The Grove – Together

Can I just say that my heart is bursting, absolutely bursting as I see this community come alive here?  Ladies, you are my people, and to have us all circling up here, showing up with our joys and struggles, well, it’s a dream grown real.

Here today, we have our very first time to be together at The Grove.  This is where you’ll find the heart of our community.  This is where we get to hear the heart of all of YOU.

Here’s how The Grove works:

Each week, we’ll post a word prompt at the beginning of the week.  Look for it on the side bar.  Then at the end of the week, I’ll get us rolling with a post based on the word prompt.  Then it’s your turn.

Give us what you’ve got.  Got five minutes?  Give us five unedited minutes of your heart.  No pressure, no polishing.  Just write.  Be inspired by the ladies over at Lisa Jo’s.

Got art simmering in your soul?  Share with us your photos, sketches, paintings, poetry, graphic design.

Never, ever considered yourself a writer or artist?  You’re in good company. Here’s what I’m learning.  The Creator that knit me together, he stitched a piece of his Creator self in me.  So there’s a me that’s meant to create, to share what’s in me, what’s on my story path.

I’m still finding her, letting her out.  And I bet you are too.

So let’s do it here, together.

Here’s how to contribute:

  1.  If you don’t have a blog, share with us in the comments.  Soon (maybe today!) we will have the amazing ability to post images in our comments!  So post your words and (hopefully) your images there.
  2. If you have a blog, write or make art based on the prompt and link back here.  You can use the button from the side bar.
  3. Please select the permalink from your post (so not your blog’s url, but your post url:
  4. Use the blue linky tool at the bottom of The Grove post to enter your link.
  5. It will walk you through selecting which image you want to show up in the linky.
  6. Then your post will show up in The Grove’s linky.
  7. Then go share some comment love, applaud brave hearts!

Alright, here we go.  This week’s prompt is: TOGETHER

Let’s Do It Together

When I moved my life overseas seven years ago, I stepped off the plane armed with a degree, some mountaintop short-term trips, and full confidence that I was about to change the world.  Sure, I had never actually been in China before.  Nor had I ever taught at the university level; I was barely out of university myself!  But none of that bothered me. I’d figure it out. I can do this. And I can do it myself.

But I quickly realized that if I didn’t depend on my experienced teammates for everything, my husband and I would likely starve, be fired from our teaching positions, and have an invasion of mold overtake our home. So I leaned on my experienced teammates as if my life depended on it, because, well, it did.  I swallowed my pride and did what I detest doing.  I asked for help.  I said, “I’m not enough on my own.  I need you.”

And it went like that for a few months, until my pride decided, “Ok, thank you very much for your help, but now, everyone please stop telling me what to do.  I’ve got this now.”

I needed to get back to the version me who has it all together.  In my pre-overseas life, I had fought hard to be her, and I had done a fairly decent job of at least appearing to be her.  For my first months overseas, being her was utterly impossible. And I missed her.  I needed her.

So I began the fight to find her.  As I did, I would look at other women, and mentally note every way that they were more “together” than I was.  Look at her home.  Look at her cooking.  Look at her language ability.  The list went on.  Somehow, these women became threats, competition in my fight to be who I wanted to be.

I pulled in and away from these women, determined not to reveal to the world how utterly incapable and floundering I felt.  By no longer asking for help, by propping up a self-sufficient facade, I unknowingly removed myself from the very life source I needed.

Then in the midst of all that I became a mother.  Still determined to appear like I had it all together, I privately read all the parenting books in hopes of figuring out this motherhood gig.  You can imagine how well that went.

Here’s what I’ve learned in the years since then, over the course of lonely days and fretful striving.  It’s only in wrecking that propped up façade, in torching the “I have it all together” ideal that I can be who I am meant to be.  And that involves getting very real with women around me.  That means opening up and saying, “Here’s me, and here’s how I’m floundering.” That means seeing another woman’s giftedness not as a threat, but as a cause to celebrate her.  It’s leaning in, not away, even when personalities clash and conflicts occur.  It’s laying aside my self-sufficient armor, and saying to women, “I need you.  I can only do this life with you.  I can’t make it on my own.”

Then strangely, that fretful striving, it ceases. When you know the real me, I can stop trying to fool you into believing I have it all together. Really, we’re all floundering and falling heavy on grace.  So how about let’s do it…together.


Join me?  Show up real and raw.


  1. emily thomas November 14, 2013

    You’ve learned so much! We got off that plane at the same time. I loved reading your words and knowing we were both lost as can be in the same moments in the same country!

    1. Danielle Wheeler November 14, 2013

      I will feel a forever bond to our group that stepped foot into China together. Remember going out that first morning together? Lost indeed!

