Community Group

It’s Wednesday night and this is the first “free” Wednesday night we’ve really had since last September when Community Groups started back at our church. This was Brandon and mine’s first time being in a community group, or a small group of any kind for that matter, and it was just simply amazing.

This past week I’ve been reflecting on how much our group has meant to us, and I would like to share some of those thoughts with you.

We started going to Dublin Bible Church in early April 2016, so just over a year ago now. We knew that first Sunday we went that we were “home”. Not long after we started going we heard them mention community groups, but they end in May and we never got a chance to go. However, the women’s Bible study started that June and I decided to join in. I’m so glad I did because I loved it and it helped me meet some of the other women in the church. But as the fall started approaching, talk of community groups began again and I brought it up to Brandon. We talked and both agreed that we wanted to join a group, but neither of us really knew what to expect since we had never been in a small group before.

In August we found out our first group meeting would be mid-September (we would then meet every Wednesday night at our leaders’ home) and we found out who would be in our group. We sort of knew everyone in the group at that time, but when the time came for our first time to get together, we were both nervous. I can’t speak for him, but all summer long I had heard about how great community groups were, and how much everyone just loved their group, so I had pretty high expectations. I didn’t expect us to all instantly connect, but I did hope that we would all grow close, and that’s exactly what happened.

We didn’t talk a whole lot the first couple of weeks, but it was not long at all before we started opening up and connecting with the other couples in our group. Wednesday nights very soon became my favorite night of the week. Each week Brandon and I found out we had more and more in common with everyone there, and each week it seemed like God was teaching us the same lessons, and speaking into our lives in very similar ways.

The holidays came and went, and 2017 began with adding another couple to our group, and it even more completed us. This made 10 of us total, and each week we continues to grow, both in each other and in God. We began to talk more during the week, and they became “my people”. They were my people to laugh with, to lean on, to confess to, to discuss with, and to just simply do life with. Wednesday nights became treasured memories of comfort and security. Our group was a place where each of us could be completely honest and vulnerable with each other, knowing no one would look down on us or judge us, and we could be confident that what happened in our group would stay in the group. That honestly I believe brought us even closer together and molded us into a little family.

This family changed our lives. Maybe that sounds dramatic to some, or over the top, but it is the truth. It has had such a huge impact in our relationships with God, in our marriage, in parenting, and really every area of our lives. Brandon and I have both grown so much this past year, and I know that so much of it is because of being a part of this group. Community is something both of our souls were so desperately looking for, and this past year, we sure found it. It has become so important, so special to us, and it’s all because of you, living out life in obedience to Christ, “doing life in circles, not rows”. A.J., Ashley, Casey, Clint, Buck, Jasmine, Kenrick, and Julia: from the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU! Thank you for loving us and allowing us to do life with you! We love you guys and look forward to the future with you!!

Growing Up Is Fun Too

5 days out of the week I am surrounded by millennials. I’ve said before how fun I think this group is (I may be partially biased because I am a millennial), but the more I’m around millennials the more I just love them. Yes, this group has their problems. We all know they can lack promptness, don’t always view the world realistically, and can be obsessed with technology. However, I believe EVERY generation has its own problems, so it’s best not to discriminate against millennials and just write them off because like it or not, THEY are the future. They are full of big dreams with big hearts, believe in savoring the moment, and have courage that most of the world dreams of.

3 of my student workers are graduating this weekend, just a few days away. I haven’t know them for very long, but each of them are amazing and unique and I know they will do amazing things. Graduating is bittersweet, and I’ve heard them comment more than once lately that they’re “not ready to grow up”. While I agree that growing up can be scary and hard, it’s also super rewarding and can be an awesome experience. So girls, this blog is for you!

You learn A LOT about yourself growing up. I know, you’ve all been in college for the past few years, and 13-15 years of school before that before then and you’re probably thinking your tired of learning and just need a break. Don’t worry, learning about yourself is fun and it’s a kind of learning that never really stops. Take time to learn the things that bring you comfort, the things that help you rest, and the things that energize you. Learn how you relate to others so that you can communicate more effectively with them, and learn about your own life’s mission and how YOU were specifically made to change the world.

Experiences make for good teachersComing from being a perfectionist, I absolutely hate failure, but I’ve learned that sometimes failing has been the best thing for me. I’ve needed the failure experiences to show me how to get back up again and soar. Failure helps us grow and show us what we need in order to succeed. But cherish those great experiences too. Take note of the ones that make your heart spark joy and your face light up – that’s how you know you’re doing what you’re passionate about.

Do what you have to do. There’s nothing wrong with doing what you have to do to make it in the world, like starting out in a low paying job doing what you don’t necessarily like to do, but find purpose in the mundane and know how it will help you meet your goals along the way. Sometimes you have to do the hard stuff to get to do what you really love. Other times you take a job not knowing if you’ll like it or not, and that ends up being something you love.

Keep your mind and heart open. Have a plan, have goals, but be open to new things. Try a new food, travel to a new place, talk to someone different from your usual crowd. Listen to music you don’t usually listen to, read a book from a different opinion than your own, and go to an art gallery. The world is full of so many amazing, beautiful cultures and people that most people won’t even recognize because they don’t step out of their comfort zone into something different. Chances are you will find something that you love, something that you connect deeply to that you would have never known otherwise if you hadn’t taken that stuff.

Finally, don’t rush it. Maybe you think the past four years took forever to go by, or maybe you feel like they flew by. Either way, I promise time seems to “speed up” after you graduate. There will be times where you feel empty, lonely, and like you don’t know what you’re doing in life and you think “I wish this stage would hurry up and get over with already.” I know the thoughts will come, but when it does, tell it to “STOP IT” because you really don’t want to fly through this part. This is normal and these are the times you need to cherish the most because you will learn the most during this time. Cherish every memory made, even the mundane, and stay focused. Stay true to your beliefs – whatever yours may be. There is beauty in every moment and I hope you won’t take this time for granted because once it’s gone you can never get it back.

I’m not going to include your names, but you 3 know who you are. Know it was an honor working with you and getting to know each of you. As my “first” students, you will always hold a very special place in my heart, and I wish you the very best in life. Live your life, dream big, and work hard. You’re gonna do great! – TS