Seen and Known

Two weeks ago our friends, the Metcalfes from Seattle, joined us in the freezing mid-west for a fun extended weekend together. We haven’t seen each other for almost one year! It was so good to be with them – because we have 10 years of history together. They have done life with us through some of the hardest seasons of our lives and they know how new things affect us as a result of that knowledge.

The best part though is that not only do we have history together, we have futures together too. We dream together of what could be, what we long to see unfold, what stirs our hearts and souls and what makes us mourn. We laugh together. We tease each other. Conversations flow easily and sometimes silence and presence are enough to fill the moment. It is so lovely to be in their presence and to enjoy one another! Speaking the past and dreaming the future fuels our friendship and warms up embers that maybe are less full of life because of distance and the lack of being able to live in the same zip code.

Here are some pictures of our fun times together.

After our visit, my heart was stirred up in regards to how passionate I feel about friendship and community. To me, community means that you are seen, known and loved and that you willingly place yourself there. It is an environment where people “get” you, but also a place where you are willing to hear what those people who get you have to say to you – the good and the less than good and the bad.

This means that they might say something to you that’s not so great to hear. There might be an observation made that is uncomfortable. But when you are in this kind of community there is an understanding (that has come through trials of fire sometimes!) that you will wrestle with what is brought out.

That’s hard stuff. There are not many people I want to have that kind of relationship with and there are even fewer I trust to do that with me!

This isn’t the kind of community you have with everyone. But it must be present with someone. Community like this helps us to keep our hearts soft I think. It sees through the tough exterior that hides what is down deep.

I don’t experience this kind of friendship with everyone, but I can’t imagine my life without experiencing this somewhere with someone. The grateful heart that this visit from our dear friends stirred up in me helped propel me to other areas of gratefulness too. I found myself thanking God for the people in my life (and zip code) who see things that another would miss.  I prayed that I would be the kind of person who sees things more clearly so I can love them well too.

May you be stirred toward gratefulness for someone you celebrate seeing and knowing and being seen and known by today.

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January Visitors!

Our best friends, Crystal and Travis, came to visit for a long weekend this past week! We had so much fun together. We shopped and went to fun restaurants, we explored grocery stores, watched quirky (and not so quirky) movies and we drove by the good ol’ Arch.

This trip was conceived one day last November after a string of text messages between me and Crystal. After my trip to Seattle last June, I had a voucher (because of an overbooked flight that I volunteered to be bumped from) with a lot of travel left on it.  Crystal and I were texting back and forth. She said she missed me and I told her I felt the same. It had been a long time since we had seen each other. I told her she should come here and she said “stop teasing me!”. But I was completely serious! We booked the travel for her and her husband Travis for January less than one week later. What fun!

Here’s a run down of our visit:

They arrived Friday a little before noon. We picked them up at the airport and laughed as Jeremy got confused about how to get out of the airport. It’s been a while! Then, we immediately headed to Chick-fil-A. Poor Washingtonians, they are deprived of the peanut-oil and pickle juice goodness! We enjoyed our treat then headed back to our place to relax a bit. That night, we had burgers on the grill and they were oh so good! Afterwards, we were trying to find a good movie to watch. I suggested one of the Golden Globe nominees/winners. I had made a list earlier so I wouldn’t forget what they were. We ended up watching “Moonrise Kingdom”. Yeah. Um….it was not a movie. It was a “film”. Artsy, quirky but funny.  When it was over we all looked at each other, laughed and said, “ok then!”.  By this point, our friends who had been up since 3 am that day were quite tired. So, we called it a night.

This is me trying out a Chocolate Bock by Sam Adams. We have a little toast we do when we enjoy beverages. "To the King!" we say. Our pastor encouraged us in that endeavor...it's a long story.
This is me trying out a Chocolate Bock by Sam Adams. We have a little toast we do when we enjoy beverages. “To the King!” we say. Our pastor encouraged us in that endeavor…it’s a long story.

Saturday morning we made a big breakfast; pancakes, fresh fruit and bacon, mmmmmmm! We got cleaned up and then waited for my MIL to head over. She watched all the munchkins for us so that the grown ups could do something our offspring loathe; shop Main Street in Old St. Charles! WAHOO!

That day was the Fete de Glace downtown. Basically, there are artists who have giant blocks of ice that they carve with chainsaws and blow torches and the like. We didn’t get down there till almost noon (the competition started at 9), so a lot of it was winding down. But we saw some neat sculptures; the three little pigs, dragons, tigers and even a neat ice castle that looked like the Magic Kingdom! We got coffee at a local place called Picasso’s Coffee (which took what felt like an hour to get because of how busy they were, but it was really good!) and then walked the streets a bit.  Jeremy and I took them to all our favorite stores; Provence Soap works, Di Olivas, a fudge shop (I can’t remember the name of it!), Moss and then we went to Hendricks for lunch. MMmmm….cheese grits. We had a wonderful meal there. Then we walked allllllll the way back to our car. That was probably good considering our lunch.

Best friend rings from Moss! How cute, right?
Best friend rings from Moss! How cute, right?
Crystal and I as we waited for lunch at Hendricks. Our faces were so red from the cold air!
Crystal and I as we waited for lunch at Hendricks. Our faces were so red from the cold air!

