In the company of cheerful ladies

One of the things that I signed up for during the SheSpeaks conference was the speaker evaluation.

Prior to attending, we had received information advising us that we were going to be giving 2 talks: the first – a three minute my story talk. The second – a five minute teaching talk on a scripture.

On Friday night we gathered into the room where our first evaluation would take place. I was fidgety but quickly hooked myself onto Dara, a woman with an amazing warm smile. She became my cheerleader.

I had prepared my speeches and gone over them. But on Friday afternoon, I began feeling the urge to tweak mine. Obviously, this did nothing to help me prepare. So even though I was telling something dear to me, I had not practiced my delivery of it.

pffft… don’t try that. It doesn’t work. {Word of advice: don’t change your speech at the last minute.}

However, I had such a gracious, amazing evaluation group, that I probably could have stood up there and just said "ummmm" over and over and they would have found 10 encouraging things to say about it all.

 speaker evaluation group SheSpeaks

I joked with all of these women that they lied when they said they were beginners, because seriously: top-notch. All of them. Two people in the group had been on Oprah and one had had a Lifetime movie made about her story. Another had been a runaway. One had been delivered from a lifestyle filled with drugs. Yet another has already started a successful ministry, working with women. Each and every woman in this group had witnessed, first hand, the Lord’s restoration and healing.

I was truly ministered to and touched by these women. Study the faces in that photo. I’m sure you will see each of them doing big things. (including ‘lil ol me)

A question for you. Yes, you.

Yesterday, I spent a lovely day with my brilliant friend and her cute kids (and the post she wrote today is proof-positive of that). We hung out, and then I threw my kids at her and left for a meeting at the Tennessean. Then I raced back, hung out some more, and a bit more and then realized that I was probably beginning to grow moss and had better gather myself and my youngins and head out because I also had a meeting with the Minister of Adults at church.

Do I have a point, you ask?

Oh right, yes. I did say I have a question for you.

Brevity is so overrated…

My meeting with the Minister of Adults was about the women’s ministry at church. I am going to lead a women’s bible study during the day. Our church already offers women’s bible studies, but they are in the evenings. And seriously, evenings are so sacred around here, that I can’t imagine adding one more thing. Or my head justmightexplode. And I know that there are plenty of other moms that feel this way about needing a time with other moms while being able to soak up God’s Word. And not to mention the fact that cleaning up my exploded head would be one more mess on my already full to-do list. And who has time for that, anyway…

(Is there a limit to the number of times one can start a sentence with and? ‘Cause I think I just reached it…)

My question? (really it’s many questions):

* What does your church’s Women’s Ministry do that you feel is working in a positive way? Or what do you wish it would do to reach women and/or moms?

* What are the things that it does and/or offers to meet the needs of women (and specifically, moms)?

* What bible studies have you done that you would consider great women’s and/or mom studies? (I’m looking for something other than Beth Moore. I love her studies, but I’m looking for a variety of studies, and I know that hers are the obvious choice.)

Please post your answers or thoughts in comments (or email me; though, I’d love for your answers to be available to others who might be reading this and need the information.)

I’d really love to hear you thoughts and ideas.
*edited to add: the study will be held at the church, and childcare will be provided

(ps – if you are looking to expand your Valentine’s Day vocabulary, be sure to see post below)

It bears mentioning again

I’ve mentioned it before (on my very neglected May I Recommend page) but I wanted to mention it again because I think it is a ministry that is just so wonderful.

If you are on a budget, or know someone who is (especially the elderly), check out this site and find out if there is an Angel Food Ministry in your area. If there isn’t, find out how to start one here. Anyone can purchase food from the ministry. It’s not something you have to qualify for.

From their website:

Angel Food Ministries, a non-profit, non-denominational organization, began in 1994 as a small outreach ministry serving a rural community in Georgia. The goal was to help neighbors who needed a hand up in a tough economic time. Today, Angel Food Ministries can be found in over 3,200 communities in 35 states and helps feed over 500,000 families a month.

Angel Food partners with churches and community organizations throughout the country to help distribute food to those in need. For $30.00 you can receive a box of food containing both fresh and frozen items. Our food items are top quality – we buy our food from major food producers throughout the country to ensure the best food comes to your table.

Our church allows us to purchase boxes for others, who they have been made aware are in need. We’ve also purchased boxes to be donated to military families at Fort Campbell.

Moving out from a self-centered perspective

Most of my posts lately have been fluff.

Okay – all of them.

Not that I don’t like fluff or enjoy reading fluff.

