Sunday, November 29, 2015

My Break is Over!

After writing for 31 days I opted to give myself a break.  Unfortunately, that translated into NOT writing in November for almost as many days as I had written in October.  Praise God that I have been inspired to return sooner than I did last year!
I was asked to join a team of caregivers to write on our experience in that role and it was one of the hardest writing “assignments” I have taken on.  It was hard for me to write in first person about my husband’s cancer and how it affects me as his spouse and caregiver.  It is especially strange to call myself a caregiver since the “real” caregiving hasn’t even started yet.  It will be published tomorrow, November 29th, and the link is here if you would like to read it.

However, this exercise taught me a few things and reminded me of other things:

Remember when you say YES to something that it is rarely as easy as it sounds – always start earlier than you think you need to.

I am a caregiver no matter how “little” I do right now.

I love to write and my hope is that something I say will encourage someone out there in the blog-osphere.  

God always gives me the words if I will choose not procrastinate; pray about it; sit down and start taping at the keyboard.  He is just sweet that way.

I am so glad I said yes and that I had the opportunity to write down how I was feeling!!!  It’s also really weird to create a bio when you don’t hold a title.  It is the second time I have been asked to write my bio in the past couple of weeks.  I wonder what God might be preparing me for?
No matter what is in my future, I know who holds that future and I am so GR8tful that He loves me and guides me and overlooks my tendencies to put things off and allow fear to control my actions or decisions.  God is good all the time!!!

I am also so GR8tful for this amazing month of gratitude and all that God has done in less than 30 days!!!

Here are a few things I am GR8tful for:

Sweet friends who encourage me.

Sweet friends who check in on me, and the hubs, via text.

Snail mail.

Eating out.

Eating in.
Two places to spend Thanksgiving 2015.
My new Periscope Tribe.

I discovered that I can write.  And that doesn’t mean I am a professional.  Or that I will ever get paid to write.  Or that I am using the proper grammar.  It just means that I can communicate via the written word and a few people are happy to read it.  And, that is good enough for me.

I am good enough!

And the list could go on!!

What are you GR8tful for from the past few weeks of November?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Day 31: Community Never Ends!

Wow!!!  My second year participating in this 31 Day Writing challenge and it was so much harder than last year.  I thought this year would be easier since I wasn’t moving into a new house; adjusting to a new town and state; and grasping the reality that my husband’s 29 year career as an active duty Marine was coming to a close.  Not to mention a few other challenges going on.  This year was so much harder despite the fact that I have known about this for months – or actually a year, right?  I thought this year would be easier because my topic came to me right away.  I am so much more passionate about community than I was about the topic of transitioning well and yet I would change very little about these past 31 days.  This past month was hard but so worth it. 

What would I change?  I would make sure I had a few days already written because I had company for over 10 days and I spent 5 days out of town – which means I wrote just as many blog posts totally distracted; on little sleep; and totally rushed than I did in the peaceful environment of my office.  And I know I am better for it.  Day 29 almost killed me and yet my perseverance has fueled a fire in me to continue to persevere more!!  Isn’t that so sweet of our God to teach us a great concept while we are right in the middle of it?!!!! 

God was so sweet to me every day of this process.  Every. Single. Day.  And I am even more passionate about doing community well than the day I started back on October 1st.  I still have more to write on this topic and God gave me so many opportunities to do community all month – to include today!!!  One year later and I will end this 2nd round of the 31 Day Writing challenge with a ton of new friends – both in person and in bloggy land; knowing many more of my neighbors; loving our little town more than the day we moved in; and as a stronger writer, Jesus-follower, overcomer, and a HUGE Periscope fan!!!

I went back and read Day 31 from last year.  It was interesting that I used the word Tribe in my last post – which I wrote about this year during my series on “Doing Community Well”!!!  Gotta love God!!!  He started preparing me for this series on Day 31 of last year!!!!  Wow!!!!

It’s hard to think of wrapping up this series today because I believe God has given me so much more to say.  And, because, community is on-going.  Never ending.  A daily walk to invite others into your life.  To invite others to participate.  To put others before yourself.  To invite others to find a safe Tribe to spend the rest of their days with.

Here is what I have learned:

Many struggle with the concept of community – and I want to change that!

I struggle with community though I love it!  And I have been told I do it well. 

Community is just as hard today, as it was on October 1st, and yet so much more fun than I realized.

Community is exhausting and worth every second!

Community requires us to be intentional.

