If We Were Having Coffee Today (edited & reposted) #throwbackthursday

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Relaxing in a quaint little coffee shop, hands cupping a mug of fancy coffee, enjoying conversation with a treasured friend.

This scenario sits at the top of my favorite-things-to-do list.  I love everything about it.  The coffee, the company, and the cozy climate of the shop.

If other things weren’t competing for my time, I’d tarry there for hours with this friend of mine. Catching up on the latest news. Encouraging one another. Sharing insight into issues weighing heavy on our hearts. Celebrating successes, big and small. 

If you were that friend and we were having coffee today, I’d lean in closer, tap your hand and tell you how happy I am that you’re here.

Opportunities to gather with a close friend are a rare occurrence. Our days, so saturated with responsibility, the nurturing of friendship is often the first item we set aside. So believe me when I say I cherish this time with you, my friend.

Don’t be alarmed if my usual quiet demeanor gives way to a momentary bout of excessive chatter as we settle into our chairs. I may need a moment to breathe, to inhale the aroma escaping from my cup, to transition myself into sitting mode.  I’m certain you’ll understand. It’s likely you’ll need a moment, too.

If we were having coffee today, I would tell you how I’ve barely began Christmas shopping — and the mere thought of pulling decorations from the attic, sorting them and placing them strategically throughout my home exhausts me.

I would tell you I have no desire to decorate. It all seems like too much. Too much work. Too much trouble. Too much mess.

I would ask your opinion. How might I recapture that spark? How might I at least create some simple decor – the type that delights my children and requires minimal effort on my part? I’m all about simple these days.

I would continue to bounce ideas off you, wondering aloud how much I should spend on gifts this year and who I should buy for …  I’m overwhelmed thinking about it. 

Realizing you think no less of me for feeling this way, I’m relieved, and I cut myself some slack.

If we were having coffee today, I would ask about you.  How are things in your life, friend? Your marriage, your children, your work, your daily grind?  Are you happy? Stressed? At peace in some areas, maybe frustrated in others?

I would nudge you to keep plugging along, trusting there is purpose in your hard places. I would take to heart your struggles, making a mental note to pray for you. Or, perhaps we’d bow our heads and ask Jesus to meet us there in that coffee shop.

No doubt our time together will come to an end sooner than we’d like. But please know when it does, I’ll carry pieces of your struggles home with me, intent on praying you through every single one of them.

Why? Because you are my friend.

And I believe our friendship was no accident. I am certain God orchestrated the crossing of our paths at exactly the right moment, in exactly the right season of life.

He knew we would need one another to navigate the ups and downs of this life.

Me, here for you. You, here for me.

Sharing life.

Sharing friendship.

Sharing coffee.

 

 

Living a Life of Belonging (edited & reposted) #throwbackthursday

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I stood behind the heavy, dark doors wondering what awaited me on the other side. Tossing up a silent prayer, I sheepishly stepped into the crowded room. Would I recognize any of the faces staring back at me? Would I be offered a seat? Would conversations come easily or would they feel staged and awkward? These anxious thoughts and more grappled at my heart.

Inhaling deeply, I fought against the battle brewing within. I longed to escape. To thrust myself from this incommodious setting back into one of familiarity. Yet I desired to experience this place, to be a part of this sisterhood. I ached for confidence. I craved bravery. But the question rising in my mind was one of belonging.

Did I belong here? Would I ever belong? Me, the fearful one. Me, the uncertain one. Me, the notenough one. Could a person like me belong in a community such as this?

Isn’t this the question we mull over time and again? This question of belonging. Of feeling at home though we are not. Of somehow connecting with others. Of knowing and being known. Of investing in others and having others invest in us. Of building lifelong friendships. Of living a life of belonging.

I revisit the image of that crowded room. Many ladies pushed their way through those weighty doors that morning. Most of them alone, like me. Some timid. Others more sure of themselves. How did they capture this sureness? Where could I uncover some of my own?

Seeking to understand, I scouted out an unsuspecting lady and studied her movements closely. Her brown eyes scanned one row of chairs after another, landing on what she had known was there all along. Over in the corner, waving excitedly, stood her saving grace – the sweet, familiar face of a trusted friend. One who had gone before her, securing her place, cheerfully awaiting her arrival. Smiles and laughter spilled into the air as they locked arms, sliding into side-by-side padded metal chairs. 

Two ordinary women. One undeniable bond. Beautiful friendship.

As I observed the connection between these friends, I thought of the special ladies in my own life. How I wish I could bottle them up and carry them with me into all my scary places! Sadly, it doesn’t work this way. My dear friends have families of their own with obligations to meet and promises to keep. Though they are always for me, they cannot always be with me.

Just as I’m beginning to lament over this, a gentle whisper reaches my ears and settles into the crevices of my heart –  I am never truly alone. There is one special friend who goes with me everywhere. Oh, how I forget! How often, in my fear and overwhelm, I need these simple reminders. Perhaps you do as well, my friend.

Though He isn’t tangibly present, He is very much here.  

Jesus. The friend who goes before us, securing our place, lovingly awaiting our arrival.

When we’re alone. When we feel invisible. When our confidence is lacking. When fear gets the best of us. When we wonder if we’re capable of another step.  He is here.

And because He is here, we find our place. 

In Him. With Him. Because of Him.

We belong. 

 

 

32 Years and Counting

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A loving God. A determined boy. A clueless girl. That’s how our union began.

Though we had yet to utter a word to one another, he felt certain we were meant to be together. I had no clue. I simply thought he was cute and was thrilled when I learned he was interested in me.

At only 14 and 16, we began our adventure of “going steady”.  I was too young to date so most of our time together consisted of dinners with his family or mine, or hanging out at church and attending youth events.

Because I didn’t know Jesus, the thought of praying for my future husband had never crossed my mind. But daydreaming? Now that’s something I knew well. I spent countless hours thinking about this imaginary boy I would someday marry.

He would be my very own handsome, strong, perfect prince charming – and he’d have nothing better to do than spend his time making me happy. I would be his number one and he would be mine. Someday we’d marry, have a beautiful baby girl and, of course, live happily ever after without a care in the world. Please tell me I wasn’t the only young girl with a dream like that!

I now realize much of my dream resembled nothing more than a head in the clouds fairy tale. An image of love conjured up in my mind based solely on fictional characters and a wannabe celebrity status. A false reality my young, teenage self mistakenly thought to be true.

That’s where I was the day God caused my future husband to notice me. With an innate desire to love and be loved above all else, I hadn’t the slightest inkling as to what love should look like.

When I think back on that time in my life and consider the paths I could have chosen, I struggle to voice the thankfulness I feel.

God knew I needed a good Christian boy in my life.  Because of that boy, I chose to be at church all the time, not just occasionally. Once I started attending church regularly, I began to better understand how much God truly loved me. And eventually, I found my way to Jesus. Isn’t it awesome how God can use a cute boy to lead a clueless girl to Him? I’m forever grateful!

And here we are today – 32 years and counting.

It hasn’t always been an easy journey. Along the way we’ve suffered the loss of jobs, material possessions and financial security; the passing of family and friends dear to our hearts; a heartbreaking miscarriage; various health scares, devastation and disappointments.

But through it all, we’ve learned to lean on God and to remain committed to one another. Even when – especially when – life gets tough. We’ve no doubt God brought us together way back then. We’ve no doubt He continues to do so today. And we are thankful.

Perhaps the dreams of young, starry-eyed girls do sometimes come true.