Blessings and Giftings

After the naming ceremony, Lynette gave the women opportunity to share words of blessing on each other individually.

After the time of blessing each other, it was the panelists’ time to be blessed. Lynette had arranged for each woman to receive a gift from another woman in the same sphere. Some panelists knew the giver, and some received presents from strangers. It was a unique time of blessing.

Louella – “This is special! You have just pampered us!”

Carla – “We all have gifts. When we see a need it is up to us to use them instead of waiting to be asked and wondering if people want you to use them. Instead of just assuming that they don’t need help, use your gifts.”

Martha – “I just ask the Lord, and He shows me how to help. If we really try, we can’t walk in their shoes, but we can try to understand and think what are their needs and then act accordingly.”

Louella – “It’s when we think of others’ needs when ours don’t seem so important.”

Dot – “I would rather have a willing heart than a resistant heart.”

Martha – “It is often unconscious how we help and serve.”

Lynette – “You either go through it yourself or you walk very close through it with someone.”

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Naming, Not Assuming

As the weekend came to a conclusion, Lynette led a renaming ceremony to honor the women’s unique pains, as well as their strengths and ministries. As she placed the new name on a sign around their necks, she spoke a blessing into their lives. She acknowledged that none of her blessing was a direct word from God, and advised the women to “take this as lightly or as meaningfully as you like.”

Martha. You have often been in Wesley’s shadow, but when I look at you I see your joy. Your name is Light.

Naomy. I don’t know what it is like to live in a new country. You don’t want to put yourself out there and prove to people who you are. Maybe one day the phone will ring and it will be a school, or a woman wanting your friendship. Your new name is Pursued. They are going to come find you. Be ready for them.

 

Dot. There is a lot of emptiness, like baby books or a house, but there is a lot of fullness in your life, too. May God continue to make you a blessing, because your new name will be Fulfilled.

Naomi. As someone did the other night, I picked up on the word “odd” you used to describe yourself. Your husband and your children and many others rise up and call you blessed. The word that kept coming to me is that you are not odd, but you are a Rare Gem.

Elnora. People choose to walk out or to reject for whatever reason. You have chosen a lot of healing and a lot of definition that doesn’t have anything to do with that. I have been hearing about your friends who love being with you and I know your sons. Elnora, you are the chosen one. Not rejected, but Chosen.

Sabrina. You were very honest with us about how you felt feelings of inferiority before the first retreat, and yet you spoke out and were used. Your name is Confident. You do not have to look to the right or the left. You are confident.

Louella. I’ve known you for a long time. To know you is to love you. I know you to be a fruitful person. You accomplish things and I remember how you cared for your husband. You would get down and help him up. I imagine you treating him lovingly. I know you have loyal children. The word for you, your new name, after all those years of caring and blessing, is Nurtured. You let those children and grandchildren around you nurture you.

 

 

Carla. This has been quite a journey and I respect you for joining this project. I know it has reminded you of your pain. You have at times talked about how someone like you or your husband does not get sent like others do. There is no one in this house right now who is qualified to do what you are doing right now. Your new name is Commissioned. Go, give hope to those children.

 

Mim. You have been told that you are in a pastoral role, and you felt that calling on your life. Hold your head high with the gifts that you have. This is not plan B. Don’t back down, because your new name is Shepherdess.

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How can the church minister to stay-at-home-moms?

Sabrina

– I love it when older women in the church model how to respect my husband or care my children.

– I love it when people take an interest in and interact with my kids.

– When people encourage my marriage. For example, people have given us gift cards for dates and taken care of our kids.

– Offering to babysit. “When are you bringing your kids so I can watch them for you and you can spend time with your mother?” Comments like that are so encouraging.

– When someone says, “I’m going to Wal-Mart, do you need anything?’ that means a lot, especially when you have three kids to take along and you only need one thing.

Naomi

– Friendships with women in the church.

– Someone offered to babysit every week so I could go grocery shopping.

– Standing offer to make my fellowship meal food.

– Adults my age taking an interest in my kids in youth group and caring for their needs. Praying for my kids.

– Prayer support.

