Category Archives: Encouragement

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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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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

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The Gift of the Table

I have a “thing” for dining room tables. They pull me in when I walk past them at IKEA. They hold me in awe when I look at them in an Amish showroom. I drool when I watch Property Brothers and see a family getting a fourteen-foot dining room table made to seat their entire large, extended family.

So why the fixation?

Yes, I do admire the craftsmanship of a solidly-made piece of furniture.

But on a much deeper level, I love what happens around the dining room table: laughter, conversation, discussion of current events, a feisty game of Bannagrams®, dessert. . . .

In these days of empty nest, I don’t spend as much time at the dining room table as I have in years past. Most nights I make dinner for two, and often John and I just eat in the family room. (And, yes, sometimes we watch “Wheel of Fortune.”) But I keep the table covered with a tablecloth and set with candles as if to say, “At any moment, my dinner guests might arrive. I want to be ready.”

Last night we did have a dinner guest. By noon I had the table completely set and found that I kept sneaking into the dining room to take another look. Silly?! As I stood and gazed, I smiled in anticipation of our time together. Questions, answers, jokes (John’s department), and laughter. Connection.

Oh, the gift of a table.

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Most of our dinner came from boxes, but it still smelled good, tasted good, and facilitated good conversation, living up to all I had anticipated.

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And now I anticipate another gathering around the table as our son and his girlfriend just told us they are coming for Thanksgiving. Yahoo! Can’t wait to set that table and become immeresed in conversation while passing the stuffing.

Oh, the gift of the table.

I recently discovered an organization that promotes family dinner. Love it! They have some great ideas, including recipes and conversation starters: http://thefamilydinnerproject.org

And next week I hope to have my dear friend and college roommate here on the blog. She is my go-to-gal for cooking questions and hospitality. Join me here next week for a taste of Linda’s wisdom in life and food. And discover one of her favorite quick and easy recipes.

Thanks for reading and thanks for joining me on this Storm Sister journey.

Grateful!

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Stop and See

Today I give you a visual blog.

Every day this September I try to do my three things (walk, women, and worship) and perhaps you have joined me in this habit. If you missed the blog last week about three things, you can find it here: http://aftonrorvik.com/blog/2015/09/14/1311/

A few days ago I did my walk at a local park (Cantigny) that has a huge rose garden. What a delight to wander among the roses and stop to smell them.

Let me share some of those roses with you now and encourage you to find a way this week to stop and see the beauty of God’s creation.

Breathe deeply, relax, and enjoy.

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Hurricane Hunk?

Guest blog by John Rorvik

Well, I’d like to think of myself as Jack Bauer, the government agent in the TV show 24 who uses his mind, muscles and mastery of technology to simultaneously handle terrorist threats and crises in his personal life. But if I’m honest with myself, I’m no hunk, and anyone who knows me would agree. I think Cyclone Clod is a more accurate description. But I can’t argue with the hurricane part. Storms have entered my life like everyone else. And on that point, I have seen again and again the great benefit of close friendships with men to help guide me through the tempests of life.

I count among my many blessings the men who were placed in my path who have encouraged, challenged, and inspired me. They also will hold me accountable. These relationships started out the way most do among guys, with a discussion over common interests. Most often it is about sports, which I have heard referred to as “the language of guys”. From there it goes on to talks about car repairs, home repair projects, or how to find the best deal on some new gadget.

Like most men, I have a lot of these casual conversations. But at times I have sensed it was safe to become more self- revelatory with a guy and to talk about a feeling or a struggle. It’s not always easy to go there. Yet I have found that if I move forward wisely with select men, that transparency opens a door that I have never once regretted unlocking. I get insight and a new perspective from someone who knows me, is often dealing with something very similar, and perhaps has advanced further down the path toward peace and resolution.

