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.


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.

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


Harmonies, Melodies, Lyrics and Poetry

I love music.  Harmonies, melodies, lyrics, poetry.  There’s something about the melodic rise and fall of notes and chords that speaks to a part of my soul that feels deeply and sees the world a little differently than most.


And for more years than I’d care to admit, my worship revolved mainly around music.  It wasn’t always reverent.  I didn’t always treat it or the object of my worship as sacred either.  Even after all the years I spent growing up in the church, attending a Christian college, marrying into a full time ministry gig, I’m not sure I ever fully grasped the “what” of worship.


Not until my oldest son was born.  


I was rocking him to sleep in a dark room about a week after we came home from the hospital.  I was still in awe of this tiny little miracle (and sort of in shock that they just casually sent us home from the hospital with another human being!).  I realized that I would do anything, absolutelyanything for this little boy who I’d known less than a week.  I would give up my life for him without a second thought if it meant protecting him.  Saving him.


Do you get it now?  Do you get that’s what I did for you when I sent Jesus?


It was one of those rare moments where I could have sworn I heard God’s voice audibly.  I cried tears of gratitude as all the years of unrecognized mercy and grace and acceptance came to the surface.  I was profoundly changed by a new understanding of who God is.


And in that moment, I worshiped.  There was no music, no instruments, no songs.  


Just me.  


Finally responding to my Creator and Savior with all that He had created me to be.  Responding to Him not just because of what He had done, but simply for who He is.  Because at the heart of it, that’s what worship is: laying all of who you are at God’s feet for His glory.  And suddenly worship went from being so narrowly defined in my mind, to something so wide and vast and deep, that I realized there’s hardly a minute of my life when I can’t worship.  


Worship, for so many, has become that “thing” we do on Sunday mornings.  Or even that service we attend.  Or the songs that we sing.  That’s such a shallow understanding of worship.  God has so much more that He longs to hand you.  He longs for you to see.  


All of life, each moment that we choose to open our eyes and our hearts and recognize who God is and what He has done is a moment that we choose to worship.  And every moment we take a breath is a moment made for worshiping.  


Moms, do you get that we were created for this?  That we were created for a life of abundance, of fullness…of worship?  It’s easy to lose sight of that because most of our moments don’t feel like this.  Most of our moments tend to feel mundane, routine, or just down right stressful.  


But worship isn’t a feeling, and if we wait for our feelings to catch up so we can honor God, we might never do it.  But I promise you, if you will slow down, you will see.  You will find your moment of worship today.  It may be fast and fleeting and if you’re not looking, you’ll miss it.  


Just for a moment, try it.  Try laying down all of who you are at God’s feet.  Be grateful.  Be humble.  Be changed.  


Because all is worship.      

Meet Amanda…Amanda Panda

I’m sure she’s thrilled that I just publically called her that! As her oldest sister, I can. I’ll let her tell you the rest…

Hello beautiful mommas!  Welcome to Worship Filled Wednesday! I’m Amanda and I am thrilled to be on this crazy, chaotic, beautiful, grace-filled journey called motherhood with you.  


Please know right up front that I’m not writing here because I’m any kind of expert.  On anything.  I’m a pastor’s wife of 7 years and stay at home momma to two littles (3.5 and almost 2).  I’ll turn 30 this July.  My life is not glamorous or spectacular.  (In fact, I’m listening to Jake and the NeverLand Pirates in the background as I write this.) And I wouldn’t change a thing.


Even as a writer, I struggle to put into words the journey our family has been on over the last 7 years.  My husband began his ministry as a youth pastor.  We are now on our third church and his first as senior pastor.  I have seen the best and worst of those who call themselves followers of Jesus.  There have been mountains, valleys, late night phone calls, funerals, weddings, too many teen trips to count, and more changes than I could have imagined.  Add in two boys born twenty months apart and living at least 8 hours away from either side of extended family and well, maybe the one thing I am an expert on is change!


Through it all, I have learned what it means to worship an unchanging God.  I’ve learned that my worship looks different in the valley than it does on the mountaintop, but the God we worship never changes.  I’ve learned that worship looks different when you’re newly married than it does when you suddenly find yourself at home with a new baby.  I’ve learned that worship is not and cannot be dependent on my circumstances.  


Wednesdays are going to be the day we explore worship.  What is it?  What does it mean?  How does it change the way we live? How do we worship when we’re up to our necks in laundry and crying children?  How do we worship in the different seasons of life?  How do we worship when our feelings don’t match up with the reality of who we know Jesus is?


