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Community, Faith, Relationships, Spiritual Life

You Belong HERE!

November 18, 2015

FullSizeRender-6Well, girls, somehow we made it. We are already at the end of our Community series and hello, Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK! Maybe it’s because I am getting older, but time is flying by so fast that I feel like I was just wearing shorts and soaking up the sun, but thank the Lord I don’t sweat every time I dry my hair… Count your blessings, right?! 😉

Ok, so I want to be really honest with you. This was a difficult series to write. A lot more difficult than I realized, and I think I can say this is true for all the writers. Some of us are trying to find our own community or are having constant change in community. And, we are still trying to navigate with you what community really is and means, what good and healthy community looks like.

I know we (AGLM writers) say this often, or at least we think this often, but we are not “the professionals”. We are not here to give you our wisdom as the master Jedi’s to you as our young padawans (sorry, I’ve been going through the Star Wars series, eeek #nerdstatus). But we are here because we have been exactly where you are now. We know life is hard, and we totally get it when you just want to say over and over again, “life’s not fair!”

Maybe you are at the loneliest point in life that you have ever been. Or you want to fit in with a certain group and are doing everything you can to make that happen, but it just isn’t working. Maybe you’ve been stabbed or hurt by those who you thought were your closest friends (Yeah, I’ve been in all those places). So you may be frustrated because you’re thinking, “I thought the community series would help me, give me answers or direction, but it didn’t and I am in the same place.”

I TOTALLY get that. But I also want to say again, the writers here also don’t have perfect community, we don’t have all the answers. So you may not find your answers here. But what you will find… women who truly care about you, who love you and pray for you. A Girl Like Me IS community!! It’s not the same as having community physically and presently around you in your day to day (which we still believe is super important to pray for and seek), but we are still a community. And we are here for YOU. No matter who you or where you have been. I promise if you stick with us and reach out to us, you will find that we are here for you.

Whether you’re a writer or a reader, God has placed us here, a part of A Girl Like Me. And we WANT to walk along side of you the best we can through our virtual avenues, or maybe WE get the pleasure of meeting you one day.

So many times I sit and think about A Girl Like Me and I ask God, what do I have to offer?! But then he reminds me of the women who take their time to reach out to me, and that speaks volumes, no matter what they have to say, as long as I know they’re there because they love me and are for me.

That’s my daily prayer for A Girl Like Me, and what I hope, whether you’re a brand new reader or a veteran reader, that you will find here. True, real community.

So stick with us! We will take a break next week as we enjoy Thanksgiving with our families, but be back in December to finish off the year and talk about what’s to come!

If you did learn from the community series, we would LOVE to hear from you! Leave us a comment and let us know.

Love, Allison


Community, Faith, God, Relationships

Let’s Talk About Boys

November 11, 2015



This might be the post that you have been waiting for all this time. What is a community series without talking about boys?!

This is not Top 10 Ways to Attract a Perfect Mate or How to Find a Godly Man or even How Nina Met Brendon (YET!). There are countless resources for believers on the topics of marriage and dating relationships, but what about plain ole’ male-female friendships?

Not only do I believe that it’s possible to be “just friends” with a guy, but I believe God designed that kind of friendship to grow us in a unique way. Aside from overgeneralized stereotypes, guys just operate differently than we do- in communication, in emotions, in probably more ways than we can understand.  Whether or not you are in a relationship, the only way that a friendship with a dude will work is mutual respect.

Talking about community with guys is simply just that… community with guys. Pretty sure half the planet is the male gender, so it will serve us well to learn how to be in healthy relationships with dudes.

Let’s leave out the romantic intentions, the let’s-just-be-friends-but-just-kidding-I-actually-want-you-to-like-me, because let’s be real, we’ve all been there. WHO’S WITH ME? Errrrrrrr, maybe I was the only high schooler who thought that?


How do we as women have appropriate, normal, awesome friendships with dudes?

How can we love them well?

How should I treat my “brothers in Christ”?


Although God has consistently blessed me with solid girlfriends and female mentors, I’ve always been surrounded by boys too. All of my mom’s best friends had sons, I grew up in a church where there were more guys than girls, played in a band in high school that was mostly guys, and now live on a bus with a bunch of dudes.

