Vital Connections – Step #3

January 28, 2015
Note from Danita:  This is the last in a three part series about being part of a girls’ group — even if you need to start it yourself.  In Part 1, I explain the importance of being part of a group of women.  In Part 2, I outlined the process my friend Jen and I used to start ours.  Feel free to go back and read those if you haven’t already.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait. This post describes our first dinner together as a group and a bit more of why this connection is vital in my  life.

Step 3 — The First Gathering

We chose the 2nd Tuesday of November 2012 for our first evening together. I hosted. After all, the whole thing was my idea, so I should kick it off. Six of eight of us were able to attend that first night.

True confession: I probably  definitely overdid the setting of the table. I was in the process of starting this blog. Since I write about conversations around a dinner table, I saw a great opportunity to have Jen take pictures of the table for me to use on this site. I’ve since changed my heading, but for the first two years, I used the picture below — our table at the inaugural Girls’ Night.


When the women came in, they loved how it looked and were very complimentary. But some wondered if the expectations were the same for them when they hosted. I tried to assure them that the setting was not the important part, and that I had chosen to do that for them and also for my blog site. Everyone had a great time, but I think some left unsure of what was expected when they hosted.

I would do that differently.

As a group, we’ve settled in, and no one feels intimidated about hosting.

Since we didn’t all know each other, I wasn’t sure how the conversation would go. I have no idea why I was concerned about that — we had six women together around a table!

The conversation started and didn’t end until the last woman left. And it’s been like that every month since. Topics morph seamlessly from informational to hilarious to deeply personal to hilarious, to informational to deeply personal to…

Well, you get the picture.

That is, if you’re a woman.

Honestly, the shift from hilarity to gravity and back again still leaves me in awe. Every. Single. Month. I’m often part of the conversation. But every now and then, I sit back in my chair and simply observe the beauty of discussion, laughter, vulnerability and the growth of these eight individual women into one group — our group.

The second Tuesday of each month is our night to gather, but group text messages are now common for sharing exciting news or prayer needs.

Because that’s what we do — we laugh together, encourage and pray for each other.Julie 2

Throughout these three posts, I’ve sprinkled some quotes from the women in this group describing Girls’ Night. Trust me when I say each quote CLEARLY reflects each individual woman.

Here’s my take: These seven other women have helped me get to know myself better. For most of my adult life, I’ve been involved in youth ministry in some form or another. The result is that I tend to know more students than adults.

I’m comfortable with high schoolers. I’m a bit less comfortable with adults. These women provide a safe place for me to ground myself in adult relationships.

About 18 months into this group, I transitioned away from full-time youth ministry. My girls’ night friends  walked with me through the first attempt at transitioning out (long story for another post) and the actual retirement. They gave me a place to be honest and vulnerable, while still challenging me in areas where I needed  it.

And they’ve encouraged me as I try my hand at writing more. I’m so grateful for that.

In our two years together, we’ve seen two retire, one take classes to move into a different career and one is currently preparing for grad school. Two women continue going through the ups and downs of foster care giving. One’s husband started his own business.

Two of us have moved into the grandparent “hood” for the first time. One will adopt three o foster kids before we meet in February. We’re praying and hoping for another one to adopt her foster child. We’ve had engagements and weddings of kids, kids moving from junior high to senior high, a scary job change that was  exactly the right move.

We’re learning culinary likes and dislikes and how to be gluten-free and Paleo.

Two years ago, I thought a girls’ night group would be a good idea — I would enjoy it and my friend Jen NEEDED it. It has become so much more than I imagined — and I have a great imagination.

Please try it. Step out. Do it. It’s a connection you will not regret.

If you’re still unsure, ask one other person to help you kick it off.

And then… let me know about it! Please, tell me how you start yours. Or, if you already have one, what advice would you give?

I’ll close this series with a quote from a gal who was sceptical about being part of a group like this — afraid it might be “mushy” or a secret book club.  Here’s her take now:

Julle Ann 2

That, my friend, says it all.

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  • Missy Helderman

    This make me long for even more community and connection like that in my own life. Danita, I really admire you fearless spirit!!

    January 28, 2015 at 4:34 pm Reply
    • Danita

      Missy, Thank you for stopping by! Would you be interested in starting a group of your own? What seems like the biggest hurdle?

      January 28, 2015 at 5:15 pm Reply
  • Missy Helderman


    January 28, 2015 at 4:35 pm Reply
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