Read

On Fiery Ordeals (Part One)

Anna Spindler

I spent my high school and college days living in Iowa, and if you know anything about presidential elections, you may know that the state of Iowa gets the very first crack at choosing the nominees for an upcoming election. Iowans take this very seriously and so do candidates. You can often find them at small town parades, county fairs, and town hall meetings eons before the first vote is ever cast...shaking hands, patting backs, and rubbing shoulders. Back during the 2000 caucuses, I remember spying Elizabeth Dole at church in my college town. Around that same time, I also spent an evening waiting in a dive of a restaurant for another candidate to come in and shake our hands, until he was a no show (what was his name??).

At the time, politics felt heated. We were young, we were making decisions apart from our parents, yet we still had their voices in our minds. This was the time of hanging chads and close votes. Yet, 9/11 was still just a day in September. And airports were safe. Social media had not even been dreamed up. And we had to go home to get phone messages. We barely had the internet.

Doesn’t life feel crazier now? Sort of like a fiery ordeal? On Tuesday I found myself googling Super Tuesday, Coronaviris, and Nashville tornado many times throughout the day. 20 years ago, I would never have guessed that the world would seem (and maybe BE) this much scarier and this much angrier. And if I’m honest, it freaks me out a little bit. It feels like many of us are being run ragged by frenzy and fear.

But as believers, our response matters.

At The Gathering Well, we are passionate about the Word. We are passionate about growing toward Christlikeness. What does God’s word say when it comes to the world and how crazy it feels?

Fact. The world has always been a hot mess. When we first meet Jesus, he is a baby and King Herod is already after him. Not only this, when Jesus and his family flee to Egypt, Herod looks for all the baby boys under two in and around Bethlehem and has them murdered (Matt. 2:16)! That feels a little fiery, yes?

Throughout the ministry of Jesus, He is constantly threatened, chased, argued with, targeted, and eventually executed as a criminal upon a cross. Also. Fiery.

Church history continues thus. Up and down, legal not legal, thriving, dying (seemingly). We are a motley crew, Christians. Plagued by ordeals. Our tendency, like the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, is often to grumble and complain. Or, we fight back (perhaps, like the Crusaders)-demanding our rights or what seems right.  Sometimes, we try to control the ordeal with worry.  What does scripture say about the state of the world…the world that has always been messed up and scary?

Let’s look at 1 Peter 4, verses 7-13 (ESV).

The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.  Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:  whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

Our response to the world around us can be a lot of things, but Peter spells out a few ways it SHOULD be.

  • Be prayerful (v.7)-when we see a world that rattles us or scares us, prayer is our first line of defense! There is not one time in which believers are admonished to worry or control. Paul doesn’t say “Be anxious for almost nothing, (unless it’s politics or coronavirus).” Jesus does not say, “Therefore do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, but do worry about other things that are scary that you think you can control by posting about it on the socials.” They say “Be anxious for NOTHING,” “Do NOT worry about your life.” This is an all-encompassing lifestyle and it is HARD and requires practice. I have been scared of tornadoes since 1988. But God is the Sovereign King of the very atmosphere swirling above my head. I am practicing practical atheism when I worry about the weather. I am practicing faith when I submit to him in prayer.
  • Be filled with earnest love (v. 8)-When our feelings overpower us, can we remember to lead with love. In doing so, we will point people to Jesus. John 13:35 reminds us that people will know believers by their love for one another. When the church bickers within the body, it is a tragedy. A tragedy as heartbreaking as disease. This commandment to love without hypocrisy is seen over and over again in scripture. To neglect it is disobedience.
  • Practice gracious hospitality (v. 9)-The New Testament church in Acts is a wonderful example of the pursuit of hospitality. It is not an occasional thing, it is a lifestyle. In so doing, we aren’t to grumble but lovingly open our doors, lives, schedules, to others.
  • Be useful and glorifying to God through our gifts (v. 10)-What if we replaced worry with a job? Not just a job, but the gift we all have in serving one another. The job that we were designed to do?
  • Do not be surprised (v. 12)-I have thought about this last point a lot. Do not be surprised. Jesus does not send us into a world that he himself did not also walk through. We see this also in Hebrews 2. The author says in verse 10 (NIV), “In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.” Leaving an eternal Kingdom, he was born a man, lived a servant, died a criminal. If our God experienced trials, why would we assume we won’t?
  • The world around us is full of fiery ordeals, be they political, marital, familial, in the workplace, environmental, or bodily. Our Savior knows and also identifies with us, because he lived it, too! When we experience the fire, we may feel alone, but it is a chance to rejoice with Christ in his sufferings. It is a chance to draw near to a compassionate King and Savior.


