Category Archives: Friendship

teamwork makes the dream work

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Happy Valentine’s Day, lovers!

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That’s all I have to contribute to the holiday.

Now.

I was at a conference this past weekend. Some of you may know about it. It’s called the if:Gathering. You can learn more about it here. I enjoyed the time I got to spend with some ladies from my church and came away with quite a bit to think about.

The structure of the conference was: listen to a teaching, talk about it at your table, eat some snacks, repeat. One of the questions that was asked at our table was, What is my dream for my people and my place?

The first thing that came to mind was: team.

Now, being the washed-up athlete that I am, that might not be surprising to most. But more importantly than what first came to mind was the images and feelings I got while I thought through it a little more.

My junior and senior year’s of high school basketball were some of the most fun I had as a player of the sports. It was so much fun to be on the court with my best friends, competing together and having the time of our lives.

One image that kept coming up over and over again this past weekend was our inbound plays – in particular, under-the-basket inbounds plays my senior year.

My friend Brandi and I had the best chemistry under the basket. As guard, I was responsible for getting the ball in play. If the play was busted, Brandi just knew where to cut and when to cut, and I knew she would always be there. I could no-look-bounce-pass Mr. Spaulding into the lane, Brandi would snatch that sucker up, and the LadyCats would have 2 more points added to their total. I never worried about a 5-second violation because I knew Brandi would be there.

We even played in a three-on-three tournament a few years later and did the same. dang. thang. My teammate was there for me.

Knowing each other that well didn’t just occur after one day of practice. We sweat together, bled together, went through hell week together. (side note: have you ever had 2 weeks of Christmas break practice with NO GAMES to play?! it’s the worst. you want to quit everything and just go home to eat Christmas candy.)

And that’s what I want from my people and my place.

I want my team.

I want us to be there for each other.
To anticipate one another’s moves.
To remind and ensure each other that, even if the play is busted, we’ve got each other’s backs. We don’t need to worry about hell week by ourselves because our teammates will be there in it with us.

A year ago I wrote about standing on holy ground with others. How there is something sacred about holding someone else’s story with them. And I’m so thankful that’s how my team has formed.

I know my team holds my story and I feel so thankful that they allow me to hold theirs.
I know we all stand on holy ground with and for one another.
I know that the sacredness we share in spiritual friendship is rare, and I hope I never take it for granted.

Whatever my dream is – or ends up being – I know it’ll be easier to chase because of the stellar team I’ve got on my sideline.

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cheers to the risk

Cheers to the Risk

“Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience.”-Brené Brown

This past weekend I had the privilege of retreating with some ladies from my church. The whole premise of the retreat was to sit around a table, eat delicious foods, and tell stories of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we hope to go with Jesus. It was – hands down – my favorite women’s retreat I’ve ever been on.

I’ve been thinking quite a bit over the last few days about spiritual community – thoughts unfortunately spurned on by the great lack that most people seem to have. It seems as if so many of us that follow Jesus are trying to do it alone. Or, at bare minimum, we invite others into our lives to follow Him with one another, but it’s as if we’re walking on opposite sides of the road, unwilling to close the gap and truly journey together. There’s great risk in sharing our lives with people around us, and we’re too scared to take that step. So, instead, we do all the right things – Bible study, small group, women’s events, church clean-up days, dinner with a group of people once a month – we insert ourselves into all the right ‘communities’ thinking that at some point, magic will happen and we’ll be seen and known the way we desire. But here’s the catch – we won’t. We can show up and do all the right things and never get to the point where people know us – really know us.

We’re afraid of the vulnerability and risk it will take to really open our hearts up to others, trusting that the Lord has placed people in our lives to be God-with-flesh-on for us, to fill the intimate space of companionship that we all so desperately crave.

“We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us. We’re afraid that our truth isn’t enough – that what we have to offer isn’t enough without the bells and whistles, without editing, and impressing.”-Brené Brown

For me, the space never even came CLOSE to being filled until I came to the end of my do-ing, and let myself just be.

Be seen.
Be known.
Be open.
Be vulnerable.
Be ready for grace.
Be ready for God to show up.

Be present with Jesus and not expect anything but Him.

And then, be present with people – offering our story of where we’ve been with Jesus, where we are with Jesus, and where we hope to go with Jesus.
Opening up our lives, risking the potential rejection, hurt, and isolation that may come with the weight our stories carry.
But the other thing we risk – the beautiful thing that we risk – is actually having someone receive our story.

