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These days, words are becoming flesh for me.


I drove in the pitch dark pouring rain to Pastor Helen’s house, perched precariously on the hill next to the ocean, navigating hair-pin turns in a minivan. I was nervous and now my nerves were shot. After all, this was a gathering for the women of SheLoves Magazine. I respected these women; I worried that I might be a disappointment, that I might not fit with all of their soul-goodness, fit with the sisterhood thing. But no, of course not. Idelette and Tina were as gracious as I’d imagined, Kelly might be a soul-sister I’ve just discovered and I tucked Destiny, Claire, Kisa, Musu, all of them, into my heart a bit deeper. 


Do you know what it’s like to sit in a room full of intelligent, passionate, hungry-for-justice, diverse, grace-filled, funny, articulate, crazy, anointed, Jesus-loving opinionated women? 


It’s brilliant. Absolutely bloody brilliant. 


All ages, all stages, all nationalities, all accents, all experiences, our fingers curled around cups of tea, and it got real. We talked about why we cared about women. We talked about callings and battles, about finding our voice, about learning how to be vulnerable and how incredibly scary it is to take off your mask but how much better it is to feel the wind on your face. 


So many women, so many stories, and somehow, divinely, here we all were, and it felt like something prophetic was being born, a spark. Like, see here, world, see here, Church, this is what it looks like, this is the better story of womanhood here, right before my eyes, sitting beside me in real life.  




I spent the day making double batches of shepherd’s pie. I’m the community care leader at our church so if a mama has a new baby or someone falls on rough times, that’s us, we do the simple work of making meals. It’s humble and it would be more exciting, maybe it would make a better blog post or book idea, to sell everything and move to Africa but all I have a hunch that all I would be doing there is the same thing I’m trying to do here: love people, forgive, extend grace, make meals, welcome people into my life, raise my tinies, write, learn from people much smarter than me, preach the Gospel back and forth to each other with our lives, sing, gather, love and love and love. 


This week, there was another graduation at Mercy. One of our sweet graduates told a story publicly for the first time about everything that brought her to Mercy and when I heard about her life, her childhood, I couldn’t breathe, my lungs just forgot how to work. And I remembered again how I used to think that life didn’t take a lot of faith, I was so stupid, so naive, so sheltered. Her there, whole, on the road of wholeness, took more guts and faith than I think I posses and I love her, I love them all, our girls. And every woman there is my hero. 


It gets real when it’s real people.

Intentional community is a huge risk. But if we truly believe that people can live and work and worship and love in harmony (which, as Pastor Helen beautifully described that night, is simply moving from dissonance to resonance with each other) then here is something true:

Words need flesh. Dreams need hands. Visions and prophecies need hearts beating, minds grappling, hands working and we need a lot of screwing it all up, too. Sisterhood needs women, church needs people, and if, as Ruth Bell Graham said, a marriage is a union between two good forgivers (which, I believe it is) then the church, universal, is a gigantic family of good forgivers.





The work of loving people, it looks daily and mundane and normal, in fact, there usually isn’t anything very sexy about it if you’re doing it right, and then suddenly, the scaffold of giving and taking and working and justice-seeking and forgiving and serving and loving turns into this magical thing of community and transformation and family and this is church, a foretaste of what God intended all along. Look at us, looking after each other

Community is the work of gardeners, not POOF! magicians. 

It’s a good thing to tend to the better story.

****



It’s Ash Wednesday today. My sister and I attempted to round all of the five-tinies-five-and-under to the Anglican church for the imposition of ashes but it didn’t come together. I miss the drag of the priest’s finger across my forehead but really it’s okay. This is my 8th year observing Lent, these forty days a time of fasting and repentance, of remembering that we are dust and to dust we shall return, of remembering the depth of my need for Jesus. In years past, I’ve fasted the Internet or blogging or certain foods or coffee. I usually observe the daily offices during Lent and this year will be no different.


I’ve been thinking about these words from the book of Isaiah for Lent this year:

“This is the kind of fast day I’m after:
   to break the chains of injustice,
   get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
   free the oppressed,
   cancel debts.
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
   sharing your food with the hungry,
   inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
   putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
   being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
   and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
   The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
   You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’

This is the fast I’ve chosen: to pray for the beautiful Church, in particular God’s daughters worldwide. I’m tucking something extra into my heart and words and prayer and practice – God’s women globally, in particular our residents and applicants to Mercy, all fighting the good fight for their freedom and for transformation, for hope.

God is stirring the waters in my soul, the song I’m hearing whisper across the water is breathing your name somehow, and I feel like taking some time to brood over God’s women in the world, in the church, to pray, to wait, to cover us all.

So this Lent, I’m carrying you, my broken and beautiful family, in my heart, this is the fast I’ve chosen, I feel you thumping along with me here and I want some flesh on my words, I want righteousness to pave the way.

With that in mind, can I pray for you? If so, let me know in the comments. I can hold you up to Jesus, I can stand alongside you during Lent. What’s on your heart today?



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In which I lean into it
In which these are the tired thirties
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