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Written by Erin Shuler

It had been a rough week. It was only Wednesday. I stood in the lobby of my dorm looking out the window. The silence and darkness was a nice relief. I had just spent the last couple minutes on the phone crying to my sister because I felt overwhelmed with everything that I was trying to sort through in my head.

I had started to doubt most decisions I had made in the past six months, from what major I chose to what college I would attend. Graduating from high school and looking at all the options that were available, I had felt free. I finally had the chance to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. Nothing was holding me back; I had the rest of my life to do whatever I decided to do.

Up until the past couple of weeks, I thought I knew what my life would look like. I would go to the University of Indianapolis where I would get accepted into the nursing program. I would graduate in four years with a degree in nursing and a minor in psychology. I would then get my certificate to be a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner which would be my job for the following two years. Then I would head overseas to Africa and help those who had not yet been reached. After a couple of years I would return to the States where I would settle down, start a family, and hopefully be a stay-at-home mom.

What I did not realize, however, is that decisions you make while in the comfort of home, without having tasted what the real world is like, are a lot harder to follow through with when it is time to act based on those decisions. This is especially true when your future depends on them. It was easy to plan what I thought I wanted my life to be, but it is another thing entirely to live it.

Looking out the window in the lobby, I saw a single leaf on a tree. It was hanging on when every other leaf around it had fallen away. Just like that leaf, I am holding on when everything else seems to have fallen away. I no longer have my family, friends, church, or community to hide within. When all of that is gone, the only thing remaining is the tree and that single leaf.

That realization hit me hard. When it is just me, all I have to cling to is the tree that gave me life. The only way to live is to live one day at a time. You make the most of what you can from each day, and then, when the next day comes, you do the same. Eventually a week has passed, and then a month, and before you know it, time has flown by.

When everything else is gone, faith is there to carry you on. If you cling to it hard enough, nothing else matters. The future will work itself out. Questioning every decision will not change the path that has already been decided for a long time ago. The only thing I can do is hold on to the tree that gave me life!

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Written by Cassie Harris

“You’re in your late 20’s? Why aren’t you married yet? I’m so sorry, Sweetie, that must be so hard. I’ll be praying for you.”

I hear that often these days. It’s understandable. To be honest, in my high school, I was voted most likely to be married by 18. I’m one of the only ones that isn’t. As the days tick by and some in the church silently expect me to “pick a husband and be happy”, I find myself accepting their pity and concern. It took many long nights of excruciating prayer to realize I was not less of a woman because I don’t have a husband yet.

What happens when the stereotypical picturesque family you dreamed about as a young girl doesn’t write itself into your story? Are you less of a benefit to the Body of Christ? Does Christ make you an impact for the Kingdom only when you have a husband? If singleness is a gift, why do young adults, primarily young women, get the impression it’s a gift they should fight against?

I will be the first one to acknowledge that socially, ministry appears to be easier when you have a life partner by your side; especially as a woman. But I will also be the first one to acknowledge that, at times, God smiles at the idea that a young adult who is not married can devotedly focus on serving Him. It has been a beautiful gift to be able to pour my heart into serving the Lord through my singleness.

If God has marriage in my future, I can’t wait to see how serving Him changes with a husband by my side. But I can’t live as if God says my abundant life of service can only by activated when I marry.

As the Body of Christ, how do we best point young women towards seeing their value rather than pursuing social conformity?

Not Worth Much?

Written by Viki Rife

Three times a week, my dad spends four or five hours in a chair receiving dialysis. The other days of the week seem filled with doctor’s visits and taking care of things that used to be easy, but now those things are difficult and time-consuming. He can’t drive. He can’t see well. A stroke has severely limited his memory. Sometimes discouragement kicks in and he says, “I’m not worth much anymore, am I?”

My mother goes with him to dialysis, sitting patiently in the waiting room during his long hours back in the treatment room. She chats with others who are waiting for their spouses. The other day, she initiated a conversation with someone she hadn’t met. The woman began to enumerate all that they had been through with her husband’s illnesses.

“We moved here from another state to be closer to our family, and it has been a hard move,” she confided. “But when we came here, I started to feel better about the whole thing. Everyone at this dialysis center is so friendly.

“Our first day here there was a patient in the chair next to my husband’s who greeted everyone as they came in and out. He joked with the nurses and made us laugh. He saw I was upset, and he asked me, ‘Is the Lord taking good care of you?’ I needed that reminder that God is with me, and I thought, ‘I’m glad we’re here.’ ”

“That sounds like my husband,” my mother commented. About that time my father walked out the door from the treatment room. “That’s him!” the woman exclaimed. “That’s the man who encouraged me!”

As I helped him into the car, I fought back tears. There’s no way to help my father understand how very, very much his love for the Lord blesses others, including me, every day. You don’t have to be Billy Graham to have an impact for Christ. Our character, what comes out of our hearts, carries great impact.

How in the world can anyone measure the worth of a faithful saint?

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She was utterly alone. At 69, she was a widow. She had married her husband at 17 and he had done everything: the checkbook, the bills, the gas, their taxes. Her husband had wanted to teach her how to do all that, but she hadn’t seen the need for it. d could do it. That was enough. Now though, Mary realized just how much it wasn’t enough.

Quietly, Mary cracked open her Bible. She knew she’d find her beloved Savior in its pages. As she flipped through some of her husband’s favorite passages she found herself asking what the passages actually meant or her. Ed was the one who knew how to explain the Bible.

Mary felt a small tinge of frustration with herself that she had never taken the time to find herself in Christ; nor had she taken the time to learn deep Biblical truths apart from the titles of wife or mother. Who did she think she was when her husband wasn’t there to explain to her what the Bible meant?

