When Lifeway approached me about creating a Bible Study for Freefall to Fly, I was over the moon. This has been a labor of love, and we are so grateful for the result! After eighteen months of teaching in churches around the country, where leaders often created their own “Freefall Group Studies”, we wanted to create a simple way for women to discover their gifting in the context of community.
The question often asked is, “How do we build the kind of rich friendships necessary for these deeper conversations?” The response, “One must lead with vulnerability, and invite others to join in.” I pray this tool will help make that happen…in living rooms, coffee shops, or weekend retreats!
The study offers video content that examines our callings, and how they grow from where our burdens and gifts collide. My favorite part of this discovery is when women speak life over each other, when we are often too close to see our gifts, or too afraid to name our burdens. This affirmation eliminates copying, competing, and comparing when we see the unique beauty of each person. No two sisters look the same! Amen?! May we embody unity in the church, a sisterhood of truth tellers and grace givers that celebrate each other.
Currently we have women joining in 48 states in America and 15 countries. Please note that the ebook is the best format for international participants, as shipping is cost prohibitive. Join us??
Every Thursday, from January 15 through February 26.
Here’s how the online study will work:
We’d love for you to gather a group from your church, your neighborhood, your school, or your workplace to do the study together. We believe that Bible study is more effective (and more fun!) in community. If you cannot find a group in your area, no worries! Join us by offering your responses in the comments each week. We trust you’ll enrich the discussion, and connect with new friends!
I love this time of year. Most years, that is. The energy, the zeal, the screen refresh.
This past advent, however, I found myself hanging onto 2014. It seemed we had unfinished business. Not regret, mind you, but more of a searching to understand. I needed to resolve what was stirring. Apart from speaking on the road, I’d crawled into my virtual shell, hiding out online, steering from blogging, because I couldn’t wrap 600-800 words into a tidy bow. The days weren’t so tidy in 2014. When all your seeking only brings more questions, you tend to just shut up.
The Lord met me in the silence with promises, most mornings like manna in the wilderness. I’d span from lament to exuberance in a single hour. While the noise of social media seemed deafening, there were online truth tellers that kept me going. I found real life conversations with new and old friends asking the same, “What was He up to in this world?” and in the meantime, “How could He possibly love us so deeply?”
When we moved from New York City to Nashville in August, friends kept saying I was entering a season of rest. This is not something a runner wants to hear. It feels like you’ve been benched, or worse, you’ve tripped in your lane while the others go whizzing by. All my life, my worth has been determined by what I do. So I begrudgingly entered the small town of Franklin, drove around aimlessly those early days in my minivan to carpool, to Publix, to gymnastics and wondered what in the world just happened to my “fabulous” life. It is excruciating to admit. I confess.
Right about that time, Trina sent me the book Abiding in Christ, by Andrew Murray. Written in 1895, I like to read books by dead people. They cut through the noise of today. It was a timely love letter on the relationship between the vine and the branch, with each page dog-eared, underlined, circled, highlighted and exclamation pointed! As the fall unfolded, I heard the words loud and clear…
Stop performing for love.
In the season where we begin again with to-do’s and goals and ambitions, the Father asks us to rest assured. He wants us to stop trying so hard to matter. He’s got this. We already matter, from the moment he carefully crafted us in our mothers womb. His love is so powerful, so overwhelming, so great. Yes, be BRAVE. Absolutely. But in order to do so, meditate on His words day and night. He is faithful. He goes before us. He draws us close. As 2015 dawns, these are the words I pray settle into my soul…
* * *
You are my beloved. I ordered this from the beginning. I love you with an everlasting love. Nothing you can do can shake that. You can strive, you can perform, you can impress, but you don’t need to. Please stop. Just fix your eyes on me. I have everything you need. Fall into my arms. I will fill your heart and satisfy your soul.
I am good for it.
I crafted you with such intention, because I have plans and purposes that only you can accomplish. I long for communion with you because I want to reveal these to you. I chose you, from the beginning. You are the one. The one I pursue with a relentless love.
