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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.
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.
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.