there is room at the table

There is room at the table.

I wasn’t sure of that anymore.

I’ve spent the past three years trying to make friends. When we first moved, I felt like a trailblazer.  An adventurer.

After the first month or so?  Good feelings gone.  Once you unpack the boxes, you actually have to live in that unfamiliar place.  And watch your friends move on.  (Facebook + moving can be a painful and heart-wrenching combination.  I don’t recommend it.)

I felt lonely.  Less than.  Like damaged goods because I couldn’t seem to find real friends.

Don’t get me wrong, I had lots of people to smile with.  Attending megachurches can do that for you.  But those people who see your whole soul and know how messy your insides really are and don’t turn and run away screaming?  I didn’t have those.  (With the exception of one in our old neighborhood.  That we moved from…)

I tried small groups.  Photography meetups.  Saying hi to neighbors.  Trying to talk to people on the playground.  (SOOOOO uncomfortable for us introverts.)  Emailing people who seemed nice.  Volunteering.  One night, I even searched for mom groups on meetup.com which is something I originally swore I would NEVER do.  (The sad thing?  I would have had to pay to join the play-group.  Which felt like I’d be paying to have friends.  This was a low point.)

I heeded Elmo’s friendship advice and even sang the “Stick out your hand and say hello” song most every time I went to a place with people.  (Not kidding.  I remember singing it to myself before a kindergarten/parent party)

But everyone’s tables appeared to already be full.

I get that.  As a mom, I’m doing well to dress myself most days.  (sacred secret: I sleep in workout clothes so that if there isn’t time to change before getting the kids on the bus or taking Ash to school – it looks like I got “dressed.”  Truth.)  With loving my people, it often feel like there’s little time left for anything else.  Most of the friends that have stuck with me through this journey are gracious people who knew me before I had kids or back when I only had one kid.

But when you move away from those people – you look around and want to cry because these people who now walk beside you in the everyday already have their table filled.  (Or maybe I just think they do.  That’s also possible)

A few weeks ago, I went to a local church and attended a gathering of women that weekend.  I gave myself three rules: “try”, “stay open” and “be you”.  I secretly wanted to gather up all of my friends from other places and go be me elsewhere amidst the comfort of people who already know and for some reason still love me.  But problems don’t typically get solved when you run from an opportunity to face them.

As I walked through the parking lot, I tried to take deep breaths.  “I can do this.  I can try again.  I can stay open.  Maybe God will surprise me.”

There I met up with the two friends I’ve finally made in the past year.

Before long, we did that typical “break it down” move of church gatherings and I found myself amidst a table of ladies I didn’t yet know.  At that table was Morgan.

Morgan is either not afraid to say THE things or she faces that fear and says them anyway.  Which means I adored her in .3 seconds.  After the evening was over, I asked her if we could be friends in real life.  She said yes, of course.  I held back tears.

Since that night she has literally brought me to her table.  The first time I entered her home, she explained that she purposefully didn’t clean because she was tired of all the pressure and wanted people to know the real her.  Which is why when I texted her the other night that we were coming for the gathering of families at her house, but we were totally running late because of me and my little guy was STILL wearing pajamas, I wasn’t surprised when she texted back: PERFECT!!!

There’s no snappy, put together conclusion to this story.  I guess I wrote it just in case you too are lonely and currently haven’t found friends.  I’d just want you to know that you are so incredibly not alone.  It is freaking hard.  You may be completely sick of trying.  I get it.  I wish I could hug you today.  That we could sit down together and I could look into your eyes and say “me too.”  And that I could also tell you what a gift you are to this world.  That I see you and I know how incredible you are and one day – I pray with my whole heart you’ll find more people who do, too.  Or that you’ll see and invite in those who already do.

Though your heart may be aching today, I just want you to know that there is a God who loves you beyond measure and knows you and your story and since the beginning of FOREVER has a seat open and decorated JUST FOR YOU.  There is SOOOOOO much room for you at His table.  And He never turns ANYONE away.  Ever.  He just gets excited and throws an epic party when you come on over to the table where you BELONG.  (And if you doubt this, it’s all good.  I have for the past three years and He hasn’t given up on me.)

Lastly, can I please just ask anyone reading this to please oh please leave room at your table?   (Yes, even those of you who currently feel like you should just throw yours out because no one is sitting at it.) There are so many of us wonderful, amazing people out there who for whatever reason haven’t been discovered in our areas yet.  Some of us are new moms.  Some are transfer students to your school.  Some of us have 3+ kids and rarely break out of our yoga pants.

We are gifts to this world just like you and we’d hate to miss out on the gift you are to this world.  Would you keep your eyes out for us and keep room at your table?  Because I’m learning that one of the greatest gifts we can give is taking the time to really see each other and say – Welcome.  I SEE you.  I’m so glad you’re here.

on the road again…

Oh you beautiful people that still join me here.  Did you know that I love you?  I do.  Times infinity.

