Tag Archives: Love

Come Gather at The Well 

4 Oct

For the last year and a half, I have had unbreakable evening plans for the first Tuesday of every month. You see, during this hour and a half block of time, I gather at The Well with women of all seasons of life who are each experiencing a uniquely different relationship level with God. While we don’t meet at an actual well that pumps water to drink, we meet at the spiritual well where the water runs deep. 

Where does that name, The Well, even come from you might be asking. It comes from biblical times when women would gather at the well, often in the morning, to draw water for their families. Without water they wouldn’t survive. In John 4 we read about Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. She was all alone, choosing to come get water in the evening when the other women had gone. This alone speaks volumes – she was not accepted by the other women because of the lifestyle she had been living. BUT GOD still loved her. He still pursued her. He still wanted to give her his living water:

“Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” ‭‭John‬ ‭4:13-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Our church’s women’s ministry was established by two women who felt God calling them to share their journey of building a relationship with Him with other women. It’s not always hearts and flowers – we dig deep, exposing fears, regrets, anguish, the lies we believe about ourselves, our hurts and hang ups. Many times there are tears. This living, running water, which is moving within each of us, reminds me that I’m not alone. Someone out there, another women, has felt, experienced, and grown through similar troubles. 

Each month our time together centers around a different theme. Last night we examined friendship. Our two hosts had invited their four best friends to join them on stage for a “round table” discussion. Picture this – stunning, long wooden table with six elegant and Godly women seated together. They were a beautiful group. Love radiated from each women as she spoke about their special bond of friendship, which was born out of a need to connect and rally around one another in times of heartache and pain, and is strengthened by each women’s individual love and relationship with God. 

As evident by the friendship that was before us, life was not meant to live in isolation. We need close companions and friendships. And those extreamly close relationships they likened to a table with limited seating. 

They asked us to reflect upon our own lives and think about the following questions:

  1. Think about your life’s table. How many seats are available and who is sitting in those seats? 
  2. What prerequisites do you have for those who occupy those seats? 
  3. What fruits are the people at your table bringing? 
  4. What conversations are you partaking in?
  5. Who do you trust with your life? 
  6. Who’s truth do you value the most? 
  7. How are you growing from this relationship? 
  8. What are YOU giving to this relationship?

The enemy wants to isolate us. We are easier to attack when we are lonely and I can personally attest to that. This stage in my life I would describe as lonely and because of that, difficult. Yes, I have my family, boyfriend, and some friends out of state to lean on, but I don’t have a friendship rooted in God’s love. 

The six friends described their friendship as a place of:

  • Trust
  • Depth (friendship and spiritual level)
  • Encouraging
  • Honesty (Ephesians 4: 2)
  • Real
  • Sacrifice 
  • Love
  • Willing to get uncomfortable
  • Fortify (Protect/strengthen against attack, provide, surround)
  • Patient
  • Steadfast
  • Guide in wisdom
  • Rejoice
  • Grieve together
  • Vulnerable
  • Interceding on their behalf in prayer
  • Permission to speak truth and love – I seeing you doing X and I love you too much to keep doing it, to keep ruining your life

Those women are willing to bare the scars of pain and uncomfortableness for their friendship because that’s when they grow. We were encouraged to be very selective of the friends we are relying on for the most strength and reminded the best relationships are made up of the best forgivers. 

We were reminded of the many women’s groups available through the church to meet fellow Christian women – MOPS (Mothers of preschoolers), Mom’s Next (mother’s of elementary school children), Wednesday Night/Thursday Morning/Sunday Morning women’s bible study groups, and so on. I struggled with this part because I don’t feel like there is a group of women my age, who aren’t married, who’ve never had children. I’m too old for the young adult class and not a mother (where the majority of the women my age are meeting). Yes I attend the Wednesday evening bible study when I can, but even in that class, I’m one of the youngest. I often find myself wondering where I fit in at church? Where are the other nearly 30, single, non-mothers like myself hiding?

We all need an honest, insightful, God-speaking friend, who in times of trial, will remind us,  “You can have your moment, but you can’t stay there.”

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.” Romans‬ ‭12:9-13‬, ‭NLT‬‬

Listening to their stories, there was one woman who described herself as an introvert and I could see myself in many of the things she was saying – difficult to meet friends, never felt 100% accepted by other women, always quiet, searching to fill a void. In my seat my heart was screaming – that’s me! I feel that way right now! Her next words stopped my mental anguish – “I prayed for God to send me a friend and I was blessed with five women who are extroverted. My life is a lot more fun now.”