Community requires forgiveness, grace and mercy.

Community beckons us to come to the table, warts and all, and be real.  And allow others to be real as well!

So, what is next?

My goal is to continue this discussion on community right here on my blog.  On a personal level, my goal is to help many more people discover the beauty of community and to help them jump in.  Eyes wide open but anticipating all that God has for them as they do community well with their very own Tribe.  If you don’t have a Tribe of your own you can join my Gr8tful Tribe here.  Everyone is welcome!!!!

How about you?  What will you do about this topic of community?  What has been your favorite part of this series?  What would you like to hear more about?

Thank you for joining me this month.  I have appreciated your love, support, prayers and honest comments!!!!
Go out!
Find many things to be Gr8tful for daily!

And go “do community well”!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Day 30: There is Room at the Table for Everyone!

Community done well is all about other people.  Inviting other people to do life in all its stages and forms and messiness with us.  Community is coming to the table together!

Whether that table is long or short; square, round, or oval; new or old or somewhere in between; community-minded people believe that there is always room at the table for another person – whether they are a trusted friend; a family member; a new friend; or an absolute stranger! 

“There is room at the table for everyone” is a sentiment I heard that may have been said by Shauna Niequist during a podcast interview as she was talking about her book.  This sentiment still resonates with me today as I am only one day away from completing my 31 Day Writing journey on the topic of community.  Here are my personal thoughts on what it means:

In its simplest form, I believe it means what it says:
There is room for everyone at the Table of Life.

I think “There is room at the table for everyone” reminds us to be inclusive and not exclusive.  It reminds us that no one is better or worse.  More deserving or less deserving.  Jesus was found sitting around the table with tax collectors.  And that was a big deal back in his day.  And, it wasn’t considered a good thing.

“When you offer peace instead of division, when you offer faith instead of fear, when you offer someone a place at your table instead of keeping them out because they’re different or messy or wrong somehow, you represent the heart of Christ.”
 – Shauna Niequist

Tables were created for community.  Is it even possible to buy a table and one chair?  This alone tells us that the entire world believes you need to be sitting at the table with at least one other person.  I know, from my experience, that a lot of community happens at all sorts of tables.  I know I have cried, and laughed, and solved all the world’s problems at many different tables over my lifetime.

A table beckons us to sit and think and share a while.  And in all that, life happens.  Problems are solved.  Community is built.  People feel welcomed and they leave your space feeling better about themselves.

Who can you invite to your “table”?  It doesn’t have to be the table in your home – any table will do. However, doing community around your table at home is more inviting than any other place in the world.  It says “Welcome to my life – all of my messy life - let’s do community together!”

Invite just one.
Welcome just one.

And watch how God will multiply those around your table!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Day 29 Social Media Communities

I changed my mind and decided to continue our discussion about on-line communities today instead of waiting until after this series is complete.  I feel like yesterday’s post was incomplete after I hit the publish button so I will continue the discussion through several examples of how my on-line relationships started and how they are working out: 

I have “met” many people on-line and a tiny few have become my friends in the “real” world.  One of those friends is my sweet partner-in-crime (PIC), Dasha.  We found each other on Okinawa Hai and started chatting and following each other on our personal blogs.  I found out that she was attending the same church as we were and after many months of getting to know each other through our blog posts, we finally “met” at church one day.  And we have been friends ever since.  We had the sweet privilege of both writing for Okinawa Hai after meeting, which just sealed our friendship even further.  She is a fellow Marine spouse; animal-lover; foodie; and lover of Jesus.  She is also awful at directions; flies by the seat of her pants; and is great at checking in via text when she hasn’t heard from me.  My hope is one day that God will bless us by allowing us to live under the same state flag.  Until then, we stay in touch more on Facebook than anywhere else and we try to include each other in our travel plans whenever we can.  She met me in Dallas once for a women’s conference; she came to visit me on Oahu; and I see her every time I am in the So Cal area. 

I met Pamela via our blogs while also living in Okinawa and God used this relationship to connect me with one of Pamela’s friends.  This friend’s daughter, who was a young Marine spouse, was moving to Okinawa while I was still living there and Pamela asked if I would reach out and welcome her.  And I did.  Pamela and I have tried to meet twice so far and though it has not worked out we stay in touch via Facebook and Pamela and I do live under the same state flag so I trust that God will connect us, in person, one day.  Becky, the young Marine Spouse, is a faithful viewer on my daily Periscopes and we stay connected via Facebook as well.