I am not an expert.  I feel like that bears repeating.  My fear is that some of you will read these posts and think, “Wow, she really has it all together.” It’s easy to think that when you get to hear about the highlights and you don’t always get to see the behind the scenes.


I am a wife and a mom who loves Jesus and who desires to worship in every moment.  I’d love to say that as a pastor’s wife I spend my days reading my Bible, praying, ministering to those in need, and that my kids are always dressed to the nines with hair combed on Sundays.  The reality is I am a beautiful mess.  A desperately in need of grace (and a maid!) mess.  One of my kids is almost always crying and I usually lose my patience at least once before we get out the door on Sunday mornings.  I count it a good Sunday if everyone has clothes and shoes on.  


But I’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way.  I am still learning with each new day and each new season.  God’s mercies are new every morning which means we get a new chance at worship every single day.  


Today is a new day.  What is your worship going to look like this day?

Meet Katie…Snooze Buttons and Zombies: Navigating the Practice of Presence

Meet Katie…Wife, Mom, Teacher, Leader of Women, Friend. My most favorite thing about Katie is that she is funny! This girl can make me bust a gut on my worst day. I hope you enjoy her as much as I do!


5 am. Snooze. Hit it again. Snooze for ten more. Ring at 5:10. Snooze. Ring at 5:20. Grr. I guess I’ll get up. This is how my morning goes, fighting the fight to get to the tub, trying not to trip over my zombie-like walk. I don’t really wake up for the next twenty minutes fully, not until I get the kids.

Contrast that to my two year-old son, Gowan – on a good day at least. Because when it’s a weekday, there’s hell to pay for getting that child up before 6 am. But on those rare weekend days in which he can sleep in and wake up when he wants to, I walk into his room, and he joyfully jumps on his bed, shouting,” Hi, Mommy! I’m awake!” Which is super cute, of course. But that got me to thinking…there’s a bit, or a huge difference, between his start to the morning and mine.

The problem for me, though, is that I’m not just hitting the snooze button at 5 am (and 5:10, 5:15, and 5:20). Throughout the day, I often feel like I’m still hitting that darn snooze button. On any given day, especially week days, I just run through the mundane like a drill sergeant, running from task to task. Or if I’m not feeling drill sergeant-y (I think I just invented a new word; go me!), I take on the personality of a robot, not even thinking about what I’m doing and just, you know, doing it. Just doing to do, because it has to, because it needs to.

And I’m assuming I know my audience here, so I probably don’t even need to expound upon the “it” I’m incessantly doing. But just to be assured that you’re in good company, here’s the “it:” get the kids fed, noses wiped, teeth brushed, coats on (is it summer yet?) diapers changed, lunches packed, diaper bag packed, eat breakfast, make sure I have work stuff in the car, drive to work, teach high school kids literature “stuff” all day, drive home from work, get dinner going, kids fed, sneak in some dinner myself, baths done, diapers changed, goodnight routines done.

Sound familiar? And after that’s done, then I can enjoy binge watching something on Netflix or Amazon, which is something I feel guilty about, but whatevs. That’s another post for another time. Because at the end of the day, I am EMPTY. I feel like I have NOTHING to give. And, you know, that’s OKAY. But I digress. Again, that’s yet another post for another time.

Back on subject here, I admit that I sometimes even rush the nighttime routines so that I can get to adult chill time sooner. But when I think about whether or not I was truly awake and alive for most of my day, especially the miniscule time I’m actually with my kids, I don’t think I was. I was asleep; I just kept hitting snooze. All day, I was the drill sergeant and the robot who just did everything, not stopping for a minute to say, “I’m awake!” Pause here: I’m not saying that it’s not ok to have days that are like this. Sometimes these days are necessary and just happen. But I am saying that I should make an intentional effort to make sure I’m truly awake for the moments in my day that I can enjoy the people with whom God graced me to spend my life.

These are the moments when my husband and I can laugh at something together, or when we can have a meaningful conversation, or when my son demonstrates his newest animal sound he can make, or when my daughter is taking her first steps (which has started recently! Prepare the mommy crazy meter). I don’t want to be so swamped in to-do lists and the demands of life that I miss these precious moments. And although I may not always miss these moments because of the crazy have-to’s of life, I don’t often stop to delight in them, to joy in them, and to realize how important, how fleeting, these are. I do often laugh at a joke with my husband, have a meaningful conversation, enjoy listening to Gowan “hee haw” like a donkey, and see Cora take those cautiously cute first steps. I am present for these, I see them, I’m there, but do I wonder in them? Am I truly awake? Am I truly alive, for that matter?

