It Takes a Village

Ever since I was a child, I have loved writing as a form of expression. I remember winning a writing contest in elementary school for a book I wrote about my family. Going back years and years and years, I have enjoyed writing about life.

Sometimes I get it right, sometimes I get it wrong but these days I am trying to balance sharing my story while also protecting those who share it with me. There is no denying though, I saw the value and power in story even as a young girl. 
A little while ago, I got a message from a woman who had been introduced to my blog. She saw some similarities in our stories, and messaged me about it. Already a mother, she found herself unexpectedly pregnant in an extremely tumultuous and dark time in her life. She confessed that she had made an appointment to terminate her pregnancy.
I remember opening that message and feeling a whole host of emotions. Touched, that she would reach out to me. Burdened, to know what to say and how to respond. Overwhelmed, uncertain on how to make her feel safe and not judged. 
I didn’t know what to do, really, other than pray.
I have written out this story so many times, and I’m going to be honest with you – I cannot do it justice. I wish I could. I wish I could adequately describe how God orchestrated so many events in my life leading up to receiving this email. I wish I could share with you the people He put in my path, the choices I’ve made, the things I’ve experienced that helped me in this moment. I won’t, because it would take too long and truthfully the details aren’t the important part.
What I’ve taken away from this experience is this:
– there is power in sharing your story
– there is power in reaching out for help
It doesn’t matter whether you share your story through a blog like I do, or if you share it with just one other person. What I have learned is that God can and does use some of the darkest moments of my life for good. 
Reaching out for help is not easy. Most of us live with the idea that needing other people is a sign of weakness. We have a hard time knocking over walls, trusting others with our hearts and forgiving when people hurt us. 
So if you’ve reached out and felt rejected, I get it. There have been people, friends, organizations and even churches who have cast me aside when I needed them most. And even though I am now in a place where I remind myself often that I am dealing with imperfect people, it can be hard to bounce back from that. But I can look at myself and realize that I have disappointed people too. I have let others down, and rejected people needing help, even if I didn’t do it intentionally.

To live openly, to trust fully, to try to be vulnerable when other people handle you imperfectly is hard. It’s painful and usually disappointing.

It’s also brave.

For this woman to reach out to me, a stranger, and let me know she was in a dark place was brave. It allowed me to not just see how a deeply painful part of my life can help others, it allowed me to reach deep inside myself where God works continually to shape who I am becoming.

I am brought to tears virtually every time I think about this story. This woman has been connected to counselors and a church – not just through me, but through people God has put in my life and events that have taken place. Her baby is due this spring, and she sent me this message recently. With her permission, I’m sharing it here.  

I want to send you a picture of a little girl, my little girl, she wouldn’t be here without your influence, you made the calls and prayed, she’s still got a beating heart because of you.

When I read that message, I couldn’t help but look back and see how God had orchestrated so many things in MY life to help HER make a choice she felt unable to make. Because she was brave and reached out for help…because she was vulnerable and trusted me with her story….because God is such a great, great God who sees so far beyond what we are able to see, this woman’s life will be forever changed.

Is she in a perfect place now? I doubt it. None of us are. But she is beginning to feel like she has others who love her and support her and want the best for her and her family. She has a glimmer of hope.

Please don’t be afraid to share your story, and don’t be afraid to reach out for help. I am forever repeating to myself this mantra: “We belong to each other” (You know I can’t go a day without a nod to Glennon)

What an amazing God we serve.

Y’all. We DO belong to each other. Our stories, our hurts, our triumphs, our fears – there is so much power in all of it. We can’t do this whole life thing alone. We aren’t meant to. You’ve heard the saying, it takes a village to raise a child…I think it takes a village to get through life. Don’t be afraid of getting messy with someone else’s messy life. And if you haven’t found your village yet, please keep going. Keep looking. It’s worth it. 

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31 Days of Brave: Showing Up

Nourish is working on a women’s conference for next year – most of you know that already. When Shaunna and I began daydreaming about what the conference would look like, what kind of speakers we wanted to invite to join us, what kind of topics we wanted to discuss – we just felt like She’s Brave encompassed all of that.

We use ‘brave’ a lot in our interactions with the Nourish community.

Have you ever sat with someone as they shared something deeply painful or shameful or guilt ridden or secretive?

