Taking Inventory

The seasons are changing, and the summer is rapidly approaching! Given how long the winter has been, and our lack of spring here in the midwest, I think I speak for everyone when I say that I’m so excited! I cannot wait for the sun to shine, to lay by the pool and to be able to break out all the dresses in my closet. I

As the seasons transition, and summer begins, there’s something that I do each year. I used to assume than everyone else did this, but you may not, and that’s okay. Maybe it’s helpful for you. My feelings wouldn’t be hurt if it’s not.

But each spring, I take inventory.

What does that even mean? It means that I take inventory of my calendar and of my closet.

First, I look at my calendar and see what trips I have coming up this year, what weddings I’m attending and if there are any other big events.

Then, I go and stand in my closet and look through what I already have. If you change over the your closet, don’t do this before you have done so because you may forget what you already have and love, but just haven’t seen for several months.

If you’re super organized or someone who needs to write things down, grab your planner when you do this. While weather can always change, it’s usually safe to guess that it’s going to be HOT in July and August.

Here are some of the questions I ask as I stand in my closet.

  • What did I wear to weddings last year that worked?
  • How can I re-use what I already have with a different or new necklace, sweater, scarf or shoes?
  • Was there a dress that really didn’t work for an event last year? (Strapless dresses, alcohol and dancing at weddings doesn’t work for me, but I can forget this if I’m trying an outfit together at the last minute.)
  • Who was at the wedding that I wore this to? This may not matter to you at all. I’ll be honest, it matters to me, and that’s why I ask it.
  • If you’re in a wedding this summer, you’ll want to remember the extra events that are required of you – showers, bachelorette parties and rehearsal dinners. If you’re already panicking about costs, start thinking of friends who will let you borrow clothes.
  • If you’ve gone through body changes in the last year, start trying things on now. If it doesn’t fit now, in April, unless you lose or gain weight quickly (I don’t), it probably wouldn’t fit in June… and be honest, maybe it wouldn’t work in August. Get it out of your closet. You don’t have to get rid of it, but don’t plan on it being part of the rotation this summer. That’s life. Don’t feel guilty. This is not the time to feel shame or even make a plan for fitting into it again. We’re being practical about clothes in this moment in the closet.
  • My go-to outfit for a wedding includes a dress, wedges or heels, a statement necklace and a jean jacket or sweater. That may not be yours, but that’s what I usually do.
  • Write your planner or in your take note of what dresses you want to wear to each wedding, plus possible shoe and jewelry options. Yes, get that detailed, I promise it helps. If you don’t keep a planner or feel weird writing it there, you can write your outfit choice on the back of the wedding invitation.
  • Take note of what gaps exist. Maybe you’ve got five weddings this summer, three with the same group of people, but only two dresses that you’re comfortable wearing, and you’d rather not repeat. This means, you’ve got a dress to purchase for this summer. Maybe you’ve got enough dresses, but your shoes are really worn out, this means you’ve got a pair of shoes to purchase before that first wedding.
  • If your budget is really tight, I recommend you start to ask friends to shop their closets and offering the same in return. “Hey, I’ve got a couple of weddings to go to this summer, can I borrow a dress so that I can avoid buying something? You can look through what I have, too.” Ask in advance, offer to have it dry cleaned before you return it, and usually friends are willing to lend things out. Especially if it’s not part of their everyday rotation.

Now that you’ve taken inventory, you have permission to buy specific items. I start this process in April because it eliminates the day before the event rush to get something that ends up with me buying something that I’ll never wear again. It gives my online window shopping purpose instead of the impulsive shopping I can do just because it’s payday and I have cash burning a hole in my pocket. When you do go shopping, make sure that you’re buying things that you’ll be able to wear again and that are versatile for other events. Have a backyard wedding to attend and a bridal shower this summer? Wear wedges to the wedding and a statement necklace, then swap out the wedges for a cute flat sandal and a different necklace for the shower. Are you catching on to my madness yet?

I ask similar questions about my summer vacations and special events. I even start planning what I’m going to wear or pack. Yes, even in April for a July vacation. Maybe it’s because I start getting excited, but also because I’ve made too many purchases right before something because I thought that I “needed it” only to be disappointed because I ended up donating that same item to Goodwill years later, and didn’t like how it looked on.

