meet my new friends

I loved this weekend. If you prayed for me, bless your heart, because I could feel it. I’ll tell you what. It felt just plain wrong accepting any money for my “speaking engagement” because what I actually did was just hang out with some awesome women and eat yummy food and laugh a lot and open up my heart a bit to them, and they opened up their hearts a lot to me.

And it was just really a total blessing.

I vaguely remember Beth Moore saying on one of her Bible study DVD’s, something to the effect of her telling God that she liked teaching her Sunday School class (or Bible study or something) and she had no desire to do anything on radio (or TV maybe?) thank you. Anyway, the point was that she liked things small and simple like they were, and could God please not mess and take her out of her comfort zone.

He pretty much thanked her for her opinion and moved ahead anyway with the great big plans he had for her life.

So I’m not even going to ask him what I want to ask him which would be, “God, can you just make all of my stuff easy like this–me just sitting around a big table in comfy swivel chairs with 14 other women who are really great and fun and want to know and love you more?”

Because it was really cool to meet my soul sister Jenn who loves Africa and teenagers and wears t-shirts that say, “Social Justice Begins in the Womb” and has a little 3-year-old boy who loves Skillet (a Christian rock band) even more than Nina does and is trusting God to bring in the $ to adopt little one #2.

And it was fun to sit by Gale and find out that she’s the mom of Emily who I used to go to church with and who is an amazing dancer and got her talent honestly because her mama is a dancer (and dance teacher). And it was fun to tease Gale because of something she said (that would be funny to share with all of you, but I should probably stick to telling embarrassing things about myself and not lovely women I just met 2 days ago).

And Mary was like a breath of fresh air with her beautiful curly hair and her soccer-star boys and her stories about Fluffy the Duck. And it was Mary’s idea to go around and say our favorite things (like ice cream and music and Disney movie and place to visit and so on). We got to know each other so well for a few wonderful hours on Friday night.

And Reba who I knew I had seen before, and it turns out that she goes to the church I used to go to, and she is a dear sweet grandma who has such a heart for young mamas and has had some heartache in her life that I’m committed to praying about.

And Karen who I got to spend some time chatting with on the couch on Saturday afternoon and was totally and completely honest about some tough family stuff, and I’m praying for her sweet self too.

And Jennifer who is a hoot-and-a-half that doesn’t mind making fun of herself one little bit and was proud as punch of her beautiful twins and that cute little redhead (she brought their school pictures). She’s also a labor and delivery nurse at the hospital where I birthed two of my girlies.

And Susie who works with Jen and is equally adorable with great stories about her own kiddos who apparently eat like horses but never gain an ounce and people tell her to feed them and she says, “I do!” and I totally get that because I took Livi (who hates jeans) to Once Upon a Child today in hopes of finding some sweatpants that would reach her ankles but not fall off her waist and after trying on 12 pairs, she finally found one that will do if she pulls the drawstring really tight.

And Mary Beth who works with Jen and Susie and is as sweet as can be and who walked with me after lunch and told me what it’s like working on the labor/delivery floor of a hospital (the good and the bad) and listened with great interest (or she did a good job of pretending) as I gave her the “highlights” of my own birthing stories.

And spunky Ashley who doesn’t work with the three nurses but rounds out their little foursome of friends and loves the Chicago Bears (who are losing as I type) and warned me that she might be checking the Buckeyes score during my afternoon talk and when I saw her with her Blackberry out during my talk in the morning, I called her out (just for fun) but she was LOOKING UP A BIBLE VERSE, not checking football scores.

And Runner Rosa who reminds me of my old cross country buddy Emily except that Rosa hails from Portugal and married a 6’2″ guy in hopes that her kids would have a chance to be taller than their 5’0″ mama. We bonded over 18-inch Twizzlers, and I loved her sense of humor and great stories about her family.

And Rhonda who just turned 50 and used to care very, very much about her appearance and what people thought about her but ever since she found Jesus a few years ago, none of that really matters to her anymore, and what she mostly cares about is loving Jesus and learning more about him and praying for family members who aren’t saved and being a good friend and eating yummy desserts.

And heart-of-gold Cherie (pronounced the French way) who moved here from New Orleans and loves it but misses her family and friends and the food and the music. She might be one of the most genuinely kind, sweet, selfless people I’ve ever met. And so wise. And always had the perfect thing to say to add to every conversation. And made everyone feel like they were so incredibly special. She and Susie and Ashley and Mary Beth and I walked in the woods together for an hour and sang every Sound of Music song we could think of, and Cherie said she enjoyed hearing me sing in the woods even more than hearing me talk which isn’t a compliment I get every day.

And wonderful Cindy who got the whole retreat together and had talked to me several times on the phone but she was waaaay more awesome than I imagined her to be, and I liked her very, very much and told her so.

Thank you, girls. It was such a pleasure to meet you.


10 thoughts on “meet my new friends

  1. amber

    Oh, Marla…what a blissful weekend. I love meeting women that are just good, solid, down-to-earth, NORMAL folks.
    Now…let’s discuss you coming to Arkansas, m’kay?

  2. Laura

    Skillet is a Christian rock band?! I had no idea! I’ve seen them in concert twice and honestly…clueless! Wow! (they are really good too!) Sounds like you had a great weekend 🙂

    1. Marla Taviano

      Yeah, the fact that it’s easy to go to a concert and not have a clue that they’re Christians is kind of sad (to me anyway), but it’s not my place to judge. Gabe has met them and eaten dinner with them, and after hearing about some struggles they’ve had lately, I’m praying for them. Anyway. How are YOU doing, Miss Laura?

      1. Laura

        Hmm, it’s weird. I mean, I am not a super hard rock kind of girl, but my husband likes that kind of music. If this makes sense, I would have liked them a little better had I known they were a Christian group. Both times we saw Skillet they were opening for Shinedown. Anyway, as for my life….I am sending you an email. Things are…weird. And of course here I am looking for the skies to part and the angels to start singing (you know, with the “laaaaaaa” sound and the sun rays shooting down?) and the answers to my fears/worries/doubts in neon lights in the midst of it all. Ha! (is that too much to ask??? LOL!) So anyway, check your email. (in like 5 minutes) 🙂

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