The last few years have been about breaking out of my comfort zone, taking leave of the small space I had pinned myself into between the walls of doubt, fear, failing confidence. Finding the courage to do those things that God is calling me to do, even when I don’t see how someone like me could ever manage to do them. About taking leaps of faith, standing on the promise that God has it all under control, His plan is perfect, and He doesn’t miss any of the details…even the ones far into the future that I couldn’t even conceive of yet. About opening home and heart. And about reaching out, becoming part of community even when that means accepting the hard parts of community, learning to find balance, set boundaries, say “no” when the yes would mean taking on too much. It’s been a journey, and a blessing, hard work, heart break, surprising joy. So when (in)Courage bravely offered their new idea…(in)RL, a teleconference to be webcast all over the world– a virtual conference for the hearts of women in community everywhere….I took the risk, signed up to host a gathering in my home.
This was all new, I didn’t know what to expect and I had to trust that God had plans for it. I had a vision in my mind of a bunch of ladies from my church hanging out together and watching some videos, chatting and laughing. And it was that…it was. But God had other plans, He brought new women to my home…ladies I knew from church and had always wanted to get to know better, women who I’d never met, women from different denominations, women from different walks of life. The conference videos were not out yet, the topics looked good (but would they appeal to such a wide variety of women?) Up to the week before the conference I wasn’t sure what to expect. For a long time, all I could say when asked what the webcasts would be like was…”Well, I’m not sure yet but I do know that I’ve never read anything that was less than inspiring and a blessing at (in)Courage, and I’ve never ‘met’ anyone there who wasn’t a beautiful, honest, loving sister in Christ”. But there were questions that would pop into my mind and raise fearful moments: (in)Courage is all about online community, bloggers and writers…what about the women who had never read a blog? The conference was open to the public and anyone could have signed up, or even just showed up…how comfortable would I be with meeting these new people? How would this group of women mix, given that many of them had never met?
And I was able to do something wonderfully new for me: Let it go. Let God take care of the guest list, the conversation, the flow of the day. Trust in Him to provide all the details, even the ones I could not have foreseen. I re-arranged the text blocks on my mantle so reflect the word I was relying on: Grace. Grace to be open to the unknown, grace to take whatever God had planned and accept it, learn from it, be blessed by it.
What a blessing! To really find peace in the unknown, to really be able to look forward to whatever God was going to do with this thing I’d agreed to try. I opened my door, accepted the help of friends who offered, set my table and hooked up the TV (oh, the blessing of technology when it works!) and let God do the rest.
It turns out that God is a terrific host! The videos were perfect, and there was something for everyone from new mother to grandmother, from a variety of denominations, from a range of seasons of life. It was a blessing to get to know each of the ladies who came, and I am looking forward to getting to know them better. The conversation inspired by the study questions was wonderful, the food was great, and seeds were planted that I am eager to watch God grow. In the end, the gathering wrapped up after husbands started texting, having run out of things to do with the kids. We could have talked all night! And I hope we’ll have many more opportunities to do so…I’m planning to host a gathering of ladies once every few months in the spirit of (in)Courage. Desserts, conversation, and community. Jesus, with skin on…the hands and feet of God lifting each other up.
So, thank you (in)Courage! Thank you ladies who came (and those who couldn’t). Thank you, husbands who took the kids and encouraged their wives to step out of their comfort zones. Thank you, God whose plans are greater than I could ever know. Thank you for helping me have the grace to step out in faith, and thank you for the blessing of community!
Note: We were too busy talking to take pictures, although I’d intended to…and we weren’t able to watch all the webcasts that we had planned to. If you missed this conference and would like to watch it, or if you’d like to use the materials as a small group or women’s conference at your church, I’d encourage you to head over here and pick up the DVD and study guide set. I’m planning on it…because the topic of community is so relevant to the hearts of women that I know it will bless many more of the ladies I know!