Taking inventory has helped me make wise investments and maximize new purchases that I make while eliminating the stress of standing in my closet in my underwear deciding what to wear as I run late to a wedding. Instead, I can buy new stuff that will be worn for seasons to come as they go on sale and head to a wedding without the frantic stress that comes with not being able to make a decision.

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When You Change…

When I was in college, I ate canned green beans with some hummus and salt, and called it a meal. I also had a polar pop almost every day. I told myself that I wasn’t a healthy eater, and that was okay. That carried me into adulthood. I ate as cheaply as possible, so that meant a lot of pasta, peanut butter toast and sometimes vegetables. Plus Starbucks… a lot of it because I worked a lot. I labeled myself as an unhealthy eater, even though I knew better. Every once in a while, I’d try to change something – I’d give up sweets for lent, I’d fall in love with a couple healthier recipes, but I’d always tell myself, “You’re not a healthy eater,” and nothing would stick.

Something funny has happened in the last year. I’ve started to change. My whole mindset on food has shifted. At the beginning of 2017, I wanted to try one new recipe a month and also eat more vegetables. So I did it. I wish I could say the changes were significant or that I immediately fell in love with green things (yes, I still call them that), but I didn’t. I was still choosing to eat healthier though, so it had to count for something.

I just finished Whole30, and I could write a love letter to this program. It was fantastic. But maybe the more significant is how it gave me permission to change how I viewed myself. The pizza and red wine loving girl still exists, but I’m not defined by it anymore.

It’s as if Whole30 gave me permission to admit that I changed. Not just how I eat changed, but more of who I am had. I am no longer the girl who cannot say no to a second or third brownie. But first I had to let go of the identity before the behavior could truly change, or I’d keep bouncing back to the same behaviors.

I’m wondering what other identities I’ve picked up that prevent me from developing new behaviors.

I also started making my bed in 2018. For a decade, I’ve told myself that I was messy, and that’s why my room was messy. But, this year, I wanted to see if I could discipline myself to keep a cleaner room. You know what? It’s not perfect, but it’s getting there. An old roommate cannot believe that I make my bed every day because my messiness and chaos was something I used to be sort of proud of.

I’m changing though. And the person who it’s hardest on is me. Because of all the things I’ve told myself about myself. I have been my own obstacle to growth.

I’m digging deep to see what other stories I’ve written onto myself that may be preventing me from growing.

You’re not disciplined.

You’re not organized.

Your success isn’t the same as other’s.

You’re not worth a big paycheck.

You’ll never be successful.

You can’t finish projects or tasks.

You’re only a creative; you can’t handle the technical stuff.

You’re a feeler, and therefore illogical.

You’re obsessed with image.

You’re intimidating.

You like spending time with people, but you don’t have a servant’s heart.

You can only endure if you’re still enthusiastic.

I’m realizing that I need to give myself permission to change. To be a different person than I was last year. To let go of who I expected I’d become, and just focus on becoming. Whole30 gave me the opportunity to say no to chocolate and pizza and wine, there must be other behaviors in my life that require an identity shift first. In some cases, the identity shift is easy, in other circumstances, there are deep rooted lies that need to be corrected before the change can ever happen. 

It’s worthy work to dig deep and to dare to write new stories with our lives. These changes may lead to a different me than I planned on. There’s freedom in that, so long as I’m walking with God and continue to be focused on Jesus.

How Can I Help You?

I love to help. I even love to help at things I can’t quite even do. Which poses a problem sometimes. I ended up being less of a help than I intended to be.

Painting walls.

Cooking meals.

Baking treats.

Watching babies.

You name it, I want to help with it. I LOVE being part of a team. Working together towards a common goal. It’s maybe the thing that most fascinates me about marriage – getting to be on a permanent team with someone. But even now, I love our small group leadership team, I love working alongside my co-workers, and long to be on a team with some of my favorite friends, living on mission.