Each of these friendships has taken a different form, but all have progressed past the surface to something deeper. For me, the church has been the best place to find these friendships, as it is there I find men who are looking for deeper answers than the world offers. Finding each one was ultimately an act of God’s grace, but there are things I needed to do to allow that grace into my life. More than anything, it meant being intentional. I try to maintain three habits, though I actually follow each one quite imperfectly:

  • If the friend is local, I set up a regular time to meet. It’s one thing to say “We should get together sometime”. When I say that, I mean it and want to do it. But then a natural inertia sets in and nothing happens. I have learned it is better to say something like “Let’s meet the 2nd Saturday of each month for breakfast”. Who knows if I can keep that appointment every time? But if I can’t, it becomes something I then more naturally reschedule.
  • If the friend is long distance, I invest a little time and money now and again, say once a year, to travel to him or invite him to come to me. I treat it like a retreat with a friend. We do a lot of guy stuff, usually involving watching sports, but there’s also plenty of time to invest in each other’s lives.
  • I use technology a lot to nudge my buddies. If I find myself standing in a line, I will send a quick text to one of my guys. I also send out a whole bunch of two-sentence emails. It might be an encouraging word or a verse or an excerpt of an article or sermon that might help them. More often, I have nothing at all important to say. Really what I am doing is letting me know that they are important enough to me that they just came to my mind.

To any Hurricane Hunks or Cyclone Clods reading this, I encourage you to spend time to both create and deepen friendships with other men. You’ll find these friendships make you a better husband, dad, and most importantly, follower of Christ.

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A Used Car Christmas Celebration

Saturday. Thought the day might end at a Christmas concert. Instead, it ended at a used car dealership. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

It all started by saying, “Yes,” something I had just read about that in Chapter Nine of Bob Goff’s book, Love Does: “I used to think you had to be special for God to use you, but now I know you simply need to say yes.”

Kate had texted earlier in the week and asked, “Could I come up and stay with you to look at a car this weekend?”

“Yes! And we’re happy to help you with the car hunt.”

And so Saturday unfolded. First, a not-so-great option with a bumper issue and door handle issue and clutch issue. . . .  Then John and I and Kate regrouped, did some research, had some food (what I always recommend in times of stress), and headed to a used car dealership to look at another option.

We shook hands with the salesman and introduced ourselves. “I’m Kate. “ John and I hesitated a bit. How do we explain our role in this unfolding drama? We’re not parents. Not Aunt and Uncle. Not Grandparents. “We are Kate’s friends.”

That makes me smile.

Kate’s mom was one of my college roommates oh so many years ago. A Storm Sister. When Kate arrived here for college. John and I welcomed her into our home, complete with a nickname: “Kate the Great,” and Kate accepted our dinner invitations and wacky humor and dog who licked her toes.

And so on Saturday we found ourselves sitting together at a used car dealership. We test drove, a car, sat around a table to negotiate, had an inspection done, ate some popcorn. . . .

And I felt soul-happy.

Helping Kate seemed like just a tiny pay-it-forward to someone who befriended me years ago and gifted me with his wisdom, direction, and joy.

God.

“I see. I care. I’m doing something. I’m sending Jesus.”

Christmas.

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Walking around in Circles

So . . . I finally dragged myself to the gym last week, making my debut at 4:30 one afternoon. I walked in to see masses of college students working out on treadmills, lifting weights, running on the track. . . .  Eek!

At least I have pretty shoes.

I began to walk around the track. But clever-me, I first plugged my headphones into my phone, and pulled up Mozart on my Pandora App. I wonder if these youngsters know I can figure this out?!

As I watched (and felt) these college students fly around me, mother-thoughts crept over me: Are you balancing your exercise with healthy eating? Are you getting enough sleep? Making time for friends?

I wonder if some students had thoughts of their own, such as: Who is this annoying middle-aged woman with the really blue shoes who can’t stay in the inside lane?

I tried to grin and hold my head up and keep walking in circles. Then I started to see.

A young man skipping (!) at the other end of the track. Big grin.
Another young man sitting by the pool below the track and engrossed in deep conversation with a young woman. Not much of a grin.
A woman ahead of me with her arm in a sling. Lots of grimacing.

Each person a story.

