I was quite young when He dropped the seed into my heart. It occupied space on the topsoil; a few conversations with safe people in my life.

No watering.

No cultivating.

No growth.

Hidden, buried, forgotten, dead.

 

Fourteen years after it’s fall into my heart it began to grow.

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I don’t even know how to do this, Jesus.
I do.

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I was desperate for community…for a tangible, touchable someone to step into my days. I needed conversation and coffee. I needed real tears and real hope and hugs with real arms.

How will you fill this?

IF:Table.

I need to know the hearts of those around me, to be able to build up and pour out. I need someone to ask me good questions, someone to push me into You, one who invest here, in this space of my heart.

How do I do this?

IF:Table.

Fantastic. Where do I sign up?

You lead.
Come again?

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How do I choose hearts I don’t even know?
Lindsey. Claire.
How do I invite her into this intimate space?
Mary.
Lord, she knew me before. She saw my darkness in the periphery of her life. Are you sure?
Krystal. Emrist.

 

What if they say no?
What if they say yes?

IMG_0092I don’t do women well. I don’t do men any more well, but women…

They eat their young…shaving off pieces at a time until nothing remains.
And though I would be one of the eldest in this hodgepodge group of hearts, I was afraid of being eaten, or worse, of being half-eaten and abandoned.

But the seed He planted was uncomfortably breaking the surface.
Women.

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Five women coming to my house to eat food from my table and talk about life…and loneliness.

Loneliness.
Lord, is this day only for me?

Perhaps not only for you, but for you, yes. 

The lives of these women have changed since their names were first added to my heart months prior. Four now carry a hope within them that lays outside of my grasp. Four are approaching dramatic shifts in life as they add to their number.

And as I look into this day, it’s all I see. Their fullness, my emptiness.

Lonely.

See Me.  

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Laughter and food settled us, giving our stomachs something to consider and calming the precarious twitches of our nerves, moving us into purposed conversations.
And He was there.

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I am not alone in this need to be known, in this need to know others. I am not alone in the desire to have abiding relationships that add and build up life. I am not alone is searching for authenticity and thickness of community.
As these women left my home, each a bit more treasured in my heart than before, I knew this:
Isolation kills us.

It binds us. It keeps us chasing our shadow, digging our grave.

It becomes the undertone of our heart:        you. you’re the only one.

It tunnels our vision. It hardens our hearts and justifies our sin.
And we are made worthless for the Kingdom. Barren.

And the enemy would keep us there for all of our days.

IMG_1063Women’s ministry isn’t about making much of women. It’s not about linking arms and burning bras and crying until we all look terrifying. It’s not about an event or a conference or a movement. It’s not polished, and it doesn’t sparkle. Women’s ministry is friendship with feet. It’s pulling her up, pointing her to Him, and giving her admittance to do the same. Women’s ministry is standing when she cannot, extending grace into her ugly, and lending her my fat-jeans. It’s stepping into her loneliness, inviting her into my pain, and doing so with grace, coffee and waterproof mascara.