Because once someone receives it, they are in it with you. They are now a part of your story. And you can’t walk away from that the same person.

It. Will. Change. You.

I think we all wait around for that type of pivotal plot point, eager to step into that sacred space. But few of us are willing to open up our souls, standing naked and unashamed before one another (metaphorically naked, that is. Keep your clothes on if we’re hanging out…)

I guess that’s my point. Take the risk. Raise your glass to the unknown, to that which should scare the pants off of you (but again…keep your pants on). You’re life will be filled to the brim if you do.

“The willingness to show up changes us. It makes us a little braver each time.”-Brené Brown

 

(sorry, not sorry for all the Brené Brown quotes. now, go read all her books and have your heart ripped out a little bit – in the best ways.)

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holy ground

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There’s something holy and sacred about being asked to hold part of someone else’s story. Whether it is being asked to pray for a certain situation or relationship, or having someone share wonderful, life changing news, there is so much beauty in being invited in to another’s life.

Having experienced this invitation, I feel terribly inadequate in carrying the title of “friend” in other’s lives. To be honored in such a way that a person trusts me with their story – man…I just don’t know that I have the words.

I can’t just ignore it – I’m standing on holy ground. I’ve been invited into sacred space with another image bearer of the Most High God.

It’s really easy for me to sit in a day like today – Valentine’s Day – when my social media feed is flooded with posts of husbands and wives doting over one another and girls posting all about how their boyfriend is the best boyfriend in the whole-wide-world*, and feel oh so sorry for myself. To look at what they have and get really lonely, dwelling on what I don’t. Longing for someone to share a BOGO at Qdoba with, just because we kissed each other.

It’s easy to forget what I do have – to let the singular voice of ‘not-yet-married’ drown out the many voices of ‘you-are-so-loved.’

What I do have is this: people that invite me into their lives in ways that I don’t even have language to express. People that weep with me. People that rejoice with me. People that allow me rejoice with them; not only allow me, but ask me to! Man! What a freaking honor!!

It’s like they are eating their most favorite dish in the entire world and, without hesitation, they slide their plate over to me with the last bite on the fork and say, “Here, I want you to have this. I want you to share in the joy that is mine.”

I think too often we blow past the sacred space others invite us in to because we are afraid of what it calls us to. We are afraid that we’ll have to do something with it. And, guess what, we will. We’ll be called to open up our own lives, which risks hurt and heartache.

It’s much easier to keep people at a distance, never admitting our need for one another. But it’s also much less beautiful.

I would rather walk away from a conversation, my heart bursting with joy and love and, well, holiness I think, than never know the depth of connection I can have with another person.

The risk is worth it.
The friends are worth it.
The sacred connection we get to experience is worth it.
Every. Time.

So, on this Valentine’s Day, I’m not going to be sad or bummed or lonely because I’m single.
Instead, I’m going to be ever so grateful for the ways in which God fills the sacred space in my heart – with Himself and with those that allow me to call them friend.

*can we talk about this for a second? Not everyone can have the best boyfriend in the entire world. They don’t all tie for first place. Some of them are kinda crappy.

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redeeming lies

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If there’s 7 things I’m good at, one of them is believing lies about myself. On the Meyers-Briggs personality type, I’m an INFJ, which basically means if you sneeze in my direction and don’t smile at me after, I’m going to think that you don’t like me and probably never will. And I’ll come to that conclusion in about .4 seconds.

I like to think of this as a quality that is endearing, and makes me, me! My friends get a little worn out by it.

Another thing this means for me is that if I ‘hear’ a lie – whether I actually hear it from a person or it’s the enemy whispering it in my ear – I believe it. Without reservation, I can cling to whatever is spoken:

“You’re incapable of professional growth.”
“You’re not worthy of meaningful friendships.”
“You’re missing your window of opportunity for marriage.”
“You don’t look like everyone else, so you’ll probably never attract a man.”
“You’re all alone.”
“You’re the only one that deals with that problem.”
“Your sin is unredeemable.”

And these are not lies I just made up on the spot for example’s sake. They are lies I have heard throughout my life.

Even typing them out just now, my initial reaction is to say, “Yep. You’re right computer screen. All of those statements are true.”

For the last 5 years, God has been in the business of redeeming those lies. Of softening my heart to hear His voice when He whispers, “You are my beloved child; with you I am well pleased.”

God has been opening my ears to hear His Truth spoken louder than the lies of the enemy.

