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Fellowship, deep connection, and kinship among women has been a rich reality throughout all cultures and centuries. No matter the difficult circumstances that may have surrounded them, women came to appreciate their God-given heritage and to understand the legacy of love, wisdom, and skill they could live into by seeing it played out before them organically, day in and day out, with a community of women who lived close by.
It is not so easy for us to see that pattern anymore. It seems to me that women in the twenty- first century have either forgotten the intrinsic potential they have as human beings and as women sharing in friendship and community, or they are just too distracted, overwhelmed, and busy to access the glory and beauty of their femininity and how it blooms more fully in the context of loving relationships. And of course, we are the most connected generation technologically and the most isolated from our neighbors. In our day, everything about womanhood and gender has been called into question, so that many are afraid or reticent to embrace the delight and joy contained in female friendships, the strength that is gathered in communities of women living harmoniously in support of one another, and the encouragement of affirmation that comes from mutual commitment.
I am so grateful that excellent women have been sprinkled along my life path who have invested deeply in my own emotional and spiritual health. I never could have written books, had a national and local ministry, finished the course as an intentional mother in my home, and stayed faithful to my marriage without the help, support, comfort, and strength I received from other women. Differing in age, personality, educational background, and life experience, they each added a grace to the treasure chest of wisdom stowed inside my heart. Each has helped me to flourish when otherwise I would have floundered.
As I began to grasp and appreciate this kind of intentional mentoring, love, and encouragement in my own life, it became a poignant focus of relationship that I wanted to pass on to my daughters. Understanding that influence is best cultivated through love and friendship, I sought to deepen my sympathy for what was going on in their hearts, to understand their personalities, to affirm their intrinsic worth to me and to God and to others, and to encourage them on a daily basis.
This book is our story as well as a gathering of convictions that each of us holds about the importance of cultivating female friendships that not only provide emotional affirmation and acceptance but also inspire, educate, train, and stretch us to live into our God-given potential. As we seek to invest our lives for God’s glory—and satisfy our longing for meaningful and intimate companionship—we are held firm by the friendships we have invested in over time. Cultivating such friendships may take years of making memories, sharing seasons, and initiating, but these friendships become the backbone of holding lives together.
I am a different person because of the faithfulness, encouragement, and inspiration I have received from my friends and my daughters. It is our hope that this book will encourage you to take the initiative to seek out women with whom to share and shape life. We pray that some of our ideas might spawn other meaningful groups and friendships. We hope you will discover anew the gift of intimate companionship with women who support each other to live deeply into the amazing potential God intended us to experience.