"I had been noodling the idea of creating a [group] since I had attended the Simple Joy conference but was waiting for the right timing.
I found the perfect partner in a woman in my [church community] named Fran Bryson. She is 77 and one of the most beautiful women I've ever met. Her home and her spirit are the embodiment of the Life-Giving Home although I hadn't read the book at that point. I just felt so drawn to her because of her nurturing soul, her love and her refinement. I had visited her home months before and left nearly in tears because of the spirit there. It was the type of home I had heard stories about. The one that people walk into and say, ' there's something different about this home. I want to come back because of the way I feel here.' It is nurturing in every way. The paintings (some of which she has painted), the classical music she has playing the background, the feminine touches, the treasures displayed from her life experiences, just everything. It wasn't something I could even put my finger on. I just want to be there.
I knew that if she and I could join forces we could create something beautiful. So I went to her home to share your website and talk with her about creating a chapter. I walked in and she immediately brought me in to show me the latest painting she had purchased. She couldn't contain her joy and excitement. She showed me the symbolism of the work, shared her love for Christ, gave me numerous hugs, and after about 25 minutes of her talking about her love for art and showing me many of her favorite works of art online, we sat down to talk about MOI. She didn't know anything about it but I started by telling her that she already lived what it taught. From the moment I stepped through the threshold, she had begun to open my heart with art and her love. It was amazing to read about it but more amazing to see it modeled and be encompassed by it.
She felt the importance of this work immediately and we decided to fast and pray for the roster. I really felt strongly that we needed grandmothers and mothers. I knew there would more depth if we combined old and young and learned from each other. I knew that the grandmothers would respond to Fran's invitation and I was given names and faces of women closer to my own age. Our invites combined totaled about 18 women. 16 were interested. With great anticipation, we held our first meeting but only 4 women showed up despite 10 commitments.
I had each woman bring one of their favorite high-quality songs, stories, art pieces or poems to share. It was a wonderful way to engage each woman and helped us get to know each other at a heart level. Despite such a small number of women, we had a wonderful and meaningful evening as we watched and discussed your video explaining the WEH.
I went home with mixed emotions. It had been wonderful but I couldn't help feeling a little disappointed at the turn-out. Fran called me the next day and was so excited about it. She hadn't been hoodwinked to believe that small numbers were something to diminish the experience. It was beautiful and she was thrilled.
Our second month we had many women RSVP and I was curious to see who would actually come. Well, the doorbell kept ringing. Ladies had heard about how amazing it was and wanted to come and see. 2 of the 4 women who had attended the first month brought a new friend or relative to join us. We ended up having to bring in extra chairs. We had 12 women!
There was laughter, tears, vulnerability, real and meaningful discussion, amazing stories from their lives. Several women shared about their grandmothers and the things that had left indelible impressions upon them for life. Every woman shared. Even my friend who typically doesn't, said that she couldn't help sharing because she felt that it was a safe environment. The depth of the women was so nourishing. I can't describe it. It was heaven on Earth.
After 2 hours of discussion, we went into the dining room where Fran had set out her fine china tea sets. We were pampered with gourmet tea and cookies and had a real tea party. We visited, connected and laughed till after 10:00 p.m. on a weeknight! No one wanted to leave.
In a culture where so often we talk about nothing or chit chat about things that don't really matter, it was so heartwarming and nourishing to talk about our things most sacred to us-- our greatest mission of motherhood.
One of my friends told me that she came to the first meeting to check it out but thinking she wouldn't continue to come. She shared at this last meeting that she was so touched by her experience that she is willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary to be at these meetings. They are filling such a deep need that she has. She has learned so much. She said it was 'indispensable' to her.
And that's how I feel. The Lord has shown me that the way to survive this world and what is coming is to keep my heart soft so that I can hear His voice. That has been very difficult for me to do, but with the continual focus on my heart, I have noticed a real change in the last 2 months since we began this chapter.
I was amazed at the power of this meeting to move me to action. At that meeting, so many women talked about how they had felt love from their grandmothers and mothers cooking for them. I went home and have been cooking meals for my family nearly every night. I guess it finally sunk in that it's really important! This month, I'm going to spend time creating more family traditions that will create a sense of more belonging to my children. I'm excited to make changes to enrich my home and family's life!
...[this work] is a brilliant light even to those women who already have a great portion of light in their lives. It is bringing great joy and community to us here in Rigby, Idaho." Tara