Feb 8, 2016

In Every Season: An Introduction


This past November, I felt God put a special desire on my heart regarding my blog and how I hoped it could be used to encourage and inspire women. I have always loved having community with women, whether it looked like one-on-one conversation over tea at a local cafe, a large group of women in a Bible study, or anything in between. I just love learning and growing along with other women. And while I find great use and beauty in finding friends and communities made of women who are in the same life season as I am, I feel I am doing myself a disservice and robbing myself of wisdom if I only surround myself with women in the same age, marital status, or career choice. Yes, they are more relatable in many ways and these women can support you in meaningful ways because they get it since they're walking in a very similar season. Wholeheartedly, yes and yes!

But I also see great wealth of wisdom found in befriending women who are in vastly different seasons as myself. I desire to have community with newlyweds, singles, dating and engaged women, and older married women with grandchildren they'd love to gush over. The variety of seasons we all live in, they all add depth and wisdom that would be hard to attain if we only hang around women who are in similar situations as us.

The idea of community became pivotal to me when I was living on my own in Seattle, while in graduate school four years ago. It was only a three-hour drive from home, but I soon felt isolated and lonely trying to figure out my studies as well as struggling with emotions I could not battle on my own. I wanted to appear like everything was fine, so I would try to sound happy and independent, but inside, I was hurting. After a year of living in Seattle and making a few friends, I remember praying Psalm 68:6 ("God sets the lonely in families…"). I prayed for a spiritual family while I was away from my friends and family. God faithfully answered that prayer immeasurably more that I could even dream. I  soon got plugged into a community group  with around ten guys and gals from various life stages who all went to the same church. We met weekly, discussed the sermon from the previous Sunday, studied Scripture together, prayed for one another. We became like a family. I remember realizing, months later, how God answered that tear-filled prayer in a way that deeply impacted my life and showed me the beauty of community. I had grown up attending and leading Bible studies that were geared towards girls, but we typically were in the same age group and all single. Now, I was realizing how important it was to see newlywed as well as older married couples, engaged couples, and singles, all praising God together and supporting one another.
My awesome Seattle community group at our wedding.
The last five months of my season in Seattle, I was also doubly blessed by living with Christian gals who became close friends who encouraged me, prayed for me, and loved me for who I am (quirks and all, haha). This Seattle family is still very dear to my heart.
Once I moved to Vancouver, Washington, I soon got involved in another community group and was blessed with having a wide variety of men and women in different seasons as well. I especially loved meeting with a few of the older women in the group once Greg and I started dating. They gave me wise advice and their prayers and encouragement was such a gift. I treasure these two women so much!
And being back close to my family and childhood friends, I was able to reconnect and dive deeper in friendships. I was able to spend more time with friends whom I grew up with and friends who I made in my young adult years. This especially became important and beautiful when I started dating Greg and I got great advice, encouragement, and lots of excitement about this season from close friends.  I would be amiss to not mention my best friend Monica, who has been a huge blessing throughout all these different seasons, even when we each moved to different states over the years. She is like a sister and I praise God for her friendship throughout all the troughs and peaks of both of our lives.
My best friend, Monica
I got married in October and moved to Texas where I am now getting involved in community at the church my husband and I attend. We are getting to know other newlyweds in our Young Marrieds sunday school class and I attend a small group with a mentor and several other mid-twenties gals. It has helped me to start to grow roots here in Texas and has been a great comfort.

A few months ago, our pastor talked about the fellowship of the early Christians as described in Acts 2:42-47. The new Jesus-followers learned God's teachings together, ate together, praised God together in their homes and temple together, and lived generously. They took care of each other's needs and bore on another's burdens, just as Paul would later write in Galatians 6:2.  They were living and breathing koinonia. 

