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Storm Sisters Connection Newsletter Coming

Hi Friends! I’ve so missed connecting with you. I think I’ve come up with a solution that works a bit better for me and should be a bit more interesting for you. :)

I’m working on a monthly Storm Sisters Connection newsletter. It will contain a variety of bits and pieces each month. Always a Storm Sister story. Sometimes a recipe or book review. Sometimes silly photos of the Chief Furry Officer. Sometimes a question or two to ponder. Sometimes a link to blogs that helped me understand God and connection.

My hope for the newsletter?

A place for you to find encouragement and community. A place for us all to celebrate God’s good gift to us of connection with other women.

If you’re interested, sign up here or on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StormSisters/, or you can shoot me an email if that is easier: stormsistersconnection@gmail.com.

Also, if you have a story or recipe or photo you would like to share, let me know. I would LOVE to make this a community newsletter.

So . . . until we meet again, I’ll leave you with a blog I just wrote for (In)courage. By the way, if you don’t know about this blog, you should. :) Lots of encouragement here for faith and friendship.

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20170118-Rorvik-James5

It happens on the second Friday night of every month. Dinner with three girlfriends.

One of us is single, two of us are married with teenage children, and one of us is married with grown children. We all love Jesus and seek to live for Him. And we have called each other friend for decades.

On a recent Friday night, I came with a heavy heart. Apparently it also showed on my face. My friends asked me to explain and then listened to my story as tears filled their eyes. With my last words still lingering on my tongue, one friend said, “Could we pray for you?”

“Oh, yes. Please!”

So while other diners continued to talk and laugh loudly, we bowed our heads together and started praying out loud.

You can read the rest of the blog here: http://www.incourage.me/?p=183606

See you soon!

Grateful!  Afton Rorvik

Closeup image of a sports footwear on female feet running on green grass

See You on Facebook

For several months, I’ve wrestled with the question: “To blog or not to blog” (an infinitely less significant question than Hamlet’s “To be or not to be.”)

I’ve wrestled with my blog content, the purpose of it, the time it takes to write, etc. I see you other writers nodding your heads. :)

My hope for my blog was always to start a conversation about Storm Sister living and faith and life. I’ve come to see, however, that a blog just isn’t the best way for me to go about developing and sustaining that conversation. My blog, in truth, has become a monologue.

What to do?

I’ve landed on this: I will make conversation-starter posts about Storm Sister living, faith, and life on Facebook.

Why?

First, I think Facebook will facilitate more conversation because of how it is structured. That has always been my goal.

Second, I’ve come to love following some of my favorite authors on Facebook. Their posts talk of everyday life and faith and friendship as if I were sitting with them and chatting over a cup of coffee.

Third, I need to push some of the deadline crunch out of my life and replace it with times of connection. I never thought I’d say this (shh!), but I have come to enjoy and appreciate community living on Facebook—in reasonable doses, of course. (Many of you know how anti-social media I have been.)

So, my friend, thank you for reading my blog. And especially thank you to those of you who have commented and participated. :) Join me now in closing this chapter of the book and opening a new one on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/StormSisters/

Grateful!

 

 

 

 

 

RPjust3things-2

Regaining Perspective

Hi Friends–Thanks so much to those of you who shared Storm Sister stories in August. I never tire of hearing these friend-helping-friend stories. I hope they encouraged you as they did me. :)

Some of you know that I went back to work full-time a few months ago. After 25 years of working as a freelancer with occasional part-time jobs, this has felt like a big change for me. Most days it feels like a really good change. I love the chance to work with people of all ages and stages to create books. Some days, however, I struggle to keep perspective. I get swept up in all the work to-dos, and my brain just can’t seem to shut down. I loose perspective. Life gets out of balance. I need to recalculate and remember what matters, and I know it isn’t just that work to-do list.

So . .. as I write today I’m trying to regain my perspective. I went back to a blog I wrote last September and let myself talk to myself (!) about some things I need to change in my hunt for perspective. (I’ll add that blog at the end of this one.)

Myself said to myself, “You need to go back to the three Ws–Walk, Women, and Worship.”

Myself said to myself, “I know you are right. I have let some important bits of my life slip away. I haven’t seen my best friend for more than a few hours all summer.”

I know better. I read about the value of friendship in some book called Storm Sisters. :) But I let myself slip into thinking of friendship as optional, something I pursue once all the “important” work stuff gets done. Again, I know better. I know that my friendships give me strength, courage, perspective, and joy, and I know that matters more than a completed to-do list.

