Monday, February 2, 2015

Ladies' Speed Friending

Ladies need other ladies.  It's a fact.  We are just social beings in need of connections.  It's how God wired us and it's good.  But sometimes, even in a church full of lovely women, we can feel lonely. 

It was mulling over this feeling of loneliness and non-connectedness that led me and two of my most beloved womenfolk (MIL (mother-in-law) and SIL (sister-in-law), to be exact), to brainstorm how to battle this feeling within the church, specifically, our church.  We wanted an event that could bring women together and allow them to get to know each other individually and feel personally connected to many other women in the church.  It was a tall order.

My SIL basically said we needed an event that would "force" (in a nice way ;) women to talk to each other so they wouldn't just gravitate to their own friend groups per usual.  Something to make people talk to each other one-on-one.

My mind grapes were a'brewing.  And, then it hit me ...

Speed dating!

After the initial laugh from my MIL and SIL they thought a bit more.  It could work!  But it would be called ... Speed Friending.  And then my SIL came up with the best title for this never before done event ... New Year, New Friends: Ladies' Speed Friending.  


Well, I'm happy to say we hosted (hostessded?) this event a couple weekends ago.  And I'm even happier to tell you it went swimmingly (we seriously weren't sure if it would haha!).  So swimmingly, in fact, that many people have inquired how to host this event at their own church.  So here it is, the how-to (I'll just explain what we did and you can adjust according to your group and setting):
On one half of the room, set up chairs in a circle. You need one less chair than people (kind of like musical chairs). So if you have 30 ladies, only setup 29 chairs.
On the other half, setup one on one tables. Number the tables 1 through (?) however many you need. In the center of each table, place a fishbowl (something people can stick their hands into) with slips of paper (conversation questions all cut up). We purchased the fishbowls at the Dollar Store.
We also had a welcome table setup with sticky blank name tags and a sheet for people to write their name and phone number, which we gave out at the end of the night.
We also had a snack table (we asked all who came to bring an hors d'oeuvre to share), and an area for hot and cold drinks. I just asked our ministry team to not bring a snack but a drink instead.
Flow of Events:
We started the event at around 7:15. We played the first game for about 30 min. Then we broke for snacks for another 30 min. Then we did the speed friending, which took about 45. When that was over we invited people to stay and chat or leave if they needed to.
This was the first game, the one with the circle of chairs. Everyone takes a seat with one lady standing in the middle. She makes a statement like ... "Anyone who wears contacts!" If you wear contacts then you must get up and switch chairs. You may not sit in the chair next to you, it has to be at least 2 chairs away. Eventually, after everyone scrambles for a new chair, there will be one woman standing. She's "it" and has to think of a new description.
These descriptions can be thought of randomly but to help people out, we had a white board with several question suggestions on there.
In the event that a person can't think of something, the can shout "Mutiny!" and the whole circle must find a new chair.
Speed Friending:
Everyone sits down at a table, one-on-one. The hostess starts a timer and you get two minutes to talk to the person in front of you. You can use the questions in the fishbowl as startup conversation pieces, but we encouraged women to not try to fly through the questions but to use them as jumping off points. At the end of two minutes, those facing the back wall switched to the next consecutive table and the others stayed seated. This continues until you're back with the person you started with.
There is one slight problem with this that we didn't foresee until that night - since half the group moves and half the group stays put, those within each group never get to talk to one another. No one seemed to mind though and it just made us think we need another event like this!!

So there you have it: Ladies' Speed Friending.  I hope it proves to be a wonderful night of connecting with the women in your sphere of acquaintance.  And please stop back here and let me know how it goes!!  

What do you think?  Does this sound like something you'd enjoy?  What questions might you ask?  Have you ever gone actual speed dating?  

ps ... if you email me I would be happy to send you the questions we used!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Happy New Year! and 2014 Recap

Oh my goodness I can't believe it's 2015!  Happy New Year, folks!  (it's not too late to say that, right?!).  2014 was such an amazing year, I just wanted to share a bit of what happened, all in one post.  This one is long, but there are lots of pics.  So it should be fun :)

In January Josh passed his state board exam to officially become ... a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.  Yay!  Two and a half years in the making, this was such an accomplishment for him and a sigh of relief for all of us.

At the end of the month, we spent about a week down in FL visiting family and Mickey Mouse.

In February we found out our little belly baby was a girl!

And we added another member to the family, of the four-wheeled type.

In March Josh started his new job.  Micah and I took a trip to PA to visit family and celebrate my dad's birthday.

