Community Wide Joy

There are things that spread just as quickly as runny honey on a piece of toast.

One of those things is joy.

Joy can spread like wildflowers if given the right environment to do so.

And what is the right environment, you might ask?

The best place to grow joy, and then spread that joy, is a place filled with hope. Lots and lots of hope!  And you will find that right here, at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study Blog page.

We are a community of women who are seeking real hope for real life. We want to know more about the God who allows the deeper things to change us.  The God who brings us beautiful things like babies, and yet can allow hard things like infertility.

We don’t shy away from hard things in this community.  And, encouragement runs rampant.

Doesn’t that sound like a place you can take a deep breath and feel safe in?

Each week, we gather together to discuss a book, yes.  But, we also do life together.  We rejoice with one another when God provides victory, or relief, or healing.  We mourn with each other in the midst of tragedy or upheaval of families.  And, maybe most importantly, we pray for each other in times of crisis and questioning.

Sharing life’s happier moments right alongside life’s more tragic episodes might seem odd. But, isn’t that the way life is?  All The Easy mixed in with The Hard and shaken all up and poured out, every which way?

Shouldering burdens alongside one another makes hard times more bearable. And, certainly, experiencing others’ joy alongside them makes it seem as if it’s multiplied!

That joy quickly becomes community wide.

Especially in this one!

I hope you’ll consider joining in with this amazing group of people just seeking to find The Hope.

You will seek Him and you will find Him.

I promise.

HE promises!

Yes indeedy.

 Want to see what others think about the word “community”? click the button below.  I hope we see YOU there!

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inRL 2014 Conference Wrap Up

The pace of life can be so frenetic, at times, that I find it downright impossible to form connections in real life. I look for opportunities to meet others who share a desire to live life without just going through the motions.  I need flesh and blood people to come alongside and shoulder the burdens of life, with me.  I’m guessing you do too?

I’ll spare you the boring details of our whirlwind life over these past weeks, but suffice it to say that I am thrilled to be able to quietly sit down in front of my computer today and finally get to the important business of sharing about my inRL Conference meetup at the end of April.

The ladies of (in)courage deliver a constant stream of encouragement through that computer screen. To be able to share that with others is a gift.

We had another small gathering of five women, but make no mistake. Each one of these women were handpicked; by a God, who knows and sees.

Some arrived the night before to work together to get my home ready, to eat chocolates as we wrapped tissue paper around pretty little welcome gifts, and to laugh and cry as we watched the opening Friday night Keynotes. We sat around in our pajamas, quiet and comfortable, and listened as women opened up their hearts on the other side of the screen.

Saturday dawned beautiful. The rain that was predicted, wasn’t. There were calls made and emails sent, telling us that some couldn’t make it.  But, our spirits weren’t dampened a bit.  It’s almost as if with each new cancellation, our spirits were able to instantly see that this, this is exactly as it was supposed to be. The sun was streaming through the windows as we welcomed in two more brave souls.

We settled in to watch the Saturday Keynotes and it was obvious that heart connections were being made.  Community, the trials of living in one and the necessity of having one, was on full display.  Both in my living room and on that screen.

There were some priceless conversations about hurt.  And joy. Deeper bonds were forged. Friendships blossomed. As we stood around the table, eating and chatting together, I remember thinking that this is community. Right here, right now.

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Once again, I am so thankful for the vision that (in)courage had to provide this opportunity.  It helps me see, each time, how beautiful is the real life connecting to each of our sometimes web-weary souls.

And to the women who came… thank you.  Thank you for sharing yourselves.

Let’s do it again next year, okay?

 

 

In Just Two Weeks

inRL_Conference_InviteThere is a longing in the hearts of so many women that I meet. My own, included.  It’s that deep desire to meet others whom you can ultimately call Your People.  To connect with others, even just a precious one or two, who get who you are at your core.

And when you do, it’s joy unbounded!

The (in)courage community provides that, in spades!

Community is vital to our thriving, as women. From college campuses to nursing home halls, we are wired to seek out others. We often hold broken things inside and pray for other flesh-and-blood friends to come alongside and hold the pieces gently with us. This world that we live in doesn’t always make that easy, does it?

You will find that at (in)courage!

You will find that at the (in)courage in Real Life Conference!

My relationships with this community began online.  I found my head nodding as I read blog posts as women shared deeply of what it means to actually do life, praying that you are being salt and light as you go along. These relationships developed further as I bravely joined a small group community of other Special Needs Mamas – again, through (in)courage.

In April of last year, I bravely stepped out, holding loosely to expectations, and hosted one of these conference meetups at my home.

And it was incredible!Hugging necks and looking into the eyes of so many people I’d only been able to interact with on the other side of the screen? Life fortifying!  You can read all about last year’s meetup here.

Do you long for these sorts of connections in your own life?

In just two weeks, I’ll get to meet a whole new slew of women through (in)courage’s inRL Conference. Each woman who joins a meetup is bravely venturing out into community for deeper conversations and connections.  I. Can’t. Wait!