I’m not especially handy, so when I volunteer to assist with house projects, it’s more of a morale thing. I bring the music, the snacks and the enthusiasm, but I need to be directed in how I can actually be involved. I remember helping my guy friends fix up their house in college, and having to say more than once, “Can you show me how I can help?” They were glad to have extra hands, so they showed me how to strip the wallpaper, then how to paint over the wallpaper, and how to paint the trim. I loved being involved, and while I wished I intuitively knew how to help, I also understood that I couldn’t know everything.

This is true years later when I offer to help a friend. Often, I need to be trained in how to do something. Which in some ways defeats the helping.

Or does it?

In being someone who doesn’t always know how to do the thing she wants to help with, I’m learning to be teachable and empathetic.

Tell me how I can help you.

I’m not saying that I’ll do it perfectly. I’m not even saying having me along for the ride wouldn’t create more work for you. But I am saying that I’ll be there with you. I’ll jump into whatever you’re doing willing and able to help.

What if I let the fact that I often don’t know what I’m doing prevent me from helping?

What if I let the fact that I haven’t experienced something prevent me from coming alongside someone else?

What if I let my fear of creating more work for someone prevent me even offering?

I’d definitely be less available to friends. I probably would learn less. I’d for sure not develop empathy in the ways that I am.

As a 26 year old single in a community full of married friends, some with babies, I can often feel like I have nothing to bring to the table. I don’t know the complexities of the lives they’re walking through. I can let that prevent me from offering to help. But then I’m stuck being friends with people who are exactly like me, and in the same place in life, and that’s not fun.

So I’ll keep offering to help.

I don’t have the answers. I can’t fix your problems. But I can listen. I can respond. I can ask follow-up questions. I can come alongside whatever you are walking through.

Seasons of Friendship

Johnna Myers is a friend of mine from church. Not only is she wise, but she loves freedom just like I do and may be more enthusiastic than me. I’m thankful for her words. She blogs at JohnnaMyers.com.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Seasons—they are no joke people.  We have coffee drinks, candles, and even Spotify playlists depending on the time of year.  And as we peek onto the horizon of an Indiana winter, it is not an exaggeration that I will be wrapped in multiple layers, fuzzy socks, a hooded sweatshirt for the next 5 months.  And then in January, I will ask my husband the same question I do EVERY January… “WHY DO WE LIVE HERE?!?”

Through the years, I have noticed seasons in my friendships as well.  Seasons that come and go…maybe for months or years at a time…maybe they come with the smell of fresh air and bright-colored flowers…or maybe they go with a strong gust of bitter, arctic air.

When I was first out of college, my sorority sisters were my circle.  Riding the wave of independent adulthood, we spent many nights reminiscing about frat parties and stupid decisions we had made.

Then life as a newlywed was spent hanging out with my husband’s co-workers and their spouses. Having the same work schedule and no kids made spontaneity our jam.

Then came motherhood.  Oh gosh—the ever amazing, exhausting stage of being a new mom.  I was so desperate for conversation with an adult, that I didn’t care if my friends talked ALL day about diapers and sleep schedules.  Because we had a lot in common, most of my relationships at this time consisted of other new moms—blurry eyed and sleep deprived new moms who didn’t judge me for forgetting to brush my teeth.

When the girls were elementary age, we grew close to the moms of their friends and spent weekends at school carnivals and swimming in neighborhood pools.  It was convenient for sure, but we also just enjoyed spending time with people in a similar life stage.

Sports friends were next…literally “seasonal” friends….spending weeknights and most weekends at softball and soccer fields, bonding together on the hard, metal bleachers.  All to say goodbye after the last game, knowing you won’t see them again until the next first pitch.

Along the way, my life has been woven together with other people as well—church ladies, gym rats, and partners in ministry.  And although there are ones who are a consistent, lifetime thread in the fabric of my life, others were only there for a season.

For years, I thought it was my duty to hold on to each and every friendship, maintaining a certain level of depth and closeness.  It was a heavy burden to try and keep up and an unreal expectation to think that I could manage every.single.relationship I’d ever been in. I had to let go of the idea that every friendship is forever, and embrace the idea that changing seasons are good. 