When I was an intern at my church in high school, there were pretty helpful expectations for the kind of time and space guys and girls spent together. To protect each other out of love, the staff and interns all abided by the standard of not being alone in a room with a person of the opposite sex with the door closed. A lot of the staff was married and there were a few of us that were single at the time, me included. This took away any potential awkwardness or weird situations between us. I honestly can’t remember any drama. Being a youth leader for middle school girls, I remember our youth pastor asking me to join when one of the girls needed prayer from him. When my band traveled to play a show while I was the only girl, our worship leader’s fiance would come so we could share a room. We functioned so well as a team and it was all deeply rooted in respect, not fear. I had Godly men as a healthy, secure part of my life. We could encourage each other openly.


I’m probably asking more questions than I am giving answers. This post is not a list of things that are allowed and not allowed between guys and girls. The church culture that I grew up around was helpful for my heart in understanding healthy guy/girl relationships and it made being on the road with a bunch of guys feel pretty normal. Throughout the course of our lives, different levels of intimacy with guys will change. When I had really close friendships with guys in high school, I didn’t have Brendon. Now that I have complete intimacy in marriage, I don’t have the same depth of relationship with other guys. It’s a natural ebb and flow in the river of time. Praying for wisdom on how to handle friendships with guys no matter what season we are in is the most mature thing we can do.

I am happily married to my forever guy. I am SO conscious of my friendships with guys- of intentionally never being in a situation emotionally, physically, and mentally that would compromise the integrity of my relationship with my husband. This will be important for our whole lives together. I also never want to unknowingly threaten another girls relationship with her guy. That would be weird/bad/ew.


We can honor the guys in our lives.

We can honestly encourage them.

We can celebrate the men we are in community with.

We can respect them.

Younger. Older. Whoever.


To wrap up our community series, it’s worth noting that as humans, as women, we want to know and be known by God and people. God intended to deeply satisfy our desire for community in Him because He IS community in the trinity. We are made in His image. Community on earth, with our best friends and those who are hard to love, community face-to-face and with the help of technology, community in the church and through transitions, is purely a gift. It’s dang hard sometimes, but it’s worth it. Here’s a tidbit from a book by Tim Keller that sums it up pretty well:

To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.

We love you girls! Thank you for sticking with us through this series as we navigated some unknown waters. As always, keep an eye out for what is next!


Big Fake Boobs Are My Signature Look

November 4, 2015

So, we’ve been at this whole community thing for a while now. We’ve shared the good, the bad, the ugly…but what about the fun? I mean, what’s the good of having friends if you can’t laugh with/at them amiright?!?!?! If I’ve learned anything over my thirty three years of life it’s that the best of friends are the ones that make you giggle so hard you pee yourself and then turn right around and giggle at you for peeing yourself.

I think it’s appropriate that in the middle of this great and important topic of community we take a moment to remember the moments that make community awesome. So, I thought it would only be fitting for me to bless you with some of the all star moments in my friendships history. I’ll start with…boobs.

1. Boobs Are Best: Being built like a middle school boy in the chest department always gave me a bit of an obsession with large breasts. You know, grass is greener on the other side kind of thing. Luckily in high school I had friends just as flat as me and just as willing to explore and exploit the humor in taking a girl with no boobs and making her have gigantic breasts by any means possible. I can’t tell you the great variety of things I shoved up my shirt for a good “Hey, check out my humungous boobies” joke. Fruit, balls, balloons, pillows….you name it, I stuffed my bra with it. Amongst my friend group, especially in my youth group, it became a kind of a thing. So much of a thing that on our youth mission trip and even at my 18th birthday party, somehow we found a way to get a group or all of us girls piled together with shirts stuffed full and prance around like the double D goddesses we dreamt of being. I have since come to embrace the small bounty I call my bosom, but man, it sure was great to pretend.

My 18th birthday party big boob karaoke serenade.

My 18th birthday party big boob karaoke serenade.



My sophomore mission trip. Check out my knockers!

My sophomore mission trip. Check out my knockers!


2. Baby Giraffe Legs: I’ve told you this before, but I can’t dance. I have too much limb and too little rhythm to be any good…ever. However, that did not stop me from using my lack of danceability to choreograph countless dance routines which I performed in a variety of arenas with my friends. Birthday parties, special events, talent shows….we had some stupid routine that no matter how bad we were, we still looked totes amazing. There is nothing sweeter than getting around your girls, turning the music up and dancing like you just don’t care.

One of my many dance pieces I co-created with friends. Check out my face. I rock.