We came home for a brief reprieve and to check on everyone. I needed to feed my little bambina (she is sooo cute!) and we needed to put our feet up for a bit. After a rest, we were back out again for date night! We went to old Webster Groves for dinner at another of our favorite little restaurants, The Block. It’s a butcher and bar/ restaurant that is farm-to-table. We stumbled across it last year and really enjoyed it. We had a long wait (they don’t do reservations) so we went and hung out at Straubs (a super fancy local grocery store chain). We found some HILARIOUS things there. Including a root beer called Rat Bastard and some dark chocolate with caramel, sea salt and coconut (for Crystal). We had a lot of fun exploring all the yummy and weird and expensive things Straub’s offered. By the time we headed back, we only had to wait 15 minutes for our table. WAHOO!

Pardon the bad language. It was REALLY good rootbeer though. I wish my love would have taken a picture of the ingredients. They were weird,...in a good way!
Pardon the bad language. It was REALLY good rootbeer though. I wish my love would have taken a picture of the ingredients. They were weird,…in a good way!

Crystal and Jeremy have a special love for popcorn. It’s kind of out of control. (But come to think of it, all the people I love most love popcorn….Amy, Crystal and Jeremy…hmmmmm) I noticed while we were waiting at the restaurant that there was popcorn at the bar and some people had it at their tables. We didn’t see it on the menu, so we asked our server for some. He said it was just for the bar (like peanuts/pretzels that are often out) but he could bring us some. He brought this tiny little bowl out. We tasted it and all almost fell over. IT WAS BACON FLAVORED! It was soooooooooooooooooooooo good. We gobbled it up. Then we joked about popcorn all weekend long…

Dinner was delightful even though I had lost my voice Friday night and was straining to be heard in the loud restaurant. It was pretty funny considering Crystal is 1/2 deaf! (No really, she is.) My love and our friends managed quite well without me 😉  . After coffee and some delightful desserts, we decided to drive the rest of the way downtown to look at the arch. An evening drive by was all Travis felt he needed. I think it’s prettier in the summer time anyway.

We headed home to relieve my dear MIL. What a trooper she was! All the kids had been fed, bathed and put to bed. We visited for a bit, saw Marsha off and then crashed ourselves. What a fun and full day!

Sunday morning we were up and off to church. We were anxious to show them our Acts 29 expression and chat about church plants. Crystal and Travis helped plant a church in WA that we were a part of. We were all part of the original group who planted it in fact! It’s so fun to see the differences in churches across the globe.

I still had no voice but oh well. I sounded worse than I felt. (And by the way, it’s amazing how children tax you when you can’t speak to them easily or clearly…) After church, we stopped off at our beloved Manino’s for a peach pie. Mmmm…..it is one of our favorite things. We stopped at a few other places and drove through one of our favorite neighborhoods. But the children were quite expired! We made it home and got lunch on. Then we relaxed and put people down for naps. Some of them slept…but not many. Jeremy and Travis went to see a movie while Crystal and I manned the front. I made chicken picatta that night for dinner. It was so yummy! Crystal got a glimpse into my crazy life with 3 children. (For all my friends with 4-6 children, hush up! I have no idea how you do it anyway.) The hours of 4:00-7:00 pm are rather intense around here. Circus like…. I laughed when she said she had a glimpse of her life in the not-so-distant future and how she wasn’t sure she liked it. HA!

Best of all, we enjoyed our new addiction once the kids were put to bed that night: Downton Abbey! EECCK! Well, maybe I should say I enjoyed it. We are still catching up to Season 3. We watched a few of the last episodes of Season 2. Once it hid midnight, I figured we’d better call it a night.

Monday morning we took our eldest to school, (he was quick to tell us that school makes him miss all the fun) then headed off to breakfast at Cracker Barrel. Travis had never been to one and it’s almost a requirement when coming to the mid-west! (At least in our opinion.) We headed to Jilly’s cupcake bar after that. Crystal has a deep love for tasting cupcakes and Jilly’s was the winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars a few seasons back. Let me tell you, we were all so sad when we pulled up and saw that there was a note on the door saying they were closed for the day! (Even though the neon “Open” sign was lit up….) We were so sad. It was getting late but I was determined to find my friend a cupcake shop. And I know there are other fun ones around here. So we looked on line and found one called The Cup in the Central West End.

Crystal and I at The Cup!
Crystal and I at The Cup!

It was so yummy! Crystal and Jeremy felt like we were pushing our time line a bit. But I mean, when do you regret stopping to get cupcakes? Um, never! And these didn’t disappoint. Once we had collected our treats, we headed back to our place. Poor Cecelia was tired and very mad at this point. She cried the whole way home…well, until about 2 minutes before we got home. Poor baby. She conked out and was asleep for the rest of the afternoon. The boys hung here and Crystal and I took advantage of nap time to go to another place she doesn’t get to frequent: Hobby Lobby. Ah, the beloved store. She said after we’d been there for 45 minutes that she couldn’t understand why I didn’t live in that store/go there constantly. I laughed and reminded her we have a budget. 😉

I did however, find many things to swoon over. We made a few purchases and headed back home to pack up and shove off. It was time for them to go home. 😦   We picked Cooper up from school a bit early and then made our trek to the airport. I’m usually pretty good at savoring every.last.drop of something or someone I love. So I wasn’t super sad. I had so much fun with them while they were here. Jeremy and I commented on how it felt like nothing had changed even though Jeremy hadn’t seen Travis in 2 years! We all picked up right where we left off in our friendship. We laughed and played silly jokes on each other and stayed up late enjoying Nevcalfe time together. It made us long for old times.

We said our good byes and they were off. The next day though, that’s when my sadness hit. So I cried half the day and just wallowed in my sadness. You have to give yourself time to feel sad sometimes. 2 days out and I feel a bit better. The Metcalfe family will always be in our lives and we will always be in theirs. I pray for many more trips to come. We dream of vacations together to tropical places. Sigh….

We love you Metcalfes!