It started little, like most things do when God begins something wonderful for me.
It was initiated when a friend left her job at the church and was replaced with Marjorie.
Marjorie and I fell into a pattern of lunching together, as I had previously done with my friend before her. Marjorie and I did a dance of figuring each other out for a bit, and soon discovered a lot of similarities.
We often ordered the same food at restaurants, the exact same way. We would occasionally share meals when our waistlines or budgets were tight.
There were days that we showed up in the same outfit. Discounting the dozen church t-shirts we both owned, there were still times the color of our shirts, camis, shoes, and jacket/cardigan would match.
Marjorie was a gift, and God began doing things in us that neither of us had planned. He used our similarities to bond us and our differences to strengthen us.
Marjorie and I lunched weekly without fail. We also served side by side at church several times a week, and we were a dynamic duo. As the years passed, we grew closer and coveted our lunches. And then God spoke, You need to invite Jill.
This was another time I was not so sure God had things right. I did not want to share my “Marjorie time” with Jill. But as usual, God was right, and Marjorie and I added Jill to our lunches.
Jill was such a blessing to us, but she did not “match” us. She ordered her salad with no bacon.
But soon, Jill bursting into song, or having no clue what to do with an infant was just what we needed, and then we could not imagine a time without her. (Plus my prayer warriors should know that she was healed of that not likng bacon thing.)
When 2008 happened to us (a rough year I share about in 3 parts in a series starting with this post), we clung to each other and our lunch time, like a lifeline. 2008 forged our friendships in the fires of pain, emptiness, and gut-wrenching moments that no amount of time or practice could have done.
We spent some years healing together after that.
We had our favorite restaurants, and none were immune to tears, anger, screaming children, confessions, joys, struggles, and baby announcements. It was sometime during this time that my kiddos started calling this weekly gathering “Lunch with the Girls.”
But as 2009 blurred into 2011, God wanted more from me. He wanted me to do something more for women, and He spoke the words, You need to start a women’s group.
At first, I tried to figure out how I could get out of it (I may be noticing a pattern here), and my full schedule was my excuse for a while. Then God said, You need to do it on Wednesday afternoons.
BUT that was MY “Lunch with the Girls.” I did not want to do it.
As I talked and prayed it over with my girls, they also (slightly begrudgingly) agreed to do it. So we sent out invitations (hoping no one would come) so that we could keep LWTG to ourselves. No one could possibly understand how precious it was to us.
I made lunch each week, hired my cousin to come and keep an eye on our kiddos, and shared what God had taught me during that week. It was a hit!
Every time someone else shows an interest in our group, I think to myself, they are not coming back. I mean we run about 12-15 women and about 95 kids.
I call it divine chaos. I swear sometimes I move a piece of furniture, and those kids scramble like cockroaches.
BUT the girls keep coming back for more.
I often wonder, WHY?
And the answer is simple.
They come, because we love each other, we pray for each other, we celebrate POOP (in the right places) together, and we help each other figure out how to get more bacon and Jesus in our lives.
LWTG has turned into more than Marjorie, Jill, and I could ever have dreamed. I have to admit that there are times I miss the quiet (and not so quiet) moments tucked away in the corner of a restaurant, but I would say that Marjorie and Jill would agree that we left the better, for the best.
LWTG has met weekly at my house for 2 years now. I make some crazy foods and some crazy statements of faith. I also swear that it will also be the birthplace of “throat punch” making its way into the terminology of women’s groups across the globe.
But the truth is that LWTG really flourished when I stepped into who God made me to be, and that obedience happened to answer the need of many women around me.
God surprises and blesses me through LWTG, and it is their love, support, and sometimes spiritual “throat punches,” (along with my family and Jesus) that has gotten me off of “my fine southern background” and produced this blog.
I love every one of my LWTG girls, and I will never be the same because of them.