Don’t Waste Your Wait! You might have a Divine Appointment

Are you open to a Divine Appointment or are you wasting your wait?

I have a confession to make.

I hate waiting! Like to a ridiculous degree. In my efficiency-minded, multi-tasking little head, waiting is wasted time. I could have been … cleaning, writing, homeschooling, etc. (read-at home in yoga pants!)

But I’ve let that mean that I’m always waiting to get ready until the last possible second, stressing everyone about getting out the door because I didn’t want to get places too early and waste MY time waiting. 

I didn’t see all the ways God could be using my waits.

Last fall, my husband convicted me about how this really affects everyone, and I realized my behavior wasn’t cute or flighty; it was sin. I was being selfish, and it was bad for me, for my family, for those waiting on me, for the drivers that share the road with me when I’m going too fast.

So much sin I needed to address in just one “little” area. But WHOSE time is it really?

Whose time is it anyway? Is MY time really mine? If I belong to God, isn't it all HIS time? Click To Tweet

Since then, I’ve been trying to do better about being intentional with my time and planning better.

Yesterday, instead of planning for my sweet-pea to be compliant and obedient, I planned for her to be six: to take two bites of breakfast and claim it was too cold, then she was full, then she couldn’t find her pants, and didn’t know which shoes matched her shirt. #MomLife

I built in an extra 30 minutes into our morning so we could stay purposeful and focused without raising my voice. It was worth getting up early for! 

Are you open to a Divine Appointment? or are you wasting your wait? Waiting is my least favorite thing, but God has shown me He has planned every step.

I was so excited I didn’t have to speed to get to my appointment on time. We took our time getting out of the parking garage. I practiced using the stairs to my appointment and still arrived almost 30 minutes early. 

I thought for sure we would get in and out quickly, being a fairly early in the day appointment and early for my appointment. But I brought a book I’ve been meaning to read and settled in to wait with a happy heart. 

My daughter went straight for the toy corner and started playing with the little boy she found there. 

They were playing nicely, so I opened my book to read. I would look up and smile at the mother as she was interacting with the kids, but I really wanted to read this parenting book. We’ve had some emotional challenges with my daughter and I want be informed.

I was resisting being social. I didn’t want to be unkind or unwelcoming, but I’ve been out a lot this week and my introvert was showing. So I kept making a friendly half-smile and going back to my book, but God had different plans.

Are you open to a Divine Appointment? or are you wasting your wait? Waiting is my least favorite thing, but God has shown me He has planned every step. FAITH | TRUST GOD

God had different plans for my wait.

As the wait grew longer, the children’s playing got more rambunctious. They needed some reminding to share and keep things beneath a dull roar. With both of us trying to redirect them, we began making eye contact, which lead to conversation. Turns out her son is homeschooled, in first grade, six almost seven, adopted, and struggling with the effects of a birth mother who struggled with substances.

It would be strangely coincidental if it weren’t for my belief in God’s plan for my every step.

Proverbs 16:9 ESV The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

He had me right where I was supposed to be. He wanted me to meet this sweet Christian parent who is passionate about her children and homeschool and God. 

My wait wasn’t an accident, and it wasn’t wasted!

We discussed curriculum and resources. We shared adoption stories and parenting concerns. We fellowshipped as mothers and Christians. 

Are you open to a Divine Appointment? or are you wasting your wait? Waiting is my least favorite thing, but God has shown me He has planned every step.
photo credit @shutterstock

God planned that meeting. And through doing so helped my daughter and I both make new friends, but also reminded me that when I am obedient in the small things, His will is clear and apparent. 

My wait wasn't wasted, it was a divine appointment orchestrated by God! Click To Tweet

My appointment was delayed by almost an hour. But I couldn’t be upset when I could see I had really had two appointments yesterday. The first just wasn’t in my calendar – Divine Appointment!

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How a Forest Fire Reminded Me of the Refiner’s Fire

Feeling a little lost, even abandoned by God in a tough season? I've been struggling with it, but a fire gave me eyes to see purpose in the Refiner's Fire.

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Fire is dangerous, destructive, scary. But the Bible promises us the Refiner’s fire has purpose in our lives, even when it feels like just a forest fire.

