The one who lives with integrity will be helped, 
but one who distorts right and wrong
will suddenly fall.
~Proverbs 28:18

Right now, at this moment, I would say my life is rather hard.  Not physically hard, but emotionally.  I suppose we all go through times in our lives where people we thought were close friends of good moral integrity let us down and prove us wrong.  We have all been lied about at some point, our names being drug through the mud, our good works being called into question or our confidences made public for analysis and gossip.  I am no different; but it does not make it any easier, I'm sorry to say.

Do I have to wallow in the mud?  Oh, I suppose I could...and have; wallowed in sadness and grief over the loss of relationship, purposeful misunderstanding and harsh injustice.  But I don't have to.  I could defend myself with proof and argue, dispute and debate with my new, but oh-so-familiar, adversaries.  Will I?  Should I?  No, I think I will continue to choose the high road, the narrow gate, the positive outlook.  I can strengthen myself with the knowledge of the protection and love of the LORD.

But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength;
Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For You have been my stronghold
And a refuge in the day of my distress.
O my strength, I will sing praises to You;
For God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness.
~Psalm 59
I praise HaShem for the bright and clear truth of what He thinks of me.  I am His, and always will be - He chose me from the foundations of the world and is with me always.  Only He is my true shepherd...none other.  And, to prove His love to me, He has given me flowers in the form of friends who have not wavered through the storm.  They have rode the wind and harsh onslaught right along side of me, holding me up when I couldn't even lift my eyes upward.  They have fed me with wisdom and love beyond what I could have possibly asked for; they are my beautiful friends for which I will be eternally thankful.

One measure of friendship consists not in the number of things friends can discuss, but in the number of things they need no longer mention.

My beautiful friends have been hurt through this storm, it is true.  The weather has battered them, forced them to watch things that should not take place among believers.  They have been put in the position of defense and support that tests character, strains relationship and questions identity.  I never imagined, in a million years, that we would have had to endure this type of trial.  And if I could, I would take it all away, somehow giving myself in exchange for their happiness and restored peace.

I'm so very sorry, my beautiful friends, that I can't take it away.  But I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have done and all that you are.  I will always be there for you, with all that I am...of that, you can be assured.

We cannot tell the exact moment a friendship is formed; as in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses, there is at last one that makes the heart run over.

So, we continue to walk, heads bent into the wind and slashing, winter rain.  But the LORD has provided us a place, a conservatory, for us to flourish away from the storm.  His Word, His salvation - honest and open worship of Him - is the warm, comforting, nourishing place we find refuge. 

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For You have been a refuge for me,
A tower of strength against the enemy. 

Let me dwell in Your tent forever;
Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.

~Psalm 61

I'd like to be the sort of friend that you have been to me, 
I'd like to be the help that you've been always glad to be; 
I'd like to mean as much to you each minute of the day, 
as you have meant old friend of mine, to me along the way.