One of the beautiful ways the Lord is doing that is through meaningful community. If you’ve read much of this blog at all, you’re probably thinking, “well, here she goes again, talking about her lady friends.” And you’re right. Here I go again. Working it in. Because those lady friends are in the business of speaking God’s Truth, not only to me, but to one another, and into the worlds in which they live.

This past Saturday I had 18 (at least, I think it was 18) of my favorite ladies (shout out!!! and to those that couldn’t make it…shout out!! hhhaaaayyyy) over for Galentine’s Day 2016.
I wrote this on my Instagram before they came over: “If you would’ve asked me 10 years ago if I would have (female friends) like I do, I would have said, ‘no. because relationships with women are hard & I don’t fully believe I deserve good friends.'”

If there’s anything that is true in my life right now, outside of Jesus, it’s that I have good friends. Deep, meaningful community in my life that I do deserve – and I deserve it because Jesus died on a cross in order to call me first to Himself, and then into a team of believers. A team to come alongside with, serving Jesus and loving others. As my pastor said a couple weeks ago, community happens when we encourage each other more to follow & love Jesus.

And redemption of lies happens when we allow the Truth of God’s Word and the fellowship of other believers to push us more & more towards the cross – where blood was shed and redemption took place once and for all. Killing lies that so easily ensnare us.

Now, don’t think that the lies listed above are nonexistent today. I still struggle with believing my feelings over Truth. However, God is redeeming them. Love is filling me up. And Truth is winning out.

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refrigerator rights

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I first heard the term”refrigerator rights” when I sheepishly asked for some water, or coffee, or other beverage at the home of my Gospel Community leaders.

*disclaimer: if you do not know what the phrase ‘Gospel Community’ is, I’m sorry for the Christianese and will try to cut it out from here on. Also, Gospel Community is simply a small group. And if you’re unfamiliar with ‘small group’ it’s basically Sunday school…just not on a Sunday…and also kinda different. I digress.

Okay.

Refrigerator rights.

So, when you have refrigerator rights somewhere, it basically means that you get FULL RANGE of their ‘fridge. Like, you can open it and eat all the things if you want. Now, a normal person wouldn’t eat all the things, but you definitely eat some of the things. Because you’re typically in that place for a long enough time that you’ll need a snack. And at some point you’re cool enough with each other that the people whose ‘fridge you’re eating from are basically like, “dude, get your own cheese stick. You know where the coffee mugs are. And George Clooney isn’t going to pop out of nowhere when you hit that Nespresso machine.”

When I think about dwelling somewhere, I immediately think of all the places where I have refrigerator rights. I think of the people that fill those homes.

I am absolutely blown away by the way I am loved by those around me.

I love that I can invite myself over for lunch after church on a random Sunday and I end up staying for 4 hours – and be so caught up in conversation that I don’t look at my phone once. I love that at another friend’s house, when she gets me water, she automatically puts it in a plastic cup because she knows I love that cup – also, no ice please. I love that another knows just the right amount of wine to pour in the glass, and that she knows what kind of wine I’ll like because I don’t even know myself half of the time.

I love that I am known by so many. And yes, I am saying that selfishly.

I love that my people (really, they’re more like a tribe) know me better than I know myself. That they can look at me and know something is wrong. Or they can look at me and know there is something going on that is worth celebrating.

And I also love that they let me know them. That they share their struggles, their life-highs, their tears, and their deep belly-laughs with me.

I have never been known and known others the way that I do now. And I’m realizing more and more, day by day, that life is not meant to be lived alone.

God Himself even says that. It is not good for man to be alone. So He made a helper for him.

It is not good for woman to be alone either. And I think God made helpers for us, too. Those helpers come in many different forms – moms, sisters, friends, husbands, grandmas, etc.

Right now, my helpers are those that give me refrigerator rights. They are my tribe – the ones that will not let me live life alone.

This week is basically just a brag table moment of how awesome my people are, but I don’t really care. Dwelling with my people is one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me.

*also, yes, the kitchen pictured here is the kitchen my original refrigerator rights were given out 🙂

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you don’t have to have an answer

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I like to have conversations with people about life and all that occurs in it. I really enjoy being around people in different stages of life than me – hearing about how God is working, has worked in other seasons of their lives, and their hopes for what He will do in their future.

What I don’t always like is how we always have to have an answer for one another.

I often find myself in conversations with people where I feel the need to have all the correct answers to their life issues. I need to always have the right Bible verse, the right cliché saying, the perfect attagirl speech to fix all their issues.

