Coffee Date No. 14

Hi, friend. It's good to meet you here. Just in case you're new to this corner of the interwebs, let me give you the skinny on these coffee date posts. Once a month, on the second Monday, a group of gals meets at a virtual table for an unfiltered chat about whatever is currently going on in our lives. Nothing is off limits, and there is more than enough grace to cover our messes. So if that sounds like the kind of thing your soul might need, we would love nothing more than to have you pull up a chair, bring your favorite mug filled to the brim with your beverage of choice, and we'll spill it all together. Don't have a blog to link up? That's totally fine. Tell us what you would share in the comments below.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd take you to my new favorite spot. Living within walking distance of one of the biggest college campuses in the state does have some perks -- one of which is All In Coffee Shop. They have a very nice outdoor seating area, but I'd suggest that we sit inside, because the heat in South Carolina has been in the high 90's for what feels like ages, and according to the weatherman, it isn't going to get better any time soon. I'd definitely be drinking an iced coffee -- maybe something with caramel or lots of chocolate.

If we were on a coffee date, you might ask about mine and C's recent trip. In the month since we last chatted, C and I celebrated our fourth anniversary by taking a road trip up the east coast. Maybe you've seen the pictures on Instagram. We went to Washington DC, New York City, and Boston. Craig drove up the coast with his dad and brother last fall, but I actually hadn't ever been north of Maryland before he and I took this trip. It was wonderful. We went tothe top of The Rockefeller, which was my absolute favorite part of the trip. I was pretty hesitant to go to the top of anything, but it was seriously the most beautiful, peaceful part of our day in NYC. And we topped it all off by seeing U2 in Boston, which was absolutely incredible. Happy anniversary to us!

If we were on a coffee date, I'd ask how you and God are doing these days. What are you learning at church and from scripture? What has your quiet time looked like recently? How are you engaging culture? Lately, I feel like he and I are on the cusp of something really big. But of course, I don't know exactly what that is yet. Do you ever feel that way? What do you do to unpack it?

If we were on a coffee date, I'd have to gush about the fact that LG is going to be a big sister! I haven't talked about this on social media at all, so it will probably come as quite the surprise. Her mama is actually due to have another precious girl this week! I have to say, I'm a little bit anxious to think about how much this will change things for us, but my excitement to meet this beautiful new baby far outweighs that nervousness.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd ask how you handle it when friends move away. Our best friends recently told us that they are moving two hours away. I have been totally devastated, even though I know that two hours isn't that far. It just feels far away because of how much we love them. We've pretty much been inseparable since C and I moved to South Carolina, so I know that there will be lots of long weekends spent going back and forth between here and Charlotte to see each other.

If we were on a coffee date, I'd ask what you're reading. I'm slowly but surely working my way through Louie Giglio's new book, Goliath Must Fall. Have you ever just known that a book was written for you? That's how I've felt about this book from about page seven. With every page turned, I say, "okay, God, you have my attention."

If we were on a coffee date, I would tell you that we went to an event at church and met two of the nicest couples. Guys, meeting people is hard. I don't consider myself to be a shy person, but I can be terrible at instigating new friendships. For now, I'm going to take the easy way out and blame this on my INFJness. Of course, the underlying current of thought is that it is especially difficult given that we're still adjusting to new surroundings after an ending we didn't ask for or see coming. Starting over is just plain hard, but we have to come to a point where we realize that people are worth fighting for. We are worth fighting for, too.

If we were on a coffee date, you know I would ask how your heart is. Because small talk makes me itchy, and I want to get down to the nitty-gritty, no holding back space. You know, the space where you can laugh or cry or curse or pray or whatever your heart most needs to do. And I would ask if you know what you're made for, because I'm starting to get tiny glimpses of my own meaning and there's nothing I would love more than to call out those things that are beautiful and alive and growing in you.

What would you share with me if we were on a coffee date?

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What I've Learned and What I'm Into: December

What I've learned:

1. Time flies. More specifically, six months of marriage flies. I think this is a realization that can only come with age, and the relentless pursuit and collection of people and moments that make your soul feel full. Craig and I have laughed and shared more in the last six months than ever before. I would marry him again in a minute.

2. I am more prepared for my job than I originally thought. After two weeks of training on the keys to child welfare, there was so much I found that I already knew how to do, which is really exciting given that I recently asked my boss if I was qualified to send a fax to a doctor's office for a child's medical records.

3. Confidence comes with experience. With number two in mind, no amount of book knowledge can really prepare you for this kind of work. You have to go out and be willing to go out and get some dirt under your nails. So far, I have driven out to several home visits with my supervisors or coworkers, and sat in a court room to watch a case unfold that would have been appropriate for Law & Order. Also, I stayed by myself in a hotel for two weeks for training. The longest I had ever been away from home and my husband.

4. I love my coworkers. There is just something about this office and the people in it. Typically, the turn around rate in social work is through the roof -- but most of my coworkers have been here going on ten years. They are some of the most encouraging people I have ever met. One might also get the impression that social workers are incredibly serious, but the whole building is full of jokers, and a day does not go by that we don't laugh about something together.

5. Generally, things are much less scary than I make them out to be. Like staying in a hotel by myself for two weeks, or  my first solo visit with a foster child who is, shall we say, not low risk.  Everything anxious in me leads me to believe that things are going to turn out horribly, when time and time again, I am reminded that the Lord is in control.

6. My bank is super on top of things. Like security breaches after I shopped at Target. It had barely reached the news that Target's database was hacked when I received a phone call from our bank saying that my information had potentially been compromised and that they were going to cancel my current debit card and send me a new one.

7. Don't put too much emphasis on the blog statistics page. Numbers are not everything.

What I'm reading:

Blogs:

"How I've Taught People to Treat Me Differently," by Allison Vesterfelt.

"When Christmas Stretches You," by Ann Voskamp.

"I Know Close to Nothing, but I Believe in These Things," by Hannah Brencher.

Books:

"Grace for the Good Girl," and "A Million Little Ways," by Emily Freeman. [Sidenote: I fly through most fiction, but when it comes to books that really challenge me, it could take forever to finish. Especially recently, I have tried to be much more intentional about reading slowly and prayerfully.]

What I'm laughing at:

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What I'm watching:

Craig and I don't actually have cable, but during my two-week hotel stay, I managed to catch The Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood. I generally don't have a problem with Carrie or her music, though I'm not an avid fan of the country genre. I only have this to say: if Julie Andrews did it right the first time, there's no sense in trying to do it over again.

and finally...

What I'm listening to:

https://play.spotify.com/user/1227646053/playlist/4XLlhfnhbipR5tkypmIi7f

Top posts of 2013:

Dear Church, I'm Still Here.

Note to Self, but also to You.

This is not an open letter.

Linking up with Emily Freeman for "What I Learned," and Leigh Kramer for "What I'm Into."