Pray for a friend? Really? Could it be that simple? That innocent? Could I be that open, honest, and raw? It can. Surrender it to God. He will give you more than what you could ever even think to ask for.

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians‬ ‭3:20‬, ‭NLT‬‬

 I’m going to be braver than I’ve ever been before. Tonight, Lord, I ask that you open my eyes to the people around me. Help me to form and kindle relationships with women who will be able to draw me closer to you through their friendship. Lord, teach ME how to be that friend for someone else. I am lowering my walls, Lord, so that your truth, light, and spirit may fill my heart and soul with a deeper peace, love, feeling of acceptance than I have ever known. Lord, I don’t want to do life on my own anymore – guide me to my tribe of women would will fortify me and I them. You know the plans you have for my life and I know that includes friends. Show me, Lord, where to find them. 

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Things I’ve learned about moms

8 May

Have you ever thought about moms? Really sat there silently and thought about these women? Mom has been there from the very beginning, long before any of us knew what the word mom meant. She gave up sleep for late night feedings or to soothe away troubled dreams. She helped with spelling and math at the kitchen table. She made us special dinner for our birthdays.

Mom was there when we were learning all of our firsts, from words, to walking to that first spin behind the wheel. She knew when we had our first crush, and more so when we had our first heartbreak. She held on tight when we cried because of a fight with dad and when those pre-teen years kicked our self-confidence to the curb.

Mom always knew when to listen and when to share some motherly advice. She showed us, more often than telling us, how to be good, faithful, kind and loving human beings. From her I learned to value education and what a loving and lasting relationship looks like. She may not have noticed, but I was always watching her, hoping to be just like her one day. 

There were times we disappointed her, and broke her heart with our choices and decisions, but she had to let us learn and grow. She helped us find our wings and learn to soar on the wind. She had faith in us when we did not. And cheered us on when we were uncertain of life’s path. 

My mom is more than my mom – she is my best friend, my confidant, my safe harbor, my cheerleader and my greaterst supporter. Her opinions and thoughts I seek out whenever I am presented with big or small choices or life-altering decisions. Her knowledge surpasses my own and I have learned to see that as a blessing that I should utilize. 

In my 27 years, here are a few things I’ve learned about my mom:

  1. She loves the Lord with all of her heart and has a strong faith.
  2. Her family – parents, siblings, husband, daughters, extended aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews,  cousins- mean the world to her. Family is not defined by blood, it is by the bonds we build and strengthen everyday. 
  3. Her favorite color is purple.
  4. She would do anything for the kids she teaches at school and on more than one occassion I have seen her fight for children when she recognizes they need to be loved and pushed to excel. 
  5. Someday she would love to see the top of The Statue of Libery. 
  6. She enjoys reading and has no problem spending all day with a new (or familiar) book.
  7. Sappy Hallmark movies make her cry.
  8. She bakes when she’s stressed.
  9. She is technology challenged and loves when we help her sort it all out.
  10. She has a smile that brightens the room and a laugh that fills your soul with joy. And once she starts laughing, you can’t help but join in! 

Happy Mother’s Day to the most loving woman I know. Thank you for being there through all of life’s ups and downs, for being my constant in an ever changing world. 


Mom with The Statue of Liberty in New York City

Becoming a Butterfly

31 Mar

Spring is a time of change. The snow melts. The days start to get longer. The trees bloom and the flowers awaken. And in no time at all, there will be butterflies.

I’ve always been fascinated with butterflies, not because of their colors or their grace, but because of the amount of change they endure in such a short lifetime. Within the span of a-couple-months, a Monarch butterfly will hatch from an egg, spend its days consuming leaves as a larvae (caterpillar), attach itself to the stem of a plant or branch as the pupa (while it undergoes 10 days of change in the chrysalis), until it finally emerges as an adult butterfly with mere weeks left to lay an egg to ensure the survival of the species before passing away.

Change does not come easy to me – it never has, and it doesn’t matter how big or small a change may be, it causes me to over think, over analyze and over worry. I would be a terrible butterfly. I’ve hatched from an egg all alone in the world. Is this plant I’m on safe to eat? What if my chrysalis detaches during a storm? Will I be strong enough to break out of this thing when it’s time? How will my wings know how to fly without being taught? What if I fall? Now I have to produce the next generation – that’s a lot of pressure!