Think I’ll come back to the gym. Maybe tomorrow. Something fascinating about going around in circles and feeling all mixed up in the human story.

Thank you, friend, for choosing to be mixed up in my story. Know that I am grateful.

“Every time your name comes up in my prayers, I say, ‘Oh, thank you, God!’ ”  (Philemon 1:4, The Message)

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Retreat? Or not.

To withdraw. To draw back.

My dictionary tells me those terms describe the word retreat. But, I wonder, do those words do justice to the weekend I just spent with four college friends? We called our days together a retreat, but we did anything but withdraw from each other.

Guess I’m really thinking of the noun-version of the word.

A place of refuge.

In reality my friends and I drew toward each other by spending time eating together, walking together, making airport runs, laughing, speaking honestly,  listening carefully, and praying for each other.

We focused our time together around three simple questions: What was the high point of your year? What was the low point of your year? How can we pray for you?

Each woman had a voice. And each woman had loving words of earnest prayer fall over her. (At least until Ringo started barking!)

We became a place of refuge for each other: “You can be who you are. Me too. You can say what you need to say. Me too. You can laugh. You can cry. Me too. Together.”

Perhaps you have had a similar weekend with girlfriends.  I would love to hear about it.

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What Is Your Story?

So you’ve listened to me for many months now, and if you’ve read my book, Storm Sisters, you’ve heard lots of my stories.  You may be saying, “Enough already!”

Do you mind if we change things up a bit? I would like to hear YOUR stories. And I know others readers of this blog would too.

Why?

Because hearing another’s story reminds us that we have company. In our busy, disconnected, unpredictable, and often lonely world, don’t we all need that?

C. S. Lewis said it so well in his book, The Four Loves: “Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .””  https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/14816053-the-four-loves

In chapter three (p. 40) of my book I write, “I have never asked for help well. I am much more comfortable helping than receiving help.” I then describe a time when I found the courage to ask for help and the surprising help-gifts my friends offered.

Did you have a similar moment? A time when you found the courage to ask another for help? If so, brave friend, would you tell us your story?

Do not include full names, just use initials. And do not include location details. Do include your hesitations, worries, motivation, challenges, joys, lessons learned, etc. And describe your friend’s reaction to your “Help” cry.

I will edit (gently, I promise!) your story, let you see it before it runs in the blog, and send you and your Storm Sister each a signed copy of my book as well as a set of handmade Storm Sister cards, designed specifically for you by my talented friend, Melody Bodger: http://www.pinterest.com/aftonrorvik/cards-by-melody-bodger/

Send your stories to http://aftonrorvik.com/contact/

So looking forward to hearing your stories. Thank you!!

Follow me on Twitter @rorvik_afton
Tweet me at #StormSisters

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Wouldn’t Want to Miss This

Two slices of deep-dish pizza, nestled in a baggie, dangled from my mailbox.  My friend had brought me lunch.

What extraordinary, out-of-the-box delivery service!

Just like so many people I know. Extraordinary. Out-of-the-box. I find that I especially gravitate toward friends with some specific qualities:

  • Humor. I tend to be way too serious. Always pondering the meaning of life and the universe. I depend on John for his good humor and lighter perspective. And also on my pizza-hanging friend and others who open my eyes to the silly side of life.
  • Challenge. I can get stuck. Stuck on myself. Stuck in a specific way to do life. Stuck in the past. Stuck in worry. I have several wise friends who speak honest words to me: “I would love to see you.  . . .”
  • Wisdom.  Sometimes I simply feel inadequate. Can’t figure out this social media stuff—blogging, posting, pinning, tweeting. Oh, my! Can’t figure out how to navigate quiet spaces. Can’t figure out how to navigate empty nest. And then I ask a wise friend, “What did you do when . . . ?” My friends speak truth to me from their experience, and they also speak truth to me from their faith in God and their love of his words as written in the Bible.

What about you? What draws you into friendship?

And thank you, wise friends, for joining this ongoing conversation.

Follow me on Twitter @rorvik_afton
Tweet me at #StormSisters