I've been offline all weekend.
I've been with my in real life "peeps"...
the women of our church, the women I walk beside through their joys, their sorrows, their failures, their triumphs.
I was at our annual ladies' retreat.
Using the in real life videos from (in)courage. me as our guide,
we spent the weekend talking about the things that cause us to shrink back from real and lasting relationships, cause us to withdraw from community.
We had women from our church open up and tell their "hard stories".
They shared how they made it through the storms in their life by the grace of God and with the help of their sisters in Christ,
how the body of Christ loved them back from loss and failure,
what has helped them build and maintain life long friendships.
We shared our fears and failures, our joys and triumphs.
We laughed and cried, we worshipped and prayed, we slept too little and ate too much, we acted silly and we got serious.
We "built a bench".
We've always had things we needed to talk about with one another.
We just needed a safe place to do it.
I'm thanking God.
In 2012 I followed the prompts in Ann Voskamp's Joy Dare in counting my thanks.
In 2013 I'm going back to the way I did it in the beginning,
just noticing and recording the many extraordinary blessings in my ordinary life.
And so I continue to count my thanks
piling up gratitude day by day
in my little black journal.
(and capturing some of them via my camera or iPhone)
-a new Williams Sonoma loaf pan from my sweet friend
-the Hubs going grocery shopping with me after work, then taking me to Chipotle for dinner so I didn't have to cook
-putting away the fans and the air conditioner and embracing fall
-hot, homemade chicken and rice soup on a rainy day
-our family all praying about a family members need
-lunch with my buddy
-another confirmation about this year's ladies' retreat theme
(God can even use a fortune cookie, I suppose!)
-a weather change for the better just as I went on my run
-staying home all day and working on the finishing touches for retreat
-feeling confident of God's leading of the direction for retreat
-everyone getting to retreat in spite of road closures and road blocks
-Jesus' love and presence evident-the ladies' openness
-staying up late talking
-a couple from our church not badly hurt in a serious traffic accident
-my friend having a severe high blood sugar at retreat, but it coming down as we prayed for her
-God's work in all of us
-a wonderful morning at church
-lunch with my Hubs after being apart all weekend
-a nap-resting and recuperating from a full weekend