I have become friends with several ladies via this 31 Day Writing seriesMelissa Haag being one of them.  Melissa is also a faithful viewer on Periscope and we are friends via Facebook as well.  I love how God has woven our relationship together since “meeting” for the first time during last year’s writing challenge – all on-line. 

Speaking of Periscope – I am building the Gr8tful Tribe through my daily broadcasts and it has been fun to get to know several of my faithful viewers via this new social media platform.  One such pair are Bart and Nicki who have started a sweet ministry called Reverse The Hurt (@Reverse_Hurt).  I have enjoyed getting to know them as a family through their broadcasts as well.  And now we have several friends in common, because of our @WNOPTribe Periscope broadcasts and Bart is one of our biggest supporters.  

Women’s Night of Prayer (WNOPTribe) started as a local event in our area and has gone global because of the internet.  We meet daily (@WNOPTribe) at 6 a.m. CST to pray together and while we have a huge base of local people who jump on every morning we have also been blessed by many faithful viewers from all over the world – to include the U.K.; some Asian countries; and even Pakistan.

I am also a part of the Social Media team for a one year old ministry called Planting Roots (@PlantingRoots1) and I only know two of the team of 21 personally.  Everyone else I am getting to know via our FB groups; our FB page; and via Periscope now.  At Planting Roots our mission is to encourage both female spouses married to active duty or retired military members and active duty female military members.    

One last, fun relationship I am enjoying is with my sweet friend Rebecca Y.  She only knew me as Gr8tful Chick for the longest time.  She came up to me at church one day and asked if I was Gr8tful Chick since she had seen me post a lot on mutual friends’ pages.  She made me feel like a celebrity and she continues to make me smile every time I see her at church; on Facebook; and at the few lunch dates we have had.  I love how faithful she is at praying for me even though we have only been friends for such a short time and we mostly see each other via Facebook.  I could go on and on but I think you get the point I am trying to make.

As you can see, the few examples that I have shared proves that when used in a positive way, social media is a great way to meet people.  It is also a great way to connect with other people’s friends and actually see the members of your church when you don’t attend the same service on Sundays.  One of my friends, Laura G., has said how much she appreciates my daily Periscopes because she feels more connected to me since she started watching my Tip of the Day broadcasts @Gr8tfulChickRis.  

It’s comments like that which keep me coming back to social media every day because I know I am making an impact and accomplishing my calling – to take back the internet in the name of Jesus and encouraging my sweet friends!  This is why I put up with the garbage that is all over every social media platform.  Because if those of us who are making a positive difference via the World Wide Web left than who would still be around to point the lost to Jesus? 

Let’s all be a force for GOOD and take back social media and impact the world for Christ!!!!

How has social media helped you do community well?

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Day 28 Doing Community On-line

I believe the best and most effective community is one that is experienced in the flesh.  Nothing takes the place of face to face encounters with other people.  There is just something about connecting with someone in person where you can see their face and hear the tone in their voice that you just can’t get from an e-mail or most social media platforms.

However, in this day and age, face to face encounters aren’t always possible.  We are a very transient culture so a friend who use to live 1.4 miles away from you may move thousands of miles away and yet you are still connected.   As a military spouse I am all too familiar with having a friend to do coffee and errands with every week that turns into the friend living at least 3 states away.  We still love each other. We still want to do life together and we still want to stay connected.  We desire to continue doing community well together.

So, how do you really stay connected? 

This is where on-line communities come into play.  Whether you are friends in person and interact over social media or you meet on-line and become friends through that venue, on-line communities are popping up everywhere and Tribes are thriving even if everyone in the Tribe or community have not met in person.  Businesses do this all the time with telecommuting so we shouldn’t be surprised that we have perfected this form of connecting in our personal lives.

We are learning that we don’t have to be friends in person to get to know each other and be a part of community. The difference is that we have 24 hour access and we don’t have to drive in traffic to the local coffee shop.  Both face to face communities and on-line communities can be equally rewarding when done well. 

I know many people argue that social media has ruined us as a culture but I don’t see it that way.  Yes, there are serious issues with on-line bullying; pornography; stalking; abductions; etc. However, I still think that when used properly, and with common sense, on-line communities can enhance face to face communities.  I also know that on-line communities can come together in person and real life relationships can flourish.

