Me and the Holy Yoga Instructor, Friend Extraordinaire, Amy (photo credit to Shiloh, the 10 year old).
Sangria for the girlfriends.
I got beat up (figuratively) last week. Personal, work...life. They were all doggin' me. I was exhausted and a bit concerned about being able to make the drive to Madison even though it was early evening. I knew that it would be encouraging and we prayed for a safe trip.

After driving  to visit great friends in Madison, we arrived to a perfectly fitted home for my friend and her family. She described it to me a year and half ago when they were considering relocating there and I think I misheard half of what she shared because it is not my cup of tea. But. It is hers. And her kids'. And her husband's. And it was beautiful to witness and encouraging to experience.When we arrived, she put the icing on the proverbial cake by giving me a loving challenge and sangria. A good combo. 

We sat around the table in the middle of the kitchen, kids in and out, conversation halted by giggles, tears, kid conflicts, questions, the same questions rephrased to attempt to get different responses from the first time and it was a joyous occasion. Really, it was like something out of a film, but better because it was REAL.

Though they live out in the country y'all - the country (not one window covering over one single window - not even the bathroom), it was peaceful, I slept wonderfully and had some incredibly perfect moments with God.
Though the weekend is not over and so many other things happened, I was grateful to be in Madison for the weekend. Not thinking about much else than giving to and encouraging others, while being refreshed myself. With the separation from my husband and stepchildren and time to think and pray while there, it is clear that God is (and probably has been) trying to get me to focus on Him most for YEARS. It has not been deep enough, nurturing enough and that is my desire to change this. This weekend was a great watering of the seeds planted in me though. 

After staying with great friends and watching them interact with their husbands and children, I do believe that there is more that God has planned for me and those that I love. I do not know how it will look and what it will mean for all of us as far as reconciliation, but I do wholeheartedly believe that it WILL bring Him glory.

As always when I travel, I am grateful for the experiences, but am thankful to be back home.
They have three chickens that lay three eggs each day. They are not named (though she told me a funny story of a friend that named their three chickens: Jerk, Stew and Fried or something like that - hilarious!) and they are almost like members of the family. It is just NORMAL. 

I went out with her to get the eggs and we chatted like it was nothing as she brought them in and cracked them to finish making the French Toast that we were having for breakfast. 

I love this for my friend because she is so in her element. And because she invited me into it and knew that even though it is not "for me" that she could trust me to appreciate it with her. And I did. And Dylan did too. To the point where he told her so of his own volition. 
Chickens, eggs, kids running wild and free on the farm.
The view from the bedroom I got to stay in. I had a wonderful, quiet time of prayer sitting in the rocker inside of this window.
The oldest two had such a great time in each other's company. It's been awhile since they've seen one another. On their way to being a 9th grader and 6th grader (respectively) and still able to relate, laugh and be themselves. Such a comfort to me as a mom after so much time has passed.

This is a reminder to me that it isn't always the quantity of time you spend with your friends but the quality that leaves an imprint. 

Only a few hours in this kitchen had me feeling so in the very right place, at the right time, with the right people, hearing the right things for my overwhelmed heart.

PictureHoly Yoga, 5/18/2013.
The biggest reason for this road trip back to Madison (a city I lived in/near for 24 years, which I don't visit very often) was to encourage Amy in her first official "Holy Yoga" class. It was amazing! Really, REALLY, it was amazing. 

She was so in the moment and so filled with joy and peace about what she was doing that she was herself and really, really great at what she was doing. I was in awe. And grateful to see her do something that seems she was built to do. Do you have friends in that place in their life? Where they seem like they are doing exactly what God built them for? Well, I was there, front and almost center to watch her.

I was so impressed and proud and convicted. The card that I picked (top center) was in direct correlation to the challenge that she had given me the night before while were sipping sangrias. If you weren't aware, I'm going through an incredibly challenging time right now. And while I'm learning to process it and to see what it is that God wants me to see, learn, grow in and just flat out change, I believe that he is using those around me to make it plain for me. So, while Amy has been on the periphery of what is going on and a huge encourager, she listened for a few minutes in her kitchen. Tearing when my heart fell out of my chest on her table and listening and nodding and listening some more. Then finally, she challenged me to the following...

From now on, when someone says something kind about me, I will respond with, "I receive that." Yep. "I receive that." 

Now, this ain't something I'm used to saying and is not a part of my language and I was looking at her with my "Whatchutalkinbout Willis" face. It took only seconds though. Her stellar wait time, my thirst for something to lighten me and her not breaking my gaze...and I accepted the challenge. So, if you hear me negate a compliment, kind word or a form of encouragement - feel free to remind me of the challenge that I have accepted.

Anyway, I pulled the scripture Matthew 5:16 and read it over and over again throughout the Yoga class, certain that this is something that God wants me to hear and act upon. Powerful. That and I can't really feel my arms today. I was so pleased to be at this class and can already speculate as to how successful she will be as God is already moving things around to help her do great things through this for Him. 

Later that day. I went about the city, doing things by myself. Easy to do, typical but pleasant things. It's been awhile that I've been able to spend time by myself, doing this type of thing without needing to rush off and along to something else.

Nails, toes, Starbucks and LaBamba - going about the day doing these very enjoyable things gave me time to reach out to and share God's love with others. The guy doing my pedicure got to talk about his first and only child, a one-year old. In his broken English, he talked about the joy of coming home after a long day to his daughter's excitement to see him. I appreciate that he felt he could talk to me about these things. And the woman (whose name I'll likely never know) who's nails and hands were under the dryer at the same time as me. How did we ever get to talking about the unexpected death of her son at a nail shop? Again, grateful that there was something stilled enough in me to see the needs of these two people and have enough rest and desire to meet their needs. It was encouraging. 
Nails, Toes, Caramel Machiatto (I should have them put "Gigi" on all of my cups going forward) and the best steak burrito, rice and sauce that I have ever had.

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