meeting blog friends

don't even

I'm in the ATL. Meeting Reuniting with a friend of mine. Another friend is also in Atlanta. Visiting her sister.

We met up at church.

Ked, this is Cathi. Cathi, this is Ked.

I stood back and watched as corners of my world collided.

We worshiped Jesus together.

We drank drinks at Loco's.

We talked and laughed and said accidentally inappropriate things. (Okay, that last one was all me.)

We each left with a huge smile on our face.

Don't even try to tell me that community can't be found online.

doing life together

Calling all readers: I really need everyone's input on something significant that's been brewing in my heart. So if you've been lurking reading without commenting, this is your time to come out of hiding speak up. And of course, if you usually comment, do as you normally do. And just in case it's not 100% clear, first-time visitors are also required requested to comment.

Okay, now that we're all on the same page...

I'd like to host a blogger mission trip to Africa.

(In case you're unaware: My husband and I are missionaries in South Africa; we've been here for ten years; we run a ministry; we host mission teams.)

My vision for a blogger mission trip stems from the desire so many of us have to meet our new friends from all over the country world and at the same time do something eternally significant. So why can't we combine those two by teaming up, traveling to Africa, and sharing the love of Christ together?

I can think of no better way I'd want to experience doing life together with any of you.

There is tons more I could say about the whats, whens, wheres, hows, and whys that are running around in my heart, but first let's tackle the whos. I need to get a sense of how many people would even want to do something like this...

So this is where you come in. (Yes, you!)

What I want to know from you is:

  • How interested are you in a blogger mission trip to Africa?
  • Any specific time of year that's best
  • An ideal length of time for the trip
  • Where you live
  • If you can't go, would you like to help send?

Spread the word. This is gonna be big...  I can already feel it.

'cereal killers' is more like it

Some of my friends were a little concerned when they heard I was driving five hours away to spend a weekend with friends I'd never met before. I know it sounded a little crazy, but while I was nervous, I never felt afraid. Not once did the thought cross my mind that Mandy or Cathi might turn out to be a serial killer or a crazed maniac. One concerned friend made me laugh with his constant questioning and goading on the subject. Dave's* biggest worry was "What if she turns out to be a he?" He emphasized certain parts of their names, so they became MAN-dy and Cath-HE.

Another friend requested that I send her Mandy's address and phone number, so that if I disappeared, she'd know where to send the search party. After I emailed it to her, Amy* replied: "I'm sure MAN-dy won't chop you up into little pieces and try covering it up... but if she were a little psycho, she'd have hell to pay :)"

That still makes me laugh!

So what do you think? What fears, concerns, and doubts would you have about meeting someone from the blogosphere? Were we utterly crazy???

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

sensational reunion

I still can't believe that two weeks ago I met friends I'd never met before. I still can't believe how much I loved every minute of it. I still can't believe how comfortable I felt in an altogether uncomfortable situation. I still can't believe how much I miss my new friends. That weekend, Cathi told Mandy and I that the best advice she received on her wedding day was to take time to consciously absorb what she was experiencing with all five of her senses. I tucked that thought away, like a smooth pebble from the beach, and attempted to do what she'd been challenged to do. I knew I didn't want my heart to forget a thing, and so I consciously paid attention to what my senses were, well, sensing.

Smell The wonderful aroma of Dunkin Donuts coffee reminds me of the sweetness that is Mandy's husband and the joy that comes with sharing a latte with a friend.

Sight I close my eyes and the first picture I see of our reunion weekend is the three of us on the couch, talking and laughing. There was no pressure or obligation to do or to be anything in particular. We couched it for hours, which to me is a sign of a close and strong friendship.

Sound There was such significance in getting to worship together at church on Sunday morning, which was multiplied even more by the sound of Mandy's sweet, strong voice singing to our Father as she led from the stage. What an honor to worship alongside my sisters and friends.

Taste Chicken and dumplings, boiled peanuts, salsa, zucchini bread... But mostly it is the taste of laughter that seems to linger in my mouth. Pure, unadulterated joy that only comes with authenticity and sincerity.