Here is one example of an on-line relationship coming to life in person:

I have often seen people post about making real life friends through social media. I have not personally ever had such an experience...until now! Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet @mabilder in real life. We were introduced by @tashaandersonyoga who I have not yet met. It is incredible to see God weaving a sweet friendship without even knowing it! I look forward to many more encouraging coffee dates in our future! Welcome to Boerne Michelle!” (Written by Alyssa Mantooth on Facebook in Aug. of 2015)  #igfriendsturnedreallifefriends

I love Alyssa’s story and that I was the one who got to take this photo.  Alyssa and I hardly know each other.  We have met once, at the Boerne Handmade Market, and then bumped into each other at a local restaurant in August where I got to take this picture for her.  I didn’t know the story behind their friendship until I read about it on Facebook.  This is such a sweet example of how on-line communities can meet in person and do equally as well. 

I have several stories like Alyssa’s and I love that those stories have turned into friendships that are still thriving today!!!!  (I will share my personal stories on another post after this 31 Day series is complete.)

Sometimes, due to distance or other circumstances, you are not able to get face to face with people you want to see so you need to get creative through modern technology.  As I mentioned yesterday, in My Tribe Story, I have friends who I do community with via Face Time.  We also have several families that we like to “meet up” with via Skype so we can see the whole family on our smart TV.  And, now, with the creation of Periscope, any of my friends or family can watch my live broadcasts as I share a tip of the day through my bulldogs or when I share what God is doing in my personal life.  When used correctly, modern technology can help us stay connected with those we care about and love. 

Do you have an example of how you use modern technology to stay connected with your Tribe even when they are a million miles away?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Day 27: Community - My Tribe story

I believe God started me off with great seeds for a Tribe while I was in high school and I had no clue that they were “it”!  There was only 3 of us in our Tribe at that time.  It was an interesting start for a Tribe - as one of the Tribe members and I did very little socializing back then due to the nature of our lives at that time.  However, we had the common thread of our mutual friend, Kim, and she was the anchor. Kim was solid in her relationship with Jesus while the other two of us were not.  While we floated all over the place during those crazy days in high school, Kim stayed grounded to God; prayed for us; and was a faithful friend.  The kind of friend that I didn’t realize I needed.  The kind of friend I took for granted.  The kind of friend I could not love back in the way she loved me – at least not back then.  Kim was faithful and God used her to keep our Tribe together. 

And because she was and still is faithful, patient and kind we are still friends today and I know we’ll be friends until Jesus returns.  I am grateful that God has grown me and helped me realize how important it is to invest in people and I am a better friend to Kim now.  Now I know she is a part of my Tribe – she gets me; she loves me; she cheers me on; and I can always trust her to give me great advice.  Kim loves me all the time – even from a distance.  The three of us have all gone our separate ways since those high school days (one of us is in Cali; one is in Idaho; and I am in Texas) and yet the thread is still strong – actually even stronger today then way back in the day when we wore more hairspray than was physically even possible. 

I have added to my Tribe since 1987 but it has been a long and bumpy road.  I didn’t start adding new and true Tribe members until after I was married in 1993.   Those 6 years I was stumbling around unaware that I was missing my Tribe or that I should be adding to it – or that I even needed one.  Don’t get me wrong – I made a lot of friends during that time span – I just didn’t have a Tribe to call my own. 

Things started to change when I married my Marine.  I started slowly understanding the Tribe concept.  Part of that concept is that not everyone will stay a part of your Tribe, or even your friend, for that matter.  And you can have many friends but not all of them become Tribe members. This is just a natural process that works itself out if you let it.  There are benefits to being a Tribe member.  In this day and age that means communicating a lot in a variety of ways.  You spend more time together and deeper community is created.  Deeper = loving them hard!!!

Tribe membership has great benefits!  Because of my Tribe I got to be in the labor and delivery room twice.  As someone who is not a mom to two-legged peeps, on purpose, getting to witness a live birth is a cherished memory.  One that I wouldn’t have had if I had not LOVED MY TRIBE hard!!!!  More benefits are late night access to me because I love you unconditionally and no amount of sleep is worth leaving a Tribe member on their own during a challenging time.  Tribe members make plans 7 months in advance to vacation together.  We start talking about the next vacation while still on the current vacation because we want to be intentional about seeing each other.  Sometimes we talk daily.  We plan times to intentionally talk weekly.  We set up monthly Face Time appointments.  We get GREAT news first!  And so on.  
Your Tribe will shift and change over the years. You’ll have Tribe members who come and go.  And that is OK. There is always something to learn, and hopefully enjoy, about each Tribe member.  But your intentional Tribe members are your lifelong members.  They don’t have to renew their membership yearly because they are “in” for life.  They have proven themselves loyal to the Tribe. They agree with you fundamentally.  These members secure their spot in the Tribe through many different avenues.  They pick up the phone when they think of you.  They still send snail mail (guaranteed life-long membership right there).  They are your biggest cheerleaders!  Bottom line:  They are intentional about your relationship and add value to the Tribe.

