We Need Community

We've had several friends get married in the past few months, and lots of well wishes have been given, lots of blessings said, and lots of prayers offered up.

I haven't given very much advice, though. I mean, we've only got two years of marriage under our belts (only two years? I can't imagine life without Trevor... it feels like we've been married much, much longer.)

But if I did have advice to give- I'd say this: You need community. 

Community is kind of built in to the majority of our youth. If you're a public school kid, you've got automatic friends in your grade or your classroom. Homeschooling kids have co-ops and groups. And of course, if you're fortunate (and I was), you have neighbors who are close to your own age and siblings running around everywhere. The same is true in higher education- I lived in a dorm during college- an insta-community!

Of course, all of that changed drastically when I graduated and got married. It's hard to make friendships as an adult.

In my case, I moved to a new town, my friends were scattered throughout the country (and the world!) and while I was pretty well wrapped up in my brand new (and very hunky) hubby, I became lonely. I wasn't expecting that.

We need community. We've been designed for interactions with other human beings- and human beings other than our spouses, too. We need friends! But when you're in a new place, a new situation, a new phase of life... well, that community is hard to come by.

Of course, if you're working outside the home, you will probably be able to make some friendships in your workplace, and that will certainly help. But really (and I don't know about you, but I feel this way), if you've spent all day with someone at work, you may not want to spend all of your evenings with them. We love our Camp family. Working and living at Camp makes for an incredible kind of community that I've never experienced anywhere else. But even that can be kind of limiting. It's nice to get away sometimes, see other smiling faces, get to know someone new, you know?

And if you're not working outside the home- all the more opportunity for you to feel isolated. So where are you to find community?

One of the very first things I would suggest a newly married couple to do is this- find a church.

Find a church where you feel welcome, a church where you can be yourselves. A church where you can find a group of friends.

And then, get involved. Volunteer to bring cookies, shake hands, introduce yourself, go to potlucks and picnics and fundraisers. Invite people to join you for lunch after the service. Go to adult Sunday school classes, join a small group.

Join a small group.

The biggest mistake of our first several months of marriage was thinking that we didn't need to find a church family. Going to services at our Camp on Sundays in the summer was convenient and inspiring, and who could really ask for more?

And we missed out, for months, on building new friendships. We knew our Camp family- but besides that... we were pretty isolated. We didn't get out much.

 It wasn't until Trevor and I found our church home that we finally began to build true friendships, to form a community outside of Camp and outside of our new little family. It really made such a difference.

So you- you newlywed or you who just moved into a new town- go find a great church. Trust me, you need it. You need that community.


Blessings this Week: 08.22.2014

Wasn't it just like, yesterday when I posted a bunch of blessings? Where did most of August go? Oh well, you can never be too grateful, I suppose!

So, I suppose this one could have gone on last week's blessings list, but it didn't, so it's here now! New boots!

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A husband who brings everything in from the camper so I can wash and sort and put away without making ninety million trips outside.
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Two dirt bikes in the garage, a great deal, and an extra sparkle in Trevor's eyes. 

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Going through Camp evaluations this week to summarize and report- there are so many comments that remind me exactly why we work so very hard during the summer!

"I love camp because it's an incredible blessing to watch my children blossom in faith."

"We're so cared for here- we're usually the caretakers, and here, we get taken care of!"

"Speaker was challenging and honest- not afraid to inspire us to be better parents and role models."

Yep. Stuff like that. I'm sure a couple of phone calls have heard me tear up a little.

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I'm grateful that we had such a great week last week, and that we came home refreshed and ready to get back to it!

What are you grateful for this week? 

(if you'd like to share your blessings, just click "comment" below!)



"Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good."- CS Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

In my more philosophical moments, I've pondered what the Black Hills show me about the character of God.

{I heard once that people experience God in four ways- mystically, naturally, intellectually, and emotionally. We tend to experience Him more strongly in one or two of those areas. I tend to find God intellectually and emotionally, but in the Black Hills? I see Him in most clearly in the beauty of nature.}

The Black Hills is rugged and dangerous with sharp edges and rough surfaces. It's extremes and challenges and hard-scrabble survival. It's dangerously beautiful.

I tend to see God as safe, as tame. Beige. Soft, fuzzy, pillowtop God. And in some respects, I think He can be... but that's such a limited experience of His character. I mean, even more limited than our already humanly limited minds typically experience Him.

The Black Hills remind me of this other facet of God. The wild, rugged, dangerous part of God. I need that sometimes. To experience Him in a different way, in a way that shakes my narrow minded self into realizing, again, that safe and quiet and beige isn't all there is to life.


Blessings this (Past) Week: 08.15.2014

Ready to head out- blessed by friends who lent us a great trailer!

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Riding horses up Mt Harney- what a view, and what a ride! Thanks to Roy for taking such good care of me up those rocky trails (and to his owners for allowing me to ride him up there!)

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A place to stop and keep the bike dry during a little downpour on our ride. 

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Spending time with people I love.

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A great week in the Hills- just what we needed.


Blessings this Week: 08.08.2014

Quilt Auction weekend went great- the weather was gorgeous, the quilts were gorgeous, and it was (as usual) a ton of fun!