But so much of what my blog focused on last year was a lot of soul searching and reflecting on my family’s trials from the year before. (of course, that was also after I wrote a lot of fluff…)

I miss that reflection. I miss taking the time to sit down and think about where the Lord has brought us. What He has delivered us from. What lies ahead.

I think a lot of it came from the desire to keep posting even when I was too sick or tired to do so. I was afraid people would leave and forget about my little corner of the blogging world.

Even in the blogging world we are susceptible to insecurities.

I’ve been so caught up in our illnesses, and our moves, and our schedules, and our issues, that I have not been looking outwards enough. I’ve been lacking in the “reaching out” department lately. And seeing how the Lord used so many to reach out to us during our time of suffering, I am ashamed of this fact.

I read an article the other day that has really had me thinking (you can read the article in it’s entirety here – click on the “download magazine” link for a .pdf version of it). The article was called “Oh, Say – Can’t you see?”.

After the author lost a pair of prescription glasses on the beach and being both thankful when she found them and suddenly angry at her husband for his lack of concern over her loss, she was struck by the fact that she had failed the “spiritual vision test”.

She was struck by the following thought: “You mourned over the idea of impaired vision for a few days, but how deep is your concern for those in total blindness spiritually? Your loss, which was temporary and replaceable, made you cry. Why don’t you, with that same intensity share My concern over what is lost eternally? And what about the tears in others’ lives? Do you share My compassion for their hurts?”

Her thoughts turned towards a rush of memories of looking at other’s problems with detachment.

Her thoughts then became: “Forgive me Lord! Help me to feel what You feel and see what You see, so that I can be burdened enough to pray in Your name – to cry out in a prayer that resonates with Your own heart“.

Don’t we all fall victim to this? Isn’t it all too comfortable to just stand and watch as it all goes by and not get involved? We have things to do, places to go. There is always something we need to do first. And THEN we’ll start helping… reaching out… caring.

It is so so so easy to just utter the words “I’ll pray for you.” But do we follow through? Do we really consider their pain? Their sorrow?

Do we really consider what lies ahead for those who do not believe? Lost souls don’t get another chance once the body dies.

What is stopping us?

What is stopping you?

We say we don’t want to be burdened. We say we don’t have time to be burdened. But the reality is — the Lord WANTS us to be burdened by other’s sufferings.

The Excesses of Our Lives and Being Refined

It’s been on my mind a lot lately.

The excesses of our lives.
The unnecessary stuff.
The stuff that ends up holding us down and owning us.

It’s been a year since everything was pulled out from under us… A year since, my husband had to pick up and move, temporarily, with what little he could fit into his car, across the country (literally. We were in Maryland, he was in Oregon.) Away from the newborn son he’d barely gotten to know. Away from his other two children, who adore him completely. Away from his wife, who, though she doesn’t say it properly enough, adores him and is so proud to have him by her side…

It had been a slow, painful process prior to that. Before it all started, we had owned our own home, nice cars, owned a very successful business of our own. We weren’t nasty prideful, but we were proud of our things. And I don’t think we shared what the Lord had given us very well with others.

As our descent began, we tried to keep our grip and climb up out of it. However, it seemed as if every decision we made, even after prayerfully presenting it before the Lord, turned out to be a bad decision. In the end, we were having to live with Sean’s parents and use food stamps for groceries.

I can look back over that year now, and see how the Lord was refining us.

Have you ever considered the definition of “refine”. We hear it a lot in churches. But what does it mean?

re‧fine  [ri-fahyn] verb, -fined, -fin‧ing.
–verb (used with object)

1. to bring to a fine or a pure state; free from impurities: to refine metal, sugar, or petroleum.
2. to purify from what is coarse, vulgar, or debasing; make elegant or cultured.
3. to bring to a finer state or form by purifying.
4. to make more fine, subtle, or precise: to refine one’s writing style.

–verb (used without object)

5. to become pure.
6. to become more fine, elegant, or polished.
7. to make fine distinctions in thought or language.

—Verb phrase

8. refine on or upon, to improve by inserting finer distinctions, superior elements, etc.: to refine on one’s previous work.

refine. (n.d.). Unabridged (v 1.0.1). Retrieved November 14, 2006, from website:

To take something coarse and vulgar and make it elegant and pure?? No small feat…

It becomes clear that, though the finished product may be beautiful and elegant, the process is not.

This year I have resolved in my heart, to not look the other way when I see someone hurting… to not cling to things when someone else has a need for it… to not judge others by their circumstances… I now understand what is important, and what is just fluff…

Some lessons are harder to learn than others. This one was excrutiating at times.

But I wouldn’t trade the changes in myself and my family for anything!!

Thank you Lord, for seeing my heart and refining it for your glory.