Friday, May 20, 2011

The Gift of Time

Jen, Marcy, me, Stacie & Anne departed in the "early car." We were so eager to get to the ocean and even more excited for some time away together.
This past weekend I was given one of the greatest gifts for my birthday/Mother's Day/graduation. Ericlee asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday this year and I finally realized that more than anything I wanted some time with girlfriends. My husband's family has a beach house in Arroyo Grande on the Central Coast and I was able to snag it for a weekend. I was shocked that eight of us were able to clear our schedules and arrange childcare so we could spend some quality time together for a weekend before we depart for Haiti in early June.

For those who know me well, they know my "love language" is quality time. I love leisurely coffee dates. I love walks through the neighborhood or by the ocean. I love staying up late and just talking with friends. However, I rarely have the gift of leisurely time and conversation with these dear friends. Between eight of us there are 23 kids. Enough said.
Most of the weekend was focused on relaxing (and eating) but we did schedule a few excursions. One excursion was to go pick organic strawberries at a nearby u-pick farm. Our family visited Rutiz Farms in Arroyo Grande last strawberry season and we discovered a gold mine of organic produce. You can't beat $2/pound of freshly-picked strawberries. (I started dreaming up strawberry recipes as soon as we knew we would be going.)
One of my favorite parts of the weekend was just listening to all the diverse conversations. We are a pretty opinionated group of mamas, and we covered topics from adoption to birth to healthy eating to ways to save money to homeschooling. Whether at the breakfast table, walking by the beach, playing late-night board games or even thrift store shopping there was always a spill of conversation. We even a powerful time of sharing and prayer together as we all face the challenges of this season of life.
I told the girls I really didn't want birthday gifts because it was a gift just to be together. Of course, they ignored that request and spoiled me with dinner at my favorite restaurant in Pismo, Giuseppe's. I ordered my all-time fave Butternut Squash Ravioli and tried out a Pistachio-crusted Chicken dish with Cori. The girls also surprised me with a Creative Memories book full of photos, memories and lists of gifts they have experienced in our friendship.

I can remember a time when living in Fresno I felt very alone, wondering if I would ever find friends who shared my values, hopes and dreams. I was reminded that weekend that each of these women (and a few others) are part of a community of friends who have blessed me with encouragement, prayers and just walking the journey together. They challenge me to be a better mother, wife and friend. They challenge me to think beyond myself to a bigger world full of needs. They challenge me to see God in the little things. I often hang out with them one one one or maybe a few of us gather for Life group or coffee, but my heart was truly full to have so many of them all in the same place. What a surprising birthday gift!

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