A Simple Gathering of Friends

If you know me, you know how much I love getting all cutsie when it comes to having a party. I loved pulling together this tennis party.

20140724-181719-65839893.jpgMy tennis team was celebrating being league champions in our area and looking forward to competing at the state level. I had so much fun pulling together the coordinating colors, Pom Pom mason jars, a team banner and tennis ball sersies. This is something I enjoy doing, but it isn’t always necessary for a “successful” gathering.

You’ve read about me feeling led to bring the women of my church together. In fact, the last time I wrote a post, I told you about two small spontaneous gatherings we had at Barnes & Noble. Well, a week or so ago, I invited the women of Hope Point to my house for an informal coffee and dessert. There was to be no agenda, just girls sipping coffee, eating some delicious dessert and chatting away.

Can I just say, that it took every fiber of my being to not do something cutsie and have the house all “perfect”? But I did it.

How many of us say we would love to host a get-together as soon as …we get a new couch or dining room table or rug? Or whatever? We have in our minds that we have to be Martha Stewart to welcome friends in our home.

I have been in people’s homes where everything is immaculate, decorations are adorable, food is amazing, but yet the welcoming comfort is not there. I almost felt afraid to sit down. And then I have friends, that I have never stepped foot in their home! Crazy! I’ve known them for years, but have never been invited in. Both of these examples are extreme, but they are real. I pray that I fall in the middle…cute, festive and warm and welcoming.

So, I sent the invitation out. (In fact, when the invitation was announced in church one Sunday morning, Superman and Thomas both looked at each other with unknowing glances, shrugged their shoulders and whispered “Mom’s having a party.”)

There was no RSVP, so I had no idea how many to expect. (A fact, which drives my type A-super organized-husband crazy.) Three women came to me to say they would like to bring a dessert, so I figured there would be at least four of us!

My flowering, potted plants had all died, so I just emptied the pots and didn’t fill them back up. (I really had to resist the urge to buy more flowers!) I used the paper plates left over from numerous previous parties, all mismatched and uncoordinated. (I was really, really stretching myself.)

I made a big urn of coffee and had a pitcher of ice cold water with lemons. No fancy drinks, just coffee and water. And guess what?

20140724-184740-67660581.jpgIt was fabulous!

20140724-184845-67725052.jpgOh my goodness! The desserts were out of this world! Susan brought two homemade chocolate pies, even though she wasn’t able to make it. Charlie made a deadly S’mores dessert with chocolate pudding cake on the bottom topped with marshmallows and Teddy Graham’s on top! Then to round us out, Joy brought a homemade Vanilla pound cake with fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream.

20140724-185302-67982107.jpgYa’ll, I think I had died and gone to heaven! I had a little….ok, maybe a lot…of everything. It was sooo good!

20140724-185407-68047758.jpgBut not as good as the women who came!

20140724-185455-68095619.jpgFriends caught up with one another and new friendships were made.

20140724-185554-68154477.jpgYoung and the little less young came.

20140724-185711-68231509.jpgWhat impressed me the most was how there were no cliques. I know…”Mary, you are adults!” But let’s get honest. Even as adults we tend to cling to those we feel the most comfortable with or who we know. But not my girls! I saw people chit, then organically move to another group to chat. See, these gals drew together because of the “Spider-Man” mugs! (Paula, on the far right, has three boys. She’s all about Spider-Man.)

20140724-205319-75199483.jpgMy word for this year is Simple. When making decisions I’ve tried to incorporate this concept of simple. It has brought me peace, time and a new view of myself. This informal gathering of friends at my house, with mismatched plates and simple offerings, created an atmosphere, I think, that was comfortable, loving and special.

Friends, I pray that the idea of a simple gathering encourages you to open your home. Sparkles are nice, but your warm smile will light up your guests’ hearts for much longer.

Thanks for dropping by,

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Coffee, Talk and few Friendships Along The Way

Sissy lent me two amazing books by Shauna Niequist.20140721-083910-31150640.jpgOh my goodness! I laughed. I cried. And I nodded my head in complete agreement. Shauna is completely transparent in sharing her life and the short chapters make you believe that you are one of the lucky ones to be a part of her story.

One of the many aspects of Shauna that resonated with me is her determination for real relationships. Sure, we wave at our neighbors when we walk by, but have we ever sat in their kitchen and had coffee? What about the small talk we have with our friends at church on our way out the door, doesn’t that count as “real”? I think Shauna would agree that both of these situations are good starting points, but don’t necessarily fill our need for true intimate friendships.

Shauna has a group of friends that meet regularly in each other’s homes. There are toys on the floor. The laundry isn’t folded. Kids are running around. But the coffee is hot. The hugs are warm. And the conversation never stops.

Ohhhhh…..my heart yearns for that intimacy with girlfriends. I’ve had it before. It is so special. But it’s been a few years and I need it again. I figured I was the only one with this need. Surely, everyone else has loads of friends, confidence and their lives are just fine. So, being a bit self-serving, I started asking around, trying to see if there was anyone else out there in need of real talk, a big heart and girl time.

Well, wouldn’t you know, every woman I asked is craving the same thing that I am…Real Relationships! A few weeks ago, I shared my heart’s change from youth leader to women’s ministry. Where’s a better place to start than with the women in my church? So, I put out an email saying that I was going to be at Barnes and Noble at 7:00 pm and hoped they could join me. I had no idea who would show up. Four of us sat down. And you know what? It was the perfect four. One mom was sending her oldest off to college and the child was acting so defiant, moody and was hard to love right now. The three others of us have had children go off to college, so we completely knew where she was coming from. From our own experience, we were able to reassure her that this was God’s way of cutting those apron strings and letting the child’s wings fly. Four women. One mom worried about her son acting so strangely. And three moms who have experienced the same thing.

The next week, I sent out the same text, Barnes and Noble at 7:00. Three of us showed up. Two of whom, I don’t think really knew each other. One mom is grappling with deep, mixed emotions with the adoption of her daughter. The child was 12 when she came home. It’s hard. It isn’t like bringing home an innocent baby. With an older child, there is so much baggage and unknowns to be worked out. Additionally having two biological children in the home, this can cause some chaos in the household. If this was me, I may even question God why He led me to do this. So here we are, three women at Barnes and Noble. Who knew that the woman sitting beside my hurting friend, was actually adopted herself at an older age. Wow! Coincidence? I don’t think so. No one else needed to be there. Just us.

As Shauna showed me, it doesn’t take a fancy invitation, just a quick email or text. The location only needs to be easy, your house-as is or a neighborhood coffee shop. And an open heart. I found that it wasn’t in the quantity of people who showed up…it was the quality.

20140721-104953-38993659.jpgThanks for dropping by!

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