October was too short…

Life is too short to ice cakes; cakes are good without icing.
Life is too short to read all the church periodicals.
Life is too short not to write regularly to your parents.
Life is too short to eat factory baked bread.
Life is too short to keep all your floors shiny.*

October was too short.  Time passed so quickly this month– so quickly that I just couldn’t keep up with all our happenings here in real time and I must confess I’ve felt a little guilty.  [smile]  But October was too short… Full of little anniversaries of our first date and first kiss and bigger celebrations like my 30th birthday and our first wedding anniversary, October is already a busy month in our household, but happily we added a bit more hustle and bustle with a record total of 7 overnight guests this month (my parents and our seminary friends), the wedding of dear friends in Georgia, and of course Halloween.

Life is too short to let a day pass without hugging your spouse and each of your children.
Life is too short to nurse grudges and hurt feelings.
Life is too short to worry about getting ready for Christmas; just let Christmas come.
Life is too short to spend much money on neckties and earrings.
Life is too short for nosy questions like “How do you like your new pastor?” Or—if there’s been a death—”How is he taking it?”

October was too short.  The busyness of October bubbled over into our lives at work as well.  At the beginning of the month, Caleb celebrated his first baptism and we welcomed four new members to “The Church.”  What an exciting Sunday!  That evening at the prayer class I’ve been teaching, I had a hard time focusing our discussions because so much joy was spilling over from the mornings activities.  [smile]  “The Church” is slowly growing and we are blessed to bear witness.  This was my first full month in my new job with Appalachia Service Project and essentially I spent the whole month establishing and living into new routines.  Since October 1st, I have made trips back to each of the centers in Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, and West Virginia.  I have loved discovering how I am being called to be present for these young adults who are serving in these centers.

Life is too short to be gone from home more than a few nights a week.
Life is too short not to take a nap when you need one.
Life is too short to care whether purses match shoes or towels match bathrooms.
Life is too short to stay indoors when the trees turn color in fall, when it snows, or when the spring blossoms come out.

October was too short.  The most brilliant transformation during the month happened to the mountains.  Slowly the greens of summer have been replaced by the yellows, reds, deep purples, and oranges of fall.  It’s really been quite a spectacular show!  We’ve tried to be intentional about using down time to take in the colors as much as possible.  We’ve taken long drives, biked the Creeper, and spent mornings just sitting by the great floor to ceiling window in our living room.

Life is too short to miss the call to worship on a Sunday morning.
Life is too short for bedspreads that are too fancy to sleep under.
Life is too short to work in a room without windows.
Life is too short to put off Bible study.
Life is too short to put off improving our relationships with the people we live with.

October was too short, but I don’t feel like we’ve let it pass by without taking in the fullness of this very special month.  So I didn’t write about it all until now… at least I have the memory of having lived this October in a way that I can happily proclaim with orphan Ann-(with an)-e Shirley that “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers!”

-Margaret

*Poem by Doris Longacre, the author of the Mennonite cookbook More with Less and the book Living More with Less.

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Celebrating with “The Nine”

Oh I am so pumped for Saturday!  Bummed that we are leaving my in-laws house and bummed about another day that involves so much driving, but pumped because tomorrow afternoon and evening I get to hang out with my girls.  Not everyone will be there in person, but if I know anything about gatherings with “The Nine” I’m sure everyone will be there in spirit and we’ll try to phone anyone in that is available.  [smile]

It is amazing to think that I’ve been celebrating the milestones of life for the last 11 years!  That’s over a third of my life that I’ve been journeying along with them.  Over the next 14 months we will all be celebrating the big 30!  It seems so impossible to finally be turning the age that we all thought was so far away when we met each other as 18 year olds.  [smile]  Blair our resident craft-loving theologian has us all picking out photos of us from college, our childhood, and the last year for a project she’s compiling to celebrate.  I’m sure that whatever it is it will be excellent.  She is so creative.

So a bit of our time on tomorrow will be given over to celebrating our 30th birthdays, but the majority of our time will be spent celebrating our Megs who will be marrying her firefighter fiance in October.  Celebrations for weddings began before we had even graduated from college.  Katie was married the summer after our junior year and sometime during the spring semester we had our first bachelorette/bridal lingerie shower.  We laugh about that first shower now because we really had no idea what we were doing picking out lingerie for her.  The gifts ranged from cute pajama pants and t-shirts to that crazy fruit roll up-esque edible underwear.  [smile]

Oh 11 years together means we share so many wonderful memories!  We gather now on the pretense that we are celebrating someone, but really I think what binds us together is that at every gathering we celebrate us.  I love us.  About a month ago, Jane Marie forwarded to the group email address we share an email she had received from her mother which included a meditation written by Kimberly Broerman, a spiritual director in Atlanta.  The meditation sums up so well how we all feel about our circle of friends.  She writes:

It started in college. At first, we called it a Bible study, because we wanted to be together in an intentionally spiritual way. But as the seven of us met together, week after week, and shared our real flesh-and-blood hopes and hungers and hurts, the real text became the stories of our lives. We read and learned each other with great affection and interest, and with increasing care and compassion. We renamed our group “Group” (I know, clever, right?) and we met together faithfully every week until we graduated. No matter what was going on in my life, I knew there were six girlfriends who had my back, and I could come bare my soul and be held in their care without judgment. And I became as invested in their wholeness and well-being, bearing their joys and sorrows as if they were my own.

It was delightful and transforming to know and be known, to love and be loved in such an intimate and complete way. I expressed my affection frequently and enthusiastically, exclaiming “I love us!” I didn’t just love them, or love the me I was with them; I loved us all together.