Touch During communion at church, Cathi reached over and grabbed my hand. That touch, both delicate and gripping, told me I am loved, wanted, and valuable.

Our reunion was indeed sensational!

What have been your best five-sense moments recently?

six feet of marblehead beach

six feet, three friends

Mandy took Cathi and I to her favorite beach. In typical us style, we didn't do much. We strolled; we looked for sea glass and pretty stones; we walked in both silence and laughter; we took flaughter pictures; we got Cathi in the water.

At one point, I called my friends over to me. I asked them to stand close, and with puzzled looks on their faces I angled the camera towards our feet. Suddenly they understood; they smiled and laughed and said what a great idea it was.

I felt the significance of that moment---of our feet, from all over the world, sharing the same space.

Looking at this picture, my heart swells. It holds a lot of meaning to me, in ways I can't even articulate.

I am thankful I'm not alone...

girlfriends with semi-colons

From the moment I hugged Mandy (accosted her is more like it) and got shoved by Cathi, they felt familiar and comfortable. We were all trembling from the nervousexcitement of meeting friends for the first time; we were literally shaking and out of breath. It was pure wonderful from the very first second. There was not a single moment of awkwardness.

We found ourselves saying the same thing at the same time and finishing each others' sentences. Even though we are at very different places in our lives, we share more common ground than I ever realized. My heart felt known and understood.

I've always watched with envy movies that depict a group of girlfriends. While I have closeness with a small group of friends, it's only ever been as one-on-one friendships. I've never had that same level of intimacy and authenticity with more than one person at a time. So I wasn't sure how that would play out this past weekend.

I feared feeling like a third wheel. I was scared that being the "quiet one" of the three would make me feel isolated. I thought my feelings of inferiority from not being in the academic world like the other two, would leave me feeling stupid and unloved. All of my fears were unfounded.

Now as I think about those movie scenes that I've always viewed with jealousy and pangs of longing, I can't help but smile. It is possible. I've felt it, experienced it, held onto it with my own two hands. Sadly, I had to leave it behind.

But I know that our time together didn't end with a period. No closure, no termination. It ended with a semi-colon; there's more to come.

essentially it's the non-essentials

We made sure we hit all the essentials during our reunion. We talked about how we got saved, how we met our husbands, how we got into ministry. I loved those conversations and learned so much about my friends through their stories. But I loved talking about the non-essentials even more.

The essentials, though wonderfully insightful, are things that anyone would/could know. They're the commonly asked questions and commonly told stories. But the non-essentials, that you can't plan for or script, are what make friendships so great.

I think the more non-essentials I know about someone, the closer I feel to them. When I had to say goodbye to Mandy and Cathi, I felt like I was saying goodbye to old, close friends. We shared a lot of non-essentials. And I loved every minute of it.

What non-essentials do you want to know about me? (Feel free to ask me questions and I'll reply in the comments.)

three a.m. craziness

The last night of our reunion weekend, we------ Hold on. We interrupt this broadcast for an explanation. I know Mandy, Cathi, and I had never met before. But we were already friends, really and truly. And seeing each other felt like coming home. So in my heart it seemed way more like a reunion than a first-time meeting. Okay, back to what I was saying...

The last night of our reunion weekend, we pulled an almost-all-nighter. This is what we were doing around three a.m.

chicken soup for the soul

A missionary, a worship leader, and a church planter walk into a bar together. Sounds like the start of a great joke, doesn't it? Actually, it was the end of a great weekend.

I feel like my heart is brimming with things to say, and yet I can't seem to find any suitable words. I wanted to take notes during the past four days, just jot things down as they happened so that I wouldn't forget a thing. But I intentionally made myself not do that.

I didn't want to experience things through the filter of how I'd write about them on my blog.

I know I've missed out on the full wonders of sunsets and elephant sightings and carefree African children playing in the street because I've watched them through my camera's viewfinder. So this weekend I chose to set down my "camera"---my cognitive attempt to hold onto memories, put adequate words to them, and help someone else see what I see. I chose instead to just be there. To soak the weekend in, for me rather than for someone else.

My heart is full, my eyes are heavy, and my mind is stewing a myriad of thoughts. My life won't ever be the same.