At the end of May we celebrated the upcoming arrival of my first nephew.  Fun times, good memories.

Eli on the left ... Jocelyn on the right.

At the end of June our sweet Jocelyn Evie arrived.  She was 8 lb. 8 oz., just as the midwife predicted!  To say she is a blessing would be a huge understatement.  She is light and sweetness and love personified.

Here we are on July 4th.  Sleep deprived but happy.

On July 22 we celebrated 8 years of marriage.  Crazy.  With a 3 week old though, we decided to forego the traditional PF Chang's celebratory dinner and made fondue at home instead.  Still a good time.

In August Micah started PreK 3 at a local Christian school.  It has been so great for him and I am so thankful the Lord led us to that school.

At the end of August my little sister started her first teaching job - 3rd grade at a local elementary school.  So strange for me to see her all grown up.  Last time I checked she still wasn't allowed to use the oven by herself ...

In mid-September my brother-in-law and sister-in-law welcomed their firstborn, Eli Oliver, into the world.  It's been so fun having two babies in the family!

At the end of October, Josh turned 29.  He requested funfetti cake, as always.

Happy Birthday to his Royal Beardness

November 8th we celebrated Evie's second birthday with cupcakes.  I boxed some up to share with family and close friends.  It was simple, special, and sweet.

Thanksgiving was great as we looked back over to the previous Thanksgiving.  Last November we were right on the edge of an ending (a hard 2013, Josh's schooling being over), and looking forward to what we anticipated would be a really great year (new baby, new job).  We had a lot to be thankful for and our hearts were full.

December wasn't quite as crazy as last year, but still pretty busy.  I think I'll just need to surrender to the fact that Decembers will always be nuts haha.

We took a trip to PA to visit family - sort of a Christmassy trip.  It was so nice to see everyone again and let them meet Joci.

Joci loving on Aunt Ruth

A week later I turned 29 (eek!).  Last lap of my twenties people!   Anyway, we celebrated by going to the graduation dinner for the current graduating class of Josh's alma mater (he's now adjunct faculty there).  It was really nice to sit at the, as one student jokingly called it, the "been there, done that" table.  Haha.  It definitely felt good!  The next night Josh took me to Carrabba's.  If you have never been, go there.  Now.  And order the Pasta Carrabba.  You will not be sad that you did that.

About a week later my brother-in-law (the one who just had a baby), graduated from the Police Academy.  We are so proud of him.

The next day, Micah turned 4.  Oh my goodness my sweet big guy.  I love him so much.

The day after that was my brother-in-law's Police Academy graduation party.  Good food and good celebrating a good man.

Then it was Christmas.

And we always have two days of celebrating because we have two families here in the area.  I don't mind ... two days of feasting, two days of gifting, two days of good times.  Not too shabby.

And 2014 ended with a great night of being with those we love and looking forward to all that 2015 has to offer.  Lord willing, it will be another great year.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Two Years and One Rainbow Later

If she were still living and breathing, today would be the day of Evie's second birthday celebration.  Odds are high that her birthday party would be Frozen-themed and that we would all know the lyrics to "Let it Go" instead of just, "let it go, let it go, la da dum dum dee dee doo-ooh ..." (BTW, if you've never heard this version of the song, treat yourself.  Holy singing tweens, Batman).

But she's not here.  She is somewhere different and better, I'm told.  Although some days it still feels like being here with me would be best.  I don't know.  Losing a child is hard.

I went a-pinteresting for Frozen birthday cupcake ideas and it just didn't feel right.  But I found this.  And it seemed perfect.

So I'll be making pink and gold cupcakes to eat for dessert after dinner tonight.  Josh suggested a bigger celebration, almost a birthday party.  But I think cupcakes with my little family after dinner is about all I can handle still. 

Two years and one rainbow later I am happy to say I don't live in grief.  I am happy to say I don't dwell as often as I once did or cry as often as I once did.  The Lord has brought healing in so many ways.

But in so many ways I am still healing.  I watch my living son and daughter interact and play and always think, there should be another.  I wonder how she would have loved her baby sister or played with her big brother.  I imagine a little girl, her hair white-blonde and wispy, toddling after Micah with a babydoll in one hand and a laser gun in the other, yelling for him to wait up!  

And I'm surprised how raw my heart feels sometimes and how quickly the tears comes.  Recently I was dusting my bookshelf and Micah spotted a book, Ladybug Girl and her Mama, a gift from a friend for Evie's first birthday.  

"What's this mommy?"