    *This post is filed under our #seasonsseries. What seasons are you walking through? How does the Lord teach you about himself through the fires you may encounter? We will continue to explore the topic of fiery ordeals next month in Part 2.





    ...

    Read More

    I Need Thee

    By: Anna Spindler | January 31, 2020

    Years ago, in the early morning hours, I was in the midst of one of the hardest years of my life. Drowning. In addition to two preschoolers, we had 9-month-old twins, both of whom would not sleep through the night (or I would not sleep train them-the answer is debatable). We had moved to the suburbs, 30 minutes away from all of my friends and family. We found ourselves between churches and community, but often just unchurched because our twins couldn’t seem to survive one hour through Sunday service. Oh, and also, my grandmother had just died after 9 months of illness.  I was exhausted in every way. Lonely.

    One morning, after waking up hours too early, I penned these words in my journal. “I need you desperately.” Then I crossed them out, “I need you every hour.”

    And in that moment, the words of that old hymn flooded my mind, I need thee, oh I need thee, every hour I need thee.

    But because I am not proficient in the lyric arena (as all my friends know), I had to look up the rest. And what I found brought me to tears. The writer of this song was a wife and mother about my age, in the 1800s.

    This is what she said:

    "One day as a young wife and mother of 37 years of age, I was busy with my regular household tasks during a bright June morning, in 1872. Suddenly, I became filled with the sense of nearness to the Master, and I began to wonder how anyone could ever live without Him, either in joy or in pain. Then the words were ushered into my mind and these thoughts took full possession of me--"I need Thee every hour . . ."

    I need Thee every hour,
    Most gracious Lord;
    No tender voice like Thine,
    Can peace afford.

    I need Thee every hour,

    Stay Thou near by;

    Temptations lose their power,
    When Thou art nigh.


    I need Thee every hour,
    In joy or pain;
    Come quickly and abide,
    Or life is vain.

    I need Thee, O I need Thee;
    Every hour I need Thee!
    O bless me now, my Savior,
    I come to Thee.

    The human condition has always been the same. The Bible is not full of flawless heroes. Nor is church history. Both are filled with everyday people who chose to trust in an almighty God. And even then, they did so haphazardly, sometimes backsliding…just like us. Through them, I’m encouraged that we are gifted a wealth of poetry and story in which ordinary people teach us it is ok to admit need and to ask for it. It’s ok to not have it all together or be perfect-Sarah, Abraham, Moses, David, the Woman at the Well, Annie S. Hawks (the woman who wrote this hymn), and the list goes on.

    This is SO un-American.

    Even in the church, we often curate experiences and hide behind perfectionism.  But the truth is, I need my Savior every day, every hour, every moment.  Friends, Jesus presence in our lives is the reason we live. In joy and pain, life is vain without him. Temptations lose power, when he is near. No voice is as tender or gracious as his.

    I'm so grateful for an everyday woman who penned these words almost 150 years ago. She recognized that life without dependency on Jesus was vain. May we all be more like her.

    This is worship. This is surrender.

    The Lord is my strength and my shield;
       in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
    my heart exults,
       and with my song I give thanks to him.

    The Lord is the strength of his people;[b]
       he is the saving refuge of his anointed.
    Oh, save your people and bless your heritage!
       Be their shepherd and carry them forever.