Koinonia is a Greek word for fellowship and having things in common with others. It is the word that described these early Christians and it is a word that I want to characterize the ways that I encourage, support, serve, and love women no matter what life season they are currently in. I want to be humble and learn from women in whatever life season they are in, and I invite you to pray about desiring the same thing.
Redwood National and State Park during a road trip with my sibs in 2014.
 During that sermon, our pastor showed us a grove of redwood trees. These majestic evergreens are a poignant example of koinonia. Redwoods thrive in community. They have shallow roots that could never support these massive trees on their own. But, redwoods grow around other redwoods and their roots intertwine into a network of interconnected roots that support each other's massive sizes. Similarly to these redwoods, we are called to have interconnectedness as women, supporting the weight of life's burdens and trials as we love and serve on another. We each have deep wells of experiences that can benefit and bless the other women in our lives. Whether joyful, mountain-top experiences like love stories that were scripted by the great Author Himself, or heart-breaking sadness like the loss of a baby. Whatever the experiences, they can be used to help other women be comforted, encouraged, and loved during different seasons.

We are not meant to be independent souls, trying to make it on our own. If we look at the Trinity, God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in community as a Tri-Une (three in one) God. It's hard for our finite minds to comprehend this, but God is in community within Himself. And when He created humanity, it is repeated that God made us "in His image",  Imago Deo. This brings worth and identity to us, but it also gives us a framework to live our lives within community. We are meant to live interdependent, shared lives within godly community. As women, I believe it is essential that this includes having community with Christian women of various seasons of life. This allows us to put down the facade of having-it-all-together and instead, living this messy life together as sisters of a loving Father God, hand-in-hand because of the grace given to us from Him.

In Paul's letter to Titus, he encourages the Christian women to teach and encourage the younger women (Titus 2:3-5). This interconnectedness between women of different seasons helps draw us closer to God as we learn from one another about His faithfulness, encourage each other during new transitions and difficult circumstances, and praise Him together as sisters.  I believe this teaches us to be better daughters, mothers, wives, co-workers, and neighbors.

There are countless women who have already started Bible studies and communities that include women of different seasons. She Reads Truth, for example, is a great tool for connecting with women to study the Word. If:Gathering is also a beautiful picture of women of all seasons joining together to have fellowship, learn, and praise God together. Women of Faith brings thousands of women together to learn His words and worship Him together. And there are many more women who do this one-on-one with gals from their church or Bible study groups.

As a way to encourage women in this interconnectedness, I have prayerfully been preparing a series called "In Every Season" that I hope will be a tool used to help women of different seasons learn from one another. In the next weeks and months, there will be weekly posts composed from survey findings geared towards singles and young married women, Q & A of older women answering questions from younger married women, and guest posts from women in various life seasons.  I am so incredibly excited to see what God has in plan for this season. I have been so humbled with the responses from the surveys and conversations I have had with women I want to involve in this series, and am so pumped to learn from women I admire and regard as wise.

Please join me in praying about this series and that it would be an encouragement to anyone that reads it. I do not want it to be about me or my writing, but about inspiring women to grow in community with one another as we grow in our love for Christ. And together, for us all to make God bigger in our lives. Bigger than our fears, bigger than our worries, bigger than our inadequacies, bigger than our circumstances, bigger than our life seasons.

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Further Reading:

5 comments:

  1. I loved the bit about Redwoods - how special and important :)

    I definitely need to work on cultivating more of a community around me, too, so I loved reading about your journey with this!

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  2. This is wonderful! I have a feeling that I need this series, I can't wait to read it! I pray for you as you carve this new path and create this community!

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  3. Looking forward to what you come up with for the series! This post resonates with me especially since I felt a deep sense of disconnectedness during college and my first two years of employment. As a newlywed, I have a profound connection with my husband but the two of us are also praying for that church community where we can put down roots. I also think about all the older ladies in church and in my life, and what rich wisdom I gleaned from many of them. I have mentors from afar and I'm grateful for their willingness to share life with me. This encourages me to be that source of friendship and guidance for those who are going through things I've been through before.

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  4. This is super awesome! I can't wait to see what unfolds in this series. Katie x

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Elle Alice