January 20, 2011

being real

{i really like reading other peoples blogs.  i love connecting with other women online and sharing comments and their projects. yesterday, when going through my reader, i read this post from Jami about being real.  Life isn't really just the  positive stuff we have going on, it isn't all fun little dates and a perfectly clean house and a project that is accomplished in 15 pictures.  life is messy, and frustrating, and overwhelming.  after reading her blog, i want to be real in mine. i want to share personal things.  i of course will still share our projects, and recipes, and fun dates and pictures, but I am also going to include life.}

i'm sitting here this morning and really reflecting on my small group experience last night.  you see, i've been going to this small group for a few months now, and even still, in this short time, i know that i belong there. 

you would not even believe the acceptance and the strive for God's love in this group.  this group has totally changed my view on friendships, relationships, and most importantly my relationship with Christ.

typically, i have found, when you have a group of women, and enter the room as a new-comer, i automatically feel judged, not good enough, and out of place.  not here. not even close. there is no judgment, no gossip, no pettiness.  just a shared love for Christ. it's awesome, and unreal, and hard to even describe.  

i say all of this from our small group last night. we were discussing the direction of our small group, because, well, we aren't so small anymore.  just a few months ago we were meeting in someones living room, and we have totally outgrown that. and now we are meeting in a small conference room. how awesome and how amazing is that!

Ephesians 1:17-19 {The Message}
"I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!"

we started off by breaking into groups of three. my group was two of my really close friends. {the same friends from our new years progressive dinner minus a few.} for me personally, i started going to small group to get connected.  Michael and I struggled, really struggle to find a church that we liked in Lynchburg.  so much so that most of the times we didn't go.  we tried church after church after church and just left frustrated.  our church that we attend now, Blue Ridge Community, was the first church we actually agreed on.  But there were problems.  It was a big church, there weren't classes or couples groups, and we knew that if we didn't get plugged in and meet people and have that community, we wouldn't continue to go.  So, I asked someone about a small group, and she invited me to hers.  and that changed my life. 

Ephesians 4:21-24 {New International Version}
" when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." 

Some other reasons I needed to get plugged in was to have that encouragement and reminder from other women about what God is doing in my life.  I can't even tell you how many weeks where I could go by with church on Sunday morning, and then not think about God, what he's showing me, what he's doing, until the next Sunday.  This group gives me a time to stop and think about what God is doing in my life. It gives me encouragement, accountability, and fellowship. 


Ephesians 3:16-18 {The Message}
"I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God" 

There are so many references talking about the strength of the God- the "incomparably great power" that Christ gives us.  What a relief because I know that I don't have the strength within me, I do not have the strength, the energy, or the capability to be who I am expected to be.  My house will not always be clean or organized, I am not able to cook dinner every night and spend time with my husband and friends and be rested for work.  I will always just end up exhausted.  But the good thing is, God has my back.  He's going to strengthen me with his power.  

2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 {The Message}
"My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become."

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