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Archive | friendship

A New Chapter Begins

Yesterday my parents said goodbye to friends and paid a final visit to the house they called home for almost 50 years. Today, we begin a two-journey to their new home 700 miles away.

Dad’s health took a nose-dive last summer. Three hospital stays back to back sapped his strength and he ended up in a nursing facility for extended rehab. Since mom cannot stay home alone, she joined him. This arrangement was intended to be very temporary.

Many of you know how difficult it is to watch over someone from a distance. My parents have lived in Shreveport, Louisiana their entire lives. I live in Houston (for another month anyway, but that’s another story.) My brother lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. Our goal – my brother’s and mine – was to move them to Knoxville.

Finally, after months of getting their affairs in order, the journey to Knoxville begins! The bulk of their belongings are already waiting for them in their new home, which is one mile from my brother’s home. My husband Wayne and I, Mom and Dad, two little dogs, and the last of their belongings will caravan in two cars over two days.

Knoxville or bust!


Yesterday was bittersweet. We took mom and dad back to their house for a final visit. The rooms were empty and the walls bare, but the memories were still there. Dad sat in the middle of the den and pointed out features he loved about the den they added four decades ago. Neighbors popped by to say goodbye.

It’s hard to begin again at any age. But Shreveport is the only home my parents have ever known. But they are looking forward and ready for what God has in store.

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Cupcakes, Perfection, and Connection

This guest post by Christen Price includes excerpts from her new book “Invited: Live a Life of Connection, not Perfection.” Used with permission.  

I am in a cupcake war. A battle for perfection.

Standing in the kitchen, covered in confectioner’s sugar, I had been attacked by my strawberry cupcakes. I’d volunteered to bring cupcakes to a baby shower the next day, but my recipe had turned into one big blob of pink mess.  These cupcakes just would not do.

Insecure, I allowed the frustration of failure to mess with my head, causing me to spiral into doubt. All confidence vanished. I heard a soft whisper that I am like these cupcakes…not good enough.

Instead of letting good be good enough, I want to be, have, and give the best of myself to every aspect of my life. That’s why I thought I could make these cupcakes, and that’s why I’m ended up being overly critical of myself.

Do you ever allow the pressure of perfection to cause you to melt down, especially before a celebration?

Just like me, many women desperately chase perfection. Then when we don’t capture it, our emotions take over. The passion of pursuing perfection sometimes causes us to act in ways that make us later feel shame and unworthiness, like we will never quite measure up.

Is there a better way than “perfection?”

God calls us to celebrate, be in community, and believe that connection is far better than perfection. We can spend our whole lives trying to practice hospitality perfectly, but God simply wants us to accept His invitation and extend His love to the people we cherish most. God invites us to release our perfection-induced anxieties, receive others in love, and rejoice in the moment.

Invited by Christen Price

I won the cupcake war.

The next day, I woke up and called a local bakery to order two dozen strawberry cupcakes. Arriving at the baby shower with boxed cupcakes in hand, I arranged the cupcakes on a white tiered cake stand on the dining room buffet. They were delicious, beautiful, and store-bought, but it didn’t make my contribution to the party any less.

That night, instead of feeling not good enough because I couldn’t bake cupcakes as beautiful as these store-bought cupcakes, I was able to connect with friends and watch the mother-to-be open her presents without the pressure of perfection.

Let’s stop letting perfection make us feel not good enough, especially on insignificant matters like store-bought or homemade cupcakes. God is perfect so we don’t have to be. He invites us to live free from the stress of planning, preparing, and performing perfectly and to just be in Him.  Hospitality isn’t about perfection; it’s about connection.

Now, go eat a cupcake!

InvitedIn her new book, Invited: Live a Life of Connection, Not Perfection, Bible teacher Christen Price tackles a problem that plagues many women – the unrealistic striving for perfection. She shares personal stories of her own perfection battle and gives practical advice and helps for finding a beautiful balance that embraces both hospitality and community.

Christen Price is a writer for The M.O.M. Initiative and founder of Undivided Women, an online Bible study community. With the heart of a hostess, she writes devotionals, designs party printables, and creates inspirational art in her Studio that invites women to celebrate their people, place, and purpose. Christen is married to her best friend, Raleigh, and their crew of three little ones, two dogs, and four chickens call the countryside of lower Alabama home. Connect with her at christenprice.com.

 

 

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4 Tips to Stay Connected this Summer

It is hard to stay connected with other women through the summer. Last June, I met with some of my Bible study teachers. When Megan arrived, she settled in a chair, looked at the ladies gathered around the table, and with a sigh announced, “I have missed being with women!” The rest of us felt the same and it was only the second week of summer!

