Creating Community: A Tradition that Gathers and Celebrates Friends

Seventeen moves, 6 times internationally, has found me alone and lonely so many times. Starting all over with a church, being the new mom in the neighborhood, trying to find at least one friend for every single child, getting a good piano teacher–and the list goes on and on.

So, as I prayed over the years for someone–just someone–to invite my family over or to reach out to me in a new place, God put it on my heart, that I was supposed to be the initiator.

A part of owning my life and taking responsibility, I learned, was to figure out what my needs were, so that I could survive one more move, and then to begin to put anchors in place in my life so that some of my needs would be met. I realized early on that I was expending myself in the lives of my children at such a pace that if I didn’t refuel and take time to fill my own soul, there would be nothing for my children to draw from when they looked to me for life.

So, about 6 years ago, I started a small Bible study group in my home for moms. I needed a group, so I started a group. Come to find out, a lot of the other moms needed a group, too.

We would meet once a month in my home and people would share a snack and take turns and then after a while of just talking and catching up, we would have a Bible study together that I had prepared.

Hot Spiced Apple cider, decaf coffee and Christmas tea, with plates and plates of delicious food!

The first Christmas, we decided to have a Christmas tea. Each mom would bring a favorite mug or cup and also a heavy appetizer (pizza, small sandwiches, meatballs, pita and humus, etc.) and also a sweet to share.

Now, six years later, we gathered again–and some have been coming since the very beginning, we gathered again, and had 79 people.

People sit in every room in the house–

Last night, we had lots of sweet babies,

Sarah holding a sweet baby whose mom needed reprieve to eat!

When all of the chairs and couches are gone, friends line up on the stairs or sit on the floor.

With so many moms gathering, it takes a lot of friends helping to make sure everyone is cared for!

One friend is the parker and helps women find parking places up and down the driveways and streets.

Another friend, that I had not seen in a while, stood at the door and passed out name tags and helped welcome all of our new mommies and told everyone where to put their food—boy did we have a feast.

Two friends organized the food, drinks and left me with 3 cans full of Christmas cookies from the leftovers.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is always the study or our Christmas devotional.

Now, these 6 years later, I have such friends, such memories, so much fun and feel like my own cup is filled because of these precious ones who take the time to gather.

“To have a friend,” my mom used to repeat, “one must be a friend.”

And so, I am blessed over and over again. Instead of loneliness, I have sweet moms who gather to celebrate life, eat and talk and talk, and then focus our hearts together on Him who is the source of all of our strength.

This is a great time to start a new tradition, don’t you think, of asking God to gather in your home, other women who are longing to share life together, and gathering friends who will strengthen and pray for each other through years of the seasons of life as a mom.

Each year, I store up sweet memories with friends, and remember just how full my life is to have been blessed with a community of moms who, over the years, have made the time to gather and each of whom has blessed my life and made it so full. I am indeed so very thankful.

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Comments

  1. Leanne says

    Oh, how I needed this! We’re in our 3rd state in two years. 7 months here and oh, so lonely. Bitterness is growing in my heart. I’ve stood there numerous times as people made plans to get together and not invited me/us. One time I left my comfort zone and asked if we could join them at lunch, only to have them ignore us when we got there. Closest I’ve been to tears in a public place in a long time. My biggest ache is for the loneliness of my 10-year-old son. Homeschooling and moving with an only child is rough. I know God has a purpose for everything, and I have encouraged my son numerous times that God will use this to help us be sensitive and welcoming when we meet someone new.

    God has put it on my heart to be the one to host and welcome, and your post is just the exhortation I needed. I have struggled, since we are in a tiny apartment for several more months, and have wallowed in self pity that I have no room to be hospitable. Praying for creative ways to be so. Fortunately, we are in a place where the weather is great year round, so park get togethers are possible, even now. I just miss the comfort of coffee across a dining room table with my girlfriends as our kids ran around the house and yard playing.

    Thank you for your encouragement!

    • Sally says

      So sorry things are hard, dear Leanne! Yet it’s so very common, and your intention to invite others in is exactly what’s needed. I pray the Lord will bless you with friends.

      • Leanne says

        Thank you, Sally! After reading your post yesterday, I posted an invitation for a geocaching group I am starting for homeschoolers in our area. (I have been thinking about this for months, but not acting on it.) We’ll see what God does. :-) Blessed by the words God gave you to write yesterday!

  2. Chris B says

    I really needed this today. As a stay at home mom of five kids from 16 months to 16 years, one of whom is special needs, the demands on me have become so all consuming that I am definitely getting bitter. Personal time is non-existent. I have no friends here, despite being here for ten years. One local friend and another long distance that we talk two to three times a year. So the encouragement is greatly needed, now to get the minuscule house de-cluttered enough to feel comfortable with guests, and then, how to ‘find’ other moms? Every time I reach out I end up in situations like the former poster, Leanne, who was ignored when she finally reached out in desperation. Our church doesn’t have many people with children the ages of mine! I will continue praying for a friend, and work harder at being one!

    • Leanne says

      Oh, Chris! My heart goes out to you! Let’s pray for each other! My heart aches, along with yours. I will pray for God to show you ways that you can be the initiator. As I think about my own tendency to limit myself based on my surroundings, I think about the beautiful women I know who have opened their homes to me and to my family in the past. Their homes weren’t perfect. Some were tiny, some were large. Some were messy, some were spotless. But the heart of these women? Oh so large and gracious? I’ve thought about posting a meeting announcement for newcomers to the area on meetup.com, or through our homeschool loop.