  2. Kristi November 14, 2013

    Danielle, I can relate to thinking I had it all together before I came to China. I had lived and worked in the same place for 16 1/2 years. A self-deceptive facade was firmly in place. My loving Father tore that facade down. It was painful beyond words. But it was oh so very, very necessary and so GOOD. Thanks for sharing your story. The following is my response to the prompt.


    Hand in hand our
    Strength is multiplied
    And pain diluted
    Joy intensified
    And sorrows sifted
    Our reach becomes longer
    While distances becomes shorter
    Burdens are lightened
    And Love
    Flow freely
    Our hope breaks through
    Another’s darkness
    The fire of our faith
    Keeps another’s glowing
    Love provides a safe place
    Where we can just be
    Gifts are recognized and encouraged
    Self-doubt gets washed away
    Lies are banished by Truth spoken
    Sins’ sharp, rough edges are worn away
    We are polished and perfected

    1. Morielle November 14, 2013

      Kristi, I hope you don’t mind that I wrote this poem down and taped it to my refrigerator. It’s so beautiful and so true.

    2. Shelly November 15, 2013

      Another beautiful poem! Thank you for sharing your gift for the building up of the body. And I heartily encourage you to continue! 🙂

  3. Danielle Wheeler November 14, 2013

    Oh, Kristi, this is stunning! I’m reading it again and again, letting the beauty and power of each line sink it. What a gift to have you offer this here. Thank you.

  4. Morielle November 14, 2013

    One of the first questions out of my mouth during our long drive from the airport to the school was, “Is there a church in our city?” Nope. The cold fear settled into my chest. No church? I had trusted God to bring me to a place where I could work with God’s family. I had trusted the words of a woman who knew lots about this country who had told me confidently that every city had at least one government authorized church.

    Apparently my city was too small. Or too remote. Or too Muslim. Who knows? It didn’t matter at the time. I was scared.

    But in that first month, I learned that God was calling me to talk about Christ, church or no church. To love people more than myself, whether or not I could bring them to services.

    And then, He gave me the wonderful gift of Together.

    Just a few people, brothers and sisters, old and young, all half my height and weight. Sometimes they ask me to read Bible verses in English, just to giggle at how foreign it sounds. Can that really be Genesis 1?

    Half are illiterate: they know all the hymns; they close their eyes as the scripture is being read. I practice the Lord’s prayer at home, but I still can’t say it fast enough to keep up with them.

    I only understand half of the sermon, half of the prayer requests, half of the hymn lyrics. But so often, my eyes fill with tears of joy. So grateful to be a cell in the body of Christ – a huge weird-looking not particularly articulate cell – but Together with all the rest.

    1. Danielle Wheeler November 14, 2013

      The gift of Together doesn’t often come fitting our pre-made wish list, does it? I suppose that’s why it changes us. Love picturing you with your little group.

    2. Edwina November 14, 2013

      Loving that last night…so true…so thankful. Thanks for sharing!

      1. Edwina November 14, 2013

        Um….I mean…last LINE…lol

    3. Kristi November 15, 2013

      I love the picture of them closing their eyes when the scripture is read. I picture it like being in the shower and letting the hot water rush down your face then cover your whole body. They are really taking it in. It’s cleansing them inside and out as it penetrates every pore! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Shelley November 15, 2013

    When I read the word “together” the first picture that came to my mind was a group of Chinese girls I have had the privilege of meeting with weekly for about a year. One of them tutors me in Chinese, and one day she came to my house to find me fighting back tears. This dear lady lifted up with me. Then, that night I received a text message from another member of the group, ” We heard you were sad, can we come to your house tonight?” Two other girls came to my house and brought snacks. Their only purpose was to be “together” with me. They needed nothing from me. We sat, we talked, we ate, we laughed. They lifted my sadness up and then left. Their visit touched my heart and lifted my sadness. We all need togetherness..we all need people who just want to sit with us sometimes and need nothing in return. I am blessed to have that group of girls in my life.

    1. Amy Young November 15, 2013

      What a beautiful picture of the body and what togetherness can look like!

    2. Danielle Wheeler November 15, 2013

      Shelly, what a moving picture of “together.” Thank you for sharing. The Chinese have taught me a lot about the gift of togetherness. So glad you have that group of girls!

    3. Shelly November 15, 2013

      Shelley, I loved the imagery of those girls coming over to lift your sadness up. The story also convicts me because I can be too focused on “the work” that I neglect giving the gift of togetherness, the gift of lifting another person’s sadness, the gift of presence.

