It’s Friday morning.
One week ago today, Friday morning found me sitting on a porch in Black Mountain, North Carolina.
Alongside the rest of the gIRL team, I sat working on last minute details, trying to calm the butterflies in my stomach as I thought about the group of women we would welcome that afternoon to our first gIRL Gathering…many of whom we’d never met.
We’d been praying for this group of women, by name, since they registered, and for the weekend as a whole, for months. As the gathering date approached, the enemy was unbeLIEVably active in ways we never saw coming. But the Lord was MORE active, affirming us in incredible ways, and urging us on to a work that was much bigger than we could handle on our own; HIS work that required faith in HIS strength alone.
We knew just a few things for sure, as we sat on that porch:
- There would be 25 women, if everyone came.
- We would all be housed under one roof.
- We would not listen to one keynote speaker, but work through discussion questions in small groups, keeping our focus on the Lord and His Word, alone.
- We would be talking, in depth, about authenticity.
- We would present this weekend in the way He had orchestrated it (and trust me when I tell you that everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – was changed from the way we first imagined it to the way He wanted it)
Beyond that, it was as if we were coming as attendees; we were unsure of how God would move and what it would look like, but we were EXPECTANT.
God did not disappoint.
As I sit in my home a week later, these are the things I’m pondering in my heart:
- All 25 women came.
- With only 25 women under one roof, everyone talked with everyone. There was no one excluded and it felt like family.
- The group, as a whole, and in our small groups, dug deep in the Word together. We shared ideas, and asked questions, and found a safe place to dare the release of our authentic selves.
- In the embrace of authenticity, we watched as God did the miraculous, working through our stories – our messes – to minister to each other.
- There were gIRLs praying for and with one another everywhere you looked.
- There was the sweet sound of praise lifted up through God’s creation.
- There were gIRLs setting themselves apart with their God.
Months ago, as Mary and I were prayerfully imagining a gathering, we had written characteristics on a piece of paper.
Mary said, “What we’ve got here sounds like the Early Church.”
Indeed, it did.
The Lord, by way of saying “you’ve got the right idea,” sent us into a study of Acts 2:42-47.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.
I dare say that we each carried the glow of His glory as we came down from the mountain. The “early church” experience that met us there is something we can pass on in our spheres of influence. Each of us, living authentically and sharing our lives with others, helps build authentic community and strengthen the body of Christ. And what started between a small group of women on a mountain, could, in the hands of God, change the world.
**pictures courtesy of Susan Hood, Leah Adams & Mary Snyder
To find the links to other posts about the gathering,
check this post on the gIRL Blog. We’re planning the next Gathering for Spring of 2011. Will you consider joining us?
Melinda — the gathering was a blessing in so.many.ways. I didn't know what "safe place" meant, but I never in my wildest dreams would've described it as a place with 24 women that I had never met in person before.
I'm praying now that God will pave the way for me in the Spring to be there. 😀
After reading this post, I think the theme should be, "VICTORY IN JESUS"!!! Loved reading how God blessed this retreat and how the devil was defeated!!!
Melinda, we so had an "early church" experience on that mountain and it has forever changed my way of thinking about that word, "church". Love you!
I love this! Your words through Him truly exemplify our weekend!It was all about Him.
You're precious! Loved your sharing here and isn't our GOD good?! Amen!!!
I'm reading for gIRL Gathering part 2
Love you all!
Oh I wish I could have been there. Sounds like God gave you(the planners) the desire of your hearts for this retreat!
Maybe next year!
It was exceedingly abundantly more than we could ever have expected! I'm still formulating my post, but I sure did love yours.
Its sounded like such a blessed time and alot of fun. I hope God will make a way for me to join you guys next year!
love and hugs~Tammy
In my heart-of-hearts I thought for sure I was to be a part of this, the inaugural gathering of gIRLs. Though I wasn't there physically, I certainly feel as if I was there spiritually.
I so look forward to being a part of the next one; but I can assure you, this group of 25, and this particular event will never be equalled. Something was born in your midst. It will grow from there.
Blessings, and a huge hug!
Praises God again as I reread your heart and remember the moments. God is good and He did not fail His gIRLs. What a gift! Thank you for being faithful to the call to a new thing in ministry. May the call continue to grow to include more and more gIRLs.
I hate that I missed this one, but I promise to try and make the next one. I've heard such wonderful things about your leadership & your kindness, Melinda. I expected no less.
You're the real deal, and my heart wells with love and appreciation for all that you are doing for the kingdom.
Keep to it.
I know personally what happens when you follow Christ and reach out to another. I am a forever-thankful woman because of your obedience and I am certain that you will reach deep into other women's hearts and pull His Truth to the top.
Blessings on all you do in His name.
Hugs and love.
I would love to come next year. Perhaps God will provide a way. I am praying.
I am happy your weekend went well and that God showed himself to you and the other ladies. It is awesome to see God work in our lives when we gather.