About the Author

Kristen writes at her parenting blog, We Are THAT Family and is author of Rhinestone Jesus: Saying Yes to God When Safe Sparkly Faith is No Longer Enough and founder of The Mercy House. Follow Kristen on twitter as @WeareTHATfamily.

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  1. Kristen, thank you for this beautiful story and your beautiful work. I’ve adopted seven teens from poverty backgrounds and helped girls from poverty in South America. I love the way you created a way for the girls to earn a living. Awesome.
    Also, I went to school in Kenya, E. Africa so this especially touches my heart.

    May God bless you and your work richly,
    Sharon Gibson
    http://www.15minutewriter.com

  2. Boy, can I relate to your post (almost word for word), except for the ending. I am still working on that part. I have found a group of women who are slowly becoming my “real friends.” One thing they do for me is “hold me accountability.” Not only do they hold me accountable for my daily walk with Christ, but also for my commitment to the group… and that is just what I need.

    • I am still looking and praying for this. I lost my Best friend in 2009 and she was not only my best friend but my accountability partner. She held me to the fire on every part of my life and I really miss her. Recently, I was told I should look in the mirror and see why I don’t have many friends. It’s not the fact that I don’t have friends I need a friend or a group of women who will be there though thick and thin! Still looking!!

      God Bless

  3. I truly can relate to your post and pray for friends who understand me and my love for God it is hard to find them online or off. I hope that one day it will happen for me. I hope God will help me to find what he has given you. Great post

  4. God did this for me! He guided me to a wonderful church and then he worked on me for years! He started with one person, a woman who began to counsel me. He used her to help me branch out one person at a time. She would ask me early on who could I ask to pray with us or with me and I couldn’t answer her. I didn’t know of anyone. Slowly over the last 6 years He has provided me with a small handful of people who know a lot about me and support, encourage, push, pray, cry, laugh and love with me. All people for various stages of my healing process. All people who I have leaned on more than I have ever leaned on anyone in my life. Life is still hard to handle but its a lot easier having these friends to help me sort out things.

  5. Your courage to trust in the community you have supporting you during the *whirl and twirl* of the days…that’s worship. When we receive the {Grace}–unwrapping what we may not expect or even trust in–that’s our worship.

    I know this tentative willingness to receive and trust the community around me. I’m struggling with the ability of *man* to forgive and accept. And I’m struggling with my own acceptance of their imperfect willingness to support me, imperfectly–as I struggle to accept my own imperfections and limitations. Just because folks around us may not completely *get* us, or we may not even completely get ourselves, doesn’t make their presence in our lives–or in life–any less worth it. There’s purpose for them, and us, and even this–even this tentativeness that humbles us and helps us to See *Different* and {Grace}, and learn how to worship.

    {apologies here…I have my own writing to do about this, I think…}

    Rich blessings to you, Kristen, as you learn more about True Worship through unwrapping {Grace} for those around you…

  6. I don’t have the pity taste in my stomach, I have the understanding feel in my heart. I can relate, I have always distanced myself from people to keep the hurt of abandonment and rejection away. I have a deep mistrust of people. I love people and getting to know them, but run if they actually stay around long enough to try and get to know me, but the older I get, the nor God is working on my heart with this. Instead of me moving, He’s got me settling. And although, the pit in my stomach has butterflies and wants to run, I’m slowly, cautiously settling into community.

    • I understand how I protect myself from rejection and abandonment as I read this post. It is preferable to me to be by myself but it makes me feel isolated and lonely and getting too close to others makes me feel nervous and on guard. Yes my heart understands where you are coming from

      • Thank you, this last posting is just what I am feeling. Several years ago I had a group of friends who I liked doing things with and knew they would back me up anywhere……….and then I am sorry to say, my marriage failed and when I filed for divorce, not one friend stayed to help me pick up the pieces.
        I learned in the long run, these people were with me because we all liked to party and as long as my husband and I paid everyones way (sort of) when his income left, so did they. It hurt and still hurts. Taking sides when they only know one side isn’t easy on anyone.
        Therefore, I learned not to trust anyone! Not a soul, and not even me. I pulled back into a shell, like a turtle and only within the past 10 years or so have I cautiously reached out……………and I retreat with a blink of an eye.
        God has me in His hands and I am learning with a Good Christian Church group of people……….a Pastor who understands losers and “Red-Necks” and each day I am finding myself born again and feeling like I matter.
        If not to people, I matter to God and with Big Brother Jesus on my side, I will be fine.
        Thank you for this caring message. God bless…………..and Hugs
        Judy

      • Hi my name is Cathy I have been both rejected and abandoned in my life and I understand what you are saying; in protecting ones heart one becomes lonely and isolated. I too get nervous and sometimes even feel so exposed when I open myself up to others. I need christian community and friendship I attend a church however all the women are mainly married with children and I am kind of an oddity on my own.

