Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Thoughts on Building Community (and not letting the Enemy win)

+JMJ+

Christos Anesti! Happy Easter season, my friends! 

It's been a good long while and I could go on and on with a list of reasons for my unintended extended blogging hiatus, but for now I will just say...I feel like it's time to attempt a little blog resurrection, if you will. For months I have felt a tugging at my heart to utilize this humble space in which I can "create" once again. However, the timing never seemed quite right; I felt confident that I should pick up blogging again only when it felt natural and NOT like adding an overwhelming amount of things onto my plate, so any time it seemed remotely daunting I stayed away, but continued to occasionally think and pray about it. It feels like a bold claim and we'll see whether or not I truly get back into the swing of things here, but...I think it's time. 

To ease myself back in, here are some mid-week musings from my reflections earlier today on the journey of our years spent frequently moving, starting up a Catholic moms group back when we lived in Pennsylvania, and having recently started a new local group where we have put down roots in North Carolina.
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Building community takes effort and a certain strength of spirit which I may never have realized nor cultivated had we not been "newcomers" in 5 different states in just over 4 years. 

Sometimes your efforts are more, yet less rewarded or reciprocated. Other times your efforts are less, yet are easily rewarded and better received. No matter what, I just want to encourage others to put themselves out there. If you need friends, you CAN do things to help make it happen!!!




These cupcakes symbolize what some may refer to as a "failed play date," because based on RSVPs there should have been anywhere from 5-14 people and only 1 briefly came. It was one mom's birthday so I bought cupcakes before she RSVPed as unable to come...and then one by one all the other moms dropped like flies by forgetting or dealing with their own family's needs that came up. Some people might view this as a defeat...but I'm here to tell you that is exactly what the Enemy would want us to think! That we should throw in the towel and stop putting forth effort. Because genuine, Christ-centered friendships make the devil's skin crawl.

So, instead of feeling down I choose to be grateful for what a friend and I are slowly building together as we plan, execute, and grow our moms group. The nature of motherhood is such that accidents happen, kids get sick, moms forget appointments or social commitments, and sometimes a toddler is simply having (or creating) too hard of a day for their mother to whisk them out the door for something that is entirely optional. As a fellow mother who is also in the trenches of the baby and toddler years, I cannot and should not ever take these things personally. It's important not to become discouraged, because we are laying a solid foundation which takes time and effort - and we cannot build community or develop friendships if we cease to put forth the effort.

I choose to focus on the fact that five months ago our Catholic moms group didn't exist. Today it has 155+ members and our play dates typically draw 8-12 moms each week. It serves as a resource as moms navigate local churches, doctors, schools, living liturgically, raising our kids in the faith, and - of course - making Catholic mom friends that will hang out and pray for one another. It has already brought countless meals to mamas with newborns and raised funds for a single mom that experienced unforeseen medical bills.

More than that, our Catholic moms group has brought at least 40 women into my life that I would not have otherwise connected with so soon (can you believe we have been living here 6 months already?!), some of whom I could see becoming really, really good friends with, and all of whom I can see supporting one another as sisters in Christ for years to come.

And now I have 12 cupcakes to enjoy (I may or may not have already eaten two...). 

It's all a matter of perspective! Amen? So if you find yourself in want of real, life-giving friendships please know that A) you are NOT alone (nearly every mother who has ever attended our play dates has told me they are in search of the exact same thing) and B) you CAN find them.

I have had more than one person request that I write something for the blog about how to start a Catholic moms group, so I hope to someday record my thoughts and/or tips on the matter, but in the meantime I suggest two things for any of you seeking Catholic friends (or any friends - just substitute the Catholic part for what you want!):

  1. Put yourself in situations that will best help you meet the kinds of friends you're searching for. Go to Mass, volunteer at your church, attend daily Mass or a holy hour, seek out young adult and/or moms groups in your parish or diocese. You can even seek out local friends through online avenues like finding (or starting) a Blessed Is She group. If there's nothing for you to attend, consider planning something!
  2. Pray. Pray that the Lord will bring the friends into your life that He wants you to know; the friends that can help you grow as a person and spiritually and vice versa. You have no idea how many months (years) my husband and I have prayed that every single night and, thankfully, we have been blessed to see the fruits of those prayers in different places we have lived. It has not always happened in the timing we hope for, but when it does happen we recognize and cherish those relationships. Trust Him to guide you to the right people in His perfect timing.

No matter what, please remember that the Lord is with you and will reward your efforts. Do not give up on building that community or give in because of one "failed play date."


"Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To retire late,
To eat the bread of painful labors;
For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep."
Psalm 127:1-2

2 comments:

  1. Can I just say, I'm getting SO excited to meet you in person and that you're doing so much of the legwork for me in the friends department by creating an awesome mom's group?!! You GO girl! Also, whoohoo, t-20 days! xox, Giedrė

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    1. Yayyyyyyy, so soon!! Can't wait to have you in the moms group and be friends IRL! <3

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