Summer is a great time for families and relaxation. But the erratic schedule and unique dynamics of the season sure puts a strain on women’s ministry and women’s relationships with each other.

stay connected

Whether you’re a women’s ministry leader trying to maintain contact with the women of your church or a busy mom who needs adult conversation, you can proactively work to stay connected through the summer months. Then when “normal” returns in September, we won’t have lost the momentum of ministry and our friendships will still be warm. And you can do it from wherever you happen to wander this summer by taking advantage of technology and social media.

Stay Connected through the Summer

Here are a few ways to continue ministry, maintain contact, and foster relationships during the summer:

  1. Bible Study – Organize or participate in an online Bible study group for summer. Use a closed Facebook group for women to share insights and ask questions anytime that works for them. (See this post for a few suggestions!)
  2. Prayer – If you are a WM leader, organize your women into small prayers groups. Assign a leader to keep things moving. They can share requests via group texts or email. If you’re an individual, message a few close friends and start your own prayer group!
  3. “Spontaneous” Fellowship – Whether you’re a women’s ministry leader or just a gal missing her friends, don’t be afraid to be spontaneous! Use your women’s ministry’s social media accounts to publicize “spontaneous” fellowship events or message a few friends. For example, plan a picnic at a local park for moms and their kids. Since families keep a super flexible summer schedule, don’t publicize the event in advance. Instead, blast social media with invitations the night before and the morning of the event. Keep it simple! Invite them to bring their kids and a sack lunch. The point is simply to get your women together.
  4. “Meet” New Friends – If you’re a women’s ministry leader, take advantage of your ministry’s social media accounts to foster relationships between the women of your church. Once or twice a week, introduce a woman and her family to the women of your church. Share a photo, hobbies, and interesting facts. The goal is to encourage the women to connect with each other and make new friends. If you’re an individual, purposefully work to expand your circle of friends. For example, make a play date with a mom and her kids who are new to your neighborhood or ask a casual acquaintance to meet for coffee.

With a small amount of effort, you can keep ministry moving and your relationships growing, all summer long!

I would love for you to share some ways that you purposefully work to stay connected with other women through the summer!

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14 Ways to Show Love to Those You Love

14 ways buttonIt’s that time of year again. People are busy deciding how they will show love to their Valentines. Sales of cards, chocolates, and flowers will go through the roof! But even for a big chocolate lover like me, those things don’t show real love.

How will you express your love? It’s easy to buy a gift and say a few words. But, the Bible’s definition of love sets the bar much higher.

The apostle John said it this way: “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18, NIV). So, if love is action, how do we love? Below are 14 ways from Scripture that you can actively show love to the people you love.

14 Ways love printable

This is printable! Click to enlarge & print!

14 Biblical Ways to Show Love

  1. Help them out of a tight spot – When Jesus attended a wedding with His mother, she asked Him to help the hosts when they ran out of wine. We may not be able to miraculously solve a problem, but God has gifted us in other ways to help. (John 2:1-11)
  2. Get them help when you can’t help them – A paralyzed man received healing from Jesus because his friends dropped him through a roof at Jesus’ feet. They were willing to do whatever it took it to get help for their friend! (Mark 2:1-12)
  3. Pray for them – The Bible is full of people praying for the ones they love. The church prayed for Peter in jail (Acts 12:5). Jesus prayed for the disciples (John 17:6-19). Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers (Ephesians1:15-23).
  4. Rebuke them when needed – Sometimes the best way we can love someone is by confronting their sinful, destructive behavior (Proverbs 27:6, Matthew18:15-17).
  5. Freely forgive offenses – Jesus eliminated the limit on forgiveness when Peter asked how many times he should forgive (Matthew 18:21-22). Some hurts seem unforgivable, but with God’s help it’s possible to “promote love” through forgiveness (Proverbs 17:9).
  6. Humbly serve them – Jesus set the example (John 13:1-17). He calls us – His followers – to also humbly and graciously serve others (Gal 5:13).
  7. Meet their physical needs – Scripture is clear. If we see a brother in need, have the means to help but don’t, our love for God should be questioned (1 John 3:17).
  8. Rejoice and mourn with them – We show deep care for others when their hurts and joys are also ours. Don’t hold back. Let the tears and the cheers flow! (1 Cor 12:25-26).
  9. Show kindness to someone they love – King David expressed his deep bond of friendship for Jonathan by caring for Jonathan’s crippled son Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9:1-13).
  10. Intercede with others on their behalf – Could your influence help a loved one? Barnabas smoothed the way for Paul with the Jerusalem church leaders (Acts 9:27-30). Paul wrote to Philemon appealing for Onesimus the runaway slave (Philemon 8-11).
  11. Help two loved ones work out their differences – Does strife exist between two people you love? Be a mediator and help them mend their relationship. Paul asked the believers in Philippi help two women in their church (Philippians 4:2-3).
  12. Introduce them to Jesus – Does a loved one desperately need to know Jesus? Share the Good News! Andrew introduced his brother Peter to Jesus (John 1:35-42).
  13. Encourage and disciple them in their relationship with Christ – The author of Hebrews tells us to “spur one another on to good works” and “encourage one another” daily (Hebrews 10:24-25).
  14. “Lay down your life!” – Seems pretty drastic, but that’s exactly how Jesus showed His love for us (John 15:12-13). The basic principle has much broader application than actual physical death. Jesus calls us to unselfishly seek put others ahead of ourselves.