As I have gotten older, though, my circles have gotten smaller. I’m no longer desperate to cling to just any warm body who can hold a conversation, and no longer desiring to dive deep with absolutely everyone.  I recognize that life changes.  Values change.  People move on to pursue new endeavors. People move to other communities and a 30 minute drive seems like forever.  But if there’s anything God is teaching me, it’s that every stage of friendship has served a purpose. Every stage has taught me more about who I am and what’s important.  And with each one, I am learning to hold it loosely in my hand, knowing that the Lord may intend it only for a short time.  And I am learning that it’s okay to say goodbye. 

The next part of that Ecclesiastes verse says “…a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot…a time to tear down and a time to build…a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing…”

Friendships will be born, and they will die.  Some will have roots that go deep and others only stay on the surface.  Sometimes you will build into a relationship, and sometimes you need to just cut it off.  And as I’m starting to learn, some friendships are ones you purposefully run and throw your arms around….and others are ones where you intentionally keep your distance.

Now that our girls are older, I have the freedom to choose who I hang out with.  I can be intentional about who I want to pour into, and who I want to pour into me.  I want to be a good steward of the relationships the Lord has entrusted me with, and I want each one to point people to Jesus.  So as you consider your current season of life, look for ways to serve your friends and learn from them.  Love them well, but know that they are not yours forever.  For just as quickly as the Indiana weather can change, so too can the seasons of our lives. 

Friendship With Jesus

What if I told you that my best friend was a Jewish man who I had never met before?

But that he knew everything about me?

And that he was my closest confidant?

You’d probably think I was spending time in some online chat rooms.

You may even be concerned.

That’s okay. Because it’s true. I haven’t met Jesus in the flesh yet, and I wouldn’t on this side of heaven, but He is my best friend. He knows everything about me. He is my closest confidant.

To be completely honest, I didn’t enter into the whole Christianity thing seeking a new best friend. At first I just wanted friends at IU, and all the nice people who kept reaching out to me happened to be Christians. Then a couple friends told me about grace, and I was sold. But Jesus being a friend to me wasn’t something I really knew if I wanted. As is a theme in my life, I don’t often know what I really want until it’s given to me, and then I can’t believe I never asked for it myself.

That’s what a friendship with Jesus has been. Something I never knew I wanted until I realized I had it and I needed it.

But what does friendship with Jesus look like?

I can give you all the Sunday School answers – it means being forgiven, loved, understood, accepted, encouraged, worthy, and never alone. They’re all true. They all matter in my everyday life. But for me the most important thing that friendship with Jesus is, is that I never have anything to prove.

I grew up with a mindset that I could be almost perfect. Every test was an opportunity to prove myself as smart. Every new friendship was a chance to demonstrate that I was worthy. Every invitation was proof that I was accepted. I was constantly striving. There was never any satisfaction in my relationships, schoolwork or appearance. I never quite measured up. There was always something else.

Nine years after someone told me that I was fully forgiven by Jesus’ death on the cross, and that His grace not only made up for my lack, but fully covered me, and I’m just starting to realize how significant it is to have nothing to prove.

During a hard week at work, when I can’t quite accomplish everything I need to, His grace meets me and reminds me that I can’t earn anything more than what He’s already given me. There is nothing to prove.

Walking through conflict with a friend when I’ve messed up, His grace meets me and reminds me that it’s okay to admit that I let them down, and ask for forgiveness. There is nothing to prove.

When I can’t make it to the gym as much as I want to in a month, and I start to feel guilty, His grace meets me and reminds me that my worthiness isn’t dependent on my athletic ability or pants size. There is nothing to prove.

There’s nothing that I can do to impress Jesus. I can’t earn more of His love. I also can’t lose His love. That is the best friendship I could ask for. Total acceptance not based on what I do, but on who I am. I have nothing left to prove.

Springboards & Friendship

Did you know that there are three different types of diving boards? There’s the diving block, the platform and the spring board.

We’re familiar with the diving block because of the Olympics. They’re sloped with the purpose of providing competitive swimmers to push off of at the beginning of their race.

The platform is typically the highest diving board. It’s material is rigid and doesn’t flex well.

And then there’s the springboard. It’s what we grew up diving off of at the neighborhood pool. It’s more flexible than the other two types. It’s purpose is to enhance a diver’s take-off so that they can dive higher, longer and/or more beautifully.

