I love elephants! They're stately creatures. When I catch a glimpse of them on Nature or Nova, people better not switch the channel. Their sense of family and loyalty is beautiful. But there is one elephant I can't stand.

The one "in the room."

You've been there. I know it. There's a difficult situation or a behind-the-scenes tension and NO ONE wants to even acknowledge the two-ton pachyderm sitting on the coffee table. (or in the meeting room... or the dinner table) It can be awkward when it's people you don't know. It can be intensely painful when it's people you love.

It's risky to be the person who asks the question everyone's wondering... the elephant hunter. You risk someone telling you it's none of your business. (and it might not be) You risk people becoming angry. (justified or not) You risk being absolutely in left field. (What a relief!) But is it worth the risk when it's people your heart is really rooting for? When your intention is for them to win?

We can't undo every tense and awkward moment we encounter. It's not always our "job." But what about when you acutely sense that there's pain, or anger, or grief, or sin in a sister's life... but she won't talk about the enormous, grey, African field mouse tagging along with her everywhere she goes. What should you do? Pretend? Pray? Point and shoot? (at the elephant- not your friend!)

Do you have elephant hunters in your life? People who love you so much that they ask the difficult questions... hold you accountable... comfort your hidden anguish? The ones that help hunt down the issue crowding your space? Or do you even want an elephant hunter near you?


Cake Anyone?

It's a real gift to be able to celebrate with others!

Yesterday some friends got together for a girlfriend's birthday. We ate lunch and laughed and talked through what's going on in life. But the highlight of the gathering wasn't the meal (though it was delicious! Cafe' Bella anyone?) It wasn't the carrot cake (though it disappeared fast). It wasn't the connection (though I don't want to go through life without it!) The absolute best part was watching this friend open her gift. Now, she's not a superficial person...at all. However, there's this collectable that she's super fond of. So we pooled our money together and found her something we knew she would love.

We were not disappointed.

I love it when people don't try to act too cool to celebrate!! You know the ones! They squeal with delight and laugh out loud. They're not worried about whether anyone will think they're going overboard. They are in the moment. They live out loud!! I'm not usually like that. A sincere smile and warm thanks is my usual response. You know the old legalistic school where receiving with too much enthusiasm somehow makes you selfish or materialistic? Graduated with honors. But I'm working on it.

The beauty of giving is watching joy wash across someone's face like lightning.

Don't you think that God gets giddy about giving to us? Making that sunset that's purple-ly orange. Dropping that especially funny phrase from our child's lips at just the right time? The love of family. The grace of Christ.

So... do you enjoy receiving gifts as much as giving? Do you hold back your enthusiasm and play it cool at Christmas? Do you get embarrassed? How do you express it to the One who gives so much?



We're on our way to fall! Football weather... vibrant colors... you know all the descriptions. Isn't it great to live in a place where the seasons really do change? But have you ever noticed... the season never pleases everyone.

Being a woman past my 30's... I'm experiencing "changing seasons." Every joke I ever secretly laughed at about midlife is whizzing by me like bullets in a firefight. But, even with its challenges, being in my 40's has great benefits. Each season does. We're all in our own season. An interesting choice we get to make is whether we have grace for those in seasons different than our own.

Sometimes grace is letting people express the joy or frustration of their season without correcting their bearings with our "wisdom." Or listening to those who are years ahead of us and thinking "maybe I can watch, listen and learn from them."

Does the woman celebrating 35 years of marriage have grace for the newlywed? Or does she diminish the young woman's joy by saying "Oh honey, it's SO much better when you're older." Does the empty nester have grace for the young mom of 4 kids under age 6- or does she leak out her own sadness- sternly advising “You better appreciate all this (exhaustion) before your home is empty!” When she’s having a lonely moment, does the single woman have to hear "How awesome it must be to not have to clean up after anyone!" from the married woman with 2.5 children?

I’ll admit it. I’ve done a pitiful job at listening to people share their frustration without trying to forcibly redirect them toward being grateful or gleaning some unsolicited“nugget” from me. Not sure I’m much better now… but at least God’s making me more aware! Romans 12 says: “Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down.” (Or, as a group of amazing friends did recently… give flowers instead of advice!) What wise instruction for us to be gracious!

Is it frustrating to you when people don't hear what you're going through... only comparing it to where they currently are? HOW do we build a community full of grace for the different experiences we are living? What kind of grace does that take? Share your experience or what you do to keep the well intentioned thoughts in your head from discouraging others.


connect . the . dots

It all starts with a single dot sitting next to a #1.

Can you reach back in your childhood and remember playing connect the dots? Pencil and paper and imagination. Ok, maybe they make a digital version now... but I sure hope not. Even if you knew what the picture was supposed to be, it was the process of drawing the lines from number to number that made the process so mysterious and exciting. It also kept you quiet in the back seat of the Buick on the way to Granny's house!

Sometimes they were complicated little portraits... like that halloween witch on a broomstick in front of the moon I remember so vividly from the 3rd grade. That broom was a KILLER to keep straight! Sometimes they were easy... like an outline of Snoopy on the doghouse. (See? You're remembering now!) But drawing that journey with a number 2 pencil from number to number... dot to dot.. revealed the bigger picture.

Well ladies... we are smack dab in the middle of a big ole dot to dot called life! The connections unveil your landscape. Connections with family. Connections with friends. Connections with women around us. Connections with God. Sometimes they are easy. Sometimes they are really random. Sometimes they stretch our patience and our character... make us want to cuss and scream- or laugh until we need help to the bathroom. But they always reveal the bigger picture of our lives.

We're surrounded by little dots of potential every day. Do we connect them into our life... maybe linger and contemplate what the picture is becoming? Or do we rush right through, trying to get to the next page as fast as possible. Do you look around and think they outnumber you!! How have you tried to connect yourself, or others, to form the picture of your own life?

Do you like what you see developing?

As you can read in our description here, we want to provide a place to make more solid connections in life together. Welcome to HillsideWomen. We're glad you've joined us. Pick up your pencil and jump in!