Tuesday, July 16, 2013

It's A Girl Thing

For about a year now, I've been part of something called WNL - Wednesday Night Ladies.

It didn't start out this way - meaning it wasn't supposed to be a lady thing - but that's what happened and sometimes these things are just meant to be.

It's a small group thing that turned into a big group thing that we continue to keep small.

Does that make sense?

Here's what happens: We choose three topics / books to study. You choose one of the three.

You come to the Powhatan Campus on Wednesday nights at 6:30.

We meet together as a large group for about 15 minutes. There might be 20 or 30 of us. Then we split up into groups of 8 or 10, according to the book we have chosen.

And we talk. We ask questions. We discuss. We might even argue.

And it makes us better.

If you're interested in growing in your faith, you are welcome to come. There's this one prerequisite: We're all women. I guess if you were a guy and you walked in, we wouldn't kick you out...but it seems to be a Girl Thing.

(FYI, there's a Guy Thing that happens on Friday mornings at County Seat...)

So anyway, here's what we're studying. All of these books are available online and at Lifeway Christian Bookstore (Hull Street or Broad Street in Richmond). We start with an organizational meeting Wednesday, July 17. If you have questions, get in touch (beth {at} pccwired {dot} net.

He Speaks To Me by Priscilla Shirer. Find it here.

Ruth by Kelly Minter. Find it here.

Stuck by Jennie Allen. Find it here.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

On Vacation And Growing And My People

Home now, from a week with my family on our annual beach vacation. So many things were different this year, and not the least of the different stuff was the obvious growth and changes. All of us are growing up. And older.

Our youngest family member, Levi, is now 10 years old, and he is clever and quick-witted and smart and altogether adorable. "Double digits", as his dad said, and his contributions to the dialogue and the jokes and the conversation this time edged closer than ever to the grown-up world he'll inhabit completely in no time at all.

There is much to say, and I think I might take my time and write about it bit by bit (inspired by my friend Brandee, who continues to delight with the blow-by-blow of her most recent family vacation).

But I do not excel at delayed gratification, and so there is this little bit of shared joy.

Because there is so much joy.

Sarah and Levi; photo bomb,
First, my eldest daughter, who has made her home in Savannah, drove 40 minutes each way to see us, every. single. night. She works at 7:30AM and even so, she made the drive to be with her family. I had not even imagined she would do such a thing, such a hard, demanding, and gas-guzzling thing. And yet, she did; and I thought that if perhaps we have instilled a love and appreciation for family that would prompt her to sacrifice so much time, energy and gasoline to be with those that have loved her all along - well, then, we must have done a good thing.

Chris and Tony
Secondly, I met a new family member today; Tony's nephew, of whom I have heard but never seen. He lives in Charleston, and so we arranged to meet today as we made our way back to Virginia. A shared meal at a noisy Cracker Barrel led to what feels like another strong and powerful connection. There's blood there, between Tony and his family; there's some shared history. There's a strong resemblance to his mom, whom I have met. And mostly, there's just some underlying point of connection that, more and more, I find strongest in those that share some part of my family tree.

I think tonight of my Uncle Dave and my cousins Joey and Jimmy and Garth and Andrew and George; of Denise and Jenna and Markus and my brother-in-law Donnie and my Uncle Graham and Aunt Barbara and Zack and of the hundreds of others who are scattered all over the continent. Of Tony's sister and nephew and aunts and uncles and the photos and memories and moments that provide the pinpricks of recognition, as thin as they may be.

I'm not sure that a strong, almost nostalgic value of family is absent among the young; but I can't say that I have ever felt such a passionate fondness for  those whose name and bloodlines I share as I do now. The kids grow and root themselves in those of us who cheer them on, as they dig into the richness of the lives they are creating around their passion and desires and those that they have come to love.

And we stand around them, holding the memories in our hands and hearts, amazed at the wonder we behold.

My people.

Life is so very good, so rich and full. God reveals himself in the gratitude, and the door opens to possibilities that seem downright endless.

I am grateful.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Up Early (But It's All Relative)

I am not one of those people who gets up early and likes it.

