(in)RL: I Heart Community

I’ve talked about (in)Real Life a lot lately. And I’m going to talk about it again. :)

Just today. Promise. :)

It’s just that it was SO. SO. Incredibly. GOOD.

Here’s the thing. When I signed up for it ages ago, I was pumped to meet fellow (in)courage readers and bloggers…and just make some new friends. That’s totally the ENFP in me. Truly all about relationships.

But I also knew I couldn’t host a meet-up, though I did consider it. Too many factors weighed in on that one, and to top it off, I had committed to leading a workout that morning just a few hours before it kicked off. I watched the meet-up lists for weeks, sure that one would be happening at least somewhat close to me.

It didn’t happen, and I was disappointed. I knew that if I attended one of the closest ones to me, it still meant more than an hour of driving one way, and I didn’t have it in my day.

Instead, I mentioned it to a friend.

I’ve got an awesome community of girlfriends here. Oh, they’re like coffee with extra-yummy creamer on a gloomy, rainy day. They just make my life better, sweeter, and more alive. But the one thing we don’t have in common is blogging. Some of them enthusiastically read my blog, and I so value that they show their love to me in that way. But they don’t follow other blogs, and so I knew they didn’t completely understand what a huge part of my life this place called (in)courage is.

But I opened it up anyway, asking if any of my friends would like to join me.

And two of them did!

Our day looked different from most (in)RL meetups. We already knew each other.

But we still brewed the coffee, ate some awesome food, kicked up our feet…

And something happened that day.

We walked away knowing each other’s hearts better. Because let’s be honest…we all have joys and sorrows and need those people to love us and pray for us and just be there for us.

I’ve been so thankful for this community of love that God has given me…but I’m even more thankful now.

As we watched stories unfold…

…like incredible ways God answered prayer for dear sisters-in-Christ

…and how God used a woman who was willing to be obedient to reach many, many women in Kenya

…like the reminder that we were created exactly as He wanted us to be…and WE. ARE. BEAUTIFUL.

…and listened to the beauty of blended voices as women from around the world read Truth together

…we laughed together, we let a few tears drip together (ok…that was probably more me ;)), we shared our hearts, we loved a little deeper.

We were community. We still are.

The day didn’t end up looking at all like what I had originally thought it might…but I have no doubt that God was in it, and He worked it out exactly as it should have been. He knew what I needed more than I did and met me exactly where I was. As He always, always does.

Thank you to my beautiful sisters at (in)courage for giving us this incredible weekend! I want to hug you all! What a blessing you are…and will continue to be…in my life.

Oh, I heart community!


A Memory

…because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.
1 Thessalonians 2:8

Just remembering today. :) And giving thanks.


(in)Real Life

I spent part of today tuning into an online conference with two of my good friends.

I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time. This blog is one of my favorites, and several months ago when they announced the conference, I knew I wanted to “attend”. What made it different from other blog conferences is that they were structuring it so people would meet up with friends in their own area. No plane tickets and hotel reservations required. :)

Just some coffee, food, and good friends. I can always handle that. πŸ˜‰

I really, really loved hanging out with Alison and Amanda, two friends from my Monday workout/Thursday Bible study/church. We watched a few sessions, discussed them, and had some good heart-to-hearts…which we all need now and then.

It was a great way to spend the afternoon, and it left me feeling very (in)couraged. (Ok, I’ll admit that was corny.) πŸ˜‰

At the end of our time we tuned into the last session, a virtual community Bible reading, which I was completely blessed to participate in. It was emotional and inspiring and just COOL seeing people from all over the world reading the same Scripture and hearing our voices blend. I wish I could post the link here, but I’m hoping to at least have it on DVD in the next few weeks so I can share it with friends who are around here.

And even though I blogged about it yesterday, the conference made me more thankful than ever for community. Because we all need that place to belong, that place to just be. Thanks to each of you who have given me just that.


Five-Minute Friday: Community

Today I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo at The Gypsy Mama for Five-Minute Friday.

Join me!

The rules: Write for five minutes. No editing, revising, or overthinking. Just write. :)

Today’s Topic: Community

The morning I stepped into that foreign room in a place that made my heart pound, I had no idea that it held the friends who would become my community.

The place where we’d dig deep, share, laugh, sometimes-cry, always-love.

