My goodness, sometimes I have so many things I want to say that I don’t no where to begin. I could start by telling you all about my recent meet-ups with readers and women I’ve connected with online. I could tell you about how E and I didn’t end up getting a Christmas tree this year and how I’m dreading packing up for 10 days. Or perhaps I could tell you what I believe God is putting on my heart tonight.

A little bit of each I suppose?

Well, first of all- I ADORE connecting with my online friends and readers so much.

I had the privilege of spending Sunday afternoon at one of my all-time favorite restaurants in the city having lunch with a long-time reader and #MonthlyLettersOfEncouragement participant, Miranda. She was such a doll! There are a lot of takeaways from my time with her, but the biggest one being that she embodies empathy and inspires me to develop deeper, more meaningful relationships with people who are generally overlooked.

I enjoy meet-ups more than anything because it prevents the illusion that tends to happen when we don’t really know somebody. For example, I have to remind myself constantly not to put big-time Christian authors and influential speakers on a pedestal. I’m sure that if I spent time with them face to face, it would be easy to not “fan girl” over them because I would know them more intimately and see that they’re human too.

Now, I know it’s not feasible to meet everyone who follows me here or on social media, but I do believe meet-ups are powerful, encouraging, and important. I want to invite those to happen more often.

You see, I want you to know that I’m an ordinary person who’s super unqualified, attempting to use my passions and gifts for God’s purposes. I never ever want to be viewed as holier or high and mighty because – as my real-life friends already know – I’m just like you. I cuss when I’m mad sometimes, I talk with food in my mouth too much, and I drink margaritas. (Have I sold you on being my friend yet?)

Another gal I got together with over the weekend is Oe, who I met at B Present Studio where I used to teach barre. This girl radiates Real with a capital “r” and I appreciate her for it. She convinced me to take a yoga sculpt class at Core Power Yoga, which I have a love/hate relationship with. PSA: Prepare to be extremely sore if you take a working out hiatus like I did.

Overall, this weekend was full of good conversation and a lot of rest. Thankful is an understatement for the rest I never used to allow myself to enjoy.

I do have to brag about one thing though (because it might not ever happen again)…E and I made it to the earlier service at church on Sunday and walked in with 4 minutes to spare! (Angels were singing. But I’m still not sure how we’ll get anywhere even close to on time if we have children someday.)

The weekend’s goodness carried over into my day today as I also found time for good conversation as well as rest. A sweet blogger from Indianapolis met up with me at the coffee shop on my corner. Ali Wren might be one of the kindest souls alive; the kind of person who leaves you feeling whole. I parted ways with a cheesy smile stuck on my face. My time and conversation with her was the highlight of my Monday.

With 5 days left till Christmas, I’ve come to accept the fact that we won’t be putting up a tree this year. Good thing this occasion is about so much more than decor. 🙂 I do, however, need to get started on packing for the 10 days we’ll be out of town with family celebrating. I can’t wait to see my nephews and smooch their faces off.

If you need to snag a last minute gift for someone, I suggest ordering a Daniel Wellington watch. I got E this one. You can even save 15% with promo code “MANDA” if you decide to go that route!

Finally, in this advent season I’m leaning into what God says about me and shutting all other voices out. I hear Him whispering, “Don’t hesitate, just be you.” in my ear a lot lately. In fact, I just mentioned something about this longing to be known to Ali today. (It keeps coming up!)

It’s no secret that we all desire to be known. Even those who might try to deny it would probably see the truth if they could watch a few re-runs of their day to day life on screen. Whether it’s the hairdresser or a friend, I find myself wanting to spill my guts out and be known. Whether it’s online or in a group of people, I find myself wanting to share and be known. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, this longing to be known. In fact, I believe it’s a God-given desire.

Just four days ago I wrote these words in my journal:

I have E who knows me more intimately than anyone else, as a husband should. I also have mom, close friends – heck, I even have the random people at UPS who probably think I’m a crazy weirdo. I can share my heart to anyone. Maybe that’s a gift, I don’t know. But I long for something more. I want someone who I can truly tell anything to and rest assured that they won’t ever think differently of me. I am so fearful of judgement and rejection sometimes. I want to be me without hesitation. Who can I be myself, in all my complexity, with? Oh wait, that’d be you, God. Tell me what I need to hear. Remind me what I need to know. Be with me.

I was made in God’s image. He made me with a deep desire to be fully known, but it’s a longing only He can fill. 

I’ll leave it at that tonight…

Don’t hesitate, just be you.

// Manda

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