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Friday, December 3, 2010

.Relationships, Friendships, Transparency.

I've never really been good at the above. My life has typically been characterized by having just one or two friends and several acquaintances. I've never been good at balancing more than one friend, and typically feel overwhelmed and pressured if I expand my relationship circle. This is how I was even as a child, and in high school, and through college. This tendency followed me to adulthood as well.

But something strange has happened over the past year. The more I read and studied the Bible the more I could see how we are created for relationships - all of us, even the introverted, awkward ones! I didn't really see it happening, but with all of our other life change, God began to change the way I interact with people. I began to branch out for the first time and extend my hand in friendship to other women. By nature, this is not me. Last winter I began inviting a few women into my home for afternoon tea and chats. Two friendships grew out of that. Two real, genuine, authentic friendships. Both of these women have been two of my biggest champions and encouragers in our journey to Jamesy. And it is funny now to think back on how I dragged my feet about getting to know either of those women. Not because of them, but because it is hard and awkward for me to make small chat and do the initial "get to know you" thing. My friend JO (Another friendship that only God could have brought together. We are both introverted, and we have struck up a real life friendship via blogging. I even went to her house, and we have chatted on the phone a few times now!) said to me on the phone the other day We just aren't good at small talk. We like to go deep quickly and forget the niceties. and maybe that is at least part of it, another part for me is fear though. God is slowly stripping away all of the areas of my life that had been tainted with fear, and this is another one. God has blessed me in amazing ways through these friendships. He brought them into my life at the perfect time, and knew that I needed them to lean on and learn from.

My husband worked really hard this whole summer to revamp and recreate, from scratch basically, our church's small group program. He poured himself into this ministry - reading oodles of books, searching through the Bible, praying and seeking guidance from other pastors, and spending hours training people within our church. I dragged my feet a little bit this summer with having to open my home twice a week for the leader training, but God softened my heart in a huge way and grew some sweet relationships with the couples who attended the leader training. I was excited although still a bit tentative this fall when Jim launched his first ten week small group session. Our group met Wednesday evenings, and we were an unlikely mix - all different ages and stages of life, but it was a MATCH! It was exciting to see Jim's hopes and prayers for the relationships of small group members come to life in our own small group. We love our group and had the best time. We are on a break right now, and will meet again for ten weeks starting in January, and we are adding a new couple! This brings us to capacity, and I am really eager to settle in for the long haul with this extraordinary group of friends!

Jim's plans worked so well that the women in our small group are all getting together for a grown-up sleepover. I am nearly giddy over the prospect of the sweet fellowship and fun that will come of it! A year ago I would have cringed at the thought, but these women have listened to me cry over adoption frustrations and Jamesy over and over. They have prayed for me and encouraged me and just listened. I have opened myself up to them, and the same is true for all of us women. We have all cried together and prayed for one another. I have not experienced fellowship with a group of Christian women like this since my days at Bible college, and honestly I thought I never would again. But I am so, so thankful and blessed for the relationships, friendships, and transparency that God has gifted me this year. I still have a long way to go in this area, but it's not as scary anymore, and I am excited to see what the future holds.

But first I need to pack up my pillow and jammies and some chocolate maybe for a fun girly evening with some of the sweetest women I know.

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