Saturday with 7

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Saturday’s…in America the day of rest before the day of rest. Saturday’s were made for brunch, sleeping in and casually catching up.

Until there are 7 of you. Then Saturday’s become about baseball, running errands, doing laundry and surviving.

Surviving the sibling squabbles that started before 8am, the to-do list that seems longer than the day and the internal voices telling you that everyone is having more fun than you are.

Until you reclaim it.

Reclaiming Saturday looks like running errands with one of the kids and making it quality time.

Reclaiming Saturday looks like sitting at the baseball field and calling it community.

Reclaiming Saturday looks like having friends over and making the most of every minute.

Reclaiming Saturday with Seven looks like counting your blessings (even if those blessings are crying constantly, leaving messes and following you around with non-stop chatter).

We only get to do today once, we might as well make it count, even if it IS Saturday.

Thanksgiving: The Ladies…

This week I’ll be sharing with you a few short stories of things I am thankful for and why…today, The Ladies.

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Remember Jr. High? And girls in Jr. High? And those first awkward years of college roomies you may or may not have known?

I remember some very distinct seasons of my life when it felt like I would never be that girl to have “girlfriends”.  The ones that we read about in The Babysitters Club and the ones we watched on Friends and the ones we saw loudly leaving our dorm floor.

Yet, here I sit. Of all the things I could have shared this week I want to give a big shout out to all the ladies in my life. I wouldn’t be the woman, mom, wife or friend that I am without them. I am so thankful that they accept me for who I am my. My crazy, my flaws, my (sometimes poorly expressed) passion for things. My life would not be the same without them.

Friendships are hard. Finding good girlfriends is even harder.

The Moms Group…for a bunch of years now I have sat on Wednesday mornings, consumed more coffee than imaginable and learned with women. These women have kids of all ages, stages, personalities and ability. They have had amazing times and some of the worst. We have seen lots of new life and carried the burden of death among us. These ladies have taught me what it really means to be “the church”.  These ladies do more than talk with me too. They’ve watched my kids, helped me through big transitions, brought meals and so much more. They’ve become more than my Wednesday morning, they’ve become my dear friends. I never knew what it was like to be part of this kind of joy until I was with them.

The Late Night Girls Night…these ladies are my people. Somehow, every now and then, with lots of good cheese, we all manage to find a living room floor to sit on and just be together. We aren’t any one of us the same and not a single one of us is from this town we now call “home”. Maybe it is our shared transience or maybe it is just who we are, these are ladies who have a passion for life like I’ve never seen before. They fight hard fights, say hard things, do big things and are always asking who they were really meant to be. We all need deeply passionate friends, they are mine and really, I can’t imagine life without them.

The Working Women…I work with a lot of women. Whatever I happen to be doing for work I find myself across the table or desk from another woman. Ones who own businesses, run businesses, champion businesses and constantly recreate businesses. These women have grit. They get things done. Beyond getting things done they want to make a mark in the world, make it a better place. They create places of service and resources and joy. I admire these women and they encourage me to keep going, to do that thing I was called to do and do it well.

The PenPals and Texters…There are a handful of people that I don’t get to have coffee with or chat on the phone with or run to the park with. They are usually women who I’ve known for a long time. We have a history. We exchange texts about our kids or our prayer needs. We send gifts to celebrate birthdays and babies and houses. We share bits and pieces of the life we live apart. Yet, these women know me well. They hold a piece of my history that is definitive to who I am and who I am becoming. We may not be near enough to have coffee or available enough to make that happen but when there is a need, a joy or pain, these ladies always know.

The Coffee Talk…These ladies get me. They each individually manage to find time to meet me out and about, swing by when it works for them or make the coffee and let me come over with whomever I have in tow that day. Not everyone is spontaneous and go with the flow but these ladies, they feed that part of my soul. They don’t mind that I’m folding laundry or that they are sitting on a stained couch or that my 3 year old keeps trying to drink their coffee when they set it down. Somewhere in the midst of coffee some of the most transformative conversations of the last 4 years have happened. These individual women have helped me understand my son, have let me cry my eyes out when things were hard and have made me laugh uncontrollably. Coffee holds a special place in my heart, not because of how delicious it is, but because how all the times I’ve held it in the presence of these individuals and been changed.

And More…These few short stories can not possibly encompass all the lovely women I know or have known. My sisters and mom. My very best friend and a few new friends. The wise ladies at my church and the young church ladies just like me. These stories of community are wide and deep, simple and complicated. All bring joy and I am so grateful.

So, maybe I didn’t have a Childhood forever friend or a Jr. High best friend or a favorite College Roomie but today, today I am thankful for the women I have right now. I don’t know how I would do life without them.

Today, I am thankful for The Ladies!

What we talk about: Friendship

“What we talk about when we talk about _________”  is our series for June. Words and language have meaning and provide insight. What is revealed when we reflect on the words we say? Check out the whole series HERE.

