I was first introduced to Rachel Held Evans about a year and a half ago when the women from my small group decided to read her book A Year of Biblical Womanhood * over the course of a summer. I was immediately drawn to her writing because she had me reaching for my dictionary in one sentence and laughing so hard I cried in the next. The book made such a strong impact on me that I then spent 13 months studying it with my high school girls' Sunday school class. Between our book club, prepping for Sunday mornings, and writing/editing the study guide I created, the book hasn't left my night stand since the day I brought it home.
If you know my story, you know that God recently lit a fire under me and told me it was time to start getting serious about my writing. Although I have a handful of curriculum resources in the works, it was the Biblical Womanhood study guide that He first urged me to finish. And when I hit a dead end because I didn't know where I could go with it, He made it possible for me to ask Rachel herself. Face-to-face.
Only God, y'all.... Only God could have orchestrated this weekend.
After learning that Rachel would be speaking at a church in Birmingham, I jumped at the chance to take my girls on a road trip. Literally jumped. Up, down, and squealing inside because it felt like everything was about to come full circle. We made plans and loaded up the cars, excited for a chance to meet the author we'd spoken of on a first name basis for nearly two years. Oh my goodness, Rachel just wrote about that on her blog! Did you see what Rachel posted on Facebook yesterday? You know how Rachel would feel about that...
I think that deep down, we were all hoping for a chance to say hi and maybe get a group picture. Really, I just wanted the girls to meet her, and if the opportunity arose, to ask about the study guide. That's the part in my prayer when God started laughing. It might just be me, but He seems to be doing that a lot lately! I have no idea how the entire room wasn't swarming around her, but after a few minutes of mingling with everyone else, she made her way over to us and just... settled in. Each person in our group got to connect with her individually, and our conversations totaled nearly an hour. We laughed, we exchanged email and blog addresses, and as all good Southern friends do, we talked college football.
I admired Rachel Held Evans the writer before Sunday, but now I can honestly say I admire Rachel the person. She spent so much time talking with the girls, affirming their passions and taking a genuine interest in their stories that I was truly blown away. Watching her with them meant far more to me than getting to meet one of my favorite authors. It meant far more than walking away with photos and signed copies of her book. It meant far more than her encouragement regarding my own writing projects (although I'm super excited about those opportunities, too!).
As I said, this was a weekend only God could have pulled together. Thank you, Rachel, for using your gifts to make an impact in the world- through both your written words and the ones ones you chose to speak even when you didn't have to. Your "groupies from Columbus" had so much fun visiting with you!