Friday, January 24, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Visit

Linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker and a slew of great writers for Five Minute Friday.  Our weekly 5-minute writing spree on a given prompt.  This week: Visit.
Five Minute Friday

It comes as a text message.
"Have time to get together later this week?"
It comes as a PS at the end of an email.
"Coffee sometime?"

The invitation to visit.
I'm as grateful as the next person for modern communication and technologies to keep in touch with people:  Texting, phone calls, emails, Facebook, instant chatting.
But somehow, I still need face time.
Things are just better when I can connect face-to-face with a friend, even if it's just for a short time, as was the case just this week.
I hadn't gotten to chat with a friend of mine for a couple weeks.  We're both busy, of course (as everyone is these days, right?!), and we've found setting up coffee dates can be tricky.  We both happened to have a short bit of time after school one day, so without trying to over-plan our visit, we just did it.
I popped in on my way home after school, their boys lounging on the couch and working on projects, her husband doing some household tasks.  She offered coffee, tea, water, but we didn't even need those things.
We just needed to connect.
We chatted through food options, supper ideas, parents, families, church and faith, friends.
Short and sweet was my visit, but boy howdy, we needed this visit.
The ordinary-ness of everyday living was wearing on both of us, and we needed that time of grace in the middle of so many things going on.

I'm so grateful for these friends who reach out with the request to visit.  And I'm so glad when the friendship gets to the point where you don't even need coffee to connect.
You just need their presence.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Why I love (in)RL

Almost a year ago, I started seeing posts and information about this thing called (in)RL.  I had found the (in)couragers website (which is amazing, by the way), and the way this (in)RL thing was written, I figured it had to be connected to that somehow.
So I started looking around and seeing what I could see.
I'm so glad I did.

(in)RL is a chance to get together, connect with other women, in real life.  (inRL, get it?)
This group (in)courage was hosting these web conferences on two days in April, and we could sign up to watch part of it online on our own, then get together with other women to watch other videos, discuss, talk, pray, share....connect!
I've talked here before about how I long for connection with other women.  I love community.  I love finding women to share life with.
That's exactly what I found last year at the (in)RL meetup I attended.
It was at Frances' house, and there were about 8 of us there.  A couple of the women had met before, a couple were friends, but most of us were brand new.
But it was one of those gatherings where you didn't feel new for long.
Maybe it was the fantastic welcome and warm, friendly setting of Frances' home.
Maybe it was the delicious coffee.
Maybe it was alllllllll that chocolate.
Maybe it was because we were all wanting to find a common bond so we could connect with one another.
We found it.
Jesus was that common bond.
We came from different faith backgrounds, but we were all just women, wanting to connect, wanting to share our lives, wanting to share Jesus.
I've been looking forward to (in)RL again ever since then.
So when the dates were published for the 2014 conference, I winced a little.  It's the same day as our main music contest for my students at school.
And I started to wonder how it would work for me to be able to get to a meetup this year.
I've been praying about it, and was starting to wonder if it's just not meant for me to be part of this incredible event this year.  I didn't want to think about that option, but I was thinking that could be a true possibility.
Then through Frances' post on our Facebook (in)RL page, and from what Bridget said (one of my new friends last year), and from the (in)courage comments I've been seeing, I decided to be brave:  I decided to sign up to host a meetup at our home.
I'm starting to think about why it may not work or be successful:  the time may be a little wonky with music contest; we live in the country; I don't know many other people who are familiar with all (in)courage has to offer; people don't come to parties I do; you know how it is....I just start doubting.
But then I thought, hey, someone might want or need to connect the same way I wanted and needed to last year.  Someone might enjoy a drive in the country to get to our home.  Someone might need a good, strong cup of coffee.....and I'm good at that.  Or someone new might need or want to enjoy my now semi-famous chocolate Coke cake.
And someone might need to pray, and spend time with a friend.
I can do all those things.
So, I am honored and excited to be hosting a gathering for the (in)RL Conference this year.  If you'd like, if you need a drive in the country, need coffee, need chocolate.......I'd be thrilled to have you join me!  

Friday, January 10, 2014

Five Minute Friday: SEE

Taking part in Five Minute Fridays, linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker.  A five-minute write, unedited, on a given prompt.  This week's prompt: SEE.

She could see the room was already full and she approached it. Conversations in full bloom.  Hugs being given, waves being exchanged as friends found one another in the crowded space.
She snuck in and hung out on the edge.  She risked a casual greeting a couple times, and sure, she got a couple smiles, and that helped her feel better.  But no one made that effort to bring her into their conversations.
They're all old friends, she told herself.  They just don't know me.  
And they won't get to know you if you stay over here on the edge, she argued with herself.
But they said they'd offer friendship.  And chocolate.  And I like friendship.  And I like chocolate, she reasoned again.
Maybe you don't belong here, came the thought from some dark place in her soul.
Lord, she prayed, I can see myself here.  Do you want me to follow this desire I have in my heart?  Even if no one else notices me clear over here, I still see myself here.  I want to be here.  I want to be part of this.  Even though it hurts a little to be on the outside fringe.  I want the community that's taking shape right in front of me.
She stood there a moment longer, and decided she had experienced enough for the moment.  Just then, as she was about to leave from the crowded space, someone approached her.  And she reached out to this person.
And she decided to stay.

