So you can come along

A girl with stories

Advent: Trust,Wheelbarrows & Waiting December 20, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amanda Lynn @ 10:18 pm

In February this year, one of my best friends and I were gathered with women we didn’t know, a couple hours from home, in a woman’s house we didn’t know for a live stream of a conference. Women all across the United States and even across the world were all listening to the same talks and gathered praying and asking each other the same questions. “IF God is who He says He is, now what?”

Toward the end of what was an amazingly overwhelming time of learning and being challenged, we were asked what God was calling us to “fall into” that year. The illustration was to use dominoes and have each woman write what they knew God was asking them to do on the back as a visual reminder.

Some women were being asked to leave relationships and start new ones, to move jobs, launch into new ministries or leave their current ones. I knew within moments the Spirit was saying “TRUST…I want complete trust”. He could not have been more clear. I wrote it down thinking, “Of course I trust you, Lord. This seems a little out of place.” And that’s when stuff started happening.

*******

My family and I have spent more time in waiting rooms this year than any other time in my life. We have faced terrible odds and lots of “Impossible” and “Improbable” and “Never” in medical terms. My grandmother had a heart attack in August that turned things upside down for us. All that time that I thought I trusted the Lord was truly examined and laid bare. Did I?

 

His presence remained my constant. No matter how I felt or how good I was or good I wasn’t, He never changed. I learned that my grip on Him wasn’t at all what mattered. It is His grip on me that is my strength and my stay.

 

This week, my grandmother is home for Christmas and we’re still trusting Him to provide her every heartbeat as she continues to heal and our family continues to rely on His peace. In all of this, my grandfather, who has never darkened the door of a church or prayed or acknowledged Christ as Lord, arrived an hour early to a Christmas program at my home church to save seats for us all. Today, he told me he is praising the Lord for all He’s done and is praying for my dad.

 

My grandfather is praying for my dad because as of today, we were once again in a hospital waiting room. My dad’s heart has been so healthy for over a year and a half, but has gone into a dangerously irregular rhythm…again. And today, the doctors in the ER saved his life. Tomorrow they’ll do a procedure to attempt to reset the heart’s rhythm to a safe and steady one.

 

In these waiting rooms, it is never more obvious to me that I am powerless and helpless. There is nothing I can do to will breath into lungs or a steady pulse into a heart. Nothing. There is a Maker, an Author of Life, and only He can do these things. And I wait on Him.

 

 

And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath[b] to enter you, and you shall live.  And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

:: Ezekiel 37:3-6::

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;

::Psalm 130: 5::

 

 

To think that thousands of years ago, the God who made the very first human heart and breathed life into the very first human lungs, made Himself nothing and took on infantile heart and lungs. After His beloved sons and daughters chose self over His loving plan, He made Himself susceptible to disease and pain and all the fragility that our fall from grace has brought on us. He came into life with His people who were waiting…waiting on this promise…waiting on hope and deliverance.

 

Oh, come O Rod of Jesse’s stem,

From ev’ry foe deliver them
That trust your mighty pow’r to save; 
Bring them in vict’ry through the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by your drawing nigh,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

 

And He did come. In the flesh, through flesh to deliver us from our flesh. There is now nothing that can separate our King from His people. He came, not on a silent night, but a loud, dirty, crowded, desperate night made holy. He came in the midst of waiting and asks us to trust His upside down ways.

******

About a month ago, I heard a story about this amazing tightrope walker who just kept moving up the ladder on the risk factor and succeeding. Crowds of followers and thrill-seekers would go where he went to watch with bated breath as he did riskier and riskier things. He crossed over city streets at sky-scraping heights in different major cities.

For his ultimate feat, he would cross Niagara Falls. As usual, there was a crowd gathered to watch this tense and amazing adventure. The man took a poll and asked how many thought he could do it. Nearly everyone raised their hands cheering and clapping. Then he asked if they thought he could do it pushing a wheelbarrow. Almost all the same people were still cheering and applauding. He paused and smiled. And then it got real.
“Great! So which one of you wants to volunteer to ride along?” 

***Crickets***

 

This year, the Lord told me to trust Him and in February I said, “Sure I do.” Then we went higher. Then we went even higher and the stakes went up. I watched Him remain true to His indelible character of gracious power in the lives of my dearest friends. I can raise my hands and clap in those moments and profess my belief in His sovereign hand to be faithful and true.