One of my many dance pieces I co-created with friends. Check out my face. I rock.


3. Costumes Are Always Appropriate:  I cannot stress how much I love costumes. If there is an excuse to dress in costume, I go all out. I’ve had costumed themed birthday parties, tv premiere costume parties, ugly sweater parties, and murder mystery parties. If I can costume theme it, I’ll do it. The great thing about friends is that the good ones are just as willing to go there with you. To take the extra step to look a fool and be the eccentric one in the group. To wear the outfit in public that makes other people stare and think you’re odd. A true friend isn’t afraid to look dumb alongside. In fact, a true friend encourages it.


The mustache themed birthday party my roommate and I had.

The mustache themed birthday party my roommate and I had.

At a LOST season ender viewing party where I and my then friend Jeff dressed as the plane wreckage. Yes, I made the whole costume myself. BAM.

At a LOST season ender viewing party where I and my then friend Jeff dressed as the plane wreckage. Yes, I made the whole costume myself. BAM.

At a murder mystery dinner where I played a crazy cat lady. I won an award that night for best character because, yeah, I am just that good.

At a murder mystery dinner where I played a crazy cat lady. I won an award that night for best character because, yeah, I am just that good.


Friendships may come and go. When they are bad, they can be real bad. But when they are good, man, can community be awesome. So let’s celebrate the amazingness that is community. Remember the moments when you laughed so hard you couldn’t breathe and felt that in that moment, life couldn’t get anymore amazing than it already had. And now that I’ve told you some of my favorite friend moments, tell me yours. Because the next best thing to awesome memories with your squad is getting to share them with others.

Community, Faith, God, Identity, Relationships, Spiritual Life

I’m the Only One

October 28, 2015

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I was in high school. I just got my heart broken by the guy I “thought” I was in love with. My mom was going through intensive chemotherapy to fight breast cancer. If I did go to anyone to talk about my problems, it would be her…but there’s something that doesn’t quite feel right when you’re venting about your little problems to a loved one who is fighting for her life. (I know now, though, that my mom would never want me to think that way). I was on a traveling team for volleyball and gone almost every weekend. Naturally that meant I missed church, small group, and hanging out with any friends I had at school quite often. And lastly, I would straight up tell you that I wanted to live in any other country than America. Since I was a little girl I wanted to be a missionary and my heart always seemed to be somewhere else…in a hut or tribe that I had never even been to. I felt depressed because, well, I was stuck in high school doing “worthless high school things” and thought there was no one else like me.

Flash forward to a conversation with a pastor who had always been like a father to me: I was glad to finally be talking to someone, and as I wept I spilled out these words: ”I’m the only one…

That day I learned that those four words are among the most dangerous that can come out of our mouths, let alone enter into our minds. Those four words are what Satan, our enemy, wants you to believe, and not AT ALL what Christ promises or wants for us.

Yes, there are incredibly hard circumstances that we all go through in our lives, but the exact thing that the enemy wants us to feel in those downcast, burdened times is that:


1. You are the only one who has ever on the face of the earth gone through this and felt these emotions.

2. You are alone in your struggle.

3. There is no hope.


The only thing to do in addressing this state of mind of self-centeredness (yes, it took me a while to admit to and call it what it was) that we are so prone to wander into, is to be washed over and cleansed by TRUTH. We have to learn how to address the enemy’s lies about being lonely and outcasts, and proclaim God’s truth over them. I have laid out a few for you below and challenge you to ask God to help set your mind on HIS words rather than the enemy’s.

We may be tempted to say “I’m the only one…” but God says, “I AM THE ONE” that you need. God knows us and loves us. We are never alone because God is ALWAYS with us. He will NEVER leave you nor forsake you.

The point is not to have another person who you can perfectly relate to. The point is that God did not intend for us to do life alone. You have to be intentional about reaching out not only for the sake of yourself but also for the goal to glorify God in whatever you’re going through. His strength is made perfect in us, sharing in our weaknesses.  God is bigger than your present problems and if we are open to it, He WILL teach and transform us into more mature, godly women.


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30


“You have searched me, Lord,

and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;

you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;

you are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue

you, Lord, know it completely.

You hem me in behind and before,

and you lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you;

the night will shine like the day,

for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you

when I was made in the secret place,

when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book

before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, God!

How vast is the sum of them!

Were I to count them,

they would outnumber the grains of sand—

when I awake, I am still with you.”