Friends

Friendship has been redefined for me this year.

Don’t get me wrong, friendship has always been valuable to me. I have realized over the years just how incredibly blessed I have been in that area. Friendships among women can be difficult to find and maintain, but I have more than my fair share. Yet I believe we are created for community, women especially so.

Looking back though, I realize that for years I lived with this idea that friendship is rooted in joy. There’s some truth to that. Some of the best days I have experienced were celebrating marriages, births, educational and career accomplishments.

Celebration comes easily to us. No one has to explain to us how to rejoice when circumstances are good. For most of us, that comes naturally. We know how to buy gifts, send flowers, take pictures, smile.

But what I have learned this past year is that friendship is truly forged when life tests us.

When a friend tells you that her marriage is falling apart. When she loses a child to cancer. When she expresses the pain that comes from raising a child with autism or special needs. When life with work and little kids becomes so overwhelming it threatens to swallow the joy.

It has been those moments that have truly shaped my friendships. The times when I don’t know what to say and I can’t fix it and all I can do is pray and cry and let you borrow my faith for a little while. Or more recently the times when people haven’t known what to say to me, but they showed up anyway. In their beautiful, encouraging, unique, and even practical ways.

If worship is about honoring God, it makes sense that when we honor our friendships, we worship Him in the most beautiful, profound sense.

When we cry or simply sit in silence. When we join in pain and grief without having to fix it. When we answer that middle of the night phone call or take her kids for the day. It’s not just about “being a good friend.” It’s about serving and loving and honoring those who have been created in the very image of our Creator.

Choosing to walk through the valley and the darkness alongside someone else might be scary and vulnerable and painful. Grief and pain are messy and complicated. It can be awkward.

Do it anyway. Because one day you might find yourself needing a hand to hold as you walk through the valley of the shadow. And because sometimes we need our friends to teach us how to worship in the midst of life and heartache.

And because you might just learn something about worshipping the one who created us along the way.

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By Amanda Boils
Amanda writes from her beautiful country community in Michigan surrounded by her husband and 2 small sons.

Small Wonders: Friendship

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This weekend a friend said on Facebook “We have downgraded friendship in our society.” You could almost hear me shout my agreement from the other room. The idea that we have made friendship less than important yet live in a world where we need each other was stunning to me in that moment.

Yet, while I believe this is true for many and at times even I too have felt the loneliness of friendlessness, I am struck by the small wonder of friendship in my life. It carries me every day.

Stop for a moment. Think of what you have done with your friends just this year. Have you downgraded friendship or embraced it?

By DaPix Studio
By DaPix Studio

I am so thankful for this season where, despite small kids and busy work schedules, our lives are full of friendship, it brings us so much joy!

…For friends that care about the small stuff.

…For friends who laugh with me until I cry.

…For friends who have the hard conversations and ask the difficult questions.

…For friends who willingly lend me things when I need them.

…For friends who help vacuum birthday cake off the fellowship hall carpet.

…For friends who try and trust, even when trusting isn’t easy.

…For friends who love the same city you do and see life through those eyes.

…For friends who invite us to birthday dinners.

…For friends who will spend a day with you, just to be together.

…For friends who give beautiful and unexpected gifts from the heart.

…For friends who will stop and catch lunch at the last minute.

…For friends who see your children as you see them, not as a handful but as a heartfull.

…For friends who persevere when your schedules and distance makes it hard to be together.

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Friendship is a small wonder these days. It takes time and energy that a lot of us just don’t have. It takes patience and commitment to really get to know someone.

There are so many choices in this world of things to do, places to go and life to experience. But what is the joy of doing and going and experiencing if we have no one to share it with?

Linking up today with A Field of Wildflowers: #SmallWonders

Dear Friend and New Mom…

Dear Friend and New Mom,

Can I tell you I am over the moon for you? I want to come to wherever you are, bring you a warm cup of tea, hug you and gush, for hours, maybe days.

Gush about all these feelings over the miracle of life. The sweet smell of newborn, that first newborn mom meltdown that we all have, that moment where you cried for the old life and the one where you celebrated all that is new.

Don’t worry, I won’t, I know that doesn’t mesh with newborn life at all, but I thought you should know, you are on my heart and you are LOVED.

See friend, there are 2 things that are unique about you.

First, that you are my friend. This moment is beautiful because however I know you, regardless of the amount of time we have been friends or our physical proximity, we called each other friend that one time. There was a moment in time where you entrusted a part of your heart and life to me. To do so was a risk, but you did and now I want you to know I celebrate this new life, this miraculous moment, with you, wherever you are.

I celebrate with you because I love you. I love you for the woman you were when we met, the mom you have just become and for the amazing person God will call out in you tomorrow.

Second, you are unique because you are on the path of motherhood, one we walk together. Do you know how special that is? Not everyone walks this path. Some by choice and others not. Some get here easily and others not. But you, you are on this path. We are on this path.

