Sometimes you stand in a room full of women with their hands raised in worship and you know that you’re on holy, beautiful ground. The lights twinkle and the hairs on your arms stand up as your heart keeps time to the music and the words you’re singing are your holy hallelujah after a very hard season.
And there’s nothing like standing in a room full of women who are all probably as unsure about life sometimes as you are, but who are determined not to quit believing their God and what He says about their friends.
This weekend I got to do that.
I got to see into the eyes of a hundred women who are all trying to make sense of friendship here, in the minivan driving years. Which for reasons I’ve spent nearly five years trying to unpack, seems much harder than during the middle school years. I’m guessing because there’s much so much more unspoken broken living in our leggings and lives and behind our front doors and Instagram profile pictures than we’re willing to admit.
But we keep showing up to try to find new ways to be seen.
It’s worth seeing the women around you. Worth leaning into their lives. Worth working to understand them, to love them, to laugh with them. They will always surprise you with their downstairs stories. The ones you have to be really invited in to hear. I think this is what we call women’s ministry, yes? Not the decor or lights or music — but the being willing to minister to the women in your life. The ones at the end of the drive way waiting for the bus. The ones at book club or running late for soccer practice. We minister in a hundred ordinary ways across a lifetime of ordinary days.
It’s the gift of being willing to see beyond the borders of your own life. And look up, look out, at the women across from you. And ask yourself, “what can I do to show up for her today?” Women’s ministry isn’t complicated, limited to brands or the Bible Belt. It’s happening right now, in carpool lines and living rooms and at back doors down the street from you. Paying attention on purpose to the ways we can serve the women who show up in our everydays is the best way I know to stay connected to the body of Christ. To feel His heartbeat for His daughters we need to actually lean in to what their lives look like, feel like, sound like on the inside.
On Saturday I got to do that. Well, really it started on Friday night with a group of Friends who came early and stayed late to help with the set up. They hauled in farmhouse doors and baskets and lanterns and sunflowers. So many sunflowers. And they laughed and pulled out boxes of books and set up tables and seats and name tags and it took my breath away.
I guess that’s the thing about friendship — it’s the undeserved gift you really can never repay. And that’s what makes it so infinitely valuable.
Thank you to Ann Marie for capturing these beautiful photos of our one day Never Unfriended Live event. And thank you to my home church, Bethel, for hosting us in the most generous ways! These photos make my insides warmer than a mug of hot chocolate.
THANK YOU TEAM!
I could cry over my slice of pizza right now thinking about how many friends poured out time and creativity to make Never Unfriended Live possible — I LOVE THIS GANG SO MUCH!
Ruthie for being coordinator extraordinaire and keeping us all sane! Amy for bringing to life a creative vision I never could have even imagined and sharing her beautiful voice with us. Kelly for distressing and hauling farmhouse doors and lanterns from hours away. Asa for making music that filled the soul. Leyla for picking up pizza and all our spirits with your joy. Christina for snapping selfies for everyone and telling each woman how beautiful she looked. Neliza for tirelessly working, assembling, carrying, encouraging, hugging. Liz for championing, praying, serving, connecting and making sure no one felt left out. Sheila for bringing friends and service from far away. Kim and Ruthie for hosting like you were made for it. Ann Marie for lending us the gift of her talent and her camera. Alice and Judy for praying, interceding, cheerleading. Carla for welcoming and serving at registration, and Micah for packing all those gift bags! Dave and Asa and Mike and Stephanie for setting up and breaking down and making sure the tech ran like clockwork. And to my Peter and kiddos, thank you for always having my back, praying me through and driving all the miles of carpool when I can’t. Making you guys proud is my favorite. You all gave us the gift of service and it was a delight to be on your team!
Thank you Bethel for making it true for all of us this weekend – when you’re here, you’re home!
Want to recreate a similar experience in your church or in your living room with friends or in your sweatpants – click here to find out more about the (in)real life: FRIENDED Simulcast on October 14!