Seeing as how meaningful conversations bent toward others have been the cornerstone of my days, even at a very young age, and that the unfolding of the individual journey has become the increasingly central theme of the past 10 years of my life, it should have come as no surprise that God would tap me on the shoulder to create something new that honors these themes on a grander scale for others . . . but it did. It came as a very big surprise.
Seeing as how God led me deeper and deeper into the wilderness in recent years in order to strip and strip and strip again thick layers of identity in order to render me barren and empty and poor, with nothing but upturned hands to offer Him, it should have come as no surprise that He would place something new into those hands in His due time . . . but it did. It came as a very big surprise.
Seeing as how I've been willing to risk more and more of my heart and resources on behalf of God's work in recent years, so much so that risk has become a deep value of my faith, it should have come as no surprise that God would ask of me another risk, this time even bigger and more unknown than ever before . . . but it did. It, too, came as a very big surprise.
And yet, once all this had arrived, it came as no surprise at all.
Earlier this year, Kirk and I had begun sharing conversations about different business ideas he might pursue, now that he'd finished his entertainment business degree at Full Sail. We'd been brainstorming and getting excited about some of them, all with the understanding that any of these projects, if pursued, would ultimately be his deal. He's the more entrepreneurial of our pairing, after all, and I felt satisfied to simply provide insight, intuition, and support.
One early evening, driving home from a great Mexican dinner at a local restaurant, Kirk looked over at me in the car and said, "You know that this idea [the one we'd talked about at dinner] will likely resonate most powerfully with women, don't you?"
He paused. "I never, ever saw myself starting a business for women."
We laughed hard, finding it a bit hilarious in the moment.
"I'll be here to help you out," I said. "I can help with the women's intuition side of things."
He nodded, and we left it at that.
About a week and a half later, we shared a conversation that left us both with the impression that perhaps I was the one to be pursuing this idea for women instead of him. It surprised both of us to think this, especially me, since I'd not considered myself in any sense the primary "owner" of any of the ideas we'd been considering the whole time we'd been discussing them. Like I said, he's the entrepreneurial one who thinks big and creatively and strategically. I, too, am willing to dream and imagine with him, and even ask the hard questions that will eventually make the ideas go, but I hadn't anticipated engineering one of them myself! But I agreed to pray about it through the weekend and asked God to confirm if this was indeed part of His plan.
You know how I'd been walking in a desert recently? God hadn't shown up on the scene in ages. I was okay with this, since I knew He was still there, but I didn't have much faith that He'd show up over the course of the weekend. Except then He showed up in a whirlwind. Over the next five days, He led me to a windfall of resources about how to reach women, how to market to women, how to brand a business for women, and how to understand female behavior on the Web.
All of this was unusual reading for me, but very interesting. And that's because He was simultaneously reminding me of my deep heart: the journeys that people, and especially women, take to discover who they are. I started thinking about the countless relationships in my life that had sounded upon this theme. I recalled the way the Life Group community of girls I led last year in California changed all of our lives for the better. I realized that even this space, Lilies Have Dreams, has been a gathering place of what? Primarily women.
Through the course of that weekend, He caused me to view my life in retrospect in order to see how my heart had already been opening up more and more to women and the journeys of their lives with each passing year of my life. He also kept presenting me with information about how women, in the busy climate of their demanding lives, are increasingly turning to online communities to express themselves and find support. You can find dozens of online communities out there that are just for women. But why would the world need another, I wondered?
As I continued to do research, I found that those online communities offer two primary things for the female soul: information for their interests (such as articles on health, beauty, entertainment, parenting, and careers) and platforms for free expression (such as blogs and forums and chatrooms and specialized interest groups). What they lack is a redemptive objective. What if something beautiful was created in response to that need? Is there, in fact, such a need?
I couldn't avoid the bald fact that God had indeed showed up that weekend in response to my prayer for confirmation. He seemed to have something in mind, though I had no clear idea what it was or how it would come to be. But at this point, in obedience, I agreed to be the key player on its behalf. And I began to generate some preliminary ideas.
After about a month of working on this part-time, in the evenings and on weekends, I reached a critical point. I needed to either jump in all the way and start the formal development process or resign myself to the fact that it would take a long, long time to get done. I asked God to help me determine if leaving my job was the right and timely thing to do. He responded by providing a continued knowledge that I'd leave my job at the end of June. This seemed somewhat crazy, but I couldn't shake the belief that it was right. I put in my resignation letter, and the very next day, as if rewarding this obedience in the face of great risk, He provided some surprising but perfect resources (which I'll share about in another post).
So now I'm home, working on this idea, and officially in the research development phase. Like I said already, I've generated some ideas about what this online space might eventually look like . . . but I'm only one woman carrying one perspective, and I'd love the privilege of hearing yours!
And please note: Every woman of any age or stage is welcome to participate in this research process, and the more the merrier, so pass the word!