  6. Amy Young November 15, 2013

    Alrighty folks, I do NOT get how the spirit leads and WHY he lead me, as my first grovy thing, to be a poem :). But there you have it. I linked to it above. Why do some form of writings/art make me so confident and others like a second grader?!! Funny how art is :). Kristi, I love reading your poetry (and am thankful you were given 10 talents) in poetry. Here I offer my one talent and SO GET the guy who buried his 🙂

  7. Patty Stallings November 15, 2013

    – being with someone, not just in proximity but in heart
    – the sweet ache of being apart
    – the multiplied joy of triumph and the shared tears of sorrow
    – the freedom that comes from being known as you truly are
    – the quiet roar of presence, protection, promises kept
    – love that surrounds and covers brokenness

    Beep, beep. Oh my word, how do the rest of you write so much and so beautifully in 5 minutes!? I need lessons!

    1. Shelly November 17, 2013

      I love this Patty. And for the record–your words are beautiful and they resonate with me. I am putting them up on my wall. 🙂

    2. Danielle Wheeler November 18, 2013

      If five minutes is what you have, five minutes is what we’ll take. If you have more, we’ll take that too. 🙂

      There’s so much depth in each line, Patty!

  8. Kristi November 15, 2013

    Love the alliterated line “the quiet roar of presence, protection, and promises kept.” These are some of the most important things in the life of the Body! We often know His presence, protection, and fulfilled promises through being together with others.

  9. Heather November 16, 2013

    I, and one other young woman, reside high up in the mountains. Hundreds of miles from other family members. Just us two and our light of hope. We are in this together! My journey to arrive here as well as my time here, could only have happened with together. While in miles I am far from the rest of family and my family, I am far from alone. Loneliness happens, yet I am comforted by knowing that I am not alone. I am together with many! I only have to look at my window to see a light shining and I know that I am not alone, but I am here, together, with a friend and sister. Together…it is a choice to be a part of something bigger than just me.

    1. Morielle November 16, 2013

      What an inspiring story!Thanks so much for sharing.

    2. Amy Young November 16, 2013

      “Together…it is a choice to be a part of something bigger than just me.”

      I love this. And it’s one you’ll make again and again. Even when the time comes for you to leave (if it comes). These are choices we need to make our whole life. Oh that it got easier 🙂

    3. Elizabeth November 16, 2013

      I love this! It’s so encouraging!

  10. Jo November 16, 2013

    Oh, how I wish I had it together.
    Well, ok, I look like I have it together. I’m so brave, being willing to go where God calls. I’m such a great example to others who fear going overseas because of family commitments. I’m so open and willing to talk about having post natal depression, which is a fantastic example to others. But really? REALLY?! Didn’t you hear me? I have pnd!! I can’t cope without the aid of a pill! That’s not having it together! That’s falling apart!
    But… and there IS a but…
    But I know so many other women in my situation who also don’t have it together. Who ask me pointed questions about how I knew it was pnd… Women who cry when we get together for an evening out. Women who don’t talk about certain issues. Women who need the Lord every single day of their lives. But wait – that’s all of us! What if… what if none of us have it together?

    What if we’re together in that?

    1. Sara Wurgler November 18, 2013

      I’m encouraged by your weakness- it is beautiful and helps me feel stronger in my own weakness.

    2. Morielle November 18, 2013

      “what if none of us have it together?

      What if we’re together in that?” Yes. What an encouraging thought.

  11. Kristi November 16, 2013

    Thank you for brave straight to the heart honesty. You are so right. Thank you for reminding me that we are all frayed around the edges and coming apart at the seams. Without weakness we would not need His strength or be able to demonstrate and offer it to others.

  12. Sara Wurgler November 18, 2013

    Together…. it’s messy. I cannot live without “Together.” Especially in this place. I die on the vine Alone. Isolation is so much a part of my reality of living overseas yet it is coupled with some of the deepest, messiest, most life-giving relationships I have ever had. Alone is how I often feel in motherhood and in ministry and as a foreigner. Together is what I long for. Some together moments are so beautiful- refreshment that reaches deep in to my soul. Many together moments are deeply messy, marred by the brokenness inside of us and in this world. Sometimes I’ll do anything to get away from together… But He keeps bringing me back… because I need it… because He created me for it. Can there be beauty in the mess? Hope in the brokenness? Are hurting, sinful people really supposed to be together in this way? More and more the answer in my heart is a wrenching YES. Why? Why this way? Why in this place? The hurt feels much deeper here, the brokenness more real, the interactions more like lifelines… until they are not. Is His love big enough for the moments when they are not… when I am not…
    Together can happen in unlikely places. To the freshman student I sat across the table from last week: We don’t speak the same language, we don’t come from the same place, our hopes and dreams are different, we don’t believe the same things about life and God…. but I am homesick just like you… I am glad for a moment to be Together in that… in heartbreak… How I long that you would have a piece of the small hope that I have in Someone who loves us in and through our brokenness….

    1. Morielle November 18, 2013

      “The hurt feels much deeper here, the brokenness more real, the interactions more like lifelines… until they are not. Is His love big enough for the moments when they are not… when I am not…” That bit resonated so much with me. I’m clinging to the hope of Someone who loves me through my brokenness too.

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.