However, I've grown to see the broad appeal of getting up before the day gets moving, before the chatter and movement of others captures my attention, before the buzz begins.

In my house, "early" is relative. When the menfolk stayed up until (apparently) 6AM teaching their elder the finer points of (I think) Halo, it becomes quite easy to get up "early", if "early" simply means "before everyone else".

That's how I roll.

So, I've been up "early" for quite some time now, and the house is quiet, save for the rumble of the washer and dryer and the low, buzz of the mindless drivel that passes for The Today Show these days.

(Is it just me, or is everything changing? Wasn't there a time when The Today Show offered actual news and information, instead of a pointless review of what's hip and cool on Instagram, lousy pick-up lines from One Direction songs and matching "Thunder Shirts" and "slippers" for dogs?)

(Apparently I am overly fond of the "quotation marks" this morning. Sorry.)

Anyway, I digress. I'm up early, which means before everybody else, and so far that means that I've enjoyed most of the Tanzanian coffee all by myself, folded two loads of laundry by myself and marveled (by myself) at the small box turtle crawling with incredible focus through the back yard. Or maybe he was swimming; the ground is so wet, it's hard to tell.

(I've never seen so much rain in all my life. My tomatos are drowning, the driveway is flooding and everything is wet.)

And this blog post is all over the place....

Anyway, I'm up. I'm officially on vacation, which is more a state of mind for me than an actual vacation. Honestly, I still worked yesterday, answering email and uploading elements for Sunday's service and gathering information for small group stuff. I worked, but in my head, I was on vacation, and so it didn't bother me one bit. I'm headed south in a few days to get my toes in the sand, soak up some sun, read a few books and commune with my favorite people in the world (save one gorgeous redhead who is too far away and otherwise occupied, which causes me no end of distress, of which I'm working hard to Just Let Go). Everything is fractured for vacation this year.

In fact, that's a good metaphor for the moment. Fractured. My family is spread out, busy, living; most of us in some state of brokenness as we adjust to changing jobs, growing businesses, new life stages, classes, break ups, engagements, physical endurance challenges. Lots of stretching and changing, and perhaps that is a better metaphor. Fracture implies a shattering of sorts, a negative thing that carries some amount of sorrow. It seems we are stretching, and with that we're seeing a few broken places where things just can't hold.

It bothers me greatly that we can't all be together for our annual, traditional family vacation. Everybody is pulled in so many different directions...and things are changing.

It bothers me greatly that, for the first time, I'm meeting up with my brother and my parents as a 50-year old woman (yes, I know - GET OVER IT ALREADY. But this is my blog and my thought process, so THERE YOU GO.) It just feels so...weird, to be that age around my family, who have known me for all of those years.

It bothers me greatly that I wanted to lose 20 pounds and be in better cardio shape before the beach this year, but that I only wanted it in my head, and didn't do anything about it.

It bothers me that we're not going to the same place this year; that, for the first time in over a decade, we won't be at Emerald Isle. I won't walk that same beach this year, meeting up with my Maker for long conversations and contemplation. I'm afraid the new place won't match up, and I mourn the loss of the familiar.

That's it, I guess; the change. It's everywhere, all around, and I'm slightly frightened of the things of which I know nothing, wondering where to place the familiar, unsure of what shape will be taken by the new.

And yet it's all relative, isn't it? "Early" used to mean "as the sun rose", nursing babies and spoon-feeding toddlers and toys all over the floor and The Today Show as the only adult conversation in my life, surrounding by SarahShannonSydniDanielDavid. It was challenging, then, and most days I found it impossible to contemplate a different rhythm of life.

But it's here.

It's different now. There are slower cups of coffee and carefully plodding turtles. There are new beaches and young adults and a teenaged niece and accumulated wisdom. There are men who love my daughters, grafting themselves into our family with their presence and their affection.

I am here, moving in the fluid waters of a grace-filled rhythm filled with a new batch of contradictions. And the underlying pulse, the memories of all that has come before; it is grounding me, it is mine and it makes me what I am here, now, in this new place where I am the one up early, waiting, holding the ground steady while my children come behind me.

And suddenly - or, honestly, slowly - I get it.

I get it.

And I am filled with gratitude.