What women in your life inspire/challenge you? I have three that come to mind pretty quickly. One is my friend, Lisa. I met Lisa at my church several years ago, and she and her husband, Steve, are some of our dearest friends. Lisa and Steve lost their son in a tragic accident almost 4 years ago. Lisa is one of the most authentic women I have ever known. And one of the most beautiful--inside and out. She daily grieves the loss of her son, but she has allowed Jesus to come and pick up the pieces of her shattered heart and slowly put them back together. She's pretty honest about her pain. She doesn't understand why this had to happen. She's railed against God (He can take it), but she's found solace in knowing that His heart towards her is good, and that while none of this makes sense, He works all things together for good. Her strength and her steadfast faith inspire me, as does her willingness to not completely close her heart to the pain.
Another woman who inspires and challenges me is Sallie. Like Lisa, Sallie is 100% authentic, and what you see is what you get. She is hilariously funny, but also very wise and discerning. Over the last year or so, Sallie has challenged me to let go of the guilt and pressure I *heap* onto myself, and has encouraged me to cut myself some slack (and I'm a slow learner). She has offered extraordinary grace to me on more than one occasion and has really just been a breath of fresh air. And by the way, she's married to our pastor. About two months ago, John and I went to a surprise birthday party for Sallie. Our pastor put the whole thing together (he did great!) and instead of bringing a gift, he asked everyone to come and give Sallie the gift of "sight". We were supposed to write or share some of how we see Sallie that perhaps she can't see about herself. It was a beautiful night. For almost two hours, everyone who was gathered shared aloud how she had touched their life. There wasn't a dry eye in the room either. It was a testimony to the life and light she offers to everyone around her.
And lastly, my friend Joan inspires me. I've worked with her for almost three years now at my children's school. She's the librarian, and working in the library is my weekly volunteer job. I love it, and I love her even more! Joan lives a very simple life. She loves her family and her husband. She hikes. She quilts. She reads. She takes classes to learn new things (right now she's learning Spanish). She's active in her church and when she retires this year, she and her husband hope to do some short term missionary work. She's creative. She's down to earth. She's simply amazing! Every week when I leave the library, I feel encouraged as a mom! And I feel encouraged to live more simply and to spend my time and energy on the things that really matter.
What books have changed you? One would be The Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldredge. This book was truly eye-opening to me. It challenged me to look at my relationship with God as a romance...Him pursuing and romancing me! Imagine that. It also gave me an awareness of how my past hurts (arrows and the message of those arrows) have shaped me, and it created an awareness of spiritual warfare and the role it plays in a believer's life. I went through this book and the study guide about 3 years ago with two very dear friends, and it was a season of transformation for each of us.
Another would be Confessions of an Organized Homemaker by Deniece Schofield. I've always been a neat freak, but this book helped me create systems for managing different household tasks (meals, laundry, cleaning, etc). It's helped me make time for the things I enjoy by using the time I do have more efficiently.
What is your favorite thing about blogging? Well...I started blogging as a way to journal about our family life, primarily for myself and our immediate family back in Arkansas. I loved that I could post photos and news once and not have to send individual emails to everyone. I still love that, but I also love the bloggy friends I've made. Especially the ones I've gotten to know in real life (irl). I'm looking forward to getting to meet a few of my bloggy friends irl this spring!