I’ve also been on the flip side – I’ve simply wanted someone to hear my frustrations, struggles, or anxieties of life but in return I get a pep talk that concludes with, “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”

Neither of those are healthy places to be in.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we interact with one another. It’s not good for me to listen to my friend that is struggling in her job, and follow up with, “Well, at least you have a job that pays you on a regular basis, and there’s no threat of you losing it, you should be grateful.”

That leaves my friend feeling like she was never heard in her struggle – that her voice was silenced, her hurt heart shut out, and her personal life doesn’t matter.

If you think I’m taking that a little too far, then you might be a robot. Or just a non-emotional human, which is more likely than you being a robot.

I have definitely felt those feelings – that I was silenced, shut out, and of no value. (Dramatic? Yes. I know this.)

I’ve been in conversations where I’ve poured out my struggles with singleness and in return have heard things like, “When you least expect it, God will bring the right guy along” or “You just need to be content in Christ right now” or “You’re such a great catch, any guy would be lucky to have you!”

While yes, all of these things are true, I already know this. I just need someone to hear me, cry with me if necessary, understand that I can get sad, and pray for/with me that God would meet me in my pain and comfort me. If I ask you for your input, please give it. And I’ll try not to open my mouth if it isn’t appropriate. But let’s agree to be quick to listen & slow to speak with one another.

We don’t need to have the answers for each other – God already has them.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15)

*PS, tonight’s clip isn’t a Debbie Downer sketch, BUT it is a sketch of her freaking out while attending a game night. Watch it cause it’s awesome.

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we just need each other

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Sometimes life is tough. I’ve experienced (what I think are) a lot of tough times thus far in my short life (no comments on my height, please).

However, life has been a lot less tough in the past few years, mainly because I know what community looks like. I know what life with people should be like. I’m learning what it means to bear with one another, to live life with others that actually means something.

I think all too often we are afraid of being real with one another. We hold back our struggles, sins, insecurities, and doubts. We may even hold back our joys, wins, and celebrations of things going well in our lives.

We are afraid of being known, yet that’s all we really desire. We are made to be in community with one another.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2)

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15)

“I don’t like going this long without being with you guys in the same room. I feel like the devil knows we’ve been apart, and he chooses those periods of time to just give us all the junk he can throw at us.”

I got this text message last night from one of my dearest. I’d been having a rough week – and by week, I mean multiple weeks, maybe months – and, after a long conversation about life, she sent this. It’s so right.

We need each other. And I’m not just saying I need my friends and they need me.

I’m saying you need your friends. They need you.

We need to create a safe place for one another to just be – the be able to weep, to rejoice, to celebrate, to hold one another up.

May we all be willing to admit that we need one another – that life is better with people.

Let’s keep showing up.

*if you want to giggle a little & feel some feels, click here to watch Kristen’s last go-round as a SNL cast member!

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to showing up

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I’m a huge Sophia Bush fan. I fell in love with her as Brooke Davis on One Tree Hill, I deeply admire her desire to change the world and people’s lives through her ‘activist’ efforts (she’s involved with Pencils of Promise, I Am That Girl, etc.), and I love her voice. Seriously. I’d just like to have her read a book on tape for me to listen to all the time.

I also follow her on instagram. Truthfully, I follow her on every platform of social media the two of us share. Follow may not be the word. If there were a word for “I wonder what Sophia’s doing today, I’m going to go check all the things,” then that would be the right word.

Recently she’s been posting pictures on Instagram with the hashtag #toshowingup. It’s typically in correlation with something she’s done with her close friends, or an adventure she’s been on recently. And it got me thinking.

Do I show up?
Am I present with people?
Am I available when it’s inconvenient to me?
Do I live life in such a way that makes it worth showing up to?

And as a Christian, what does this mean? Does showing up in Gospel rhythm matter in people’s lives?

I think it means that we rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep, bear one another’s burdens, call out sin in people’s lives, allow people to call out sin in our lives, go on big adventures to see God in the unknown places of the world and in our hearts. I think it means just that – we show up. We show up with one another, we show up with ourselves, and most importantly, we show up with God.

We go to God and say, “Here I am, Lord. Forgive me, change me, send me, use me.”

We open our selves up and say, “Today is not about me. Today is about loving God and loving others. Love Him and let Him love you, now go and do likewise.”

We be with others and say, “I’m with you, you aren’t alone, now let’s go have an adventure.”

We show up.

So here’s to that. Here’s to newness, and livelihood, and joy. To showing up.

