New York City taught me to FLY at age thirty-seven.
I never realized before that first you must JUMP. Instead, I played it safe, far from the ledge, in my early adulthood. Hiding behind laundry, diapers, and Target returns, a slow resentment took root in my heart as my husband skipped off to work, toward his own FLYING, his own unique calling.
I thought this was what maturity looked like: taking one for the team, serving in the shadows, and perhaps it does. But I did so with a heavy heart. Some days my role as a mother was enough, other days it wasn’t. One morning watching TV in my pajamas, my mind wandered to a childhood dream of ministering alongside other women when I was All Grown Up. But that was gone now. A distant memory that seemed futile at best.
What I didn’t realize then, was that I was in no shape to minister. I needed to cry out in the loneliness, I needed to wrestle with my own resentful heart, because it would be the birthing place of confessing wounds, begging for healing, and crying for surrender.
And ultimately, finding rescue.
Continually learning this: We all need a freefall, to teach us how to fly.
This has been my prayer…these recent days.
God, you are here. We come. We rest in you. Your mighty hand has gone before us, and we humbly obey. From all walks of life, from all areas of this planet, we come. We thank you for your Spirit that beckons us, that draws us continually toward your great love. We come. We are done fighting it. We are done living on our own merits. We are done hiding behind the fear of Jesus’ light shining brightly in us. We come. We ask that you break down our barriers of self-protection and self-doubt, and breathe fresh wind in our faces. Christ gave us a promise, to make all things new. Please make us new. Bring your kingdom come, in our time. Amen.
This past Monday, we opened up registration for IF : Austin, and in 42 minutes 1200 seats sold out.
I’d checked in the night before, then stayed offline all day, to clear my head and wait and see what God would do. Our leadership team wrestled for weeks to eliminate barriers…of cost, of travel, of conference angst, you name it. Monday evening we sat dumbfounded with the response, taking several hours to soak it all in. We read the thrill and disappointment on social media. We read texts and emails, astounded, yet heavy in heart.
Since the inception of IF, the heart behind it all has never been a national gathering. Instead, we are asking…
How do we gather women in our neighborhoods?
How do we lock arms and learn together in our homes?
How do our gifts pour out within our local church?
Those are the questions we wrestle with, constantly. Daily. We’ve been dreaming bold dreams, and praying undaunted prayers, because we’ve watched this tension gurgling forth for quite some time. Inexperienced and ill-equipped, we press on.
For those of you wrestling with these same questions? We need you.
We need your voice, your leadership, your passion, your skills, your homes, and your gathering spaces. We need your invitations, your mad cooking skills, conversation starters and ice breakers. We need it all. We need your eyes and ears, your prayers, and ultimately, your heart.
YOU are the one that will usher in awakening for women in your city. Sure, we’ll livestream from Austin to give an excuse to start this party, but you will be the one that ministers. The one that stands in real life, alongside the sick and hurting, the broken and redeemed on the front lines. And we’ll celebrate with you, we’ll want to hear it all.
One voice, one heart.
If you are prompted to LEAD on this, amongst your community and friends, we’d be more than honored to join you. Here’s how.
3) Join IF : Local on facebook to share local hosting ideas.
4) Invite your friends.
Ever so grateful,
Summer still reigns in Austin, TX. Dominating each day, regardless of Fall marking it’s territory on our calendars. Yet sweating my way through the better part of last week, I hardly noticed. Surrounded by beautiful women gathered from the far reaches of the country, nerves were the only thing on my mind, slowly uncoiling as I heard each of them speak up opening night.
Touting our differences prior, we’d assembled in rush-like fashion to see how this experiment might go. One by one, we attached flesh and blood to the words we’d read, ministries we’d supported, and new friends we were eager to meet. It was surreal, realizing the obstacles overcome to bring us together across the miles. We knew we better not take that for granted.
After a morning of asking tough questions of each other and breaking down in our answers, I heard common whispers around the room and it hit me:
We are the same.
Sure, our settings are different. City, Country, North & South. Our ages and stages are different. Single, Married. No kids, 5 kids. Our theology looks different. I like that. But this room gave me a larger vision of a body of women that have much in common. Ways we meet one another exactly where we are, with hearts wide and palms open. Ways we are the same.
To long for the heart of God. The same.
To not have all the answers. The same.