 

As I am standing there waiting, looking out over Niagara Falls-worthy feats in my life, He pulls out the wheelbarrow and asks me to volunteer. And in all the waiting rooms and on the riskiest days, it’s only by His boundless grace and my fear of heights that I can say I got in and faced Him as he guided that sucker across that gap of the known and the unknown.  And the age-old advice absolutely holds true….

“Whatever you do, don’t look down.

Keep your eyes and your chin up, Kiddo”.

 

 

So, if you’re there with me this Advent season or this year of being one who waits and hopes and prays…Whether your feelings are involved or are numbed out. You can tell your soul, He hears. He is here. He IS and He WAS and He WILL BE.

 

 

PS

If you’re reading this before December 21st, please pray for my dad as they do all they can do get his heart beating in rhythm again. Thank you so much, dear friends!

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I See You September 1, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amanda Lynn @ 9:58 am

There are moments so weighty it feels like a crushing of spirit. There are also moments so full of hope and light that our hands seem to lift into a V all on their own as our chins tilt upward. My sweet grandmother lives that second part out and has for 75 years. When she does go through the weighty moments, she calls them valleys. The thing about valleys is that they are always between two mountains. There is always a mountain to look to…

 

I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

:: Psalm 121: 1-2 ::

Earlier this month, Patricia Keel, big sister to 4 incredibly ladies, mother to 3 aunt to 14,  great-aunt to 23, grandmother to 3, wife of 56 years and friend to countless others….had a heart attack. The Lord has given her a capacity to love like none other. He saw her and knew and so He prepared the way to healing with already having her at the hospital during the attack. She went straight into open-heart surgery and miracle after miracle has poured in. She was not supposed to live through the night, but the Lord who holds our hearts had a physician hold her’s and bring back a heart beat. She has gained strength slowly and continues to struggle for breath, but what she doesn’t struggle with is to find joy.

This wonder of a woman, can’t speak just yet due to having assisted breathing, but she mouths her words well. She compliments her Occupational Therapist’s earrings and asks about their family. She mouths “Thank you” to each of her care-takers in the ICU. She jokes about me sneaking her in a Popsicle. And as long as I can remember she has said, “I see you, Miss Mandy! And I love you more.” She mouths this to each of the 25+ family members who have come each day to the ICU to visit.

There are things I have learned about the Lord in the ICU waiting room. I would not have picked the means by which I am learning them, but I’m grateful He still speaks. I have learned that trust is not something I have or maybe ever will arrive at completely. And yet, He is always good and so worthy as He calls me higher into surrendering with open hands. See, my people are always what I hold onto the tightest. And my grandma is my people. She is the strength to others’ weakness, the “you can” to anyone’s “I can’t”, the “Sunshine girl” for my grandpa’s cloudy days and the best courage-giver you can imagine. But she’d tell you, it’s Christ in her, her Solid Rock – the God who sees us. {Genesis 16:13}

He has taught me more about how He never sleeps, so we can. About how He never leaves us, so grandma is never alone. About His hope, though her flesh may fail He is the strength of her heart…and of mine. He has taught me about community, the people He uses to be His loving hands and feet mean everything when your family doesn’t know how much strength a casserole, fervent prayers and a hug can restore.

So today, as I head to the hospital to see my grandma, and she mouths, “I see you…and I love you more”, I can know the same words are being spoken and sung over her by the Maker and Healer of our souls. He is trust-worthy. Faithful and true. He is.

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Reader, your prayers are heard and our family does covet them. Please continue to lift her up to the God who restores.

Life is easy, when you’re up on the mountain
And you’ve got peace of mind, like you’ve never known
But things change, when you’re down in the valley
Don’t lose faith, for you’re never alone

For the God on the mountain, is still God in the valley
When things go wrong, he’ll make them right
And the God of the good times, is still God in the bad times
The God of the day, is still God in the night

We talk of faith way up on the mountain
But talk comes easy, when life’s at its best
Now its down in the valley, trials and temptations
That’s where your faith is really put into the test

For the God on the mountain, is still God in the valley,
When things go wrong, he’ll make them right
And the God of the good times, is still God in the bad times
The God of the day, is still God in the night

 

Let Me Tell You ‘Bout My Best Friend June 27, 2016

Filed under: Discipleship,His truth,Marriage — Amanda Lynn @ 9:10 pm

Once upon a time, in the year 2004, two girls jumped in a church van and headed toward Miami on an old school Southern Baptist youth mission trip. These girls, 15 and 16 respectively, knew each others’ first names and that was the extent of it.

