WOMEN! Part One

A few of the sweet ladies of CTBC that I worked with daily and decorated the
church with on an annual basis.

Our last Christmas party. Look at these beautiful women. I still
can hardly believe they trusted me with the privilege of leading them
to the Throne of Grace.
One night at Bible Study…
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These pictures are of the dear women I served with, learned from, led in ministry and still love after servign them for four years at Chisholm Trail Baptist Church. Truthfully, Chisholm was classic small town church in some ways — and PHENOMENALLY different in others. These women are one of the ways it was different.
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At Chisholm, the church was made up of the standard 20-30% of people who always volunteered, always showed up and always gave of themselves, their time and their resources for the church and the furtherment of God’s Kingdom. But, what marked this church as remarkably phenomenal was and is its heart to help people who have no relationship with God at all to find, believe in, grow in, serve in, love one another in, and become passionate about! The unchurched, the “fire insurance” brand of Christian, the lost and lonely prodigal and the chronic pit dweller are welcomed with open arms and loved unconditionally.
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We found this little church in September, 2000. We were drawn their by the awesome After School Program that was hosted by the church and directed by the Pastor’s Wife, Claudia. I worked in the elementary school where the program was hosted, and my girls became regular weekly attenders there when I had after school acitivies for my job or the PTA.
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Before long, those little girls were dying to go to “Bibleville” after M.A.S.H. on the church van. But, being the sound, Biblical mother that I am. I replied, “Not until I visit that church and see what they’re about. Just because it says church on the outside – doesn’t mean there is church going on on the inside.”
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OH MY GOODNESS. I was so “baby” in Christian terms, I really thought the only reason I should go was because my husband and my children had never met Jesus. BOY, did God have other plans for me.
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We walked through those doors that fall about 20 minutes early for the church service and about in the middle of the adult Sunday school. By the way, did I mention that the church met in two locations! Not bad for a small rural church. The children were shuttled up to a small old church building off the main drag through town for Sunday School while the adults met for the early services at the “High Tech Modular Building” on the new 5 acre church site that would soon house a “state of the art” worship facility.
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That church is there, and has a $1,000,000 Family Life Center sitting behind. A miracle I had the privilege of witnessing and praying through.
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At Chisholm, my family met Jesus through its people. We were welcomed with warm hugs, loving people and eventually we found out most of them were just like us. Broken, hurting and riddled with difficulties, struggles and needs. By January 2001, my husband and my two oldest children had accepted Christ as their personal Savior. We were early to church on both Wednesdays and Sundays. The Pastor was once heard to say that we beat him to the church every week. We began to grow and that is when our choices and the enemy’s plans took us to the desert. I’m pretty sure the Holy Spirit was directing from the arm’s length we held Him, but alas, the desert it was. We went to live with my parents for a year. During one of the most tragic and difficult times in this nation’s history we were living with family and commuting back and forth to work every single day.
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My husband, new in his relationship with God, gave up taking us to church quickly. But, a year later we had a chance encounter with the sweet Pastor of Chisholm Trail Baptist Church who said these words to us: “Every day since you left we have been praying for you to come back.”
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The next week my husband said, “We’re going to church.”
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That first day back the Pastor asked, “What do we have to do to get you back permanent?”
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“We need a house that we can all live in.”
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Three months later we were back. Renting a early 1900s BRIGHT BLUE (Bear in the Big Blue House Blue) house that had belonged to one of the most beloved, deceased member’s family. We had a home.
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This church loved us that first year back into the family and our hearts began to grow deeper and more in tune with God and His work amongst us. My husband and I began to volunteer in youth ministry and our children began to thrive. We were finally where we belonged.
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In the summer of 2003, I discovered Beth Moore’s in-depth Bible studies. I thought my head and my heart might explode from all the goodness I found there. For some twelve weeks that summer, I sat in my “office” with my Pastor’s wife and we became intimately acquainted with the life of the apostle John and the Jesus he grew to love so deeply and write about so passionately. I fell full on into the embrace of the love of God. “Beloved Disciple.”
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At the end of that summer, I was invited to come to the church to co-facilitate Bible study with the women there. That first session of study, God gave us eight women. And if I recall correctly, one of them was not a member of our church. We walked through the pages of Scripture beside “Jesus, the One and Only.” We learned about His family, His mother, His life and His ministry. I began for the first time in my life to personally identify with and relate to my Lord and Savior. My heart and head were so full. My heart was actually catching up with my head. That Christmas we spent a great time fellowshipping and sharing a meal over the Christmas story and a gift exchange. The handful of women who attended were a blessing and I was so anxious to see what God would do next among us.
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The following spring we did so many things I can barely recount them. We dove into the life of David in “A Heart Like His.” To my delight we had twelve women on the roster. It was during this study that I learned that my calling was to women, not youth. I was terrified. At not even 35 years of age and with a couple of seasons of good solid Bible study under my belt, I was facing the potential to become the women’s minister at my church. WHAT?
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I invited the women to accompany on a trip to San Antonio for the National Women of Faith Conference over Spring Break and you’ll never believe… eight Women made the trip.