So, today in my little chat with myself I said, “You have to make some changes. You have to make time for friends.” So, I’m sending some emails and texts to set up some friend dates. I just can’t let that work to-do list become more important than my peeps. :)

Thanks for listening and cheering me on. Know that I’m doing the same for you.

——————–

Just Three Things

The three little pigs. The three blind mice. The three stooges.

Everything comes in threes, right? At least my husband says so. Every time we discuss a topic he says, “It comes down to three things.

I’ve had this conversation about three so many times with John that when I started to think about how to navigate the September transition that always challenges me, I naturally came up with a three-pronged approach.

I’m not sure why September presents a challenge for me, but it does. Perhaps I miss the buzz of getting kids ready for school (might explain why I went out and bought myself crayons, gel pens, and a coloring book). Perhaps I know winter is coming. Perhaps I miss my friends who go back to school jobs. Whatever the reason, I find I must fight depression with more zeal in September.

So . . . I recently decided to work hard to do three things every day this September. And because I don’t remember as well as I used to, all of these three things start with the same letter—W.

Walk.

Being outside and hearing birds tweet and dogs bark and bumping into a neighbor, her smiley baby, and her just-learned-to-ride-a-tricycle daughter feeds my soul. It slows me down enough to talk to my neighbor, to breathe deeply of the air, to admire the cloudless blue sky. And doing all of that takes my eyes and my thoughts off myself.

Apparently walking also produces endorphins in my brain, which gives me a mental and emotional boost.

Not bad for something free. If only I could move some mountains to Illinois.

Women.

Every day I talk to John on the phone and after dinner. Neither of us would miss our daily conversations and end-of-the-day debrief. And yet, I still need to spend time daily with girlfriends, even if that time is via text, email, or phone.

They help me find perspective. As we listen to each other, I realize that we all have challenges. They make me laugh at myself and at the silly side of a situation I just couldn’t see.

They challenge me to do what I need to do for myself in the midst of caring for others.

They remind me that God sees and cares.

When I reach the end of the day and sit down with John to debrief, if I have had my girl-time, I meet my husband with more of a “full tank.” I don’t come expecting him to make everything better or meet all my emotional needs. And, really, what one person can do all of that all of the time?

Worship.

Over the past few years, I have discovered the joy of personal, daily worship.

After I walk the Chief Furry Officer, we come home and settle into our favorite chair in the living room with a view of the front garden, a bird feeder, and the morning sun.

 

goldfinch

Then I grab my phone and tap my Pandora App, specifically my Storm Sisters Soundtrack station. (Here is the link: http://www.pandora.com/station/play/1139667308769314118). Pandora lets you customize your own station and mine is full of Fernando Ortega music, including new versions of hymns. I know many of us don’t sing hymns any more, but I find the words of hymns so life-giving. I close my eyes, breathe deeply, and let my mind focus on the words. I often find myself turning the words of the hymns into prayer. After three or four songs, my brain begins to stop jumping to the to-do list, and I begin to simply worship God. The CFO seems to settle too. :)

Worship, like walking, pulls me out of myself and gives me perspective. It reminds me that God sees and hears and cares. Nothing is impossible with God. I am not alone.

If I have a particularly challenging day and find myself churning in guilt, anger, frustration, or despair, I often return to that Pandora App and take a worship break.

Simple, right? Just three things. And they all start with W.

 

Want to join me in trying the three-W approach this September? Or perhaps you have developed your own three-pronged approach to coping with transition and times of stress.

 

 

Category: Depression

Tags: just three things, walk, women, worship, September, transition, Pandora,  Storm Sisters Soundtrack

 

 

 

 

 

Tina GInger things to buy on a market

All about the Shoes

Something about a pile of shoes by the front door just makes me grin. Maybe you feel that way too.

Shoes

The pile reminds me that people have come into my home and decided to relax and enter into whatever happens within our walls. They have chosen connection over a myriad of other options.

It also tells me that my “tribe” has gathered. These are my “peeps.” We belong together whether by blood or by choice. We have chosen to take the time to talk and listen and laugh together. We know each other and stand as witnesses to each others’ lives.

The random pairs of shoes tossed on top of each other also illustrates that life lived together can look and feel messy. As we pop into each others’ spaces, we don’t always do it with perfect manners or precise, kind words. (And sometimes, let’s face it, just like a pile of shoes, we do carry with us a certain, well, odor.)

Connection is still worth it, don’t you think?

Hope you find some kick-your-shoes-off-and-connect time this summer. :)

And speaking of connection, don’t forget that we are celebrating friendship here on the blog in August in honor of International Friendship Day on August 7. Every Monday in August I will share with you a Storm Sister story from a reader.