Psalm 139



FullSizeRender-1-1Ashton lives in Raleigh, NC with her husband, Hank Murphy. They work and serve at the Summit Church in Durham, NC. Ashton is originally from northern California and moved here 2 years ago. She loves traveling the world on mission for the gospel, getting coffee with Allison, painting and creating beauty in spaces, cooking delicious food, nannying a lot of cute kids, and spending time with Hank.

P.S. Allison wrote this on behalf of Ashton as they were once roommates before they married their husbands :-)

Community, Family, Relationships

Realer than Real

October 21, 2015

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So far in our series, as we’ve talked about different types of communities, they’ve all ultimately involved a choice.

To be in community, or not to be in community…that is the question.

Community generally requires a certain amount of pursuit on our part. We have to be willing to actively seek relationship with others. And if we’re not, we can easily pull away, seclude ourselves and try to do life alone.

Even when we do choose to be in community, we can fake our way through it. We can go through the motions, spending time with people and having conversations, the whole time wearing masks that allow us to be who we want them to see and keep everything else hidden. We have to choose whether or not to be real with others.

But what about the community we don’t get to choose? What about the people we live with, the ones who see us at our best and our worst, whether we like it or not? The ones we can’t really avoid?

Families. Roommates. Home can be it’s own community. Sometimes just walking in the door is all the effort we have to make.

These are the people who see you for who you really are.

Without makeup or your hair done when you get out of the shower.

In your sweats, mismatched socks and messy bun (not in the cute, I-totally-meant-to-do-that way) after a long day at school or work.

When you don’t feel well and your tolerance for any well-meaning human being is unfortunately low.

When your attitude just plain sucks.

When it’s taken all you have to keep it together for the rest of the world, and you come home and ugly cry and eat all the ice cream.

Behind closed doors, we take off our masks. We’re real. We’re raw. We’re vulnerable and exposed. Maybe not all the time, but more than we are when the rest of the world is watching. And the ones who live behind those doors with us get a front row seat.

This is a gift that is so easy to miss. Somehow the people in our lives who are just always there tend to go unnoticed.

As I prepared to talk about community in the home, quite honestly I had no idea what to say. But thinking about what to write made me more aware of the ways my family and roommate serve me constantly – in small, yet impactful ways – and I realized I have truly been taking them for granted.

A got to visit home a few weeks ago and my mom, despite her exhaustion, sacrificed her usual early bed time to stay up late and catch up on life and laughs with me – the simple gift of her time was her best expression of love.

My grandma and a friend from my church baked me some of my favorite special treats (even some to send back to Nashville with me!) – they recognized my need for a taste of home (no pun intended) and saw the opportunity to bring comfort to my food-lovin’ soul.

Earlier this week, my roommate walked into my room to see me on my knees with a tear-stained face. She could have asked a dozen different questions, but the only thing she said was, “Do you need a hug?” This beautiful friend who I’ve only known for 2 short months embraced me and just told me she loved me. Over the next few days she gently asked every now and then how I was doing, delivered a warm plate of homemade cookies to me in my room, and somehow just knew the most appropriate times to either make me laugh or give me space to cry.

When I’m in need of something – anything – I’m always searching for someone to notice, to listen, to comfort me, to speak into my life, to walk with me…how is it I’ve had exactly that in front of me the whole time and never noticed?

The community that I actually live with has served and continues to serve me so well. Realizing that has flooded me with thankfulness and a desire to strive to serve them just as well. To care so much that I learn the best ways to show them they’re loved. To take time for the little things. To remember that my home, whether here with my roommate or hundreds of miles away with my family, does not revolve around me.

To be loved when we’re unlovable, unreasonable and so much less than perfect…

To be noticed and cared for in the most subtle, yet important ways each and every day…

In the place where our walls and guards are down and our masks have been removed…

When fake is forgotten and we’re realer than real…

It all makes becoming fully known somehow just a little bit easier.

Maybe, like me, you’ve been overlooking the community in the comfort of your own home. Let me challenge you this week to be intentional about noticing the little things. This community we didn’t choose or go searching for is made so easily accessible for a reason! Embrace it. Appreciate it. And let it drive you to love and serve with a thankful heart.

Community, Faith, Forgiveness, Identity, Redemption, Relationships


October 14, 2015


It may come as a shocker to you, but I am a hard friend to love. I’ll let you all take a moment to gasp a little at that thought. 😉 But seriously, I’m not always the easy friend in a group of people.

