Encouraged by (in)courage

blogIMG_3092All winter long, the bird feeder, loaded with seeds and good things for hungry birds to feast upon, held fast to the tree branch. It forcefully swung back and forth in the brutally sharp winter wind, but hung on and remained secure even under the weight of a winter blanket of snow.

And all winter long, my soul, buoyed by prayer and God’s Word for nourishment, also grasped tightly to the hope the Lord provided, hope as sturdy as that tree, hope that might be fulfilled as a spring promise.

And the promise finally arrived. Ushered in on spring’s promise, hope emerged just as my landscape burst forth in verdant greens and brightly colored blooms replacing my winter world of bleak sameness.

Yes, hope arrived just as surely as spring. All winter, I’ve been pondering what the Lord would have me do. My time at my part-time position (which was also my ministry) ended in the fall and with it,  the sense of purpose it provided also seemed to conclude.  I’ve searched job sites galore, answered ads, sent out resumes, and yet nothing transpired with the exception of occasional substitute teaching at a nearby Christian school (for which I’ve been so grateful and truly do love).

Yet still, my heart and soul remained restless. It almost ached to become a part of some kind of ministry.  I felt called to reach out to other women to encourage them, share stories and laughs, and yes, even share tears but how to go about it remained elusive to me.

And then one early spring day, I sauntered through my back yard, soaking up the sunshine, checking to see if plants and trees were emerging from their dormant season. And I spied it, lying under the bird feeder, on the ground. A white feather. Just one.

I started to pick it up, but another thought crossed my mind. So I hurried into the house to grab my camera before the feather blew away. I wanted to capture that delicate feather for no reason other than it appealed to me. Yes, me. The empty nest mother.

blogIMG_2762 (2)Shortly after that, an amazing opportunity arrived in my email inbox. An opportunity that excited me just as surely as spying the spring daffodils boldly pushing their way up through the ground did. It was an opportunity for the heart. My heart. And the hearts of other women out there just like me. A chance to reach out in friendship to kindle relationships.  To share stories from the heart. And dreams. And laughter. And joy and perhaps even sorrow. A venue in which to share lives and prayers, support and encouragement. Just what my heart had been longing for.

I am ecstatic to announce that I’ve been chosen along with two other incredibly talented and lovely women of faith to co-lead an online community group of empty nester women through (in)courage. If you’re unfamiliar with (in)courage, click here  to learn more. 

So what are (in)courage community groups? Imagine it as a circle of new-found friends pouring themselves a steaming cup of coffee or hot tea and pouring their hearts out as well. The gathering place? An online space just for us, a place to gather for companionship and encouragement, to enhance relationships with each other as believers in Christ and with our Savior.

Here’s the official definition from (in)courage: “(in)courager community groups are a Christ-centered safe place that meet for 6-8 week sessions throughout the year in small groups of 30 on private Facebook groups. It’s a place for new friendship to grow, and in some cases, become real life friends. The groups are led by women who have a heart for serving. These women are not trained professionals; they are like you and me. They are women who live their everyday life with joys and broken hearts, who find their strength in the Lord and joy in walking beside other women.”

I’ve already made two new friends by ‘meeting’ my co-leaders online, and we haven’t even officially opened the group yet! But we’re anxious to meet and get to know new friends and we’ve been working hard getting our ‘place’ ready for you. As we emailed each other back and forth discussing a name for our online community group, that feather photo I took weeks before prompted me to suggest a scripture to serve as a foundation for our group. 

We unanimously decided on the name, A Feathered Nest, for our community group, women who are just experiencing the empty nest, or about to, or have maneuvered their way through this stage of life. 

Here’s our description:  Our nests may be empty since all of our children have flown, but our nests are lovingly feathered by God’s Word. We rely on Psalm 91:4:  “He will cover you with His feathers and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.”  God’s faithfulness still makes our empty nest homes comfortable, safe, and secure when we rely on Him. If you are experiencing the unsettling feeling of the empty nest, won’t you join us as we feather our nest with His Word? C.S. Lewis said, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You, too? I thought I was the only one!’ “ You’re not alone. We would love to include you in this friendship circle of empty nesters and help you feather your own nest with encouragement, support, and prayer.

Ours is not the only (in)courage group though. There are many others for women in all walks and stages of life and all sorts of interests. If you need encouragement or are ready to meet new friends, why not join us? You don’t have to be a blog writer to join, just have a Facebook account so you can join the online community in a Facebook group.

The spring 2014 session will open for registration today, Monday, May 19th, and this community group session will run May 26 through July 4. You can learn more about the (in)courager community groups or register by clicking here . Then click on this to check out all the groups. When you get there, click on Empty Nesters/Women Over 50 to find my group and then click on A Feathered Nest.   

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in my comment box here on my blog or email me.

Spring is a season of hope. And I’m hoping and praying and really, really excited to see what an amazing journey the Lord takes this new circle of friends on!

“There is no unbelief; whoever plants a seed beneath the sod and waits to see it push away the clod – he trusts in God.” ~ Elizabeth York Case

blogIMG_2755©2014 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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23 responses

  1. I can feel your excitement here. Just think of the inspiration for your writing this community will bring you not to mention the ways you will continue to grow and lead others to grow. I think you’re about to fly high. (Selfishly, I’m thinking I hope you don’t fly away.) I love the photo of the feather and I love the name of your group. Congratulations. They have chosen well I think, a woman of faith who inspires, encourages and finds opportunity no matter what. Who would have thought a few years ago that your Book of Opportunity would have included this chapter?

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    • Georgette, you always know just the right thing to say to my heart! Thank you for this sweet bit of encouragement. No, I don’t think I’ll be flying away from the blog anytime. This online community group only lasts until July 4, so we’ll see what happens after that. My “Book of Opportunity” just continues even though I haven’t been calling it that. Good of you to remember that! 🙂

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  2. Cindy, I am trying to register for the incouragers group….I have done the form twice and it seems “throw: me out. I tried the help link and my computer will not accept it. (I am working on learning this new machine and I may have not understood it). I am looking forward to the new session.
    Kathy

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  3. How exciting! Yes, I’m familiar with (in)courage and just saw a post on Instagram about the groups opening. This sounds like it’s tailor made for you Cindy and I know it’s an answer to your prayers. I would be in that group so maybe I should sign up! 😉

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  4. I actually looked into joining an (in)courage group a few months ago but decided against it… until today! I’m in! This sounds like a perfect fit for you, and I’m excited to be a part of your new adventure! — Denise

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      • I never had the opportunity to put in my name and email on the (in)courage registration. It would only allow me to put in my blog address and select a picture from the blog. If I need to do something else, please let me know. I don’t want to miss out on any posts. 😉 Thanks for volunteering to do this. I hope it is a very fulfilling thing for you and not ever a burden.

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  5. Congratulations! I’m so happy for you. I’m going to check this out – it sounds like something that I might enjoy. I know you will be a great encouragement to others, just as you have been to me. Thank you for being so willing to share yourself with others.
    Becky

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  6. i am so very thrilled for you!! i have been a follower of (in)courage for quite awhile! Unfortunately I did not get around to trying to register for your group until today, way past the deadline. I hope that your group goes well! If there is any more room in the group, please let me know! God bless!

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