    Pslam 28: 7-9

    *As an aside old hymns make great devotionals, but that's another blog post.






    ...

    Read More

    The Everyday Woman (At the Gathering Well)

    By: Anna Spindler | January 24, 2020

    I sat at a writing conference a few years ago and one particular session left me a little shell-shocked.  During a session, four writers sat on stage naming their target audience. It was narrow and focused: certain age groups, demographics, even where they might shop, etc. And don’t get me wrong, that was working for them! They were selling books and each had a growing online presence. But in my own world and writing, I couldn’t connect with the idea of a set “audience.”  I took that home with me and struggled with it.

    I struggled with it so much that I basically quit writing-for years.

    I live in a huge metro where my close friends and family are varying ages and ethnicities. They come from all over the country to our city and some have come from all over the world. They don’t shop at the same places. They don’t live in the same neighborhoods. They bring home wildly different paychecks. They listen to different music. They go to church, they stay home. Some love Jesus, some don’t know him.  So, the idea of having an “audience” baffled me.

    And when I think of our heroes in the Bible, they are the same. Some were of Hebrew descent. Some were born into paganism. Some met Jesus as adults. Some were adolescent girls when they found him. Some were businesswomen. Some were transformed by Him through wild conversions. They were strong. They were meek. They talked to kings. They were warriors. They were different. They led men. They discipled women. Sometimes, they were rebellious. Their one goal was to further the kingdom.

    When Hazel and Jazmin suggested the name “The Gathering Well,” I won’t lie. I ignored them. I’ve been reborn from my old self, the recklessly opinionated me from my 20s who would’ve dismissed them outright. “No. Lame. Don’t like it.” I opted for the new me. The me who chews on ideas I don’t love and then basically tries to find a new better option with the powers of my mind. (Full disclosure, my mind powers have proven to be VERY limited on most days).

    Then we met over biscuits and coffee on an early fall day last year and they explained the vision behind our new (proposed) name.  It was inspired by the story in John 4 about the woman who crept up to Jacob’s well in broad hot daylight around noon and was surprised by Jesus.

    The well attracts us all. Its water is necessary for our survival. And in ancient times, it was a place of community. Everyone needed it, so everyone went. The end. The well does not exclude. The well draws the whole town. Everyone gets thirsty. But when the Samaritan woman went to the well alone for actual water, hoping (probably) to avoid a community who may despise her for her lifestyle, she found living water through the Son of God. The thing about Jesus is this - as radical then and now - he did not have a narrow audience. His water was for EVERYONE. Necessary, in fact. By cultural standards, he committed three faux pas that day: talking to a woman, talking to a Samaritan, and talking to a flagrant sinner.  

    In his ministry, Jesus went on to chase down the oppressed, the hurting, the handicapped, the Pharisees, the fisherman, the children, and even the dead. Guess what? He still does. He loves the everyday person-because underneath whatever façade we put on, that’s all any of us are.

    So, at The Gathering Well, we want to hear your God stories, we want to know YOU, we want to learn the bible with YOU. Bring your baggage, bring your everydayness, bring your past and your future. We have no set prescription of who you are or where you come from. We want to drink living water with you.



    ...

    Read More

    A 2020 Sabbath

    Anna Spindler | January 17, 2020

         When I hit the Holiday season this year I was WIPED. I usually enter January feeling that way, but this year was different. By mid-November, I was waving the biggest white flag at life that I could find.  

         Even so, at the beginning of Thanksgiving week, we packed up our SUV and drove our family (4 kids, under 10 years old) across the Southwestern US for my brother-in-law’s wedding in California. And then, on the way home with a week of school left for my kiddos, 5 holiday events the first week of December, and the conclusion of our church’s Women’s Bible study looming, we all got sick. We got so sick: it was a vomit in the car, runny noses, utter exhaustion SICK. And we weren’t sick for 2 or 3 days, we were sick for a solid 8 days. I cried and cried disappointed first world problem tears because I LOVE the holiday season with every fiber of my being. I look forward to it the second it’s over and we seemed to miss it all before it even began!