Naturally a little stand-offish and pretty opinionated, oftentimes I can come across as rude and unapproachable. My filter isn’t always very strong and sometimes even my most loving and gracious “encouragement” can come across as more of a lecture than a pep-talk. Know the type? Yeah, that’s me.

We’ve all got someone in our lives who’s “that friend.” The exhausting one. The Debbie-downer. The one who it feels more like work than a joy to to be around. The one who if you didn’t think it would be a total jerk move to do, you’d totally unfriend and unfollow them on social media. We all have them, and in truth, we might even be that friend ourselves.

What do we do when someone is difficult to love? Is every friendship worth the work? I know we don’t have to be friends with everyone, but how do we handle relationships with people who God has put in our path? Are some people just a lost cause?

About three years ago I would’ve said that some people just aren’t worth the work. Phrases like, “This is about as close as we’ll ever get” and “They just don’t want to know me or be friends with me” or “Forget them, I have other friends anyway” were common coming out of my mouth. I was very quick to dismiss anyone who wasn’t willing to put forth the effort I was and wrote it off as them just being stand offish and not friend material. Then I came out of the “I’ve been sexually abused” closet and everything changed.

For the first time in my life, I hungered for people to know me. I wanted people to see my pain and not only stand with me in it, but walk with me to see beyond it and find a new way of living. At the same time I was dealing with my crap, one of my dear friends was walking through the loss of a child. Her pain was far worse than my own, but her desire of being known was the same. Together we discovered something amazing.

To love well and to be loved well in return means to pursue the heart of another.

You see, I wanted so bad for people to see how I was hurting on the inside, but I was never going to show it on the outside. I needed to know that they were safe enough to entrust my fragile heart to. I needed to know that they cared for me not just when it was easy, but when I was at my most difficult to love. The only way I could know that was by them seeking out to know me and meet me where I was at.

Friends, we all carry secrets that create fortresses in our hearts. Wounds that build steel doors, keeping anyone at bay who may come too close. Yet it’s those very places that we want people most. Because those places of weakness, the places we hurt most, those are the places we need others. We just need someone willing to fight through.

That friend, the difficult one, she’s fighting a battle too. Her pain may run so deep that she has no idea just how fortified her heart has really become, and sadly, no one has ever tried to get in. So she keeps herself guarded, mean, and unapproachable not because she doesn’t want you as a friend, but because she doesn’t know how.

To be like Jesus to those around us means to press in, push harder, and love stronger even when there is never any return of the affection.

I’ve had a friend I’ve known for several years. She’s quiet and guarded. She’s so private with her emotions that I’ve only seen her cry once in the entire time I’ve known her. For many years I thought we’d never be more than casual friends, only discussing things like our kids and marriage. She was impenetrable and the only way we’d become closer was for her to change, or so I thought.

Last year I began to implement this idea of pursuing the hearts of my friends. She was my particular goal. I started slowly, just a simple text here and there letting her know I was thinking of her and praying for her. When we were together in groups, I’d make sure to invite her places and then let her know she was missed when she didn’t come. All the while on my own I kept asking God for an opportunity to let her know I loved her and wanted to love her well. He granted that prayer six months later over a cup of coffee.

While talking about a recent mission trip she had been on, I felt God give me a nudge to say something. I began by telling her how much I valued her as a friend. How I really was wanting God to use me to love my friends well and she was one of those. I told her how each of my friends needed love differently and so I asked her how I could love her better. What happened next was amazing.

We began to talk, I mean really talk, for the first time. She told me how I could love her better and what ways of approaching her or helping her would embarrass or make her uncomfortable and which ways would help. Then she said something that floored me. She said, “Heather, I really want to be known by people, I’m just not good at it. I need someone to help me.”

Ladies, that girl you find so frustrating, she wants to be known. That girl who you feel sucks the life out of you or never returns your kindness, she aches for friendship too. But maybe, like my friend, these girls aren’t good at it and they need someone who is willing to walk with them and help them break down those barriers to let someone in.

If Jesus Christ was willing to walk right into the depths of hell to claim our hearts, don’t you think we should be willing to do a fraction of the same for another?

