Battle Armor in Panera

Sitting alone at lunch, my attention is drawn by affable voices mingled together.  Eight vibrant and vibrantly-dressed women surround a nearby table, clearly part of a special group.  Bespectacled, sparking, filled with the energy of their younger selves, they band together, walkers and canes set aside.  Laughter and stories ring through Panera and I lean in a little bit, curious. I wonder who they were, these wives, daughters, mothers, what mountains they climbed, what they’ve seen in this world as it has changed so dramatically in their lifetimes. I have no doubt the stories they could tell would fill volumes: stories of shared experiences, of joy and pain, of the victories and defeats of life. As I continue to observe it becomes clear that these ladies, in truth, aren’t really old, just further down life’s path than I am.  

 They wear scarlet hats with purple accents, each bedecked with different decorations, as varied as their personalities, seemingly a bit over-fancy for their suburban strip-mall sandwich shop environment. I smile as I watch from afar, inspired by how they embrace life’s adventure, these strong and united women, bearing the uniform of their tribe, the red hats as their own version of battle armor in this life. In them I see the joy of embracing each season of life and the strength found in this precious sisterhood so often missed by women, unmarred by the spirit of competition and comparison that plagues so many relationships.

The Red Hat ladies finish their lunch and reluctantly say goodbye to each other.  They hug, smile, and exchange see-you-next-times, going back to daily life. But they leave with me an impression, a precious spirit to emulate, and a reminder to link arms yet again with my tribe.  

May I surround my table with my warrior women friends, either face to face or online, and share victory and war stories.  May we wear our version of battle armor for this life, the uniform of our tribe, and walking confidently through life, drastically overdressed for a Wednesday afternoon.  

May we share with future generations the importance of seizing the day and being fabulous. May we pass on to our daughters, our nieces, our friends, our sisters the value in coming together in strength as women rather than seeing each other as rivals.  May we teach them (and ourselves) the power of “together” and “me too” rather than the friendship-killing distraction of comparison.

As I work through what my blog should be, I can’t overstate how much I appreciate the tribe that reaches out to me, the people who comment and let me know what resonated.  Thank you for standing with me!

 Today go forth, put on something unnecessarily fabulous, and reach out to your tribe.  Remind them that we all struggle, that together we can be strong in the face of hard things, and that you are still right there for them.



Kathleen Tysinger
I’m a Christian girl on the journey through an adventure-filled life, a blogger, writer, speaker, and mom to two college students. I am blessed to be married to my high school sweetheart and we make our home near Sacramento, California. While I spent years as an English teacher and in the business world, I was given the gift of a “different-paced” life through the onset of a chronic illness in 2015, and my adventure continues…


  1. Remarkably well written. The battle armor is not a guard against authenticity. It is armor used to fight in the struggles of life. Comparison and competition have no place in the true shoulder-to-shoulder combat we often face. It with our fellow warriors we stand strong and overcome.

  2. I think that your blog “should be” what it already is: a reflection of you and life as you walk it out and your observations along the way. I would imagine that any sort of theme would reek of an agenda. And whether good or bad, it’s best not to manipulate the audience. Let God do that in his powerful and mysterious way. I’m here to enjoy the tune of your words while they provide melodic pause to the scurry of my day. Ehugs!

  3. Such a beautiful perspective brought on by such an, at-least-in-my-suburban-life, everyday occurrence. I pray that my eyes would be open to the life that’s happening around me more often, and that I would remember (and anyone else who needs a friendly reminder) to reach out to my tribe (although you’re already gone and Lisa is leaving soon) and be more intentional with time together. Satan loves to keep us wrapped up in BUSYNESS! Ugh!
    Love & miss you much!

    1. Busy-ness is one of his biggest weapons! Distraction, getting mucked down in the urgent over the important. Grateful we are part of the same tribe, sweet friend, even when we’re not in the same time zone! Love you and miss you!

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