Every year we intentionally set time aside to gather with 10 of our best friends from college. We share stories, eat lots of food, & get way too ridiculous. We look forward to this long weekend every year & definitely don't take this time for granted. This group has become our heart beat for community. They shape us, refine us, call us out when necessary, cheer us on as we build our company, but more importantly, they pray for us & hold us accountable in our marriage.
When we first came together as a group 5 years ago, it was a mistake. OK, not the bad kind of mistake - just the perfect kind of mistake. At the time, we were living on Lookout Mountain & attending Covenant College. The 6 boys had a cabin together (picture a HUGE home with 5 bedrooms, big enough to house at least 12 people - but messy, because - BOYS!). Meanwhile, the 6 girls were split up in different houses around the neighborhoods close to the boys. In January of 2011, the forecast was looking forlorn with lots of snow ahead & what do any reasonable girls do when it looks like they could be separated from their boyfriends/fiances for the weekend? YOU GET SNOWED IN! In we came with our pillows, toothbrushes, & a change of clothes & made ourselves nice & comfortable in their biggest spare bedroom. What we didn't know was that Chattanooga was about to be dumped on, leaving us snowed in for a full 7 days! This resulted in one of the best weeks of our lives & started what we now call "The Family".
When we woke up & realized how much snow had actually fallen the first night, a small panic set in. All the roads were closed on Lookout Mountain - no way up & no way down. This meant that we all needed to hike back to our houses to dig through our pantries for canned food items or other things. It took us about a half day to collect enough food to feed all of us - but when we all got back, boy did we have some stories to share with each other.
That week, we played hard in the snow every day. Then, each evening, we made a large meal - well, more of a smorgasbord of our findings from each other's homes, & settled into telling stories or asking purposeful questions about upcoming weddings, graduations, or jobs. After dinner, we played a group game & usually continued playing well into the early morning hours. One of the most memorable games we played that week was "hide & seek". Now this may not sound like a lot of fun as adults, but throw together a group of college kids, a HUGE house, lots of hiding spots, oh. And one more thing - a LOUD sound system playing the TRON soundtrack full blast throughout the whole house (take a listen here)! We can't lie, a few of us may have almost peed ourselves that night as we hid in some of the most obscure places in the cabin, listening to the most intense music EVER.
That week changed our lives forever & shaped us into young adults purposefully seeking out these young men & women. Fast forward 5 years later & we are still doing the exact same thing. Our long weekends are filled with meals, games, and story telling. We take time to separate - guys & girls - to talk the real talk & ask how things are really going. We all have moments where we are on mountain tops but more often than not, we are in valleys - looking up, gasping for air & asking each other for advice & grace as we learn how to navigate this life together.
When it's all said & done, this group calls us to accountability. There is no room to shy away when asked the hard questions like we are used to doing in our fast-paced lives. Honoring each other's differences is a joy. Coming to the table to feast and fellowship with one another, we lay down our pride & look at each other to say "You! You matter. I am going to fight for you!" This group is far from perfect. After all, we are all sinners struggling to receive grace & give grace. But it has taught us how to live in intentional community. Now we are forever thankful for The Family & for that colossal snow storm!
Love, The Rainsfords