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Friends and contentment

Last week I made my annual trip up the mountain to Sparta. My friends have a secluded home near a babbling brook. Their home and property are a haven for peace. It’s a two-plus hour ride to their home that doesn’t feel that long because I look so forward to my time with this great couple. When I arrive, the conversation seems to pick up right where we left it the last time we saw each other.
Driving up to Sparta is such an interesting transition from the flatlands of Salisbury. Everything begins to change when I bear off Interstate 77 and get on US 21 in Elkin. Driving around Elkin brings back lots of memories, as I taught school in Elkin for five years. As I pass the old Walmart and a big beautiful church, the mountain comes into view. The closer I drive to the mountain, the more fantastic views I get of its natural beauty.
Before I realize it the switchbacks begin. I twist and turn my way up the mountain with occasional views of the valley below. When I reach the top I pass the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is still some distance to go before I get into Sparta. Most of the homes I see along the road have been there for quite a while, some even made out old stones. Many of the homes have gardens.
Some of the fields that climb the mountains are filled with tobacco, Christmas trees and grape vines. Many of the hills are dotted with cows, and if you look close enough, some deer too. When I approach downtown Sparta I notice that it is much cooler than home. One thing I noticed this year as I drove through town is that I could see mountains no matter where I was in town. Their beauty and majesty surround and protect Sparta.
I have to drive through town in order to get to my friends’ house. When I arrive, I am greeted with love, laughter and a very special time of sharing and catching up. I was blessed to share both lunch and dinner with my friends before I had to peel myself away and begin the long drive home. Driving through Sparta and down the mountain at night is a little scarier because of the deer. I always see plenty of them on the side of the road, but this year one greeted me as I came around a hidden curve in the road. There she was, standing firmly in place. Thankfully I braked and honked and she moved out of my way.
There were two things we discussed while together that caused me to reflect. The first is the importance of keeping up with old friends. We both shared stories of old friends that we had lost contact with, which makes us realize the importance of good friends. Developing good friendships takes time and energy, an investment of ourselves. I believe that God blesses us with good friends who will be there for us and will encourage us as we walk through life. These friendships should be treasured and nurtured.
The second thing I have reflected on since riding down the mountain is the secret of contentment. My friends are retired and they realize that they have the three most important things in life: food for the table, a beautiful and peaceful place to call home, and a deep love and commitment to each other that goes beyond words. They truly enjoy all the blessings that God has bestowed upon them and enjoy each moment they get to share together.
I believe that God wants us to count our blessings, and to learn the secret of being content. Thank Him for your home and your family. Remember Him as you eat the food he has provided. Thank Him for your good health. Consider the great blessings you have in your children and your pets. Take a deep breath and be grateful for His peace, love, and joy. Remind yourself of His faithfulness in your life and rejoice.
I want to encourage you to connect with some good friends and let the blessings of that friendship fill your heart. I also want to encourage you to stop striving so hard and allow peace and contentment to guard your heart and your thoughts. The only thing we should want more of is the Spirit of God. Allow Him to wash you, fill you and anoint you to be a blessing to your family, friends and to those in the world who are hungry for what you have.

Doug Creamer teaches marketing at East Davidson High School. His website is located at www.dougcreamer.com Contact him at PO Box 777, Faith, NC 28041 or email doug@dougcreamer.com

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