If you have a Storm Sister and want to tell me about her, even in just a sentence or two, I would love to send you both a FriendChips calendar and tell your story in August. Just reply to this blog in the comment section.

FriendChips

 

chandelierblog

And Then We Hung the Chandelier

Every spring we put together our outdoor, screen porch, but this year we did it twice. The fire in our backyard that destroyed our fence and several shurbs also burned little holes in the roof of our porch. So over the weekend we took off the old top and replaced it with a new one. We also decided to shift some of the screens with fire holes to the back wall against the fence. Simple, right?

We thought so. We undid and redid lots of plastic hooks and rehung screens, but when we stood back to look at them we realized they were just a smidge off. Turns out our porch is not an exact square.

ME: “Something’s wrong here. These screens just don’t line up. I think we did this wrong.”

JOHN: “Yep. I think you’re right. Let’s take them down and try again.”

At that moment, my shoulder hurt a bit, and I thought of a lot of other things I wanted to do on this beautiful weekend day. I almost said, “It’s okay. We can live with it.” Then I realized that if we did that, we would see that error every time we sat on the porch, and our irritation would grow.

Isn’t that also a picture of marriage? Sometimes it seems the easiest thing to do is just ignore those little missteps and “live with it.” By “it” I mean a communication pattern that involves shouting, silence, assumptions, or even threats. Or bad habits such as not saying please and thank you—taking each other for granted. Or letting other people or hobbies or vocations step into the #1 attention-getting spot. It takes great courage for someone in a marriage to say, “Look, I see us making a mistake.” And it takes great grace for a partner to say, “You’re right. Let’s address this.”

After we took the screens down again and readjusted them, they looked so much better–the way that were intended to look. Then came the moment I had been waiting for since May: we hung our outdoor chandelier.

Porch

I’m glad now that we didn’t just try to cover up the old, fire-burned roof or live with the oddly-placed screens.

We talked it through, leaned on each other’s strengths, admitted our weaknesses, and ended up in a happy chandelier-hanging place.

And one evening soon we will pull out mom’s old CD player and put on Frank Sinatra–just right for celebrating twenty-nine years of building a life together. Grateful!

 

P.S. Don’t forget—I still have FriendChips 2017 calendars to give away. Just send me a line or two here in the comment line about your Storm Sister (for use in my August 7th blog). I’ll mail you both a calendar. :)

FriendChips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Recipe for You

Dear Readers, my friend Linda Baker sent me a recipe this week that I just have to share. I tried it and love it. Quick, delicious, and fabulous with coffee. I used the Costco brownie mix with chocolate chips in it and frosted the biscotti with Dollop all natural frosting, as seen on Shark Tank :) Then I drizzled them with some melted mini chocolate chips. After serious quality control, John gave them an enthusiastic thumbs-up!

BiscottiLinda often brings me homemade biscotti when she comes for a visit. (This is a simpler version). I shamelessly refuse to share them and savor them with a cup of coffee. So . . . enjoy!

 

Also, I still have 2017 FriendChips calendars I would love to give away. Perhaps writing a whole story about your Storm Sister is too daunting. I would be happy with just a sentence or two. :) Then on Monday, August 8, the day after Friendship Day, I will make a collage of all the sentences and post them on my blog and Facebook and Twitter to celebrate the gift of connection.

You can leave your sentences as comments to this blog, and then I will contact you to get your address and your Storm Sister’s address.

FriendChips

 

                                                                      Brownie Mix Biscotti
Makes about 2 dozen
Ingredients
1 box (18-20 oz.) brownie mix—any brand. I like Pillsbury and Duncan Hines.
¾ cup flour
¼ cup baking cocoa
2 eggs
1/3 cup of oil (or up to half cup) I do what the box recommends.
Optional: Instant coffee or espresso powder, about 2 teaspoons, or orange zest, or anything else you like to use to flavor chocolate.
Water—optional, if needed

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all except water. You should have fairly stiff dough. You can add a little water if you need it to get a homogenous black and shiny, not crumbly dough.

On a large, greased cookie sheet, divide and pat the dough into two logs, about 2½ to 3 inches wide, running length of sheet, with space between the two logs. Try to make the logs about the same width as each other, and relatively even in length.
Bake the logs at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, until they are cooked through. (They start to crack a little.) Put pan on the counter. Slice the logs carefully with a knife into about ½” slices.