Over the weekend, I got back from vacation with some of my best friends. This was our third trip together, but some of us in the group have been vacationing together for even longer than that. We’re a hodgepodge of people who knew each other in high school, then turned college friends, people who were in small groups together in college and then some fun additions post-college. We’ve seen each other’s messy sides, and have continued not just to keep being friends, but to vacation together and deepen the friendships.

Fortunately we didn’t have a diving board in our house’s backyard pool. I can only imagine the shenanigans and possible injuries that could have ensured. But, what if I allowed my annual Friendcation, and more specifically my friendship with these people to propel me into deeper friendships with others in my life.

Could I use my community experience with those friends as springboard into deeper local friendships?

I tend to have a filter that I use with people. There’s like different versions of me that you can see, but it takes a long time for me to let someone completely in. Living in Indianapolis with so many college friends has enabled me to live life according to that pattern.

But what if it didn’t have to be that way?

What if I let myself be fully known even if they’re not someone who has known me since I was in college?

What if I trusted someone even if they haven’t seen me at my worst?

Even more, I could be believing something that’s not true about friendship and letting it hold me back from deeper local friendships and from going deep with people quicker.

Is it possible that I’ve been afraid that opening myself up to new people would take something away from the longstanding relationships I already have?

It is possible. In fact, it’s probably true for me. In many ways, I have let myself live in a scarcity mindset when it comes to friendship. Yes, I cannot be best friends with everyone, but friendship isn’t something that’s limited. Being friends with someone who I met post-college doesn’t take away from a friendship with someone who I’ve known for almost a decade.

A scarcity mindset operates on the assumption that something is limited. Money, resources, time or even relationships. When operating under this assumption, you ration what exists. It’s important to realize natural limitations on things, but relationships aren’t necessarily something that’s limited.

You don’t just get one best friend in your life, and never have the opportunity to make another deep relationships. Obviously we only have so many hours in a day, so there are so natural boundaries, but I am not given just one good group of friends. I’m not cheating on them by having other good friends.

Just like the springboard’s purpose is to propel divers higher into the air, being known and loved by this group of friends can springboard me into other special friendships.

I usually start the week after vacation in a slump. It’s not uncommon for me to cry saying good-bye to these friends, cry on Sunday morning after church and cry on my way to work on Monday morning. Coming off the community high has never been something that I do well, and this is no exception. I’ve realized that it has very little to do with the life I’m coming back to or my local friends, I just love being on vacation, I love the tradition and I love those people.

But this year was a little bit different. I still came back from vacation bummed that the week was over. I still missed my friends. The difference was, I started asking myself a new question: Could I use my community experience with those friends as springboard into deeper local friendships?

I tend to have a filter that I use with people. There’s like different versions of me that you can see, but it takes a long time for me to let someone completely in. Living in Indianapolis with so many college friends has enabled me to live life according to that pattern.

But what if it didn’t have to be that way?

What if I let myself be fully known even if they’re not someone who has known me since I was in college?

What if I trusted someone even if they haven’t seen me at my worst?

Even more, I could be believing something that’s not true about friendship and letting it hold me back from deeper local friendships and from going deep with people quicker.

Is it possible that I’ve been afraid that opening myself up to new people would take something away from the longstanding relationships I already have?

It is possible. In fact, it’s probably true for me. In many ways, I have let myself live in a scarcity mindset when it comes to friendship. Yes, I cannot be best friends with everyone, but friendship isn’t something that’s limited. Being friends with someone who I met post-college doesn’t take away from a friendship with someone who I’ve known for almost a decade.

A scarcity mindset operates on the assumption that something is limited. Money, resources, time or even relationships. When operating under this assumption, you ration what exists. It’s important to realize natural limitations on things, but relationships aren’t necessarily something that’s limited.

You don’t just get one best friend in your life, and never have the opportunity to make another deep relationships. Obviously we only have so many hours in a day, so there are so natural boundaries, but I am not given just one good group of friends. I’m not cheating on them by having other good friends.

One of the greatest gift I’ve ever received is to be known and loved by my group of friends. They’re my people. I’d walk through the fire for each and every one of them. But, they don’t have to be the only deep relationships in my life. I can and should let the comfort I have with them springboard me into other special friendships.

