Sacred community

She had left her body about an hour earlier. Twelve of us stood around her hospital bed, hands clasped, lips forming the words to Amazing Grace. Scriptures read, stories shared, tears shed. It was one of the most sacred experiences of my life. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------   I had unknowingly entered a sacred sisterhood.  A band of women caring for a dying friend. They called themselves Donna's Angels and I, out of a desire to be kind to the gravely ill mother of my son's friend, became a member.  I had no idea the magnitude of blessing I would receive. Friends that gave up their nights and weekends with their families to … [Read more...]

Dreams need cheerleaders {a God sized dreams post}

She was my grandmother's best friend for their entire adult lives. And Monday God called her home. Too soon.  I am sad for her family.  For her grandbabies.  For her husband.  For my grandmother. For her clients. and, I'm sad for me. Kaye always made sure to tell me she was proud of me.  Even when I made poor choices and the trajectory of my life was altered forever.  She is the one who looked in my eyes and told me there were only good things in store for me. A few years ago, when I almost died from pulmonary emboli, I found myself wading through the "what did God leave me here for" type questions that often accompany such an experience.  Kaye met me at a diner and over coffee we talked for hours about my God sized dreams.  She was the first one {and for a long time the … [Read more...]

About that extra 21st chromosome

Today is World Down Syndrome Day. Just typing that makes me smile.  My life has been blessed by knowing several people with an extra 21st chromosome. Each one has brought joy to my life, especially Shawn. Shawn has taught me A LOT in the three years I've known him. Like the joy of turning up the music {despite the fact that his favorite is Justin Bieber} and dancing crazy-like in the car.  That going over bumps in the road is hysterically funny.  That ice cream cures all.   That playing fetch with my mini schnauzer, Chloe is a great way to spend three hours on a Sunday afternoon. I love how God shows off.  What the world views as a mutation, a genetic abnormality, is the perfect blend to create the most loving group of people I've ever had the pleasure to know. Do you know … [Read more...]

January Friendships~ A God Sized Dream Post

January.  If it wasn't for my birthday and NFL play-off games, it would probably be my least favorite month of the year. Here in West Virginia, it is cold, the trees are bare, the grass is dead and did I mention it's cold? January is one of those months when I want to curl up in bed with a good book, a heating pad and fuzzy socks and hibernate until spring.  Of course, that is not possible but a girl can dream. My life tends to mirror the weather.  My motivation to cultivate friendships tends to be as hard to find as a green blade of grass in this January time of year. This year I have been blessed.  Being a part of the God Sized Dream Team has provided me a {chat}room full of kindred spirits.  We encourage each other, we pray for each other, we hold one another accountable.  … [Read more...]

When You Need a Real Life Friend

Today, I had a medical procedure that caused me immense anxiety.  I asked for prayer on Facebook and was touched by all those that responded.  But, I needed more than the reassurance that someone, somewhere was praying for me.  I needed someone to look me in the eye, tell me to calm myself down and to pray with me and over me.  So, I drove to a dear friends house and she did just that.  And, it helped. In real life friendships are invaluable.  We are designed to need each other, to crave community. I am beyond blessed by the women God has brought my way over the years that have spoken truth into my life, lifted me up when I was down and encouraged me to let loose and just laugh sometimes {something I wouldn't do without prompting}. That is why I am excited to host an (in)RL get … [Read more...]

Why I’m Not Sending Out Christmas Cards this Year

By now, the cards have usually been ordered, signed, addressed, stamped and mailed. The Christmas cards, that is.  For fifteen straight Christmases I haven't missed a year. This year, I just can't bring myself to do it. There's a lot of reasons but mostly, I want to see, touch and love my people--my family and friends in person. I don't want to send my brothers and dad a 4 paragraph letter about the ups and downs of 2012. I want to tell them over coffee and omelettes. I don't want my friends in Texas to wonder who the new guy is in the picture. I want to take out my phone and introduce them to my son-in-law. I don't want to scribble a line about how much I miss a friend.  I want to plan a girls night and catch up over dinner and a chick flick. Facebook and the … [Read more...]

God is amazing (in)RL!

I have prayed for weeks that God would bring the women He desired to the local (in)RL meet-up I hosted today.  There were more than 1300 women at 400+ meet-ups across the globe and it was such an honor to be a teeny tiny part of a God glorifying community of women. Can you imagine how pleased God was that all those women set time aside to deliberately spend together in fellowship for Him and with Him? I smile when I think of it. I had fun with the beach theme.  I filled plastic beach pails with sand and had little chocolates buried under the sand.  The ladies had to dig out a chocolate and depending on the color of the wrapper, they either won a prize {most of which were books by some of the writers at (in)courage.me} or answered an ice breaker type question. The videos available from … [Read more...]

Doing Real Life Together

Last night, Shayla was in the ER {she has severe bronchitis and a urinary tract infection}.  It was late {or early, depending on how you look at it} and I was bored.  I took an Insta.gram picture with my iPhone and it posted to Facebook.  Within seconds, she was being prayed for.  By my friends that live in the computer and by my friends that live in my area. One awesome in-my-area friend {who must have insomnia} saw the post on Facebook and brought me coffee, bottled water, cookies and a hug at 1am.  Those five minutes got me through the F-I-V-E and a half hours we spent there.  Thank you, Kim! Shayla is resting comfortably in bed, getting some much needed sleep and letting the medications work their magic.  And, I am sitting here thankful for community.  Whether it is the friends I … [Read more...]

He Heard Hannah~ A True Story by a Dear Friend

UPDATED:  The two winners of a copy of He Heard Hannah are Jamie R. and Carla Raley.  Please email me your mailing address to kmelissasmallwood@gmail.com.  If I do not hear from the winners in 48 hours, another will be chosen.  Thank you all for entering and be sure to buy the book, it is well worth it! I have been blogging since 2008.  God has blessed me by crossing my path with some truly incredible women {her, her, her, her, her, her, her, her and many, many more!}.  One of those special ladies turned in-real-life friend is Lynnette Kraft.  We had the pleasure of meeting in person in October of 2010 after I stalked followed her blog for quite a while.  She is a contributor to my site for moms of teens/tweens and an all around inspiring person.   One of the things I most admire … [Read more...]

Real Community, Real Life

For most of my life, I have been a pretty closed off person. Of course, I appeared to be friendly and open.  If you invited me to your Pampered Chef party, I came (and I bought something).  I took my kids to playgroups and cub scouts and fraternized with the other moms.  I took my pretty Bible to Bible studies, nodding and taking notes at the appropriate times. But if you expected me to open up and tell you what was really going on in my life?  Fuhhgetaboutit! Why would I tell people that my marriage was falling apart? That our son was spiraling out of control? That medical expenses were close to rendering us bankrupt? That I hadn't spoken to my dad in 13 years? My life was ugly on the inside and I had a hard time letting people see that. Standing on the stage and singing on the … [Read more...]

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