This year, I decided to start listening to a couple of podcasts every day while I work instead of drowning my mind in Netflix shows. Don't get me wrong, I still love my Netflix shows, but I was ready for something more. The past two weeks of January I have learned so much and am excited to be taking in good quality content. A couple of podcasts I have been listening to are Michael Hyatt's This is Your LifeThe Dave Ramsey ShowDaily Hope with Rick Warrenand The EntreLeadership PodcastThere has been a common theme running through many of the podcasts the past few days and that common theme is relationship. Not romantic relationships, but relationships with friends and your community.

We were created for community and connection with others. There have been several studies done that prove that people who have deep and meaningful relationships with others live longer, happier lives. This may seem like an obvious fact, however, it took me until last year to finally feel like I belong in a few different communities. These communities are shaping me as a person, giving me a new perspective on life and other people, and pushing me to be the person God created me to be. Rick Warren said it well when he said, "You learn who you are by being in relationship with others. You discover your identity through time spent in community."  

The past four years have of being in business have each looked very different. But one thing that was lacking in my heart and business was a community of LOCALcreative business owners in the wedding industry. I wanted a few girls that I could meet up with every week to work together, talk about life, and throw around business ideas. For years I was jealous of all the people in the wedding industry who would take trips together and have close friendships. I realized that the best place to form community was with the people who lived close by. With social media, there are endless groups of people who you can get to know and start friendships with. The key is taking those friendships OUTSIDE of social media and hanging out!! It is scary at first, but over time it is beyond worth it. And more than that, it is good for our souls. 

After three years or praying for this community, God provided. We met each other at different times through various avenues (including the amazing Tuesday's Together through the Rising Tide Society) but have formed a deep connection with each other. We have cried, laughed, and dreamed together. I was craving connection in this wild and crazy industry and through going out of my comfort zone to meet other people, have found my little tribe. We text and spend time together often. We also have two trips planned for this year, one for business and one for fun! Building memories with your people makes for a deeper connection and lasting bond. I am beyond thankful and grateful for these women!

One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 27:17.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."

By building deep friendships and community you become vulnerable to change. Especially when the people you spend time with share similar values as you. People say, "you become like the people you spend time with" and I think that is so true. 

Another community that has changed and shaped me is my CrossFit Nevermore family. When I started CrossFit 3 years ago, I was terrified. All I ever knew about working out was running on the treadmill for 30 minutes and being incredibly bored. I never thought that through trying a new kind of workout I would also find a community of people who support each other, care about one another, and yet are very different from each other. The owner of the gym, Kevin Lynch, recently posted this article on Facebook about rat parks. Sounds strange, but I was amazed at what I learned from it. To sum it up, the article talks about a test that was done with rats and heroin. There was one test done where the rat was alone in the park and had the choice to drink from the bottle of heroin water or just the water. The study showed that the rat would always go to the bottle of heroin. The second test had the same heroin bottle and regular water but it was a bunch of rats in the park. Studies showed that when together in a community of other rats, none of them had the desire for the heroin water. "Human beings are bonding animals. We need to connect and love." I know thinking about rats is gross and strange BUT I love that test because we truly are better together than apart. Thanks to Kevin for starting this amazing community. And there is still room for more! if you are looking for a new and exciting workout routine that is different every day, check out our gym! What is different about our CrossFit community is that there are people of all ages and sizes. EVERYONE is welcome and I love that! We have so much to learn from the generations below us and above us. I am humbled weekly by this group of people.

Kevin and I are both very close with our families and both have other individual relationships that are vital in our life outside of these communities. We are thankful for those life-long friendships! But there is something to say about a COMMUNITY of people who have a similar interests or hobbies that can bring a richness to life that can only be found in relationship. Just like this quote below:

We also have an amazing small group that we are a part of with a few other married couples. Learning from each other, digging into scripture, and talking through marriage struggles together has changed our marriage. We were not meant to do this life alone. God existed with the Trinity (Father, Son & Holy Spirit) since the beginning of time. He created community from the beginning and we will all be better people for having deep relationships.

If you are struggling to find community don't lose heart! It is out there for you. You may have to go out of your comfort zone to find it, but when you do, you won't regret it. Think about some things you love to do or care about and seek out community with like-minded people. Do you love gardening? Are you a mom with small kids? Do you love yoga? Do some research on Facebook or other social sites to find other people with similar interests as you. Also don't underestimate the power of PRAYER. God brings people into our lives at very purposed times. He knows the community you need and can provide it for you if you are willing to open up your heart and put in the time. All it takes is one or two people to open up to, become vulnerable with, and share life with to experience the riches of relationship. Kevin and I are far from being financially rich, but this past year I have experienced more blessings and richness from community than I ever have in my life. The only thing we can leave to this world when we die is the relationships with people and the legacy of love we shared with those around us.

I hope you found this post encouraging!! God has so much in-store for your beautiful life