I explained how it was a gift from my friend for Evie's birthday last year.  And I asked if he remembered baby Evie.

"Uh-huh.  She's with Jesus now.  I wish she were still here."

Tears immediately sprang into my eyes.  You know what I wanted to say - how deeply I wished the same thing.  But no words came.  But he said exactly what I feel always.

Just one little reminder - a date, a smell, a memory - takes me right back.  Immediately back to the news, the waiting rooms, the doctors visits, the hospital, the room, the hallway, the car, the grave, all in one instant.  These are hard things to carry.  Painful things.

Two years and one rainbow later I am thankful.  Thankful for memories of my first daughter, thankful for the beautiful pictures we have, thankful that her soul is forever linked to mine, thankful for the promise of Heaven and hugs forever.  Thankful for my spunky almost four-year-old boy and the smiliest baby girl I ever did see.  Thankful.

Two years and one rainbow later I still grieve.  Over the things I will never know about my sweet girl.  Over the flashbacks.  Over the void of her presence.  Grief.

Two years and one rainbow later I am still a mix of emotions.  I am still healing.  I am still crying.  I am still remembering.  I am still laughing and living and loving.  

I am here, she is there.  The Lord loves us and has purpose for us both.  And one sweet day we will celebrate an eternity of birthdays together, sparkly cupcakes and all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

31 Days of Issues {Day 22}: A Secure Woman

This is one of my absolute favorite parts of the book thus far.  Goals and lists are my greatest loves and these two paragraphs are filled to the brim with both.  The practicality of the words below make me feel empowered to live my life free of insecurity, just as the Lord intended.  

from page 107:

Secure women know their strengths and aren't afraid to own them.  They also know their weaknesses and aren't scared by them.  Secure women can easily admit when they are wrong but don't beat themselves up about it.  Secure women take risks.  Secure women fail but try again.  Secure women can be vulnerable with their friends.  Secure women don't have to know all the answers.  Secure women can say no.  Secure women believe that love multiplies and that they can give lavish love and affection away because there will always be an abundance for them.

Truly secure women find their worth and their strength in Christ.  They give up on the empty promise of worldly security, and in doing so, they find the deep love of true life that Jesus offers.  Secure women are beautiful, powerful women because of their deep ability to love - not because they do it perfectly, but because they are loved by a perfect God, who will, "equip you with all you need for doing His will" (Hebrews 13:21).

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

31 Days of Issues {Day 15}: Issues and Infant Loss

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  One in four women in the U.S. has experienced the loss of a pregnancy or infant.  One in four, 25%.  That's quite a statistic.

I'd like to take some time to put a bit of a different spin on PAIL (pregnancy and infant loss), and speak to how profoundly this loss can change a mother.  Specifically, how it changed me in these six "issues" areas.  

The almost twelve months following Evie's death were a struggle.  A serious struggle.  Up was down, black was white, here was there.  I was completely out of sorts.  Life made no sense.  And any progress I had made on the staircase of life, whether spiritually or otherwise, was lost.  I was knocked down to the basement.  Except this time my arms and legs were broken.  And my motivation was shot.

Slowly but surely over that year I started to heal, to relearn myself and the world and how to once again relate to others around me.  But it took a year.  And a new pregnancy. 

Truthfully, I think I am still healing in some areas.  Here's a little glimpse into my heart the year following Evie's death.


The first thing that comes to mind was my need to control my environment.  I needed to be careful who I was around and for how long and what we talked about because I had no idea when the waterworks would start or when my still healing heart would just need to "check out".  And so I spent many days just alone with my little man because then I could control the factors of my day a bit better.

I am happy to be a living, breathing testament of God's restoration in this area.  I am much more social and able to interact with others less tentatively.  I still have my days, but it's not the same as it had once been.


About my body.  Here I was, toting around 20 extra pounds of baby weight with no motivation to get rid of it.  I mean, I wanted it gone, but if running the vacuum was hard, you'd better believe running on the treadmill was out of the question.  Not to mention I had that baby weight but no visible baby.  At times I just wanted to scream, After my son I lost all the weight and got back into my size 6 jeans ... this time my baby died.  She died!  And it has been hard to do anything ... 

I'm still working on this one.  I have been working hard to get my weight down, but I am still feeling the consequence of baby weight from Evie.  Dwelling on it brings me down so I just try to remind myself that I am trying my best and leave it at that.  


To what I used to be able to do.  I had to remind myself that I was grieving and healing.  I needed to be patient with myself and let my heart become whole again.  It wasn't easy, but it was a good lesson.