To break down and cry for help. The same.
To rest in His embrace. The same.
To choose the joy of our salvation. The same.
Our time concluded, sharing a long table over laughter and conversation. Toasting our sameness and celebrating God’s grace in all our lives. Breaking bread and drinking the cup of His sacrifice and Christ’s commitment to make all things new.
I’m eager to see what this newness looks like. If newness includes seeing our sameness, my heart delights in what God has in store for women, and the church. Breaking down walls, and reaching across lines and rooting for one another. It’s palpable and squirmy, this love toward those we’ve yet to meet to eradicate barriers and boundaries. May we all embrace this sameness together.
Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other. John 13:35
Fall. My lifelong beloved of all seasons. A glorious, radiant time of year.*
You can taste the anticipation with pumpkin scones and pumpkin spiced lattes, and almost cooler weather! This marks the first year all three of my not-so-littles are in the same school building in grades 6, 5 and 3, right on our street corner. I love walking them to school, though they keep convincing me “they’ve got this” and would really rather walk themselves. I see their independent streak growing daily as we enter a new season of parenting, thrilling and bittersweet all the same.
Our Q offices moved downtown, two blocks from our apartment into our Trinity Grace TriBeCa church building, which also hosts a communal work space where artists and entrepreneurs from around the city gather daily to create. The energy is invigorating and cultivates a camaraderie in our neighborhood. All of life now happens for us within 3 blocks. There’s something simple and profound about this kind of proximity.
I’ve watched many of you jump back into the hustle, and I’ve been eager, yet hesitant. Last year was a blur in every way: moving twice in 3 months, writing and launching a book and deciding to try homeschooling this past spring. Our family ran hard and fast, and nearly collapsed. May and June found me suffering from fatigue and confusion, unsure what a “normal” pace actually looked like, so I decided to try the only thing left. Retreat.
That said, summer became much of a hiatus…from work, from writing, from responsibility. It felt so entirely good. Longs days and long books and I realized I needed to be filled, yet again. Running on fumes hurts because there’s nothing left to give, and it affects the relationships that you crave the most.
God met my heart in mid-July. Smack dab in the middle of 2013. His grace and love washed over me in new and astounding ways. His Spirit began to wake me early each morn with renewed passion and fervor and a desire to seek only Him again. Its humbling really, that we repeatedly get caught off track, despite our best of intentions and efforts, over and over again.
He’s beginning to birth new thoughts, ideas & passions. Topics I’m leaning into and testing, trial and error, day after day. I’m so grateful. Fall is shaping up wonderfully with many gatherings and projects around women and living this one life well. I can’t wait to share more in the coming days.
*New England summers rival fall, but I digress.
Most of you around the country are kicking back, resting your feet and sipping a cup coffee this morning.
You’ve already danced the “get-out-the-door” shuffle. You scoured the laundry basket for matching socks, clean underwear, and ran a brush through your daughters hair to relieve the worst of tangles. School is ON for many of you, with the hurried lunch prep as you drum up protein for breakfast.
But for New Yorkers, we are basking in these golden hours a wee bit longer. We are dragging the days out, because the rest of you remind us that the end is nigh, and we’re certainly not ready. Reflecting on these past weeks and savoring the next few, here’s some nuggets I’ve picked up along the way:
1) A zucchini can grow 12 inches in 5 days.
2) One doesn’t need to shower if they swim in a pool.
3) Books enrich life, especially the ones you finish.
4) Traveling South was fun, but no more single parent vacations for a while. (Gabe enjoyed his 5 days of quiet)
5) Every marriage can benefit from 3+ days annually, sans kids.
6) VBS never grows old. Unless your kids grow old, at which point they can be put to work helping out.
7) Family reunions that go well, breed more family reunions.
8) A black bear runs fairly fast, but not as fast as my minivan.
9) The thrill of roller coasters is not what it used to be.
10) I’m now afraid of heights. (see #9)
11) I struggle to write and play at the same time.
12) My iPhone is less addicting when life slows down.
13) Kids argue and eat more when they are bored.
14) Moms yell more when kids are bored.
15) The house is a sanctuary at 6am…until the coffee grinder wakes the dogs.
16) A home should have a revolving door.
What did you learn this summer? I’d love to hear.
p.s. This photo was snapped at my favorite spot in all of Connecticut. Seville Dam at dusk.