Loving the unlovable is hard. It means loving simply because and not out of our desire to be loved back. It’s remembering that sometimes love means fighting for the heart of another, even if it doesn’t look like they want you to. It means drawing close when your instincts tell you to walk away. It means laying down your life, your needs, your wants, and loving simply because we are called to. I can say with full honesty that what comes out of that kind of love is something so wonderful and pure and holy that it is mind blowing. But you have to be willing to change yourself first.

How about today you put on those boxing gloves and go fight for the hearts of the unlovable. In time, you’ll set both your hearts free and discover the beauty of redeeming love.

Community, Faith, Forgiveness, Redemption, Relationships

Why the Church Is Messed Up

October 6, 2015

While you get ready in the morning, in the car, cooking, or in your waiting today, I hope you will listen.

I pray you will listen with an open mind as I know that some of you have been really hurt by the church and some have misconceptions about the church.

My desire is that you will understand what God intended the church to be, that it is FILLED with sinners, and that it is a beautiful gift that God has given us to understand more of forgiveness, love, and encouragement with one another.

Community, Faith, God, Identity, Relationships, Spiritual Life, Theology

Community In Us

September 23, 2015


This morning, the sunrise was radical.

The way the clouds stretched across the dark sky felt like the red velvet curtain in a theater was about to bust open.

The surface waters of the Atlantic reflected every speck of light that began to break over the horizon.


I could see it all.

The land stirring with dawn’s creatures under my feet.

The waters full of life only feet away.

The sky full of stars that seemed to be so close.


Dolphins searching, birds in formation, my family close, track of turles that had come up the beach where their mother’s had laid their eggs decades earlier- community was all around.


God created community.

God loves community.

God is community.


When we are unsure of what community looks like for ourselves, we have the perfect example in God Himself- God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.


God is the perfect image of community, and you may have heard the radical grace in Genesis 1:27, “So God created mankind in his own image…” Right from the start, we see that we are created BY community FOR community.


So we can’t talk about being in relationship with other people without being clear of the relationship within us. We can’t try and figure out community between us and other people without knowing how we are wired.


The need for community around us is fed by the Community within us.


Dear believer in Jesus, dear girl who has admitted your need for a Savior, the Holy Spirit is inside you. The Holy Spirit, God in community, lives in all believers of Jesus.


“Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14


At the end of Jesus’ life and ministry, he gifts us with the Holy Spirit to guide and counsel us. He even says that for now, we are “better off without Jesus”.


So how are we to be in community with God the Holy Spirit? Maybe I should have written a disclaimer at the top that said that this is not a Buzzfeed ‘Top 5’ list of ways to be closer to God or to know the Holy Spirit. I like simple and let’s be real—it’s Wednesday morning and you’re probably either reading this at work or on your phone under your desk at school (girrrllll I do it too!). There are a lot of other things that need your attention right now. So one thing to know better who the Holy Spirit is in us:


The holy, perfect, relevant, comprehensive word of God, the Bible, is the premier way of being in community with God. We can study Scripture. Meditate on it. Pray it. Read it out loud alone. Read it with other people. Check out Acts 2 for the picture of the Holy Spirit coming to Earth after Jesus ascended to heaven.


Ask God to help you understand how to engage in the community that He has already put around you. After all, God has community in Himself and we have community with God. The only way we can have true community and deep relationship with other people is because of the Holy Spirit living in us.


The Fellowship of the Believers

Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Community, Faith, Relationships

Real vs. Virtual Community

September 16, 2015

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When I was a kid the most “virtual” of a community you could have was to have a pen pal from another city that your mom probably set up or some school project paired you up with. You would write hand written letters back and forth, maybe add some crayon coloring or if you were real high tech like I was…you got on KidPix and added stamps, the original “emoticons”, to really get your emotion behind the letter across. I was part of the generation (which makes me feel old) that first experienced “virtual community”.   I was just hitting my preteen years when you could start signing up for a Hotmail email account and email your friends you met at camp instead of sending post cards through snail mail. I was in the generation that began chatting online using our very creatively made up AIM screen-names. I was in the generation that began texting…although none of us were allowed to because it cost our parents ten cents a text.

My generation was the beginning of something that on one hand held great advances in society, but on the hand other brought on some challenges and stumbling blocks that have hinder our ability to create real community. We’ve been given the ability to create false or masked identities to look better than we are or better than we think we are to those on the other side of the screen. We’ve been given a place to hide.

We now need to be a generation that fights for real community.