It’s a really good thing I’m not a butterfly – I may have never made it out of the egg!

Just like the butterfly, I find myself in a season of change. I am taking steps to return to school to further my education, a goal I set for myself when I watched my mom graduate with her Master’s degree, the first in her family and the best role model I could have ever asked for.

Scott and I are also apartment hunting. Together we’ve looked at two apartment layouts at one complex, he looked at a different complex today before work, and I’ll look it over on Saturday. I’m ready to have our own place, but I find myself on a rollercoaster of emotions from excitement  to totally terrified.

More often than not these days, I wake with knots in my stomach and a pounding headache after nights of stressful dreams. I know I’m worried about finances and finding an apartment that is clean and in a safe neighborhood. But I’m also worried about me. Living in Florida for a year while on the Disney College Program was one thing, I knew when it ended I would be returning home, to my room, to my safe haven. Now, that’s not an option.

I don’t know who I am outside of these blue bedroom walls – they have been my sanctuary since I was 10 years old (but I should mention that when we built this house I was all about the pink frilly life, so the walls were baby doll pink). This room has seen me change from pre-teen to an adult woman. I have slammed the door after arguments with my parents, shared my deepest, darkest secrets with friends, and cried my heart out in here when a boy carelessly broke my heart. This room has seen many late nights finishing homework or finishing a book that I just couldn’t put down. I do my best thinking and writing from this spot on my bed, staring out the window at the post office and the great void beyond.

My room has changed with me, always adapting to my needs. From pink to blue, from Barbie dolls to mountains of mystery and romance books, and my embarrassing love of Billy Gilman to my new love of running races.

But as I look around, I notice how the room doesn’t feel as big as it once did. Maybe that’s because I share it now. Most of Scott’s belongings aren’t even in here, they are sitting in our front room downstairs waiting for a place to call home. Or maybe it’s because, like the butterfly who knows when 10 days have past and it’s time to emerge, I know the time has come to move on.

I doubt the butterfly ever thinks about what happens to the chrysalis it left behind. I, on the other hand, think about a time when this room will no longer be “my room.” One of my sisters will move in here. They have always shared a room and have been chomping at the bit for me to pick up and leave already. I can’t blame them, it is nice having a space all your own in the house. Whomever moves in will change the walls, redecorate and add her own personal touch to the space. I will be erased. Just a memory of yesterday. My safe haven claimed by someone new.

It may be silly to feel so attached to a room, but we are each unique and have our own quirks. Maybe you are attached to a specific coffee mug, car or jacket. Called it an adult version of a security blanket, it’s that one thing you can count on being there to pick you up and warm your heart. And soon, I will be walking away from mine. I think I will feel lost for a while, unsure of my footing in my new room. But I hope with time I will feel comfortable there.

Change is never easy, but in order to progress through life it is a necessary evil. And so it is at these late hours of the night I find myself praying that my wings will know how to fly because whether I want to or not, I’m changing into a butterfly.

Do you live for change or does every cell in your body fight for things to remain as they always have like me? Tell me your best tips and advice for surviving a season of change! I don’t know how many more rough nights and anxiety starting mornings I can take.

A Season of Love, Laughter and snow

23 Feb

It’s funny how words can have so many different meanings. Season for example, could mean “what’s the weather like” or “what phase of life are you in?”

For this week’s photo challenge, we were asked to share a photo that exemplifies season. I found a photo that captures both the weather and my life, I’m just that good!

Right now where I live in mid-west USA we are experiencing winter. I really can’t complain that much though, Old Man Winter just found us last week and the 8 inches of snow he dumped on us melted three days later. We had one or two days of flurries in November, 50 degrees and green grass on Christmas day and in January there were days I left work and didn’t bother to put my coat on. I hope we are almost done with winter though, I’m ready for shorts and sandals.

On the flip side of the season’s coin, my life has entered a new season. Scott and I are no longer in a long distance relationship, THANK GOODNESS! For the first time, we are living in the same place! It has been exciting coming home after work and finding him there! And learning new things about each other. It’s so wonderful to have him here every single day! I have never felt so happy and full of possibilities. We are also excited because we’ll soon be looking for our own place and traveling to see his family in Chicago in the coming months for his sister’s wedding! So many exciting things in store – I have a feeling it’s only going to get better from here!

