I remember the first time I took a pregnancy test and the two pink lines appeared letting me know I was a mother; a baby was growing inside of me. We told everyone, and I began imagining and dreaming for what that coming little person would be like. It was pure joy, until the morning not too long after that when the first signs appeared telling me all was not well, and the process of miscarrying began to unfold. At that time the vulnerability of having others trying to hold my broken heart was more than I could bear and for many years to follow I simply protected myself from having to feel that vulnerable by hoping and dreaming as little as possible.
The space of hoping and dreaming is so tender inside of all of us. We seem to often hunker down, get quiet and protect ourselves from any potential feelings of shame or disappointment by not speaking out loud our hopes and dreams. I can default to holding it all pretty close to my heart, because it still feels easier to keep the words to myself. And yet, I have found there is such connection and belonging in sharing tender spaces, celebrating together when dreams do come true.
Brave On is one of those spaces for me, and for the rest of the women who lead and write for Red Tent Living. Last year we stepped into believing that this conference was needed and on sheer faith, without money in the bank to fund it all, we planned and held our first Brave On conference.
At the close of Brave On last year Nichole Nordeman leaned over and said, “Do you know how special this is? What you are doing here is unlike anything else. I am all in for this with you.”
Quietly to myself, I wondered if that could really be true.
I have been the recipient this year of many stunning surprises as the process of planning Brave On has unfolded.
Meeting and starting to grow a friendship with Jen. Listening to her, learning from her, and coming to know more of her heart has been a huge gift to me this year. I love how her actual, ordinary life reflects what it looks like to live the gospel, something I’ve gotten to see up close living here in Austin. And, while you may not agree with her perspective on everything I promise you that she will share words at Brave On that will leave you thinking, make you laugh and invite you closer to your neighbor and to the heart of God.
Nichole was true to her words from last year, and there was a moment I knew it for sure when she found my face in a crowded room of women and stopped to give me a huge a hug and say, “It is so good to see you!” I honestly believe she may be the loveliest woman I know. This past weekend she flew to Atlanta for a small gathering my friend hosted to raise some money to help us fund Red Tent Living and Brave On; and I had to pinch myself multiple times because the sheer goodness of it felt surreal.
A big part of Brave On is our conversation about the table, which begins on Friday evening. When I read Tasha Morrison’s curriculum for Be the Bridge I reached out to her agent immediately. I had a vision for her speaking as part of our conversation about the table and the importance of pulling up more chairs and embracing connection with one another, especially around the issue of racial reconciliation. When she said yes, I was thrilled and cannot wait to meet her and hear what she will share with us on Friday night!
And, we have some amazing sponsors joining us and you’ll have the chance to learn more about the work they do and how you can join them in creating beautiful things to benefit marginalized people, women who have suffered violence and children who have been trafficked. You may also find some additional care for your own soul, and ways you can become more skilled at offering care to those hurting around you.
Because the thing is we need each other. We need to hold each others stories. We need to cheer one another on in our hopes and dreams. We need to know one another. We need to continue nurturing this community where it is safe to be your real self, with your messy, challenging, difficult and not always perfect life. We need to hear from women who are further down the road of life than us, and from those younger than we are, along with the one’s in the trenches right where we are now. We need to believe in the beauty of the table and stay curious about what it means that Jesus chose the table as the place where we are meant to remember Him until we see Him in heaven.
We still have some seats at the Brave On table available, and I would so love to meet you face to face and warmly welcome you. If you haven’t registered already I hope you will consider joining us, and maybe even ask a friend or two to join you. Say yes here and get your tickets today.
Tracy Johnson is a lover of stories, a reluctant dreamer and the Founder of Red Tent Living. Married for over 30 years, she is mother to five kids and a pastors wife. She loves quiet mornings with hot coffee, rich conversations and slowly savored meals at her favorite restaurants. She is awed that God chose her to mother four girls having grown up with no sisters. She writes about her life and her work here.