Girls’ Night Out

I have a new friend, Kim. We met this summer at a wedding, but just finally connected a few weeks ago over breakfast. She invited me out with some of her friends last night – what a nice time!

We went to a wine bar, had yummy rosé and sandwiches, then walked a couple of blocks to the local live theater. It was a lovely evening. Good to meet some women my own age – finally! Up until now, I’ve known one or two women who are in my age range – most of my female friends here in VA are older or younger than me by 10+ years.

I realized, as I arrived and took off my coat, that I haven’t really been out with a small group of girl friends for almost three years. When I first moved to VA, I was invited to a woman’s house for a discussion of a particular cookbook and eating plan, but I felt out of place and self-conscious in that group – I didn’t know anyone, not even really the hostess, though we’re friends now. Before that, there was once in FL, just before I was moving, when my neighbor ladies took me out for a goodbye dinner.

Prior to that, I went out many times with women my own age, while living in Wisconsin. I was friends with women who had children my kids’ ages, so that automatically brought common companionship. I was in weekly Bible Study and prayer groups with fellow women at the same stage of life as me. I suppose that’s expected – we had life in common.

Besides those groups, and the wonderful team of women with whom I worked daily, I’d get together for breakfast or coffee with a few friends on a pretty regular basis. Then there’s my dear friend with whom I shared many dinners over the years. And let’s not forget my weekly call with my best friend!

I remember many years ago, when my dad was leaving for almost two weeks on a mission trip to Africa. My mom and I had multiple conversations about what she was going to do while he was gone, and she had made plans with several female friends for activities while he traveled, to help offset the potential loneliness of him being away. And we talked then about how important it is to have female friendships!

I think I’ve complained here on this blog about being lonely, longing for nearby relationships with women my own age. So I was excited when my schedule opened up last night – I usually have a Tuesday evening commitment. It worked out beautifully that I was free last night to join this “new” group of ladies. I had just recently bought a new dress, and thought how cute it would look with boots; I’d get dressed up for Girls’ Night – a nice change from my regular sweater and jeans.

But yesterday afternoon, I almost backed out. I had returned home after running errands, and I thought how nice it would be to stay home and make dinner with my husband, share a bottle of wine, and watch Netflix together. But he told me to go, and said that I needed some female companionship. He knows me so well!

I’m glad he pushed, and I’m very glad I went. And the dress looked great with the boots!

Passion

I’ve been thinking about passion lately. Not the kind I have for my husband, though thinking of that is good😉. No, I mean the kind of passion that motivates me, sparks me, keeps me awake at night in anticipation and planning.

I recently realized that there’s a big difference between liking my job and being passionate about it.

I had a job that I was passionate about for many years: my job at the Children’s Museum of La Crosse. I admit, though, after 11+ years, I was ready for the change that inevitably came because of our move from the state. I was ready to not be working. As much as I enjoyed the kids and field trips and exhibits, and I loved my co-workers, I was ready for a break. I could tell, towards the end of my tenure there, that my enthusiasm had waned a little. I suppose that’s normal.

I worked as a receptionist/administrative assistant for a year and a half, and I really enjoyed that job. It was rewarding to be the first face/voice for folks contacting the church, and typing out the prayers for the bulletin greatly enriched my life personally. There, too, I loved the people I worked with.

I like the job I have now, particularly lately, as I have some administrative responsibilities. I like working with my student and family, and subbing with other students keeps it fresh and new. And I like my coworkers, here, too. I like the job, but it’s not my passion.

For a while, I felt like I could only stay in the job if I was passionate about it. But I’m realizing that it’s enough to like it, to be good at it, to enjoy the encounters as they occur. And it’s okay that I find my passion other than in my work.

My passion – the spark in my life – is this peer-led support group for folks with mental illness, and their loved ones. Our Fresh Hope group starts in January, and we’re in the final phase of preparing for our first meeting. It’s exciting! For me, it feels like a burden that God has placed on my heart is finally taking flight. Like the dream He gave me is coming true. And while I feel inadequate for the job, I realize that I will be totally dependent on God’s power for any good thing that will result. Therefore, I’m expecting great things!

I have other passions. My kids, of course, and everything about them and their lives. Having deep friendships – that’s a passion, though a bit elusive still. I’m passionate about Jesus, and the way He’s worked in my life to enable me to share those lessons with others.

I’m not passionate about activities – not about exercising or reading or cooking or even knitting or blogging, though I enjoy those last two. My passion is about people, relationships, and connections.

When I think about the things that truly make me happy, they’re all about being with people. People I love. People I care about. People I’ve walked through life with. The people I work with at my job and where I volunteer, the folks who will come to the Fresh Hope group, the Fresh Hope Facilitator team, my family – these are my passions.

Jobs are good. Passions are life-giving. I’m fortunate to have both!

On Purpose

I started this blog post on June 5, 2016, but the theme is still running through my life consistently! The topic – my purpose.

My therapist pointed out to me years ago that I speak to myself in questions, so this post will be full of those. If you have any answers, please share in the comment section below!

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Draft written 1.5 years ago:

Yesterday, the lesson was about my purpose, and God got my attention from 2 different devotionals and a conversation. What is my purpose? I’m asking myself that anyway, again now while I’m in between houses, and trying to find things to do to fill up my days. I met a woman a few nights ago who talked about her job in a way that showed passion and purpose. At the same time, I’m asking myself about writing this book – am I supposed to be using my time to do that? And how does my bent – the way I need daily interaction with people – how does that play into my purpose? What am I supposed to do with myself? Should I be looking for a job? Should I be volunteering? If so, where should I focus my energies? Once again, I ask myself what do I want to be when I grow up? Where do my previous work experiences lend themselves? To families, I think. To mentoring or some kind of teaching. But what does that look like around here? In this place in VA? Do I find a job to “tide me over?” What if I don’t want to, what if that doesn’t feel right? Do I do it anyway, as a way to meet people? (thoughts inspired by Edie Wadsworth’s blog post, Jennifer Lee’s blog post, Holy Experience devotional, daily devotional from YouVersion, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

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So here I am today, still asking the same question – what is my purpose in this, the second half of my life? I know the Westminster Shorter Catechism – “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” But as a Christ follower, I can claim this already, What I mean is, what am I supposed to do with myself, with my time? Where do I put my energies?

I lived the first half of my marriage as “Mom.”  And I know that I will always be Mom. Therapists will tell you that this is not your identity, it’s simply a role. But after 26 years of it, it sure feels like identity. And now, with both kids grown, there’s a loss of this identity as it doesn’t take the time it used to!

I was recently asked what do I dream of doing? Problem is, I don’t really have a dream. I’m not sure that I ever had one, or even know how to.

Yesterday, I read a short book by David Ramos called What the Bible Says about Purpose, and I completed the shorter questionnaire, 5 Questions that Create Clarity. I put in writing some things I already know:

  • I need to be in some kind of leadership.
  • I need to be doing something with helping others.
  • I need to be connecting with people.
  • I’d like to still live in Florida, or alternatively, closer to my children.
  • I’d like to travel.
  • My closest friends live far away, though new friendships here are slowly developing.
  • I’m still not committed to a church body.
  • I might like to write a book. I’d certainly like to be more consistent in blogging.
  • I miss public speaking.

So how does all of this help me? I’m not sure, other than it gives me lots to pray about, and lots to process.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17, NIV (emphasis mine)