When Fear Becomes Friendship

October 27, 2014

This weekend, Kendra and I attended the Allume Conference in Greenville, South Carolina. We left behind our crisp Minnesota fall to experience a weekend of breakfast grits, sweet potato desserts, and even sweeter Southern hospitality. 

Let me tell you, it’s intimidating to go to a conference for writers. There’s something so vulnerable about telling someone about your blogging. It’s something most people don’t ask about, something you usually do in stolen moments late at night or in the cracks of the day, alone. 

Kendra, Angela, Carley, and I
But what we quickly realized was that we were in a safe space. A sacred space. Over salads and sweet tea at lunch, or in the darkest part of the night when our eyes felt gritty from the long day, we talked to the new friends we met. About health troubles and herbs, babies and teenagers, communities in need of help and the social justice causes we heard about that made us want to do more, be more.

One of our roommates, Emily Knotts from Crisp Interiors, is mom to a busy 11-month-old, has an interior design business, and once had her DIY home featured in Country Living. Not to mention the fact that she is wildly self-effacing about her talents and sweet to boot. Another roommate, Melissa Ringstaff from A Virtuous Woman, has an amazing life story and ministry. My favorite anecdote gave us a glimpse into her life: As a young mom, she began dating her now-husband, who showered her with kindness. At the time, her 14-month-old would take about two hours each night to put to bed. Knowing this, her now-husband began to visit her each evening regardless of whether or not they had seen each other during the day – in order to rock her child to sleep. That’s a keeper. 

When You're Nervous About Something New

October 22, 2014

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again, but I don’t particularly like new things…at first, anyway. Change is hard for me. It's necessary, I know, but still hard.

Sometimes I walk into a new situation and feel like I did walking into a new school in seventh grade. All the old insecurities flood back in, and I think, “This is just so awkward.”

But the older I get, the more I've realized that things haven’t necessarily gotten easier for me, I’ve just learned how to mask my insecurities better.

A small part of our BTG team from Fall Conference!
Last week I had the privilege of being a part of a conference with a group of women that I love. One of the special pieces I got to be a part of was a video that shared women’s stories before each session.

In the video, I talked all about how fear has overwhelmed and ruled much of my life, and yet ever-so-slowly, God has begun to walk with me down the road to face my fears.

Afterwards, a woman on our team came up to me during a break and told me how my story encouraged her. She said, “I never would’ve guessed that you struggled with fear and insecurity; you always look so put together.”

And all I could do was smile and say, “Isn’t that always what we think when we look at others?”

Life beyond to-do lists.

October 20, 2014

Image via Hobvlas Sudonelghm on Flickr
It's early morning as I write these words, far too early for most of humanity on this side of the hemisphere to be up and stumbling about their kitchen, searching for coffee.  

To-do lists are swirling in my brain, and my fingers are itching to set ideas to paper, to stop the swirling, to make sure nothing gets forgotten in a week that will prove to be busier than the last. I love the feeling as ink flows over paper, as ideas and tasks and requirements pour forth, putting order to the chaos -- giving me perceived control over my day, my week, my month. 

Even better is that satisfying feeling as I carefully start striking off each item, showing that my day had worth (that I have worth) as revealed by accomplished tasks and goals and small steps on larger projects. 

I speak of my days based upon my to-do lists; I am either successful or unsuccessful based upon that tiny scrap of paper torn from my grocery store receipt with script only I can read scribbled in numbered order on the back.   

I have been known to wail in frustration that "I got NOTHING done today!" - meaning that my day was filled with intrusions and interruptions, leaving my to-do list intact, unchecked and unaccomplished. 

I have a tendency to measure my importance by the length of my to-do list and to measure my value by the number of items checked off my list before my head meets my pillow at the end of the day.

On Losing a Child

October 15, 2014

When I found out I was pregnant with our first child in 2009, my heart felt so full. I sat on the stairs in our house, waiting for my husband to get home from work.

When he arrived, I ran down the steps.

“Let’s go out for dinner to celebrate!” I said, grabbing his arms.

“Okay – um, what are we celebrating?” he asked.

“We’re having a baby!” I said. Our Mexican feast at La Casita that night had never tasted so good.

But just a few weeks later, my joy turned to dismay. During a work meeting on a Friday, I felt a whoosh and just knew that something was wrong. In the emergency room, I tried be brave while we endured tests and were told that there was no heartbeat.

A Common Bond.

October 13, 2014

Community. We find it in lots of places, all different ways. Whether at work, through a faith or civic community, school, parenting, marriage or singleness, there are places we belong. People with which we find a common bond.
Photo Courtesy of David Marcu

And I have found many of these communities helpful, jumped in with both feet proudly proclaiming myself a social worker, married person, or parent.

But there is one title I have yet to say. One title I have in the back of my mind, something I'm still too afraid to claim. I wasn’t really expecting it, and maybe it’s because I am not trained in this area, I have no education or degree to stand on -- just my own life experience, along with the desire to do it.

Maybe it’s because I don’t get a paycheck (as if money is the only validation for a task well done we can receive).

What I am too timid to say, to admit to others in conversation?

Unglamorous things.

October 8, 2014

My tiny, divine appointment at last fall's BTG conference.
The countdown is on: we are only two days away from Bridging the Gap's fall conference!

Dozens of women have been hard at work for months: planning, praying, pulling speakers and music and all of the details together.  

As final preparations are made, as the leadership groups pulls together with hopes and dreams of how God will show up and how he will change lives, I cannot help but be reminded of all the big and little ways God uses us, when we leave space in our busy lives to respond.  

If you live in Minnesota, if you happen to have Friday and Saturday available, we invite you to join us.  You can find all of the information here. You won't leave disappointed, I promise.

And, I leave you with a re-post of my experience from last year's fall conference, because I still need this message, this lesson and can't say it any better than I said it last fall. Sometimes God chooses to use us in the small, quiet things - in ways no one but He will ever see.  
I had the honor of spending part of last weekend serving at a women's conference. I was so excited -- my fellow website writers and I had put together a devotional given to each attender, we were working at the Resource Table, and we were part of the conference team. Yay! It felt so wonderful to be on the team and on the mission with so many other amazing women. I just knew BIG things were going to happen, and I was excited to be in the middle of it!

Why You Should Trust God Now

October 6, 2014

Earlier this summer, I wrote a post about my difficulties getting pregnant, how I was having a hard time curbing my own impatience and the increasing bitterness I felt at a situation that made me feel helpless and out of control. 

The positive response I received was so humbling, the many “me too” comments so comforting, that for me it was a chance to both purge and heal. For too long, I had denied my hurt over the situation, and being vulnerable enough to recognize and admit it was restorative. 

Here’s the thing: Even as I wrote my post this summer about not being pregnant, I actually was pregnant. I just didn’t know it yet. Isn’t that just like God? It wasn't until I found myself at the end of my own strength that I realized he had already done it. 

Shine On: An Adoption Story

October 1, 2014

Jasmine's first day with us.
Our daughter came to us through tumultuous circumstances. My husband and I had only been licensed foster parents for a month when we got the call to take a sweet baby girl, just three months old. She was physically healthy, in an emergency home for the time being, but they wondered: Would we be interested in taking her?

With nary a thought of consulting my husband, the words tumbled out before the social worker could even finish, “Yes! We’d love to take her.” 

I remember that long holiday weekend spent going home to paint with my husband the room she’d be sleeping in and setting up a borrowed crib. Praying for the weekend to pass quickly, afraid the emergency home might decide she was too precious and want to keep her, anxiously awaiting her arrival that Tuesday afternoon. 

Latest Instagrams

© The Ruth Experience. Design by FCD.