  7. What a great reminder! I find that I have a lot of trouble finding people in my community who have the same views as I do, so I tend to turn to the internet for like minded people. And I also don’t feel like I need to hide anything online, whereas in person I like to keep more of my personal life, personal…and hidden. Maybe it is fear of rejection, I’m not sure. My husband and I are hoping to start a small group within our church soon, so maybe I will be able to come out of my shell a little bit more…and hopefully I won’t frighten anyone away!

  8. I really understand what you’re talking about, but I am wondering….where do you find those people. My family is having trouble finding a spirit filled, relationship oriented local church. (Connecticut is a bit…..dry from what I’m told. I wouldn’t know; I’ve been here all my life) Without that, I’m not sure how to find that group of friends. I have a few of those friends through the fire department my husband belongs to, but they don’t share my faith. I am craving those relationships that can encourage on that level. Where did you find them.

    • I’m with you 100% on this! We are having a very hard time finding a “home” church and it seems when we find one, its hard to get into the already established relationships there. I also really want (and need) to have christian friendships in my life, but am having a hard time figuring out where to find those. I think the best bet is a church… maybe we will just have to step up the search here in Ohio. (We are in a small town, so the choices are limited) I hear you though, its not always easy to find these kinds of friendships. Here’s to hoping you (and I) find the type of close friendships we need…. ;o)

      • We found it in a small church, of less than 300 people. It wasn’t easy, but we had to make the tough decision that where we were wasn’t offering the heart community we needed. I think finding community is risky. But since God *wants us* to find it, I think He will lead. I will be praying for you guys to find it!

  9. I’m with you – I don’t have a ton of friends either. And for a while that was purely because I was too afraid to reach out to others. But God has seen fit to give me two women who have become deep soul-sisters. I’m so grateful God challenged me to get past my comfort zone a year and a half ago, because they have become my community – encouraging, supporting and loving me in ways I never could have imagined.

  10. I am actively trying to find where I fit. Where I once thought I fit, I no longer do. I can only pray and hope that I find even a few woman to connect with just as you have. I do not know where or how it will happen but know I need it. On line has been wonderful to connect with women but I need the in real time connection as well. I hope God guides me as he did you. Such an inspiration and comfort to read of yourself that was once in my shoes and all the women here saying they are there too.

  11. I am so thankful for my church community, my friends and family and my blogging sisters who God has sent my way to strengthen and encourage me.

  12. You hit on my hubby exactly! He is a true introvert. Both he and I don’t have many friends. He’s beginning to open up more and more to people at our little church. I do Bible Study and Women’s group stuff.

    No man/woman is an island unto themselves. We need each other for morale support, prayers and to rejoice with us.

    I pray God will lead you to find many, many more friends.

  13. Yep. I hear you all to well. I’m an introvert and my heart’s still stuck in Africa. Though, the hard part for me has been that I’m in the in between stage of grappling with and navigating being single when most people nearby my age are married and so finding that community isn’t as clear cut or easy when most people at church and the like are in different seasons and aren’t looking for the same kind of connection.

  14. Hi thanks for your transparency, I have friends everywhere, but true intimate friends are few. Served as a missionary in Haiti for 1 year and then in ministry with my family in the Caribbean for7 years as tentmakers – we have had to leave great people behind but cultivate those friendships as much as we can. It is interesting to have friends who ‘get’ you far away but it has deepend my friendship with God. Bless you.

  15. I love community! Of course, building community tends to be difficult and time consuming. As an intrevert, I’m not always willing to put the work into it. Thanks for reminding me it’s worth the work!

  16. I so understand what you are saying about being a loner. I have three sisters and four children who are all very social. I have always needed alone time. I enjoy having a few close “one on one” friendships. I shy away from big social gatherings although I have an outgoing personality.

    Being involved at my church naturally opens up service opportunities which is important for us all whether we are social or not. I enjoy my membership there.