It starts with them, but it doesn’t have to end with them.

Do I Have To Be Friends With Everyone?

During my first two years of college, I puked my problems all over anyone who would listen. Unafraid of sharing my struggles and deep details of my life, I basically introduced myself with a “Hi, my name is Caitlin. Let me tell you all about my problems.” For better and for worse, I lived unfiltered with almost everyone.

Eighteen and nineteen year old Caitlin trusted everyone with intimate parts of her life, and even shared stories that involved other people. It was a messy way of living. Eventually, wiser friends started speaking into my habits, and encouraging me to find a few trusted friends to share the full story with. Cultivating a group of friends, some who are close with each other and others who are not, has been one of the best things I ever did.

Isn’t it good to be real and honest though?

The short answer is yes. We should be authentic with all people. Making eye contact while you’re in the check-out lane at Target to the cashier is kind. Asking genuine questions and listening for the response to your friends at the coffee cart at church is good. Sending thank you notes to your children’s teachers is a way to encourage them.

In fact, more than being authentic, we should be transparent with most people. Being honest with your co-workers and boss about your workload is wise. Sharing with your child’s teacher about some of the difficult behaviors you’re seeing at home allows the teacher to better meet your child’s needs. Opening up about what material needs your family has during a difficult seasons allows others to help.

But, intimacy with a few people is how we are truly able to be known.

It would be easy for me to sit here and tell you the people I think you should be known by — your church small group, your college friends, your neighbors — based on what I’ve seen work for me or for people who I’m close to. It is tempting to even give you a magic number or to tell you to find these people and never let them go, but intimacy isn’t a destination that you arrive at and forget about. Intimacy is a constant battle.

I’ve got a group of four friends who are all in a constant conversation with each other. They know my hopes, dreams and fears. They’re usually the first women I share a prayer request with or who I celebrate with about exciting news. Outside of them, I have several other friends, too, who get the full, unfiltered story, but outside of them… This level of intimacy has taken time to develop. We didn’t walk into deep friendships with one another; it’s taken prioritizing, serving and trusting each other through the good times and the bad times.

I do share vulnerably with others outside of this group, but I don’t go into an interaction expecting to be fully known by someone else. I’m always authentic. I’m usually transparent, but I’m not always intimate.

Is this unkind? I don’t think so, and I don’t think the Bible says so either.

Jesus had twelve friends. Of those twelve friends, there were three who He was closest to.

He interacted with all people authentically; serving them, preaching to them and healing them. He was transparent with most of them. He wanted most people to know who He was. But on his last night on earth, He shared most intimately with his closest friends. He did this believing that if they knew Him, they’d be able to share with others. He was committed to His disciples looking radically different because they knew Him.

The more we look at Jesus’ relationships and study how He interacted with others, we’ll find that He was authentic with all, transparent with some, and intimate with few. In doing so, He sets an example for the rest of us to follow.

How To Be Friends With Your Spouse

Suzy and Jared Davis are two of my best friends. They’ve been married for almost five years, but prior to getting married, they dated for almost five years. So they’ve had over ten years of friendship, as friends first, then in dating and now in marriage. From the very beginning of their marriage, they’ve committed to building a life together, not just trying to live two separate lives alongside each other under the same roof. I asked them to share some of the practices that have helped them deepen their friendship within marriage.

Putting Your Spouse’s Needs Above Your Own

Suzy and Jared benefitted from knowing each other for a while before getting married. They both share how important it’s been to see each other at their bests and their worsts. Through unfortunate situations, they walked through grief and disappointment together, but that has allowed them know how the other responds to the difficulties. They have also been able to each one another at their best, and know how to work towards both of them thriving.

They’ve also spent time being a student of one another so that they can anticipate needs before they’re vocalized. This isn’t possible without a deep knowledge of each other, which for them has been cultivated through spending time together. Communication is also an important part of knowing each other; they’re quick to talk with one another and share about the highlights and lowlights of their days and weeks.