Have you been struggling through a difficult season? Feeling a little lost, maybe even abandoned by God? I know I have! Grasping at His truths and promises, but fighting fear has been my everyday for months.

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And in one quick, almost throw-away moment driving down the highway, God reminded me He’s working all things together for my good.

Thick black smoke rose from the dense Georgia pines enveloping our van as we drove past. Flickering orange-red tongues licked at the ground, steadily gaining territory in its battle for supremacy over the vegetation that crowded the forest floor.

My daughter gasped. Should we call 9-1-1?!

No, honey, it’s what’s called a ‘controlled burn.’ They do it on purpose. The foresters use the fire to clear the forest floor of weeds that are taking up the resources the trees need, giving the trees more water and nutrients.

The fire also burns away dead material leaving only the nutrient rich soil. The fire looks scary, but it is a necessary part of keeping the forest healthy.

Feeling a little lost, even abandoned by God in a tough season? I've been struggling with it, but a fire gave me eyes to see purpose in the Refiner's Fire.

I kept driving but I couldn’t stop thinking about the fire. Something in those flames and the controlled burn felt like God drawing my attention.

Don’t you see that is what I’ve been doing in your life? In a flash, God shared this intimate vision of how the Refiner’s fire of my injury had been working in my life.

Isaiah 48:10 (ESV) Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.

This season of visiting disability has been terribly rough. I’ve tried to trust God’s promise that nothing is wasted in my life, but I’ve cried many tears of frustration and fear. But in the end, He always answers my prayers for a glimpse of what He’s doing.
I’ve seen God’s hand using this time in many ways despite the emotional and physical pain.

Before my injury, I had been struggling with feeling overwhelmed by my schedule. Between marriage, parenting, homeschool, church, my part-time job, and various activities, I couldn’t catch my breath.

Everything I was doing was important and worthwhile, but it was too much. I had felt God telling me to let some things go, but I didn’t know what, so I just kept holding onto it all.

Everything good isn't always what God has for us to do. The Refiner's fire refined my mission. Click To Tweet

As an extreme introvert, I need hours of silence before the noise of the world dims enough for me to hear the quiet voice inside my heart. I can’t write; I can’t find my center, feeling frazzled and discouraged. Some people can do so much more, but I can’t. And I’m realizing that’s okay.

I was missing my mission playing the comparison game.

I was looking to other women in the body of Christ and feeling there was a list of things I was supposed to be doing, while I should have been looking at Christ.

Before my hip replacement failed, I had prayed for God to help me find some rest. One of these days, I’ll learn to be careful what I pray for . . . 😉

I was missing MY mission playing the comparison game. But God gave my mission field only to me. Click To Tweet
The Refiner’s fire cleared away good things that weren’t God things

And gave me time to focus on my spiritual life, my marriage, my parenting, and being busy at home. I’d been so busy everywhere else, that I had nothing left for my home.

By clearing the forest floor of my life, the Refiner’s fire gave the most important things room to grow. I didn’t realize how much busy had been robbing us of joy.

But God did. And I miss my friends, but I don’t miss busy. I love having all day to focus on doing what’s best for my daughter’s education. I’ve seen her blossoming with our extended times at home. She needed the structure and attention.

 

I’ve seen my marriage grow leaps and bounds during this season. My husband has been beyond selfless in his care for me, which has just opened my heart to him in beautiful ways.

I’ve learned to give him more of me as well. Giving so much of my time and myself to everyone else had left him feeling left out and alone. We’ve learned to be friends again, laughing together, holding hands, falling in love all over again.

A fire might be temporarily painful for the forest, but what remains is stronger, and the new growth is lush and rich.

1 Peter 1:7 (ESV) So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
I love how God used a forest fire to show me how affliction strengthens my faith, draws me closer, gentles my heart. His refining reminds me of His eternal plan for my life.
The Refiner’s fire is not finished with me yet, but I know that what it leaves is the freedom of being focused on being prepared for God’s kingdom.
 

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Adoption Marketing – How to Attract Birth Parents to your Profile

Adoption marketing? It sounds scary. You have to shrink your entire life to sell yourselves as prospective parents to birth parents? DON'T PANIC! Learn how to attract birth parents to your profile.