 

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Their very first picture together, prepared to board the aforementioned church van. Embrace the awkward. She’s on the far left. The other is short & rocking a youth choir t-shirt…”2 Testify”. Bless.

 

On that trip, there were many hours in the van and they forged a friendship based on similarities. What made the friendship work for 12 years and counting are their differences. They stayed friends through high school and even as one headed off to college. E is the girl in the picture below. She was dealing with things lots of teenagers have to face which happen to be far past their maturity level. In the midst of all that, she retained a contagious sense of humor and a joy.

 

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The two girls ended up at the same Southern Baptist university hating when people assumed they had picked the school based on one another. Because, ain’t nobody got the money for that kind of loosey-goosey decision-making. Anyway, it was there that their friendship was stretched and strengthened.

It was also there that E went on one of the school’s mission trips. GO Turkey 2009 was the start of something beautiful. She told her best friend (*spoiler alert* that’s me!) she was paired with this quiet guy who was “so weird” and “would be really awkward to work with.” Turns out, she fell in love with that guy and he was pretty crazy about her from the start. They married in Tennessee during the summer of 2010 when it was approximately the-surface-of-the-sun degrees outside, but they were so superbly happy they didn’t give two figs about the heat. (True story, a mosquito had landed on their officiate’s Bible so he smacked that sucker closed right in the middle of their ceremony…because West Nile.)

 

 

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SO happy!

It was a privilege to stand up in their wedding and witness their lives coming together. There is no way any of us would have been able to predict all the laughter, heartache and victories the Lord would work in and through them in the six years between that day and now. What I can say for certain is the Lord has taught me so much through watching these two lives.

They’ve shown me what it looks like to have long stretches of waiting for answers, for results and to have your faith tested by this daily grind of trusting again and again.

As a single, I get to witness a husband loving his wife straight into the heart of Jesus, pointing her toward grace and repentance because he loves Jesus even more than he loves her. He lays himself down for her in big and small ways. And not to be outdone by a boy, I also get to see a wife loving her husband just a bit less than her love for Christ as she trusts what he says about the Spirit’s leading even when the Spirit leads them into scary, dependent places.

I see a couple who have had opportunity to lose heart in the hard times, who are honest when it sometimes feels unfair. They’ve taught me that asking questions about the timing of children is a tender and sacred place which should be tread lightly upon and respected. They show me the highest calling for a man is not to be husband or father, but to be a disciple who makes disciples and that the highest calling for a woman isn’t to be a wife or mom, but to be a disciple who makes disciples. She will tell you that her husband makes her a better disciple and loves her despite and right through seasons of joy and pain. He’d say he’s no stranger to tough times and can face them with more courage by leaning on her strength.

 

When she could have had a high-paying job in any arena she chose (this girl is uber smart) she chose to serve and not be served. She teaches children in a non-traditional school, some refugees and recently adopted, because she is passionate about righting injustice and seeing marginalized people dignified. He has been working very hard to earn a degree in counseling at a prestigious seminary as he is incredibly invested in the souls of people who are hurting and needing a safe place to be heard and to hear truth.

 

When the Lord called them to live out their hearts for urban ministry, they bought the most amazing old house in a zip code suburbanites find cringe-worthy. They love the children and families of that zip code well. They get to have impromptu Jesus conversations with neighbor kids which start with the kids asking what their tattoos say because…street cred, they have it in spades 😉  #straightouttamemphis

 

If you ask me, I’m happy to tell you, these two have been and will be one of my favorite living gospel stories. They are some of my every day heroes and I couldn’t be more proud to be one of their people.

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So when in St. Louis, head a bit north and find a couple with an adorable puppy who will feed you homemade Thai food while they talk with you about the rich history of St. Louis neighborhoods, community development and ask about what you think about the refugee crisis. I can also promise you that you will leave with a laughing cramp in your side and a sense of genuine encouragement.

 

These folks are the best kind of friends.

Good friends will tell you what they know about God. Best friends will let you in on the questions they’re asking Him. Being present to those unanswered questions is an unparalleled gift as their sister in Christ.

 

messers

 

Counseling 101 March 31, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amanda Lynn @ 5:31 pm

Free of charge, here are my two cents on two years post-grad counseling. 🙂

 

It was a little under two years ago when I walked across a stage and I’m curious if that was when I became a counselor. Or was it when I got my provisional license in the mail? Or was it when I got my first job with the title “Therapist”? Or when a private practice graciously took me on? Maybe it’ll be most official when I finish supervision?

