A year ago, I made an announcement here on my blog in a post called “Introducing Patrons & Peers.” I was launching a direct-support, Patreon-style membership group here on my website.
In that initial post, I explained the concept–you could join at two main levels, choosing your support amount within them. Each came with a minimum buy-in but was open from there. You could support me monthly, quarterly, or annually. All members receive a tote bag, digital access to a members-only page on my site with special opportunities to provide feedback or see things from my writer life that others can’t, a coupon to my shop, and access to our private email group and Marco Polo video chat group.
In that post, too, I shared my true hope and heart: that this group would become a community not just about ME and my work, but about ALL OF US, where we could each share our joys, our fears, our accomplishments, our failures, our hopes, and our needs. I wanted and prayed that this group would be what the Church is supposed to be–a place of unity and edification.
It’s now been a year since the group got off the ground with its first members–hilariously, two different young women named Hannah. 😉 I know I talked a bit a few months ago about how the community aspect of P&P had blessed me in amazing ways, but in light of our 1-year anniversary, I wanted to give a special shout-out to this amazing group of amazing, ordinary women who have become a part of my daily life and true friends.
We’re now 30 strong. Nearly all of the members are active either in the email group, in the Marco Polo app, or both. Their support has, from a purely financial standpoint, given me the freedom to say “yes” to some new writing projects. They’ve given me feedback on story ideas, made suggestions for my next biblical fiction with Guideposts, prayed me through exhaustion and cheered me on to deadline after deadline. Those who join at the Peer level get the first signed copies of my books as they release, and the Patron level gets any digital versions that I have the right to share, as happened with Shadowed Loyalty. We have special P&P tea parties for each release–the busiest Zoom parties I’ve ever hosted! We even had a retreat in October, in Georgia, where five of us (a few others had to cancel last minute due to sickness) got together for some creative pursuits, good food, and fun conversation each evening. It was such a great time that they made me promise it would become an annual event.
But it’s so much more than that. This group has become family. One of our members, Caroline, put it nicely a few weeks ago when she said, “You know, I think this group is so amazing because we’re just doing life together. We share the everyday things, you know?” I do. This is exactly why we’ve become such good friends so quickly–because we share the minutia, we share each prayer need and joy, we reminisce together, we read together, we show each other our pets and homes and land and families. We see each other’s children, hear them calling in the background of the video chat app. We talk about frustrations wtih work, concerns for our spouses, exchange funny bad date stories. We pray each other through sickness and share the thoughts we’ve had in our devotional readings that day or week. We share our vulnerabilities and are, in response, strengthened by each other.
We are the Church, living out its mandate to love each other and edify each other. And what I love so, so much, is that the other ladies have said over and again that their experience is just like mine–that they think about each other constantly throughout the day, praying for the needs and wondering about outcomes. That they linger over the insights others have shared and come to new discoveries in their own faith because of it. That they know that this group will be there, will support them, will love them through each trial. We can disagree on things, and that’s fine. Earnest conversation is fun and uplifting. We can cry with each other. We can laugh with each other. We send each other care packages and Christmas cards and hop on to the email or MP app in odd moments when we can’t sleep or are so excited about something or are in desperate need of prayer.
It was only a few weeks after one of the earlier members, Pam, joined that she put words to what we’d all been thinking but hadn’t yet said, “There’s something really special about this group.” She’s right. There is.
I’m still in awe of what my humble idea for Patrons & Peers has become…and I’m humbled each and every time they say, “Roseanna, thank you so much for starting this group!” They call it my obedience to God. They say that He knew they needed this, and that because I listened, we now have this group of friends and family that has so quickly become so important. It felt like a pretty big risk to me at the time. What if no one joined? What if no one found any value in it? What if it just sounded like money-grubbing? Why would anyone want to do this? But I did take the risk, and…wow. God did know. He knew that we all longed for this kind of community, and He gave us all the bravery and boldness to accept it when it was offered. He helped us all to open our hearts in vulnerability to each other.
And now not a day goes by that my family doesn’t hear me saying, “Lynn said… Pam told us this story… Candice shared… Caroline makes… Deanna’s mother-in-law… Betty’s husband… Danielle’s latest book…” and so on. We’ve learned from each other. We’ve helped each other. We’ve earned mentions in each others’ Christmas letters. 😉 Our members have been meeting up when travel takes them near each other. We share recipes and book recommendations and send each other cards and gifts. It’s just…amazing. It’s community. It’s family.
As always, the invitation to join the group remains open to whoever else feels the stirring of the Lord to accept that invitation. You can find the page with full explanation of “official benefits” here. You can read my initial post about it here. You can read my musings on the wonder of our community here. And of course, you can see what a few of the members have to say. Because they are what truly make this group worth joining.
I don’t have time to follow up on everything that gets said, so I think I’m pretty inactive in the group, but I have loved seeing how people ask for prayer and we can all come together. It’s way more personal and cozy than a Facebook group, and that’s the best.
I also LOVE getting to interact with an author that I love and seeing some of the behind the scenes action. ; )
While the insights on Roseanna’s latest work in progresses is why I joined her Patron and Peers group, it’s not the reason why I continue to stay. Each week I have the joy of hearing the highs, the lows, and the mostly ordinary part of other ladies’ lives. We encourage, pray, and rejoice for one another. Without trying to be cliché–but it’s true–there aren’t enough words to describe the beauty of this community that God has joined together through Roseanna’s yes to a dream of hers.
The icing on the cake for this group was attending a creative retreat, where yes I did get my meet my favorite author, but also got to bond and form deeper connections to people I’ve been talking to on Marco Polo most of the year.
Oh! This brought tears to my eyes. We love you, Roseanna! Thankful for your faithful response and tender heart to the voice of the Lord! We’re all blessed because of it.