Last May, H and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary in London but that wasn’t why were there. We traveled across the Atlantic for one reason. We were swollen with God’s dream for us.
The Leadership Conference hosted by the people who inspire vision brought us to the Royal Albert Hall. We arrived expectant, ready for God’s palpable presence to lead us.
As H and I made our way through the black trench coats of South Kensington, around bowler hat taxi cabs and red double decker buses, we traipsed through corridors fingerprinted with history and into our theater seats among thousands. Holy Spirit electricity sparked our imagination with hope for the future.
The theme of the conference was friendship.
On the rim of a deep bowl of humanity, I sat quietly with my mouth open, observing the diversity of faith and culture as people flooded into the theater extending welcome and invitation. Until my seat mate politely tiptoed past my wet umbrella and stack of books lying on the concrete steps at my feet.
Small in stature, she introduces herself as Jules Middleton, a faith blogger and Deacon in the Church of England, wearing kindness and compassion on her face.
Erwin McManus says, Imagination is the playground of God and His creativity often causes me to hold my breath in wonder. I think He loves to surprise us with divine orchestration, yes?
I knew instantly Jules was a safe place and God handpicked her to sit next to me. I sobbed often, tears running off my cheeks in surrender to the unknowns I knew we would face. Along with her lunch and overcoat, she brought a package of tissues on day two of the conference.
If the preferred outcome of the conference was to inspire friendship, then I think it was a great success. It turns out Jules and I have blogging friends in common and she’s given me my first UK writing assignment. What are the chances?
With only one day left in this 31 day series, I wanted to introduce you to some of the wonderful UK bloggers I’ve met virtually and as luck would have it, in real life. Perhaps God will allow us the honor of regular community once my family lands permanently in London.
What Are Days For? by Emma Buchanan and Jane Fawkes (pictured above), two Sabbath Society peeps and dear friends with whom I correspond regularly. I wrote here about our real life meet up and trip to Persephone, my favorite bookshop in London.
Dreaming Beneath the Spires by Anita Mathias, also a Sabbath Society peep who happens to be friends with Jules and lands on the top of all those lists for popular UK bloggers and social media gurus. Mostly, Anita is a thoughtful theologian storyteller with a heart as big as Texas. We’ve guest posted on each other’s blogs.
Apples of Gold by Jules Middleton (need I say more?)
Zoeprose by Zoe Powell, I just found Zoe through her 31 Day series which is one of the gifts in this daily writing challenge. I love her authentic spirit and writing that is both practical and thought provoking.
Thorns and Gold by Tanya Marlow who writes about the Bible, suffering and hope from her own daily perspective as a mom, wife and Kingdom influencer, housebound with M.E. I found Tanya in the Five Minute Friday community where we met once a week in the comments as newbie bloggers.
Words of Joy by Joy Lenton, a graceful encourager with a poetic gift who writes of hope in the midst of suffering with chronic illness.
While there are many others with whom I am becoming acquainted through a Facebook thread I started during this series, asking for UK bloggers to link in the comments, these are the places where I am most familiar. And I know you will enjoy their writing as much as I do.
Join me tomorrow for my last installment in this 31 Day series for some fun and an announcement about the future.
You may come across Anita Hunt from scatterthestones…she has been an enormous blessing in my life, from England. Thrilled at these God connections that will help you move from family- to family.
Thanks for letting me know about her Mary. Her name feels familiar. Yes . . . family to family, God is good.
Kelly, this is so heartening. Already you are making good friends. I’m so happy for you. I have such a love for the British people, and our family’s longstanding friendship with a dear family began over forty years ago, when a gentleman and I began a wonderful correspondence. We both married (other people!), and then our families met, and we’ve traveled back and forth several times, “entertaining” each other. My mother writes to women in Russia, and did to a woman in England, and met her male Norwegian correspondent some years back. I just heard yesterday from an elderly man I met 3 years ago in the Czech REpublic. I finally wrote to him, and he’s answered, and I can’t wait to continue our friendshp in the Lord. The world really is a very small place–you already know that. Thank you for introducing us to your new friends, and pls. be sure to tell them about your American ones, too!
And your CANADIAN friends as well, Shelly!
It will be so much easier and happier for you when you land on England’s soil, to have these wonderful new friends there, waiting for you. They are gaining pure gold in you, Shelly, and I know ‘they’ will become as precious to you as all the ones here you leave behind. But you’re not really “leaving us”. We will still have your Spirit-filled writings and gorgeous photos from over the pond. This blogosphere will keep us close in word and prayer…this I know.
Some of our closest longtime friends live in England Jillie so we’re happy to get there. And yes, I love that no matter where I live, nothing will change here. I can still interact with people as I always do. I’m thankful for that.
I love the way you’ve cultivated friendships through writing letters Lynn. You are good at that. It takes time but its worth it. I think of all the cards I’ve kept over the years and how much joy its brought me to read them again.
Thanks Shelley! I look forward to having time to read the others on here and following the rest of your journey, your writing is great.
It’s lovely to meet you Zoe. I’m still thinking about your post on organizing your clothing. It’s intriguing to think about going down to that few items in my closet and remain content. Look forward to reading more in the future.
Thanks for the kind mention, Shelly. Jules and I talked of you excitedly over tea a couple of months ago; it will be great to have you in London, so close to us.
Aw, that makes me smile. Can’t wait to be with you both in the new year Anita. Thanks for the tweets today, you’re always so generous.
Just posted on FB, but wanted to say on here too, thanks for such lovely words 🙂 I loved sitting next to you as well and it was great to share tissues!
It is so like God that in a conference with the theme ‘friendship’ that we would make a new one within 10 mins of arriving!
Bless you Shelly and can’t wait to meet up for a very British cuppa when you arrive 🙂 xxx
PS: you may have promoted me slightly, I’m not yet a deacon, just in training! x
Oh, I was worried about that. I couldn’t remember if you were already a deacon or studying to become one. In my mind, you displayed all the characteristics of a perfect deacon at the conference. It’s a memory etched into my mind permanently. Hope to see you in the new year and at the conference!
Shelly, so lovely to see our faces together here, that day was a beautiful time together and I hope we get to share many more once you are settled in London. Amazing how God orchestrates everything with just the right people at just the right time. Love to you.
How serendipitous that I received your thoughtful package in my mailbox on the day I mentioned you here. I cannot thank you enough for your kindness Emma, it was such a sweet surprise.Can’t wait to spend more time together next year!!
Thank you for the links to the British blogs! I look forward to checking them all out! I love checking out new sites, and finding new information and perspectives. Following your blog has been such a gift of joy and encouragement to me. Thanks, Shelly.
I know you will enjoy them Janet. Thanks for always being a ray of sunshine and encouragement, I appreciate you so much.