10 Things I Learned from YOU This Month

At the end of every month, I share the silly, random and sometimes profound things I’ve learned. For October, I’m revealing what you taught me during my 31 Days to London series. And each one comes with a grateful heart.

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1)      I’ve had the most email responses to my posts this month since I started blogging three years ago. Perhaps what I wrote felt more personal to you?

2)      Almost every morning in October, I woke up to an email of encouragement, a Bible verse or prophetic word from a reader. On days of despair your words buoyed me with hope reminding me that kind words are sweet to the soul and bring health to the Body. I learned it only takes a few minutes on the keyboard to bring Light into someone’s darkness.

3)      People respond most to those things that are common to all of us. Our New Home was the most popular post in the series. Because we all feel strongly about laundry and dishes, of course.

4)      Writing every day about life is a helpful process for gaining clarity and an important exercise in becoming better at crafting blog posts. Your kind responses  as this being  “some of my best writing” is a reminder that people long for authenticity over perfectionism.

5)      Daily, I was surprised to learn who was reading my every day thoughts about our move to London. From relatives to neighbors, a best friend from high school to authors I admire, every time someone told me, it was like winning the lottery. Only better. (But winning the lottery would be good about now.)

6)      Many people are suffering in their own waiting period. Empathy goes a long way to comfort the waiting weary. Your vulnerable stories in my inbox prove that. I’m so thankful to those of you who wrote me.

7)      Responses to When the News Isn’t What You Hope welcomed the beauty of redemption when a reader sent an anonymous check through a mutual friend to help us through the transition. Two bloggers gifted me with an Allume ticket, another a hotel room and then someone sent me a check to get my hair done and go out to dinner with H. Christmas ornaments came in the mail from England. Because I gave away my Christmas tree, of course.

8)      Telling almost anyone that you are moving to England is the very best way to start a conversation about Jesus – with the ladies behind the makeup counter, the grocery store manager and your pharmacist. I can’t tell the story and leave out the most important person, can I?

9)      I thought this 31 Days to London was about writing but discovered it’s about relationship. Because Jesus cares more about us than the destination.

10)   So, I’m going to continue writing about our move to London because it’s an exciting adventure when you are travelling with me. Echoing a new friend who wrote to me, this might be a 70 day series instead of 31.  And don’t worry; no one wants more of me in their inboxes on a daily basis. I’m going back to posting a couple times a week.

If you are one of the sixty new subscribers, I hope you will continue sojourning here on the blog with me. It’s been a beautiful, unpredictable wrestling match of learning how to trust and relinquish timetables to the work of waiting.

While I hoped to be boarding a plane to London today, I know God is with me, that His timing is perfect. You told me that over and over again. And I believe it.

He knew I would still be here on the Atlantic 31 days ago. And now it’s time to go cook dinner.

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Join me on Monday for a surprise guest post from one of my all-time favorite writers EVER with a giveaway of his new book. Okay, now you know it’s a dude. Don’t even try to guess, I’m not telling you until Monday.

 

On Introductions, Friendship and British Writers

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Last May, H and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary in London but that wasn’t why were there. We traveled across the Atlantic for one reason. We were swollen with God’s dream for us.

The Leadership Conference hosted by the people who inspire vision brought us to the Royal Albert Hall. We arrived expectant, ready for God’s palpable presence to lead us.

As H and I made our way through the black trench coats of South Kensington, around bowler hat taxi cabs and red double decker buses, we traipsed through corridors fingerprinted with history and into our theater seats among thousands. Holy Spirit electricity sparked our imagination with hope for the future.

The theme of the conference was friendship.

On the rim of a deep bowl of humanity, I sat quietly with my mouth open, observing the diversity of faith and culture as people flooded into the theater extending welcome and invitation. Until my seat mate politely tiptoed past my wet umbrella and stack of books lying on the concrete steps at my feet.

Small in stature, she introduces herself as Jules Middleton, a faith blogger and Deacon in the Church of England, wearing kindness and compassion on her face.