I have thought about actually taking applications and interviewing my Tribe members before letting them in after I recently figured out that some of my Tribe members don’t like chocolate.  How can that be?  You don’t even have to like dark chocolate but how can I have Tribe members who don’t have a stash of chocolate in their house at all times?  Or, that don’t love animals as much as I do.  Or who love vegetables and actually eat them at every meal – on purpose.  Side note:  I don’t do veggies.  I like to believe I am allergic to them but there is really no scientific proof of that.  I digress. The bottom line is that your Tribe will be filled with a diverse group of people, that if embraced for their diversity, will stay along for the journey no matter how bumpy the ride gets and they make you a better Tribe member as well.   

I have learned over the years that just because people are in your Tribe doesn’t mean they are going to like chocolate; or love my God; or think that bulldog slobber is just an ordinary part of everyday life.  And that is ok!  I have learned to embrace the diversity of my Tribe and I am better for it.  My diverse Tribe knows how to love me well.  They actually like me and embrace my uniqueness.  We trust each other.  We have fun together.  We love each other deeply and we put each other first.  And even when we think differently about certain things or aren’t interested in something like each other’s hobbies, we still support each other and get excited for each other! 

We all need at least one Tribe where we can be ourselves.
Where we know we will be loved for who we are and not what we do or can give.

God created us for community and the right Tribe does community well!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Day 26: Community - What Would Happen If……..?

What would happen if women came together and supported each other? If they would encourage and uplift each other? If they would celebrate each other’s gifts and celebrated each other’s talents? What if they didn't feel threatened by each other’s successes and mentored other women so they could also succeed? What if they pulled their resources together and worked alongside of each other? What would their ministries, businesses, legacies, and families look like if they did?

What if WE, as women, committed to try to do some things? If we were intentional on liking, sharing, and supporting the ventures, businesses, and ministries of the women in our sphere of influence? What if we were intentional to include people in our tribe and make them feel significant loved and included? 


What if we stopped idolizing celebrities and leaders and we celebrated the stay at home mom doing everything to keep it together; or the homeless women just trying to make it another day; the teacher that loves and instructs your kids every day; the beautiful lady that greets you at church; or that one that posts exactly what you needed to read on FB or Instagram? What if???(This was written by Cristina Myers - founder of WNOPTribe/taken from her Facebook page with permission.)

Let’s start by celebrating other women in our lives today!

Who can you call, text, or send some snail mail to 
and tell them that you are grateful for them 
and appreciate all they are doing in the world today?


Monday, October 26, 2015

Day 25: Community Killers 3 – The Comparison Game

It is very easy to compare ourselves to others and become discouraged and give up.  And when we become discouraged we have a tendency to leave any sort of community we may already be a part of.  This negativity cycle can kill a community before it even gets started.  Discouragement can also cause a community to fall if the destructive comparison behavior continues. 

I’m not sure when it all started, but at some point, at least as women, when we see someone who is beautiful, smart, or looks like she has it all together we instantly start measuring ourselves against her, and we almost always come up short.  Not because we really are lacking in that area as much as because we think we don’t measure up.  

What we think of ourselves is key to healthy thinking which leads to healthy choices and choosing healthy relationships. We were created to be unique so we will never be like Suzie homemaker who always has homemade meals on her table.  We will never be as smart as our neighbor who has a Law degree.  And we will never have it all together like our co-worker.  At least not while we are playing the comparison game.  God created us to be us – we are all beautiful in God’s eyes.   God created us uniquely to be our own kind of beautiful.  God gave us a brain so we have the ability to learn all we want.  And we don’t have to have it all together for God to love us.  Or for God to use us.    

 When we learn to embrace who God created us to be and we allow others to be who they were created to be than God can knit us together to create an amazing tapestry of community. 

We were created to be diverse on purpose.  So when we compare ourselves to others and desire to be more like them than we are essentially telling God that we do not appreciate His perfect plan when He created us. 

