Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Thank YOU

You know, women have a bad rap for being petty, gossipy, immature and back-stabby.

In truth, I had very few female friends in my life until about 6 years ago when I knew I needed to refocus and re-center my life. But I wasn't sure how - it seemed to me most of the women I knew were awful.

In 2010, God began to reveal a funny little passion I never knew I had. It was a passion for seeing a community of women grow and flourish in each other and in Christ. I guess some might even call it women's ministry. I pushed back for a long time because I held on to a lot of past issues with 'friends' and kept telling myself that no, no - women's groups and women's issues were NOT my thing.

I've had some hits and misses when it comes to finding and keeping female friends. We just don't click with everyone and women are emotional beings who get their feelings hurt easily. Some days I feel like I'm back in high school and I want to throw my hands up and say FORGET IT. Who has time for it? I need people in my life who understand where I'm at and can respect what I'm able to give. That hasn't been easy to find, but I'm fortunate to have a few friends who just get it.

And over the past 4+ years I've dipped my toe in the pool a few times, and jumped back out but year after year, God reignites this passion of mine in different degrees and a variety of ways. I'm still very much figuring out what this looks like and how to take it on. I'm a mama who works part time for a non profit organization, homeschools a teenager, takes care of one highly spirited threenager and a 14 month old stage 5 clinger.

The great thing about knowing that this is part of what God is calling me to do is knowing that if I pursue him in the process, the pieces will come together. I don't have to sweat about it, stress about it, freak out about it. I feel excited but I also feel calm.

But until I have the pieces in place, I want to say this to you, my sweet friends.

You are so, so loved.

I wish there was a better way to convey that or fancier words to use. But that's the truth. My heart is so encouraged by how many of you reached out to me after my last blog post. I was terrified to post, worried that I'd hear nothing but crickets chirping. In fact, the opposite happened. So many of you answered and shared your hearts with me. You told me of past pain and current hang ups. You told me your heart craves the same thing. You told me you were all in, and you wanted to help in any way you could. You told me you desired a space where you could be free of the pressures of books and studies and weekly commitments. You told me you saw a space like I saw. Women gathered in homes, around tables, playing Cootie (you had to be there...) sharing conversation and eventually sharing your lives.

And there were many of you who reached out to me privately to share pain and heartache and things you felt were too personal to share on Facebook. I want each of you to know that I felt your hearts aching as you shared your stories with me. And I want you to know that I won't forget about you and I will be praying very specific prayers for each of you.

I know that God wants what we all so desperately crave - for the walls of condemnation, of judgment, of insecurity and fear to come crashing down. For us to sit with each other as sisters and friends and learn to love with grace and acceptance.

I am truly excited. And I am extremely thankful that so many of you were willing to share your heart with me. I believe that we each have a beautiful gift to share, beautiful and broken stories that will heal the pain of others who will realize they aren't alone. This process is already unfolding in front of me. It started with a Facebook conversation and I can't wait to see what comes out of that. Thank you for taking a risk and being willing to be part of what's coming!

Take heart, dear friend. The creator of the universe knows you intimately and He weeps when you weep, He rejoices when you rejoice.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Dreaming Big for 2015

Are you ever in a place in your life where you feel like you're the person who needs the constant help, encouragement, support, words of wisdom?

Can I confess something to you guys? Sometimes I feel like a vacuum. You know, like WHEN THE FLIP DID I GET SO NEEDY? Why am I sucking so much out of other people?

Seriously. When? And why?

Every year I pick a word at the beginning of the year that I hope to embody that year. This year I'm picking authenticity.

Some of you may have seen that I ordered Lara Casey's Powersheet goal setting system for 2015. One of my biggest goals this year is to stop focusing on what's all out of whack and chaotic about my own life, and reach out to encourage other women who are experiencing the chaos of their own lives. It's so easy to shut down when your own life is all topsy turvy but here is what I know about life and about God. Shutting down, turning inward and closing people off isn't the answer. It doesn't help, it doesn't make anything better and it's in opposition to what God wants for us.

I desire and crave so much an authentic community of women - one where there is honesty and love and support and it's messy and gritty and real. A number of years ago I led a Life Group with a friend of mine called Confessions of a Good Christian Girl, based on a book of the same name. It was my intention then to get a small group of women to experience the freedom of unleashing their burdens, their fears, their guilt and secrets - it was my intention for women to find that they were STILL loved and needed and valuable to others even if their deepest, darkest secrets were out in the light.

It didn't turn out quite the way I hoped, but I think it was a decent starting point. And still, deep down inside of me I feel a stirring for more of this type of community. I am dreaming big this year, dreaming with a couple other like minded women about what this could look like.

What if we as women sat across from each other in coffee shops and living rooms and drank coffee and stopped talking about new hair color and what our kids were up to. What if instead we spilled our fears, our desires, our hopes and dreams and talked about what holds us back? What if we stopped viewing each other as the competition and started viewing each other as sisters and friends in Christ? What if we stopped trying to BE the competition, stopped taking things that don't belong to us and stopped trying to outdo one another?

I am beyond fortunate to have a few close girlfriends who know everything - seriously, everything - about me. Every mistake I've made, every shameful secret I want hidden from the world, every struggle I have, every ounce of turmoil I've experienced. And that's amazing, it is. But I want and crave more. Not just for myself, but for all the women I know and will come to know. It is so freeing to have a friend in Christ who is there for you no matter what.

So if you're female, and you're reading this - will you leave a comment here or on my Facebook page telling me what this would look like for you? Do you crave a community like this? What would it look like, feel like, be like? Will you pray for me and for those that are dreaming big with me? What holds you back from being authentic and open with other women? What are the hurts you've experienced and what are the gifts you've received when you've been in a solid community of female friendship?

I would love to know what a beautiful community of authentic women could accomplish, in the name of Christ. I imagine big, amazing and glorious things and I think we can make it happen.