 

I couldn’t tell you when the moment was that I became a counselor. There is something I can tell you though. I have learned more from my clients than I ever did in a classroom. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some academia. There are some things though, that just can’t be learned through a textbook.

 

Something they’ve taught me is to not look away.

To look them in the eye and say nothing. To let the awkward wash over through the windows to the soul and see an image-bearer injured to the point of believing the invisibility the enemy speaks over the hurting. Jesus looked women in the eye.

 

 

They have shown me that counseling is to be present to pain you cannot fix.

A wise woman told me that we learn the most during our suffering. This is where the hard-won battles produce the most fruit. We talked about the tendency to want to “rescue” people right out of their pain when that pain might be the very thing God is redeeming their lives with.

 

 

My words will return void.

These amazing young women unknowingly remind me to keep the Word central because He’s the only Word who won’t return void. The Word will always accomplish his purpose.

 

So, two years in and I can tell you I’ve learned some about what it is to look at pain, to be present to it and to let it do its work. And to stay in the Word, to steep in it so that He overflows and saturates all the dry-brittle and broken places of a heart in need.

 

Ultimately, these last couple years have shown me my own need for a healer. If we’re honest, we know that there are wounds no human can fix. But, praise God, there is a balm in Gilead!

 

 

For the wound of the daughter of my people is my heart broken;
I mourn, and grief has taken hold on me.
Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored?

:: Jeremiah 8:21-22 ::

Sometimes I feel discouraged and think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.
There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.

 

(un)Happy Graduation Day!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amanda Lynn @ 3:54 pm
Do you know a high school senior who is ready to graduate?
So many things are on their minds as the date gets closer.
Here are a few anxiety-causing statements for them that you might not realize.
They’re hearing these often lately.
graduate
1. “What do you plan to do with your life?”
Most are struggling to figure out the present, much less the next 50-60 years. The future is looking both exciting and terrifying for them with all the unknowns.
2. “Welcome to the real world. Are you ready?”
Their world is the real world. What they hear, is that their lives so far have been easy.
3. “Just you wait….”
This impending statement is rarely followed with anything encouraging.
Instead, celebrate how much they’ve accomplished. Let them be excited to explore life as a graduate rather than expect them to have it all figured out as a teenager. Looking back, do you remember having these types of questions asked around your graduation? Try to step into their shoes for bit. They have as many or more questions about life as you do. Instead of being the fifth person that day to ask them, “What’s next?”, give them permission to be the one asking the questions

(more…)

 

Spiritual Time-outs March 17, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amanda Lynn @ 7:40 pm

There were three girls packed into an old a well-loved Honda packed down with all the clothes and kitchen supplies a girl from the deep south could own. The three of them set out to transplant that southern girl in the Pacific Northwest. Along the four-day, cross-country road trip there was a rhythm to the time. Time for music, time for storytelling, lots of laughing, time for prayer and those deep theological questions church girls are bound to ask on long trips.

 

 

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Somewhere around Middle-of-Nowhere, Montana or South Dakota, we read Psalm 130

 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
 my soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning.

::  Psalm 130:5-6 ::

 

She asked, “What do you think it means to ‘wait on the Lord’”?

There was a long pause before either of us started to answer. What does it mean?
We offered that it can mean not taking matters into our own hands but trusting that He’ll do what only He can do. Waiting for Him may be to live in a state of dependence on the Lord, waiting for Him to move. Being quiet and listening…?

She who asked is a do-er and needed more.

“But what does that look like in a practical sense, on a daily basis?”

 

Here we are quickly approaching the close of the Lenten season, the season of self-denial. In these forty days of waiting and observing the suffering that precedes the victory, there is a sense that self-denial means accepting we are flawed and needy of something or rather Someone who can save us from ourselves.

 

Rewind a few thousand years, the people of God-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, were slaves with terribly cruel taskmasters. A hundred years passed and things didn’t give, they just got worse. Two hundred years passed and they continued to grow as a people all the while their brick quota went up and up. Three hundred years and the size of the Hebrew people was terrifying to the most powerful man on earth at the time who decided to try to wipe out an entire generation of Hebrews by killing all the male babies. Another hundred years later, Exodus tells us in those first few chapters that God heard them and was preparing a deliverer.