Embrace who God has made you to be instead of 
focusing on how you do not measure up to others. 

And then watch how God uses your unique gifting to do community
well and to help other communities thrive.  

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Day 24: Community Killers 2 – Unwilling People

There are many reasons people don’t engage in community.

People have been hurt.  People don’t want to make an effort.  People don’t want to invest in the time it takes to participate in community.  People don’t want to be held responsible.  They don’t want people to notice that they are missing.  They just don’t want to be noticed at all.  Some people feel awkward.  They are insecure.  And this list could go on. 

I do believe there is one main reason that people do not engage in community that outweighs many of the others – they do not want to be held responsible for anything.  When you start showing up in a community you may be asked to take responsibility for something or someone. You may be asked to plan a function; organize something; or take over completely.  Community isn’t just about us and that scares a lot of people.   

I am intrigued by Henrik’s quote. I have never really thought about being prepared to “take the helm” but it’s happened to me and it’s why I am where I am today.  I showed up.  I showed up consistently.  I offered to help.  And then I have been asked to “take the helm”.  You grow as you lead.  You learn a lot about yourself as you organize a function.  You learn what works, and what doesn’t work, when you work closely with a community of people.

To “do community well” you will be stretched.  
You will be asked to do things you never thought you could.  
You will be asked to participate in many different ways.  
Be prepared! 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Day 23: Community Killers - Hurt People Hinder Community!

I believe I was born for community.  I believe God created me with a desire to hang out with people and to naturally connect them to each other.  To connect them to resources.  To connect them to hope.  It’s so innate in me it’s hard to describe how I “do community”- I just do it!   Though it comes naturally to me doesn’t mean that it is always easy, or perfect, or without challenges.  

Earlier this year I was asked to share my thoughts on Community, with a group of military spouses who meet weekly to study God’s Word, so I had to put pen to paper and share what I thought community was and how to be intentional about creating it.

We have already covered what community is and how to be intentional about creating it in this series. So today we’ll talk about one of the things that hinders community, versus builds it up. 

Hurt people hinder community.

I learned while preparing to share my thoughts on community building that so many women have been hurt by their communities.  Because of these hurt feelings they give up on the idea of being a part of a healthy community.  We have allowed our past, negative experiences to keep us from enjoying what God created community for. 

It’s supposed to be a safe place to share your thoughts and hurts. 
It’s supposed to be a fun place.  A place to laugh.
It’s supposed to be a place to grow. And learn.
It’s supposed to be a place filled with grace!!

Bottom line:  community isn’t perfect and so hurt happens.  Whether you have been hurt by your neighborhood community; the PTA Board; your Women’s Bible study; another parent at your kid’s school; your own family or friends – hurt is hurt.

My friends’ answers both surprised me and made me sad.  Don’t get me wrong – I know communities aren’t perfect.  They can’t be perfect because people aren’t perfect – we are not perfect.  I know I have been hurt by people within some of my favorite communities as well.  Many of us are in the same boat.

Knowing how difficult “doing community well” is for so many women, God showed me that He wanted to use me to help women overcome their hurts and get back in the community ring and fight for it!  This is how I have become so fired up about doing community well and how this series was born.

We have to remember that community isn’t just about us.  Our ability, or refusal, to do community well affects others.  It affects our spouses, our children, our siblings, our neighbors, co-workers, and the list goes on.  We need to be brave and find ways to forgive others, heal, and move forward.  There are communities out there just waiting to be built.  Or there is a community already forming out there right now that needs you.  And you need that community.

Hurt is going to happen.  Please reach out to someone to help you move past the hurt.  Let God walk you through the healing process so you can get back into a community.  

You are needed!  
You are wanted!  
And you were made for community! 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Day 22: Build Community Anyway

“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. 
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.”
{This version is credited to Mother Teresa}

Mother Teresa’s perspective in this quote is great 
food for thought as we build our Tribes 
and “do community”. 

Our goal as we build our Tribe and "do community" well isn't to make people happy or make them like us.  Our goal is to cultivate a welcoming environment that the right people will want to be a part of.

Only a few people will “get” your vision.  Cast your vision anyway.

Some will laugh at your dreams. Dream anyway.

Some people will not join or stay in your Tribe.  
Build your Tribe anyway.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Day 20 Connection, Community, Change!

It starts with making connections with people God brings into your life.

Then you create a community environment where a Tribe is formed.

Now your Tribe involves the community and small changes happen.

