I left Bailey Boys with my two babies. My 20 month old and my 2 week old. I remember sweating as I loaded them into the car. Mid May in St. Simons. The heat was just getting started, but it had definitely arrived and my postpartum body was already struggling with the rising temps. I don’t remember why I was out shopping. Maybe I was looking for one of those baby milestone calendars. I can’t think why I felt compelled to take on that outing. Cabin fever probably. I needed to get out of the house.
I pulled out of the parking lot onto Skylane Rd and my phone rang. It was a local number I didn’t know. The babies were quiet so I took a deep breath and answered.
“Hi, is this Katie?”
“You may not remember me, but this is Rebekah White. We met about a year ago. Anyway, I heard you are starting a women’s workout group and I wanted to find out about it.”
“Hi, yes, I remember you. But I’m not starting a workout group. Did you know I had another baby? She’s just two weeks old. Where did you hear that?”
“You know I don’t remember where I heard it. But I’ve been talking to several other moms, and we feel like we need something for ourselves. To feel good and take care of ourselves. So if you do start one, I know some people who will come.”
“Ok, well it could be really great. But I don’t know how I came into the mix here. I’ve never thought about doing anything like that.”
“Well if you do, let me know.”
“I will think about I guess.”
When I hung up, I was floored. My heart pounded and my head spun. This was not a random phone call. I knew that for sure. See, for about a month, God had been pulling me to share my gratitude story with other women. But I had no idea what that meant. And I was overwhelmed. I had a new baby and a toddler. I was still pretty new to town. So I was really trying my best to ignore that pull on my heart to share my story. And when my phone rang
that day? And Rebekah said what she said? I knew it was really God calling.
When Jordan got home that night, I steadied my voice and told him about my conversation with Rebekah. He just looked at me for a while. “That’s a sign. You know that, right.” I laughed nervously. And I started planning a workout group.
Before my 6 week postpartum check, I met Rebekah and another friend for a trial workout. I remember being surprised that my uterus felt like it was going to fall out. And I had to stop and pee. A lot of times. My body was different. Slow. Heavy. Resistant. And exercising outside? It was hard. It was hot. Muggy. Buggy. We had no equipment. No music. We did body weight exercises and we ran to different areas of the grounds to use benches for tricep dips, a staircase to run, and a playground for wall sits. We laughed at ourselves as onlookers cheered for our efforts. We talked about how our bodies were different after babies. We encouraged each other.
When it was over, we were drenched. Sweat rolled down our faces and plastered our clothes to our backs. Grass stuck to our ankles and our hair was matted and wet. The bugs swarmed when we sat still. My face flushed bright red and it throbbed to the rhythm of my heart. My insides ached with the shock of working hard for the first time since delivering a baby into the world. My muscles were shaking with fatigue. It was not pretty.
But it was beautiful. When I didn’t think I could do it, someone said I could. And when I saw someone struggling, I came alongside her. We told our stories. We embraced what was hard. Accepted help. We laid down our shame and self consciousness. And we rose together. Better. Stronger. Connected. Empowered.
We sat quietly by the water and the sun started to set. The temperature dropped and the sky lit up with color and wonder and love and light. We gave thanks. For our bodies - our vessels in this world. For God’s glorious creation we were enjoying. For the people at home with our children making a way for us to pause..
I left that first night with an aching and smelly and tired body, but with a full and thankful heart. And I knew there was power in what we were doing. The gratitude I worked so hard to cultivate over that past year was magnified exponentially in community. We are made for connection. We are made to pause and give thanks. To come together and say, yes it’s all hard and sometimes I don’t feel like enough and I want to hide in shame. But I will not. I will rise by lifting others and by taking time to enjoy and give thanks for all that I have been given.
And this workout? There is something powerful and spiritual in it. Primal. Barrier breaking. We are dirty and smelly and sweaty beyond what’s comfortable. And it undoes something in us. Breaks a chain. Allows us to fully experience and appreciate our bodies. Because when we exercise in Georgia? Outside? In the heat? By the marsh? Girls, we gonna sweat. So we just accept it all with grace and love. We stink to high heaven. And somehow all of it frees us, and invites us be fully in our bodies. In creation. Present. Alive. Wild. Free.
Also? The power of this little group is in conquering something hard together. When you can’t run another step? Someone will walk beside you. When you need to break away for a bathroom break because that last baby ruined your bladder? No one will judge you. When you trip and fall? Someone will help you up. When you cry at check in because your day was that hard? We will cry with you. And when we work and sweat and cry and laugh together? When we hold each up and encourage each other? The petty worries, the shame, the fear, the overwhelm - it will give way to something better. The tide will rise. And we will all rise with it.
That summer, God called me right up. On the phone. And He told me exactly what to do. I started that workout group to share what I had learned about gratitude. And, in His timing, with those women, I learned that God intends for us to live in community. To experience deep and meaningful connection. We need each other. And when we connect with gratitude and purpose and vision? When we lead with love? There is nothing we can’t do. Together.
The workouts gave way to new magical groups - Selah Intensives and Supper Club. Each prayerfully created to cultivate deep and meaningful connection. To build community among women. To lift and encourage and connect. (More on those another day).
And then? Halfway through the summer I started a blog. I was bursting to get all I was learning out of my head. I didn’t have time to journal much, but I was breastfeeding my new baby all the time. So I started writing on my phone in the middle of the night while she nursed. (And that’s how I’m writing this now.)
I needed a name for my blog. I found an art print with a word I’d never heard: Selah. On the print it read, Selah: Pause and Praise. I loved it. Selah was beautiful to say. Soft and poetic. Graceful and gentle. A breath. A whisper. Lovely and inspiring. And it was just what I wanted to teach. And write. And live - Pause and praise.
So I called my blog Selah St. Simons. And I told my story about how gratitude and connection brought purpose and peace into my life.
I wrote. And that’s when creativity crept into my heart. And that’s where we’ll go next time.
Love + Light,