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building a community to reach a community

From My Heart…

Women are learning in Bible study groups, sweating in zumba sessions, chatting over coffee or otherwise enjoying off-site fellowship, and moms are sharing much-needed encouragement. We are officially in full-swing here at GFC, especially for those of us who are Grace Women – and I’m eating gummy bears to get the energy I need to keep up! If you are yet unconnected, please pray and consider reaching out for community in any of the groups of Grace Women, but especially in a Community Group or Ultimate Journey Group! This Sunday you can meet the different group leaders and find a “home base” for you this season, please don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to grow with others.

The idea of “community” has come to have a much richer meaning to Jonathan and I these past couple years, and it will only become more important as we journey in the weeks and months ahead.

When we first were married, almost 5 years ago, our thoughts were that we wanted to be in a young-married group where we could connect with couples and build friendships that would last a lifetime, like we had seen and heard of with other couples. Though that didn’t ever turn out for us, God began re-wiring our minds to see “community” differently, and one thing we learned quickly: it’s not just about us. What our expectations were of community, and what God was offering us through community were very different, and yet, it was just what we needed! Our motley little crew didn’t share life seasons, but we grew to care for each other and serve in practical ways together. God grew our vision of community to include caring for others’ needs in the Church beyond our own. That early experience with community at GFC has helped us as we’ve considered “what’s next” for us in community each season – it’s not just about what “we want” but about what God may be doing in and through us this season of life.

Over the past few years our experience with “community” has shape-shifted as circumstances and seasons have changed. All the while, God has used each communal experience to continue shape-shifting Jonathan and I into the man and woman God destined us to become – and we are so grateful!

What has been particularly meaningful to us is how we’ve seen God use men and women in our GFC family to pray, support and encourage us along, and at times even relate to us as we’ve journeyed through what is termed “unexplained infertility.” This has not been an easy journey for Jonathan and I, but it is one we know we are not alone on. Along the way others have stepped out of the shadows and have shared their own stories of grief, loss, disappointment and feelings of anger born of their own journey with infertility. For some we can see the healing that takes place when they share their story, especially with someone who needs the same comfort they’ve once received themselves. We’ve experienced community as we’ve opened our stories up to each other. And I believe we are each of us a little better off for doing so.

Jonathan and I have much to be grateful for in our journey. We are both healthy, and are in unity with seeking God’s plan for our family. At the same time, as a women’s ministry director for a growing church – a ministry which is in large part comprised of ministry to “moms” – I have at times been overwhelmed by the heartache that comes with this journey. A heartache that many women (and men) are experiencing in our family of GFC and in our community. There have been days when I just didn’t want to share with another woman anything encouraging. I didn’t want to hear her story. I didn’t want to serve or give one more bit because I was just over it! My heart was hurting and living with others felt too demanding.

Even if you cannot relate to my personal journey with infertility, perhaps you can relate to being overwhelmed at times with your own hurt or burdens you are carrying. God never intended for you to go-it-alone and try and live this life in your strength and willpower. Uh uh. You need others and hear me on this – they need you too!

Jonathan and I have come a long way on our journey, but that is due to God’s step-by-step grace and the loving support of others. In fact, our journey has taken a big turn over the last few months, and we are now embarking on a new path of adoption! Jonathan and I are not only walking the path of adoption, we are “going for 2”! We’d love you to join our journey by walking with us at www.thecountrychronicles.com. We are learning a lot, being stretched at every turn, and must daily remember to trust that God’s ways are best. Community helps us in all these areas, and if you let it, it may do that for you too.

In His grip with you,

Heather

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