  17. I have done that over the past few years. I only have 4 friends who I am really close to, and I’ve closed myself off from the real world. I’ve found wonderful people online, but I also need friends offline as well. This is something I must work on further.
    Wonderful post!

  18. I would love to read specifically what you did to put yourself out there. I’m not a fan of small talk and besides situations where it is a must, I don’t know what ‘putting myself out there’ looks like.

  19. This certainly hit home, except the last part. Still working on having community offline. Probably one of the hardest areas of our life – finding like-minded friends for our whole family. This is a first for our family and has been a very tough time.

  20. Thank you for this post Kristen. We are lacking community in our lives. Our church is so small and so far from our home that it hasn’t been the community we’ve needed. We’re just having a hard time figuring out what to do next and how to have these relationships despite this.

  21. What a wonderful post! I really do LOVE to be by myself. I’m an introvert, too, even though I have kind of trained myself to be an extrovert, but having my alone time is what gives me energy. A lot of people drain me! With that said, I have come to realize how important community is, mainly for the accountability. It is much harder to overcome things when no one’s watching you or asking you how you’re doing.

    Thank you for sharing today!!

    • Brenda, I too prefer being by myself. I am very much an introvert. I find small talk difficult and draining and feel I have to be “on” around people because I am shy and quiet. How did you train yourself to be an extrovert?

  22. so funny I should read this today. I was just thinking about the various women I have interacted with online & wondered what their real life relationships were like. I’m an extrovert, so I wonder if it’s not as hard for me. I can understand where people like yourself are coming from.

    I also am grateful for your words, because it helps me to not judge people in the online world. Those that are finding possibly more friendship & community there than in real life. But I also like how you came to the point of needing people to rub shoulders with as well. I hope this is coming out well. thank you.

  23. oh how I long for one good real life friend! I am an extrovert/part introvert and it kills me not to be social. I have tried but can’t seem to find that connection with another mom who longs to live a Christ-like life with her family. We are in transition to a new church and I am hoping to find some new friendships there. I just don’t know how else to find friendships- I invite people over and feel like we have a great time but never get invited back to anything- not sure what I am doing wrong!

  24. I find community through serving with other people. The best place for me to connect during my mom years has been MOPS and MOMSNext. A community of women purposeful in their mothering. Two things I’ve learned about women – we’re all lonely and we all crave connection. Rarely do we put those needs ahead of our family. A study was just released that a quarter of all women say they don’t have one true friend.

    The loneliest I can feel is a a room where I don’t know anyone – aerobics, etc. Set me up to volunteer, work with others, etc and I’m golden.

  25. Great post and I totally agree, we all need community. I joined a small group last year and am so thankful that i put the time and energy into it to really get to know the people in the group. Like you, I’m an introvert, and I liked my small group of friends, although I knew I needed to create community of my own within my church, and that’s what my small group did for me. I can’t wait for small group season to start up again, but even without it, I get to see my “new” friends every Sunday or more often!

  26. Kristin, your post caused me not to sleep….just kidding…I had other things on my mind too but first wanted to come back to y our post and re read it and the responses. So give me a minute>>>>ok, here goes….

    first I have tons of friends, being 65, lived in two countries, worked with some incredible people who have left lasting imprints on my life.

    Then there is the fact I am a 100 percent extrovert with the gift of exhortation and I refresh by being with lots of people. My husband is an introvert who refreshes away from the crowds of people i seem to generate. This has been a source of contention that is to this day I have to fall back on submission to get through. But get through it I can BECAUSE

  27. So sorry…..I am working without my mouse and my not so nimble fingers keeps making mistakes. But I want to persevere while my mind is clear on my thoughts that your post stirred in me. to continue on…But get through it I can BECAUSE I have learned life changing lessons by being submissive.

    Let me be honest, I have thought several times and even voiced to my husband I think I will get off the in courage web site….I am more of a face to face person and for the life of me I can’t keep these nimble fingers from flying to the keys to give my thoughts or just an encouragement.

