Tag: relationships

A relational breakdown starts slowly, almost imperceptibly. Something isn’t right but you can’t quite put your finger on what’s out of kilter.

A dark cloud drifts over the friendship and refuses to leave. A subtle shift emerges, its unspoken message rather clear. Idle words cut deep. Eye contact becomes non-existent. Texts go unanswered. Plans get cancelled with the wave of a hand and vague, hurtful excuses.

Something disquieting is floating in the wind and right before your very eyes, what has been so safe, strong, and comforting is morphing into a relationship you can’t even recognize.

Any conversations that do take place find you walking on eggshells, weighing your words, your eyes brimming. That wonderful easy freedom to fully be yourself has vanished and you feel, well … unsure, unsafe, unwanted. And oh so terrified.

You choke as you experience betrayal. Exclusion. Abandonment.

Blinded by loyalty or familiarity or fear of stepping up and speaking out, you stay silent. Left unspoken, all the accumulated hurt, frustration, and grief gather ’round your heart and clutch it tight.

You’re afraid to address the elephant in the room.

For who would you be without that person in your life?

The pathway of the broken-hearted is uneven and messy, strewn with tears …

Repeated disrespect, dishonesty, and disloyalty serve as warning signs that there are huge issues that must be addressed. Shattered trust is difficult to mend. It can be done, but only with a commitment to the value of the relationship, prayer, and honest, grace-filled communication.

Conversations where truth, love, and respect mingle are the only hope of salvaging a dying relationship. And forget about texting and email. These are dead ends that only lead to more misunderstanding. Don’t go there.

An inability for both friends to each own their own responsibility for where they find themselves leaves no future hope for the relationship. It takes two.

The continued refusal of one friend to acknowledge the other’s heartbreak and the stark reality of the deteriorating situation halts any kind of understanding and reconciliation.

Shattered trust, denial as to the damage done, and unwillingness to commit to the hard work of healing close the door to any kind of deep, authentic friendship.

The death of a long time relationship is akin to a divorce, a death. This is a loss that deserves to be acknowledged and mourned.

To wish the other person well, to allow her to move on without you in her life, is a beautiful gift you give to yourself. And to her. This most likely won’t happen quickly … and it doesn’t mean reconciliation.

But it does lead to peace.

Hitting bottom as you lose someone valuable allows you to focus on the only One who’ll never change like shifting shadows, who won’t forsake or abandon you. God is always inviting you to something deeper and more substantial. A renewed passion for your faith in Him is able to redeem all the heartache you’ve experienced along the way.

For He specializes in restoring our seasons of brokenness {Joel 2:25-26}.


Let’s talk about how you’ve survived the death of a friendship and what you learned in the process …




Must Reads …
Necessary Endings
~ Henry Cloud

Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend
~ Irene Levine

The Emotionally Destructive Relationship: Seeing It, Stopping It, Surviving It
~ Leslie Vernick

Linda Stoll is a pastoral counselor to women in Cape Cod, Massachusetts where she lives in a little town tucked between the ever-changing bay and the ocean deep. Married for 41 years, she’s celebrating faithful friends, a decade of blogging, and the simplest daily joys. Her greatest claim to fame is her seven grandchildren, one who now lives in heaven.

She’d love for you to share this post with your social media tribe because she knows that everyone’s been wounded along the way. And she invites you to get to know her better right here.


faith hope

When you’re down and troubled
And you need a helping hand
And nothing, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night…
All you’ve got to do is call and and I’ll be there
You’ve got a friend – James Taylor

It was the summer when my family of four became split into two part. Mama and I packed up her car and set out to all that was new. We left friends and the known for unfamiliar and oh, so different.

Her new job, her new life, took us from family and the familiar in Arkansas to Baltimore, Maryland. We moved into a comfortable apartment for the two of us. While she settled in her new job as bookkeeper, I spent the rest of the summer in this little space reading and listening to the radio. I found comfort in the soothing voice of James Taylor, and others. This song that played over and over the summer of ’71 brought peace in the midst of loss. God used these words to remind me of his friendship. That he would never leave me. That he’d be there.

around the center

I sometimes compartmentalize my friends. Not them so much as our relationship. I have…

…long time friends and new friends, music friends and sewing friends…

…friends who know my middle name and friends who are uncertain of my first.

I have friends who know parts of me better than I know myself and friends who only think they do.

I have Facebook friends, blogging friends, photography class friends and Instagram friends.

I have flesh and blood, I’ve met face to face, I recognize their laugh kind of friends.

For some, friendship has taken time to build. And the time has paid off.

Sometimes the best friends are the ones who aren’t so much like me. The ones who open me up to different perspectives and expand my view. They lead the way to new.