Then those small changes become BIG changes.

Now you are a TRIBE of World-Changers!!!

We are BETTER, STRONGER and MORE effective together!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Day 19: Make Connections

Finding your Tribe, and doing community well, starts in the connections we make.  Go about your normal, everyday life and pay attention to the people you see.  Make connections when and where you can.  Making connections isn’t a separate action or another thing to add to your to-do list – it is just a part of your natural, everyday life.

Maybe you will connect just through a quick hi as you are passing someone in a store.  Or you can connect with a co-worker for a few minutes in the break room through a casual conversation about your weekend activities.  Or maybe, you can really step out of your comfort zone and check out a new group locally.  That last suggestion was part of a blog post that my friend Lacey recommended – check out this amazing post she shared with me about making connections. 

I love how Emily White goes in a similar direction as I have been going in while exploring how to do community well and yet, her voice and her words and her suggestions are totally different from mine.  And, my sweet community building Tribe members that is a GREAT thing!!!!  Be open to who God brings into your life, whether through a brief encounter or a life-long adventure.  Whether people are like us or totally different.  Because you never know where this encounter may lead!

Just remember that not all connections lead somewhere.  However, all connections are good in one way, shape or form. Even if the connection isn’t good, or doesn’t last, it teaches you something about life, or about yourself or about that other person!!!  Take good notes and take the next step!  As with many things in life, the next step takes time, energy and sometimes some creativity!!!

Make connections and watch where they lead.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Day 18: My Unexpected Tribe

I met Cristina Myers at the beginning of this year, 2015, at the women’s Bible study at our church.  We couldn’t be any more opposite if we tried.  She is 34.  I am 46.  She is a mom to a one year old – I have two adopted bulldogs.  She has been married for 2 years – I have been married for over 22 years.  She is bilingual. From Puerto Rico and is a college graduate - lawyer.  I speak one language.  I was born in the Continental U.S. and graduated from Beauty School.  She has been on her journey with Christ for a couple of years – I gave my life over to Him over 35 years ago.  And, through one innocent invitation, God brought us together and started a Tribe of two that has far outreached and grown into something BIGGER than either of us could have imagined.
  Our adventure began after I had sent out a text to our Bible study group of 10 inviting all the ladies over to have a slumber/craft party while my hubs was going to be out of town.  Cristina is the only one who could make it.  At this point we had spent so little time together outside of our Wednesday morning gatherings.  We hardly knew each other.  I assumed since she said YES that she knew that we were confirmed and she assumed since no one else could come that I would cancel.  2 days before that Friday I sent her a text to confirm that she was still coming over and asked her if she would mind us eating out instead of me making something for us at my house.  She arrived before dinner; we had a great meal together; and then spent a few hours chatting and working on our paper day planners together – this was one of the few things we had in common. 

There are so many little details between then and now that I could share but we would be reading for days as I recall all the ways God kept knitting our lives together.  Fast forward to today (October 18th 2015):

We are still so very different and yet God is using us to make a difference in our little town; within our church body; in our great state; and throughout the world. 

Cristina created an event called Women’s Night of Prayer that just hosted its second event; this has turned into a ministry that now has a Facebook page; and has a presence on Periscope through prayer every morning at 6 a.m. CST.  Cristina is the one, between the two of us, that usually discovers technical things and yet I had to beg her for a couple of weeks to join me on Periscope. Now we are encouraging everyone we know to join us as we take back the internet for God!  A mission He called each of us individually to do and has created an opportunity for us to take on this mission together!
We have attended a Christine Caine event together, along with 23 other local women.  We have hosted several small group gatherings in our homes where we made cards; learned about essential oils; and made lunch using all Pampered Chef tools.  We worship together at church; attend paper planner meet-ups; and are currently participating together as part of this 31 Day Writing Challenge (Find Cristina's blog here).  

We have also started a supportive Facebook Group called Periscope University, where we are encouraging others to find their voice and to share their gifts via Periscope’s live-streaming app.

We love to meet for coffee; for lunch; text each other; send messages via Voxer and share all the amazing things God has done in our lives just over the last 6 months.  It feels like we have been friends forever.  Unlikely friends for sure.  However, we have one BIG thing in common – we love our God and we want others to know Him and to know that they are known and not alone in this world.  
We both believe doing community well is the key to helping people find their Tribe.  
Everyone is welcome in our Tribe – there is always room at the Table that God has given us to serve to and from.