Silly Head Reflections

Tuesday, September 10, 2013  ::   7 important comments

The rain gently fell through the trees as I sat on the front porch enjoying the wet smell of the forest on a cool Sunday morning. My eyes were puffy from tears, restless sleep, and brain fatigue. My heart swelled with pleasure from watching women engage in worship, scripture, and community, but my spirit felt exposed and vulnerable after pouring out all I had thought through, written out, and prepared for leading up to the retreat.

Recounting the surprise stories that pop into my head as I speak and the words that come to mind during each session is always an interesting part of the retreat aftermath. Confusion and thought chaos often plague me even to the point of not being really sure what I said apart from the used pages of leftover notes I can hold and re-read. This past weekend I let it all hang out as I stood in front of 55 of my closest friends. They heard my heart and words, but they are given the responsibility to translate and apply. It feels freeing, yet eerily ambiguous. Should I clarify? Did it make sense? Did I point to Jesus? 

How in the world do preachers give of their hearts week after week after week? I've asked Chad several times. He just smiles at me like I'm a silly head. Maybe I am a silly head. Maybe if I was sharing week after week after week I would get used to the exposure or maybe not even think twice about it. Maybe. I'm not really interested in finding out. 

Retreat de Moxie is my favorite. The opportunity to speak to the women of my church, to challenge them, to know some of their stories, to make them laugh, and to watch them deal with Jesus blows me away. I love it. The truth be told I would love the opportunity to speak to women more often, but it hasn't been part of my life just yet. How do you do that anyway? "Hello. My name is Angel. You've never heard of me, but I want to speak to your group." Duh. Um, no? So I will take the opportunity year after year, as long as I feel okayed by Jesus, to speak at our women's retreat. And like I said in my last post, this is not some church lady, stereotypical, paper flower making, super sweet, mamsy-pamsy women's retreat. We get down to some serious Jesus business. Just like it should be. 
Thanks for the great photo, Angela! 
I took many hours scratching out notes through three significant passages of scripture. Today I tore the pages out of my notebook to put into the recycle and it felt a bit like when you cook Thanksgiving meal for hours and it only takes five minutes to eat. All the handwritten yellow pages turned into four neatly typed organized five to six point sessions. All the hours of study and writing turned into four one hour sessions. My prayer is that the thoughts and points will resonate with each woman who attended the retreat, that they will think of Mary and Martha differently than they ever have, that they will respond to Jesus as a disciple with a hearty welcome into the deep places of their lives.

I learned a few things over this retreat, too. In honor of my friend, Tori, I will share them with you in bullet format. 
  • It is important to give women landmarks for major turns when giving directions, not just highway numbers. 
  • The work of ministry is meeting people where they are...going with where God wants them to be. 
  • Jesus responds to us with compassion, insight, clarity, and enough. 
  • If you bring an extra giant bag of peanut butter M&M's they will be gone in less than 24 hours. 
  • Speaking about Jesus being the "I AM" will move women in powerful ways. 
  • Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life is a foundational, profound, mystery of our faith! 
  • 99% of women scream or squeak when they jump off a platform to zip line. 
  • We do not always have the luxury of privacy in our faith. True that. 
  • What Jesus has planned to do in our hearts is far greater than what he has planned to do in our circumstances! 
  • If you accidentally say "sh*t" in a session when you mean to say "strips" your face will turn red and people will laugh. Loudly.  
  • Mary and Martha weeping is not the same word used for Jesus weeping. "Jesus wept" is so misunderstood in the church.   
  • Often we focus on what is rotting, decomposing, or being eaten by worms in our life instead of Jesus. 
  • Our focus should be on Jesus, not our reputation or our own contrived ideas of justice.
  • If you say something you want to clarify, if you truly love people and they know your heart, they will be extraordinarily gracious and loving towards you. 
  • 55 women singing Oceans at the top of their lungs promotes huge giant goose bumps. 
  • I still cry easily when my brain gets fatigued, but I'm doing way better than I was last year at this time. 
And finally
  • You think you can love a group of people so much and then you get smacked up in the head with more love and loyalty that you could ever imagine. 