         BUT GOD!

        Remember when I said one second ago I was wiped in Mid-November? Honestly, when I was going to sleep the last night of our trip to California, I was overwhelmed by what lay ahead in my week. Nothing was as important as I’d made it out to be in my head and everything was easily (and sadly) canceled. We put homework on hold. We traded activities for snuggling and sleeping and fasting (as no of us had functioning appetites) and binge-watching The Crown and Christmas movies. And despite being sad about unmet expectations, we rested. A forced rest, yes. But also, I believe it was a rest I needed, and my Father provided it.

         In the very early stages of developing The Gathering Well, we acknowledged that we all struggle to rest. This struggle is exacerbated by the culture and the year that we live in. We are always plugged in, always striving, always connected. And while God created us to be communal creatures, I’m not sure social media is the culmination of that. So, during an impromptu meeting in Jazmin’s bedroom last September, we talked about Sabbath. And we all committed to take one day a week to rest. IE. No social media, limited phone use, no work!

         

         Here are some thoughts I’ve had regarding Sabbath in the 21st century:

     

    Spiritual Reset: The Sabbath reminds us of our Creator by taking our eyes off of ourselves. (I’m looking at you, social media, with all of your filters and your look at me’s, and your self-promotion). Please hear me, social media is not INHERENTLY bad. We can all benefit from it in SO many ways, BUT, it’s also insidious and provides us with rushes of adrenaline that can become addictive. That surge of importance we feel in an instant with a thumbs up button can quickly supplant our real self-worth, which is in Jesus. When we walk with Him, we quit worshipping at the altar of self and place our worship where it should always be: the altar of the Almighty Creator God. A break from social media for the Sabbath, or longer, reminds us that our center is Christ, not ourselves.

     

    Familial presence: One of my biggest fears AND already regrets, is that my kids’ childhood memories will be tainted by my third hand: the iPhone.  When we Sabbath, we put it down and CONNECT. This weekly discipline can then foster a habit that spills into the rest of the week. When I take 24 hours to have a phone-free zone, I realize that my phone really can wait. There are hours and times and rooms where the iPhone is not necessary. And PS, for those of us who remembered life before cell phones, the truth is, we did just fine before they were invented. The world will NOT fall apart if our phone is in the other room.

     

    Rest: If the Creator of the Universe chose to rest, who are we that we choose in abject disobedience, to disregard it ourselves? When I sit back and think of it, I’m in awe of my own arrogance. The world does not constantly need us in order to spin. The ground does not require us to sprout vegetation. The seasons don’t need us to change. The Universe does not need our work for the sun to shine. Our church, our friends, our co-workers do not need us to breathe. But we need rest to live. Our bodies and our minds are fueled by it. Our hearts (literal and figurative) are created for it. Our relationships thrive because of it. And if Creator God did it, we must and should, too.

         As a gentle reminder to us, humans have apparently struggled with the concept of rest from the beginning of time. One of my favorite passages in my 20s was Psalm 46. You may be familiar with its most famous verse, 10, which says “Be still and know that I am God.” But in the NASB translation, the verse reads “cease striving and know that I am God.” When I read this the first time, I still had a flip phone and there was no Facebook, yet the word striving slapped me in the face. The rest of that verse reads this: “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” It is the natural progression of our rest. GOD will be exalted. Then this promise is found in verse 11: "The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold."

     

      We take the weekend off around here. And we urge you to find a day of the week to rest, too.

     

     

      "Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle & high priest."
            - Hebrews 3:1


    ...

    Read More

    Word of the Year - Seasons

    Jazmin Caton | January 8, 2020

    New Year’s Eve of 2014 I decided to give up the goals, resolutions, and the laundry list of “things” I wanted to accomplish in the year coming up and trade them all for a word. A single word that I felt would define my year. 


