August in the Boise area usually means smoke in the valley.
Whether from Idaho fires, or those from Oregon and Washington, it’s not uncommon to have poor air quality and visibility this time of year. In addition to my general distaste for southern Idaho summer heat, I am saddened every year to think of the devastation the fires bring to our forests. I know the fiery heat births new life from the pinecones to regenerate the wooded hillsides, but it still bothers me to see the char-scarred hills.
The prospect of moving 800 miles away filled me with grief.
As an introverted person, anticipating the loss of the friendships I’d built over many years was deeply painful. I feared losing the proximity that wove my life into the fabric of others’. I feared distance would unavoidably change, or even end, those relationships. I was, in many ways, ready for a new adventure, but the thought of starting over relationally was a heavy weight in my heart.
My friend’s words were a surprising gift. And the remedy to my ache…
For more of my writing on friendship, click here.
I had completely forgotten about it.
It wasn’t until I cleaned out a few desk drawers that I found it again, buried amongst scraps of paper and some expired coupons (I’ve just never mastered that coupon thing…). The notecard was from a retreat I attended several years ago. During one of the personal moments of reflection, we were assigned to write a note to ourselves from Jesus addressing whatever challenge we were experiencing at that moment. I unfolded the pink-striped paper and found a fresh gift, a loving dose of encouragement. I hope they offer you the same:
Too many of us feel isolated and lonely.
Sure, friendships take time… time we don’t always feel we have to spare. And yet, I don’t think we can afford to not spend the time on relationships. God designed us for it!
The theme at LIFT (an event I spoke at last week; if you’re local to Boise, I hope you attended!), was community and connection. Our aim is for women to live inspired, fearless, and thriving lives. And we believe that’s best done in community.
Joy. It’s a popular word this time of year.
It’s printed on pillows, formed into stocking hangers, and a common refrain in Christmas music.
We want joy. Yet many of us lament we don’t feel joyful during December.
“I think you might have helped me decide not to adopt.”
She was worried that I’d be dismayed at her words, thinking I wanted everyone to adopt. I had just delivered a fairly candid, vulnerable message to a group of women on the topic of adoption. In our conversation afterward, I reassured her of what I’ve long held to be true:
Everyone can do something to help orphans. And I do wish everyone would. I base my opinion on God’s adoption of us into His family (Ephesians 1:5), and the exhortation in James 1:27 that we show pure and blameless religion by looking after orphans (and widows).
I’ve missed you, friends!
I’ve written so many blog posts in the recent months… in my head. I really have been writing quite a bit, but the content has been specifically for Our Daily Bread Ministries so I haven’t had the ability to post more here. (If you’re not familiar with Our Daily Bread, please do check it out as an accessible yet thought-provoking daily devotional. Whether you prefer to receive them in print or through social media, they’ve got options! My devotionals will begin appearing in March of 2017.) I do hope you’re following me on Instagram and Facebook, too; when the radio is silent on the blog, you can usually count on something on those sites (but I still don’t seem to be able to Tweet).
They say you can’t outgive God.
Last week’s LIFT event was the culmination of months of prayer, planning, and labor. Pam, Genny, and I have been collaborating since the spring of 2015 to help women address the tough issues of identity, purpose, and the challenges to living them fully. We have shared our thoughts and hopes for those who would attend over many hours and countless ounces of black coffee.
And then, last Thursday, it finally happened. The tickets were sold out. Chairs were packed tightly. Candles lit. Cupcakes baked. Flowers arranged. And our messages were shared.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to “share.”
I knew the tears would well up in my eyes. (Insert cursory feminine joke about mascara here.) And I haven’t known these women for very long, so tipping my emotional cards felt (extra) risky. We were discussing hypocrisy in the Christian life and how our social masks put an intimacy barrier between us and others. My story was relevant to the topic and even illustrated the point, all while pressing on tender parts of my heart.
It reduced her to tears.
My daughter was pulled aside, her motives and commitment questioned. Her concern for others and willingness to respect authority were impugned. Because her heart and deference are authentic and pure, it absolutely blindsided her.
Later that same day, a package arrived for her. The inauspicious cardboard mailer contained a t-shirt from a race in Portland, a gift from friends she made over the summer at a running camp in Washington state. (And an autographed photo of Emily Infield. Woot!) But the most priceless gift inside was the card. The words inscribed affirmed my child for her