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As she’s about to tell you, Natalie and I met really early on in college. And it’s incredible to look back and see how God has worked in us and through us and ON us these last 15 years of our friendship. But enough from me. I really want you to hear a piece of her story…
I’m not sure if I’m quite comfortable enough calling myself a writer, but I am a contributor for several blogs, have my own personal blog, and have dabbled in some other things from time to time. Writing comes pretty easy and naturally for me, but when I sat down to do a guest blog that Sabrina invited me to do, I felt very nervous. The reason being is that she is one of my favorite people so I want any communicating that I do from her space to be worthy.
Our friendship spans many years and many exciting highs and scary lows of life. I usually refer to her as the first friend I made in college because we hit it off immediately and had decided within a month or two of knowing each other that we wanted to be roommates the next year. When she was my roommate and friend, she had a massive Nikon camera that everyone was scared to touch. None of us had digital cameras then (we’re old, people) and most people weren’t comfortable with the gigantic fancy thing she carried around. She was the token picture taker on our annual beach trips and there are many films that are so corny and humiliating that you would probably have to pry them from her fingers before she would share them. Sabrina and I have shared a lot – tears, frustrations, joys, concerns. But we’ve also shared dreams. And she shared her dream to be a “real life” photographer with me very early on. I remember cheering her on when she told me over lunch one day that she had signed up for a photography class. Over the course of 15 years I have watched her go from the girl with the giant camera to a talented and established photographer of new beginnings. I have really enjoyed being a cheerleader for her as I watched her think dreams, speak her dreams, and then relentlessly pursue those dreams. I know it hasn’t been easy and there have been dips in the road. She has more dreams ahead that are yet to be fulfilled, but her willingness to push ahead and keep working at it has been both encouraging and inspiring.
Being alongside her through that journey has made her one of the few people that I have been brave enough to share some of my own dreams with. I’m not a dreamer by nature, but I’m married to one. He has a zeal and work ethic that I don’t have, and when I made the decision to stay at home with our first born 8 years ago, a part of me felt like I gave up on having any professional dreams. I love being a mom, and I love being a cheerleader for my husband, but along the way I realized that it was okay that I had some passions beyond those that I wanted to share with the world. So I spoke some writing goals to Sabrina and asked her to hold me accountable. And in the past year, my consistency in writing and communicating my real life experiences has led to a host of opportunities and given me courage to think a little bigger.
On the first day that I went to visit baby Catherine Marie at their home, I shared with Sabrina that I had applied to be on a book launch team for one of my favorite author/blogger/speakers. It was the first thing I had pursued like this and I was anxiously waiting to find out if I was chosen. A couple of days later I got the kindest rejection email ever, and the next week I discovered through social media that this author had created a private space for the people who had not been accepted to be on her launch team. She wanted to still give them something, so we got a few chapters of the book and were invited to join a closed Facebook group where we could have discussions about the book and life in general. The group grew and several smaller groups formed out of it and the next thing I knew, I was kind of accidentally a part of this small group of women who were a lot like me. In a few months I watched and participated in some of the most authentic, vulnerable, and raw conversations that I have ever been a part of. I watched Christian women decide to put aside the barriers and the obstacles and be honest about their brokenness. And then I saw other women respond to them with a grace that is not easily found. We were free to be ourselves, free to be real… but not free to stay there. It was all kind of accidental, but it was powerful, and little pockets of influence started happening in our real lives as we started being profoundly impacted by the things that were happening in this cyber space.
And in a weird way that could only be orchestrated by God, this group of 100 women decided to start dreaming. What if this was more than vulnerable chatter in a book club of sorts? What if we let God use us and work in and through us and joined forces so that we could expand our influence? What if a ministry was launched so that there could be places of freedom and vulnerability for women all over our nation? Those dreams, combined with some capable and amazing women that I feel blessed to know, are how Dauntless Grace Ministries (www.dauntlessgrace.org) was formed. A place where women are free to be real without judgment, a place where we talk about issues that have been taboo or shushed for too long, and a place where we graciously and lovingly point each other to Christ. I have been a very small part of this very big dream that has had an initial response that has left us all in shock. And I was completely humbled and honored to be the first contributing writer for the blog that launched just a week ago. This thing is in embryonic stages. It is not perfectly packaged and there is a lot to be developed, but I am dreaming – along with a lot of other people – for this small spark to spread. I am dreaming of writing more, of using my stories and my real-life experiences in a way that makes other people believe that it’s okay to be real. I am dreaming of lives being changed and being able to be connected to this really cool God story.
The last time I was at Sabrina’s house I was timidly sharing a dream to be part of a book launch team. I was told no, but a few months later I was back at her house having head shots made because I needed something more official to present as part of my bio. Sometimes God works slowly and sometimes He works at lighting speed. I am just glad to be part of His work.
It’s because of my real life friendships with Sabrina and other girls that I have such a great passion for encouraging women to be real. I know people that do real well. Sabrina and I do real well and we have others friends that are part of that with us. I know the freedom that comes from vulnerability, and I am excited to be a small part of introducing others to that as well. I hope you’ll check us out on the blog, like “Dauntless Grace Ministries” on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram, @dauntlessgrace1.