#the4500: An Introduction

First things first: just over two years ago I hit a wall. A declaration over and rejection of what I perceived to be my calling/my ambition/my whatever-you-want-to-call-it and a wasted/missed opportunity resulted in my disengagement with almost everything around me. It’s all water under the bridge now, and a long, hard story that doesn’t need to be told here (yet). But the reality that it happened is important in preceding this post.

Before this period, I wrote a lot. I read a lot. After this, I stopped—reading voraciously, stopped blogging, stopped journaling.  My last blog was posted in December of 2013. I haven’t really written since then. Until earlier this year, the emotion was too raw, the rejection too near, the questions too unresolved. But I began to feel the bubble of the unwritten words that filled my heart. The stories I needed to tell, the declaration I needed to put forth. For a writer, the burden of an untold story is heavy. Add an ISFJ personality into the mix, and it’s a nightmare. Too many thoughts in one’s head at once are overwhelming—and writing has always been my processing outlet.

November 2014-March 2015 were hard months for me because I was faced with a dear friend’s second battle with pancreatic cancer. In ways that were far beyond my capacity, I was called to come alongside her and her family during that time. For the first time in those two years, I began to let myself show up and feel life again.

In early March, as I felt the stir to begin recording my story again, I stumbled upon a launch team application for Jen Hatmaker‘s  forthcoming book, For the Love. Initially, I dismissed it, but it kept hanging around the edges of my mind. So, on the day before the application deadline,  I applied. An excuse to write regularly by reviewing the book and putting the word out? Sure, why not?

But I wasn’t the only one jumping in that boat—there were 5,000 people (mostly women and a few brave men). Yes. 5,000. Jen’s team issued an email to the 4500 of us who didn’t make the cut and included four chapters of the book to preview.

So here were the rest of us: the un-chosen, the rejected, and the unpicked. But not for long.

There was this tweet:

Then a hashtag robbery that turned into a Facebook group.
Thus, #the4500 was born.

What began as a “no” from the launch team application became a redemption story in the making, even today. One woman (Anna) created a #hashtag and another woman (Tracy) created a Facebook group for those of us who didn’t make the cut.

I must say, when I stumbled across Anna’s tweet on Twitter, I was amused. When I found the FB group and dared to request to join, I was wary. An online community of strangers? And they were pouring their hearts out to one another—about EVERYTHING under the sun??? They were creating new ministries, writers groups, organizing meet-ups around the country??? Umm, thanks, but no—I’ll just be over here on the fringes, writing a book review or two, tweeting about the book—but that’s it.

And so, I lurked. For months. Posting a comment here and there, but never really committing myself to these strangers. Until last week. I dreamed of a #the4500 conference, of meeting the faces behind the names in the group, of having heartfelt conversations. So I posted about it the group, and it set off a series of connections that blows my mind a week later. It’s a story for its own post, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

This apparent rejection from the launch team in March has morphed into something so rare in today’s comparison culture: a group of 1300 women sharing struggles, celebrating successes, laughing together, praying over one another—without judgment, without comparison, without exclusion. It has been such a blessing.

I’m proud to be a part of this ever-evolving sisterhood.

~*~

 

Autumn’s Arrival

It’s Fall.

Autumn.

A new season. 

Isn’t it interesting when the changing of a season actually coincides with new seasons of our lives?

(And the creation of a new blog because you’re locked out of your previous one. Grr.)

I’m finding myself there today…

anticipating the growth of new friendships

as the leaves go dormant for winter;

celebrating the domino effect of God-breathed events over close-held prayers

as the leaves begin to blaze radiant and descend their lofty perches.

The air is crisp,

with more than a hint of expectancy drifting along for the ride.

And, for a change, I’m attempting to drift with it,

without the usual anxiety, excuses, foreboding, etc.

that comes when newness is on the horizon.

Playlist: Rend Collective, The Artist

2013

I’ve been absent here for much of this year. Sometimes, the blank page is more painful than cathartic. Sometimes, the painful day-to-day needs to sit for months to lose the sting of its reality. 

This summer I started another blog. A blog full of anticipatory hope, expectation, excitement. A blog that would detail my journey to a place I’d been headed toward for years. A blog about my two weeks at Gallaudet University. On July 15th, I posted my third and last entry on that freshly-made blog.

And that’s when it all went to pieces. My mental, emotional, spiritual, physical states–the whole of me–hit a wall, tumbled into a darkness that threatened to choke me. I tried to fix it with my feeble plans and got buried deeper. I faced demons I didn’t know existed in my soul. Something shriveled in the core of me.

Perhaps I hid it well from most. Perhaps I didn’t. I know there are at least a few who saw the plunge. Who knew the reason. Thank God for their listening ears (you know who you are). There were those who knew/know something was/is up, but had/have no idea what. Thank God for their tentatively probing questions, their prayers, their wisdom (I hope you know who you are).

This wasn’t just about Gallaudet. Gallaudet was the tip of the proverbial iceberg, the breaking point. Everything else caved in as a result.

It wasn’t pretty. And I don’t want to dwell on it. The weight of the past eight months (entire year, really) is too heavy for the page to bear. It needs to be written–if only just to get it out and on the page. (The burden of a story untold is a heavy burden for a writer.) Maybe one day.

For now, all I need to know is that it happened–and it is not all resolved–but for Grace that redeems lost souls, lost time, and lost hope.

Tomorrow, another day dawns, another year awakens–clean, blank, a canvas upon which to write another chapter. We live; we learn; we find the strength, the will, the sheer determination to press forward, relinquishing that which needs to be buried for the moment and clinging to the Hope that it won’t always be this way.

Welcome, 2014.

~~~

“And there’s the utter release of being more grateful for what is than feeling guilty for what isn’t —

The moving forward always happening in the relief that

all the guilt is covered by His grace.” ~Ann Voskamp

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