an unexpected, beautiful tribe

Today’s post was written by my dear friend, Ellen. Ellen blogs at Sweetwater and her words and heart flow so beautifully and effortlessly together in her writing. When Ellen speaks (yes, she’s now a speaker, too!) and writes and prays with you, I see the Lord in her. I hear the Lord in her words. He has done a beautiful work in Ellen’s heart and she shares it. I had the incredible privilege of coming together every Tuesday night this summer with a group of women at Ellen’s house to study the Word. Ellen tells that story beautifully in today’s post.

(And if you were considering going to Influence, but you’re on the fence about it, please go. Ellen will be there as a community leader with many other fabulous community leaders who will be there to encourage you. And hug you!)


On a Tuesday night in early June I welcomed twelve women into my home to read, study the Word and fellowship. It was a beautiful night. We laughed and cried and my heart felt like it might explode right there. It was a far cry from the defeat I’d been feeling just a few months earlier as I sat in the pew on a Sunday morning.

I’m the introverted type. My list of friends is short but deep and, even though I’m 30something now, I still struggle with insecurity about that. I have the most lovely and wonderful friends. Sometimes I forget to remember that. I have a little hamster wheel in my brain just for friendship insecurities: I don’t have enough; I’m not good at them; I try too hard; I don’t have a group.

Instead of having a group that I do absolutely everything with, I have friendships scattered throughout my little life. It’s a bit of story woven through, how I have remnants of college and being newly married and a new mama and a school mama and serving and writing all wrapped up in my friendships. And I forget to remember how great that is.

So. On a Sunday morning in a wooden pew with my eyes pinched tight so tears wouldn’t overflow, I decided to lean into how friendship looks for me right now. It wasn’t my idea. It was His.

I sent emails, facebook messages and texts. I wanted to know? Would all of these women like to meet for just two months at my house? We would study something together and we would get down to the rough and raw of real fellowship (at least, I hoped).

I was afraid. Afraid that everyone would say no. Afraid that I would pick a dumb book. Afraid that it would be too awkward.

And then that first night in June happened and I sat there in my den as fat tears of laughter and joy rolled down my cheeks. And then another night when I heard a “Me, too” from woman to woman. And then another night as I listened to how God was taking deep hurt and turning it into hope.

Over and over again, I’ve been so thankful for this group of women. If I have a tribe, surely they are it. They may be gathered from all different corners but they are God’s faithfulness to me.

I had been wading through discontent and insecurity. With a gentle nudge, God asked me to just do something about it. It hasn’t changed much about my life, this group. But it’s changed the way I see it. That’s what He’s in the business of doing: revealing beauty where we see none. I’m so thankful for it.

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  1. says

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I can relate in so many ways. How sweet it is to trust Him, knowing He knows what’s best for us and enjoying the precious blessings of friendships He has placed in our life.

  2. says

    I love so much about this, Ellen. I love that you stepped out on faith. I love that you were so deeply rewarded for it. I love that you’re so deeply loyal and maintain your true friendships for a lifetime. I love that these friends from all different seasons of your life were able to find common ground: not only in you, but also in Jesus.

    Also, I love Erins and collect them, it seems.

    As I was reading your post, Ellen, I was reminded of some of my recent insecurities: primarily that I can’t hang with the “big bloggers,” that I don’t feel equipped to preach on my blog…or tell people what to do with their lives…or debate the big issues. But God has gently reminded me that, in my case, it’s not about being big: it’s about being small…and present. It’s not about leading; it’s about serving. It’s about living out my spiritual gift (mercy). It’s about doing what I am equipped to do for the Kingdom: pray for and love on others.

    Friday, I stepped out on faith and started a virtual (but old-fashioned) prayer meeting on my blog. We’re sharing prayer requests there and praying for one another there, and there will be a new post every Friday. You’re both invited…and all your friends, too. I’m aiming for authentic (and maybe a little Appalachian).

    Thank you both for this post.

  3. says

    Ellen, this is a beautiful post about friendship and saying “yes” even though we fear we’ll get a “no.”

    And this should not be surprising by now but I’m the same about friends–I have them scattered in all sorts of places instead of contained in one large happy group. It’s okay. Actually as I look back across my life, from childhood and through college and beyond, it’s always been this way. Maybe this is good that we can move in and out of different pockets of people and find common ground with them all?

    Most importantly, I’m so glad to be your friend. : )

  4. says

    What an encouragement! My husband just started pasturing a small church at the first of this year. We are a small body, maybe 20 members, and this fall is the first women’s bible study since we have moved here. Thankfully, the Lord stirred the heart of a woman to lead and this September we are beginning. I have worried if we will have enough women, if it will get deep enough, if lives will be changed through this and your post today was a reminder that it is not our doing but the Lords. He transforms hearts, lives, mends the broken, and His spirit leads. This has opened my eyes to a whole new way to be praying! I’m so glad this has gone well for yall!


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