I had been planning for months. Anticipating the moment when I would meet these women face-to-face. Women that I had been getting to know through our authentic and raw posts. Sharing our hearts. Opening up to one another. But besides a handful that I knew in real life, these women were online friends.
The truth is you never know exactly how that will go. Will they like me? Will they "get" me?
I picked up my in real life friend, Traci and as we drove the 4 1/2 hours through beautiful countryside to Harrisburg, PA, my heart began to settle. Traci has been such a gift to me- a kindred spirit, one who loves her husband, her precious kids, her Jesus. She inspires me and by the time we got to the hotel, I was ready to just enjoy the weekend.
Of course, I wore sweat pants for the trip, because I am pregnant and all, so I was not looking my finest. And there were gorgeous women everywhere. And it seemed so appropriate that I would have my first experience meeting women at Allume in all my "real". And it was beautiful, because they welcomed me with the same hugs and openness that I found later when I was in my cuter outfits.
That is community and I found it all over the place the entire weekend.
With my forever friend Amy (you are seriously the best, sweet friend! What would I do without you?!!!). With my new found friend September and her beautiful daughter, Sarah (you ladies made me laugh like no other and I just adore you both!). With my sister by heart, Lizzie (JOY is the word that comes to mind when I think about you- love you so!)
But even in the midst of so much love and dear, dear friends, one can feel lonely. I am learning that this is not a bad thing. In those lonely times, I took some time to retreat- and my favorite place for this was in the prayer room. After spending time with my Lord, I was ready to introduce myself to others. To initiate conversations. To sit at a table with women that I didn't know. And in this I found some of the greatest blessings!
Like Amanda who I was hoping to meet, but didn't even connect that it was her when I sat down beside her. And oh the blessing of that conversation! Thank you , Amanda!! I love your heart and your passion for sharing Jesus. My heart wells up with so much emotion when I think of you! And Melanie, one of my (in)Couraged Flock girls who I just wish I could have had more time with. Your beauty and love for Jesus just flows out of you, new friend! Thankful to know you...
And then, there was this group of women! I just absolutely adore each one. We first met way back in March when we joined a "Better Writer" group hosted by Allume. The challenge was to write every day for 31 days based on the prompt that our fearless leader, Kristina gave to us. We shared our words and God used those words, that willingness to be vulnerable to draw together a group of women who genuinely love and care for one another. Can you stand the beauty?!!!
|Me with Kristina- I love you girl!|
I will forever be grateful. And of course, I can't wait until next year!
|The best roomies!|
Will you join me?