Tag Archives: friends

Unconventional Friendships – An (in)Courage Guest Post!

Incourage Friendship Post

Just under 6 short years ago a website was born who’s heart and mission it was to encourage women, gather them together, and equip them to serve well where God had planted them. That site is (in)courage and was one of the first community sites that I started reading after I started blogging myself.

Each morning a post would fill my inbox that gave me hope, brought me laughter and helped me feel like I wasn’t alone. You see making friends hasn’t ever been easy for me. I tend to isolate. And so having a little piece of friendship in my inbox each morning was such a  gift.

And so today it is with excitement and honor that I get to share a little of my journey to some “unconventional” friendships on the (in)courage site. I would love to have you join me there. While some of my dearest friendships have come in an unexpected way, it has reminded me that God can and will use any situation to gather His daughters together!

Because God knew my secret longings for friendship, and He provided it in the most unconventional way…(<====Click to Tweet)

And if you haven’t already been receiving the emails from (in)courage every day – sign up here so that you too can receive these free daily emails of encouragement in your inbox! You will be glad that you did! 🙂

We All Need a Little of That!

Community

As many of you know just a little over a week ago I was surprised with a getaway birthday weekend to Houston. It was a weekend filled with love from my friends and family.

While Gindi and I shared a delicious BBQ chicken pizza from California Pizza Kitchen (which by the way was YUM!!), we talked about this idea of community. On FB the night I found out about my surprise I posted a picture of my letter and this comment “To say that I am floored and overwhelmed and crazy excited all at once is an understatement….not exactly sure where I am headed on Saturday but the “three birthday bandits” have completely surprised me!”

130 people liked that post and I had over 40 comments…

I don’t say that to brag, it is a reflection of how much something like this would mean to so many people.

“Best present ever!!”, “I want to get kidnapped”, So fun, can’t wait to hear about it”…and on and on.

People, women especially, long for this type of community.

Maybe we don’t say it or admit it…but it is true. We love to feel loved. (<====Click to Tweet)

I think it is in our nature, it is how we were made. I know so many women who love big and love well. But this experience for me was proof that we all have a secret wish that someone would love on us in a HUGE way like I was.

And I don’t want it to end with me.

I realize that many of us might not be able to plan such an elaborate surprise like I received…but as Gindi and I talked I was challenged to think of ways that I might be able to love on others well, here in my own front yard.

Because we all need a little more of that, don’t we?

Of community, friendship, lavish and unconditional love?

This may mean that we have to step out in faith…and what if it isn’t well received? What if we put a Turquoise Table in the front yard in April, invite our neighbors over, and no one comes?

It could happen.

It probably won’t, but there is that risk.

But you know, I have found that by being willing to take the risk, the crazy leaps of faith…that I have been given back so much in return.

If I hadn’t been willing to open my heart to the idea of online friendships…well last weekend would have never happened. And what a blessing that was in my life.

I hope you can understand that I face these challenges with the same fear that I expect many of you are facing. We are in this together!!

That is why I felt like it was so important to write about this today. I often make decisions based on fear, especially fear of the unknown.

But when we see a need – how can we NOT respond?! Maybe your response isn’t with a surprise trip, but instead a call to a friend for a lunch date. A card in the mail to a neighbor or introducing yourself to a “stranger” at church.

The act itself doesn’t have to be monumental, but I am seeing that the small things can become monumental if we are invested in and working at community. (<====Click to Tweet)

So I come here willing. Prayerfully considering how this looks in my own life and open to being pushed to where I may feel uncomfortable…because if I can be the hands and feet of Christ here…who knows what might happen!

Photo Credit: Niall Kennedy

Dear Dominic, We Are Getting a Turquoise Table!

turquoise picnic table

Dear Dominic,

Can I first start by just telling you once again how grateful that I am that you helped arrange my birthday trip. What a gift it was. Especially when you got to have several days full of “barf duty”…I am so sorry about that!! That being said…there is something that I want you to know….

We are getting a Turquoise Table.

I know that when I came back from Allume and told you all about this turquoise table idea, you thought that I was a little crazy.

You may be right, but you know….I am ok with that! 😉

I am crazy, but I want to create a better environment of community in our neighborhood. We have wonderful neighbors, we really do. But the reality is we don’t ever really take time to spend time with them.

