This past Sunday you may have been a part of the 2018 Mason UMC Annual Church Conference where church elections, plans, and updates were held. These events remind us of our mission as a church, the excitement of what the future holds and witness to God’s plans for us as they unfold. What a beautiful time to come together to not only celebrate all the blessings, but the trials and uncertainty as well. It is within the changes, where we bond as one body of Christ and rise above in the days ahead in unity.
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The group of women that I gather around a table with every Friday morning are walking through the “Looking For Lovely” Bible Study by Annie Downs. We have read a variety of lighter books in the past; some humorous and lighthearted. This one dug deep to our cores, encouraging us to face the hard questions and bringing to light the not-so-pretty aspects of our lives. It was His timing, so we did not question when the heavy hitting subject matter rose to the surface. We show up week after week, half awake, coffee in-hand and at times in tears from the chaotic running that simply comes from being a mom. Somehow, even after either being courageous and allowing words to stumble out that you never thought you would admit to, or holding back and staying still with listening ears, this community is what breaks us through and give us bravery to begin again.
Annie describes in her book the four stages on the path to finding lovely taken from Romans 5:3-5.
SUFFERING ---> PERSEVERANCE ---> CHARACTER ---> HOPE
No one ever promised that your days will be filled with ease. But, community can help spot the lovely in the midst of the hardships. Each lead into one another: suffering, perseverance, character, hope. All of it, not just the accomplishments, but the hard subjects, the every-day-life lists, the breaking of bread together…..these are what hold us together. As Annie Downs states: “We are looking for lovely because we are looking for God. We want to see where He is moving, what He has created, and how He is faithful. There’s a correlation between beauty and perseverance, between looking for lovely and not giving up.” Whether it is at a conference or around a farm table in the country, your community (your people, your tribe) can help you persevere through the hard days. Do not go it alone.
As the cool, crisp weather arrives and blue-black nights peak sooner, vacancies may awaken and grow. Rise with those moments as they breathe. Scoop out the seeds and pattern your days. You just might find yourself pedaling along a comforting orbit beside a new, but familiar soul. Let go. Take their hand. The space between solidifies and a soothing balance begins. Every day is another chance offered up to grow closer in His love and in your community. Annie mentions, “We have to be collectors. We have to look around our lives and store up the lovely moments, the profound, the simple – the ones that help us to hold on and persevere.” I don’t know about you, but when I think back to many of the lovely moments I have experienced, they happened with others and not alone.
Check on your neighbor, engage with your community in a new way and reach out with your life. Lovely can be found in the midst and even the most quietest of days can be full of sound!
All my best....Kami