If you’ve gotten to this point and feel a stirring in your own heart, click here.  You can join an (in)courage meetup in hundreds of different locations around the world! It’s free! It’s local! It’s community!

Do it. I want to see you be brave!

The One Where I Write

for five minutes.  Uninterrupted and without editing.  And then, I join in with so many others over at Lisa-Jo Baker’s place to share and read and say, “Me too!”. Join us?  Click the button below to do just that.

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Write

Go…

Without fear of perfection, I am allowing myself to dig into what’s percolating in this brain of mine today.  I consciously choose to shoosh those little demons of despair and tell them Who’s Boss.  (And it’s not me!)

I live in a fast paced world that is on the constant prowl for the next snippet of Interesting to consume.  It seems like too much, too much, too much.  Maybe if I allowed myself the peace that comes with being still, I could discern between which of those snippets to really dig into.

The one about ditching the devil dogs in favor of more exercise. (The yoga pants have been talking to me again!)

The little tidbit about Perfectionism and how it taints even the good things that are emerging from my soul-deep places? (Those demons of despair – they can be so loud!)

How about the friend that longs to connect and leaves phone messages and texts and encouragements but doesn’t have a life in the same time and space as mine; and so, doesn’t ever seem to make it to the top of my priorities.

And the guilt.

All The Guilt. It sets in and I realize that what I really long to write about is weeding through the mess to the still.

And that’s how I end up drinking a cup of salted caramel coffee and enjoying a luscious gooey chocolate croissant.  It’s in the moment, right here, that I find the stillness. Other than the chewing and sipping sounds my mouth makes, I hear nothing. And I end up writing about just that.

Nothing.

And everything.

Right here.

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Wanna Get Away?

Right about the time that I reached into the very last box of Devil Dogs only to realize I was down to the final two…

And The Colds came back with a vengeance…

And someone named Rube Goldberg began interjecting himself into our peaceful homework routine…

And the mailbox got obliterated…

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That’s about the time I began to lose my mind.

Forget about the 2 loaves and 5 fishes multiplying. What about the 2 loads of clean laundry I just put away that have suddenly multiplied into 4 more loads I need to do? I do not like that kind of math. Oh no I don’t!

Whatever is a mama to do? Because a simple Calgon bath isn’t gonna take me away, y’all. (And if you don’t get that reference? That’s okay, we can still be friends.)

I’ll tell you what this mama started to do.  I started planning how I could get out of Dodge.

And I found a way to do it for free!  Yup, free.

Well, sort of.

The wonderful team of women over at (in)courage are inviting you (yes, you!) to their second annual (in)RL Virtual Beach House Retreat on April 26th and 27th. (That stands for In Real Life, in case you were wondering.)  With other women longing for a little spring get away, just like you! All you have to do is click here to find the community of (in)couragers meeting closest to you and register. Women in over 400 locations around the world are offering to host this virtual retreat from their homes or churches, or are choosing to meet up at restaurants or parks. From Jacksonville to Joplin to Japan, there’s sure to be an (in)RL meet-up near you.

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And me?  Well, I am hosting one of these meet-ups here, at my home.

“Um, she does realize this means she’s not going anywhere, right?”, you might be wondering.

Why, yes! Yes, I do.

You see, my Sweetman?  He’s da bomb diggety (And I don’t care that I’m the only one still using that phrase.  It’s fun. I like it.)  He offered to take the kids to the grandparent’s house that Friday night and stay until Sunday.

And even I realize what that means.  2 WHOLE DAYS TO MYSELF!  I apologize for the yelling.  I’m just so excited! I get to hang out with women longing to connect and drink hot chocolate without having to share the marshmallows and not worry about the laundry being sneaky and multiplying behind my back.  And doesn’t that just sound so… Awesome!!??

Ya with me now?

I promise, with this year’s theme of “The Challenge to Stay in Community”, we all have much to learn and share.  And celebrate! Isn’t this entire Spring season about celebrating the one Victory that makes community such a beautiful thing in the first place?

So, even if you don’t know a soul in the community group meeting nearest you, GO!  Run to register! Make some new friends with other women who are longing to get away and refresh their souls. You can find out more on the FAQ link or Register to host or Register to attend, here.

Have I piqued your interest?  I surely hope so.  And if you are the husband, brother, father, or loved one of a woman who could use some encouraging?  Send her over to (in)courage to find out more!  She’ll thank you. Promise.

And, if you live in New England, use one of the social media buttons to the right to contact me, and I’d be happy to share my meet-up info.  I’d love to meet some of you in real life. Oh, yes indeedy!

 

Lessons from Chasing a Dream

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Are you a Chaser yet?  I’ve seen a few you out there, reaching high for your kite tails, being fearless.  Or, a little less boldly, but in all faith, walking onto that next step, trusting that it’s there.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, hop over here and check out Rae’s Kite Project. I joined up with this amazing group of women to become a Chaser almost 2 months ago. And, although I’ve been chasing this kite tail of my Dream for the last 5 weeks in front of you, in the form of this series, lots of ground was covered beforehand.  Trust me when I tell you, there will be plenty more chasing to come.  (Would it be too much to ask that I get into slightly better shape from all the Chasing???)  In fact, below you will find a picture of how I will be spending the next phase of this Chasing of my dream.

