What helps you remember? Stories from Seattle

Last night we held our first dinner. We sat around the table, somewhat awkwardly as the conversation turned from the goings on of our days to the question before us. What is God doing in your life? How have you been encouraged by Him? And What is He doing in the life of your city?

I shared of my recent experience running a marathon and how God used that time to reveal truth about who He’s created me to be. People began to speak up and the silence was broken with stories of God being at work and longings to experience Him in a new way.

The conversation shifted to a directed time of writing out our stories. The once silent women, furiously wrote as they captured what God has been up to in their lives as of late.  I watched and was moved by what I was seeing. I had waited for this moment for some time. Taking a trip to learn from others, to hear the stories of God’s faithfulness and I was curious what we were going to learn.

One by one the women finished and handed their stories to me. I was surprised by emotion and teared up as I held a stack of stories written by strangers, now friends.

I shared of how important it is to be people who tell and share our stories.

As men and women of God we share in a great story and we get to pass it on from generation to generation. It is powerful and beautiful. I held their stories in my hand. They were sacred stories. They were powerful stories. Not because they were filled with big movie moments, but because they were real and reflected the life experience of others who walk with Jesus.

I then shared of how our stories are like stones, stones that are a memorial to help us remember. Just as God commanded 12 men to gather stones from the middle of the Jordan river to build an alter to help the Israelites tell the story of God’s faithfulness as they had passed through on dry ground. Our stories are one way we get to tell the story of God’s faithfulness in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

We spoke briefly of the importance of story telling and I invited the women to host dinners of their own, to become a people who continually tell stories of the faithfulness of God.

As you read our reflections and the stories of others, I invite you too, to become a story teller. To be a man or a woman whose very life is stone. A stone used to point people to the goodness of God and His faithfulness in your life.

Here’s a brief glimpse of some of the stories and themes we’ve heard thus far.

One man we spoke with is finding freedom and learning how to trust and stay. He is about to become a dad and is experiencing healing and new hope right as he enters into this sacred job as a father.

A mom shared her story of how God is bringing her children closer to Himself. She struggles to control their relationships with God and has found that as she prays and trusts that each of her children are on a journey towards Jesus.

Another woman shared of how she sees God using the gifting He’s given her and how she is encouraged and surprised how it all works out.

A young woman shared of her pain after a heart break and how God is in the midst of it. How He is directing and leading as her life is taking a different form than once originally imagined.

Another woman spoke of how Jesus is teaching her the art of being available and how she’d love to grow in what that looks like on a daily basis.

Our dinner host shared of her love of working with women and is curious to see how God might be preparing her to enlarge her territory.

God is doing so much. It was so evident in the stories shared. One common theme I’m hearing is a longing for and the experience of finding freedom. As people we carry with us all kinds of beliefs, strongholds and ties to lies about who we are as children of God. These things keep us from the abundant life that we’re promised in Jesus. In each story heard, there was a tie in some way to the theme of finding freedom and longing for freedom.

I’m also seeing how when we live in freedom, we live better stories and we have desires to help other’s do the same. Listen to these words, captured from one of the young women who joined us for dinner:

…. I have been realizing that I need to pain my own future and just let go of what once was. I have set some goals for summer 201. I enrolled in cosmetology school and start July 15th.  I was awarded 22,00.00 to do so, which is a huge blessing. I plan on starting when accepted into the program.  The extra money from the  awarded momeny will help me pay my bills so I can quit my job and focus just on school for a few months.  Eventually I want to use my make-up/hair skills to help young girls and others that have been in bad situations to make them feel beautiful again. I have also been looking for a new church to attend regularly and I have found one which is awesome. I have many more goals for the summer such as starting to work out, but I won’t get into all that. These past few weeks I feel that God is really just showing me what I need to do for me personally.

How great is it that she is realizing that God has a plan! A plan to use her gifts and a plan to bless others in their use.

How is God at work in  your life? Tell your story! Share it here, email me at carijenkins@mac.com or just find a friend, host a dinner party or other gathering! Let’s make a practice of speaking the stories we carry, so that we can encourage one another and remember God is good and His faithfulness endures for a lifetime!

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