Mary is not alone in her journey of spiritual formation. Many women, no matter their ages, find themselves spiritually bankrupt when they have to identify themselves in Christ without the assistance of their husbands or their identity as a mother. What if you’ve never allowed yourself the chance to dive deeply into the Word of God? What if you’re not confident of
your identity in Him because you were too busy doing what you thought you were expected to do?

Giving women the ability to answer those soul-deep questions is the heart of Women of Grace WGUSA. Prayerfully, we strive to show women who they are simply because they were made by God for a specific purpose and calling.

When titles and roles get stripped away, do we know who we are? Do we know we still have value in the Kingdom of God? Are we spiritually secure because we know how God views us?

Don’t wait to invest in going deeper now!

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Written by Viki Rife

Most Sunday mornings, my husband and I leave for church a little early, pick up a fast-food breakfast and park at “our” special place overlooking an area lake. As we eat, we talk and pray together to prepare our hearts to worship with our brothers and sisters.

But last Sunday was different. Having spent the previous weekend at the Women’s Leadership Summit in Columbus, Ohio, along with part of the week at our Women of Grace USA board meetings, I was really looking forward to that very special, restful time.

Our board meetings had ended shortly after one of our board members, Chery Boehm, had received a call that her husband, Ron, had been taken to the emergency room. His subsequent surgeries for an abdominal aneurysm and the concern for a fractured skull when he fainted was hanging heavily on my heart, as well as some deep family concerns. When my husband woke up sick, and I realized I would be going to church alone, I went ahead and left early, feeling the need for the quiet time by the lake.

Much of the time, the lake waters are being roiled up by the wind and waves splash the shore where I am sitting. But Sunday, the lake was as still as glass. I was able to see, clearly and perfectly reflected, the image of the trees in all their fall glory.

What a beautiful picture of our call to reflect God’s image to the world around us! We can’t do it when our hearts are being blown around by every spiritual wind. Only when we trust Him fully can we lie peacefully before Him and only then can we truly reflect His glory.

For updates and prayer concerns in regards to Ron Boehm, please visit the Women of Grace USA Facebook Page: Women of Grace Facebook Page

Written by Karen Cole

“Going deep” makes me feel very vulnerable and I really don’t feel comfortable in that space at all. I would much rather put on my “happy ministry face” and take the blows. I’m comfortable with taking responsibility for making sure there are always peaceful and happy outcomes – “like I really control outcomes”. But God, who is faithful, just, true, kind, merciful and all-knowing, knew what I needed to hear this weekend at the Women’s Leadership Summit and who I needed to be around. Truly, He orchestrated it all!

I was blown away by the many ministries led by women who attended the Summit and the many burdens they carry. These women made me feel safe; as if I could be myself. I was accepted even though they had their own personal reasons for attending. The material was presented by Margie Brubaker and her daughter Charlanne Wolff (“A Wardrobe of Gracious Influence”) – what an awesome pair!

They gently guided us through four amazing sessions that challenged, encouraged and personally helped me see “ministry to women” from a different and more supportive perspective. Yes, I was tired, overwhelmed, overloaded with information and yet there was a peace and calm that allowed me to receive refreshment for my own soul.

The challenge to be more intentional about my “self-awareness and self-care” was a big take away for me. Ministry involves a lot of “doing” and “going.” There does not seem to be much time for me to be me and take care of my spiritual, emotional or physical self. There does not seem to be enough time to spend time genuinely connecting with other women. Even greater than that, I struggle with having substantial and intimate time alone with God, my Creator.

This past weekend was transformational for me. My “alone time with God” is being put back in its rightful place. God has brought me to be vulnerable and know my truth. So what is your truth? Are you willing to admit it, own it and make sure it lines up with God’s truth? I am challenging myself and other women in ministry to embark on this spiritual journey along someone else. Allow that person to help find truth and freedom from the fear that hold one back from daring to put on a “wardrobe of gracious influence”!

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Karen loves to pray, encourage, sing and laugh out loud. She has been married 29 years to Bill Cole. Both she and Bill serve at Eastside Grace Brethren church where Bill is an Elder. Karen serves as Women’s Ministry leader, a Titus 2 Small group leader, choir member and backup worship leader for 1st service. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, scrapbooking and card making in her free time. Her favorite passage of scripture is Ephesians 3:19 – 21.

Valued by Him

Written by Cassie Harris

The tears of the women surrounding me said it all. There’s nothing like women learning from, and loving on each other.

I had begrudgingly walked into the weekend class which started Friday evening. In the last two years of serving in women’s ministries, I had learned to love women. But during that particular weekend, I was too stressed. I didn’t feel I had time to add one more thing to my day, nor time to be loved by anyone; let alone love them back. I had heard how spiritually and Biblically beneficial this Women in Scripture course was. I couldn’t help it, though. My one prayer at the beginning was, “Lord, please make this worth it.”

I should have known better. Within twenty minutes, I was overwhelmed with the Biblical truth of who God had made me as a woman. I had bought into so many lies of what it meant to be a woman valued by God. It’d been such a long time since Biblical truth had broken through cultural barriers in regards to womanhood. I found myself fighting back tears whispering the simplest of truths. I was not made second class to the plan of God. God values me even though I’m a woman!

Looking around the room, I saw I was not the only one. The encouragement from Scripture broke through bondage that weekend. But it was even sweeter than that. During the weekend, I witnessed the blessing of watching women come along side other women to confirm those truths. Hugs encouraged. Tears mended. God was glorified through the women He continues to love.

At the end of the weekend, I walked away with a grateful smile. It was a blessing to dive into the Scriptures and learn forgotten or ignored truths of how God views women. It was an even greater blessing to learn those truths from other women pursuing their identity in Him.

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