    I was new-ish married at the time, no kiddos, and had just started a doctorate program (a lifelong dream). Leading up to that night I was making some life decisions that had filled me with doubt and anxiousness. So, instead, I spoke the word “peace” over my life and over the decisions moving into 2015. Little did I know how much peace I would really be seeking in that new year. Only a few months into 2015, my husband and I found out that we would be moving to Fort Worth, Texas to start a five year journey of medical residency. The nitty gritty of the medical training journey is another post for another day. But, the gist of its relevance is that 1) we didn’t want to move to Texas and 2) residency is hard. So I wanted and needed so badly to be at peace with what we had to believe was God’s plan for us. That was my first go at choosing a word of the year and honestly, I thought it turned out great. So I did it again and again...


    2016 - Joy. The year we were furthest from family and suffered a miscarriage. 

    2017 - Freedom. The year we bought our first home and welcomed one of our sweet girls into this world. 

    2018 - Discipline. The year I finished my doctorate, began our journey with Hebrews, and fell into a depression. 

    2019…


    Things took a turn leading up to 2019. If you notice, there was a trend I started to pick up on in this whole “word of the year” thing. For a lot of people, choosing a word feels like setting a course for the year. I would agree. But, for me, it brought some pretty profound and even unanticipated circumstances that, while God ultimately used for His glory, didn’t always feel good. So when the only word that came to my heart and mind at the end of 2018 was “exhaustion”... I said, hold up! I’m not about to speak that over my life, God!? 


    But God. 


    It’s really only now that I’m seeing and understanding why He allowed the word “exhaustion” to be at the forefront of my heart and mind. At the close of the decade, I was exhausted. For ten years prior I was hustling, finishing two degrees, getting married, having children, and saying yes to too. Much. Stuff. I think He wanted me to finally lay some things down, go to counseling, and let go of my personal expectations and standards of success so that I could step into this new decade… into this new season. 


    So that’s the second part of this story… My word for 2020 is SEASONS. I’ll be honest, I was a little apprehensive to go back to God and ask Him what the word for my year would be. I was scared and fearful that it would be another word that I didn’t want to hear. And frankly, since I’m being honest. I was a little underwhelmed! Seasons?! Seasons, God??? That’s not fancy and sparkly like discover or empower!? It’s not classic and simple like hope or joy?! Sigh. So I did what any reasonable Christian does… I tried to find an alternative option to what God was saying and went to Google to find it!


    Siri, what is the definition of seasons? (And the prettier synonyms for it?!)

    Turns out there is not a prettier word for something that God has so perfectly orchestrated. Seasons are about a process. Seasons are about balance. What makes a season a season is the process of beginning and ending. A season makes something better. A season is an opportunity to slow down, to speed up, to mature, and to taste just right. 


    In Egypt, the seasons were marked and known to the people based on the rising and falling of the River Nile. There were three specific seasons that resulted from this process. Two of them you probably have some idea about. The season of growth or emergence (why was this not an option!?) and the season of harvest. I think we’ve all heard the sermon or seen the IG post that reminds us that there is a time to plant and a time to harvest. But, what about a time for flooding??


    The season of inundation or flooding was a time when the water would rise and flood the land for months. Not days y’all, months! This period was usually between September and January and always comes before the planting and the harvest. According to Wikipedia, “this event was vital to the people because the waters left behind fertile silt and moisture, which were the source of the land’s fertility.” And fertile land was vital to the planting of crops needed to sustain their way of life. 

    I think it’s safe to say that at the close of 2019 I (and maybe many of you) felt exhausted from being inundated. Flooded with the work, the laundry, the play dates, the dinner dates. Flooded with the notifications, the alerts, the endless newsfeed. Flooded with the lies of inadequacy, inability, insignificance. Flooded with the hard challenges of sickness, expectations, circumstances. 


