It’s amazing how food and a little crafting can bring women together; even complete strangers.

This weekend, I let my guard down, and sat on the floor exchanging stories while swapping washi tape, buttons, and glue dots with a group of women I didn’t know — all in the name of real-life community.

You know, the kind that makes you admit “I’m not perfect” while trying desperately to create the most perfect piece of craft art anyone’s ever laid eyes on.

I’ve been craving that kind of community lately.

I’d already found beginnings of it with other moms I’ve called friends for years.

But who knew I’d ever find it with women whose names I’d only ever seen on my computer screen?

I didn’t — until I found time for an online conference organized by the women behind one of my favorite blogs, (in)courage.

inrl

The theme called for women to recognize the importance of sharing their stories, and it was designed to encourage and foster that community I craved with meetups in cities all over the world.

Needless to say, I was eager to meet other women who had a passion for writing, encouraging others, and watching God make beauty out of our broken places.

Ironically, it took an experience like this for God to create another moment of beauty out of a broken place in my spirit: a place that often feels the need to be perfect, and the need for approval.

I wanted to give the best first impression possible by looking like I had it all together, being on time, and walking in with a homemade dessert that everyone would rave over.

But that didn’t happen –because that never happens.

Instead, I got in my car ten minutes after I planned to, with a slightly wrinkled shirt and half of my hair thrown back because I hadn’t found the time to restyle it. Then I left a message with the host of my meetup saying I wasn’t able to bring any food after all.

There was nothing I could do but show up empty-handed, and be willing to make myself vulnerable.

So I did.

Soon, I found myself in a circle of women breaking the ice, and breaking bread, brunch style.

No judgements.

No snide remarks.

Just open arms, and assurance that me and my blaring imperfections were welcomed.

We found community as we talked about life, and watched virtual storytellers share their hearts.

Then our gracious host took a moment to share a heart that loved journaling, and gave us each our own journals.

journal blank
journal decorated 1
journal decorated 2

As I sat changing and obsessing over decorating my little notebook, I was reminded of what it feels like to be in community with new friends.

Feeling like you want to get past the “get to know me” chatter you tend to find awkward to get to the real “get to know my heart” conversations.

Feeling like you can trust again after spending years comparing yourself to other women or being hurt by them, and questioning your self-worth.

Feeling like you don’t have to have it all together, and be perfect.

Feeling like you’re not alone.

It’s funny how you tend to forget those feelings of community until you’re sitting on the floor crafting, right there in the midst of it.

I guess sometimes God needs you to get over yourself, get real, and just show up so He can show you something beautiful.

WillingQuote-Baker

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0 comments

  1. First… you have got to teach me how to get this Facebook commenting app working on WordPress. It’s a task that is killing me 😉

    Second, I LOVED getting to know you this weekend. I can’t do the zoo for a few more weeks (too busy days and lots of clients coming up.!), but I am hosting a Noonday Party right near Danielle’s house at a little coffee shop. I would love to have you come hang with me. And maybe that same week I can do the zoo because that’s when life slows down.

    Third, heart chats. Yes… let’s go there. Anytime you need. And especially on the days you’re crying. My best friend for a season was made during a desperate phone call. And Danielle is my current bestie… and she was made by randomly inviting 10 women over to my house for a book study just like (IR) Life. I’m so so glad I invited her!

    Fourth… Thank you for being willing and being vulnerable. Lord willing, I’ll see you at Allume. And if not, I’ll be sitting you and Danielle down at a table and quizzing you on every second! 🙂

    1. I honestly have no idea how the Facebook commenting app works. I have WordPress.com so it’s automatic. Maybe we can figure it out together.

      And thank you being willing to get to know me. I really enjoyed meeting you. I love how God will use an experience to bring good people into your life, even if just for a season. I’d love to hangout once life slows down for you. Maybe you and Danielle together. Will babies be allowed at the Noonday Party?

    1. You can definitely photograph my baby! I feel honored that you even want to. Your work is amazing! Right now, my baby girl can sit on her own when I put her in that position. She doesn’t have the muscle strength to get there on her own yet.

  2. Claresa,
    I’m so glad that you chose to come to in(RL)! I truly enjoyed having you in my home and I hope that we all can get together again this summer. I’m looking forward to getting to know you better!

    love,
    Danielle

    1. Thank you so much for hosting! I was too scared to even let myself consider doing something like that! It was so nice to meet you, and I’m looking forward to getting together again.

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