You should try to push the slices apart so there is room for the sides to get heated and crunched. Depending on the size of your sheet, you may need to put some slices on another cookie sheet.I usually remove the ends of the logs, as they are already crunchy.

Bake again for about 5 minutes more. You can bake less if you want a chewier cookie, or not at all if you want. Keep this in mind, if you bake them much more than 8 minutes, they will harden as they cool and be good dunkers but otherwise difficult to eat. In my oven, 8 minutes is about right for crunchy but not hard. I’d start with 5 minutes and by trial and error, you can see what you like.

Let cool and store in airtight container.

Note: You can add chocolate chips, nuts etc., or you can glaze one side with melted chips and a small amount of oil. Really, you can do whatever sounds good to you, I think including just baking them up as cookies. They taste like brownies, but are not nearly so messy and crumbly.

4thJulyBlog

Happy In(ter)dependence Day

Perhaps you will attend a parade today or a block party or family barbecue. Interesting, isn’t it that all the activities we typically participate in to celebrate July 4 involve people?

For several years now I’ve wished we could rename this holiday and call it National Interdependence Day—seems, really, to describe the day more accurately. Those early settlers needed each other to draw up and execute their plan for a life in America.

When I think of the word independence, I think of a sturdy, determined two-year-old proclaiming, “Do it self!” But no single person among us is smart enough, strong enough, capable enough to do life alone. Maybe we know that deep-down and that explains, in part, why we celebrate Independence Day surrounded by others.

If you read my blog last week http://ow.ly/yK7n301UajB, you read my musings on playing second clarinet and friendship. I talked about the idea of playing a supporting role in friendship and letting others shine. I think I missed a piece of the puzzle, though, the idea of working together for the greater good of the whole no matter what your role—first clarinet or second clarinet. My clarinet-playing friend, Roberta, commented on the blog and beautifully explained this.

As you think this weekend about independence and interdependence, let me leave you with the wise words of my friend Roberta. (Oh, and she found a yearbook photo of us holding our clarinets—too funny!) And I also leave you with a short sentence that has become my favorite: “Let’s do it together.”

Roberta writes:

If given the choice, I, too, like to hide in the back. It was a challenge to be “first clarinet” sometimes. But it was so much fun to be a part of something “bigger,” like a “music team.” God calls us to use our talents to support each other, just like the Body of Christ. My favorite part of our musical journey was playing clarinet duets with you. Loved the harmony. We can challenge ourselves to be our best, whether it be in the lead or a supporting role. Together we are more than the sum of the individual parts. And I am glad that you had the opportunity and challenge to be first chair our senior year. You have grown and blossomed from the experience.

Thank you for your continued friendship!

Roberta

 1979 All State Band Roberta, Mike, Afton

secondclarinetblog

Second Clarinet

 

Back in junior high I met a lifelong friend in the clarinet section—Roberta.

We both took private lessons. We both went to music camp. We both practiced diligently. And yes, we did goof around now and then and drive our band teacher just a little nuts.

Every year Roberta and I auditioned for chairs within the clarinet section, and every year, all the way through high school, guess who won first chair? Roberta.

You probably expect me now to talk about how discouraged I became and how it affected our friendship. Sorry to disappoint, but I really enjoyed being second chair clarinet. Roberta handled solos better than I did and had more confidence than I did.

Our senior year, Roberta and I both also played in the high school orchestra. Our director decided that year to have Roberta play the bassoon, and I became first chair clarinet. Eek! I had to work and work on a solo for the state competition, and I had to talk myself into being confident enough to play said solo.

Truth be told, I preferred second chair. I didn’t like the spotlight—still don’t.

When my publisher told me I had to develop a presence on social media and talk about myself and my book, I struggled. Still do. Social media just doesn’t feel comfortable to a second-chair clarinet player.

But I have learned that I can use social media to draw attention to other people.

Nothing makes me happier than promoting a young or undiscovered writer. And I love posting a funny video or poignant article that I know one of my readers (you) will appreciate. I love giving a thumbs-up to friends and family members doing brave, fun, normal things.

Recently, as so often happens, I sat down to spend time reading my favorite book, and came across one short sentence in Romans 12:10 that speaks directly to this idea. I particularly like the way the verse reads in The Message: “Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.”

Don’t you think that verse could also be paraphrased this way: “Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second clarinet?” :)

That semi-colon tells me that the the two parts of this sentence carry equal weight. Good friends who love deeply also play second fiddle (clarinet). Hmm . . .

I wonder what would happen in our friendships, and on social media, if we adopted the “second clarinet” mentality. What do you think?