    But thank you, God for the seasons! What felt like a giant flood in 2019 was in fact a giant flood. A flood of hustle and hurry from an entire decade culminated in sick kids, crazy work schedules, and feeling like someone stole baby Jesus out of the manger! It was also a flood of good things. A flood of hope and joy from our growing family! A flood of provision and God’s faithfulness in our work. A flood of friendship and community that is helping us be and love better.


    So now, God gives us the season of emergence. The waters recede and the land is left fertile. And a new season begins as we prepare for the harvest!   


    ...

    Read More

    An Everyday Entrance

    Anna Harrison | December 10, 2019

    Perhaps no other holiday has such a wealth of poetry, music, and art associated with it. I think I could spend a month meditating on Christmas one liners…

    A thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices

    Let Earth receive her King, Let every heart prepare Him room

    Pleased with man, as man to dwell Jesus our Emmanuel

    BUT, the songs about Mary are the ones that get me. Years ago, in the 1990s, my dad, a pastor, had me sing Amy Grant’s Breath of Heaven during our church’s annual Christmas Eve Service.

    Do you wonder as you watch my face
    If a wiser one should have had my place
    But I offer all I am
    For the mercy of your plan
    Help me be strong
    Help me be
    Help me

    I’d stand there, struggling through that song, which is unfortunately smack dab in the awkward middle part of my range, while all eyes looked at me and I wondered what it would be like to be her - a teenager - pregnant, unmarried, God’s chosen vehicle for the King of the universe. How could it be?

    And then years later, when I carried a life inside of me in 2009, I couldn’t shake what it must be like to give birth in a stable. What would it be like to travel full term on an animal, by dirt roads, full of uncertainty? Did Mary feel crazy-carrying God in her womb? Was she confident or embarrassed?

    Last night, I put Andrew Peterson’s Labor of Love (sung by Jill Philips) on repeat.

    And the stable was not clean
    And the cobblestones were cold
    And little Mary full of grace
    With the tears upon her face
    Had no mother's hand to hold
    It was a labor of pain
    It was a cold sky above
    But for the girl on the ground in the dark
    With every beat of her beautiful heart
    It was a labor of love

    The older I get, the less it escapes me that God brought his Son into an ordinary world by means of an ordinary girl. And the world did not have time or room for Him, but He still came. And He still chose her, an inconsequential teenage bride. He didn’t wait for her to marry Joseph. He didn’t wait until there was room in the inn or for the census to be over. All of those people who were waiting for a Messiah looked for pomp and circumstance and then they missed Him because His arrival was so… normal.


    We are not very different in 2019 from the first century world Jesus came to. We’ll take our Christmas shiny and idyllic and with a side of Instagram bright. We get depressed when our season doesn’t look like a Hallmark movie. Our family spent the first week of December sick as dogs in a forced rest and quarantine, and I’m embarrassed about how unduly upset I got over it. We make the Christmas season about family and presents and somehow push our Savior to the back corner of our minds. To a dirty stable. We curate and control, but all along Jesus is here. Jesus, the God man, cloaked in flesh came to a grimy corner of the world to give us himself.

    “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away our sin. Behold the Lamb of, the life and light of men.” Andrew Peterson

    I wonder if God gave his Son such a humble beginning and such a short ministry so that we would never stop identifying with Him. Was Jesus’ family of origin rich and famous? No. Was He born in a designer birthing suite? No? Did He grow up privileged? No. Did people think He was crazy and delusional? Yes. Did people misunderstand Him all along? Yes. Was He socially savvy? No! Were His friends cool? No. Did His mom and brothers believe in Him? Not really. Besides being the very son of God, was he ordinary? Yes.

    Jesus - a carpenters’ illegitimate son, born out of wedlock, in a messy manger, with a rag tag group of followers changed the world. Saved the World.

    Let every heart prepare Him room. It doesn’t have to be shiny. It doesn’t have to be perfect or bright. It just has to be.

    "So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

    And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

    - Luke 2:4-12

    ...

