424 miles of highway. Car is packed, three songs stayed on repeat as I held tight to the lyrics that provided the constant reminder – His presence is a promise. I moved to a new city that day, and, while I thought my life was in shambles, the Lord knew that by walking through the wooden door of the Cardinal Cottage, it was the beginning of something sweet, and actually life-changing.
Life-change happens in the context of relationships.
The girl who first walked through that door on June 11th, 2014, didn’t know who she was and did not have the words to describe the deep sorrow in her heart. It was a year of loss, which created a dark storm inside of me, swirling with anger towards the Lord. My heart hurts, don’t you think I’ve had enough? Are you actually who you say you are? Loving? Faithful? I am thankful for my Father who relentlessly pursues me even when I question His character.
His pursuit of my heart was evident in His provision of community.
Yes, the cardinal cottage is full of sweetness, but it’s not the physicality of the cedar walls that border half the house, or the two chairs on the porch that have rocked me during my moments of questioning and processing. It’s the friends that live here – my community – my chosen family who brought me in when life hit hard and consistently reminded me that Jesus is faithful.
Community has taught me a lot about grace as I’ve learned how to receive when I have nothing to give in return. It’s allowing others to take you in, cook dinner, put oils on your pillow and serve you coffee in the morning. It’s the conversations around the dinner table that speak truth into your situation, provide guidance in the fog, and challenge the doubts that are proven contrary to Scripture.
And yes, it is challenging. There is nothing comfortable about letting others know the depths of my heart. All the struggles, questions, dreams, and sin while then giving them permission to hold me accountable when I’m prone to wander, which is daily. But the lack of comfort is incomparable to the goodness that comes with it. It’s experiencing Jesus and a whole new depth of his love while those around you sing the words that help you rest assured of the promise of His presence even in the deepest valleys.
… And then having the opportunity to gather and sing over those who need it too.