Establishing a Rhythm for Living

Early on in their marriage, Suzy and Jared worked hard to develop some healthy rhythms for weekly and yearly life. They enjoy cooking together, often run errands together and even share the responsibility of keeping their house clean. These weekly routines are helpful and can help make mundane responsibilities fun. Throughout the fall and winter, they enjoy Indiana University Athletics, and prioritize watching sports together. They also pick out their Christmas tree and go to the apple orchard each year. Establishing traditions throughout the year has made marriage more fun, and allowed them to look forward to things year in and year out.

Spending Quality Time Together

Whether it’s new adventures or picking a show on Netflix, Jared and Suzy prioritize spending time together. They’ve enjoyed discovering favorite restaurants in Indianapolis, walking their dog and going on bike rides. When one of them has time off work, they try to both take the day(s) off for outings around the city or day trips. When it’s possible, they try to avoid making household chores his or her responsibility and instead choose to work on tasks together.

Working Towards Mutual Goals

Suzy and Jared share their hopes and dreams with one another, which helps plan for their future. They do their best to pray through decisions, carefully plan and stay on track towards their mutual goals. They are committed to each other’s dreams whether that’s pursuing a masters degree or working towards staying at home with children. Being each other’s biggest advocate and cheerleader is important to them as a couple.

Advocating for one another for the Davises also means being a united front for friends, family and church community. They try to live lives that are intertwined, and that includes friendships. They share friends and value spending time with each other’s families.

Too Lazy to Love?

Today’s blog is written by another best friend of mine, Tyler Chernesky. He helps pastor a church in Kansas City, and his insights on friendship are so important especially in a distracted age.

When I was in college, I discovered the captivating German board game Settlers of Catan.

My friend and roommate, Wes, introduced it to our house. Soon, we were hooked.

We’d play together late into the night. Rivalries developed. Tensions flared. And it was a blast.

Then, one day, we discovered that Catan had an online world – PlayCatan.com – where you  could play Settlers anytime, anywhere with strangers from all around the world.

No longer did we have to wait until all the roomies were home to get started.

No longer did we have to clear the table and bust out the board.

Now, we could play catan online.

The truth is: it wasn’t long until I became an addict. I logged on to PlayCatan as soon as I woke up and didn’t quit until bedtime. I was on it all the time.

I played Catan while my roommates shared stories about their days.

I played Catan when I was back at home, visiting my parents.

Wherever I was, I played Catan.

And, one of my little habits during those days was to take a screenshot as soon as a Catan game ended – to celebrate a victory or to document a loss.

One morning, I looked in the folder where I stored these screenshots, and I realized that I had over 750 screenshots of completed Catan games.

And it was then that it hit me.

I’d allowed myself to get so wrapped up in this online world that I was missing the life that was happening all around me.

I was giving my roommates, my parents, and my classes only partial attention. I was settling for online diversion when I had real life people to my left and to my right. I had allowed something insignificant to keep me from what matters most.

Have you ever been there?

Have you ever been so caught up in something trivial, in something addictive, in something that starts satisfying but becomes an all-consuming habit?

Have you ever been distracted?

The answer, if you’re honest, is: Yes, I’ve been distracted.

And that’s okay! Distraction is a human phenomena. Distraction happens.

And it’s happening with greater and greater frequency in our increasingly busy and connected world.

The problem is: Distraction destroys depth. It keeps us so busy skimming the surface, that we never take the time or effort dive down for more.

And distraction destroys  friendships in two key ways: 1) Distraction can keep us from good friendship, and 2) Distraction can make us stale in friendships.

Distractions can keep us from taking time and making effort to cultivate soul-enriching relationships. And distraction can plague relationships we already have – focusing our attention on topics of conversation, and cultivating habits of interpersonal relation that ultimately lead to shallow connection.

So how do you combat distraction?

Here’s what I’ve learned: It starts with rest.

Unplug. Stop. Breathe. Sit. Listen – to your own heart, and to God.

Where do you need to slow down? Where do you need to dive in?

What habits of behavior or habits of conversation are keeping you from intimate relationship?

What relational connections are you missing because you’re too wrapped up in things that do not matter? What friendships need revitalized ways of relating?

Distraction makes us miss what matters most.

As you think about your life and friendships during these 31 Days for Friendship, what destructive distractions need to be minimized so that the goodness of friendship can grow?

Perhaps the World Ends Here

A poem by Joy Harjo

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.