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Jennifer Camp
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Jennifer Camp, co-founder of  Gather Ministries, and author of  Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, You Are My Girls , and also with her husband about the redemptive mess of marriage at their blog,  Holy Entanglement.You can connect with Jennifer on both  Facebook  and  Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.

He's not done with us yet

Friday, October 11, 2013 #friendship #community #encouragement

I'll cry out now. I knew it was coming. But yet, when your heart is in the middle of a wrestling match with God, you can find yourself a bit out of breath. Sometimes, it takes a considerable amount of energy to listen to Him, to let His truth settle in, to let my Father do His work. . . without me running away.

And I want, so badly, to run away.

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I come in late, the living room already full of women, some I've known for years and others I am just getting to know more deeply. We are reading a book together, Becoming Myself, by Stasi Eldredge, and the invitation comes gently, beautifully . . . "How would you describe the soundtrack from your childhood?  . . .What were you like as a young girl? . . .How are your current struggles rooted in your past?"

I had so much trouble sharing. One dear friend next to me encourages me to speak without her uttering a word, her head tilting slightly in my direction. My other precious friend across from me beckons me deeper, coaxing me, letting me know she sees me, even though I am trying, desperately, to hide. "I want to hear from you. . ." with a sweet smile from ear to ear.

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I am loved, here, safe to be me and share and, if I feel like it, even just sit and not say a word. But it is so unlike me, the real me, the bold and beautiful and fearless woman He's made, to sit passive, withdrawn. And my friends know this. I recognize the little girl who shows up within me, the one afraid to use her voice, the one reticent to be honest and open in community. And it surprises and saddens me that she is still here.

But it doesn't disappoint God.

I call this influence on my identity my little-girl heart, the fragile, not yet mature part of me that is still being formed, molded and crafted by God. It is the heart my Father pursues, desires to heal and make whole. I know this little-girl heart well. It is the place in me that is yet to feel secure in who I am, but it is also the part of me that is most desperate for God. A little girl knowing how much she needs her Father.

I love this reminder, in Ezekiel, of how God pursues us and makes us whole:

And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God (11: 19-20).

I chose to be here this morning, with these women, because I craved seeing God work, like He does. When a group of women come together, choosing to be real and vulnerable and raw--to share stories and seek healing--God is absolutely going to be right there in the middle of it. He is leading, He is showing the way. Later that day I send my friend a text,

"I am really sorry about not sharing this morning, I had trouble entering in. I am so grateful for you and your hungry heart and how you nurture because you crave it too and we are all blessed by it. You love so beautifully. You exemplify His freedom and abandonment and openness to what is true and filled with His light. It has been a long time for me, showing up to a group with no formal responsibilities. I hide, apparently, a lot. Not sure how to do better. Thank you for reaching out and pursuing me and loving me. I am so grateful."

And her words back to me are His truth, His encouragement, His reminder for what we are each made:

"You are a blessing. Your presence carries with it light and grace from heaven that flows out into the atmosphere whether you are aware of it or not. He shines even when you shrink. . .there is no dodging his glory in you. And you are doing what you were MADE to do--loving him, opening up your heart, and sharing him with your voice and words."

I take a deep breath, my weight lifted. What she says is true.

And her next words are the clincher. She shares how she wrestles with her role in the group, too--wondering if she was fully herself, if she pursued and loved well the women who shared their hearts. {And she did. She definitely did.} But I love how she gives it back to God, refusing to carry the burden of having everything figured out. She tells me, "I am trusting Him in it all, knowing that it's not all up to me."

And we agree on the power of showing up, allowing God to carry our little-girl hearts, maturing them fully into wholeness, the realization of our fully made self He promises.

We are made, girls. Each part of us. Being fully formed.

Don't be frustrated. He's not done with us yet.

madeday8series

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