Community Mess

The curtains hung half hazard, cups and plates piled high, throw pillows thrown. My hubby wiped the table, I put away leftovers, stepping over a misplaced toy on the kitchen floor, the kids tattled. “Mom, one of the kids said a bad word tonight.”

It was just another night of community group in our home, kids and parents at our table, breaking bread -and apparently wall hangings-together.

No one said it would perfect. This loud, messy gathering of friends filling our house and our hearts. Sure there’s inconvenience and sacrifice involved, but we cannot deny the absolute benefit of doing life with others.

Click to continue reading over at (in)courage


Get Real {Life}

The food kept coming, freezers full. Friends from church and school delivered desserts and veggies, roast and brisket, neighbors created a schedule of meals for my brother-in-law and teen nephews. The food piled high and we vacuum-sealed and froze portions for the weeks and months to come. Toilet paper and napkins, loaves of bread and CD’s of praise music for the family were dropped off all day long.

The hours and days following my sister-in-law’s death last week were the most beautiful display of community I have ever seen.

Her husband and sons are being held by their community of friends and neighbors in the plains of Texas. As my mother-in-law and other sister-in-law cut cake into pieces and I wrote dates on freezer bags, we talked about the beauty of community and how it’s with you in the ebb and flow of life. The joy and sorrow.

I walked away from that kitchen with a deep sense of thankfulness and a longing to create community just like my dear sister -in-law did. If filled her life and brought comfort in her death.

I’ve made it a goal in 2013 to work harder at this real life community thing. It doesn’t come natural for me, but I’ve seen the power of it up close and it’s good.

As women, there’s a tangible, real way for us to create community is thru (in)RL:

 

  • Registration opens Monday January 14th at www.inrl.us 
  • It’s FREE!

 What is (in)RL?

  • About: (in)RL was born out of two years spent listening to women in the comments at (in)courage craving local, real life community. Derived from the social media acronym “IRL” or “in real life,” (in)RL is an invitation to share what we’ve learned about community and encourage women with stories and suggestions for connecting deeper in real life.
  • 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.
  • When: The (in)RL webcast kicks off on Friday, April 26 and (in)RL meetups follow on Saturday, April 27.
  • What: Last year we explored the nitty gritty of community. This year we’re 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. Women share stories of how they’ve chosen to stay through hard marriages, challenging parenting, worthwhile friendships. How choosing to stay has freed them more fully and unexpectedly than if they’d cut and run.

  • Everyone who registers on the day registration opens (today) gets a copy of our (in)courage 365 Daybrightener while supplies last (US residents only).
  • Everyone gets a copy of our first eBook: “Best of the Beach House 2012.”

I hope you’ll join me and be a part of this opportunity for connection today.


For The New Girl In All of Us

“Are you sure you want to go?” I asked my daughter again. “You don’t have to go.”

She nodded confidently but the catch in her voice told me otherwise, “Will you go with me?”

It was three days before my oldest child headed to junior high school and if that’s not big enough in our little world, it was a new school in a new town and she didn’t know a soul. When we read  about the Back to School Band Pool Party at her orientation, we thought it would be a great place to meet new friends before the big day.

So she gathered towel and tote and I pulled up the van to the Natatorium and the little-girl-look on her worried face was enough to send me back to the security of home. Instead I watched her take a deep breath and open the door and take the first step into the unknown. Her hope outweighed her fear.

She sat her things down and got in line  for the diving board. I sat in the bleachers and wrung my hands. I watched a big group of laughing girls walk past her without a second glance. She dove in and I prayed. I looked around for other lone moms of possible new girls and tried to work it from that angle.

She swam over to a smaller group and stood there nervously at the edge. I silently begged just one girl to acknowledge my beautiful daughter.  She finally made eye contact, gave a half wave and I watched her mouth a shy, “hi.” The girls didn’t even look up and then they swam away.

She turned away, shoulders slumped. And I remembered how it felt to be on the edge.

[Click to continue this gut-wrenching story over at (in)Courage and read what my little girl taught me...]


How to Heal Community Wounds

I said it out loud.

“I can’t believe no one called, no one asked, no one offered to help,” I complained to my husband.

My old community wounds surface at the first hint of disappointment and surprise me with their intensity. My words sound bitter and I struggle to sort it all out.

Why is it that pain from past relationships cast a shadow over present ones? Why is it easier to remember the negative than pursue the positive? 

[click over to (in)courage to continue reading how I navigate this rocky road...]