What are you thinking about these days? If you participated in Retreat de Moxie, what is one serious thing you learned and one funny thing you learned? Do you have any thoughts about any of my bullet points? Please share. You all know comments are my love language. 

Making New Friends

Tuesday, September 03, 2013  ::   5 important comments

Last year I participated in a pen pal, secret gift, long distance meet up that sweet Kim over at A Cuppa Kim put together. It was great fun and I had been looking forward to this one all year. You see, last year I missed the whole point. Sure, I sent out a great mug. Sure, I received a great mug. But, to be honest, I have no idea who I sent to or received from. Really? Sheesh. Relationship fail. For me, while a package full of goodies is fun to dig through, a new friend is my main hope. I really like people. 

My package shipped out to the sweet Mrs. Dallner in Missouri. It was fun looking through her blog and Instagram. Her family is beautiful. I wanted her package to be lovely and feminine when she opened it up. 

Shortly after I shipped my package off, I came home to a big box with an originally designed address label. I knew the contents were going to be good if someone put so much effort into the mailing label! 

Oh man, Jan you blessed my socks off! This sweet person whom I've never met seriously took the time to get to know me. Through my blog, Pinterest, and Instagram she gathered information and nailed it. I mean, she was so detailed into who I am and what I like. I'm very impressed with Jan's intentionality and attention to detail. 

A personalized journal, beautiful nail polish, a card holder for memorizing scripture, a Zero candy bar (one of my favorite splurges), a Starbucks gift card, a fancy business card holder, and of course a beautiful mug. Her generosity overwhelmed me! The fact that she handmade parts of this package impressed me. As you all know, I'm not so gifted in the handmade department, but I am gifted in the enjoying other's talents department. 

And check out this beautiful mug from Anthropologie! I think it is gorgeous. Liquid tastes better after it sits in this mug. The bold colors, the shades of blue and green, the design...I love it. It is the perfect mug for me.

Here is a closer look at some of the goodies in my package. Jan even learned that Jeremiah 17:7-8 has been the most meaningful passage in my life over this past year. She really did her research. 

To be sure, the stuff in the box honored me. However, to be honest, the letter Jan wrote to me was the true treasure of this year's mug swap. Typed written, front and back, it was full of the details of my story she had gleaned as she sought to gift to me the perfect mug. Her words were encouraging, uplifting, and sincere. 

Jan, thank you. I can tell you are a gifted encourager. Your attention to detail makes this world a more beautiful place. I will pray for you each time I use one of the items you sent which will be often because of the wonderful variety of stuff you sent! I'm hoping we continue to cultivate a long-distance cyber friendship which translates into a real friendship. I'm thankful for you. Thank you for blessing me! 

One last thing: Because the mug swap was so fun last year, I decided to implement a mug swap during Second Mile's annual Retreat de Moxie. Last year 46 women retreated together to hear from God, laugh, and rejuvenate. This year 54 of us are heading to the mountains of Payson, AZ. Now some of you may be wrinkling your nose up at a woman's retreat. Often women's ministry gets a bad wrap, especially in the blog world. Don't lump us into any negative stereo-type. We allow Jesus to do some serious spiritual butt-kicking in our lives. We laugh our cheeks and bellies sore. We fully engage in worship. We hike, fly down zip lines, eat goodies, drink coffee, and talk and talk and talk. This weekend I'm blessed to lead this wonderful group of strong, intelligent, amazing women. Pray for us? And, don't be jealous that I'll be getting another awesome mug. 

The mug I received from last year's Cuppa Kim Mug Swap is on the left. The middle is my new treasure from this year's Cuppa Kim Mug Swap. I received the one on the right during last year's Retreat de Moxie. I'll be adding to this collection on Friday night. I'll come home with a good one, even if I have to steal it. 

Did you participate in this year's swap? 

Moxie ladies, have you picked out the perfect mug for Friday night? 

What is your favorite part of giving fun gifts to people?