Hello, old friend (plus a little announcement)

Hi friend,

I have been gone from this space for a while (over two months!), but that does not mean that it has left me. I frequently think of things I'd like to write about, questions I want to pose to you, and  I want to share, but I also have tried to spend the past couple of months being P R E S E N T with people, which has been good for my soul. 

Yesterday was my 29th birthday, which when I'm honest, was not a day I was looking forward to-- but it was wonderful. Wonderful in ways I could never have expected. I felt more loved, valued, and cared for than I ever could have imagined. When people go out of their way to do things they don't have to, or buy things they shouldn't, or share words they mean with all their person, it means something. It fills up places you don't even know were depleted. It restores something you never knew needed restoring. So today, my first real day of 29, all I can feel is exceedingly grateful for every acknowledgement, encouragement, gift, moment of yesterday.

So, I've spent these months being present, being with people, and it has made me realize over, and over, and over the importance of relationships. It takes intentionality and generosity in order to be a friend. It requires selflessness beyond what I always can muster in myself-- and yet I have watched my friends do it for me so many times, yesterday being just another example of their immense kindness.

My friend NG, who is every ounce of four and a half years old, drew a beautiful sign to put on her front door so that all her "neighbor friends will know that this is her house, and they are welcome here!" This small but huge gesture has lingered in my mind: how often do I intentionally close my proverbial door and pretend to hide in the dark so that my friends don't know I'm available? How frequently do I offer the minimum of my time or my words, opting to guard myself from giving much of anything away? I try to keep myself safe and unaffected, because I'm afraid of being hurt or depleted or having my life be interfered with in any way. 

I want to be more like NG, willing to put a sign outside my life that openly lets others know, "I'm here". I want to stop holding people at a distance, to let people in, to willingly invite people to interfere with my plans and wreck my personal space and time. Of course I believe in healthy boundaries-- but I also think I have set up unhealthy guards that do more to turn people away than love them, and in the end, I think that's where I am: I want to learn to love people well, again. 

The Bible has a lot to say about friendships. There are friends "who stick closer than a brother", and I want to learn how to be that kind of friend. So I'm inviting you to join me, starting October 10th, for a study on friendship. I will share more details next week, include the name and the ideas I have to make it both a digital + tangible study, but in the meantime, will you consider joining me if you, too, could benefit from learning how to be a better friend to others? 

Memorize the Word is going to start up again in October, and there are a few other art announcements I have coming in the new couple of weeks as well, so look out for more posts + sneak peaks!

Love,

NP