Now I am not saying that virtual community is all bad…I think AGLM is an example of what good virtual community can be…but only if it pushes you to go live away from your computer screen and seek real face to face interaction with people. Virtual community has value when it is supporting and encouraging you to go make a difference, it has value when it gives you a safe place of support for illness/adoption/causes/etc. and then encourages you to go create awareness and support for those in your own city and town.

But virtual community should never, ever take the place of face-to-face community. It’s the whole, “use in supplement to ________ not in replace of _______” theory. We as an AGLM community should always be encouraging each other to reach out in our schools, neighborhoods, churches, towns…we should be a support for each other not a replacement.   There is nothing more beautiful than gathering together to share a meal, being forced to sit across the table from someone for an extended period of time, savoring a home cooked meal (or just some really great Mexican take-out) and diving into each other’s lives.

What makes you hurt right now? What makes you come alive? What are your passions? What are your fears?   What makes you…you?  

Think about how “seen” you feel when someone takes the time to ask you these questions and really want to sit and hear the answers. Being seen though takes vulnerability, and lets face it…sometimes it’s just easier to sit behind the computer screen and type an email or comment on a blog post than it is to open your mouth and speak about where your heart is at, what your dreams really are, and what your fears may be to someone who can look you in the eyes and answer back.

Community is not easy. It can be messy and uncomfortable. It can be frustrating and hurtful. But it can also be healing, full of joy, and have the ability to bring relief to your heart’s desire to be known.   I think Jesus gave us such beautiful examples of how to create community with the way He lived his life and often in the simplest of ways. So often it simply included going into a home and breaking bread together. Meeting someone where they were; even at times walking into the home of people mourning a loss, shutting the door behind him, and allowing that small room of people to experience a vulnerable and amazing moment when he performs a miracle…only for their eyes. Community was always shown to go hand in hand with intimacy. It was in intimate settings with small groups of people.

Jesus wasn’t trying to be the popular guy at the large party and titling that “community”. No. Instead he was teaching people and meeting their needs in the comfort of their homes, at dinner tables, in boats, and in upper rooms. Yes, He taught on mountaintops and to crowds…but it was always him teaching a crowd…followed by him leaving the crowd to fellowship with a smaller, more intimate group. By us creating community in small settings it allows us to step into pain together, grieve with those who are grieving, get in the uncomfortable, sucky places in life and offer a place of safety. It allows us to laugh and find joy when the healing comes and feel a part of that healing even if it was for an individual, because it has been walked as a group.

This past year my husband and I have lost three homes that we had been under contract for at the last minute. It’s been a painful, frustrating process of getting excited, dreaming, finally feeling like we would have a space to call our own…only to be crushed, disappointed and left starting over at the end.   We have had a few key people walk the journey with us and while it hasn’t been them losing a house…them getting frustrated in our frustration, them getting passionate with us, crying with us, and rejoicing with us when the next good news comes…has given us the strength to keep going, it’s left us feeling less alone. It’s felt like a group effort and at the end a group celebration and victory. And while there are always seasons in life where community is scarce and we depend solely on Christ…we are created for community, we are created to not be alone.

A simple, sympathetic, moment of being frustrated with someone, a simple hug, a simple understanding nod…can mean the world to someone who feels alone and defeated. We should celebrate our friends. We should be cheerleaders through each other’s journeys in real life.

I would challenge you to sit with a group of friends this week or even just one individual in your life and really hear where they’re at. Push into it and dig a little. Offer a safe place for vulnerability, whether it’s for something exciting in their life or something that is hard…challenge yourself to meet them there. Not to just stand by and listen and just tell them how to fix it, but to really hear and walk next to them. Go sit face to face with someone and be the one to cultivate community.

Challenge your virtual community (AGLMers or others) to do the same and hold each other accountable.

Community, God, Relationships, Spiritual Life

Worth Fighting For

September 9, 2015

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“Hi, my name is Chelsea and I’m a people-loving, complete-opposite-of-shy, social butterfly and expert conversationalist.”

A year ago, that big mouthful is exactly how I would have described myself. I’d call myself an extreme extrovert who can talk for days and make friends with strangers. I would have confidently stated that large crowds don’t intimidate me, and new people and places are what make me come alive. And I fully believed this to be true.

That is, while I was living in my comfort zone and community was handed to me.

I grew up in a small town, small church, small school…everyone knew everyone, and friends were always easy to find and close by. As I moved on to college and then working with a ministry, my community was chosen for me – roommates, classmates, co-workers.