I have. And at times, I’ve been the one doing the sharing.

There is a quiet, still, kind of holiness in those moments. A build of tension, where fear is almost palpable as this person begins to speak their truth. This moment is when a lot of people shut down or shut others out. We become scared of facing truths with someone….unsure of what to say, how to react. Will our facial expressions give us away when they tell us what they’re about to tell us?

There is no doubt this fear is exactly what intercepts an authentic, real relationship between two individuals. If we let ourselves be known, will we be rejected?

Within Nourish, we challenge ourselves and our groups to explore this more. What does true acceptance look like? What does it look like to let someone speak their truth and be met with love? What does it look like to sit around a table with 7 or 8 women who are different in personality, age, background, lifestyles and feel accepted?

We’ve had some precious, scary, hard, redemptive moments around our tables.

It isn’t a perfect formula. At times we’ve stumbled, made mistakes, messed up. At times the message of acceptance gets muddied or lost. In the spirit of honesty, I myself have had moments that I have handled incorrectly despite my best intentions.

We are learning to love regardless. To say sorry, to hold a hand out and pull someone else up. To forgive and to understand.

And that’s when the brave comes in. It takes some courage to be a part of this community. You have to commit to a dinner group where you may not really know someone. Then you have to show up and hang out with women who are different from you. And if you really want to get the most out of Nourish, eventually you’ll have to share a little bit of who you are. And once you do that, we hope you’ll keep coming back. And to keep coming back to a group of women who are getting to know YOU takes courage.

But we hope it also brings comfort and relief: to know and be known – to love and be loved even when it isn’t easy.

My heart has been so touched, my soul so encouraged by the women who show up every month, yearning to be brave and fighting through the fear of letting someone else know who they are.


So proud of my girls who show up each month, ready to be brave. 

Interested in attending She’s Brave 2016? Buy tickets HERE.


What a Privilege

Sometimes, wow…I seriously love my life.

Y’all. This week has been hard. From start to finish (and it’s not even over yet!) It’s been hard physically, hard emotionally, hard spiritually, hard from a parenting perspective…

But in the midst of my exhaustion and moments of fear and doubt, God whispers to me that He’s got this.  Why do I fight that so much? Why do I doubt?

I went to bed about 2 hours ago – and have already been woken twice by little people in utero and out (ha) My mind was working overtime and I picked up my phone to see messages that had poured in after our Nourish Friday night dinners ended.

By the way, for all of you who attend or host a dinner, this is probably my favorite part of the weekend so keep reaching out to us.

I read messages, I scrolled through pictures and I just burst into tears.

My heart is so full.

I am so thankful.

Women of Nourish, I haven’t even met most of you! But my gosh…You. Are. Inspiring.

Thank you for being brave and for showing up. Thank you to those of you who open your homes and welcome in strangers. Thank you to those of you who leave your house or work on a Friday or Saturday night and step into the new and the unknown.

Thank you fighting back against the stereotype that all women are mean girls. Thank you for taking a risk.

6 or 7 years ago, working with a large group of women like this would’ve been the last thing on my mind. If you’d told me about Nourish then, I’d have laughed in your face.

This passion we have, for seeing each of you connect and be part of something…I just never would have seen it coming.

Shaunna and I – we don’t know what we’re doing here. We just felt God had put this passion in our hearts so we jumped. We are figuring this out month by month, day by day. If you knew how much we talked about you, prayed for you, thought about you – well you’d probably think we were crazy stalkers. But really, we LOVE each of you.

It isn’t easy keeping tabs on a group of women that spans across the city, that isn’t focused on any particular group or church or religion or age, etc. It makes my head hurt sometimes, worrying that we’ve dropped the ball on something or missed someone or something or hurt someone’s feelings accidentally. Have we been too churchy or not churchy enough? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woken in a panic in the middle of the night sure that we’d forgotten to respond to an email or put someone in a group.

But as each month passes, one thing I know for sure – God is placing each of you in your group for a reason. He is orchestrating your lives, your friendships…He is weaving together a beautiful and rich story of love and acceptance and Shaunna and I get to see it happen. What a privilege.

I. Love. You.

xoxo

Why Does Nourish Work?

Last year when I wrote this post about my desire for a community of women that was authentic, so many of you responded with your own desire for the same thing.

