Something in me would not let me turn and run

Finding community has always been really hard for me.  Partially because I’m a pastor and the statistics on pastors’ loneliness are enough to shock us into reality.  Partially because I’ve been really wounded in that area by people that I thought were friends.  But about 2 years ago I found my stride here in Chicago.  I had found my people and felt fulfilled.
Then my Roomsmate moved to California.  So I pressed into another group, focusing all my “excess” energy there.  Then my other two best friends moved to Seattle.  I wasn’t used to being left, I had always been the leaver in the past.  I never thought about what it would mean to put roots down in a place and have others leave around me.  It was heartbreaking saying goodbye to the people who had loved me so well and who got me on such a deep level.
I’ve posted a lot about Jen Hatmaker recently, and about this book she’s written called For the Love and this Launch Team I’m been a part of since March.  Up until now I haven’t been able to fully put into words what this new community has really meant to me.  Maybe because on some level, I thought it was really weird that we had this online community of women (and 4 men) that were basically pouring their hearts and souls out for one another on Facebook.
But then I went to Austin.  And I finally got the words.
Yes, online relationships aren’t usually that real.  So I went into the weekend with very little expectations of what my interactions with these other women would be.  I didn’t have any time ahead of the weekend to really focus on making sure I knew people’s name or stories, I only knew about 9 really that well.
From the moment I got in the car at the airport to the moment I boarded the plane back home, we were on the go and meeting people.  It was overwhelming, even for this extrovert.  But as I watched all these interactions happening around me I realized, this community was real.  This community was the kind of community that people dream of, the kind of community we want to have in our churches and in our lives.
I had some of the deepest conversations with girls that I had just officially “met” a day ago.  I knew people’s bents and hurts in the church before I even knew their last names.  I knew what they were struggling with before I even knew what tv shows they watch.  We prayed for each other, we cried together, we laughed together and when we got back on our planes pointed all over the country, we hugged each other tight and promised to keep in touch.  It was beautiful.  It was the Church.
And then I came back home and I got into my friend’s car who picked me up from the airport and I realized the beauty in this relationship.  God brought this new friend to me when so many loved ones had left me.  She and her sister have encircled me in their arms, invited me into their group and allowed me to be me.
As we sat around the fire the next night with another dear new friend, I realized something.  I had found another community.  And this new one, I have to attribute to For the Love.  I was tired of complaining about now having my people around me.  I had gotten tired of being sad that Seattle and California were so far away and I started to invest in something tangible.  Now these three women are my people.
And I’m seeing that happen within the Launch Team.  These 496 women and 4 men have poured deeply into this community and are now taking that back to their lives.  What if all of us take this message of grace and community back to our lives?  What kind of movement could that start?  If we start to live out of love rather than fear of not being accepted?
So here’s my real endorsement for the book, no fluffy language or vague references, just my real life opinion of this book that brought my heart back to life:
For the Love is a reminder to all of us that in this world, it is hard to be a woman in this world.  We are created for community but we have been conditioned to compare, to tear down and to be envious of what we are not.  We have made an imaginary list of what it really means to be a good woman, friend, mom, wife, single person and we are trying to live up to that list.  Every chapter may not hit you were you are currently at, but if you dig in deep, it will help you remember the grace that has been bestowed upon you as a child of God.  And it will help you to find that grace for others.  It just might change your whole approach to life, if you let it.

I Just Want To Make Something Beautiful

Yesterday as I sat in the plane and stared at the blank page before me I was speechless. I had the task of writing out what these last few months as part of the For The Love Launch Team has meant to me.
I stated at the page for a long time. The dark plane was quiet and there I sat with my little light on recounting all the moments.
From the moment I got the email saying I was chosen, to the moment I said yes to the Facebook group page, to many prayer requests, heart shares, meet ups and discussions to now – boarding a plane to Austin to celebrate this amazing Launch with 200+ of my fellow FTL ladies.
This group of women have become a little community of encouraging, joking, teasing, praying sisters (and some brothers). I am so thankful for this group that has become exactly what Jen has been talking about in this book. Exactly what we need more of today in our world.
And what’s more is this group gave me what I needed to move in my own world. To take what I’ve been experiencing virtually and create it in my life physically with some amazing ladies I’ve begun to do life with. It’s been amazing.
So here’s to a weekend meeting in person for the first time all of these ladies who have loved me well from afar these past few months. And getting to squeeze Jen Hatmaker around the neck!!!