You see, I’ve never known what lonely feels like. Community was easy for me. It was something I never had to work for or be intentional about. It was always just there. At my disposal. Someone else cultivated community for me and I was just a pawn with a success story.

Then I moved. All by myself. To a brand new city. Where I knew only a few people. I’ve come to realize that now that I have to work for community, I’m more shy than I ever thought. I don’t want to visit churches by myself. I get too nervous to strike up a conversation with the girl sitting next to me at a coffee shop. I hesitate to share too much of my life with new people because I’m suddenly insecure.

So for a while I just kept to myself, hoping that the next time I walked into the grocery store I would randomly meet someone who would randomly invite me to go do some random thing somewhere sometime. I didn’t know how to build community, so I was kind of just hoping that it would find me.

But here’s the thing – sitting at home watching Netflix and waiting for new friends and weekend plans to appear out of nowhere will not satisfy our innate need for relationship anytime soon. The truth is, you are never going to find true community if you’re not actively looking for it.

…Ok. So maybe the Biebs was onto something when he said, “never say never”…I guess it is possible for community to come to you, for you to be in the right place at the right time, or for a complete stranger to reach out. Possible…sure. But likely? No. That’s not quite a reliable community-building plan.

So what do we do? How do we create community?

  • Church is probably the best place you can start – There’s something about a church family that just doesn’t compare to any other community. If you don’t have a church, find one! Ask a friend if you can join them some Sunday, or ask another friend who doesn’t have a church home either to start trying out churches together! Whatever it takes, make it a priority to find a place to get plugged in, and then get involved in the groups, events and activities your church offers!
  • Embrace the community right in front of you – You’re surrounded by people at school, the gym, your favorite coffee shop, work, your neighborhood…talk to them! Take time to get to know the stories behind the faces you see every day.
  • Remember to do life with people – Because that’s the point of community, right? To do life. Side by side. As Heather explained, we were never meant to do it all alone.
  • Invest in the relationships you have – We don’t deserve friendships; they are a gift. And gifts aren’t meant to be neglected, they’re meant to be cherished and enjoyed, cared for and well-loved.
  • Spend quality time with friends – I don’t mean texting each other from across the room or going to a movie and not talking. Take time to pay attention to the souls in front of you and love them well. Make the effort. They’re worth you’re time.
  • Get real – Let your walls fall, and fight every urge to build them back up. Dig deep. Bear your heart. Share your highs and lows, hopes and dreams, struggles and fears, the good, bad and ugly…laugh from your belly, let out a good ugly cry, and pray together. Remember, to have a friend, you have to be friend! Take the time to hear what’s on their heart, too.

And if you remember nothing else, remember this: Community isn’t about you. The focus shouldn’t be on what you’re going to get out of it. It’s about becoming more like Christ through serving and loving those around us.

Philippians 2:1-11 tells us the point is to be selfless and humble, valuing others above ourselves. Why? Because that’s exactly what Jesus did when he “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant” (v. 7). He didn’t have to reach out to us. He didn’t have to serve us. And he certainly didn’t have to die for us. But he did. Not because he was getting anything out of it. Not because we deserved it. But because he believes our hearts are worth fighting for.

So let’s join the fight. Let’s fight for community and serve our friends. One way we’ve started doing that on the AGLM team is with Friend Fridays! You may have noticed on some of our posts on social media we’ve hashtagged #FridaysAreForFriends. On Fridays we try to serve a friend in some way. Maybe that means bringing them coffee. Maybe we help a friend with a project. It could be anything! It just helps us remember to take the focus off of us and devote that day (or some part of it!) to someone we care about and show them they’re loved.

Now we want you to join in! As we go through this community series, be thinking of ways you can reach out to friends, old and new, and serve them. Show them you want to be in community with them! Invite them to go on an adventure with you. Bake them a special surprise and drop it off at their house or work with a note to encourage them. Get creative! Fridays are for Friends…but they can also be so much fun for you, too. And make sure to share you’re Friend Fridays with us! Post a picture or story, tag us and hashtag #FridaysAreForFriends. If you have an encouraging story once you try out our challenge, email us! You may see it on the blog!

”And so, my fellow AGLMers: ask not what your community can do for you – ask what you can do for your community.” (In the words of JFK…loosely adapted, of course 😉 )