We have an annual block party, which is awesome…but I am craving more. More for us, more fun for our kids. I want them to grow up craving community as well. To learn the art of hospitality…even if it starts in our front yard.

I realize that logistically we don’t live in a place that can accommodate a turquoise table year round. But my hope is that if we try this…try and encourage and build community in our own front yard, that even in the winter we might desire to find ways to gather together inside.

That is my prayer with this idea.

The good news is that we now have a truck that can get the $98 table from Lowes in Brookings, to our front yard. And conveniently enough I have almost a full gallon of paint left from our toy room redo! Woot for keeping the costs down! 😉

So there it is Dominic.

In my mind I have pictures of the kids from the neighborhood gathering at the table. I am taking ideas from Gindi’s events and hoping that we can invite our neighbors once a month to our yard for treats and conversation.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate or fancy, doesn’t have to cost too much money…but if we make the effort I think that we might see something blossom. These are my wild ideas and big dreams.

It is wonderful that I have met such amazing people online. But I am now challenged to try to build and strengthen relationships in our own community.

I believe it is possible and maybe a turquoise table in the front yard is crazy enough to make it happen!

Thank you for loving me even when I have crazy ideas…I am hoping that you will come to enjoy the turquoise table idea as much as I already do!

And now I cannot wait for April to come, snow to melt and the painting to commence!!

Love, Your Dreamer Wife

Photo Credit: Shabby Old Potting Shed

 

The Most Unbelievable Birthday Gift

Birthday BanditsI can hardly believe it, but I am sitting in the Minneapolis airport waiting to board a flight that will first take me to Chicago and then shortly thereafter, Houston, Texas.

On Thursday night around 8:30pm I got the surprise of a lifetime when I came downstairs after painting some more and sat down to send an email….I opened my computer and inside was the letter pictured above.

As I started to read it my eyes filled with tears, Gabriel had been in the room and he grabbed it from me and started reading it aloud. Dominic apparently at this point was taping me with his phone…. (The video is hilarious and I sound like a freak – if we are friends on FB you can see it there!)

On Saturday I was to report to the Minneapolis airport and would be flying to somewhere unknown for a special early birthday weekend.

I was stunned. I couldn’t believe that someone would do something like this for me and to pull off all the details….amazing.

My second thought after “are you serious, how can this be??”, was “yikes, I haven’t painted my toenails in weeks.” What can I say, vanity has been a struggle for me! 😉 Because I didn’t know for sure where I was going (although I had a strong suspicion) I wasn’t sure exactly what warmth of clothes I should pack.  But the reality is that most of the south right now is dealing with cold weather themselves, so anything I would wear during the fall/early winter should work.

So that night I packed what I could, tried to get Dominic to tell me ANYTHING, which he would not…and proceeded to walk around for the next day and 1/2 with a silly grin on my face.

This is too much.

On my route to MSP this morning I got a call from Gindi and she finally confirmed where I was headed. She said that back in December Delonna had started a secret vox chain with her, Gindi and Christine. They wanted to plan something super special for my upcoming 40th birthday.

These women are such an unbelievable gift to me. To think that just a few short years ago we were all strangers…oh God brought them into my life for such a time as this.

God knew…

Just 4 years ago in November I lost my best friend Karlena. A few months before she passed away I planned a secret trip to go and visit her. I worked with her husband and her MIL to arrange all the details and travelled to see her for the weekend. I was pregnant with our girl and Karlena had been so sick the few months prior that I just wanted to cheer her up.

It was a wonderful time, and the last time that I saw her  alive. I will always cherish that weekend.

Losing your best friend leaves a hole….and it was one that I didn’t expect would ever be filled again.

But God.

Oh those 2 words that seem to define so many of the remarkable moments in my life.

But God knew, and somehow a group of 99 women were chosen for a book launch, and then several of us broke off to encourage one another in a mastermind group, and finally a God-sized dream was birthed and a website was born.

And from that group, friendships were born.

From across the miles, voxer has kept us connected. Life has been shared, tears have been shed, cheering has ensued. These women are have filled my life to overflowing, and this…this birthday surprise?

It is the gravy.

Christine and Delonna weren’t able to to join us in person, schedules, work commitments etc., made it tough to find a way for all of us to be together. So instead, Gindi is hosting me for a weekend full of SO MUCH.

Seriously you should see the agenda, I am almost speechless.

