On How Community Loves {Bed Hair and All}

My life has been a little jumbled up lately. You ever feel a little jumbled, like bed-hair, walking-into-the-kitchen-at-7-in-the-morning-can’t-see-straight-can’t-decide-what-to-do-first-where’s-the-coffee-nobody-talk-to-me-jumbled? Well, I certainly do, only, I am extra crabby because I can’t have coffee–I have to drink green tea.

In those times, I sure am glad my family takes me just the way I am, bed-hair and all. And that I have a community of sisters that takes me just as I am as well, no matter how jumbled up I may look or feel.

I must admit that community or sisterhood is not something I’ve always been able to turn to, to trust in, to run to.

There have been times in my life I had no one. And there have been times in my life that I intentionally cut myself off to numb the pain. I simply didn’t want to be able to feel enough to be able to be hurt like that again.

I refused to be grafted in–didn’t want to feel the stitching pain of being threaded and woven into the tapestry of God’s people. You know, the most beautiful pieces of art are a lot of work and involve a great amount of pain, like birthing pains.

“And our God is a love body and He hates amputations and He sutures our wounds together with the silver threads of community.” –Ann Voskamp

So, when I stepped out on a limb and said I would host for an {in}courage get-together, it was like that–birthing a child. I have carried this promise of faithfulness, this hope of redemption, this promise of His body and His children being made whole and healed in Him.

“We are all connected by the God who *is* community! –{in}Courage {Lisa-Jo}

Putting that invitation out to all who would come, not knowing who would accept–this was hard, scraping the old wounds of me and eliciting anxious panting and pain and before I knew what I had done, I was in the very throes of birthing relationship.

“God never asked me if I could, He used me because He knew that I trusted that HE would”.–{in}Courager

Eldest daughter and I had cut antique pink roses from the wild vine and placed in tea cups and pots and I had lit candles and my house was sparkling clean {but I promise it is rarely like that!}. The air smelled deliciously of eggplant frying and bosc pears simmering in mulled cider spice, when Cheryl walked in the door.

We immediately embraced and she exclaimed at least she had gotten a shower before she came, and ran her fingers through her hair, and I fluffed my still-wet hair, threw my hands up in the air and we laughed at our make-up-less selves.

“Being real will cost us being perceived as perfect, but will always be worth the investment.”–Lisa-Jo

As I got the food ready and placed on plates, poured pomegranate cranberry juice with crushed ice in glasses, we talked like old friends. It didn’t take long and we were sharing stories from our lives.

Before she left, she thanked me for having her because she never gets to leave her house, and she didn’t want to watch a webcast about community alone. I agreed with her as we hugged good-bye. Because, really, isn’t that the cry of all of our hearts?

That we can’t do this alone? Really, down in the bare bones of me, this is what I’m crying for: real communion.

I agreed, yes, that we all plaintively cry out for community, and it doesn’t matter who or where or when, just that it happens.

It’s indescribable how the women in my life have touched me forever, left fingerpints of God on me–they are Jesus loving me.

“I need someone with skin on.” –Deidra Riggs

As I’ve opened myself up, like wound opening up to be washed and cleaned, these Jesus-women have poured in the healing waters and rubbed in the balm in those hurting, cracked, festering places.

“In this place, we kneel down beside you. In this place, we reach out our hands. In this place, can you hear us whisper?You have been hurt. We can see the pain in your eyes —- We offer you a promise of friendship. In the places of sisters and sinners and souls-made-saints, we make safe circles around women and together we watch each other’s backs and together we bend down when one hunches over in pain and together we pick up the shards of the hearts all shattered, the Jesus-women making this healing mosaic of grace.” –Ann Voskamp

And while I so appreciate all the wonderful friendships I’ve made online, it is so good to have those friends in real life–{in}RL.

It’s a little like going home–I just heave a great big sigh and smile through tears at their words–they are my closest confidants and the ones that have always been there, cheering me on, praying me through, and the ones I know will never leave, whether I write a great story or not.

And it’s because of them that I have learned to navigate these unchartered waters of the blogging world with even the smallest amount of graciousness. They have taught me to be a better woman.

They have been Jesus with skin on to me.

But these blogging friends? Oh, they’ve spurred me on to greatness and godliness. They’ve taught grace, generosity, and practical caring.

If it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t have much of a prayer life. What I have learned about prayer through them has been life-altering. I’ve seen the way Ann asks to take the hurting woman’s hand through the screen and pray for her right then.