Erwin McManus says, Imagination is the playground of God and His creativity often causes me to hold my breath in wonder. I think He loves to surprise us with divine orchestration, yes?

I knew instantly Jules was a safe place and God handpicked her to sit next to me. I sobbed often, tears running off my cheeks in surrender to the unknowns I knew we would face. Along with her lunch and overcoat, she brought a package of tissues on day two of the conference.

If the preferred outcome of the conference was to inspire friendship, then I think it was a great success.  It turns out Jules and I have blogging friends in common and she’s given me my first UK writing assignment. What are the chances?

With only one day left in this 31 day series, I wanted to introduce you to some of the wonderful UK bloggers I’ve met virtually and as luck would have it, in real life. Perhaps God will allow us the honor of regular community once my family lands permanently in London.

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What Are Days For? by Emma Buchanan and Jane Fawkes (pictured above), two Sabbath Society peeps and dear friends with whom I correspond regularly. I wrote here about our real life meet up and trip to Persephone, my favorite bookshop in London.

Dreaming Beneath the Spires by Anita Mathias, also a Sabbath Society peep who happens to be friends with Jules and lands on the top of all those lists for popular UK bloggers and social media gurus. Mostly, Anita is a thoughtful theologian storyteller with a heart as big as Texas. We’ve guest posted on each other’s blogs.

Apples of Gold by Jules Middleton (need I say more?)

Zoeprose by Zoe Powell, I just found Zoe through her 31 Day series which is one of the gifts in this daily writing challenge. I love her authentic spirit and writing that is both practical and thought provoking.

Thorns and Gold by Tanya Marlow who writes about the Bible, suffering and hope from her own daily perspective as a mom, wife and Kingdom influencer, housebound with M.E. I found Tanya in the Five Minute Friday community where we met once a week in the comments as newbie bloggers.

Words of Joy by Joy Lenton, a graceful encourager with a poetic gift who writes of hope in the midst of suffering with chronic illness.

While there are many others with whom I am becoming acquainted through a Facebook thread I started during this series, asking for UK bloggers to link in the comments, these are the places where I am most familiar. And I know you will enjoy their writing as much as I do.

Join me tomorrow for my last installment in this 31 Day series for some fun and an announcement about the future.

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Help Me Remember

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Sitting on a low wooden stool, surrounded by stacks of greeting cards, my children’s artwork and mementos I’d kept since before college, I capture a small snapshot of my life. Maybe more like a refrigerator collage of all the best moments.

We’re pulling ourselves from the solitude inside the house during this forced waiting period, past the invisible walls of resistance, into the garage. The garage that looks like a battlefield of surrender; boxes half empty, childhood trinkets strewn on top of, well, whatever flat surface looks cleanest and most sturdy.

We haven’t been swept up into the clouds yet but daily life feels a bit foggy.

Soldiers for Christ, they don’t just walk away and abandon hope when disappointed.

I pull dated letters from dusty boxes and it’s as if God is highlighting frames of my story through handwriting of the saints, revealing how I got to this place.

Of waiting.

And wondering.

And wishing.

Isolation, it tricks you into forgetting that God has a master plan for your life, that you matter.

But God, He isn’t making up your storyline like an impromptu reading of poetry in the middle of your quiet dinner. No, He doesn’t say, “Oops, I wasn’t planning on that” or “I don’t know what to do about that now.”

Words penned and forgotten, piled in boxes hanging with silky strands of spider webs, they still beat with life, pulsing with the promise of fulfillment.

As long as you are alive, He is dedicated to you. Even now, those friendships aren’t random or conversations insignificant, they are an integral part in the process of your salvation.

You are not forgotten.

Sometimes it takes a waiting period to notice the kindness of redemption. The way He is present in every detail; in every moment of stubborn silence.

Boxes of forgotten moments, they are a foreshadowing of life calling — one person, one place, one season at a time. A confirmation that you are headed in the right direction when you feel lost without GPS or a road map.

He’s never in a rush because love isn’t pushy.

I believe but help me remember that tomorrow.

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