In our role as pastor, I’ve found it hard to make friends that go beyond the surface. Knowing our appointments are determined by our organization has made me hold back from committing to deeper friendships. It’s just to risky…the pain of knowing and loving and leaving.

Inviting people into your life can be scary. God didn’t create us to be alone. While God provides all of our needs in Christ Jesus, he often uses people to meet these needs. Unlikely people. People who don’t look like us or believe like us. They might even be people we never meet face to face. Or they might be family.

My life is richer because of the varied places these friends represent. They brighten up my darkest night. They are one of God’s many gifts to me.


faith Five-Minute Friday Music

It sounds dire and like the most serious thing there is when you say ‘this is what’s saving my life’. Yes, perhaps it’s a little dramatic. But then again, maybe these things are  saving us more than realize.

If this is your first time to my blog, know that the only one who can literally save my life is Jesus. He saves me. Every. Day.

There are a few things that are bringing an extra measure of peace to my life these days.

Realizing I’m a resource-er
I posted that statement on my Facebook page and a reader asked what that meant to me. Questions are helpful in allowing me to process and articulate it.

It’s not a word you’ll find in the dictionary but it describes much of what I do.

I listen to residents and employees, friends and family and find many times the conversation leads to where I recommend a book, send a link to an article or share lyrics of a song.

It was a few of those encounters on the same day that it hit me that I’m a resource-er.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you are too.

Taking a leap (for me)
I’m an over thinker and second-guesser. I don’t ask the what if’s because I’ve already imagined they aren’t good. So for me, opening an Etsy Shop and putting some of my photography on Sociey6 isn’t a step, but a leap. I feel certain I’ll make some big mistakes. I’ve priced things wrong, haven’t fully thought out the shipping process and what am I thinking that someone will actually want to buy my art?! Yes, this feels like a leap.

Texas, North Carolina, Florida
TX, OK, FL, KY (most have moved since this photo was taken)


selfie with the nieces

Friendships near and far

It’s not hard for me to go it alone. I learned it early on as well as learning the risk of allowing others in. But I need people in my life. I need others to speak words of truth and hope to me. One friend recently told me I should get a therapist. It wasn’t harsh or mean but said totally out of love as she sees some of my emotional ups and downs more than most.

I also need the friends I’ve never met in person. The unexpected card from one that shows up in our mail box. The real outside-on-the-street mail box! Another sends a book and another messages me just to check in.

I need to see Patt’s photos of her work in Malawi and Brian’s updates from Peru. Pictures of my nieces who are scattered all over and cousins I haven’t seen since we were kids. We’re tethered by social media I’m grateful.

What’s saving your life? My challenge is that you let that question settle with you and jot down the things that come to mind to answer that question. It will change. Today’s things won’t be the same as tomorrow’s but maybe there’s one that makes the list more often. If you’re really brave, share them; blog it, tweet it, or tell a friend.

It helps us be in the present.

faith family


I don’t abide well.

We moved. A lot. And when you move, you don’t rest, you don’t settle. Roots can’t dig in, and growth stunts when we don’t remain. It took me many years to realize some of the effects of this wandering.

Making friends doesn’t come easy.

Once you realize the pattern of moving, you’ll spend six months in this state and then six months in another, you don’t put effort into making friends. Seeing the point of making new friends, when you probably won’t be there to finish the school year or to start the next, feels like more than you can handle.

You don’t know how to say goodbye.

The first unexpected move came over Christmas break. Our parents packed up the family, moved us to a new town, and we never returned. There were no goodbyes to friends. Social media wasn’t around, and there was no texting, Snapchat, Periscope or Facebook.

The other moves weren’t as dramatic but still came with little notice. When newspapers from other towns started arriving at our house we knew we’d soon be packing and moving by the end of the semester.

No goodbyes … just leaving.



Expectations are minimal.

Whatever my expectations might have been, they became lost in the rearview mirror. The only thing to expect was another move. The expectations of getting involved in school groups or the community remained minimal. The one constant was church. It would be the one thing I counted on.

When this happens in your teenage years, it takes time to figure out why you have trouble trusting. And why you crave friendships so much. Mostly, you want to stay in one place.

To read more, hop over to the Middle Places blog where I’m guest posting.


faith family hope

It is young love. Not young of age but young of new where the two are still enamored with each new place, new event, something special to share between them. He wants to take her to this restaurant where the fish taco’s are great and she really needs to go on the boat, to enjoy the leisurely ride down the intracoastal, this part of Florida is new to her. She bounces when we hit the wake of another boat and he moves around her, arms holding her close. He smiles at her wide eyes as we bounce along and she asks me to take their picture.



