Women Encouraging Women, an I Love My Shepherd Mission Trip

We need each other.

It’s a fact. It’s a reality. God created us for this life together. We could try to go it alone, but we quickly find out it’s miserable, hard, and more than a little sad. We need encouragers, cheerleaders, listeners, insight givers, discerners, and people who love us, just for being us.

It’s time to put that belief into action in a way that I Love My Shepherd hasn’t done before.

It’s time to go.

There are women next door who need encouragement and there are women across the globe who need encouragement. I proposed lemonade parties for our neighbors. Now I’m proposing we take it wider.

I would like to invite each of you to join my friend Sue and me for the Women Encouraging Women Mission Trip to Haiti, January 18-25, 2018. We’re partnering with Ministry in Mission to join together to step outside our normal lives and learn from someone else’s.

The poverty in Haiti is world famous. Life in Haiti is far less privileged than ours and many women and families work hard just to survive day-to-day. Haiti is also so much more. Its people are heartfelt, creative, and beautiful. Opportunities like this help us to look outside of what we know and understand from our tiny corner of the earth and see through another precious child of God’s.

We are looking for women to come with us, to encourage women just like yourself, to spend time crafting with village women, to visit elderly women, and to do Bible study with local young women and mamas there.

The primary purpose of this trip is relationship, encouragement.

We won’t be getting anything done beyond that – the needed gift of encouragement – one woman to another.

The cost is $1600 for airfare, lodging, and food. You can find all kinds of details and contact information for questions in this handy PDF –
Women Encouraging Women 2018
I hope you’ll prayerfully consider joining us in the journey. Sometimes it’s not the right season or God’s answer is not right now. Sometimes His answer is- “Let’s do this.”
Let’s go be those hands and feet of the Gospel, in our neighborhoods and across the sea.

Friendship and lemonade parties

This afternoon I sat in my back yard with my feet in a baby pool. It was awesome and it was long overdue.

Most people who know us, know that we love adventure and travel. We love food and culture, whether it’s found across an ocean, or in a small town in Wisconsin. We love it most of all for the people, for the faces across the country, and across the globe that we know and love, and that we have yet to meet and already love.

Our kids are adventurous creatures too. Most of the time when we say the word new, they say, “Let’s try it.” (Most of the time…)

So, we run around. A lot. We drive around. A lot.

But somewhere, deep down, I believe that summer should be quieter than the rest of the year; gentler, less scheduled, less full.

I often have to work to subscribe to the very things I hold dear. Rest is at the top of that list. Time for friendship is another.

So, after a solid couple of months of travel, I’m going to make time for those two things in particular – rest and friendship – and I want to invite you to join me.

There are few things that say summer and lazy days like lemonade. There is very little in life more inviting than something homemade with love.

I’m issuing a challenge for myself and for each of you. Invite a friend over. Be lazy about the conversation. Be generous with the refreshing beverages. Put your feet in a baby pool. Swelter in the heat on the front porch or play cards around the kitchen table. Whatever you do:

Invite one friend over. Invite one friend into your life deeper.

Don’t make a plan. Don’t design a project to organize yourself around (oh my goodness, but do I love a project!). Just rest, relax, and refresh together.

Here are my three favorite recipes for lemonade, one may or may not be margaritas. 😉  Consider yourself challenged. Invite one friend over. Serve them a beverage, one of these, or of the variety that comes bottled and ready from the grocery store. No judgment.

One friend. That’s your goal:

Friendship and lemonade.

Recipes for Fun 

Fresh lavender lemonade –

I still use my favorite homemade lemonade recipe I learned in 4H when I was 8 years old, and simply add lavender from my herb garden:

Dissolve 1 cup sugar in 8 cups water over low heat on the stovetop. To make it lavender-y, add 5-10 sprigs of lavender. Cool, strain out the lavender pieces, and add 1 cup of lemon juice. Ta-da!

Cherry limeade –

Drive to Sonic.

No, I’m just joking. But wow. They know how to do it!

I turn to the Pioneer Woman for this recipe:

Pioneer Woman’s Cherry Limeade Recipe

And…Homemade Margaritas –

A few years ago, after a February trip to Mexico, I spent an entire summer trying to perfect the homemade margarita. It feels like the quintessence of adulting hospitality on a hot summer night. Our friends suffered through many pale attempts, until I found my favorite combination and I haven’t deviated since. They are best served in a pitcher, watching the Ohio sun set, over expanses of knee-high corn:

Combine 1 cup Triple Sec, 1 cup tequila, 2/3-3/4 cup lime juice, and a splash of lemon juice. Serve over ice. Add salt to the rim, if that’s your thing.

Friendship and lemonade – Let’s make this happen.



Tending Friendship: Judgement and Hot Dogs

“Thank you for not judging me for eating a second hot dog.”

We recently met up with a friend at Coors Field for a fun night of baseball. Behind me sat two women, also enjoying the fine May weather and a win for the home team. I spent most of the night passing out snacks, because that’s what I do, as a mom. And it was stadium food after all – yum, just yum.

These women behind us knew that baseball and stadium snacks went hand-in-hand. But this one phrase caught my attention above others. It was sweet and it was tender, an expression of genuine gratitude between two young women, living in a world full of judgement and condemnation.

“Thank you for not judging me…”

Her friend was struck by the phrase too.

“I like hot dogs,” was her simple response, with a shrug of the shoulders.

It was the words left unspoken which spoke grace to her friend.

Why would I judge you? Who cares if you want two hot dogs? Even if I thought hot dogs were disgusting, it’s your life and you can eat hot dogs if you want- loads of them. Because I love you. I don’t love you because you only eat one hot dog. I think I love you more because you ate two.

This is tending friendship with non-judgement.

So often we haphazardly apply judgement because someone’s choice is different than our own-

“I wouldn’t do that.”

“I wouldn’t eat that.”

“I wouldn’t say that.”

Of course you wouldn’t. That’s fine. I don’t eat fresh tomatoes. I don’t drive the speed limit. I don’t always make my kids pick up after themselves.

You probably do. That’s awesome, because you’re not me and I’m not you.

Friendship is where lives meet and we say “Me too!”

That same friendship is tended when we continue to meet and say, “I’m so glad we’re different!”

Our best peeps are the people who understand who we are, but also help us to be better versions of ourselves with the help of their unique insights and ideas.

This cannot happen in the midst of judgement.

We get enough of that. We scroll through Facebook or Instagram and see all the opinions people have and the ways they live differently than we do. We go to work and hear how we should do things differently. We look at our kids and pray they turn out ok, even when we make all of our finest mistakes on them.

Judgement is all around us and judgement just is. It exists. But it doesn’t have to seep in to friendship.

Friendship is a safe place. It’s a place to be honored and cared for, and to honor and care alongside. Friend is in fact one of the highest honors we can bestow on someone because it shows us that we are chosen and loved.

God chose us through His Son, Jesus Christ; despite our weirdness and despite our sins. Creating us was an act of love from our Father, but the Son chose us as friends on that cross.

Christ freed us from judgement and tells us that it is finished. If our own judgement is completely righteous in Christ, than why would our friendships be any different.

So today, grab a good friend. Sit around and laugh about what you have in common and what you see differently. Eat two hot dogs. Drink something festive, and tend to that friendship with grace – judgement free.

Tending friendship with my peeps. 😍