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My fabulous mother-in-law stopped by last weekend to see the quilts. She was a total blessing to me- my house was a disaster because we've been so busy prepping for the auction... she folded laundry, watered all my plants, cleaned my kitchen... it was so nice to come home to a clean space again! 

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Monday came too soon- I was pretty wiped from such a busy weekend. It was another week that made me especially glad for this...

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The new windows in our house are coming along thanks to some great maintenance staff and lots of hard work on their part.

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Summer invoices prepared and sent out, camper numbers summarized, and I think I'm about ready for vacation (and I'm actually feeling okay about leaving my post!) 

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Tomorrow morning (as long as we get everything done on time!) we'll be heading for the Black Hills!

What blessings have you seen this week? 



Our stories are long and complex and difficult in spots.

We're made up of the people we've loved, the things we've seen and done and read. We pick up experiences and lessons along the way and carry them with us. Some of those lessons are painful or ugly, some are full of joy and peace.

But we know, just the same as a quilter putting together a masterpiece, block by block, that ultimately, our Father uses each and every part of it for our own good. All those pieces come together to make something He designed, something beautiful.

We're just piecework- right now it looks like a jumbled mess. Someday, we'll be a masterpiece.



In honor of the Quilt Auction this past weekend, it's Quilt Week over here at Shalom! And by that, I mean I'm going to write one entire post about making a quilt. 

I've been working on a quilt for... well... for about a year and a half.

Well! I'm excited to say-  I finished it!

And, like typically happens when you try something still pretty new and kind of difficult, I learned some things about myself.

Well, and I learned some things about that minky fabric that feels so nice. Spoiler- minky fabric is so very horrible- it stretches and makes everything uneven. Ugh.

But! If you look at the quilt from far away while someone shakes it, you can't tell how uneven my rows really are... so we'll still call that a success.

I hadn't touched this project in months. The front was almost completely finished, but I still had to quilt and bind it. And so it sat in a little bag in the closet of the sewing room/office, all sad and lonely.

See, first, I was busy. For a couple of months, balancing home and work filled up the majority of my time, and quilting simply wasn't a priority. We've all been there, right?

But secondly, while I really enjoy quilting, it's hard. Well, at least, for me it is. As a novice with almost no experience, it's hard. So I avoided it and started other projects! Because I do that.

We had a group of quilters here at Camp one weekend, and I remembered the lonely quilt. I thought maybe I could ask for some help or pointers or something. Something to make it easier. So I quit avoiding and finished up the front (which isn't perfect, but is the part I struggle with the least), and brought the whole thing to the ladies to beg for suggestions.

Do you know what they told me? They said I did a great job, and that I was done! My little creation was ready to go off to be quilted by a professional.

I was pretty set on the quilt being a DIY project through and through, and I had planned on quilting and binding it myself. Besides, getting it professionally done would cost quite a bit of money... and I didn't want to do that, either.

I told one of the quilter ladies that I wanted to quilt and bind it myself, and she said, "Oh! That part is really hard." 

So I took the quilt home, watched a couple YouTube tutorials, and I finished the quilting and binding myself that afternoon. The project that was in limbo for a year and a half was all finished in three days. Why the sudden determination?

1. She said it was hard.

2. She told me I was doing a good job.

That made all the difference. See, just the fact that I was validated, that someone with experience and know-how told me that I was doing something hard... it made me feel like maybe I wasn't so incompetent. Like maybe I wasn't alone.

And to be complimented on something I wrestled with, on something that I wasn't very confident in... it made me feel proud, ready to take on anything.

What a wonderful gift of community- to feel like we're not alone, to be told that we're doing something that's difficult.

That can really make all the difference. Being acknowledged like that can give us strength to keep going.

So, if you know someone who is having a hard time, tell her so. A kid studying for an SAT? A newlywed figuring out the "marriage" thing? Someone trying to find a job/a house/a car? A work-outside-of-the-home mom? A stay-at-home-mom? A gal who wishes with everything that she could be a mom? Working through college? Starting a business?

That's hard!

Tell her that you notice, that she's making a difference, that she's doing a great job. And tell her that you've been there- and it's hard. It may help her keep going.


Blessings this Week- 08.01.2014

Happy August! I can't believe that July is over already. This summer has just flown by!

This will be a quick blessings post- Camp has our Quilt Auction this weekend... busy, busy! And hey, we'd love to have you stop on by if you'd like. The Quilt Auction is one of the highlights of my summer here! It's so much fun!

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We had a fun time with these little guys last weekend- Trevor and I saw them trying to cross the road, momma nowhere in sight. 

God's creation sure is cute! 

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Two of our dear friends began their lives together as husband and wife last Saturday! It was a lovely wedding, and we're so blessed to have been able to share in the celebration with them! 

Congrats Logan and Danielle! 

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We also got the chance to see both sets of parents last weekend. How great is it that they live in the same town? Very handy. Good planning, parents. 

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We're getting new windows in the bedrooms on the first floor ("before" and "after" pictures still to come).

I have a feeling our niece Emery will be pleased. 

("Twevor got new windows for us, because he loves us and he 'poils us.")

Well, I know he spoils me, anyway.

Now if I can convince him that we need the 26 quilts I have my eye on at the auction tomorrow... 

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Speaking of, check this out-

Over 150 quilts, donated to support the ministry of our camp. What a blessing!

How have you been blessed this week? Happy Friday, everyone! Have a great weekend!