God Above All Else Christian Strong Ladies Summer Tee Shirt Click To ShopAdoption marketing? It sounds scary. You have to shrink your entire life into a brief letter or booklet to sell yourselves as prospective parents to birth parents.

DON’T PANIC! Learn how to attract birth parents to your unique qualities as a family in ways that are as warm and genuine as you are.

Long ago, adoption agencies used a list. When a couple was approved as a waiting family, they went to the bottom of the list. Once at the top of the list, they were matched with the next baby surrendered to that agency.

Not anymore. Once we got approved, we had to market ourselves to attract a birth family to select us. We were asked to create a booklet containing a letter to prospective birth families, background information about ourselves, our family, and our home.

Every agency has a different way of handling marketing. Some ask for just a letter and a few photos, ours asked for a booklet. But either way, it can be intimidating.

Adoption Marketing? I didn’t know how to start!

We were given a sample and visited the agency site online to get an idea of what other families had done. Mentally, I put myself into a birth parents place and wondered what I would want to know about a family before placing my baby with them.

Write for your audience-

Imagining the circumstances that lead someone to choose adoption for an unplanned pregnancy, reminded me that often birth families do so because of what they cannot provide for a child: a stable marriage, a safe and happy home, possibly extended family or a certain lifestyle.

I had to think about how we answered those needs for them.

Take some time to answer these questions about you and your family.

  • How would you describe your family, marriage, home?
  • What are your hobbies, individually and as a family?
  • How do your careers affect who you are and your family?
  • What is your plan for childcare following the adoption?
  • How will your values or faith inform your life and parenting choices?
  • What other relationships do you have: extended family, close friendships?

A genuine letter or booklet should carefully create an image of the life their child will have with your family.

Adoption marketing? It sounds scary. You have to shrink your entire life to sell yourselves as prospective parents to birth parents? DON'T PANIC! Learn how to attract birth parents to your profile.

The real trick is to keep it genuine while getting attention. Adopting a baby is a miracle – not salesmanship, but you can make your profile stand out in simple ways that don’t sell your soul.

Adoption is a miracle not marketing. Make your profile stand out without selling your soul. Click To Tweet

So I began choosing colorful pictures that clearly showed our unique story: our engagement, marriage, my stepsons, our extended family, activities and holidays.

Photography Tips –
  • Chose a mixture of posed & candid shots, formal & casual clothing.
  • Select flattering, colorful photographs of joyful moments.
  • Use a photo editor to touch up dull pictures or crop images. Picasa is a great FREE photo editor.

Our marriage began with a unique fairy tale proposal, so I created a fairy tale theme for our booklet. Once upon a time, there was a boy, and miles away on the other side of the kingdom was this girl, then they met, and the rest is history, but they are still writing their happily ever after.

Adoption Marketing - Sample - Our profile cover

Our profile began with a letter sharing our heart about our family and about the courageous choice of adoption.

Dear Birth Family, “We are humbled by your gracious,
loving decision to choose adoption for your baby, and we want to thank you for considering our family for your child  . . .”

Then we continued briefly describing our marriage and family. Having a booklet allowed us to add depth and personality to our profile. Add personal details without being too specific.

  1.  A brief background on both my husband and myself – our childhoods, education, activities, extended family.
  2. Our family – home, pets, other children, and extended family
  3. Fun and Faith and Philosophy – we shared about our interests and hobbies, our faith, and our values.
  4. Closing statement thanking the birth parent for making a selfless decision for their child.

Use wording that demonstrates the ongoing nature of the birth parent’s relationship to the child. This is especially important if you’re choosing an open adoption. The birth parents will be a part of your child’s life and that needs to be respected.

Keep specifics limited. The birth parent needs to know enough to trust you and to know you, but the more details you offer, the larger opportunity for rejection.

#AdoptionMarketing Think 1st date, not autobiography. Personal & genuine, not too specific. Click To Tweet

Think first date for your letter. If you have to write a more formal booklet, think second date.

Keep your information focused on generalities but with personality. We live in a cozy home on a cul-de-sac with lots of children. Interests – We enjoy being outdoors and learning about nature.