When I looked up the definition for the word “alive,” on Webster, I found this: “alert, active, animated.” Similarly, the definition for “awake,” is watchful and alert. So although I am, at least on the literal level, “awake,” I often am not alert, active, animated, and watchful, especially with the people who matter the most. And hear me, tired mamas, I’m not saying that every day, all the time, that we need to delight, to wonder, to revel in every single flipping moment of our day with husbands and children. No. Just. No. We’re not perfect; we don’t have super powers. What I am saying, though, is that we ARE children and daughters to a God who calls us to watchfulness and alertness to delight, to wonder, and to revel in certain moments of our lives that remind us of His ever-present watchfulness and alertness to his own children – you and me. Because God calls his followers to be children of light, being people who are visible to the world and people who are metaphorically awake. This is why Paul references Isaiah when he says, “Awake sleeper! Arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14).

When we “arise from the dead,” or refuse to hit the snooze button, and are awake, God promises us that Christ will shine on us. And I don’t know about you, but on every day of the week, I need a lot of Christ shining on me; I need a lot more of Him and a whole lot less of me so that I can be a vessel for his perfect purposes.

So, for me, my small way toward this declaration of “I’m awake,” is to hold off on the metaphorical snooze button for at least two moments a day that I can delight in my husband and my kiddos. And I’m hoping that the longer I intentionally engage in this practice of presentness, it will happily bleed over into more of my day – time at work, time with friends, time in the car – so that I can truly be “awake” for most of my day.

It’s small, but folks, us tired mamas know the trite saying: “it has to start somewhere.” We tired mamas also need to have grace on ourselves that if two moments are the most we can revel in, then two it is.

So next time I’ve become Katie the drill sergeant or Katie the Biggest Loser coach who keeps yelling at myself to keep doing the next thing, or Katie the robot who wipes human interaction and thought from my mind, I’ll chuck the proverbial snooze button out the window, and joyously declare, like my loveable toddler, that I, world, am truly awake!

Small Wonders: Music

Drums, piano, guitar. Banjo, violin, flute. Rock, Blues, Opera. Country, Classical, Jazz.

As I drift in and out of our crazy days I realize we don’t do it quietly! Partly because there are so many of us and partly because we are a family who listens to music.

My husband is the music guy in our family. He has a wide and varied collection. Our kids enjoy everything from kid sing alongs in the car to classic rock wafting in from the kitchen. 

The music is always changing. A little jazz for a quiet morning, some silly songs as we wait in the carpool lane, some fast fun music as we clean.

Isn’t this the rhythm of our life? The tune is always a little different? Sometimes smooth and slow and sometimes fast and frantic. 

What a gift that our expression of life rhythm can somehow beautifully come together in the mystery of music.

As this little space adds new writers this week, as new stories from varied voices appear, I feel the rhythm changing. From slow and quiet to vibrant and fun. 

It’s exciting to hear a new rhythm every now and again…

Linking up with Field of Wildflowers: #SmallWonders

Financial Friday: Change or Challenge?

by 24oranges.nl

Here in the Midwest we have had the warmest end to winter and start to spring. We have already seen weather in the 80’s. All this nice weather has brought on spring fever in our house! I am ready to clean, garage sale, thrift and plan for summer.

As I sat down to think through what to do first I was challenged by some of the moms in my Bible Study to consider not only what my items are worth but what my time and energy is worth too.

So if you also have spring fever and are thinking ahead here are some thoughts to consider.

Read the rest of the article on spring, garage sales and summer vacations over at…FRUGAL GRANOLA!

Financial Friday: Tis the Season…for Gifts!

by ckelly

I’m over at Frugal Granola today…

Every year around this time I start feeling overwhelmed. Between October and January we have multiple birthdays, school holiday celebrations, church holiday celebrations, Thanksgiving and Christmas.  (Just typing this makes me tense up!)

Gift-giving is part of this season for most of us. For me, I look at gift-giving and want it to be thoughtful and meaningful.  I also don’t want it to be the priority. The people and the meaning behind these occasions is so much more important than any money I might spend.

Gift giving can be done meaningfully and frugally!

Read the conclusion over at FrugalGranola.com!