 

Four hundred years of waiting and all the while from God’s view it was four hundred years of preparation. Those four hundred years of slaving away and groaning for rescue weren’t drowned out by the worship of Heaven. Mingled in those cries of slavery for four hundred years were the cries of a baby boy who survived. What sticks out to me is when the Word says, “Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning and God remembered the covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel and God knew.”  :: Exodus 2:23-25

 

Fast forward and the last prophet spoke the last warning to repent and believe before the sounds of Heaven touching Earth hushed into a deep silence. Four hundred years of silence. All the while, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob saw and knew. He was never far and His plan to be with His people was never off course. They waited on the Lord.

 

Back to the slaves turned newly freed people group in Exodus….their four hundred years of slavery were over. Free at last. God wanted to commune with His people and he spent forty days and nights sharing that with Moses, the baby who lived, to bring His plans to the people. They were free and had good intentions to obey and follow the God of their fathers, except their lack of faith in the plan of God landed them with forty years of wilderness traveling – a time out of world record proportions.

 

 

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Fast forward and the four hundred years of silence were punctuated by the cries of an infant boy. There was another powerful ruler who wanted to wipe out a generation of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’s people by killing all the baby boys. This one survived! This Savior of the World lived decades of ordinary life. He learned to walk, to talk, and continued to grow in the knowledge of God. He was the definition of perfect love and truth. And this culminated in him waiting on the Lord. The timing of his closest friends and followers wasn’t the Lord’s timing. At one point, we see the God of Heaven spending forty days and nights in the wilderness. This wasn’t the same type of time out the people of Israel were given, it wasn’t Jesus’ sin he was wrestling with there. It was mine…and yours.

 

*****

How much time have you spent with a toddler? Two year olds are my absolute favorite. That age where two is more like 2 and a half is where the rubber really starts to meet the road and it’s never more apparent that the most adorable child is a deeply depraved sinner.

 

That probably sounds nuts. “So you love them because their sin is obvious?” Yes and no. It’s more than that. These tiny humans are truth-tellers for sure. They sometimes tell the truths that make their moms and dads red in the face. For example, little Aden or Ava may drop a toy or bonk their heard and then let out a four letter word of which the meaning is a complete mystery to them. When asked why they chose to use a “no-no word” they look you right in the eye, unphased and say, “That’s what my daddy said when he dropped his phone” as they toddle off to find another toy. Honest. Later that same day though, Ava or Aden are found with a sprinkle mustache and are asked, “Did you eat those cookies with the sprinkles?” They look you straight in the eye, pause and say, “Nope” as they toddle off to find another toy. Depraved. And out comes the dreaded time-out chair. In my experience, these tinies come out of time-out ready for a big hug. They see it as they served their time and now it’s over and they’re ready to move on.

 

One of the reasons my love for this age group swells is because I learn so much from them. I see my own patterns of behavior in them. All too often, I put myself in a spiritual time out.
I have to wait on the Lord in His grace to reveal my sin. After the Spirit of God exposes sin so He can forgive it, I confess and then I put myself in a “time out”. Does anyone else identify with this? I need Him in the worst way and yet I think in my confession of sin that I can make myself the judge and jury to decide my own sentence. There is often this period of time following the confession of sin in which I convince myself that I need to deny myself access to God -the very source of forgiveness and grace because I’m punishing myself. I know His grace is sufficient and He has come to give me abundant life, but I convince myself I’m not worthy…yet. As if He needs a cooling off period before I approach Him again.

 

This sort of self-denial only hurts me and is full of self-righteousness. Refusing the Lord’s help and denying myself His presence is the very definition of Hell. The most terrifying thing about Hell is that it is void of the presence of God. It was never meant for me or for you, but when we make the deliberate choice to deny the rescue and presence of the Lord, He gives us over to our choice. With the ultimate sacrifice being that Christ died not only for me but also instead of me, why should I live as if, even for a second, that His presence isn’t where I belong?

 

I put distance in my relationship with Him and deem myself unworthy. Instead of offering worshiping in Spirit and in truth, I offer up a lie that I’m not able, I’m unacceptable. And the truth is that He doesn’t need me, but He wants me for sure. He wants the worship I bring. It’s as unique to me as the finger prints I leave behind on everything I touch. It’s important that you know He made a brand of worship for you. They’re ours to bring to the throne with open hands. He doesn’t need them to be complete and our refusing to bring them doesn’t make him one iota less holy. But since He is omniscient and knows you by name, by fingerprint and by worship fragrance…he knows when your offering is missing.