      I’d love to hear what God speaks to you and how He provides. My email is stausshaus@yahoo.com if you’d like to “chat” more. Isn’t God so good to let us know we’re not alone?

    • Sally says

      Do pray for a friend, Chris! And sometimes it’s nice to just invite one or two in, who are probably in need of hospitality also. Don’t feel it has to be a great crowd to be worthwhile!

  3. Elaine says

    Goodmorning!
    You described me in this post. I moved to Pueblo a year ago and have helped my kids make friends. I have made many aquantinces but no true friends. I have looked for bible study groups and haven’t found one. Maybe I should organize my own. I have never thought about it til now and will pray about it.
    Thanks !
    Have a wonderful day!

    • Leanne says

      Elaine,
      Praying for you! Could you post on here if you do start something? It would be such a blessing and encouragement.
      Oh, such a lonely feeling to be around people but no one “knows” you.
      I miss coffee with a friend who already knows my “back story” and loves me, quirks and all. :-) Praying you find that soon!

      Be blessed!
      Leanne

  4. Lillian says

    Such an encouraging message, thank you Sally. I am in a similar position right now, where we may be moving to another state south, and we just moved here in July 2012. If this move goes through, we would have moved 4 times in the last 2 years. Yes, many time of loneliness and starting over with everything, church, friends, activities…it hasn’t been easy. Praying that when this move takes place that God places me and my family in the place where we can make wonderful friends, have awesome fellowship and glorify Him together with other wonderful people. Thanks Sally for your encouragement and your wonderful friendship even across many miles. Thank you

  5. says

    Sally, you are so right!

    I grew up in the country where I knew everyone, and was related to most. I would often visit my neighbors who always loved having me as much as I loved being with them.

    I now live in a big city with no family nearby. I was struggling with lonliness and being overwhelmed at all the people around, who often keep to themselves. God put it on my heart that I have to make my community wherever I am.

    Although we have only been in our church for a little over a year, we have started inviting new(er) families from church over for lunch. We have made some wonderful friends this way. My husband also leads a home Bible study with a mix of neighbors and people from our church.

    Marie-Anne

  6. Michelle Clinton says

    Oh Sally,

    We have started over again. We’ve been *here* now for going on seven months. We are currently living in a very small apartment and haven’t been practicing hospitality much at all. This is a HUGE change for us. I’m aching for real friends for myself and for the boys. Kindred spirits. God is faithful.

    This is our 11th move. My sweet boys 5th move. This one is supposed to be the final one. Who knows what God will do??? The Army had us moving all those previous moves. We are now retired. God called us to yet a new adventure. It’s been in my heart that I should start a bible study in my home. I’m surrounded by ladies who don’t know the Lord. I think I’m a little intimidated.

    Much love,
    Michelle

    • Leanne says

      Michelle,
      Us too! Us too! 7 months here. Too many moves. In an apartment, feeling boxed in and unable to practice hospitality. I would love to pray for you! Could I be so bold as to ask you to pray for me? So “encouraging”? “comforting”? to know I am not the only one. I would love to hear what God does! I’m thinking about posting something on meetup.com or our homeschool loop, or asking our apartment manager if I could use the conference room one night a week/month for study/welcome for newcomers. (We haven’t found a new church yet – the church “culture” here is so vastly different from what we’ve been involved in in the past.)

      I’ve said no to God so many times when He’s prompted me to do something similar. I am ready to see what He does when I say yes! You are beautiful and wonderful and made for such a time as this. Maybe you’ll be such an amazing blessing to someone who’s also afraid?
      Blessings to you and your family!
      Leanne

      • Michelle Clinton says

        Dear Leanne,

        Hello Sister! I would love for you to pray for me and I would be glad to pray for you too! We are also experiencing the difference in church “culture” here. We live in a small town.

        You made me smile when you said….”I’ve said no to God so many times when He’s prompted me to do something similar. I am ready to see what He does when I say yes!”

        You are already an encouragement!

        Much love,
        Michelle

  7. says

    The older I get, the more introverted I find myself becoming. I could never host such an affair but I could do more to build relationships with a few key women in my life.

  8. says

    I needed this today.. thank you. Such an answer to my prayers (and I have been praying mightily for some guidance, maybe a book for grown-ups on how to make friends, etc). I’ve moved several times in the past few years too and when we moved to my little town, it didn’t bother me that I hardly knew anyone as my husband and I were always working.. until we had kids and I became a homemaker. And now, all of a sudden, I realized how lonesome I am. It truly is a tragic thing and no matter how busy you are- there is always a piercing feeling you are missing something.. and Ms. Sally, you’ve given me a small glimmer of light at the end of that dark tunnel. And to the commentators, thank you so much for reassuring me there are other women out there- feeling the same things I am- and making me feel like I’m not a hobbit in a cave with 3 kids.. :) God Bless You!

  9. Tricia says

    Thank you for sharing this Sally! As a homeschooling mom of 4 kids, it is hard to connect sometimes. I have wanted to do this for YEARS but fear has stopped me. After reading your post today, I’m making my invite list. I’m so nervous and I don’t feel equipped to do this, but I need community and I need friends!

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