* Let's start off with, I love the local church. I love those men and women who are courageous enough to serve full-time in the local body and give so much of themselves. I grew up watching my parents pour themselves into the those they have been called to serve. It is not easy. It can be ugly at times. And it can be sweetness!
* When I was dealing with these "I want to be a part of the body" thoughts, the Lord's voice kept saying, "What are YOU doing about it?" It was hugely convicting and a reminder - be part of the solution rather than a part of the problem.
* It is so much easier to just connect with those with whom we are similar! I love sitting and talking with my peers. We are in similar life stages and oftentimes it adds validity and confirmation to those moments and thoughts of "Am I just crazy?" And yet. It is easy to become complacent and too comfortable with those I am like.
As I continue to reflect, I see the Lord's answer. The people He has and continues to provide who are "different" and a larger picture of the family He has called. Here are some ways He has answers, provided, and granted part of this desire to connect with differing facets of the body.
My small group - I love these people! i'm the youngest one in my group and I love it! We are a hodge-podge of retirees, older singles, empty-nesters, grandparents, married couples, and more. And we are from a variety of backgrounds. A plethora of ways our hearts were drawn and transformed by the Gospel. Our conversations inspire, challenge, convict, connect, and push us more to Jesus. And. I. Love. Every. Single. Minute. Of. It. This group also stood with me when I was going through #projectkneegetbetter. They brought meals. Provided rides when I couldn't drive. Sent notes and texts and emails. And prayed. And prayed more. They are a part of my Dallas family. This fall our group changed slightly in the structure and it has brought an even greater sweetness and delight to my soul. We all need people to grow with. And you know what? They are not just like me and I'm not just like them. And it is good.
Mentorship group - this story is a long one, so I won't bore you with the details. Short story - there is no reason except for Jesus that I am in this group. The way I was connected to them and more is something only the Lord could do. Crossing generations and lives and where we are as people - amazing. I learn so much from these women and so value them as friends and their wisdom.
Living with the Zieglers - This is a whole separate post. Can't. Even. Love these family people.
If Table - I love the monthly gatherings of the women the Lord puts across our paths. I love the God-ordained women who come each month. Though there is a different group each time, I believe it is not an accident. Grateful. If we can meet a need for connection, to be loved, to hear truth, to encounter the Gospel - it is worth it.
Work - Daily I talk to people on the phone who love Jesus and yet are so different from me. The stories they hold are often undiscovered treasures. And I'm reminded again how often people long to be heard, known, and a part of something. Also, I love hearing so many people's stories of life - the beautiful and the hard. And there are dear friends that have come from those conversations and from meeting some of them in person (sweet Judy below!).
This list doesn't mention my small group babies (Sunday school kids) and the incredible conversations we have; my amazing family who challenges me and encourages me in life; and the dear friends who talk me off the crazy, remind of God's faithfulness, and spur me on towards Christ likeness.
And in these few examples, the Lord has shown me how faithfully He provides. How diverse and stunning his family is. Can't wait to see what keeps happening!