    Read More

    Beginnings

    By: Anna Harrison | December 1, 2019

    In the Spring of 2018, our local church offered about 4 Bible study options for women to choose from. Unlike previous semesters, I walked in that morning having already decided to go to whichever class my friend Cate chose. I didn’t care which one, I just wanted some extra time with my sister-friend. So, we walked down the hall to a class on waiting, and also the only choice I didn’t feel a particular passion about. As the semester progressed, the subject never particularly resonated with me. 

    BUT GOD!

    Scripture and relationships are always relevant.  By Spring’s end, I had forged a deep bond with the women at my table.  My table leader texted me the night before the last session and asked if I’d give my testimony on waiting in front of the room. I felt totally exposed. Was this the point I took the mask off and said, “ummmm, I’m not really waiting on anything. I’m just here to hang out with Cate?”  I suggested she ask another girl, Rose. Or Cate. She said, “no you.” So, I wrote down my story. At first, I thought I’d talk about my journey through grief over my mother’s neurological disease. But how did that pertain to waiting? It didn’t. 

    In the end, I told a small room of 20 women that I’d always wanted to write books and stories, but somehow I was still struggling with an indiscernible mix of bad timing or lack of gumption or exhaustion from life. I expressed how those feelings all seemed to culminate in some major shame. Why haven’t you done this yet? This is why you are on Earth. WRITE! I stood there and told my story.  Knees knocking. Heart pounding. Face flushing. This story is so dumb, it’s so whiny, an ugly voice roared in my head. When I was finished, I closed my notes, sat down and let it all drift out of my mind. But across the room, my friend Hazel did not forget my story.

    A few months later, I was sitting in our family car scrolling through my phone in the Whataburger parking lot, while my husband ran inside with our kids to get milkshakes. My phone beeped and it was Hazel. Her text was pretty cryptic. “Hey, I’ve been talking with Jazmin about Bible Study next spring and we wanted to meet up to talk with you about some things.” First of all, who was Jazmin? Secondly, “sure!” 

    We decided to meet at a local bagel shop on her way to work the next week. When I got there, she was early and had a stack of studies. She explained briefly that a week earlier,  she and Jazmin (her long-time friend and accountability partner) sat in that same spot and dreamed about writing a bible study that would be inductive and lead women to engage with scripture deeply. Along with each chapter, they planned to include stories of everyday women. “We want your help. We want to use your story, and we were wondering if you’d be interested in writing the other stories.”

    “YES!” I said before I actually grasped the entire vision. But, that impulsive yes was the first step. A friendship and a collaboration was born that day and then solidified in the process of gathering stories, interviewing women, studying scripture.  

    In the Fall of 2019, we launched Hebrews: An Anchor of Hope in a Sea of Feelings.  Our passion was that the women at our church would dive into Hebrews and learn from God Himself, through the movement of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. Our second objective was that women would engage scripture with one another in small groups as well as learn from a handful of large group teachers on a weekly basis. A teaching team and small group leaders emerged from the women in our church (many of whom, I might add, sometimes believed themselves to be far from worthy to lead).  Thirdly, we dreamed about worship that was simple and heartfelt, giving women a chance to sing together weekly. 

    And as we watched the study come together, the Lord Himself, orchestrated it all out of our trepidation and doubt. As He brought it to fruition, we began to wonder if more women had every day needs and desires to study the Word. We wondered if women outside of the walls of our church walls would also want to gather around the well of the Bible and quench their thirst at the eternal well. We wondered if more women might have stirrings in their hearts to lead in teaching, discussion, and worship.

    We are The Gathering Well. A Place to connect Everyday women in Spirit, in Truth, and in Worship

    We exist to abide in the greatest instruction given to those that believe in Jesus Christ. Our mission is to go, to make disciples, and to teach what the Lord has commanded to those around us.

    Our purpose is to Encourage, Equip, and Empower others to pursue an active and personal relationship with the Lord and His Word. We invite others to join us in:

    Beginning with Prayer

    Being in the Word

    Building Community

    ...

    Read More

    Copyright 2019 The Gathering Well