Um, hello.  Yeah.  The question is, what didn't I fear?  Losing another baby, losing Micah, losing my husband, not being able to have another baby, of being misunderstood, that Evie would be forgotten, and the list goes on.  Fear has long been my pet issue and it is a continual struggle.  And most of the reason why, as evidenced by my Netflix instant queue, I am a pre-teen girl with a penchant for Lindsay Lohan tween dramas.  And the Office.  And, let's be real, Phineas and Ferb.  Gotta keep things light.

This really is a daily battle and I must make a conscious effort to live in right now and not what if.  


Towards life and the general feeling of angst that was present on a daily basis.  I wanted to be "normal" again and I so wasn't.  And it didn't seem to be coming anytime soon.  I'm not proud of this, but there are telltale dents in my floors and doors that bear evidence of my anger - the need to throw something - to give my anger some sort of outlet.  I wanted to run and escape my body and my reality and was so angry that I couldn't.  

It is true that overcoming anger leads to peace.  I had to bow to the idea that in God's plan for the universe, Evie was always meant for Heaven.  Surrendering to His sovereignty was really the only way the anger stopped.  And it's not really a struggle anymore, praise God.


Toward God for doing this to me.  I had to slowly learn to trust Him again.  It's really hard to kiss the Hand that takes from you, but no longer striving is necessary for healing.

Towards people whom I felt misunderstood me.  Towards others who handled Evie's passing in their own way but, in the process, hurt me too.  I remember having a talk with one of our pastor's wives and saying, I can't believe I have to deal with people too, on top of all this!  She said she knew it was hard, so very hard, but that I still needed to be thankful.  That was foolproof advice.  Unforgiveness and thankfulness are somewhat mutually exclusive, and I found my heart sort of melting and trying to see things their way.  It was a real blessing.

There is no doubt in my mind that losing Evie changed me.  Losing her allowed me to learn some life lessons I would have otherwise missed.  While it has not been easy, I hope I am better because of it all.  

If you know someone who has lost a baby, please extend as much grace as you can.  Her heart is trying to make sense of the world again.  And it is quite a process <3 

Friday, October 10, 2014

31 Days of Issues {Day 10}: The Other Side of the Story

This week I started reading on a new issue, the issue of insecurity.  My name is written all over this one.  I always feel awkward and struggle to say, be, and do the right thing.  I never feel like I've "nailed it".  It's frustrating and it's a struggle.  I did love this quote though:

What if we began to think of our insecurities not as shameful places to hide but as opportunities to see God working in our lives?

God can certainly use insecurities and feelings of awkwardness and jumbled up words to His glory, and I am thankful for that.  And I have a really great story for you.

A very dear friend of mine is also participating in this 31 day writing challenge.  She entitled her series, 31 Days with Friends, and earlier this week she wrote about me and a time when I touched her life.  Her words are very sweet and I am humbled that the Lord used me, but I absolutely can't take credit.  You see, I know the other side of the story ...

Amy came over to my house one morning to pick up something we had borrowed.  I immediately felt badly because I knew we had kept the thing too long and oh my goodness I should have been the one returning it to her and not the other way around.  Not to mention I was working in the yard and I was sweaty and stinky.  And my child was equally sweaty and stinky and probably wearing clothes inside out or backwards or some other creative combination of the two.  So there was that.

So Amy comes over and we chit chat a bit.  I asked her how she was doing and she shared a bit of how life was pretty packed right then.  Her son was moving out and getting married soon - pretty big life changes.  I don't know why but I felt moved to pray with her.  And by moved I mean my heart started pounding fast and I got butterflies in my stomach and I didn't want to do it at all except that the Spirit was moving me.  And so pray we did.

I don't remember one word of what I said, probably because I was so self-conscious about the entire process.  And after Amy pulled out of our driveway I felt so ... awkward.  My internal dialogue went something like this:

Oh my gosh that was so awkward.  Sarah, you are sooo awkward.  And you were so close to pray with her and you stink and your breath was probably really bad.  Oh my word.  Well God, I did it.  I obeyed and there it was.  Now can You please let her forget that ever happened?

But instead of forgetting about it, Amy remembered.  And it touched her heart.  And she talked about it in Bible Study.  And then she wrote about it on her blog.  Unbelievable.

If there ever was a story of God using insecurity and weakness for His glory, this is it.  I am living proof that even when you feel like you've completely messed up and dumped awkwardsauce all over the party, God can use it.  God can work in it and through it and in spite of it.  

Amazing.  I am truly humbled.  Really, truly humbled.