So, a friend and I listened. I sifted through all the comments and private messages and we prayed and thought and decided how we wanted to proceed.

We presented a CRAZY idea.

We wanted women to get together and…have dinner.

That’s it. Just dinner. Ok, maybe drinks and something chocolate too if you insist. But mostly? Dinner.

No forced discussions, no book studies, no bible verses to read and memorize. It wasn’t going to be a group for young women or old women. Not a group for moms or singles. Wouldn’t matter if you believed in God or not. The only way we intended to organize groups was by location.

It was risky, so we were told. No common denominator? No big goal? No mission? How could that possibly work? Why would women jump into a group with strangers and open up?

And to be honest with you, we didn’t have all the answers. At all. We stammered and stuttered and confessed we weren’t exactly sure but we DID know this is what we were being led to do. God was in control of this.

June is our 5th month meeting together as a community and growth has been amazing.

Obviously, we are where God wants us to be because it’s kind of as baffling to us as it is to you that this concept is working. But in addition to the whole God thing, here’s what I’ve discovered as I sit around the dinner table with other women.

We are all fragile in our own ways. There isn’t a woman I’ve come across in this process who isn’t insecure in some way, broken in some way, afraid in some way and dying inside to share her true self without fear of rejection. This is buried so deep in who we are as women, and it is screaming to come out.

When we presented this idea publicly, we tried to make it pretty clear exactly what it was about. And because of that, women have come to this group ready and willing to be open about who they are. They know they don’t have to hide behind discussions or books because there isn’t any of that. We are all here because we all want to be real. Shaunna and I worried that because we were planning monthly dinners, it might take months and months for bonds and friendships to form. But that fear has melted away as these things have happened in many cases by the FIRST meeting.

Because so many women have come ready to share of themselves and be vulnerable, a quick bond is formed. I don’t even know how to explain it other than – when one person starts and shares, another person feels like they can share, and then a domino effect occurs and suddenly everyone has been very open and vulnerable and no one dares mess with that. Somehow, so far, everyone seems to understand that this is a little golden pocket of community – a really special and sacred place and please, please do not destroy it.

As women, we’ve all been victim to someone backstabbing, lying, gossiping or competing with us. We’ve done it, and we’ve had it done to us.

I’m so BEYOND proud of this community because we strive to break free of those stereotypes and live in a way that is brave and free.

And when I say brave, I mean it. I have listened to women cry and discuss pain. Broken marriages, body image issues, blended family struggles, depression, suicidal thoughts, abuse…I am amazed at how brave you all are. And don’t worry, it’s not all hard stuff. At our last dinner, I laughed so hard my face actually hurt from smiling so much. And yeah, there were bras hanging from light fixtures (no, no one was drunk). We have FUN together but we do hard stuff.

Are we perfect at this? Of course not. Will there be hurt feelings at some point? Most definitely. We are women and we are emotional beings. It’s how we were created. But 5 months in, this community is growing in leaps and bounds and in the words of my co-founder Shaunna, “I don’t know how I haven’t known these women my whole life”

Me. Neither.

To all of you Nourish women: you make me laugh, you make me cry, my heart is bursting at the seams
wanting each and every one of you to experience true sisterhood. We can’t say it enough – thank you for trusting us. For jumping into an idea that a lot of people thought was crazy and going along for the ride. Thank you for being willing to set aside the temptation to be competitive, to gossip, to backbite, to judge. Thank you for looking at each woman in your group as an equal and taking a leap of faith in trusting each other. 

WE LOVE YOU FOR IT! Big things in store for you, Nourish. Big things. You can get involved by emailing us at NourishCLT@gmail.com

Hostess with the Mostest: Meet Holly

Shaunna and I thought it would be fun to do a series of posts where you got to meet some of our hostesses and members, to hear straight from them what Nourish is all about. We are kicking off this series with Holly! She has quickly become someone we just love and adore and think you will too. Can’t wait for you to get to know her.