Wow! Buying a card and a box of chocolates is a lot easier. But Hallmark and Hershey doesn’t say love like real love in action. Show somebody you love them today!

Who can you show love to today? How will you show it?

 

 

 

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14 Ways to Show Real Love

It’s February 13. People are busy buying gifts for their Valentines. Those tokens of love will amount to about 196 million roses, around180 million cards, and – my personal favorite – roughly 58 million pounds of chocolate. I imagine quite a few “I love you’s” will be tossed around too.

How will you express your love? It’s easy to buy a gift and say a few words. But, the Bible’s definition of love sets the bar much higher.

Valentine's Day LoveThe apostle John said it this way: “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18, NIV). So, if love is action, how do we love? Below are 14 ways from Scripture that you can actively show love to the people you love.

  1. Help them out of a tight spot – When Jesus attended a wedding with His mother, she asked Him to help the hosts when they ran out of wine. We may not be able to miraculously solve a problem, but God has gifted us in other ways to help. (John 2:1-11)
  2. Get them help when you can’t help them – A paralyzed man received healing from Jesus because his friends dropped him through a roof at Jesus’ feet. They were willing to do whatever it took it to get help for their friend! (Mark 2:1-12)
  3. Pray for them – The Bible is full of people praying for the ones they love. The church prayed for Peter in jail (Acts 12:5). Jesus prayed for the disciples (John 17:6-19). Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers (Ephesians1:15-23).
  4. Rebuke them when needed – Sometimes the best way we can love someone is by confronting their sinful, destructive behavior (Proverbs 27:6, Matthew18:15-17).
  5. Freely forgive offenses – Jesus eliminated the limit on forgiveness when Peter asked how many times he should forgive (Matthew 18:21-22). Some hurts seem unforgivable, but with God’s help it’s possible to “promote love” through forgiveness (Proverbs 17:9).
  6. Humbly serve them – Jesus set the example (John 13:1-17). He calls us – His followers – to also humbly and graciously serve others (Gal 5:13).
  7. Meet their physical needs – Scripture is clear. If we see a brother in need, have the means to help but don’t, our love for God should be questioned (1 John 3:17).
  8. Rejoice and mourn with them – We show deep care for others when their hurts and joys are also ours. Don’t hold back. Let the tears and the cheers flow! (1 Cor 12:25-26).
  9. Show kindness to someone they love – King David expressed his deep bond of friendship for Jonathan by caring for Jonathan’s crippled son Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9:1-13).
  10. Intercede with others on their behalf – Could your influence help a loved one? Barnabas smoothed the way for Paul with the Jerusalem church leaders (Acts 9:27-30). Paul wrote to Philemon appealing for Onesimus the runaway slave (Philemon 8-11).
  11. Help two loved ones work out their differences – Does strife exist between two people you love? Be a mediator and help them mend their relationship. Paul asked the believers in Philippi help two women in their church (Philippians 4:2-3).
  12. Introduce them to Jesus – Does a loved one desperately need to know Jesus? Share the Good News! Andrew introduced his brother Peter to Jesus (John 1:35-42).
  13. Encourage and disciple them in their relationship with Christ – The author of Hebrews tells us to “spur one another on to good works” and “encourage one another” daily (Hebrews 10:24-25).
  14. “Lay down your life!” – Seems pretty drastic, but that’s exactly how Jesus showed His love for us (John 15:12-13). The basic principle has much broader application than actual physical death. Jesus calls us to unselfishly seek put others ahead of ourselves.

