The Lord has given me two groups of people that I am crazy about~teenagers and women. I've told my story of how I came to love teenagers and be involved, and (for most of my days) I am thankful that He enlightened me on them.
The other group, though, is equally as special. God birthed in me a desire for close, intimate friendships with like-minded women a decade ago. I was at our old church, and I was desperate for women companions to walk alongside me in life. I would go to our women's group every once in a while and I loved it and the sweet friend of mine that led them. (Her name is Jenna, and I just ran into her this past Saturday! It was such a sweet reunion, and we hugged three times.) As much as I loved that group of ladies, I also was given a talent from the Lord, and felt that I needed to put that talent to use, so I was also in choir. And choir practice was every Wednesday night, so that always took precedence over the women's group.
God was like He always is, though, sweet, and gave me some precious women in choir. I became really close friends with my music pastor's wife, Kathy, and joined a Bible study that she led. This was also at the same time that God gave me a love and passion for studying His word. I joined the study group and Kathy ended up being one of the women I considered a mentor in my life. We grew closer in our relationship and before long, I also joined a choir prayer group that met every other Tuesday night and my music pastor, Kent, also sensed something in me that he wanted to help develop along the way.
So he, along with his wife, just kind of swept me up and walked alongside me for several years. Kent asked me to sing on a praise team for the first time, and I remember thinking to myself, how did he even know I could carry a tune?! I never sang for him in an audition, not even once. He just took a chance on me, and to this day, one of my favorite things in all of life is helping lead worship. It's another passion in life that God has given me, and they helped me see the importance of worship and how to lead in worship by example.
Without giving too much credit to Kent and Kathy, I will say that I am still so very thankful for them and their influence in my life. They also developed some leadership qualities in me that I use to this day, and they continually challenged me in my walk with God. Looking back, though, they were simply led by the Holy Spirit and they were obedient in stepping out and being mentors in my life.
Being pastors, though, they did not stay forever, and I was so sad to see them leave. I've not seen them in ages, and while we stayed at that church for a while, God eventually led us to leave our old church and He placed us where we now attend. This is our SIXTH year in attending this church, and it does not seem possible that it's been that long.
It felt like my heart was being ripped out when we left our old church home, but now, I cannot imagine us anywhere else. It is here that God gave me the love I now have for teenagers, and He has given me some of the sweetest friendships and relationships that I have ever had. Without knowing what He was doing, God was making us see the importance of attending a church in our community.
I could tell story after story, but I'll share one quick one. At the time when we started attending this church, I still worked part time at the local elementary school. I now would see the kids at school, and at church. God used me by placing me where He could use me as an example to the kids that I worked with every day during the school year. I had the immense honor of praying with one little girl to receive Jesus as her Lord one night at camp, and it was then that I knew we were exactly where God placed us. That happened a few more times over the course of years that I was a counselor at kids camp, but that first little girl is one that still sticks out as God's sweet reminder.
It is here at my church home that God continued to grow my need for like-minded women friends. As I got more involved in helping out with youth, I began to make more and more friends, and these are now the ladies that I do Bible study with. One thing I love about our church is that they make sure that all the different ministries are connected. For example, often times, when we have women events, the teenage girls are invited to attend, sing or speak. I love this! The goal is to make the younger girls comfortable enough with the women in our church that mentoring relationships would begin to happen.
Our church is all about discipleship. I'd never really paid much attention to that word until we started attending this church. But it is CRUCIAL in this world we live in. People need people, and as believers, we are all called to be disciples and people that disciple others. In order to do that, I need to be poured into, from my pastor and from other teachers. That means that I need to be at church more than just one time a week. (I know that some churches are smaller and do not have that option for one to go more than once. What I recommend in that situation is to be involved in a Bible study group. If that doesn't exist, consider facilitating one! Reach out to your neighbors or on social media~I promise, the interest will be there.)
Last night we had a women's event called Women On Mission. I don't know how I knew about this, because this is usually for the older women in church, but I went and was thoroughly blessed.
This precious lady you see in the picture above is Mrs. Betty. She shared of all the opportunities there are available for the women in our church to get involved with missions. You could see in her face and in her countenance how much she loves Jesus, and I could not help but listen with a huge smile on my face the entire time. She invited one of the teenagers, Emma (and Drew's girlfriend) to speak about a mission trip that our youth is involved in every summer, and then my friend Kim spoke about the Navajo trip that we went on in June and ways to be involved.
I write all of this to say one thing: get yourself involved in any way you can in a local body of believers. Whether that is a church or a home group of sorts, it does not matter. Get involved. If you attend church only on Sunday morning, join a Bible fellowship (or Sunday school) class. Get yourself plugged in to a smaller group. This is especially important in a large church like ours. Go on Sunday nights, when the preaching and fellowship are more intimate. Go on Wednesday nights and attend a large corporate class, or join in a smaller one for women. (Or men, if you're a guy reading.) Just find a spot and get involved. You will make new friends, and you will never be sorry.
One last thing, and that is to find a way to serve. We are not called to be spectators in church, my friends. We are called to action. So get involved and find some place to serve. Whether that is as a greeter, a teacher, a helper of some event, or feeding the homeless, it does not matter. Find a place to serve and then serve as unto the Lord.
I pray this inspires someone to jump in somewhere. And if you are in need of a church home, come to mine! I attend Collierville First Baptist church. I'd love to see you there. You can leave a comment on here if you have a question, or you can email me or text me. I will help you in any way that I am able.
Love to all.