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Offer Joy: 31 Days to Full

It's day 11 of my challenge to uncover 31 gifts lying hidden in my life this October.  To see how full my life really is.

Saturday said, "Hello," with drizzle and cool fall temperatures.  It was the kind of day to stay tucked away in the warm.
We did not stay inside though.  We were headed to a Barn Party.  A sweet family or families from our church were celebrating harvest time and opening up their barn and wallets in love and hospitality.  I had never been to one.  The date had been on my calendar for several weeks.  When I woke up to the Autumn rain, I second guessed it.

But around lunch time with growling tummies we headed out to the barn.
We drove down the country roads with the thick comforter of gray clouds leadening the sky.
Trudging on a mix of mud, grass, and cow leftovers we made our way to the full barn.
People set on bales of hay lining the barn covered with patchwork quilts. Others set drinking colas out of glass bottles in portable chairs.  All smiles.
There was a whole lot of warmth there.
The table was spilling over with fresh meat burgers, gooey macaroni and cheese, pumpkin rolls, brownies, and corn dogs (good ones) for the kids.
There was even an ice cream truck from a local creamery passing out cups stuffed with ice cream. Thick, rich, fresh.
Mint Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Espresso, Vanilla, Raspberry....
I shared some seasonal pumpkin ice cream and it tasted every bit like pumpkin pie only on ice.  It was velvet.  My baby girl took over mine and could not get enough.
There was a hay ride for all the kids.  And there were so many kids.
I cradled my almost two year old as we hit all the dips in the soggy grass.  Kids squealed with ice cream trails sticking to their chins.
From a rope hung a halloween Piñata to crush and watch candy avalanche out.  (this happened to be the most formidable piñata Ive ever seen) I have no idea how long it was battered before it finally leaked out the first tootsie roll.
My favorite part was the hay bale maze that had been created on one half of the barn.  A tunnel of hay bales curving to form the perfect maze for half pints.  My girls finally lost their bashfulness and joined in.  Hoisting their bodies up and holding onto pieces of hay as they climbed large mountains of  hay and then slid down them to do it all again. "Please mom," my four year old pulled on my sleeves and succeeded in getting me to do it once with her.

It was a lovely time. The cool, wet did not dampen anyone's spirits.  It did not matter.  We just all huddled closer and shared a slice of Saturday together.

I know people have had many different experiences with church. With the church.  Sometimes we have had bad experiences.  Sometimes we may leave feeling left out, like no one cared.  I have to say though that I have not experienced any of this at our church.  People have been so friendly and so genuine.
While standing there under the rough boards of the barn eaves and wedged behind hay bales I sensed the real friendship there.  Authentic people full of hospitality.  It is wonderful to be at a gathering of so many and not hear a negative word, just joy.
Lastly, though the weather was not an ideal crystal clear, crisp October day it did not matter.  And like the overcast weather we as a church have experienced a lot of loss this week; however, we have banded together, coming alongside each other in the rain of life.
Today I'm offering joy for the friendship of believers.


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