But the fact that these three women worked so hard, schemed, planned and made arrangements with my husband, got ideas from my mom….it is just so much.

I don’t feel like I deserve it, but I am marveling in the lavish love that God has for me that he would place these women in my life so that in the month of my 40th birthday I would be treated to a surprise weekend. Something only the #birthdaybandits could do.

Ok, I probably should stop writing now because just thinking about it is bringing me to tears and the other people in the waiting area at the airport are going to start giving me the crazy eyes. 😉

Thank you doesn’t seem like enough…and I am sure that I will have more to share as the weekend unfolds, but for now, as I wait to board my flight I want to just say thank you. Gindi, Delonna, Christine, Dominic and my mom….for everything that you did to make this weekend possible, I am humbled by your gift.

Speechless (almost) and overwhelmed. I wasn’t really depressed about 40…but now, this? I am entering into this new season full of joy and hope. I love you all!

On How I Write…Some Blog Hop Fun

I don’t participate in many blog hops, but when I got an email from sweet Jennifer over at A Girl on the Doorstep, I was honored that she asked me to join in so here I am! 🙂 Jennifer, if you don’t already know her, is a amazing writer and she recently released her new book “Nothing to Hold but Hope.”  Jennifer understands all too well the pain of infertility, stillbirth and loss and yet she has walked through those moments with faith. An inspiration for anyone going through a difficult situation. Thank you Jennifer for thinking of me to be a part of this blog hop!  ***An update this week and a prayer request. Last week Jennifer suddenly lost her step-father to a heart attack. It has been a huge blow to her and she wrote a beautiful post about how she is today. Would you please be in prayer for her and her mother as this is a time of incredible loss for their entire family!***

Writing

So for this challenge we were given 4 questions and then asked to share 3 more women who will be doing the same on their blogs next week. So first the questions and then the real fun will come! 😉

1.  What am I writing or working on?

When I first saw this question I thought that maybe I shouldn’t be doing this because I haven’t written a lot lately. No book on the horizon, no blog post gone viral…just me and my words here a few times a week.  But that is ok. I think at times I diminish what I do if it doesn’t seem “big” enough. But I was encouraged this past Sunday when one of the missionary families that our church supports came to speak. Sammy reminded us to be a light in the darkness. If we have a talent for speaking, speak light. If writing is our gift, be a light there. So while I don’t have anything really specific that I am working on, I hope that for the most part, the posts that you will find here are filled with hope and light!

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

While there are a TON of Christian writers out there, each of us offers a unique voice, a story that is each our own, don’t you think? While other woman may know the pain of infertility or miscarriage and can relate to that part of my story…we each experience it in a different way. Marriage is tough and I share my struggles here at times to offer hope (and as a “this is how NOT to do things” kind of perspective) 🙂  but no 2 couples go through the exact same struggles.  That is one thing I love about the blogging community. We find commonality and yet each of us, working at being that light, has a very personal twist on those similar themes. When I started blogging in 2008 I felt like I had finally found a place where I belonged! A place where I could be me, and yet find hope and encouragement from other women who had been there as well.

3. Why do I write what I write?

Typically I write as I feel God leads me. I share stories about marriage and parenting and my faith life and walk. My life hasn’t been easy. I have made a LOT of mistakes over the past almost 40 years, and yet God has been so faithful to me. I don’t want to keep quiet about that! I think that my mistakes and experiences can offer hope, because there is so much hope found through Christ. It isn’t anything that I have done, but rather the life changing work that has been done through me because I trusted God even the littlest bit to lead me down His path. I want other women who stop here to know that they are not alone! There is hope, even in the darkest of times. That they should seek after and follow their crazy God-sized dreams because it is worth it! I started blogging as a result of a miscarriage that I needed to process. For a time I thought I would make blogging my money-making career (insert snort) and I focused on trying to be the next “it” blogger. Today I write because God has given me the words to share about His redemption in my life. Hopefully my writing will be a reflection of His grace and mercy and bring Him glory. It is just so not about me…but about all God continues to do through me that I write today.