Who is SHE?
One of my middle school students?  An awkward teenager at a club meeting?
No - she was me.  She IS me.  At any online Twitter, Facebook party.
I'm the one hoping someone will say "hi".  Will tell me they're glad to see me.  Will let me know they've read and/or appreciated something I've written.
Do I SEE myself as a blogger, or part of the blogging community?  I don't know.  But I do see myself encouraging others.  Extending friendship and chocolate.
Because I like friendship.
And I like chocolate.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

If you're at all interested......

I'm taking part in The Blog Dare, a blogging adventure sponsored by   There's a new prompt every day to help get us started writing.
Today's prompt is in italics.
Dave built our home before it was "our" home.  He planned and worked on much of the building of this house many years ago, and lived in it for a few years before we even met.  The main floor of the house was, of course, completely finished.  The basement was not "finished out".  Parts of the basement were done....two bedrooms, the bathroom was working, one part of the main room we completed as Dave's office before we got married.  In the time since we've been married, the bathroom has been finished, we've finished part of the basement as my office and a music room for the guitars and other instruments we both have.  Dave has installed a fireplace downstairs, and we had some amazing woodworking done by a friend of ours to do bookshelves and the mantle.
The kitchen area is all that remains to be completed.  The cupboards were made by our friend Paul, and have been installed for a couple months.  We took our time deciding on the countertops.  We were pretty sure we wanted some type of stone or solid-surface material.  I liked a granite we found, Dave kind of liked a quartz we saw at one showroom.
If you're at all interested in our...
countertops, we went with the granite, and it was installed today.  They look amazing.
I seriously dreamed of having granite countertops some day.  Truly, it was something on my dream list for years.  Now, I don't have to dream anymore about that one.
Incredibly, amazingly blessed, I am.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Fight

Joining up with Lisa-Jo Baker and a slew of amazing writers for Five Minute Friday.  We write for five minutes on a given prompt.  This week's prompt:  Fight.
Ah, the start of the new year.  A time of hope, promise, possibilities.  A time to look at things from a new perspective, see things with "fresh eyes."
So why am I fighting myself on this?
I am struggling with heading back to work after an almost 2-week break.  It's similar to how I felt at the beginning of the year.
For the most part, I enjoy my job.  It challenges me.  It frustrates me.  It energizes me.
We've gone through a lot of changes with procedures since the beginning of the year, so it has been somewhat overwhelming at times.  Yet, there's been a sense of unity as we've all traipsed through it all together.  THAT has been nice.
Part of my job involves working with middle school students with a program called 8 to Great.  This is the highlight of my day.  I love this program, and I love seeing how students grasp these concepts and are so eager to apply the power of this program to their lives.
So why am I fighting going back?
Perhaps it's a feeling of isolation I feel at times.  Which is ironic, I only have about 35 minutes all day long when I am not surrounded by others.  But that feeling of unity I mentioned earlier?  I don't always feel that.
Perhaps it's a sense of limitation.  There are so many areas I would like to explore: blogging, independent business, volunteer, speaker.  With my job, I feel like I'm limited in how and when I can pursue these things.  Not to mention quilting, papercrafting, crocheting!
Yet, I know I'm blessed and incredibly fortunate to have my job.  And as I said earlier, I do enjoy the challenges it presents, and I enjoy working with the students.
So while I struggle to stay out of my own way and not fight myself so much, my OneWord comes back to me: OPEN.  I need to remember to stay open to how I can best serve others through my job, and remain open to possibilities of pursuing my other interests and opportunities as well.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014: On being OPEN

There have been many posts the past few days about starting a new year, resolutions, promises, name it.
I am choosing to focus on one word: OPEN.  (See other ideas at oneword365.)
I want to be open to whatever this new year brings.  Open to wherever it is God leads my heart.  Open to the needs of others.  Open to new adventures, activities, events.
If I truly live with this one word guiding my heart, my decisions this year, I can imagine it will be a year of many new possibilities, in all aspects of my life: with my personal choices, professionally, with my friendships, with my independent business, in our marriage.  This makes me excited.......and a little hesitant.
Because being open to what God will have me do often calls for following complete faith and trust....and I don't always like that.  I like having some type of control.  Even if it's imaginary in the sense that I actually do have control.
Because I don't.  None of us do.  Sure, we can make our own decisions and choices, but it's only through the free will that is given us by our Creator.  And He knows what our choices will be, even before we know what our options are.
So, I hope you'll check back every so often to see how I'm doing living this life of being open.  I can't wait to share my incredible, blessed, OPEN life with you in 2014!