I don’t need your temples, your burnt or sin offerings, Jesus took care of all that. But I do need you. All of you. Every hidden, broken part. Tell me what breaks your heart, because I already know anyway. But your confession reveals you are letting me in. I long to graft you into the vine of Jesus, a union that can never be severed. Then you’ll remain in Him, and He in You. Further, I’ll keep you there. You don’t even need to stress about abiding. I’ll take care of it. This is my will.
In the midst of packing boxes, loading trucks and relocating families across the country since June, the Q team is still busy as bees, with laptops humming on floors, coffee tables, lawn chairs, you name it! Time keeps ticking whether or not we are settled, and today we are THRILLED to launch our newest offering, Q Commons, bringing the experience of the national gathering to cities across the U.S. and around the globe in one evening.
On Thursday evening, October 9th join 10,000+ participants in 60+ cities as we gather to enjoy an evening of vision, learning and engagement. Alongside Tim Keller, Ann Voskamp and Andy Crouch leading off the evening with 3 nationally broadcasted talks, 3 locally curated Q Talks will be presented addressing cultural issues and topics that matter most in your city.
It’s not often we have the opportunity to come together with our neighbors, friends and colleagues to be educated and inspired to advance the common good in our very own community. Check out a city near you and join us!
Grateful for this new season for Q,
Gabe, Rebekah, Lance, Hannah, Rob, Katelyn, Peter, kids, babies, and of course, dogs.
Rwanda has always been near and dear to me. I’ll never forget my first time visiting there, eight years ago when Kennedy was only ten months old. I sat in social services a month prior, nursing her for the last time while I waited to get the yellow fever vaccine, with big ol’ tears streaming down my face. I knew I couldn’t nurse after getting the vaccine, and I also knew Kennedy was my last.
Yet something compelled me to GO. That week changed me, with the breathtaking views in the land of a thousand hills, visiting women entrepreneurs with HIV, loving on orphans in schools, hearing stories of the survivors of the genocide, visiting wells, and even a crazy day of trekking gorillas.
When I met Natalie with Africa New Life over coffee in New York City this past January, the tears started flowing again. This country, these people, stirred something massive in my heart. The grief they bore twenty years ago, and the reconciliation and resolve that has followed suit. I listened to Natalie describe the Esther Home and the women being raised up to lead in that country. These were exceptional young women who demonstrate Christian character, leadership and academic rigor. They are genocide survivors, orphans, and the poorest of the poor. She also explained how a college degree in Rwanda ends the cycle of poverty, but attending college is cost prohibitive. Without scholarships, these young women would not be able to get a college education.
You can imagine how thrilled I was to learn of a tangible way IF:Unleash could participate in supporting the women of Rwanda.
What IF… 1600 of us gave a one-time gift of $30 and impacted these women for a lifetime?
This would provide scholarships for two women in Rwanda to attend a four year college.
They would also live in the the Esther Home, receive leadership training, learn basic finance management, and serve/learn in community together.
Will you join us by July 1 deadline?
Ann Voskamp, Lauren Chandler, Esther Havens and I will travel to the Esther Home in Rwanda this September and meet both of these women and introduce them to our IF:Gathering community via video. We are so excited and grateful to see what God has in store for both of them. Thanks for being a part of something beautiful today, I pray each you are blessed by your generosity and faithfulness!
A weighted word, yes? Safety. Security. Haven. In the four years since moving to NYC, the meaning has taken new forms. Risk. Surrender. Rescue.
With a heavy, yet peaceful heart, our home is moving. Again. I’ve posted less these recent months but the writing is still happening, mind you. I’ve filled almost two journals since August. But some seasons are for wrestling, twisting and turning, and can’t be shared prematurely. Writers understand, that words are often a space for working things out. Most books are agonized over for years, before they ever make their way to a published page.
I’ve sensed, perhaps all along, that New York City wasn’t permanent. We “opted-in” every year when the rental agreement slipped under the door requiring our signature to renew each May.