I know the way that my close friend, Ro, the Tennessee woman, has dropped a prayer in the inbox just for my eyes, and how I read through tears, just nodding, and how she makes me feel she is so near when she tells me the picture is there where she meets with Jesus and prays for me.

I can still hear my good friend and mentor, Mary Leigh, that Southern lady softly laughing–I imagine–saying, “I’ll pray for you, and you pray for me too, okay?” She makes me feel like I’m sitting on her front porch, rocking in her favorite rocking chair, us sharing the view of a Tennessee twilight sky.

The words of a poem written by precious Cora, stanzas for me still play in my mind, words as if they were from Father God Himself straight to my heart, and they play over and over of how she said she was here to walk this road with me, whether I ever wrote back or not!

“This is where we, as women, can give one another grace.”–Lisa-Jo

“Learn to love each other’s ‘no’ as much as each other’s ‘yes’.”–Holly Gerth

I have been touched for eternity by womens’ prayers that have been sent through comments, emails, and even through gifts. I find myself *praying* for people, right then and there. I find myself reaching through the screen, asking if I can take a hand and pray.

I find myself accidentally, happily, and so, so gratefully finding community.  

A few quotes about what community means that I just loved and wanted to share:

“It’s an expression that you trust me and that I trust you”–Bonnie Gray

“It’s a safe place to cry the ugly cry. It’s just a safe place to be your real, true self.”–Deidra Riggs

“Community is not worrying about the platform of me, and my story, and what I’m all about–but being interested in the stories of others. It took coming home to a place like {in}courage where I could meet women who were really good at sharing their unfine moments with the world.”–Lisa-Jo

*Thank you for so much grace, friends, as I giddily, just a little timidly, admit I’m seeking community and give honor to those women who have been such a godly influence in my life. *ALL* of you are so beautiful and so kind, friends. Each one of you are so special and beloved of the Father!

Still counting with Ann in gratitude to Father…

Gratitude:

#758 blue jay bathing in bird bath in front yard

#759 me and girls stopping to watch from the window

#760 spontaneous picnic with the girls outside on a blanket under the shade tree

#761 a science lesson outside and Ivy’s excitement as she jumps up exclaiming about how we are probably sticking straight out off the round earth, but because of gravity, it feels like we are standing right up

#762 ugly-beautiful: me and the girls transplanting so many plants in the yard–me cutting myself on briars and falling into a tree-like sharp-edged bush bum first and biting back bad words, yelling out in frustration at the girls and getting a lesson in patience

#763 how we stop and take the time to look at earthworms, lizards, spiders they find–us just breathing in the moment

#764 ugly-beautiful: in the midst of my bad temper, I thank God that at least we are all outside enjoying His creation together, breathing fresh air, feeling sun on skin….that even in my sin, He redeems all…

 #765 those moments when I get to talk to the girls about how many beautiful gifts the Father gives through His creation–the sun, stars, a cool breeze, a bird’s song….

 #766 reading for an entire hour in the hammock and all of us getting sleepy, all intertwined there together

#767 {in}courage ladies’ sweet commentary on community this weekend…how inspiring and how much it blessed me, ministered to me, and changed my heart, spurred me on to being Jesus to His children…because “If I’m not doing the thing He created me to do, then nobody’s doing it!“–Deidra Riggs–my new mantra

#768 Cheryl coming to my home–so glad that I summoned the courage to invite her, and so, so glad she accepted

#769 being able to minister, in some small way, to women, to pray with them for their specific needs in the place they hurt the most

#770 during my {in}courage night, husband taking children and seeing that my grandparents weren’t at home, treating them to supper and a toy at the store

#771 seeing them pull back into the driveway

#772 that I’ve learned all of this wisdom about community from these {in}courage women that say up front they are just human–that we are all, very humanly, in this together–its changed me forever

**Friends, your comments mean so much to me–they soul-drench me in grace and minister to me. And your prayers mean even more. I am not able to answer each comment–I am probably in some corner of my home sorting through laundry in danger of mildewing, cleaning potty-training baby girl’s messes, reading a science lesson with the children, or just trying to breathe, friend! I hope you understand? Thank you in advance for grace. I love this community of grace-filled people!

**Also, I am taking a hiatus–a writing break–a very necessary one–not an easy decision on my part. I took a little short one, but this will be a longer one. I have one more post that I am working on and I invite you to come back and read more about why I feel the need to take a hiatus–a little bit more about me, chronic illness, priorities, and what God is calling me to. Won’t you come back? I would love for all of my blogging friends to know why when they see that I’m not around these parts. Thank you for so, so much grace, friends. My heart cannot express in mere words, my thankfulness. I love all of you.