Don’t get too specific about hot topics – like politics or vaccines, guns, etc.

Will a child be safe in your home? Will you love that child and provide a stable home? Those are the topics that really matter to birth family. People have strong opinions and you want to be open to an infant from as many different backgrounds as possible.

But also be honest. Choosing what to share is important, but the things that make you unique as a couple and as potential parents are important too. Our birthmother told us she chose us, in part, because we were just everyday people who would be hands on parents, active and present in her baby’s life.

Whatever drew her attention, we only waited a couple of weeks before being matched. Conversely, a couple can wait for years because they are not chosen by birth families. It is heartbreaking. I hope these little tips can help someone make their profile unique and special.

While the adoption marketing process can seem shallow, all about appearances, you can make it about your heart and home with what you decide to share. Make it about the warmth of your love, the strength of your family, the unique culture or community in which you live.

Most of all, I know that God will bring the right child to your family. I know God plan was for this timing, for this child, for us. We couldn’t be more blessed.

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Visiting Disability – What is it like to be disabled?

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Living with a disability is more than just learning new coping strategies. Everything changes. Truth is I’ve gained a lot of compassion for those living with a permanent disability or chronic illness through this injury & months of recovery.

Visiting disability is scarier the second time around. I’m concerned I might end up having to stay, and it’s no vacation. I’ve realized how much I took being healthy for granted and how little I’ve truly understood struggling with disability.

I’ve been temporarily disabled for twelve weeks so far. Possibly, I may need further surgery, but someday, I hope to leave my house without a walker, cane, brace, and fear . . . someday, but not today.

As a Christian, I know nothing happens in my life that God cannot use to grow me spiritually, nothing that is without a greater purpose, so I’ve been developing a deeper prayer life and richer compassion for those struggling with chronic illnesses and disabilities. Life is never the same.

So, what is living with a disability like?

Everyday life is challenging. It’s more than just being sick. It’s feeling awful and managing an obstacle course just to get dressed. Things that were never challenging are minefields. Ever try carrying a glass of water while using a walker?

Visiting disability is hard. It's no vacation to live with a disability. Click To Tweet

Quick background – Almost five years ago, I began a downhill journey with my arthritic hips. Three surgeries and two dislocations later, I’m in a brace that prevents me from dislocating my hip, laying flat, sitting up straight, or bending over.

A million activities I took for granted are impossible or difficult for me now. While I’m grateful to be alive and for all I can do, sometimes I just want to cry when something simple is now a three-step process, when changing positions in bed wears me out, when my brace wore holes in my favorite sheets, when I can’t sit up over the table to eat.

Disability steals independence.

Asking for help is constant. Most of my normal activities are beyond my ability. I can’t reach anything lower than my knees, and can’t clean house or vacuum the floor. While I’ve learned to admit my needs and accept help, the longer this goes on, the harder it is to be dependent on others. At some point, people need to go back to their own lives and often can’t focus on doing things for an injured or disabled friend.

If I lived alone, this would be devastating.

I can’t drive. I miss being able to hop in the car, have lunch with a friend, or attend church. So far, even quick errands are out of the question. I have to rely on my husband for all the shopping. And do my best to not complain when he buys the wrong orange juice.

Thank heavens for Amazon Prime for everything else.

I am stuck at home, but can’t be left alone for more than a few hours. Everything must be within grabbers reach so I’m not risking a dislocation getting up and down too often. Thank goodness my daughter is homeschooled and wonderfully helpful.

It’s not just physical.

I thought that a few weeks of couch time would be restful. I could read a few books, catch up on blogging, maybe start writing the book I keep talking about. But I didn’t expect the brain fog.

Constantly being physically tired means my mind is overwhelmed. I struggle to find words and can’t always communicate clearly, which is extra stressful when asking someone to care for you.

Raw emotions and depression hover around my heart. I still have hope that I’ll be able to be mostly functional again, but after five years, I know that long-term, I’m likely facing disability at some point. I’m scared and sad. Life has changed forever, and I’m not quite sure how to find joy here.