Q. Hey Holly! Thanks for doing this – why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about yourself.
A. I’m a 38 year old mom of 2 and stepmom of 2 that live with us half time. We are the modern day Brady Bunch of sorts, minus the Alice! (Sure wish I had an Alice) I got married at the wise old age of 19 and quit college.That lasted 6 years and I have 2 beautiful kids to show for it. I was a single mom for 4 years, and they were the toughest of my life. But I decided I wanted more for my life, whether I got remarried or not, so I went back to school and became a Nurse Practitioner. During my last year in grad school, my life changed forever when my 8 year old son was diagnosed with a brain tumor. It was a whirlwind of a summer and I barely finished school but I made it and met my now husband shortly after. My son has gone through a lot, but he’s alive and well at age 17 now and stable according to the last scan (my, how time flies). I’ve been in Charlotte for 7 years now, came here after I met my husband online and fell in love. He is a chiropractor that owns a small business and I work both in his office and an outside job. We really don’t have a lot of time for hobbies, but in the last couple years I have made it more of a priority and we have taken up shooting guns. I attend a ladies night at a local range and I can’t tell you how therapeutic it is! I am a Christian and believe solidly in God, although I have strayed many times. I have run away from him, not the other way around. I was raised Southern Baptist but now we attend a great non denominational church. My husband was actually born and raised Catholic and left the church when he was 36 to pursue a closer relationship with God. I believe we are all here for a purpose and part of that is to be the hands and feet of Jesus and love one another unconditionally. I think the “church” can drive so many people away with their legalistic views, shallow and fake facades and part of the reason I love this concept is because it strives to break free from those chains.
Q. How did you get involved with Nourish?
A. I am Facebook friends with lots of different people, and one of those is a pastor, Robbie McLaughlin, who posted something on his page about being real and encouraging that thought. For many years I have felt out of place and frustrated because I see so much shallowness and superficial crap in every venue from church circles to female circles, moms at school, etc. So I posted a comment about how I felt like nobody wanted real and that when people see “real” they back away. He acknowledged my feelings and we were having a discussion about it when a Nourish member chimed in about Nourish and that it would be a great place for me. She and I did not know each other, but struck up a conversation and it felt so right. I was invited to the March dinner and I was ecstatic! I did not know anyone on the guest list, but reading the mission statement of Nourish literally made me cry because I felt like somebody else “got it!” When the week of the dinner came around, the host and her family got sick and had to cancel. After asking if anyone was willing to volunteer in her place, I took the leap and said “I don’t know a soul, but I will!” It was a great decision and such a wonderful opportunity.
Q. What about the concept of this community resonated with you?
A. Being real as a female in this world is so hard. From every avenue, from the time we are small girls we are told we need to be different. Just take a look at media, fashion, movies…we need this product, this item of clothing, this type of house, this type of education, I could go on forever. And never mind the Pinterest ideas for making the best, healthy, organic snacks for your angels. You get my point – but none of this is real! We are not always beautiful, not always nice, not always on time, our kids eat junk sometimes, our house is a mess, our relationships are strained in many ways because of this pressure we put on ourselves. The concept of Nourish resonated with me because I’m tired of it all! I want to be real. I want you guys to know that I sometimes lose my temper, my house is a wreck most days, my hair is not naturally like this and is 50% grey. I have to spend an ungodly amount of time on it to look this way. All these things, I am suspecting and taking a chance on, are things we all struggle with. And if one of us just stands up and shouts to the world, “I’m so tired of this! Can’t we just be real?” maybe others will hear and open their hearts too because they are not afraid.
Q. Tell us about your past experiences with trying to find a group of women who are authentic.
A. Ohhhh, this one touches a nerve! I’ve attempted to be a part of groups with my kids schools, groups at church, etc and never felt comfortable. I would reach out to someone, only to have her brush me off or not come through like she said she would. It really hurt me and caused me to almost give up. I have attended some local parties and never really heard anyone be authentic. I hated it! And I guess it showed because I didn’t get many invitations. I’m not very good at shallow, small talk. It’s like when you show up at church and everyone is saying hello and how are you and everyone says “good, and you?” when in reality we are NOT fine. We are broken and need help! Especially women, the pillars of our families, one of the most important pieces of the family unit and so influential.
Q. What do you hope to gain by being a part of Nourish?
A. I want to learn about other women, learn to share with them openly and honestly, to support one another, learn to be myself, laugh, cry, love and learn to be truly authentic. I want to show them that there IS a place you can go where you are loved and accepted, even if you are not perfect. Actually BECAUSE you are not perfect! It’s here, with us.
Q. To the woman on the fence about attending her first Nourish dinner, what would you tell her?
A. Go for it! Don’t wait! It will be the best thing you’ve done for yourself in a long time, I guarantee it!
Q. What about someone thinking about hosting for the first time? Is it difficult or time consuming?
A. Hostessing to me is a privilege and a gift. My kids are older and I enjoy giving the mothers of young ones a break. I don’t think it’s difficult because the women that come are only seeking acceptance. I tell people, leave the mask at the door! I enjoy trying to make my home a place like that and hopefully people feel that. I spend a couple of hours on Saturday getting ready between cleaning, shopping/cooking. I really should stop the cleaning part, I guess I’m a hypocrite! I’m a work in progress too, that’s the point of Nourish, to help us grow and support one another. To nourish one another in body, soul and spirit and band together as sisters on this amazing journey of life and womanhood. It doesn’t matter if your house is large or small, new or old. Love doesn’t care! When you are vulnerable, you open the door for others to be vulnerable and that’s what starts the chain reaction of sharing, learning and healing. 
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us, Holly!

