On gathering (in)

by arianne

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One by one they walked in. We gently squealed. We all hugged.

As each woman arrived, the love grew and my anticipation increased.

So did my nervousness.

Some of these women I knew, but some I didn’t. More importantly, *they* all knew each other.  I was the newbie.

I pushed away the thoughts of being an outsider and enjoyed each small moment that collected into many moments. Secretly though, I was waiting for when I’d feel not “in”.

But that feeling never came. The outsider was an insider. I was a part of the family and treated like one.

Over some of the best low country food I’ve ever had, there were talks about life and love and marriage and the bedroom. Bathroom habits (ahem) and why I’m a hippie. Even Mabel’s story was shared.

We rode bikes on the beach to a soundtrack of The Weepies playing on my phone and drew a dream in the sand.

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We made waves next to the dolphins of Hilton Head and saw the beauty of the South Carolina coast first hand.

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We skyped with sisters in Guatemala and prayed for their broken hearts and the Spirit swirled so powerfully there was barely a dry eye in the room.

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We stayed in the most beautiful Southern warmth beach house I’ve ever seen.

In betwixt the fun and sun, were pockets of love that changed me. Filled my soul. Balm into wounds, deep ones, some I didn’t know were there. Others that were waiting to be soothed. All made new.

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Hilton Head brought me new soul friends that made me ache in my belly and cry real tears when they left.

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But it was about so much more.

We started planning this same experience for all of YOU.

The fun, the activities, the friends, the hugging, the music, the love, the sharing ALL OF IT.

We want an (In)Courage Beach Party for everyone next year. For refreshing, for healing, for community.

What do you think?

And just like I found I really *was* family, you will too.

Even if you come wondering if you will feel like an outsider, you won’t wonder for long.

This is the gathering of hearts that you’ve been waiting for. Or maybe your heart was waiting for it and you didn’t even know it.

We want to love on you, let you love on each other, and create a real in the flesh gathering for us all to spend time letting God be God and the rest be beautiful.

For now, I resign myself to the dreams I thought up this weekend. To the plans I made in my heart. And to hoping ALL of us have our beach house moment someday, too.

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**Click on photos for credit, and see the whole (In)Courage Beach Flickr group for some more great shots.

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