Again, as a Christian, God has me, this isn’t wasted and I’m using every second to try to understand His will for my life, for me as a mother and wife. But I fight back fear and sadness often. I have scriptures to remind me not to be afraid, but my human nature wants to dive into self-pity.

Hygiene is hard.

Showering is tiring and slightly terrifying. I can’t wear the brace that’s holding my leg in place. I mentally hold my breath until it is back on, simultaneously enjoying the freedom to move and fearing injury. I’ve never showered so quickly in my life.

The pain and discomfort of dislocating my hip is horrifying enough, but the idea of doing it naked is too much. While I can laugh about it, there is an element of trauma to thinking about going through a third dislocation.

So if I’ve showered and made an attempt at looking presentable, it took most of my energy for the day. I hate being embarrassed about how I look all the time, but I can’t do it more than a few times a week. Dry shampoo is my new best friend.

But, I’ve had to give up a lot of privacy, pride, and vanity.

I can’t shave my legs. My husband has to trim my toenails, so forget painting them. I can’t even wash my feet or put lotion below my knees. While I have some devices that help, they don’t replace actual function.

Devices and aides help with disabilities, but nothing replaces natural function. Read more Click To Tweet

The sock puller was too hard and time consuming. After laying on the bed crying and exhausted with a sock hanging nicely off one toe, I gave up wearing socks.

I’ve had to accept being embarrassed.

Peeing on the floor because my raised toilet wasn’t aligned properly or because I have to sit at a bizarre angle is still embarrassing, but at some point, you have to accept this new normal.

In fact, just working around using the bathroom takes up a large portion of my day. Standing up is risky and painful, so I tend to wait as long as possible. Working around the brace is time-consuming and difficult.

Trying to preserve my dignity is a losing proposition.

Leaving the house means planning around my restroom needs. I need a raised seat with close support bars. I can’t guarantee that even a handicapped stall will be truly accessible for me. I don’t want to dislocate my hip because I had to pee.

Not having access to my own toilet and risking embarrassment over it is emotional. I don’t want to have an accident. I feel old before my time and reduced to being a child.

Disability affects everything, including my marriage and family.

My marriage dynamic has changed. It’s hard to feel attractive and sexy after asking my husband to wipe up my pee. We both struggle to deal with my physical limitations as a woman and wife.

He is working full-time and doing 90% of the housework. But instead of his partner, I’ve been reduced to someone whose every need is on his shoulders. This disability has become a third (very unwelcome) member of our marriage.

A disability has become a third, very unwelcome, member of our marriage. Click To Tweet

In some ways, we’ve grown closer because I see how much he loves me, his gentleness, the quiet way he helps me function, how he works 12 hours and still cooks, cleans and physically cares for me. But over time, I feel like a burden.

He struggles seeing me in pain. I get frustrated when I can’t do things for myself. He feels guilty having any life outside of our family when I can’t leave the house and that he sometimes gets angry at the situation because my limitations limit him too.

Being a mother struggling with disability reverses roles. Having to ask your six year old to put your socks on for you is emotional. We all expect our children will to some degree care for us at some point, but the emotional weight of watching my six year old learn to navigate my (temporary?) disability at 45 is heavy. I should be getting to play tag with her, teach her to run, ride bikes, play hopscotch.

I shouldn't be asking her to help with my socks - I should be playing hopscotch.

When my child often sees me in desperate pain, it changes her. Every time I say OW!, she rushes into the room wild-eyed, asking if I need an ambulance again. It breaks my heart to see her fear, and yet my need has pushed her to be more independent and mature.

These are just a few of the ways I’ve realized living with a disability is more than just learning a few new coping strategies. It really changes everything. I’ve grown to have such compassion for people facing life altering medical crises or disabilities, to truly see the need for people to just show up during a time of difficulty.

I don’t know if I’m going to heal, be headed for more surgery, or have a permanent disability. Some of my EDS friends suggested that Ehlers Danlos might explain many of my symptoms. I may seek genetic testing for such a connective tissue disorder, which means I’m also dealing with a potential frightening diagnosis. So, I don’t know if I’m in the homestretch or just getting started.

I do know that I believe nothing happens in my life without purpose. For today, I’m resting in that – with my feet up and my grabbers handy.