If you are interested in attending or hosting a Nourish dinner, please email us at NourishCLT@gmail.com

If you want community, you have to show up

At the beginning of this year, my friend Shaunna and I launched a new community of women called Nourish. The idea behind this community is for women of ALL backgrounds to meet monthly around dinner tables all over the city of Charlotte, in various homes. We envisioned a community of women who, without the stress of weekly gatherings, studies or books, would eventually build real relationships with each other. We envisioned laughter around a table of food, drinks and delicious desserts. We saw women opening up about who they were, who they wanted to be, what their dreams and hopes were and what their struggles and secrets were.

May marks our 4th month, and I am so excited with the growth we’ve experienced. We have more than quadrupled in size since we launched in February and the stories we are hearing make me grin like a fool from ear to ear.

So as we move into the rest of the year, here is what we want you to know.

If you want community, you have to show up. And show up, and show up.

What do we mean by that?

Life is crazy busy isn’t it? I don’t know about you but most days I feel like I’m drowning under the weight of all my responsibilities. Most of you know that I’m going through some really hard personal stuff. My husband and I separated at the end of last year, and have been struggling through some really crappy junk. I’ve got 3 boys at home and am pregnant with a little girl. I work part time doing some admin work and some social media work for a non profit organization. I’m in the process of obtaining the last of 3 certifications in health coaching and I’m the co-founder of this Nourish community. It requires monthly planning and we are looking forward to next year when we hope to launch a really BIG community wide event.

I’m so busy y’all. There probably isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel on the verge of tears from sheer exhaustion and being absolutely overwhelmed by life.

But what I know, and what I’ve learned – is that I NEED other people. I need support. I need laughter, and

friendship and I need to know that I have a few people I can talk to when crap falls apart. I need a break from my kids, and I need to give myself permission to just have fun once in awhile.

My personal struggle and temptation is to shut everyone out. I’m naturally pretty extroverted, but the more difficult my life feels and the more balls I’m juggling, the more I tend to withdraw and isolate. And in turn, that makes me feel painfully lonely, sad, and resentful of how easy other people’s lives appear to be. It’s a slippery slope friends, and it’s a really difficult thing to balance.

Can I tell y’all a secret? I LOVE my Nourish girls. Like, hardcore love and respect and admire each one of them. Our dinners are full of laughter and funny stories and also painful moments and even tears sometimes. But I come away from each one on cloud freaking 9 and looking forward to the next month.

BUT…but…but…when the next month rolls around, and the Nourish dinner weekend approaches I feel that same tired feeling…that feeling that tells me hey, stay home this time. Phone it in, say you’re too tired, no one will be upset. You can stay home, sit this one out, take a break.

This is a big confession since you know, I co-founded this community.

And truthfully no one would care if I took a month off. If I stayed home and binge watched Netflix or ate ice cream or slept. And I reserve the right to do that at some point as my pregnancy progresses because hey, we all need to take a weekend off from time to time.