Wow! Buying a card and a box of chocolates is a lot easier. But Hallmark and Hershey doesn’t say love like real love in action. Show somebody you love them today!

Who can you show love to today? How will you show it?

 

 

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Lost Connection in Real Life?

I witnessed something interesting and yet quite sad yesterday morning at the hospital. My husband and I sat in a surgical waiting room while Wayne’s dad received a pacemaker. We had been in the pre-op room with him until they actually wheeled him out to the operating room, but now we waited in the larger room with the family and friends of other patients.

real relationshipsWhile we waited, a young couple arrived and checked in at the desk. The husband was scheduled for surgery. They were told to sit and someone would come for them. A short time later, a nurse appeared at the double doors and called the young man’s name.

He stood up and walked toward the nurse. The wife sat. He stopped at the door, turned around, and looked her way with his hands raised at his sides, palms up. She never looked at him. Instead her eyes remained locked on the screen of her smart phone.

She could have gone in with him. She could have embraced him. She could have spoken words of comfort. But nothing.

After a few seconds the man turned and followed the nurse through the doors. His wife didn’t look up, but I clearly saw the hurt on his face.

For hours my thoughts kept returning to this scene. This young husband was headed into surgery and his wife didn’t acknowledge his departure in any way. What would cause her to behave this way, with total disregard for his needs?

My mind created numerous scenarios. Maybe they’d argued that morning or their marriage is struggling. Maybe he’s abusive or her heart is with someone else.

I guess it could have been any of these, but my gut tells me she was simply captivated by her email or Twitter. Her husband needed her attention, her compassion, her reassurance, but she was busy updating her Facebook status.

Don’t get me wrong here. I use and enjoy Facebook. And email is the primary way I send and receive information. But all of us need to remember these are merely tools to facilitate communication and relationship and not allow them to replace real relationships.

It’s sad to think this interaction – or rather, lack of interaction – is a sign of our times. Sometimes we are so absorbed with ourselves or our digital lives that we miss real moments and real relationships. Even when it’s important.

Okay, I admit, I possibly read way too much into this particular event. And she did go back to join him later on. However, this kind of distraction is not an unfamiliar sight.

Our culture perpetuates superficial connections. Social media gives us thousands of “friendships” with people we really don’t know and to be honest, mostly don’t care about. No wonder we’re producing self-focused people with few real relationships. Unfortunately, this mind-set also affects our relationship with God and His people.

What we fail to realize is that we need each other for so much more than dozens of likes and a few comments on our status update. God created us for community with Himself and other believers. We cannot be everything God wants us to be outside of a vital connection to His people (Ephesians 4:10-13).

I’ve been guilty of this. I’m challenging myself as much as you. I well know how easy it is to hide behind a screen. It’s neat and clean. My time is my own. I can cover most of my flaws.

But real life can get messy. And honest. And wonderful.

So, here’s my challenge for you and for me. Let’s commit to fostering and forging real community in real life. To love others and allow them to love us. To do life together without any screens in between.

How can you purposefully work to build relationships in real life? What can you do differently than you do now?

 

 

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Pumpkin Soup and Soul Talk

My husband does not like my Pumpkin Soup. I really think it’s because it doesn’t have any meat in it. And it’s orange.

However, women love it! Go figure.

So, I have decided this Pumpkin Soup is my friendship soup. I make it to share with girl friends. Those times when it’s just the girls. When we sit and chat. Sometimes it’s just fun and laughter. Sometimes it’s deeper soul talk. But it’s always good. The talk. And the Soup.

pumpkin soup, friendsI’m sharing the recipe with you today. I’m also giving you a little nudge. Get the ingredients. Make the soup. Invite a friend or two to lunch. Eat. Laugh. Chat about your day. Talk about the things of God. Enjoy.

PUMPKIN SOUP

2 TBL butter
½ cup chopped onion
2 cup chicken stock
1 large potato, peeled and diced
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1/8 tsp thyme
14 oz canned pumpkin
2 cup milk
Cayenne pepper to taste

Saute onion in butter in large saucepan until clear and soft, but not brown. Add chicken stock, potato, salt, pepper and thyme. Bring to a boil. Simmer gently to cook potato. Cool a bit, then run mixture through a blender or food process to smooth. Return to saucepan. Stir in pumpkin and milk. Heat through. Season with cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper to taste. Thin with additional milk if necessary. Makes about 6 cups.

I would love to hear how it turns out. The soup and the soul talk!

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