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How to Be a Godly Woman in a Modern World

Trying to be a Godly woman in a modern world often feels like running my hand across a barbed wire fence, so how do we stand firm in our faith?

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Trying to be a Godly woman in a modern world often feels like running my hand across a barbed wire fence, lots of sharp places waiting to trip me up. So how do we stand firm in our faith?

The world’s ideas of modern femininity surround us. Entertainment, politics, and even education proclaim what it means to be a woman. Trying to avoid the current cultural definition of femininity would be like trying to take a bath without getting wet.

I know I won’t navigate it perfectly, but I want to be a woman after God’s heart most of all.

So how do we combat the onslaught?

Be in the Word Daily.

Imagine a hard, dry sponge dropped into dirty water. The sponge will immediately soak up the filthy water surrounding it.

Now, immerse a dry sponge in clean water until it’s saturated. When the full sponge sits in the dirty water, the filth rests surface deep. It is so filled with pure water, it can’t hold anything else.

We need to be so full of God’s purity that the world has no hold over us.

How to be a Godly Woman in a Modern World - Be so full of purity that the world has no hold. Click To Tweet

When we read God’s word, we become saturated with His purity. We become full of His definitions for who we are, His standards, His love and grace.

We need to be so full of God's purity that the world has no hold over us.

But the longer that clean sponge sits in the greasy sink, the dirtier it gets. Just as the longer we are in the world, the more we absorb its answers for who we are supposed to be. We need to be continually refilling ourselves from the Bible.

Proverbs 1:7 tell us the beginning of knowledge is a fear of the Lord. We recognize God’s righteousness through staying in His word.

God is perfectly holy in a way that I will never achieve, but by reading my Bible everyday, I see the joy of the journey is in those moments I willfully choose His righteousness over the world.

A Godly woman uses God’s standards for beauty.

I was teased mercilessly in elementary school. “Horse face” “Ugly” “Fish Face” were names I heard more often than my own. That broken sense of identity led me to seek physical beauty and polished perfection above all else for most of my life.

What I couldn’t see was how beautiful I already was in all the ways that really mattered. I was kind, creative, funny with a heart for others and a love for Christ.

1 Peter 3:4 ESV  “But let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

When I consider the emotional energy I’ve wasted pursuing an idealized airbrushed version of beauty, I feel a bit broken. I’ve beaten myself up so needlessly over the numbers on a scale or a smile that isn’t tissue test white.

Trying to be a Godly woman in a modern world often feels like running my hand across a barbed wire fence, lots of sharp places waiting to trip me up.

Wonderfully, God promises us the imperishable beauty of a quiet and gentle spirit precious in His sight.

A Godly woman chooses the imperishable beauty of a quiet, gentle spirit precious in His sight. Click To Tweet

While I won’t claim to have conquered it, God has me on a journey right now of learning my true beauty is in the gentleness of my spirit, not my physical body. When I am gentle and loving, I am more beautiful no matter my waist size or hair style, even without make-up.

We choose Godly role models and friends.

It’s human nature to imitate what we see. Watch two people having a conversation, they’ll imitate posture, facial expressions, and tone. It’s called mirroring, and we do it subconsciously.

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If we’re going to imitate the people in our lives, choosing good ones is really important. So much so, that God put directions for mentorship in the Bible.

Titus 2:3-4 ESV  Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children.

We need to look for reverent women. We cannot expect perfection, but women truly pursuing holiness bear fruit in their lives.

I look to my mentor for guidance. She handles challenges with patience and grace. I see how God blesses and works in her family and her marriage. I imagine her voice when facing difficult moments. Her influence has made me a better wife, mother, woman. I have drawn closer to God under her guidance.

Being surrounded by women that are pursuing holiness affirms our faith and encourages us in fellowship. We need to share this journey.

We need Godly women to join us on our journey.

Standing alone against the tide of sin is hard. We need the strength and examples of Godly women to be able to face life’s challenges.

Being saturated in the Word, defining ourselves by God’s standards, and surrounding ourselves with Godly women are three ways to stand strong in our faith despite a culture that often runs opposite to whom God has called us to be.

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