The Beauty of Community

I am naturally an extrovert.
But letting people in, get close, is not easy.
My tendency is to put up walls, go it alone.
I was mercilessly teased in elementary school, and middle school.
And high school.
I was awkward and didn't know where to fit in.

And then a red-headed girl with cutoff jeans sat across from me. Stared with an intensity that bordered uncomfortable. And said, Jesus loves you.

Fast forward ten plus years of God speaking truth to me through this friend. I found myself in adulthood, blogging, and still not really building community. What does it look like? How does it start? Why am I still so awkward?

That same red-headed friend, still rocking her cut off jean shorts said, "Hey have you read this blog? Heard about this conference? Let's go!" And so we did. We drove from the East Coast to Indiana. We arrived, excited, maybe already exhausted, but definitely ready to soak it all in. And we did. The extrovert in me had a million mini conversations and I left thinking all the thoughts.

It was an incredible experience. I knew I wanted to do it again. But did I make friends? Why did I talk to so many people instead of having great conversations with a few people? Would anyone actually remember me?

The weeks and months that followed the first Influence Conference were a huge learning experience for me. I saw an amazing community of women. Women who cared about one another, poured into one another. Who truly believed in community because that is how Christ calls us to live -- in fellowship.

Community is a two way street paved with grace and prayer. 

You pray for one another, you offer grace, you are prayed for, you receive grace. With that comes encouragement, truth, and the deepening of relationships. Its less about making friends, more about loving God's people. In the last two years, my focus and attention towards community have radically changed.

I want to meet you. I want to encourage you. I want to hold your cheeks in my hands, look you square in the eyes and say, Jesus loves you, just as you are. You are enough. And I am glad you are here.

A group of us are serving as Community Leaders for the 2014 Influence Conference. We are here today because we want to share our stories. But we also want to hear from you. Share your story of community on your blog and come back to link up here. And if you don’t have a blog, we want you to come back, read, and be encouraged.


Vacation Joys

Here I am on vacation, blogging about our previous vacation. In the middle of the summer it feels like we are perpetually vacationing between our two trips with the grandparents. But the beach with these boys is complete joy. Our trip to Ocean City New Jersey this year was bookended by fevers and rain storms, but in the middle we hit the sweet spot. I just read an article about the scientific reasons being near the water makes people happier and healthier. After wading through our beach photos, I couldn't agree more. Happier and healthier, pure joy!





Our first day on the beach was filled with foot races, paddle ball, and dipping our toes in the chilly New Jersey Atlantic, digging holes, and ice cream on the beach. The air was warm and the breeze was just right. The boys took naps, snuggling with us on beach chairs. We settled into quality family time. And worked up an appetite. As dinner time drew nearer, we decided boardwalk pizza was the only answer. We brushed off the sand, changed into dry clothes and piled in the car towards Manco & Manco's pizza. After waiting in line for an eternity, a hot cheesy pie was ours. We sat right down on the boardwalk and dug in. These boys can pack away pizza and the whole pie was gone in a flash. There is something to the combination of salty air and cheesy comfort food that makes the meal fantastic.

As the air dipped cooler, we stopped for boardwalk fudge and warmer clothes before the excitement Wonderland. Behr loves carousels and this one did not disappoint. Behr also rode his first roller coaster with a huge grin and arms in the air. After he finished, he exclaimed, "That was awesome Mom!" Twenty dollars later, it was time for all of us to head to bed. It was the best kind of exhausted.





With rain in the forecast and a cloudy sky, we planned another boardwalk jaunt. This time by bike. We took the boys up and down the board walk before once again indulging in our favorite pizza. While inside the restaurant, the storm moved in. Taking cover in Jilly's Arcade, we were entertained with skee ball, 11 games for $1. Hudson was apt to throw the ball the wrong direction, studious Behr took his time, and I started hitting the 100 slot, winning a few free games and continuing the fun. After an hour, our skee ball arms were spent and we moved on to mini golf. Hudson and Behr both putted hole-in-ones before me, but my time came and we all celebrated. There was no one behind us for a while so we played each hole a few times, Hudson walking in the path of putts and Behr cleverly learning how to hit it just right to sink the ball in the hole. And then we made a trip back to the rides, because the Ferris Wheel had been at the top of conversation all week. While we waited for the Ferris Wheel to open, Behr enjoyed a few rides and even tried to accompany Hudson on one. Two times around on the jumping frogs and Hudson was hysterically screaming. We had to stop the ride and pull him off, but Behr kept going. Hudson was a bit traumatized, but rebounded for the Ferris Wheel just in time to cap our vacation.







There is that Hudson smile, just before the ride terrified him! Our vacation had its trying moments, lack of sleep, and plenty of not feeling so great. But the moments that were salvaged were pure joy. I can't imagine a better handful of memories to carry us through the winter. Now if only I could figure out how to not be such an over packer...

Ordering Stationery for Hudson

Spring rolls into Summer and before you know it you find your self with jam-packed weekends, picnics, barbecues, vacations, baptisms, and if you are anything like me, you are already feeling behind! Hudson's first birthday and baptism were at the beginning of April and I have delayed in sending out thank you notes (its really terrible how longs its been...) because I wanted to get him his own stationery. Behr has his own stationery, but I have put off Hudson's for far too long! You know how it is, second kid, mom gets busy, things slip by, my friend Courtney has a great blog series #showyourreal on the subject...

Thank goodness our fabulous friends at Tiny Prints (where we also ordered Behr's note cards) know what's up. They have a promo running that is too good to let pass.

Until July 24th (that is tomorrow!) at 8am (yes, that early), all thank you cards are 50% off by entering promo code: 0723DEAL

Up top are the options I am considering for Hudson. Which would you choose? 


Disclaimer: compensated affiliate links may be used in this post.
All opinions and product selections are my own.

Farm Share 101 - Beets

I married a man who loves beets. Early on he tried to convince me to eat beets saying, "Women need more iron." Then I had a physical in which my doctor told me I am in the very small percentage of American women who does not have an iron deficiency. Ha! Take that husband. Fast forward nearly eight years of marriage and almost that many getting an annual CSA and now I love beets. Here is what I learned that made me love beets.

My secret: DO NOT BOIL BEETS Its what our mothers did to make us hate them...(sorry mom)

Prepping Beets for Roasting:
Wash thoroughly, scrubbing off all of the dirt. If you leave dirt on the beets, you will taste it.
Cut off the greens, leaving about half an inch of "top" on the beets.
Next, peel the beets, yes before cooking. This is secret number two and comes from Ina!
Slice the beets at desired thickness, discarding the tops and bottoms.
Toss in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, the options are endless and season as desired.
Roast in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, depending on desired crispyness.
Note: even when I am trying a new roasted beet recipe, I always follow my easy prep tips, my hands stay cleaner and my beets turn out delicious every time. 


Prepping Beets for Freezing:
Several of you asked about freezing beets. Everyone in our family enjoys beets and we go through them so fast, I never have thought to freeze them. But after asking a few trusted resources, Jami's advice and technique won. I look forward to trying her approach this season. If you've had success freezing beets, I would love to know what worked for you!

Bottom line, beets can be delicious as long as they aren't dirty or mushy. 

What are your favorite recipes for beets?


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