But every month I have rallied and put on something other than pj pants. I’ve done my hair, put on some make up and hired a sitter. I take that mommy guilt and I shove it aside and I push down my exhaustion and I go to dinner with some of the most beautiful freaking women I’ve ever seen (side note: ladies please. can you show up looking frazzled just once? just for me??!! Haha)

And I am so encouraged every single month by these women. All of them bring such beauty and light to my life and all of them teach me a little something. And each time we meet as a group, we strengthen relationships and we trust each other a little more. Each time a woman shows up, opens up and says something she is scared to say and is met with love, kindness and support we are shoving aside darkness. We are saying to each other “You matter enough for me to show up tonight after my crazy week. You matter enough for me to kiss my kids goodnight and leave them behind. You matter enough for me to spend time making a side dish or running to the store for dessert. You matter enough for me to get out of my yoga pants and turn off the Netflix and get in my car to drive here. You matter”

Now, this does not mean that there won’t be months you can’t come. We know you have lives and commitments and sometimes there just isn’t a way for you to be there. And we understand that. It’s ok.

I want to say that again because this isn’t meant to be a guilt trip or make you feel like this is ‘just one more commitment’ to deal with. If this makes you feel burdened and resentful, this isn’t for you and it’s ok! But if you are someone really struggling to find community with other women we hope this IS for you.

And the bottom line is that if you want community, you have to show up. As often as you can. There will be months you can’t come – we DO understand. But if you can be there…Be. There.

Shaunna and I cannot tell you how passionate we are about what we are doing. How thankful we are for the women who open their homes monthly to welcome guests. How thankful we are for all of the women who are committed to coming out and being a part of this growing community. It’s AWESOME.

And we believe wholeheartedly that community is vital to our being. We are created for relationships with one another. In this age of social media, it has become far too easy to sit behind a screen and feel as though we have friends. But we are pushing each of you to close that computer and get into your car and show up for a dinner where you get to sit across the table from other women and learn from them. It is truly a beautiful thing, and something that cannot be replicated through a computer screen.

We have big dreams for this community and a deep desire to see women grow in relationship with one another. I believe that one of the greatest ways Satan destroys women is by making us feel as though we are not as good as other women. I believe women who are united are a force to be reckoned with and will do great things for the Kingdom of God. It is my desire that we stop seeing each other as the enemy and start seeing each other as sisters and friends and valuable gifts.

We hope you’ll join us. If you’re interested in being a part of Nourish, please email us at NourishCLT@gmail.com.

taking

I’m never one who likes asking for help.

Does anyone, really?

Seriously, I’m pretty bad at it.  After Beckett was born, we had meals set up, and about a week or so into it, I shut that gravy train down.  I just felt so bad having people do all of that for our family.

This season of my life?  Oh, God is using it to humble me.  In a big way.

There is help being offered, and I am taking it.  Dinners?  We had them for a good solid month, four times a week.  Not a night went by that we didn’t have a delicious dinner at our ready.  Friend at the store offering to pick something up for me? Sure.  Diapers, please.  Family at Trader Joe’s?  Yes – bread and milk, if you don’t mind.

I am taking the help at every corner it’s being offered.

Do I feel awkward?  Yep.
Do I feel like I’m burdening other people?  You bet.
Am I doing it anyway?  Absolutely.
Why?

Because it takes me until 4:30 some days to get dressed and leave my house.  Because some nights I’m up almost until the sun rises and I’m too tired to worry about dinner or diapers.  Because my children are probably going stir crazy and if you offer to take them out of the house for me, I am going to let you.

And because I know deep down in my soul that God intends for us to live in community.  I preach it – I offer it – I have brought countless dinners to new mamas and offered to pick things up for friends if I was out.  It’s easier to give than it is to receive.  But that’s not what God wanted for me.  For you.  For all of us.  He wants us to carry each other’s burdens.  He wants us to live in the mess and chaos with each other.  He wants us to grieve, to celebrate, to pray, to live, to BE with each other.

The kindness of other people in the last 2 months has brought me to tears several times, with utmost appreciation and gratitude.  With absolute and utter relief.

There is a lot going on right now in our lives – not just new baby stress, but things that could make me feel bitter and angry and resentful.  And I can’t promise I don’t feel those things – I do – but you guys.  YOU who have brought dinner or diapers or bread and milk or sent messages and gifts and cards and prayers – God. Is. Using. You.

He is using you to show me He is here.  He is using you to show me He knows ME.  He knows my heart, my struggles, my pain, my happiness, my joy.  He is using each of you in different ways and in my angriest or saddest or most overwhelmed of moments, He uses you to soften me.

Friends – always be ready to help.  Friends – always be ready to accept it.