It was at summer camp and we were 13 and had I had no idea his kindness and attention meant he liked me. In that liked me kind of way. It wasn’t love, not even puppy love but the newness, you remember. The smiles, the sweetness, the confusion.

I’ve never been good with love. I’ve had trouble recognizing it and then not sure what to do with it. The butterflies in your stomach weren’t always truthful. But sometimes love is something others see more from the outside than you see within.

me-Henry1977 BW

I have this man, that after 37 years still pulls me close and I still blush and wriggle away, struggling with accepting his generous affections. Sometimes I lean in because I know this is love, not the fake stuff where you pretend to like everything the other one likes.

Oscar Roan  Oscar Roan

I watched Oscar smile big watching his new wife move about, learning her way in their life together.

I thought about our early days of love and my continual missteps at accepting all that he gives. And in it I turned my thoughts to the days when Jesus was my first love. That time is still clear to me. The time when I realized the church wasn’t my salvation and my parents Jesus was theirs, not mine. They couldn’t make that decision. It could only come from me and that summer of the year they divorced I decided He would be my personal Jesus. He would get me through life and I would turn to him. Always.


Mama and I moved where I had no one, no friends, no family, not even a familiar spot, only familiar songs on the radio. I especially needed Jesus and I spent time reading the bible. I carried it to school some days, sitting in a quiet spot at lunch to read more. First love. It’s like that.

I guess seeing this new love with our friend reminded me how stale I’ve let mine get. That love for Jesus, the only one who is love. It’s not just what he says but He. Is. Love. I know it. I claim it. But. But I treat him like an acquaintance. Like someone I used to know but have let the friendship grow cold.

My best relationships are two-sided. They are give and take. It’s time I give more. It’s time I accept more. Of Him.

“Yet there is one thing wrong; you don’t love me as at first! Think about those times of your first love (how different now!) and turn back to me again and work as you did before…” Revelation 2:4-5 TLB


My hand tugs the king-sized sheet up and I smooth it down before placing the pillows on the bed and walk to the other side to do the same. Every morning.

We started with a queen-sized bed. It was enough. I wondered aloud why anyone would want a king size. All that space when you end up puddled in the middle together.

We live in a parsonage; a house owned by our organization. It’s fully furnished so we get what we get. Our second appointment we got a king sized bed. That was 19 years ago and every appointment since has had the big bed where we square off our space and snuggle deep into its comfort.

It can mirror a life of years spent together. We started small and close. A small cottage with a drop-down table attached to our living room wall because there was no other eating area. All of life shared in this cozy place. No man cave, no bedroom t.v., no gazillion channels to feed our differing tastes.

red white quilt


blue and white quilts

You can see a bit of two ruts in this mattress that has formed to our positions for seven years. The space between that has become comfortable causes much discomfort when we feel squeezed into the full-sized bed at our daughters. How do people do this?

Our lives have spread out some, it’s good and healthy to find your way as one, always knowing you’re only one that is apart of two.

I wonder the temptation of space. The becoming one that forgets about the two.

We value alone time and personal space. American families are smaller but our houses bigger. Fewer people, more space. We build more space only to fill them with things to connect us, texting each other in the next room.

I celebrate the positives of technology and am thankful that cell phones help our children remain more connected to us than the days of land lines and pay-by-the-minute long distance calls. I’m thankful for seeing photo’s of friends living in other countries and being able to watch their children grow up. There is a certain connectivity but yet we are lonely.

Lonely for the more that comes with conversations, real voices to hear the joke, real faces to see the sly grin, the raised eyebrow. We’re learning human connection can’t be replaced by technology. Aren’t we?

Or are we letting our carefully crafted profiles represent reality?


Story, as in my story. A story to be lived, to be shared, to be redeemed. A story that tells of hope, of beauty, of a life that is continually being found by the Savior of Fools.

My story spills out here, on this little space I call Graceland because it is that. It is all grace as this story continues from day-to-day and I am living in graceland, always.

This is about forgiveness as I revisit issues that have kept me from living a fuller life in God and learning I can forgive a past and I can forgive me and I can accept God’s forgiveness. Really accept it.

This story is about my parts that include ministry and walking in a community of men in recovery and some not wanting it at all and learning how to love them all and still love me and God.

This story is amazing because God is amazing and his design is nothing short of the kind of story that draws men and women to Him.

This story, the one I keep trying to write instead of giving the keyboard to God, this one isn’t over. It’s a love story and mystery. It’s full of unexpected, page-turning twists and even when I don’t know what the next chapter holds, I know the ending. I already know that this story, the one that sometimes is tragic and others victorious, in the end, the very end, love wins.