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We had a blast. Those eight ladies came back dog tired and fellowshipped and fed. We were officially heart sisters. Oh The Lord is so good. We left under a cloud of uncertainty about that $1,000,000 we had been praying for together. The money that built the Family Life Center.
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Upon our return we learned that Pastor was going to pick up a check from the generous benefactor who had offered to help build the Family Life Center. There was great rejoicing in our hearts. And we learned the power of prayer to be sure.
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We finished out the spring study with “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things.” This study, as I have previously written was the start of something revolutionary in my life. My heart began to change in those days of digging around in God’s Word about the assaults and schemes of the enemy against the godly and how to stand and fight in the attack. I saw myself and my role on the front lines of Spiritual Warfare pounding a rhythm in my cadence that God’s heart beats to in my life still.
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I spoke that year at the Mother-Daughter Banquet when our speaker backed out at the last minute. My ability to teach and draw practical application from Scripture surfaced that day. God used that half hour to teach me and my friends something about Beauty Inside and Out.
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That summer was a fabulous time. We began planning and looking to host a women’s conference at our church. It worked out to be a one day conference of “Life in the Spirit.” The women of my little Bible study group rallied around the vision for this event and we hosted 40 women as the Lord came down and ministered through eight breakout sessions on the nine qualities of the fruit of the Spirit and one very gifted speaker who used her artistic abilities and the gift of teaching to illustrate the way spiritual growth releases the flow of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I was stunned and amazed and my heart to create first class experiences for the women of our church was born.
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We journeyed through the study, “Believing God” that fall and traveled back to San Antonio for the Lifeway Women’s Conference. We heard Beth Moore and Jennifer Rothschild along with Mary Kaissian that weekend. And I learned to value the hearts, the growth and the differences that I shared with my sisters in Christ. A few week’s later we had a fabulous Crock Pot Christmas Party.
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By the end of the Holiday season we were ready to step into “Living Beyond Yourself.” And my family stepped into 2005 to face by far the most difficult and tragic time of our lives. I felt like I might have to step away from ministry as my son’s problems not only surfaced but came to a rolling boil. His choices and dysfunction was threatening to undo me. I prayed hard and often. Eventually, I realized I had to trust God and move forward until God showed me different. Oh, and we did.
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I hosted a vision casting luncheon that spring. I also developed a much needed ministry plan for our ladies. Back door ministry opportunities require some time to catch up. I called myself the “Women’s Ministry Administrator” because I felt surely inadequate calling myself a minister.
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I had an opportunity to interview some dynamic speakers as we began planning the fall conference again. I was excited about the speaker potential and the women God was raising up as leaders in our group. I invited the ladies to join me in the ministry. My heart longed to see them own it, and God had arranged for just that opportunity.
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They stepped up. By this time we had some twenty or so women attending on a weekly basis. It blessed my socks off to watch these women come into their own in Bible study. I could hardly believe what was happening. These women, a handful of them much senior to me in years, deferred to me and came to me for help, for counsel and for understanding. I barely knew what to do. I had to lean into God then and trust His Word to me. What did He say? Sometimes the maturity I’m looking for is Spiritual and not physical.
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A few week’s before Justin’s accident we began a study of “The Patriarchs.” I remember those first couple of days after the accident that one of my friends and fellow Bible sojourners came in and said, “Get together all the stuff I’ll need and I’ll open the building and set things up for the meetings. Claudia and I will take care of things until you can come back.”
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They did. Not only that, they showed up in droves with food every day at the hospital to pray with and for us and to just cry with me when I needed it. These women served faithfully at the funeral service and stopped by daily. They sent cards and flowers and they even gave me the much needed space that I was seeking in my grief. I returned to Bible study near November and don’t quite remember what the Christmas party that year looked like. We worked our party into the Bible study sessions and used it as an opportunity to invite women who were not attending regularly and give them a taste of our Bible study along with a gift exchange and some fun, food and fellowship. The hallmark of our ministry. Facts, Food, and Fun.
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The last few studies we did were during the season when God changed my heart and began the process of moving us to Gateway. “Breaking Free” and “Daniel: Words of Prophecy, Lives of Integrity” covered three semesters of study. We finished up by studying the “Loving Well” retreat study over the last few weeks of spring 2007. We introduced worship to our weekly Bible study and took some time to unwind and just love each other well. That summer, God moved us to Gateway. I recently had the opportunity to visit their Bible study group, now under the leadership of the Pastor’s wife. I was blessed to see nearly twenty women in attendance, and there were several absent. They were full on studying Esther and soaking up every word. The Glory of it all… God moved me into a knew arena of women and God moved them into a whole new arena of relationship and growth under new/old leadership.
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Women. I was scared to death to lead them, terrified to speak in front of them and blessed beyond measure when God introduced me to them and ramped up the qualities in me that I woudl need to learn how to serve them in His presence. He is so very good. I thank God for the women in my life.
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One thought on “WOMEN! Part One

  1. Wow. You have quite a story. Thanks for sharing it with us…He gives us so many blessings…and sometimes in places and in people from whom we least expect it!

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