“Are we up for another 12 months?”
“Yes, absolutely we are.”
That conversation stayed on repeat year after year. The first couple years, the answer was agonizing. We held a sense to stay, to not run or retreat, no matter the struggle. We knew running from pain never solved any problems. So God held us close, while He gently pried idols and entitlements from our hands.
As our fingers released a bit more each year, that answer came easier. Eventually New York City became my love. These years marked the most formative moments of my adult life. From serving in a church that we were passionate about building, to meeting with different women each Tuesday over coffee in TriBeCa, I knew I could live here forever.
Turns out I’m only 1 of 5. A family unit, with individual needs and desires. Although Gabe and I were thriving, the city was getting tougher for our kids. Cade, thirteen years old, met challenges finding a community of other kiddos with Down syndrome. He’s a social bug, and I’m learning as each year passes, he needs more buddies like himself. Pierce is about to enter Middle School and begin his 6th different school experience in seven years. As for Kennedy, our youngest, the majority of her life has been muddled with transition.
Gabe and I shared many late night conversations about this reality. We only have 9 years left before our youngest takes flight. Nine years! A blink! (Likely even less to influence their crucial years of emotional development.)
This May, we knew this decision would hold more weight.
The South has always been home. I grew up in Florida, met Gabe at a college in Virginia and spent our first thirteen years of married life in Atlanta. Those roots run deep. As we considered where we might plant our family for the immediate years to come, the likely place became Nashville, Tennessee. A city where our extended family was driving distance, not flying distance. Amen?!
Funny how God works these things out. Our decision to host Q in Nashville 15 months ago apparently was our set up. The multiple trips there over the past year began to raise the question, “Could this be where we land?” My immediate reaction was, “No.” Don’t get me wrong, 12 South is progressive, and Franklin is charming, the horse farms are dreamy and rolling hills picturesque, but I couldn’t accept it. I woke the first half of May with fear and doubt, terrified of the comfort.
Somewhere along the way, I adopted the belief that my faith was built on martyrdom. That God would remain in my apartment flooring where I met Him so intimately these years, and moving South would leave me wandering aimlessly. Thank God for honest friends. As I expressed my doubts to my dear friend, Lauren, she reminded me to take the fear captive. To ask Jesus to give it a name. The next morning I woke and asked Jesus, “What is it?”
He whispered, “IDENTITY”.
God revealed that my identity was wrapped around NYC. It made sense. It’s the place where I found my voice, where I experienced healing, and ultimately found freedom. However, He gently reminded me that New York City did not give me my identity, He did. The city had only been the setting. A kindling, in fact. And what He has begun here, He will accomplish elsewhere. I’m resting in that promise.
I knew obedience required me to come, but I never thought obedience would require me to go.
When the decision was final last week, there was such PEACE. A resting place where I can stop focusing on what we are leaving, and focus on what He is taking us TO.
Over the last many months, untold hints and confirmations have surfaced along the way, giving us a sense that this is where our next phase of life will play out. We know it won’t hold all the answers as we meet struggle and opportunity in Nashville, just like the NYC. Yet our sense is that this is the right decision for our family, for this moment. We are grateful to join in on what has already begun, many like minded kindreds, shaping the future of this great city in the South.
We are eager for many things: For rest and renewal, to finish the next book, to be sent out, and while away, return to a new place called home. BONUS: Pierce is eager to play his guitar on the streets of Music City. (Though I keep telling him the tips won’t rival Central Park!)
Thanks to each of you, dear readers, for joining me in this wild ride. For journeying with me when I penned the story of Freefall. I can’t imagine our story without New York in it. This sacred space has given us an understanding of God’s presence and power. His healing and revelation. His longing for us to live and thrive in relationship. A recognition that we NEED one another and can’t do life alone. This city has shown us that when we CRY out, He draws near. I pray I’ll take that understanding with me—no matter the place-for the rest of my days.