Together is Better than Alone

This morning I headed over to a girlfriend’s home for a long-awaited coffee get together speaker/writer’s meeting. One of the sweet women, a bit younger than I am, wanted to meet with a mutual friend and me, to ask questions and glean insight. I was totally game. I too wanted to learn from one a bit farther down the road than I am so from the idea’s inception, I was ALL IN!  Seemed like the type of gathering that I thrive on. Three women, intimate setting and a time of encouragement. Bring it on!

I got dressed and began to accessorize. Perhaps my favorite part of dressing. I put on a few, okay, maybe the typical 10 bracelets onto my right arm. Each of the bracelets so different from the others in its color and size. As I layered them on the combination jingled. Which produced the smile that took over my face. Yep!  That’s what I love. It’s the differences that makes them appear special in combination. The juxtaposition of shiny silver next to beaded elastic or shells next to antique buttons. A perfect blend. I think that’s the way it is when we get together with other people. It’s the differences that make our own uniqueness stand out. I prayed, “Lord, let me celebrate these women I am about to go meet.”

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Due to life circumstances we had to postpone our gathering by a week. So this morning I was glad the awaited day had finally arrived. These two are incredible women.  One a seasoned speaker and author, the other a younger spunky, funny seminary student and women’s director at her church.

This Wisconsin morning it was EXTREMELY cold outside.  I dreaded going outside, I didn’t want to travel in the frigid temperatures.  We arrived at my friend’s house at the same time and were greeted with a warm welcome.  Hugs were given all around. It took what seemed like hours just to shed the layers.  First, put away sunglasses, gloves and boots, pass off my furry coat so I could don my winter slippers. Then, tuck away car key, locate my travel mug, pre-filled with almond milk of course and finally, step into her beautiful, Sun filled kitchen. Phew! I made it!

Why did I ever dread going out or getting together? The biggest hurdle was the weather.  Yet one other hesitation had loomed. When women get together the temptation or tendency is to compare or compete rather than celebrate. (I speak about this topic/problem often) I didn’t want that element to be a factor in the morning at all.  I thought back to my early morning prayer, “Lord, let me celebrate.”

We chatted a bit, filled our mugs with freshly brewed coffee, then sat down together and prayed over our conversation and the meeting. With head bowed I glanced down at my bracelets…so different, each unique and all beautiful together. I think that’s the way it is when we get together with other people. It’s the differences that make our own self stand out. I believe it’s better to embrace and celebrate the differences rather than compare or compete.

So, as I sat with these two beautiful, radiant, Jesus lovers, I was incredibly blessed to even join them. The one sat nearest the fireplace still wearing her outdoor vest and woolen hat with its ear flaps and ties dangling down from below her temples like oatmeal colored tendrils. Her raven eyes peered out expectantly. Precious!  The other, completely composed, classy lady, with her creamy complexion, tender eyes and soothing voice sat opposite.

We formed a triangle in the beautifully decorated room.  I was comfortable, at home, supported and encouraged.  I sat on the edge of the love seat eager to learn and glean.  My hair pinned up in a messy do, make up on, my jeweled arms jangled as I quickly wrote notes, scribbled names and jotted personal reminders or thoughts to share.  I had such a great time! “Together is better than alone.”  We encouraged each other in some logistical and practical ways. I prayed, silently in my heart/mind, as I looked at them both, “Lord, please cast a vision over what you would like to do in and through their individual and our collective lives.” God has brought us together in his sovereignty, wisdom, and graciousness.  Together is better than alone.  Romans 12:5 “So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”  I have a sense of belonging to these women even though I don’t know them that intimately. We are related. We are all daughters of the King.

Our time together was sweet but flew by too quickly.  I dashed out the door, scurried to my salt stained car, got in and drove away, gloved hands frozen as they clutched the cold steering wheel.  My feet were so cold they ached but my heart…my heart was truly warmed. Together is better than alone. I sensed community, mutual encouragement and personal challenge.

Once again I caught a brief glimpse of the many bracelets that adorned my wrist and fore arm. Each special, each have their own unique design and each hand crafted.  I reflected… they’re more stunning in combination. Yep!  Together is better than alone.

Quick question:  Do you compare and compete or celebrate?

My son Andrew Christian wrote a song, “It’s A Long Way,” with the line, together is better than alone, from his debut album, “Looking Finding.”

Link:  http://inouye.bandcamp.com/album/looking-finding

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So close I missed it!

I’ve never written a blog before so it’s a bit intimidating, but I do love to communicate. I figured it is just another way to do that…So here goes!

Sometimes what we want to find is right SMACK in front of us, right?  Well, at least that’s the way it is for me.  Last night I headed out into the blustery winter weather conditions to meet some ladies at Elmbrook Church for Bible study.  The roads were a bit slippery but I arrived safely. I stomped my feet outside the door to remove the freshly fallen snow, brushed the collected snow off my shoulders, flipped my parka hood back from my head, shook my head so my hair wouldn’t be too matted down and went inside.

I decided to stop at The Mission Cafe, Elmbrook’s coffee shop, because I was cold. I thought a warm drink would do the trick, plus I’d been given a little free drink voucher that I’d been carrying around in my wallet since before Christmas. Why hadn’t I used it before?  What was I waiting for?  You may be wondering.  Well, there was just one hurdle in my way. I like almond milk in my coffee. I do like coffee but NOT black and only dairy free.  Personal choice and I’m allergic to soy.  I’ve stopped in the cafe before, read the menu board a few times, but it reads ‘milk substitute soy.’  RATS!  Sure I could just select another drink like hot tea or a fruit smoothie but the Thank you-Christmas card I’d received said “Thanks a Latte”  even though the printed the voucher just read, redeem for a free drink of your choice at The Mission Cafe.  My mind wanted and was primed for a WARM LATTE.

I walked into the cafe delighted that there was only one gentleman in line ahead of me.  I glanced up at the menu board…Soy. I saw Kelly who manages the Cafe behind the counter talking to the barista making the man’s drink.  I know Kelly, she is great, so instead of ordering, I sashayed my way down in front of  the high counter, both hands raised shoulder height and I leaned in and asked, “Hey Kelly, do you guys have almond milk?  I don’t see it on the board.” She said, “Yes, we just started carrying it today!  Did you see the sign?” I walked back to the registers and I saw a sign written in bold neon cursive writing,  “INTRODUCING Almond Milk.” Oh, my word!  I laughed at myself and embarrassed, I turned to Kelly and said, “Do you mean the large sign stating ‘NOW carrying almond milk?’ I’m so excited you have it now!”  I ordered a medium, decaf, vanilla latte with almond milk.  I chatted with Kelly a few minutes longer as my drink was prepared, thanked the server and headed to group.

As I climbed the steps to my group’s meeting room. I reflected on how often I miss what is right in front of me.  God has displayed a sign, readable, huge, even neon sign of his individualized goodness to me, but I’ve missed it looking to figure it out myself or get my answer from another source or person.  It’s like He says, “Here I am!  Right here so close you’ve missed it.”

Psalm 139:1-3

“Oh Lord, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.”

He is completely aware of me, I desire to be as acutely aware of Him…and not miss it.

Rachel

rachelinouye.org, @4thgirlrach, rachelinouye (instagram)