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I wanted to close out this series by sharing a couple of realizations that I’ve had along the way.

1) You are NEVER to old to chase your dreams! You see, when I began, I wondered if my age was a hindrance. Humor me here, would you?  I know 40 something-or-other isn’t old.  In fact, I feel more like a bouncy 28-year-old,  minus the bouncy, most days of the week.  True story! But, I’ve taken note that many of the writers and dream chasers that I most admire are quite a bit younger than I am. And that began to bother me. And made me question whether I was 4 kinds of crazy to attempt this venture in the first place.  I know now that that right there is hogwash!  Who says you can’t be 40ish when you finally start chasing your dream?  Or 50ish, 70ish, or 90ish, for that matter? Lordy – do I really need to revisit how old Sarah and Abraham were when they finally realized their dream, in Isaac’s birth?  Do I?

2) Sometimes it takes a 2 x 4 to get you moving in the right direction! I wish I were kidding.  You know how your mom (or your aunt or your grampa) told you, when you were 9, that you had the most creative mind and they just knew that you were going to be a brilliant _____________ (fill in the blank there, folks) someday?  And then, in high school, you had The Moment.  You know the one.  You study something in some class and everything in you wakes up and you know! You know that this interests you.  And you find yourself having a conversation with a high school teacher who sees something in you.  But you’re just not sure. You’re young, you think to yourself.  What if there’s something else you are supposed to do?  And then, you have another conversation in college or graduate school or in your first job.  You have a mentor who sees something amazing in you.  “It’s a gift”, they say.  And you think, maybe, just maybe, all of these people have known what you could not acknowledge. You blink, and you are on the brink of your 40th birthday and many Someone’s who love you finally corner you and say something to the effect of, “When, for the love of all the gifting God has given you, are you going to DO SOMETHING with this?” And you find yourself rubbing the back of your head and thinking, “Surely that 2 x 4 wouldn’t have been quite so painful 20 years ago???”

3) Never underestimate the power of a community of like-minded Dream Chasers! It never ceases to amaze me how powerfully affecting an encouraging word can be. Especially if that word comes from someone who gets your heart.  Or from ones who are running alongside you in that same field of dreams, chasing their own kite tails with all of their might.  You suddenly find yourself next to one who is stopping to catch her breath; and she lifts you up with one gracious yet unexpected push, for while she is down, maybe she can help you up.  Oh, how I thank each one of those friends.  They are everywhere.  Virtual or in real life, it doesn’t matter.  If I can encourage you, may I have that honor?  For there are far too many who’ve taken the time to do so for me.

And so, here we are, at the end of this series. But as for me, I’m still at the beginning of this Chasing.  And I couldn’t be more thrilled.  (If nothing else, that gives me more time to get into shape from all the Chasing, right?!)

Proverbs 16:9 tells us that “we can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”  And I’m resting sure in that as I go forward.  Oh yes indeedy!

Thank you for joining me on this journey.  If you missed any of the other parts in this series, I’ve linked them in the list below.  Some of you reading are some of the very encouragers that I mentioned in #3 above.  Thank you.  A hundred thank-you’s would not be enough.

Superpowers (And, I’m Guest Posting!)

I am guest posting! Back in October, about the time I realized that daylight savings time was inching too close for comfort, I hopped over to the InCourage, site to get a little encouragement.  Something caught my eye immediately. I read that they were beginning a brand spankin’ new experiment.  Interest focused online community groups.  This would typically not appeal to me because, hello? I’ve got my fingers in enough pies right now, thank-you-very-much.  But, there was a finite period of time that these community groups would, you know, do the community thing.  And this did appeal to me.  October 2nd through December 2nd.  Totally doable, indeed! And, as the mother of a child who doesn’t have severe special needs, but whose special needs are often just quirky enough to make him stand out from the crowd, I feel displaced.

 

I can only say that the amazing mama’s that I have “met” through this group? They are fast friends.  And they do indeed have the super power of encouragement.  I know.  Because, they’ve used it on me a ton.  And I’ve discovered that I have the same superpower!   And I’ll just bet that you have this superpower, too.  Oh, yes indeedy.  Click on the button below to go check out all of the different outrageously encouraging groups waiting to wrap you up in hope, comfort, and friendship.

 

 

And, please do drop by and check out The Way We Roll  (my post today) at InAble and show a lil’ love. See ya over there!

 

*A note to The Nana – Just click on the words “The Way We Roll” just above this sentence.  Yup, those words right up there.  Hover your mousey thing and click it.  You’ll be magically transported to the post I’m talking about.  Yes, it’s a lot of rigamorole to read some words.  Your welcome and I love you.*