4. How does my writing process work?

Well if this were blogging 101 I would tell you that if you want to be a writer, you should write even when you don’t have the words. Just write. The reality for me is that I write when I feel inspired. I pray in the shower in the mornings and will listen for the Spirit’s leadings, sometimes I write as a result of that. Other times I will see or hear something and the idea for a post will come to mind. I have several from my vacation a few weeks ago. I haven’t written a single post but I have notes written in the Notes section of my phone. At the time writing the posts wasn’t possible, mostly because I didn’t want to take time away from my family, so I jot down notes or a theme and hopefully can write a post later. I usually try to write early in the mornings so I am not taking time away from other people/things…but there are times that I really feel like I just HAVE to write and those I will just do as soon as possible, regardless of the time of day. I am the kind of writer that, when I feel God’s leading, can write a fairly long post in less than 15 minutes. So if you stop here and it has been awhile since I have posted…well I am not “forcing” the words I am probably working through some things with God…learning a few heart lessons, and will share those as He leads!

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Ok so enough about me and now on to the really fun part!! I have been so blessed by blogging and the women I have met. They encourage and inspire, they “get” why I do this and it is my pleasure to introduce you to 3 women I have “met” because of blogging. Next week they are going to join in the fun and answer these questions themselves so please jump over and read those as well! I know you will love them like I do! 🙂

Sarah

I have been reading Sarah’s blog the longest. She writes at The Teacher’s Wife and has posts each week that focus on family, saving money and shopping with a budget etc. She is a SAHM to 2 adorable kiddos and is expecting another – her daughter is only 10 days older than my girl too!! I found Sarah’s site after she lost her precious son Andrew to stillbirth. He would be 5 this August. Sarah has such a wisdom and grace about her and even though she has faced incredible loss she has a strong faith. It is an honor to know her!

“Sarah is the wife of a handsome history teacher and mom to 5 children {Savannah is 3.5 yrs, Brady is 21 months, she has 2 babies waiting on her in heaven, and 1 more due to arrive in the fall}. When she’s not spending time with her kids and husband, she’s blogging, couponing, drinking Diet Coke, and eating chips and salsa with her girlfriends. She’s living out her lifelong dream of being a stay-at-home mom, but learning so much more from her kids than she could ever teach them. She is living one blessed life and thankful to for God’s daily dose of grace.”

 

Maria

Maria has been leaving me the sweetest, most encouraging comments over the past year here in my space. She is a natural encourager, she shares posts and tweets them. She is a woman that you want in her corner. I don’t write posts for the comments, but I can tell you that they are always such a blessing to me, it is affirming to know that someone else gets where you are coming from! 🙂 Maria has also been participating in Holley Gerth’s Coffee for Your Heart Encouragement Challenge this year  – run to her blog and check out more of her posts like this one! You will be blessed!

“Maria is an entrepreneur-project manager who delights in having creative fun with a team while making things happen efficiently. Her God-sized dream is about designing works of heART that touch, tickle and inspire. She has produced segments for TV and loves to play with technology in real life.

People will tell you the first thing they see in her is bubbly energy and enthusiasm. That’s true. Then they’ll likely shake their heads recalling how she’s also soft and gentle. Someone who’s easily moved to tears and laughs a whole lot too. Like Eric Liddell when she runs, she feels God’s pleasure and enjoys playing volleyball every week with the most awesome friends on earth.

She exists to bring joy to life. A woman of faith, Maria is the eternal optimist who loves people more than anything. And, oh yes, she’s all for sharing, On line and in real life!”

 

 Heather

My final introduction is fellow God-sized Dream Chaser Heather! Heather blogs over at 40YearWanderer. We are in an (in)courage group together for God-sized Dreamers and encouragement is her super-power! She recently started an online community to do just that. What a blessing to find such beautiful women online who want to pour into others! Head on over to her site and I know you will want to grab a cup of your favorite drink and stay awhile! 🙂

“Heather, self-appointed “Ellipses Queen”, is a Super Race-Runner after Jesus’ own heart. She loves to live #ALLIN for Him as a loved wife, proud mom, encourager to many, deep soul lover, big time laugher, and freelance writer. She is currently writing two books – an autobiographical devotional and a Q&A book, with a panel of nearly 50 people from around the globe, about how God and faith factor into our lives.

Heather writes at 40YearWanderer where she welcomes you to share soul-deep. She has wandered through a life full of some incredible {hard and wonderful!} things… all of which God has laid on her heart to share. She can also be found sharing whimsical funnies on Facebook. She’d love to connect with you!”

Please jump over and give all of these women some encouragement today, I know you will be blessed in return by each of them! 

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver

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