Joining with sweet Ann and others in community…

Jen…

and Michelle…

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9 thoughts on “On How Community Loves {Bed Hair and All}”

  1. such sweet pictures…and I am so proud of you for reaching out…and so thankful God brought you just the right one to share incourage with…we are all growing together in learning community here…blessings to you sweet friend…

  2. Oh the power of the Spirit working in each of us! When we reach out to others with that power, amazing things happen. A real community is fueled by that power. May we continually accept and love one another, bed head hair and all.
    Great list!Especially #766:) Blessings!

  3. I, too, felt like jumping up and raising my hands and yelling “YES! She did it!!!!” I'm so proud of you and even more happy that it all went well. LOVED those roses!!!! I remember when I lived on the farm in Virginia — I would go up to the old slave cabin which was now covered with the old wild rose vines, and I would pick all I could carry, and then dry them in the silica gel powder in my microwave. Your picture brought back scents and memories. . .!!! And the bed hair thing????? Lately, mine has been beyond any bedhair out there. It was cut too short and sticks straight up like a mohawk! Great start to a day, huh?
    And today? I thank God for Cheryl, her wet hair, and her just showing up!!! We all need people like that, don't we? People who are real with no false coverings and who reach out and accept US as we are. I am so glad for what happened there. The Father always knows what we need, who to send, and when, doesn't He! So glad I stopped by today, Nacole! But then, I always come by . . . if only to listen to your music!

  4. Goodness, quite beautiful!! I say a loud AMEN to the comments above: “Oh the power of the Spirit working in us!” and “Yes!!! She did it!!!!” 😀 so very very proud of you, so full of thanks for His unrelenting work in us!!
    I love you, dear Nacole!! ❤ bed hair and all... ;D

  5. Dear sister…
    I love your raw and authentic posts. As I was reading through this one, I was literally STRUCK by a word that you used…”grafted.” And the reason I was struck was because it was the key word in yesterday's church sermon…grafted to the vine of Christ…bearing much fruit because of that grafting…and struck me also because I then blogged about the message this very morning. (Really, how often do you hear the word grafted? Even in the blog world?) So I just wanted you to know I felt connected to you in that moment and offer my prayers for you as you continue to reach out in community. You aren't alone in your fear. (Don't let anyone fool you!) But I know you will bear the fruits of deep and true friendships (in)RL because you have stayed grafted to His vine in trust.

  6. Nacole,
    You are like a sweet sister our Father gave me! He knew I needed sisters in this boys-to-men-world I live in – and, it is through the blogahood, that I have found women who support, speak unconditional God-love to me, who pray without judgement when the raising of these boys tears at this mother heart.

    Your post made me want to wrap arms around you in a sister hug, a blessing hug! You say it perfectly – and it just wows me that God gave us this place to meet and encourage!

    BTW – we're putting up a hammock under the trees this weekend. I bought it 3 years ago, before the great journey and return. I think we will love it – except we can't all pile in it together anymore!

    Be blessed sweet friend! You so blessed me today! BTW – you are on a post-it on my bathroom mirror – my spiritual mom taught me to do that – to put the names of people I need to pray for on my bathroom mirror and pray while I'm getting ready for the day!

  7. Oh, friend. I totally get what you are saying about community. It is something that sets my passions for God on fire — this community of women coming together. I am so excited for you — stepping out in faith — birthing the group. Amen. God is good.

    Praying for you as you step back from blogging. May you see the Hand of God daily, may you feel wrapped up in our prayers, may you breath freely.

  8. Every time I read anything that you have written, I feel such warmth and such love. I feel the tender loving kindness of the Spirit of God permeating your words.

    You write so beautifully about community — about true friendship. I also know you write from a wounded place, yet forgiveness and offer so much grace.

    God is not through with you darling. He will make you whole and you will bring healing to so many. I pray that yo will find a deep dwelling peace, no matter what is going on around you…

    I love you, friend.

  9. I'm leaving you this comment long after you wrote this post- but I am sitting at my computer at 6AM and crying over the beauty of this thing called friendship- and thanking God for all the creative ways He ties our hearts together. And I'm praying for you, friend- asking that He will meet you today and offer you something even BETTER than coffee- (oh, but how I do love my hot cup in the morning!)- asking that He gives you HIS JOY, pure, energizing, wrap-you-in-wonder joy. You are BEAUTIFUL and your writing is, too.

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