– People wanting to know about what you were struggling with. That is helpful.

– I also really appreciated when people came and told me about things that my kids were doing that were unruly. Then I could take care of that.

Lynette – “Adult conversation during the week! I was a student at the time when I was a mom, and that intellectual challenge was good for me.”

Naomi – “That was one of the best things about homeschooling.”

Sabrina – “I know that as a mom I am busy, but I also admit that I do have time in my day that [a career mom like] Carla doesn’t. It’s really important how I choose to use that time. I could easily waste a lot of time.”

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How can the church minister to career moms?

Carla – “As moms, it feels like we are expected to stay home with the kids. What people say and what is perceived is sometimes different.”

Dot – “What are some of the specific ways that the support is not happening for you and some of the ways we can do better?”

Carla – “The sense of going against the tradition of what has been done. I don’t always know who to talk to. It might seem more natural to talk with the men who were at work all day rather than at home.”

Dot – “I experienced that, too, with not having kids. I related more with men’s conversations because I was in the working world.”

Carla – “There is no assumption on men that they love their children less because they go to work all day. Yet for women, there is that feeling that sending kids to a sitter means loving them less.”

Sabrina – “We need to find that common ground to talk about. I don’t know how to relate to your workday, but we both have mother’s hearts. We probably both have picky eaters.”

Mim – Working moms have powerful influence.

A career woman has an area of influence that is larger than the home. She touches the lives of many people, and her job can be a ministry as much as being a full-time mother is a ministry.

Lynette – Earlier, Sabrina mentioned the tool of asking for a story to help understand. Showing interest goes a long way in building relationships.

To connect with employed mothers, take the time to talk with them, and ask them questions about their day. Show interest in their work. Know that they value their children just as much as you do and that they are also caring for their children. Let them serve, and realize their potential. They want to serve as much as you do, and might just need the opportunity to share. Talk. Do not assume.

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How can the church minister to women entering a new culture?

Naomy – I don’t feel like I have a whole lot of new things to share since the last meeting.

– The very first day we walked into the church, our kids were picked and asked what their ages were and they were taken off to their age group. They fit in so well with the youth meetings and enjoyed them. That kind of matching up was so important for us.

– The church’s networking was so important for us to help us feel connected. They set us up by email with someone from Kenya. They even came along to the airport to pick us up.

– People brought us home for many lunches.

– They helped us get to our feet with issues like job searches and finding clothes.

– When I was reading the blog, I reacted to the word “displaced.” I know that you understand, but I am not sure if the readers understand. I was not forced to move. There are territorial connotations of “displaced.”

– The food is so different. We always ask “what is this? What is this?” It is all so different. We assume so much.

What we call a familiar food isn't necessarily a comfort to someone who is new to the culture. Here we have a Cappuccino Cup!

Lynette – “We need to be cultural interpreters in the church.”

Carla – “The church should be willing to explain our culture, but not assume that you want to assume our culture.”

Naomy – “I think it is important to say, ‘If you want to’.”

Phyllis – “There was no sacrifice to welcome this family. They were very friendly and confident. They have really good children. It was very easy to welcome them.”

Naomy – “Is she talking about us?”

Naomi – “Yes.”

Welcome, Naomy (the sign is from Kenya, in Swahili and English).

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How can the church minister to women who have no children?

Mother’s Day is painful for women without children (this can go for single or married women). It has been badly done, but it has also been really well done.

Dot – “I am going to read, since it is helpful for me to write down what I have to say.”

Mother’s Day might be the single most painful day for a woman who has not had children. It is also a day when a mother who lost a child to a miscarriage, or an untimely death can feel extreme pain. It’s good to be sensitive to those people on that day. During the very early years of our marriage our church planned baby dedications on Mother’s Day. While this is very meaningful to parents, it was quite painful to Larry and me. We simply stopped going to church on that day. To me, deciding what is appropriate for Mother’s Day and what may not be is a fine line. I personally don’t want Mother’s Day completely ‘watered down’ so that mothers feel as though the day lost a special touch. It should be CELEBRATED! Lynette has been very creative at Siloam, and from my perspective, has found many ways to include all women in the celebration. Time won’t allow me to mention all of them but here are two.