A couple laughing in the snow

Photo credit: Photography By Constance

A Lover’s Holiday

16 Feb

Congratulations reader! You’ve made it through another February 14th. That day has so many names – Valentine’s Day, Singles Awareness Day, Chocolate-Lovers Day, this year it was Sunday (lol).

I will be the first to admit that in that past, I have dreaded this particular holiday…but when you find someone one special, and I mean REALLY SPECIAL, that all changes!

For our last few Valentine’s Days, Scott and I have celebrated long-distance style with texts, packages and video chats. But not this year because TWO WEEKS AGO SCOTT MOVED TO MY STATE!!

  

For the FIRST time in our entire relationship, we live in the same state, town, and house! That in and of itself was enough to make this the absolute best Valentine’s Day! Just getting to see him everyday is what I have wanted for so long now, and sometimes I find myself still fearing I’ll wake from this fantastic dream to be rudely awaken by reality. BUT IT’S NOT A DREAM!

The Valentine celebrations actually started a few days early at this house this year. On Thursday evening, mom was preparing to leave for a long scrapbooking weekend and was making heart-shaped sugar cookies for the scrapbooking ladies with their names in icing. With the extras, she made cookie valentines for all of us at home and let us decorate a few as well!

Last week was a stressful one for me, but knowing I was coming home to Scott helped a lot. He was there to listen and provide suggestions and just give me a hug, kiss and encouraging word that he believed in me. When Friday finally rolled around and I arrived home, this sight was waiting for me in my room!

A dozen red roses, an emoji pillow and a two pound box of chocolates!

A dozen red roses, an emoji pillow and a two-pound box of chocolates!


Beautiful red roses

Beautiful roses!


I was totally shocked. I had only been home for a short while when he said “let’s go upstairs, there’s something we need to talk about.” My heart stared racing – thinking something was wrong or upsetting him. Turns out he wanted to “talk” about his early timing of Valentine’s Day! Isn’t he the sweetest!?

Fast forward to Saturday, Scott had to work later in the evening so we couldn’t spend the day together, but we did go out and enjoy a Mexican Valentine’s dinner when he returned home. It was fun getting dressed up a little for a date night – something we hadn’t really been able to do before! I even tried a dutch braided updo using the banana clip tip I learned from the Twist Me Pretty YouTube channel I follow. Worked perfectly – I love how soft and romantic this style was, and it was extremely easy to put in!

Feeling fancy before our Valentine's Date

Feeling fancy before our Valentine’s Date


Dutch braided updo

Dutch braided updo


Mexican Valentine's Day dinner date

Mexican Valentine’s Day dinner date


What Scott didn’t realize before we went to dinner is that I had “hid” his Valentine’s surprise over with his video games. He found it right before we went to bed Saturday night and decided to wait until after work on Sunday to open it. This year I went the practical route and got him things he’s talked about needing. I think he really liked what I picked.

Scott's Valentine surprise

Scott’s Valentine surprise


And as per tradition in our family, mom and dad had these waiting for us Sunday morning – well mom was away scrapbooking, but dad remembered to put them out with mom’s handwritten notes! I love how they even included the boyfriends! I don’t know how many of my friends ever received Valentine’s from their parents, but it makes me feel loved and special and important and it’s a tradition I can’t wait to pass on to my own children one day!

Mini boxes of chocolate

Mini boxes of chocolate


So, for the first time in forever, not only did I enjoy Valentine’s Day to the fullest, I celebrated for four straight days! There was and is lots of love to be felt and shared. So blessed to have Scott and my family who love me unconditionally not only on Valentine’s Day, but the other 364 days of the year, too!!

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. – Charles M. Schulz

chocolate in heart box

Two pounds of chocolate surprise!

New Year’s Eve 2015

31 Dec

I’m not a big partier when it comes to New Year’s Eve. In years past I have gone to friends homes to celebrate, but in all honestly, I’m completely happy to stay at home in my comfy clothes, with my family, off the roads where there are crazy drivers (who may or may not have been celebrating with too many adult beverages), where I can quickly climb into bed at 12:01 a.m.

image

This year is no different. So far tonight, my sister has taken group selfies, I’ve read 100 pages of my new book, and watched some of the New York City New Year’s Eve coverage on TV.

