I really don’t know much about Chickens. What I do know is that they make excellent roommates. They are not foul. They do not give a cluck about your morning breath or scary pre-make-up face or bedhead. They make excellent spooning partners and are hilarious. They are both beautiful and graceful, even while shaking their tail feathers.
Ok, maybe not the animal chickens, but my sweet friends from the Buda Coop over the For the Love weekend make the best chicken family. In case you’re wondering, and I know you are, the chicken reference comes from the For the Love book. Women are often like chickens, they go out into the world, do their own thing, ruffle a few feathers maybe, take care of our baby chicks, but always come back together and roost in their own little community. We want to be like chickens.
And we were. We basically modeled a commune but without the weird sex hookups and drum circles. Plus extra margaritas and adult coloring books (also not related to weird sex hookups, just felt that needed to be clarified, Mom.)
We laughed a lot. We cried a lot. We prayed a lot. We sat in our pjs late at night and talked and woke up late to plates of bacon and beautiful scrambled eggs (acknowledge the awkward twist the chicken theme takes here.) Oh, and we threw a party for 200 other women that had descended on Austin that weekend at Jen Hatmaker‘s house.
For the past three months the Buda Coop chickens planned a Texas-themed shin dig complete with a taco bar, two types of margaritas, country music, mason jar decorations, and lots of big laughter. Jen was gracious enough to open up her big beautiful backyard to us. And somehow, in between blinks of the eye, this amazing party came together and everyone got to meet their BFF’s and online therapists (also, not really).
People totally thought we were weirdos for meeting a bunch of internet strangers. “What IS this thing?” They would ask. And it was so hard to explain this experience. I wish the words existed to describe it, and for someone who likes to talk as much as I do I am completely dumbfounded. Six months ago I submitted a little blurb about myself including my website, social media presence, and a few witty one-liners. Also, I definitely tried to bribe the publishers with chocolate chip cookies. I had no idea what a launch team was, honestly, I figured I’d get to read the book early and maybe post something… somewhere. Whatever man, SEO is SO not my language.
But I was totally blown away to be one of the 500 selected out of 5,000 to participate. And then it turned into a whole OTHER thing in our private group. At first it was sort of just pleasantries, posting mostly jokes and superficial bits of life. It was like an online cocktail party but with grape juice instead of wine because there was a bunch of Baptists. But then someone posted something personal, and people showed up with support and guidance and wise words beyond belief. Heck, I broke my arm and local people I had never met brought food to my door to feed my family JUST BECAUSE.
If you have ever felt lonely. If you have ever felt misunderstood. If you have ever held deep dark secrets of pain or struggle, you know how badly you want to feel connected. When someone says “I’ve been there,” that burden gets a little lighter. When someone says, “you do not deserve that shame,” there is healing. When someone says, “you are worthy,” there is growth. We steal back power from the enemy when we reach out to each other. Bringing hard things into the light and finding non-judgement unconditional support from others, as well as witnessing the kind of love that poured out of each post that someone would write is amazing. It was truly life-changing.
Personally, I found courage, confidence, and healing in the times I finally did let my guard down. Being vulnerable and becoming a safe place for others is my greatest calling. Just doing life with other people, cultivating a tribe of caring community-minded friends, and fostering encouragement is the most beneficial thing that I can do while I’m here on earth. And it started before Austin, but morphed into reality in the Buda Coop.
I cannot tell you how many people have wrote me and said, “this experience has changed you.” And it has in the most supernatural way. I don’t doubt that I was chosen for this experience for a reason. I think the moment that stands out to me the most is when I was sitting and listening to Jen speak at Austin New Church with tears streaming down my face as she preached about protecting our children, about God being witness to painful things, and my dear friend Krista grabbed my hand. It might as well of been arm reaching in to pull me out of a cavernous hole. That’s love.
“If we tell the truth in the small things, our honesty is well-practiced when stuff gets dire. This creates a sincere community for which the earth is starving. In a world full of fake, artificial, pretend, and superficial, we have the sustenance to nourish our starving hearts.” – Jen Hatmaker, For the Love