They made me feel so welcome from the first moments…this new girl struggling through the harsh realities of relocation once again, new-mommyhood, and mega identity-crisis. The perfect combination. πŸ˜‰

It took a few weeks, but slowly the walls started to crumble, I allowed the tears to fall, and my heart began to soften. And as my story…and their stories…began to intertwine, I knew that God had given me a gift in this group of women.

In this community.

Thursday mornings are a cherished part of the week for me. Whether we study for the entire hour and a half or we talk first for the first hour, that time spent with these beautiful sisters is so good for my soul and my heart.

Because despite differences and preferences, we can all come together and love, laugh…and just be.

Which is so, so important in community.

They make me feel valued, loved, appreciated…and I hope I make them feel that way, too.

I just love them. So much.

This community…is so much my life. And for it, I am thankful.

And…this is what I’m doing tomorrow. It’s still not too late to register and tune in! For a cool $10, they’ll send you a shirt, a pack of greeting cards, and you’ll get access to some pretty incredible sessions and speakers. A friend and I watched the Friday sessions this afternoon, and they were great. Think about it if you’ve got a few hours to spare tomorrow! :)


Little Blessings (Pt. 33)

Just so you know…’cause you may be wondering…I’m doing 100 of these. (I’ll tell you why later, ok?) πŸ˜‰

Anyway, on with the blessings…

:) Friends who listen and give hugs and let me be a blubbering mess for five minutes. Or longer.

:) Photo shoots with sisters, a blue door, and a no trespassing sign. (Ooooops!) But I can’t wait to show you the pics! There is one on facebook if you’re my friend. More to come.

:) Finding out that Maelie knows the word “breadstick”. Who knew?!

:) 8 pm and bedtime and zero tears. Not one. Can we say, “TI-RED?”

:) Loving that little girl…the same one who says breadstick and who went to bed without crying…to the moon and back. Plus infinity.

:) Bright, hot-reddish-pink toenails.

:) Flowers on the table to welcome “us girls” home.

:) A package of free goodies in the mail…a wallet, a ring, and the cutest vase ever.

:) Two blank canvasses, paint, brushes…and two great ideas. I love painting. Happy sigh.

:) The reminder and Truth…that He doesn’t change. Ever.


Precious Reunion

I love that no matter how much time has passed, we can always pick up where we left off.

I love these two. :)


Photogenic Paris

Hi there – Tobin here. I was supposed to post these photos on Sunday, but me being me, I totally forgot. Imagine that.

Anyhow, these are a bit overdue either way. Our stop in Paris was less than 24 hours total – as you’ll be able to see from the following photos, our main objective was to see the Eiffel Tower. So we took a lot of pictures of it. We packed in a lot of walking – by our best estimates using Google Maps, somewhere around 6-8 miles as well. It was interesting, but if we were going to live there, I’d have to make a lot more money. :)

Enough of that – you didn’t come here to read what I have to write. On with the photos.

This was our first view of the Eiffel Tower when we walked there from our hotel. I’m not sure anything prepared us for actually seeing it in person – it’s another one of those famous landmarks that I never thought I’d see.

This is the Eiffel Tower again (yes, really!) after we walked under it and across the Seine River.

This is just a picture of us. Nothing extraordinary to see here.

Mel texting a friend in the US. With that same structure in the background again.

This is one of the reasons we walked so far – it looked a lot closer on the map.

This is probably one of my favorite photos of the whole trip. We lucked out on the timing – the lighting was perfect.

I’m pretty sure Mel has documented her adventures with European bread elsewhere, so I won’t say anything more.

So that’s Paris, at least our 20 or so hours of it. Yes, the photos lack variety. But out of the 77 pictures we took there, a full 50 of them have the Eiffel Tower somehow.

Coming tomorrow…I have no idea. But it won’t be me – rejoice!



Hey…and Some Coffee

I’m having a mid-afternoon coffee…after my power nap that didn’t really do much. Care to join me for a chat? πŸ˜‰

Here’s hopin’ the coffee will help. I’m kind of a grump right now. Just being honest. πŸ˜‰

So, hey from Creston.

Mae and I drove in this morning, and I couldn’t help driving down past the hospital, college, and the other areas that were really hit hard by the tornado.

Oh, my.

No words…maybe that’s how I can describe it?

I crossed the major highway that divides the east and west sides of town, and my jaw literally dropped, and my hand went over my mouth.