There is something beautiful about the bond of motherhood. It seems to transcend time and personal history. It is a tie that binds us together in ways we don’t fully understand.

While unique to each mom, there is an unspoken language of motherhood we seem to receive at birth. That sorrow we share in the hard moments, the joy we share in the easy moments and the laughter in-between the two.

Friend and new mom, I can not express what your baptism into this season does to my heart towards you. I love you more today than I did yesterday and I am sure that this love with grow with each passing day that you nurture and love this new life.

Remember that. Remember that I love YOU.

I will bring you tea and gush with you (but only if that works for you). I will swoop in when I can and rescue you, maybe by entertaining the others in your home, throwing in laundry or dropping off yet another pack of diapers. I will encourage you with words and actions as much as I possibly can. You are being thought of, prayed for and I am holding you close to my heart.

Friend and new mom, remember YOU are loved.

Amidst 3am feedings where you feel both overwhelmed and deeply happy and the tears are coming. When the 14th family member has come to visit and you are thrilled that they all love the baby but what you really want them to say is ‘I notice you and love you too mama.’ At that 1 month mark when all the excitement has died down and you are deep into doing the day to day.

YOU are loved. I love you, just the way you are. Today, tomorrow, the next day and the next.

For Happy Days and With Love,
Rachael

Lessons From My Jeweler…

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I remember standing at the counter, not yet married and the jeweler saying “Now when you do get married come back and we will solder your rings together. They will be stronger and last longer.”

I never did.

Last week after mowing our lawn I looked down. My engagement ring had been flattened on the back side from the vibrations of the mower.

As my wedding rings are on their way to be rounded, cleaned and soldered together, I am left with these thoughts…

Two are stronger than one. This applies to marriage, motherhood, friendship…Jesus. My marriage can handle more when my husband and I work side by side. My kids are more responsive when I have listening ears and am working with them, not against them. Friendship reaches new depths when we go all in. My relationship with God deepens when I spend time at the feet of Jesus and not just look at the Bible on my bookshelf. To achieve the beautiful heart things in life it so very often takes two, existing next to each other, building a heart tie that binds.

Sometimes we flatten out. We get bumped and bruised on our journey as we are molded and trimmed into our true selves. It’s okay. In those moments we need to go to God, get rounded out, cleaned up and joined back together with the Jesus who loves us.

Connection is a process. I didn’t get my rings soldered together because part of me liked the thought of them being apart. I liked the idea of 2 rings instead of one, of 2 stories instead of one. Yet, our relationships bind us. We become one when we give the pieces of ourselves away to each other, but this can take time. Putting my selfish desires aside, giving myself fully and completely – even to the point of sacrificial love – that kind of intimate connection takes time.

Listen to the jeweler. Our instructions are often clear and simple. Love because I loved you. Be patient. Be still. And yet in my hurry to do my own thing my own way I ignore the simple instructions. Over time weakness sets in until total reconstruction is required.

Where are you weak today? Where do you need to connect? What piece of your heart needs reconstruction?

Might I encourage you to find some time to visit the ultimate Jeweler today…

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” ~Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Linking up today with: Unforced Rhythms

So much grace, So much hope

Hug!

How many times have you said “I’m with you on that.” or “Yes, I’ll do that with you.” And how many times have you really held up your end of that commitment?

Recently I spent some time with a friend and I was able to experience exactly what it means to really be WITH someone.

You see, my oldest is having some life difficulties.  Since he’s only 6, his life difficulties affect the whole family. It can be frustrating and demanding and as a mom, just downright embarrassing to deal with.

A  friend and I had an opportunity to meet up and bring our kids along for a few days of fun and refreshment. Mere hours into this little adventure I realized fun and refreshment may not be on the agenda for the weekend.

As I stood in the middle of a public place, tears beginning to fall, my friend reminded me that she was there, WITH me.  She instantly sprang to my side, gave me a much needed squeeze, asked if she could do anything and when I was too emotionally exhausted to respond, she made sure my daughter was taken care of and that my son was stable.

In this difficult season I felt as if my friend was truly WITH me. She did not make me feel embarrassed or incompetent, she did not withdraw or make a scene. She stood with me, in my weakness, like a rock.

Friends, this is what scripture means when it says

“…walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love…” Ephesians 4:1-2

My sweet friend was Jesus to me in that moment. We are sisters in Christ and it was her calling in that moment to be truly with me, in body and in spirit.

Each moment counts! Each time we choose to be truly with someone instead of simply next to them, near them or just around them, we can be Jesus in their lives.

Small? Simple? Maybe.  Insignificant, no. My friend blessed me in many ways in our short hours together, but this moment, this moment held so much grace, so much hope that here, long after the moment has passed, my heart is still full and I am able to continue in these difficult days because of her.

Today, be with someone. You never know what opportunity God has given you to change a life.