 

See the truth is, we’re not worthy. No amount of fasting or prayer will make us worthy. He is the only One who is worthy on behalf. And in that time where the wounds of sin are vulnerable and I am weak, I give up my only defenses of prayer and the Word when I decide that I’m not able to approach Him. It leaves me open to more attacks and without recourse.

 

The thing is, a time out, for that beloved kiddo was always in the room with a grown up just feet away. It’s not about separation as it is about giving time to think about the choice that was made…with the teacher, mom or dad RIGHT THERE to process it with them. They’re never alone. Just as the people of Israel were never alone those four hundred years, or those forty years or those other four hundred years…there was also our God who sees and knows. Our rescue and reward.

 

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

:: 1 John 1:9 ::

 

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;

he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

:: Psalm 34:18 ::

My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
:: Psalm 73:26 ::

 

 

The Anointed One suffered for sins once for all time—the righteous suffering for the unrighteous—so that He might bring us to God. Though He died in the flesh, He was made alive again through the Spirit.

:: 1 Peter 3:18 ::

 

 

We can deny ourselves rigorously for the wrong reason

and end up pleasing ourselves mightily with our self-denial.

:: Thomas Merton ::

Self denial is saying only, “He goes before us, hold fast to Him”. 

:: D. Bonhoeffer ::

 

On Brunch and a Decade February 15, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amanda Lynn @ 3:23 pm

***Disclaimer: This is full of nostalgia and mostly for my sentimental heart. Read only if you’re not bothered by such things. ***

 

The flight time is a bit longer and the direction is northwest rather than southeast, but the anticipation is the same.

That anticipation of coming home is not to a place, but to people. Ten years ago, we made a home-away-from-home out of a too tiny quaint, outdated vintage, and smelly rustic dorm room in Jackson, Tennessee (U U!). What made it home certainly wasn’t our supreme decorating skills or the fact we were there often (We weren’t). What made it a second home was in that place, we were known and loved. In the years between 2006 and now, that sense of home has been found in a lot of different places and spaces.

 

Most recently, it was found in the pacific northwest, specifically in Portland. Hunner took a job there over summer. Of course, we planned a visit. Promise brunch, and we will come.

 

 

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The clouds cleared and Mt Hood showed itself the day I got on a plane headed to St. Louis.

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Lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry compote (Just ask Jenny about those if you have an hour.)

 

Once there, we quickly and easily fall into the rhythms that come with a decade of investment. In these rhythms there is courage-giving and laughter that could substitute for crunches (or we’ll say it does). There is is a knowing of when to ask questions and when to just listen. There is a respecting of strengths and challenging of perspectives. There are many books, donuts, lots and lots of tea, and a brunch every day. On this trip, some bucket list items were collectively checked off our lists. The thing about those isn’t even so much about the experience as much as it is about who we experience them with.

 

In honor of it being our 10th year of road tripping together, it’s high time for a trip down memory lane.

These trips are intentional and we like to plan them months in advance to count down to. We have been known, though, to throw trips together in a matter of days if we need to. Here are a few we managed to document (None of us are so great at that part).

 

 

 

2006

October 2006 Missouri (Fall break at my parents’)

 

 

 

 

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August 2008 Georgia (Someone’s engaged!)

 

 

 

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June 2009 Georgia (Same someone  got married!)

 

 

There were several trips to Atlanta in those years where we spent the first part of the year together at the Passion Conference and some summer trips to visit for long weekends. And between those our time was punctuated with the type of calls you schedule. I can’t remember of life decision that they didn’t pray for and weigh out pros and cons with me on. It’s second nature, really.

 

 

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May 2012 Missouri

 

 

 

 

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January 2013 Georgia (Dome that is, for our last Passion Conference)

 

 

 

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December 2013 North Carolina (We ❤ these cabins by the river.)

 

 

 

 

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December 2014 Alabama (Our 3rd trip in 72 hours to Steal City Pops)

 

 

Although it’s cliche, it is so hard to believe it has been ten years.

 

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October 2006 Missouri

 

 

 

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January 2016 Oregon

 

 

Friendships likes these are no small gift. The Lord resides in and moves through these women and I am grateful to call them two prominent members of my board of directors. Here is to ten more years of brunch!