    Our ministry has always been face to face, these post relationships still seem not as encouraging as I expected. Blogging for me was just plain fun…I started just to surprise my two grown children who love the fact I fb and blog and even twitter a little now. I love, dearly love when I put a quote on fb and someone post that was just for them….my exhortation gift does a part with hats and balloons. But on the other side of that I have been in ministry long enough to know not to pour tons of time in things that others can do so much better then me for i know there is a ministry for me..it’s called waiting for God to put someone in front of me to witness too. He did it the other day at a party. Met a young women, 29, not saved and she text my son later to tell him how much she enjoyed talking to me…that I made her want to be a better person. I promise you that young lady and I will have more talks.

    I understand the distant relationships though..we have been missionaries for 30 years and we have left the best and worst friends many times over the years. But He has never failed to give me a close friend in each place, one with knitted heart. these are few and we always picked up no matter how many years have passed right where we left off. then there are the friends that have friends closer then me and I love that fact I am not everyone one best friend. A few best friends can be maintained and grown properly. Now to my new in courage blog friends……….you have fed this thirsty soul…..given me food to turn into words on pages of notebooks I keep for just that right time when I am ask to speak to a group of women. I think that is my nich…not so much writing, i need a helper in writing. Your courageous wise hearted women who pour your souls out on paper to be read by all are so gifted, Kristin you are one of those…..please keep it up…..press on past your introverted self for there are those of us who will gleam from you, use quote you pen down…encouraged you along the way, be your cheer leading friend.

    We are now in a move that will put me in a new place, California where I will be seeking friends…face to face ones, ones looking for more then a casual talk, ones who will ask that question that strips back the layers of pride I have built to protect myself. I think I will also find these kind of friends on this community blog……some of the articles strip me bare. Then God can really work on me. Probably will never meet any of you face to face but you have had an impact on me too. So if I ever decide to take a vacation from in courage it will be because God has opened a busy face to face ministry for me…and i must redeem the time….at 65 i don’t want to waste my time even for something good, just want Him to use it.
    Because i have written so much Kristin you must know your post went straight to the core of my heart…you go girl

    • Betty, if you are near the South Bay or Santa Monica area, let me know. Maybe we can blog together. I’m 62, and introverted but need friends in my life.

  28. I’m an introvert online and off! I write a blog because I like to write and hope to be an teens- weensy bit helpful, but haven’t really connected with other bloggers the way I had hoped. We have relocated so many times and rarely developed a sense of “real life” community because we knew another move was just around the corner. We believe this past December was the last move for a long time and immediately set to work finding a church (and it was work). I’m learning that community doesn’t come to you. You have to reach out and find it.

  29. My real life community is 900 miles away. My real life is lonely. Email, text messages, telephone, and Skype are great but they are lacking the ability to satisfy the need for physical touch. A hug, a shoulder rub, a helping hand… As I seek to start over and build a different community, I realize it’s hard. Friendships aren’t built overnight. And those old ones aren’t forgotten either. This transition has taught me the value and necessity of friendship, the difficulties and what it means to stick with someone, and it’s taught me the vitality of transparency and vulnerability. It’s taught me to be thankful for frequent flier miles and friends worth visiting.
    Katie

  30. Thank you for this post! I can relate 100%. I have never had much luck maintaining girlfriend relationships, and I am such an introvert. While I love the ladies of my church, they are all at least 10 years my senior, and are more of mentors than friends ( which is a blessing). My husband is my absolute best friend, but there is need for female friendships. I have also began blogging, but am scared to even share with anyone other that my husband! I fear rejection and judgements. I have been in prayer for those lasting friendships and feel once my girls get in school, that can be a real possibility. I am grateful for your encouragement!

  31. Wow! your story is just like my life i am single women and I am 34 yrs old and I work two jobs but I say I need to get out more but where do you find those good christian men is so hard to find and I like to have two kids but I dont know where to find them. I also dont have many friends at all just the people I work with. I dont really get out much either. I wish I had a bunch of women around me to.

  32. This really hit home for me. I have a problem getting close to people and my grown children do not understand why I dont get out and do more. I dont either. I do know that God loves me and I love Him and seek Him.

  33. Hi I don’t have friends myself, just a few associates. I feel at 45 yeas old, I don’t need a lot of females in my circle, due to immaturity, jealousy, etc. All I need and want at this stage in my life is JESUS. He want turn on you, tell your business, leave nor forsake you.
    I’ve been thru a lot of hurt with females and my so called best friend for 20 years whom betrayed me, which, I’ve forgiven her a long time ago and moved on. God has called me to minister to young ladies and women, however; I enjoy doing what God has called me to do. Soon I will open a transitional home. I am very excited to do God’s work.