In an effort to be organized (read: grow up and be a big girl) – I’m doing a big thing.  (For me)  I’m putting travel dates out there for the rest of the year.  I know…you may faint from my organization here.  Honestly, I almost did.  (And yes, I also have no idea why I’ve waited until this year to do this.)

So here is my current travel schedule for the rest of the year:

April 14-15 Clarksville and Nashville, TN (tentative)

April 17-19 Chicago/Wheaton

June 4-6 DC (tentative)

June 25-June 28 Chicago

June 29-July 7 Michigan (Grand Haven, Holland and Grand Rapids) *some of these dates may be changed later to open up more days in Chicago

July 8- July 11 Chicago/Wheaton

October 3-4 Birmingham, AL (tentative)

So here is what this means…I would LOVE to see you.  And I would be all kinds of thrilled (and likely found doing a super hilarious happy dance) to document your life and love while I’m there.  You see, creating memories together and freezing this incredibly sacred moment is my absolute joy.  I can tell you the story behind every image.  What he said, how she laughed, the way her eyes danced when her little boy climbed into her lap…  And I’d love to do this for you as well.  If you’d like more information about sessions, (I offer both regular sessions and all-inclusive sessions which hold the digital media with printing rights as well) just email me at amy@amy-paulson.com.  Be sure to include a number where I can reach you so that we can set up a phone or Skype date so I can get to know you and answer any questions you might have.

 

 

 

Finally, if you don’t see your city, but you’d love for me to come visit – email me.  I’d love to talk with you more and see if we can plan a trip to your area.  Here’s a (shortened) wish list of places (and people in them) I already desperately want to visit:

In the US: Boston MA, Los Angeles CA, Denver CO, Naples FL, New York City NY, San Francisco CA, Columbus OH, St. Louis MO, Little Rock AR, Indianapolis IN, Chattanooga, TN

The world: Tokyo, Germany, France, British Columbia (Canada), London, Moscow, Brazil, Peru and South Africa  (Honestly – I’d list the whole world, but each of these places/countries have amazing friends and due to the overwhelming desire to hug them and see where they live, these places win the top of my list)

 

kyle and ashley: engaged

Pea coats were donned.  Gloves were required.  Full blown snowsuits could have been a necessary addition.

But no temperature warnings could keep us from celebrating.  Because these two have a love that requires a party.  They see the incredible gift they have in one another.  What started as a friendship has grown to a love that gives itself for the other.

Ashley and Kyle, you two + coffee + FREEZING cold temperatures = one of my favorite days ever.  There is no one else with whom I would rather commandeer coffee shops and restaurants.  Thank you for sharing your love for each other with me – and for skipping through the snow and ice…literally.  I am so excited for you two to start your lives as husband and wife.

 

And just for fun, (and because I loved their responses) when I asked them via email what some of their favorite things about each other were…

What she said: I like how compassionate and caring Kyle is! I’ve also always been drawn to his sense of humor! Kyle is also very thoughtful and VERY good looking

What he said: Ashley is literally the strongest and most compelling person I have ever met. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel like I’m the most important person in her life. The sacrifices she has made for “us” has also driven my love for her. I feel so lucky because I don’t think there’s another human being on the face of this earth like her. Which is why I feel so lucky to have her. Also, she’s sexy! BONUS!

sweet little O

Sweet little one, in a perfect world, we’d be neighbors.  You’d be a regular addition to the noise and joy in our home.  Someone would be waiting to play peekaboo with you nearly every moment you could want.  And I would have weekly coffee dates with your mom and she’d teach me how to cook.

I hate the miles that separate us from you (and your amazing parents).  But I’m grateful for these moments and all the memories I’ll treasure forever of a weekend spent with you.  We’re already counting down the days until we see you this summer.  But prepare yourself little lady – all three cousins will be there.  Three times the peekaboo and three times the noise…

 

coming back

Hi, my name is Amy.

I realize the introduction might seem silly, but it’s necessary.  Because somewhere along the line I stopped showing up here with my whole self.  I’ve been scared.  Scared because I didn’t have it all together.  (Translation: my life felt like broken pieces laid out on the floor.)  Scared of what people think.  Scared of not being enough.  Scared because things were hard and my faith was gone.  Add to that a lack of time and an extreme gift for putting off transformational tasks and you have the presence of pictures with the absence of my real self.  (Though the pictures did have my heart)

But I’m going to start sharing my real self again.  It’s going to be imperfect and though that’s hard for me, a recovering perfectionist to handle, it’s time.  So I hope you’ll join me here in this space.

In the meantime – here’s what we did during our “snow” day…

 

F a c e b o o k
T w i t t e r