Got Grit?

May 30, 2017

The summit of Black Elk Peak
On our recent vacation, my husband wanted to hike to the tippy-top of Black Elk Peak to view the Black Hills of South Dakota from a magnificent fire tower made entirely of stone perched on a summit high above everything else for hundreds of miles. 

It sounded so innocuous, a quick jaunt consisting of breathtaking views and then we'd wrap the day with a soak in the hot springs. 

We weren't 30 minutes into the seven mile hike when I began to reevaluate my quick assent to his suggestion. While we had a clear trail upon which to trod, I'd underestimated the rigorous nature of the hike and began to wonder whether the kiddos (and I!) would have the stamina to reach the top. We climbed up and up along switchback trails, witnessing impressive vistas of far distant peaks before a winding descent into a wooded valley only to be confronted with climbing once again to our destination. As we traveled, we began to hear reports that the end of the trail was particularly steep but that the view was "worth it." 

I began employing various "mentally tough" tactics about midpoint on our way to the summit, promising our daughter, who was starting to wilt, a break upon reaching a fork in the trail that was surely just around the next bend. She and I plodded along slightly behind the rest of our group, looking for that fork around each curve, both looking forward to that promised break and a little snack I had tucked into our backpacks.  

As we reached the fork, I reached for my pack, grateful for the opportunity to rest before tackling the steepest part of our journey and arguably the hardest part of the hike. My daughter, upon reading the sign and realizing that the summit was only 1/4 mile away, turned to me and said: "We made it this far without stopping, let's keep going! I want to reach the top without resting!

Ummmm..., what? I watched as my intrepid daughter suddenly found her second wind and disappeared up the rocky, steep trail, followed quickly by my husband and son. 

The Messy Side of Friendship

May 22, 2017

As I was visiting with an acquaintance the other day, they made a comment about what great friends Kristin, Julie, and I seem to be and how they wished they had a good friend of their own, a “perfect” friendship.

And although I agreed that Kristin and Julie are wonderful friends—or framily, as we like to call each other—our friendship is far from perfection. In fact, often it is just the opposite. I cringed as the woman spoke, knowing that social media often only portrays the lovely side to many things in life, including our relationships. And although I have no plans to air our dirty laundry for others to observe, I do think it’s important to talk about the messy side of friendships, and how you can still have great friends.

So here are a few things I’ve learned about great friendships, and how we survive (and thrive!) through all the ups and downs of life.

What Does "Beautiful" Mean to You?

May 15, 2017

I love beautiful things. Quirky dishtowels from Anthropologie, weighty coffee mugs with printed monogrammed letters, bold art prints, cushy throw pillows in an explosion of colors. Handmade children’s clothes stitched to perfection, good-smelling bath salts that melt into hot water. Ella Fitzgerald songs. The freckles on my children’s noses, their chubby hands held in mine. I love beauty in all its forms.

I used to think that was shallow. I felt guilty for enjoying those small pleasures when there were so many deep and heavy issues in the world vying for my attention. But recently I realized that rather than being shallow, that love for beauty is God-ordained:

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 

Our love for beauty is a call to see the sheer possibility in the world, the loveliness of nature and relationships and creativity.

Taken another way: I read once that bravery and beauty, rather than separate concepts, should be considered synonymous. That it takes bravery to see beauty—in ourselves, our actions, the world around us—and that we miss out on our  chance to be brave when we fail to see the beauty in the world.

As I race toward my mid-thirties, I think about how true that is. How much more comfortable I am in my own skin, now, than I ever was in my twenties. I’m more aware and grateful for my body, the things it allows me to do, and how my good health isn’t something to be taken lightly or for granted.

But what does it mean to be brave? And what does it mean to be beautiful?

Don't Forget to Celebrate

May 11, 2017

It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (MSG)

"Mom. Our neighbor was right, turning seven is THE BEST."

My son continued on excitedly, describing a school day consisting of cupcakes, classmates singing happy birthday on repeat, and of being celebrated everywhere he turned.

Celebrated. As we chatted, I tucked that stray thought away so I could pull it out and ponder it later.

My son and husband have birthdays only three days apart, and it was at the surprise party for my husband's milestone birthday that the theme surfaced again. My heart was filled to overflowing to see childhood friends and brand new friends and friends from every circle of our lives gathered around the table, laughing as they gently ribbed my husband about his new decade. Celebrated.

Broken-Tailed Blessings {Guest Post}

May 1, 2017

Good morning, friends! Today's post is from Jen Spiegel, our dear friend and collaborator on our new book Grace for the Misfits: 31 Days Pursuing the Unconventional Favor of God, arriving NEXT Monday. In the meantime, Jen's writing today about broken-tailed blessings, and her post is a little preview of what we've got in store for you in our Misfits book.

I was at a women's conference last fall when my husband did the unthinkable. I'd warned him against it many times, but in a sudden burst of courage and obstinacy (fueled by my absence, I'm sure), a few cute pictures on a website had him driving an hour from home to pick up something I'd said no to more times than I can count.

It was Saturday afternoon, and as the conference was winding down I received a text from my hubby. It read, "Have I told you lately how beautiful you are?" There was also a picture.

A picture of a dog.

A picture of a dog in my living room.

After spending a few minutes oscillating between shocked silence and disbelieving laughter, I pulled myself together enough to finish out the conference and then headed home, not quite sure what I'd do when I got there.

We'd been down the dog road before, and it wasn't a journey I was excited about taking again. Ever. I've always loved dogs—other people's dogs, not ones that want to sleep in my bed every night and steal my bagel every morning.

Y'all, it wasn't pretty when I got home.

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