Monday, May 19, 2014

The Power of Encouragement – An Invitation to Community

Community. Groups. Welcome. Friendships with women. I’m going to be honest with you – these are not things that have come easy to me in my life. From a shy, self-conscious child; to a somewhat prickly, loner-styled adolescent; to an introverted, independent adult, “group” anything has not been something I have gravitated towards. They have been exhausting to me; often filled with drama (even with adults); and a place where hurt was likely to happen. Keeping my own company or forging close, intimate friendships with just one person at a time was what worked for me.

But life happens, and it’s not always easy to walk the path alone. No matter how independent or introverted we might be, I believe that we have been created for relationship and community. Gathering and fellowship are woven into the matrix of our making as sure as our need to breathe and feel the sun on our face.

It’s not easy, but it’s good.

I’ve been blessed with a group of in-real life girlfriends who are a strong, loyal group of diverse souls with a common core and love for one another. Our time together can wax and wane, but there is never any doubt in my mind that if a need should arise, I can call on one of these gems in my life and they will be there.

I’ve been equally blessed to discover an online community of women who open their hearts, gather you in, and make you feel like one of their own. Until (in)courage, my only experience with online community centered around dragons, armies, and other beasties (surprise – bet you didn’t see that one coming!). Troops were rallied. Things were slain. Virtual high fives were given. That was about it.

But this space – they don’t call it the beach house for nothing. It’s been called a bench, too – a place for gathering women in. For making a space for someone to sit down next to you with a cup of coffee or tea and taking time to invest in their lives as the connect with and invest in yours. It’s real and it’s amazing.

This God-blessed space has birthed many friendships for me – ones I never saw coming, but can’t imagine living without. These women pray for each other, write to each other (online and with real snail mail!), encourage each other, draw near for each other, and embrace the joys and pains of each other’s lives in a real, tangible way. They become the hands and feet of Christ; ministering to each other, and then join hands to minister to others around them – and sometimes even around the world.

Today, over seventy community groups over at (in)courage swing their doors wide to welcome you in. There are groups for everyone: moms of all kinds, writers, artists, students, care givers, single gals, empty-nesters, you name it. I’ve had the joy of being part of a terrific writing group for the past several seasons, but after my blogging sabbatical this Spring, was feeling a pull to consider leadership. At the invitation of the (in)courage leadership team, I signed up to co-lead a group, and am thrilled to be doing this for the first time with two other amazing friends, Karrilee and Sarah Jo.

We’ll be co-leading a group called Art in Your Life: Adding Beauty as Co-Creators with Christ. This group is about more than just creating arts and crafts. It’s about learning to make your life an artistic expression and joining with your creator by using the gifts you’ve been given in creative expression that brings glory to God and blesses those around you. Whatever medium you choose: be it paper, fiber, fabric, paint, pen, repurposed, vintage, metal, glass, wood, or other media – we invite you to join us as we look at art in our lives and what it means to be co-creators of beauty with our Creator. We want you to freely and unselfconsciously discover your creative self and the joy that it can bring to you and those around you.

Click here to visit the (in)courage community group page to find a group that fits your needs and wants, and if the artistic creative life is calling you, I hope you’ll consider joining us for Art In Your Life.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. Let's continue the conversation!


  1. Love your honesty, friend. So glad to be in community with you. And your group looks amazing! I'm really torn about giving it a try if there is room in it later this week. Blessings on you and your co-leaders for a fabulous group and lots of encouragement!

  2. As I've read through all the leader blogs this morning, I've loved reading about people who have found community in real life and on the internet. Thank you for modeling how to do both. The women in your group will be blessed.

  3. I'm all signed up and so excited!

  4. Yay! The wait is over! Let's get this party started! (And TAKE. OVER. that hashtag!) #ArtinYourLife

  5. May this project be blessed.

    Speaking of community, Deann, Tuppence and I really enjoyed the afternoon with you, Faith, and Shawn.


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