No drama, no pictures. I thought I’d want to take one, but I don’t. I think the images are there in my mind for good.

Just sad. So sad…and thankful at the same time. I seriously can’t believe no one died.

So Mae and I hopped over to Iowa yesterday after church. We left around 12:30 and made it to Slater (my church from college) with 15 minutes to spare before the surprise service/party for some dear friends.

It was so fun reconnecting with friends, some I haven’t seen for eight years. (There are pictures…I’ll share later. ;)) It was so good for my heart to see these ladies…I can’t believe how many years have passed. (And how many kiddos were running around at our feet!)

Mae and I spent the night with my adopted parents from college (who the party was for) and then came down to Creston this morning.

We’ll be here for the night and most of tomorrow, and then late tomorrow afternoon we’ll head up to the Des Moines area and then go home Wednesday night. I picked a good night to visit since two of my nieces have a music concert tonight, and grandma is available to babysit. :) Maelie is enjoying some good cousin time with Sofia, even if they are both definitely smack dab in the middle of the terrible twos.

It builds character, right? (For Mae AND Mommy!)

Anyway, it’s a quick trip that seems to go by even quicker…time always flies when there are so many people to see.

Looking forward to tomorrow…dinner at my very favorite restaurant EVER with some friends, and then some sweet sister time with my two best girls. Anticipating a late night and lots of laughs and some good heart-to-hearts.

Will definitely need the caffeine for the drive home on Wednesday!

Happy Monday!

Oh, and you may have noticed something…that there was no blog post yesterday? Hmmm…there IS a story for that one. I’ll give my hubby a chance to share first. :)


Afternoon Tea

Golly, I sound so British…tea?!

No, really, here’s the scoop. Afternoon=I-have-tons-to-do-before-Maelie-and-I-leave-tomorrow; Tea=let’s-fight-this-sore-throat.

Though I much prefer coffee, tea it is today.

And a quick chat. Not too long ’cause I’ve got plenty I need to do!

So life is kind of crazy right now, and I honestly can’t believe that I’m carving out time this afternoon to write. I think it’s more for my sanity…a chance to catch my breath. (And not fold laundry, pack, etc.) Maelie and I are headed out tomorrow after church for Iowa. We have about 5 1/2 hours to make a 5 hour trip…and we’ll need to throw at least one stop in there. We could be late, but I’d rather not be.

But I’ll have to tell you why later ’cause…shhhhh…it’s a surprise!

Then we’ll spend Monday and Tuesday in Creston, which will be interesting. I’ve been warned that it’s pretty tough seeing the damage and devastation and that there’s still a lot of cleaning up that needs to be done. Crazy how a storm that lasts for minutes (even seconds) can cause damage that will take years to rebuild.

Then we’ll drive up to Des Moines on Tuesday afternoon and spend the night and part of Wednesday with my two best friends. Oh, good times…I love those two so much!

Then it’s back home Wednesday night…I’m hoping we won’t get in too late, probably 10ish. Which is late enough. πŸ˜‰

So we’d appreciate your prayers, especially as I navigate the world of road-trips-on-my-own-with-a-toddler. I’ll admit I’m a little stressed about it all…and maybe a little scared. I was reading Jesus Calling and yesterday’s topic was about being strong and courageous.

I guess that includes 5-6 hour road trips alone. We’re in His hand, so it’s all good. πŸ˜‰

Happy weekend, all! Hugs.



Intelligent Conversation

As I was getting ready to put her to bed (for the second time) tonight, around 10 p.m.:

Me: Mommy needs to take off her combat boots. Ok?

Mae: Ok! Um, mommy?

Me: Yes, Mae?

Mae: Boots!

Me: That’s right! They’re my boots! Do you like them?

Mae: Um…YES! (It was very emphatic.)

Me: Should I save them for you to wear someday?

Mae: YES! (Again, very emphatic, this time with a cheesy grin.)

A few minutes later, after the obligatory (second round of) cuddles and songs and putting to bed, I had to go back into her nursery to get her laundry that I’d forgotten to grab. As I entered…

Mae: (her head popping up over the top of the crib) Hi!

Me: (whispering) Hi, Mae. Shhh…go back to sleep.

Mae: (plopping her body back down onto the mattress and NOT whispering) OK, Mommy! ‘Night!

Oh. I. Love. Her.