    • You know, youtouched on alot of truth there. I have found, even among “christian’ women, that there is very few true friendships. Women can be so backstabbing if it serves them, misconstrue facts to make themselves look better to others, are awfully competitive and downright jealous and cannot rejoice with those who rejoice. I have been in ministry for several years and cannot tell you that I have ever had a true friend. But I can tell you of hundreds of people who don’t think anything of defaming others, lying about others intentions…this is predominant in christian circles, and tearing down to such an extent that you can almost hear the glee when they see others ‘bleeding’. With ‘friends’ like that, who needs enemies.
      I have yet to find a friend who loves like Christ does. It is a shame to say this but I feel like I need to. I Corinthians 13 says in all of the things we ‘do’, if we have not LOVE, we are nothing. Women can be loving, they can be good. But it certainly is a choice to be like Christ .
      Since I found the Incourage web site, I have truly been encouraged! It has been a tremendous blessing in my life and to others I have shared it with. I have enjoyed experiencing the sweet spirits of women like Jessica Turner, Angie Smith, Ann Voskamp, and others. They are genuinely kind and uplifting and it shines through brightly.
      I have only one time seen a self righteous spirit and a make fun of attitude with a who cares attitude and I just unsubscribed to that particular blog. I honestly don’t have space for that discouragement in my life.
      Incourage is a great ministry and I plan to support them and pass along all the encouraging information and community I can. They have made my last year and a half a ‘bright spot’, moving and living in a more remote area. God bless them for their efforts and their true love for women and for passing along Christ’s love in such a genuine way.

  34. I love your creativity! I recently learned that computer (geek) analysts naturally find it difficult to make friends. I should have been part of the study. Maybe I analyze or think too much! So from my personal research, it seems that people aren’t so quick to befriend beyond the casual hello. I’m looking forward to being a part of your community. I could use a hand to hold me up some days!

  35. Hi
    I read your post. I don’t know why I’m
    writing, or what to say. I’m tired of life. You see, I’ve been bedfast for several years because of a nursing injury, that has required multiple back surgeries. I can’t walk, sit or stand. I have no purpose in life. I’ve lost all contact with my friends. I have wonderful husband, but, I think hes tired too.He’s been out of work for three years. I really have no idea as to why I’m writing this. Maybe just to be heard.

    • Susan, Just reading your post makes me realize how valuable you are! I know life gets really tough and we can go through some really hard things. I would just like to say… you are heard and I think all the women who read your post will feel the same. We have so much to be thankful for.
      Just you writing what you have written here…is a beginning of encouragement to others. You see, I am not bedridden. So when I read your post, it brought tears to my eyes, making me realize that there are others out there who are hurting and your words made that sentiment possible.

      Maybe you could start a blog…. an honest blog that encourages. You have a purpose, a great purpose! I am sure many will be praying for you to find that ‘place’ that can nurture all the thoughts and the spots in your heart that desire to be filled. God is the greatest fulfiller that is. He makes a way where there is no way. He makes a clear path for us… He goes before us…. clearing the way. I believe with you, that God is going to do some great things in you and your husbands lives. He cares, He is real and He will answer your cries to Him!

  36. The tug and pull of the female introvert. She knows she needs friends, but it’s just so darn hard! Thanks for this post. There are times that my friendships grow quiet and I want to bury myself in work to escape the quiet. But right now, in the celebration of an accomplishment in my life, my friends are RALLYING…. and I’m so glad that I pushed through the times of quiet to receive the reward of the Party!

  37. I have many long distance friends, but only one close friend. I’ve been praying and hoping that one day the good Lord will send more friends my way.

  38. Thanks for sharing. Didn’t read it until today (9-15) but it is so true! We need one another!

    As a “young” senior citizen who is still working full-time, it seems that my women friends (and housework) take a back seat to family and job. But through the years, the Lord has taught me to look for connection/support in unexpected places: a Christian co-worker in a secular environment; a blind woman at a church tea (who has since become my closest girlfriend, mostly via telephone); an elderly widow who loves me dearly for helping her through the years; and my “Skype” sisters whom I met when living overseas and can still “see” via the internet. These may not be the “ideal” situations that I would have chosen for a close girlfriend, but I praise God that as we remain close to and open to Him, He connects us with others, for mutual blessings. How good our God is!