(I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker for the 5-minute Friday posts. Hop over to read others, or write your own, take on the prompt: story)


faith hope recovery Salvation Army

When it comes to our children, grown and all, I’m slow at revealing much of their lives. Even joyous ones like a wedding. However, I have no issues with showing pictures of the grand-daughter any time! 😀

I share so much of my heartaches and fears with you how can I not share the joys?

First, a humble thank you to those who prayed for our travels and prayed for my strength and my heart as we saw a son married and a mother with no recognition of her children or grandchildren. You are awesome!

The venue for the wedding was the Venetian Resort and it was absolutely beautiful. From the door man and accordion player at the entrance to the grand halls with murals on the ceilings and marble under foot. It was near sensory overload to take it in.

The wedding itself was small. The bridal party consisted of the bride, groom and minister (aka groom’s father). A gathering of 30 to 40 family and friends (mostly friends) were there to share in the joy and the joy was so evident on the faces of the sweet couple.

My two best men
brother and sister
with my boy

The backdrop was an interior courtyard and was just perfect.

The perfect music accompaniment

My pictures aren’t the best as it’s not easy being mom-of-the-groom trying to be stealth about taking pictures. The professional has some fantastic shots and even asked the bride and groom if he could use them on his website for advertising purposes.

Photo apps on iPhones are great for some fun edits.

A dress change at the reception and the bride was radiant, her smile glowing as always.

May God’s love bind them, His spirit live in them and His Son be reflected in them.



Mama is 74 today. She has no idea. When I visited her in March she had to sign her name to some medical forms. She hesitated as I spelled it out for her. It wasn’t her handwriting but very child-like. It’s not so bad not knowing your age. You can be any age you want! She is happy and in reasonably good health. Physically.

Happy mom giving hugs to the other residents

There’s no need to send her cards, though I did. For me again. She was able to read a few months ago and I suspect she still can. She knew her name and even got her birthday right when the hospital woman asked her. I was so proud of mama.

All the years I’ve sent her gifts not because she needed a thing but to show her how much her being born means to me. Obvious, I know. Without her I’d not be here, and so on. Today I was thinking about the gifts she has given me.

She had a deep appreciation for arts, particularly handmade things.  She was my biggest encourager in that area: drawing, painting, quilting, sewing. We shared that interest and appreciation.

Recognized in her town in 2008.
A few years back at a Salvation Army event.

Her example of service and selflessness is unmatched. She always put herself last to another’s need. At times, to a fault.

Her service to others was born from her desire to serve God. Not just a desire, but God’s calling on her life. She served with integrity, humility and great character.

She’s never been afraid of hard work and could get a meal together for 100 people all in her head. I’m sorely lacking in that area though I married someone who can. And she loved Henry dearly.

In the kitchen at my brothers wedding.

I know I’m speaking in past tense as though she’s no longer here but in that sense she isn’t. She doesn’t remember Henry, our children, where we live or that she collects apples. She does remember God. She is still giving gifts to others through her love for Him. The gift of her laughter and joy.

March 2012

Those are the real things that have mattered and they are  gifts. I have silly things that remind me of her. An apple-shaped dish, one serving of her silver flatware, a tiara she used to give to her scouting girls. I have a letter she wrote to me years ago that surfaces now and then. Those things will fade, break, get lost or tarnish. But not love. Not the love she showed, the love she lived and lives. Even God’s words assures us “the greatest of these is love”.

Thanks mama. For showing all your love.



The day of love is over. The jewelry and lingerie commercials have ended. The candy is half price. Even the price of roses is less today. The day after the day of love. Just a day. One a year. To declare our love.

I was standing among four men, in their 20’s, all in our program. They’d come to help with a project. It was Awards night. Every month we celebrate sobriety achievements and program graduates. It fell on Valentines this year. We were going to decorate a little.


They wheeled the helium tank in the work room. Two more came to help. Ribbon was being cut, bags stuffed with tissue paper and rocks to weight the balloons. The room filled with laughter and just being in their presence made me feel younger, energized. Loved. They worked together focused on adding to another’s joy.

This is love. Love in action. Real love that doesn’t end. You won’t find cards for this and there’s no need for chocolates although none turned down the pink M&M’s I had.

This, these men, their struggles and pain, their past and uncertain future, all point to love without strings, without end. I see God in the midst of their tears and smiles. I see him touching their lives and bringing clarity to their eyes and mind. And when He touches them, it spills over to me. It’s that kind of love. One that cannot be contained.

I could choose to see the pain and failures. But is that how I want to limit God? Yes, He is in there in the pain and all the disappointments. But God is bigger. I choose to see the possible because that’s what God sees in me. A faulty, stumbling woman who knows God loves her anyway. He sees a possibility beyond my capacity. He sees His love poured out and spilling over in puddles of grace. This is love. The never-ending love that will not let me go.