I don’t know how many of you are familiar with (in)courage, but I was introduced to them via some bloggers that I follow. If you haven’t been encouraged by (in)courage yet; you should check it out, “Home for the hearts of women, where you’re always welcome just as you
are. So kick off your shoes, put your sandy feet on the coffee table,
and let’s visit long and late and listen for God’s voice…”
Doesn’t that sound great?!
Today, January 14th 2013, is the launch date for (in)courage’s annual conference (in)RL which stands for “in real life”. Check on the (in)RL link here for all the details.
-It is a free event; if you register today, January 14th, you can receive a free gift (while supplies last)!
-It is uniquely designed to foster and grow real life friendships among women.
-It is April 26th and 27th 2013.
“Think of it as a FREE girl’s weekend away that doesn’t require packing or plane tickets, where women can kick off any expectation of perfect, set aside their fears, their shyness, their worry that they’re not good enough, and find some of Jesus’ words of rest woven into every video shared here.”
This year at in(RL) they will be taking a “closer look at what it takes to stay rooted in community when sometimes just walking away would be so much easier and tons more convenient.” This statement sparked a very real and recent picture in my mind and heart of some brave women who went above and beyond to demonstrate real life friendship and community to me.
Rewind to yesterday…I had a really hard day. The kind where the smallest criticism can spark the waterworks, and you want to flee and hide and believe all those lies swarming ’round like flies ready to pounce on some fresh meat (sorry for the visual, especially to my vegetarian friends; but the simile lent itself well to what I am trying to communicate).
A kind of day where being strong feels very hard and being fake is nearly impossible. That was yesterday. I did have the courage to confide in hubby and a few others; hubby saying all the right things- oh how patient that man is! One of the others sounded the alarm to another and she whisked me away to one of the best places for comfort and conversation; Chick-Fil-A!
Another friend, battling through breast cancer, humbled me with her interest in how she could pray for us and how was I doing? I felt guilty dumping on her, but oh how sweet her response to the grief, “Thank you so much for letting me know how I can pray for you and your
family specifically. Katie, I can’t even imagine the heartache you walked through in November… WOW. You have indeed suffered great loss,
my friend. I
join you in praying for the Lord’s perfect timing and plan to be
revealed in the adoption of a precious little life this year. Look …
and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that
you would not believe, even if you were told (Hab. 1:5).
How dear her words, His words, breathed life into difficult days…hope, renewing hope.
Then this morning, there she was, another friend (going through such a huge trial), encouraging me and understanding just how I am feeling; the thoughts you really have that you don’t share, fearing judgment and “the knowing looks”, the highs and lows of trials and the messiness of being in the midst of them…oh, the support of someone who knows and gets it.
These women demonstrated to me in such a tangible way that community is worth it; that it is worth the risk…it is worth the discomfort and fear…”walking away (from community) can be much easier and convenient” but it is not how we are designed- to be left hanging out there alone without support. No! We need each other…even when we feel like it is much scarier to be in community, we need to remember that it can be the very thing that can be a lifeline to hang onto.
We need community; not a contrived one, but a real one; where it is safe to be who we are…to share our hearts, our hurts, our hopes. To build one another up and rejoice with those with rejoice and grieve with those who grieve. To empty our cups; while sharpening and spurring each other on in the journey; this journey of faith, of abundant life. As I confessed to one of these ladies, I felt a bit bad venting to her while she is going through so much. Her response? “Oh my goodness, don’t ever feel bad! That’s what the body of Christ is for!”
So, may I encourage you today, to prayerfully consider registering for this one-of-a-kind event?! An event that supports the kind of community I have experienced, especially recently. It can be scary, but oh how sweet it is; sometimes you don’t know what you are missing until you get a taste of it- then you wonder why it took so long to get up the courage to try it!:)
Watch this short clip below:
Deep Breaths: Take some time and answer one or more of the following questions (I prefer over a cup of mint tea).
1. What does the word community mean to you?
2. What are the marks of healthy community?
3. Is there something you need to share with your trusted friends that you haven’t? Why not?
4. Record a time when community was a lifeline to you.