One year she spoke about different spheres women represent in the church and had women from the audience bring ‘tokens’ to symbolize something specific from that sphere. For example, she mentioned my mother and her recent death and I placed a lovely friendship quilt that had belonged to her over a rocking chair on the podium. Another time she had someone ‘stand in’ for a specific segment of women while she read a tribute to that group: Mothers of small children, a widow, women without children, women who had experienced a miscarriage, and many others. When she finished her tribute, the woman standing in took a long stemmed rose to another woman in the audience who also represented that sphere. I say this to emphasize how well it has been done and also for those of you who need ideas.

Naomi – A Mother’s Day practice that everyone can participate in is wearing corsages for your mother, with the color signifying if your mother is still living. Everyone has a mother.

It is not hard to make everyone feel included in special days like Mother’s Day. However, it is easy to unintentionally hurt someone.

Dot’s grandmother gave quilts to her grandchildren who had babies. “She was not intentionally neglecting me, but I told her, ‘Grandma, I don’t think I ever will have a baby, but I don’t want you to die without having one of your quilts.’ She kindly made me one, which I have been able to use at baby showers.”

Naomi – “Through the years, did you mind when people would talk to you about it? Or would you rather have close friends be the only ones to bring it up.”

Dot – “It is a subject if you are a close friend to bring up very carefully. It is difficult. Since we were private about it, we knew that people would not really be able to minister to us about it.”

Sabrina – “It is a really touchy subject.”

Dot – “It is very personal. Infertility treatment is very invasive, and infertility is not a topic that you can talk about very easily.”

Louella – Longing for a child is not just for married women. “A single woman I know has grieved because her entire life she wanted to get married and be a mother. She said, ‘My time is running out. Can I never hold a child in my arms and call her my own?’

Naomy – “Who are the right people to minister to you? Who ministered the best?”

Dot – “The people who did not exude discomfort around me because of my not having children. The ones who saw that I did have those skills.”

Lynette – “Those who recognized your nurturing.”


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How can the church minister to single women?

The conversation about divorced women segued well into the topic of single women in the church.

Lynette – “Church structures are so important. There is such a need for single women to be with couples. We need to mix.” Her daughter shared with her what a blessing it is to single women when couples are secure enough in their relationship and have the space to welcome someone else in.

Mim – “Sometimes we start with a program to foster that interaction, and then it becomes natural. No one likes to feel like a project. There is no way we are going to please all of us.”

To prepare a helpful list, Mim had invited a group of single women to her house to share ideas for the church. Here it is: Nice Ideas for Loving on Single Women in the Church.

– Have them over for meals, especially on holidays if they live far from family.

– Help with their cars. Often when cars have trouble, women feel like “having a husband would make everything better.”

– Younger women want to be treated like they are mature adults. They can cook, and they want to serve.

– Recognize there are many spheres they can be good at. “We are good for more than babysitting!”

– It is really hurtful when the best friend gets married, but then the relationship changes and all of the married people are not including the singles anymore.

– Throw housewarmings for them, since they do not get bridal showers when they move into their own houses.

– Help us be realistic about marriage. He doesn’t always come home cheery.

– Women who were married later in life can share spiritual encouragement. It is nice to have friends who understand what it is like to be single.

– Don’t be afraid to tell us we are being very selfish or independent. “That was a sermon I got once from someone I could take it from.”

– If you are not close to someone, don’t ask about their interest in someone. It is not your mission to find all single people a spouse.

Mim – “I struggle with this one, because I love mothers and think they should be honored, but it is hard to hear a pastor say that being a mother is the highest calling in life. I will always be second best. Motherhood is a high calling, but be careful who you exclude.”

Lynette – “Be really sensitive walking alongside someone and telling them what they need to give up. It is tough to give up passions and dreams and callings. When you say yes to something you are saying no to something else.”

Naomi – “Only God knows in which way your life will be most effective. I remind people that a successful marriage is not the most important thing in comparison to being faithful to God. That just shines.”

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