breezy night, and I was thrilled by the fact that the sea was just a stone's throw away and that there were fishermen lining the whole path beside the water, eager for a catch. One of them even showed us his bucket of crabs, intended for chili crab. The conversation was meaningful, and the kids were having a great time being piggy-backed by their daddies as the mummies looked on and smiled.


The most beautiful sight, however, was the scene of Z and D walking hand-in-hand down the pathway in front of us - a tiny toddler excited and raring to go, small hand clasped in the older girl's bigger one, the little girl twice his height trying to keep him from wandering off the path, and both of them giggling in delight. She sang Sunday School songs sweetly to him in her high-pitched voice, and he gave her his full attention. It was a precious moment, one that Mark and I will cherish. 


We need such friends on this journey of life. They are people who will not hesitate to tell you when they think that you are wandering off the path. They are people who affirm your strengths and forgive your weaknesses. They are people whom you can share a hearty laugh with, knowing you will not be judged. They are people who will speak spiritual lessons into your soul, and remind you of Who is in charge. We truly thank God for friends like these.


"A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25

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