An Overnight with Friends--we do life and ministry together
I hope all of you had a wonderful Easter with your sweet families. Memories were made with Joel and Joy, Clay and me. We experience different family culture with each combination of kids who happen to be living home and it is fun as long as there are some children who are home. Friends who are like family also had us for a feast of sorts to close the day with grateful hearts.
I was recently remembering how many times I have felt alone or dry both spiritually and emotionally, but when I entered into the company of several particular friends, I always left feeling stronger, encouraged, with more true thoughts about life and the Lord to feed on. These women have an intentionality about their spiritual lives and so I know when I invest time with them, I will be investing in my own spiritual well-being. God created community to be a regular part of our lives, and yet it doesn't just come about by fate--community in this time of history is always precious and has to be developed by planning and intention.
Last summer, twelve women, bedecked with scarves, sparkling earrings, glossy lips, gathered in the garden gazebo deep in the mountains of Colorado. Polite chattering and soft laughter rang through the cluster of women introducing themselves to one another.
As we moved through a tea buffet, piled high with chocolate strawberries, cream scones, raspberry jam and tiny heart-shaped finger sandwiches, we began to ease into the grace of the morning.
Gathering us on her nearby covered porch, around wicker chairs and patio couches, my friend said, “I have invited all of you here today because you have a story to tell.”
Seems that two of her old high school classmates from 40 years before had stopped in town, and my friend wanted these old friends to hear the testimonies of a number of her godly friends, (us!), who had been invited with a purpose. All of us were women of differing ages, but have been involved in groups or Bible studies or ministries with my friend, and she thought she wanted her friends, who were not believers, to have an opportunity to hear of the love of God in a way that would touch their hearts.
“I want each of you to tell a story from your life of how God has been faithful to you, something that is dear to your heart.”
As we circled around each other, life stories began to spill out. Stories of childhood, during World War 2; illnesses from which women had recovered; money that had been provided in the nick of time for a downpayment on a home; newly-wed stories of love and romance. Two hours of story-telling filled our hearts and made such a sweet memory.
As I left, I realized that my friend had set the parameters for a tea party, but because of her intentional planning, the Lord had showed up and filled each of our emotional cups.
Often, women say to me, “No one ever invites me over or calls me.”
If we wait for others to invite us, we may wait for a very long time. An isolationist culture where we don’t know our neighbors and attend big churches where we do not even know most of the people sitting next to us in the pew, has left many people feeling lonely and empty emotionally.
Having moved 17 times, 6 times internationally, I have learned that friendships really don’t usually just happen. Most of the community I now have, have happened as a result of me calling people, having gatherings in my home, making memories with women who inspire me. It is like planting a garden. When I till the soil and plant the seed of love, encouragement, thoughtfulness and reaching out, the seeds of friendship just naturally grow.
I have looked for women who are above me in age, who are wiser and cultivate in me a desire to love God more. I call them, take them out, invite them over—because I know what I sow in the garden of my soul, I will reap. And so I sow times with these women.
Next, I look for peers, those women who are at my stage of life, who share the same issues and needs. I have two prayer partners in the same stage of life as me. One calls me every day and we just pray for each other and find out how each of us is doing. The other friend comes to my house once a week and we go walking along a beautiful trail near my house, and after we have caught up on life, we pray for one another.
Finally, I love spending time with women who are younger than me. Young women who are cultivating their ideals bring fresh and vibrant beauty to my soul.
All of these wonderful friends started with a plan—to invite them into my life; with a purpose, because I needed accountability and love and with a blessing, because I needed to be loved!
This is the reason we are cultivating mom heart groups. We want women to meet around the Word, cultivate friendship, encourage each other in their ideals and to develop long term strength for themselves within their ideals. We will continue to have more to help you as we seek to provide books, and material that will provide for drawing women together over Biblical ideals. However, all you have to do is pray for God to show you some people, invite friends and then ask them to tell their stories as you share your walk with God, your family and your wishes and hopes with them.
Another blog community is also seeking to gather women together that you might enjoy. It is a meet up and week-end of community gatherings to encourage and cultivate community and friendships. You can find info about this gathering here:http://www.inrl.us/index.php
Hope you have a great Monday!