New Friends

My journey began as an outsider.

My choice. Self-preservation.


I believed we had entered into fellowship with this new church for my husband’s purposes. It was my turn to step back and watch the fostering of his gifts; celebrate his coming into the Faith.


Indeed, this new community of believers embraced him and encouraged him in his spiritual growth. I rejoiced in watching.


But I became a Wallflower.


I chose not to step too far into the inner circle, for I did not know God’s plan for us yet…Still bruised from leaving behind my church family of many years–I did not want to grieve yet more loss.


But He had other plans.


I have just returned from a weekend retreat with the women of this church. I was invited, not just to attend, but to speak.


This is God’s way with me. He places me in a position of vulnerability to teach me.


I hate how He does that.


But I am nothing if not obedient.


After much prayer, I agreed to speak.


All of this comes after the decision is made: we will be returning to our old church at the start of the New Year.


They need us. And God has called. So we will go.


All of these things weigh on me as I drive into the West Virginia hills to meet with these ladies–To meet with God.


What am I doing? What are we doing? I ask Him, alone in the car.


And it seems that I am driving deeper into the wilderness.


I know that I should feel fear. I know that I should be anxious.


But all that I feel is Him. I feel Him near me. I feel His comfort.


I am walking into something that I am not prepared for.


But I feel Him there.


So I put one foot in front of the other.


The beauty He has waiting for us–for me, brings me to tears. It is a perfect fall weekend. Blue skies, crisp temperatures. The leaves are just turning; reds and golds pepper the hillsides.

Gorgeous.


I am so overwhelmed I have to stop and snap a couple pictures before I arrive at the conference center.











He is tendering my heart.


But also, I am stalling.


I arrive, and immediately am lost. These ladies know each other. They are in Bible study together. They are in home groups together.








I practice growing on the wall.


But I see.


I am watching; not belonging.


I see these women together. How they smile with their eyes. Talk with their hands. Offer their hearts. Hold each other’s burdens.


And I am swept away by the beauty of it all.


I am completely won over. I am falling in love with these women.


The theme for the weekend was freedom.


Friends, did you know there is freedom in tears? Did you know there is freedom in opening your heart? Did you know there is freedom in being…


Vulnerable.


Oh, how God spoke.


He showed me that our strength is the tenderness of our hearts. That grief deepens our souls. That vulnerability carves out a cavern in our hearts and creates a dwelling place for Him.


He showed me the deep bonds of worshiping together…and the grace there is in being a woman.









Being silly together…


(How many men do you know who will dress up like a dice to promote a bunco tournament? How many men would play bunco?)





We hold life in our bodies…and in our arms.








But it is His life that shines.


He dwells there.


Inside of us.


He revealed Himself to me in the beautiful faces of many women this weekend. I want to share some stories with you about it…


But this post is too long already.


I’ll meet you here later, my friends. Thank you for your prayers. They were heard. Though I began this journey as an outsider, by the end of the weekend God had increased my number of intimates.


(My favorite fellow retreater–Annie, our youngest attendee.)



(This is my small group…those are my boots in the foreground.)


God showed up.

He was there all along.

I can just see Him more clearly in all of this now.


And He is beautiful.

Comments

  1. says

    so glad you listened to God and went to the retreat! I know that it is not easy to step out in faith at times but I’m so glad you did and that you were blessed!!! It’s as if I was there with you. I feel your heart in each word that you typed. Looking forward to hearing more!

    Praying for you today. Especialy regarding the churches in your life!

    Love,
    Nicole

  2. says

    This post touches me for many reasons. One of which is my own struggle right now (I will email you later about that).

    It is very easy (and at the same time painful) to be a wallflower. But it is comforting to know that God is with us the whole time.

    I look forward to hearing more about the retreat. I have been praying for you.

    Much love,
    Amy:)

  3. says

    did you know there is freedom in tears? Did you know there is freedom in opening your heart? Did you know there is freedom in being Vulnerable.

    I love this about God. In our weakness He is strong…

    He choses the small things in life to make His glory reality.

  4. says

    Laura,
    Oh how obedience can be tough, but it turned out to be a beautiful weekend! I enjoyed sharing it with you through your post and I look forward to hearing more.

  5. says

    This is beautiful. I was not aware of your decision to return to your previous church. I’m sorry I’ve not been there for you to be able to share that with me.

    This is such a precious example of God’s work and His hand in our lives.

    I love this:
    “Friends, did you know there is freedom in tears? Did you know there is freedom in opening your heart? Did you know there is freedom in being…
    Vulnerable.”

    Absolutely, YES. I’ve experienced this freedom in tears and opening my heart, in being vulnerable. I remember about a couple weeks or so into my ladie’s small group, I abruptly shared my recent pains of divorce and abandonment with this 10-12 new faces. I admited that I had never planned to share so much so soon. That was the night we went three solid hours and never made it off the first page or even first paragraph of our study. After I opened up, others opened up to. It was a cry-fest.

    Sweet blessings to you. My heart is overwhelmed at whatever it is God is doing with you and hubby by returning you to the old church. I would love to hear more if you care to share. Email me. You have my email but just in case you don’t have it stored here it is dierkes at hotmail dot com.
    Love you,

  6. says

    Oh, dear friend, were I there in your midst I would love to hang with you….you are such a gift to any woman who has the blessing of knowing you… if only…it weren’t hundreds of miles away.

    It’s not that I’ve chosen to be a wallflower here in this place, it’s that God has me hidden away with Him for now. Sometimes I ache for the heart connections. But He knows. So, He invites me to share His heart with another hurting daughter. Intimacy is poured out in the midst of a conversation about Him and all that He holds dear.

    Looks like He is inviting you….

    I LOVE your heart!
    Hugs, friend,
    Julie

  7. says

    Speaking of wallflowers…Our ladies will start the Angela Thomas Bible study “When Wallflowers Dance” next Mon. I had a chance to meet Angela a year or so ago.

    I’m glad you were obedient and went to the retreat. What a special bond women have with one another.

    You have so much to share & are a beautiful person. I know it was great.

    I loved the pictures & am also loving this beautiful fall weather.

    Love,
    Valerie

  8. says

    What a gift you have been given, Laura!

    GOD has blest you with the gift of edifying and glorifying words. Your words encourage others and they glorify HIM at the same time.

    I am so glad that I get to cross paths with you during a Bible Study, even if online and not in person.

    Wallflowers – still a flower and still a beautiful one just the same 🙂

    GOD bless you, Dear One,
    Teri

  9. says

    Perfect in Beauty, God pours out of you Laura! Psalm 50:2.
    I hung on to your every word.
    And you are free cause you told your story with humility and self-deprecation and love and tenderness. So beautiful!
    So real! I just posted about seeing Him more clearly too and it came through suffering. And the suffering is still there and so is He. Loved hearing what God did in you and through you—His Hand is on your life. Acts 11:21. May many of those women take the words you gave them and may those words sink deep in their hearts Psalm 51:6 and change them as they think and probe and God continues to show up. Loved your post—encouraging to me this night as I struggle through a trial.

  10. says

    You have blessed my heart in so many ways. This post is like a word rightly spoken for me in this moment of my life. Thank you for sharing it. I have such similar things going on……I know you were a sweet blessing to those you ministered to this weekend. He will bless your obedience.
    Love you,
    Cheri

  11. says

    I’m so glad you ‘hung in there’. God is so good; when we’re obedient, He never lets us down. We may feel discomfort, or whatever, but He knows we’ll get over it just because we’re aware that He is all that matters… Such a lovely weekend for you, and you, a blessing to all, I’m sure…

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