*Sophia hasn’t been on SNL that I know of, so this hilarious throwback of Tina & Amy as the Bush twins (not related to Sophia) will have to suffice. ALSO, my ladies are hosting the Globes this Sunday so it’s appropriate. And ALSO again, Chicago P.D. makes it’s winter premier tonight so it’s timely that I write about Sophia 🙂 Okay. That’s all for now. I think.

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a thing or two I can learn from Job’s friends

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I recently read through the book of Job and got smacked around a little bit. I’ve known the story of Job for a while, but I can’t remember a time where I read the whole story, start to finish.

You see, Job went through SOME STUFF. He lost his livestock (better known as his way to make some scrilla), he lost his servants (which was a big deal in that day), and he lost all of his children. He knew about loss better than I know about Saturday Night Live. Which is a lot.

So Job starts to wrestle with this and he has three guys speak into his life regarding why all of this calamity has fallen on him. The first one told him that the innocent prosper, so basically Job wasn’t innocent in some area of his life. The second tells Job he should repent. And the third, oh the third, tells Job that he deserves worse. If you’re interested in the rest of the story (Paul Harvey style), then go read it.

Here’s what I learned from Job’s friends: don’t be a big jerk face!!

Too many times in my life I’ve had a friend come to me, struggling with something hard in their life, and I’ve been the person that looks condescendingly upon said person and popped something off like, “Well, have you prayed about it?”, “I mean, maybe you have unconfessed sin in your life…”, or, at my worst, “You know, when you think about it, we actually have it really good. You should be grateful this is all you’re going through.”

Seriously, Smith?!

On the flip side, I’ve also been the one that’s had similar things said to her. One of my least favorite, yet most popular Job-friend-esque responses to me struggling through seasons of being bummed about singleness is: “There’s probably some personal stuff you need to work out with the Lord before you’re ready for marriage.” (or some version of that)

While I (sometimes) appreciate the sentiment, I don’t understand why we can’t just listen to each other and say, “I’m so sorry this is hard for you. I’m here for you. You’re not going through this alone.”

And I don’t understand why I have to be so pretentious and act like I have it all together.

So I guess what I’m saying is, let’s be better listeners with each other. Let’s do a better job of living life with one another. Let’s stop acting like we have all the answers whenever crappy things happen in life. Let’s give advise that is based in love and wisdom, not just a bunch of head knowledge that tears others down.

And if you’re sharing some hard stuff with me and I start to act like a hoity toity brat, pop me in the forehead and bring me back to life. Cause I want to be a good friend. I don’t want to be a jerk face.

(ps, click here for the full Garth & Kat skit!)

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Be My Galentine?

It’s February 26 and I’m writing a post semi-related to Valentine’s Day.

BREAKING ALL THE RULEZ!

Let’s get down to business…(to defeat…the Hunnssss)

I think it’s a fairly common misconception that single women are perpetually lonely. When people ask me about my love life and I respond with, “I don’t have one,” approximately 94.3% of the time they will follow up with a version of, “Ooo are you okay? Are you lonely?”

No. I’m not lonely. And here’s why:

I have AWESOME friends. Both male and female.

On February 13th, some of my lady friends and I got together for the 2nd (hopefully annual) Galentine’s Day celebration. (We copied the idea from the television show Parks & Recreation. You should go watch it then we’ll be friends for lyfe.)
We got together at a restaurant and just spent time together being friends. In fact, some of us stayed there for 3 1/2 hours. That’s how much we like each other.

I have another friend that knows me so well, she can tell what kind of mood I’m in based on my text message responses.

I have other friends that bought me a bacon shaped bag clip and a Civil War history book as Christmas/birthday gifts.

These people have celebrated with me in the highs, and they have weeped with me in the lows. These people know me. They know me because about 4 years ago I realized how easy it is to fall into the misconception of loneliness just because I’m single, and it doesn’t lead to a pretty place.

I’ve realized that friendship is EXTREMELY (and I can’t stress extremely enough) important. The significance of having people in my life that know me deeply is something I find hard to put in to words.

In the second chapter of the entire Bible, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone.” We were created for relationship. We were created to know and be known by others. The desire to be connected with those around us has been with us for a very long time.

Just because I’m single doesn’t mean I’m lonely, but it would be easy for me to fall in to that. Luckily the Lord has placed some amazing people in my life to keep me from falling in to that loneliness. For a period of my life I specifically prayed for God to bring solid women into my life that love Jesus, and He faithfully answered that. One by one, people started coming in to my life that won’t be leaving any time soon.

Do I sometimes feel lonely? Yes. But does loneliness consume my life? No. Because I’ve got my Galentines.

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