Hope you have as much to celebrate this weekend and have a great circle of friends to celebrate with.

-Margaret

 

 

Guest Musings: Jane-Marie

One of the things I love about the blogs I follow is that every once and a while they feature a guest blogger.  In fact, I started following Rachel from “6512 and growing” after reading her guest post on Kelle’s “Enjoying the Small Things.” I love how you can be introduced to something new by a chance essay from another perspective.  So I’ve decided to add an occasional series of “Guest Musings” just to add a few different perspectives to my site with the hopes that you find something new that perhaps inspires you.

My first “Guest Musing” features my best friend, college roommate, and maid of honor Jane-Marie.  Jane-Marie, who is originally a Georgia peach like me, writes from her home in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she is a PhD student in Applied Psychology at Heriot Watt University and researches online social media engagement.  You can learn more about her research on her website, researchaboutsocialmedia.com/.  She is also the webmaster of Journey Towards Recovery, a blog that seeks “to provide an open and inviting space for individuals to speak out about mental illness, share their own personal stories, and in doing so help fight stigma and inform the public.”  Hope you enjoy her post below.

Margaret

Hi all,  I’m Jane-Marie, Margaret’s former college roommate and BFF. I was elated when she asked me to guest post for her new blog and will try not to disappoint.

I miss my dog.  Seven years ago when I was straight out of college, living on my own with my first big girl job, I adopted Charlie Brown from a rescue shelter.

Jane-Marie and Charlie

Jane-Marie and Charlie

Charlie and I became fast friends. He is the most affectionate, sweetest doggie and I love him to bits. Little did I know that my life was soon about to change. I got awarded a scholarship to study in England and before I knew it I was off to the motherland.

But what about Charlie? Well, my mom and dad gratefully said they would take care of Charlie for a year. But my year abroad turned into a postgraduate work visa which then turned into a PhD studentship in Scotland. Since my stay in the UK has become more permanent my mom and I talked about the possibility of me bringing Charlie over. But, the pet rules are strict and include a 6 month incubation period. That paired with the long plane ride is just too much for sensitive Charlie. Plus, Charlie has become best buds with Checkers (my parent’s dog).  I wouldn’t want to separate them. Not to mention that now my mom claims Charlie as her own. 😦

Charlie and Checkers

Charlie and Checkers

So, since Charlie is no longer an option, I’ve now started hassling my boyfriend Ian about getting a dog. Luckily, I think I have found a way in. He loves mountain biking and really wants a ‘trail dog.’ So, we’ve scoured the internet and found the perfect fit.

Jane-Marie and Ian's dream dog-- a vizsla!

Jane-Marie and Ian’s dream dog– a vizsla!

A Hungarian Vizsla.  Aren’t they gorgeous! They love to run and be outdoors plus they are very affectionate and loving as well. Perfect! I’m so obsessed that I’ve even named our hopefully soon to be companion- Autumn. But, unfortunately Ian and I don’t live in the same city and sometimes he has to go out of town for his job so it doesn’t look like I am going to own a dog any time soon.

In the meantime I will just keep asking to pet cute dogs on the street and search the internet for my perfect match.

-Jane Marie

Growing in Gratitude: Friendship

Growing in Gratitude:  A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”
The psalmist wrote, “Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved all peoples of the earth!  Serve the Lord with a glad heart!  Join hands in the great Dance of Life!” (from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying).  Join me in this dance each Monday as I practice
giving thanks for things big, small, tangible, and intangible.  Feel free to count your blessings in the comments.

I’d like to introduce you to my friends.  My precious girlfriends from whom I’ve learned so much about life and giving thanks– Amber, Blair, Courtney, Jane-Marie, Katie, Laura, Meghan, and Noelle.

8 of The 9 at our wedding in October

Eight (including me) of The Nine at our wedding

We met in college and as freshmen began a weekly bible study together.  We stuck with each other through the ups and downs of all four years of undergrad and came out on the other side of graduation closer than any group of friends I have ever had.  We call ourselves “The Nine” because well when we graduated there were 9 of us left of the original bible study.  Now after multiple weddings, a number of fiances and boyfriends, and most joyously 4 births (with 1 more on the way in September) we number much more than 9 when we get together, but who’s counting.  [smile]

Amber, who rounds out our number!

Dr. Amber who rounds out our number!

With their powerful witnesses of love and their challenges to think about things in new ways, these girls have helped shape me.  In fact the idea of this weekly series, “Growing in Gratitude,” comes in part from them.  Over the years as we’ve tried to figure out ways of staying in touch we’ve developed this ritual of naming 5 things we are thankful.  When we started out these lists were emailed weekly, but as life has gotten more complicated we scaled back to once or twice a month.  Still receiving these lists over the years has been such a blessing.  In many ways, these grateful lists carry the story of our lives.  Graduations, new jobs, engagements, and pregnancies have all been announced on these lists.  Smaller triumphs and everyday joys have also been named.  Often at the end of speaking words of gratitude, we have shared requests for prayers for peace in decisions that are being made or prayers of healing for family, friends, and ourselves.

By cultivating a ritual of naming both our joys and concerns aloud (in print), we have found a way to remain connected despite the physical distance that separates.  In exchanging these words of gratitude, our lives have been enriched by living vicariously each other’s adventures in jobs, graduate school, marriage, and motherhood.  Together we have shared in the abundance of life.

Today I am grateful for friendship.

What are you thankful for today?

-Margaret