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I don’t know your story.

Maybe it’s one of pain, twists and unexpected turns. Maybe it’s all roses and sparkles. Most likely it’s a combination of the two – joy and pain all mingled together. Your stories could include things that are too painful for you to speak of, hurts and fears realized. Perhaps your stories speak redemption, grace uncovered. Are your stories about overcoming, fiercely battling disease and poverty and limitations? Or do the stories your life has written reveal dreams unfulfilled and passions unrecognized?

Some stories are specific, all dates and numbers, beginnings and ends. Other stories are more foggy, their authors wading through as they untangle parts and pieces that have gotten jumbled together. Once in a while a story will get buried, and then emerge with force and change us. Sometimes a story lives in its best version right at the front of our heart until we see that it actually doesn’t have to be such a big part of who we are.

I may not know your story, but there is One who does.

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Not only does He know it, inside out, uglies and all, but He wrote it. He is writing it. And though parts are painful, antagonists quarrel and heroes fall and plots thicken, He writes on and there is freedom in knowing the Author, even if we are unfamiliar with the way our story is unfolding.

For the Lord is the Spirit,
and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17 (NLT)

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand!
Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.
Galatians 5:1 (MSG)

In my distress I prayed to the Lord,
and the Lord answered me and set me free.
Psalm 118:5 (NLT)

For the last six weeks, nearly 2,000 women have been gathering online, sharing their hearts and stories with one another in small groups. They encourage each other, grieve together, share ideas, celebrate with, and pray for one another. These women have decided that there is freedom in their stories because they know the One who is writing theirs. Some of their stories are sad and could be defeating, but instead of living in defeat they choose glory and share it with others. And in the sharing of their words, another soul is released from isolation within their own story.

This – this partnering of paths, this intentional encouragement, this writing and reading and praying – this is how they are finding freedom, no matter what their story is.

In community, they are finding freedom.
In sharing their stories, they are finding freedom.
And in their own stories, they are finding freedom.

I don’t know yours, but He knows each and every story ever told.

We are concluding our spring session of (in)couragers community groups! Dates for the fall session are still being determined – to be the first to know about registration, sign up for the (in)couragers newsletter here. In the meantime, we’d love to hear your stories of community, friendship, and how you’ve found freedom in your story. Won’t you share with us? Link-up a post below, or join the conversation in the comments!

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  • http://bethwillismiller.blogspot.com beth willis miller

    What a joy it has been to be a part of this wonderful (in)courage community! Looking forward to the future :)

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      Yay Beth! So glad you’re here.

  • http://stoopingformanna.blogspot.com Karen Brown

    I have learned so much and have been so inspired by this group. Thank you for holding a spot for us to share His grace through our stories. These last phrases of your post sum it all up:

    “In community, they are finding freedom.
    In sharing their stories, they are finding freedom.
    And in their own stories, they are finding freedom.”

    True, true, true.

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      I’m so glad you were touched by being a part of an (in)couragers group, Karen. Thanks so much.

  • http://hopehearthome.com Susan Chamberlain Shipe

    This was my first session as co-leader. Looking forward to another in the fall! Blessings on everyone’s summer!

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      Yay Susan! So glad to have you on board.

  • http://candacecreates.com Candace

    This has been my first session with the (in)courage community and I’m so thankful you are now part of my story. I love where you said “there is freedom in knowing the Author.” What beautiful truth lies in that statement! He might take us to some places we don’t want to go, but we can trust that we will get through with more strength and wisdom on the other side.

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      YES – we can trust Him! So glad you were a part of (in)couragers, Candace!

  • http://www.theblovelife.com Brittny

    Funny so many of us feel compelled to shout about our freedom on a day like today. It’s exactly what I wrote about in the post below. When we celebrate or freedom as Americans, I can’t help but think about the chains from which I’ve been freed through Christ. He is so good!

    Happy 4th sisters, and thank God for freedom! ❤️

    http://theblovelife.com/index.php/site/freedom/

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      Great minds think alike… =)

  • http://3dlessons4life.com Lyli @ 3-D Lessons for Life

    He writes the best stories. Thanks for reminding me, Anna. :)

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      He so does =)

  • http://www.carolhiestand.com Carol Longenecker Hiestand

    while I am not sure this link up opportunity is for those of us not in groups, who are just readers, but I am going to share my story of how i learned to be free to grieve. One of the most important lessons I learned in my grief journey….the second one was that there are no rules of the road for this journey. it’s my journey, at my pace and how i need to do it. again, great freedom. I enjoy coming here more and more…thanks for this site.

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      Yes Carol, link away! So glad you have faith enough in this community to share your story.

  • Sheila

    I have so enjoyed being a part of this group, and being able to share our hearts, and make new friends. I have had so many ladies praying for my brother-in-law and my sister, he recently found out he has a rare form of cancer, and has an appointment at Cancer treatment centers of America in Chicago in September. Thanks my new friends for your concerns and prayers.

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      Oh Sheila, thank you for sharing with us. We’ll keep him in prayer.

  • Sandy

    This is so encouraging!

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      Thank you Sandy!

  • Nancy

    Great fellowship☺

  • Cathy

    Community, Friendship, Freedom…I found all of this and more by participating in an (in)courage small group. This chapter in my HIStory will go down as the spring I ventured out into cyberspace to find some friends. My new friends turned out to be sisters who shared their heart, pain, and compassion with one another. Thank you ALL for being the answer to a prayer I had been presenting to the LORD for quite some time. I can’t wait to be introduced to more sisters in the fall.

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      Cathy that’s so wonderful to hear! So happy you found a cyberhome with your (in)couragers group.

  • Beth WIlliams

    Anna,

    We all have different stories. Some good, bad, in-between. Mine is more the in-between kind of story. I have lived a pretty full life with ups and downs. Now I find myself facing a year full of stress and a roller coaster ride.

    I am soo glad that He is writing my story. I can depend on Him to write a unique ending to this year and all the turmoil with in. There is a sense of freedom in sharing your stories with other people. You find encouragement, prayer warriors, and great advice from those who have been there. I will continue to share my story, good bad and ugly with you all here. I know this is a wonderful, safe place to just let go and release some of the frustration.

    Blessings to everyone :)

    • http://girlwithblog.com Anna Rendell

      You got it, girl. He’s writing it beautifully. Thanks for sharing your heart here, Beth.