Sometimes I forget how blessed I am to be surrounded by an enormous amount of highly involved Christian friends and family in my little town. It’s really probably an abnormally high amount compared to most other places, especially outside the Bible Belt, since we’re members of a large congregation whose building is situated right across the street from Freed-Hardeman University, my alma mater. Since we live in a little town, we tend to make our own fun because we don’t have 300 restaurant choices and zillions of entertainment options. And somehow, that’s where the magic happens. 😉
This feeling of belonging…it’s what I grew up knowing. Maybe until after I graduated, as an unmarried, unengaged, and thoroughly unattached young woman. Then, truthfully, for awhile, I wasn’t sure where I belonged. (Um, this topic needs to be a whole separate post!) There wasn’t an official singles group, but several of us gravitated towards each other and soon we were fast friends. (If I want to know the exact date it all started falling into place, I only need to look up the second episode of LOST. From then on, several of us were hooked on LOST together – and we were beyond happy to have found friends in each other. And we added some more friends here and there afterwards, though not all were fans of LOST. ;)) I remember that several acquaintances from the Young Professionals class we attended always invited us to hang out with them, but that always felt a bit awkward, because not only was everyone else married but a lot of them were having kids (we couldn’t fathom – ha!)…so we attended class with them on Sunday mornings and then generally did our own thing the rest of the time. I have some priceless memories from those days! =)
My single friends, Nicole, Bethany, and I sending Kevin off to China to teach English. It wasn’t that particular year, but a later stint in China where Kevin would meet Keli and bring her home to Tennessee. (Way to go, Kevin!)
All the single ladies…(except Jenny, in the striped shirt, might have been married at the time) enjoying a trip to the Orpheum to see the White Christmas musical.
But frankly, I’m kicking myself a bit now, because once Jeremy and I got married (when we were both 30, mind you) I fiiiiinally felt a little more comfortable joining in with class get-togethers. And we’ve made so many close friends in our class in the last few years. One of them is Ashley, from Ruffled Mango fame. 😉
I am grateful, though, for both of those seasons in my life. ALL of my Christian friends have kept me involved with the Lord’s church. They’ve pulled me out of myself and into a beautiful life. They are an encouragement to me and one of the biggest blessings I can ever receive. Thank God above for Christian friends!
And I don’t ever want to forget that…the latest reminder of my wealth in that area came in the form of a Facebook message to several friends and me:
“Hi, friends! I just wanted you to know how encouraged I am that you guys seem to frequently do things together as Christian women and mothers. Another Deacon’s wife and I have been discussing how to get more young mothers involved, as well as ways that we can get to know each other better. I told her about you all and your cookie swap, literary group, etc. Is there any way you guys could give suggestions or ideas on how you do these get togethers and/or activities that you do as a group? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! ~Belinda”
I’ve gotten similar comments before from a few other ladies, so it’s High Time to do something about it! We’re going to run a series of posts on The Ruffled Mango about creating opportunities for Christian fellowship. Because, let’s face it, important Christian friendships often don’t happen magically on their own. I feel strongly about our need for them – and I’m an event planner at heart, so this has become one of my ministries. You might guess that I’m a little bit excited about this series! =)
What all will we be covering? Lots of ideas! And ways YOU can help implement those ideas in your local congregation. Or how to come up with ideas of YOUR OWN. Every congregation or group of ladies doesn’t come with a “one size fits all” tag. (And aren’t we glad??) But here’s a little list of event ideas that we plan to cover – all of them are fun and beneficial for building friendships, and many of them can include a service component, too! We’ll definitely explain how we incorporate the two. =) Be looking for some fun guest posters!
*Pinterest Parties (this started as more of an area-wide group interested in crafting)
*Literary Ladies (our local congregation’s book club – we welcome all interested ladies, though!)
*play group (mommies with younger-than-school-age-kids/or homeschooling families)
*monthly Young Professionals get-togethers (whole families)
*annual Young Professionals retreat (whole families)
*monthly Girls Night Out
*Kindred Hearts program (Keli’s overseeing congregation in Kansas City created this group)
*A Generational Cookie Swap
*The Freed-Hardeman University Associates (not a church group, but a ladies group that raises money for student scholarships for this Christian university – being involved with the Associates has definitely honed my leadership and event planning skills!)
And we might even add some others as we go along! 😉 If the ladies in your area have an activity that would be fantastic to add to this list, contact us! We may need you as a guest poster. =)
Are you excited about this series, too?? Have you already been searching for ways to connect like-minded ladies in your area? I think we can help! =)