And folks, this is about as wild and crazy as it’s going to get here on New Year’s Eve….I even went against the packaging and made my Ghirardelli peppermint premium hot cocoa with Cashew Milk rather than water!

And I just finished Factiming with Scott. Long distance relationships are not always easy at the holidays, but we’ve found a way to make it work for us! We had to celebrate the New Year a little early this year so he could get enough sleep before his early work shift tomorrow. We’ve had some fun adverntures and firsts in 2015, and I am so excited to see where 2016 takes us!

image

So here’s to my last post of 2015 – I had grand plans of finishing some drafts I had started a few weeks ago, but I’m just too distracted to write creatively or to go back and edit. I promise, I’ll finish them soon-ish, they are fun stories, so please come back for those!

So readers, what does your NYE look like? Are you a party-animal or a home-body like me? However you are celebrating, I hope you all have a safe, fun-filled and wonderful New Year! I am going to close this out so I can watch Carrie Underwood perform on ABC! Good night and Happy New Year all! 🙂

Never Enough Time…

24 Nov

It’s been 21 whole days without his embrace, holding his hand, and being wrapped in the tightest, most perfect hug I’ve ever received. 21 whole days waking up without him here. 21 whole days of breaking out into tears at least once and not fully understanding what triggered them, but knowing in my heart they are the tears of missing him that I can no longer hold inside. The whole first month afer saying “see you soon” is always the hardest on me.

Long distance relationships (LDRs) are not for the easily distracted or the weak-hearted. These types of relationships are for those willing to put in the hard-work and dedication to someone they’ll only see and be with in person half a dozen days out of the year. LDRs can be complicated with opposite schedules and technology that doesn’t always work.

Days can be a long time or a short time depending on your point of view. These two photos were taken 7 whole days apart….an example of not enough time.

There’s never enough time when you’re finally reunited with the one you love. Time simultaneously speeds up and freezes. And now, sitting here reminiscing, I can replay each moment as if it has just happened. My fluttering heart when he greeted me by surprise at the resort checkin counter. Hurrying through the rain at Disney Springs (I really hate that they changed the name from Downtown Disney) just so I could get the Holiday Sandwich at Earl of Sandwich and a chocolate milkshake at Ghirardelli. And wondering around Disney Quest, the first time I’d been back inside since my last shift as a Cast Member there in May 2011. I beat Scott and two other guys at the Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam game, it was awesome! And then returning to the resort that first night and falling asleep while watching a movie and listening to his heartbeat.

This vacation was filled with the little, everyday moments I spend most days longing for. Rides in the car, meals together, holding hands while waking around somewhere, sideways glances and bright smiles, opportunities to make each other laugh and capturing our favorite moments with photos.

We had many adventures in our short visit – Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in our matching Haunted Mansion Hat Box Ghost glow-in-the-dark shirts his mom got us, Food and Wine at Epcot, riding around on the monorail waiting for the fireworks to start, and riding his attraction three times just so I could find him at work! (Don’t ask where that is, I’ll never tell!)

But this time, we also found our adventures taking us outside the happiest place on Earth to downtown Orlando for a dentist appointment one day and a wedding on another, Halloween night to be exact. Scott was a groomsman in the wedding and I was his guest! Our first wedding as a couple! We even got to see the Orlando Eye all lit up on our drive back to the resort after the reception.

And then, when we were lost in the wonder of being together and not paying attention to the time passing, it was time for me to return home. This time was going to be particularly difficult for me as I know I won’t be returning to Walt Disney World for a few years (time to do the grown-up, money saving, budget planning, returning to school for my master’s degree to improve my future type of thing), which meant not knowing when we’d see each other next. But, because Scott is the most perfect guy for me, he had several surprises waiting for me to make getting on the pain less sad.

And to top it off, we are now planning his FIRST trip to my home state for him to FINALLY meet my family! Needless to say, I’m just a little, okay A LOT EXCITED! IS IT JANUARY YET?! Yes, long distance relationships are hard, stressful and sometimes lonely (especially as we prepare to go into yet another holiday season), but like so many things in this world, that is all forgotten the instant you are reunited with the one you love and discover like always how easily you pick up right where you left off from last time as if no time has even passed at all.

And just for fun, a couple of my favorite pictures from this trip! There’s so many though, so I don’t know how I’ll choose! Enjoy and stay strong my long distance friends! We’re one day closer to being with the other halves of our hearts!