As I travel from place to place in this great Mid-America Union, it is with pure joy that I meet women who are Jesus-loving, praying, strong women. They amaze me with their willingness to minister in the church and community. I often wonder how they manage in the hectic world in which we live. I have asked four women who seem to have the time to know Jesus, serve others, and inspire and support their friends and family, just what their secret is to living a resilient life in the world today.
Donna Brown is a lover of Jesus, and she loves to share the gospel. She gives her parents credit for making ministry fun and fulfilling. Donna tells her story in these words: “It wasn’t until adulthood that I realized how much work and balancing of your life was necessary. I was working full-time, a wife, mother, holding church offices, managing two businesses and yet wanting to embrace ministry. I prayed to the Lord to enlarge my territory and He did just that when I became the women’s ministries director of Central States Conference. I seem to take my responsibilities seriously, with zeal. My team and I planned a large prayer and women’s ministries retreat, I spoke at several retreats, and supported my leaders throughout Central States territory. I found myself tired and wondered how I could continue at the pace. ‘Take it to the Lord in prayer’ seemed to be the best way to figure out my dilemma. True fasting and praying are very important and I prayed on steroids. I heard the words ‘Donna, you need to breathe, have some me time. The song I Miss my Time With You by Larnelle Harris kept registering in my mind. I did exactly what God told me to do. I played hymns, read Scripture, prayed, and spent time with family. My best advice is to reflect on where you have been, lean on the Lord for full guidance, and take to the Lord in prayer.”
Jenna Gibson is a junior in high school and she is a gifted writer and lover of Jesus. What can we learn from such a young woman?
“When I was around 13, I was taken to an allergist in hopes of determining why I suffered from low energy, constant achiness, and increasing food sensitivities. Though many details from the visit are locked in my mind, my core memory is the feeling after the skin test. I recall sitting on the table, my back on fire, and my fingers itching to tear away at the swollen, reactive skin. I wondered if this test would fix my problems or if it was just another form of physical pain that I had grown accustomed to. In hindsight, I see the complete blessing of that painful appointment. But it would be years down the road before anything could be determined. I remember the long days of feeling so low that I had no energy to get up in the morning. Etched in my mind is the tired girl at the top of the stairs who had used the last of her strength to climb those steps! Yet even in the difficult years, I will forever remember the promise I held on to daily: ‘And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age’ (Matt. 28:20b). When I felt like I had reached my limit, Jesus lifted me up, carrying me on. When I wondered how I could do the same day over again tomorrow, the promises of life and hope whispered through my mind. ‘TheLord himself goes before you and will be with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you, Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged’ (Deut. 31:8). When we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we do not need to fear because we are not alone. There is always hope in the name of Jesus.”
Gail Cordian is a grateful daughter of God, praying wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, sister and friend serving in the Iowa-Missouri Conference. Gail tells her story this way: “A discussion group leader recently challenged me and others to cite a piece of advice given to us in our lifetime which proved helpful. I shared the wisdom my husband gave me in the early days of establishing our family. When I was struggling to fit everything I needed to do into my day, and telling him all about it, he lovingly offered, ‘Put the big rock in the jar first.’ He could have just said, ‘Put first things first,’ but he proceeded to introduce me to the story of the Jar of Life which I had never heard. Sometimes a story or metaphor can help us look at things with new eyes.
“Soon after the Covid shutdown began, I was given another piece of advice. The station manager of KPOG radio, Bob Carr, had the idea that the conference prayer call should be shared on Christian radio. I saw no light in his suggestion, but did agree to pray about it. Fortunately, the value of deciding together about ministry opportunities with praying friends surfaced in my mind and guided my words and actions. There was no argument. We gave it to God to decide. When I heard that the governor of Iowa was holding her prayer breakfast virtually I reasoned that we could do the same. I called Bob and asked how much time we could have. ‘Eight hours’ was his reply. This April will be the third year birthday of continuing Bold2Pray Thursday programming and of my conviction that prayer is meant to be heard much more often than it is. Human resilience comes from the strength God provides to those who trust in Him. Heb. 4:16 assures us that we can ‘come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.’”
Shirley Fordham, a woman of integrity, humor and family-loving, gave me insight into how important Jesus, community, friends and family are to her:
“It has been 10 years since our son suggested that we move to Atlanta to be closer to family. Walter and I had lived in Kansas City for 48 years and this would mean giving up our church, home, friends, neighbors and community. So, adjusting was something we could only figure out with the help of the Holy Spirit.
We found the closest church had 3,000 members. As we would drive to church we reviewed names, and did our best to put names with faces so we could smile and speak. We thought perhaps other transfer members were wanting friends as well. With that in mind, we were provided names and phone numbers. I welcomed them to our church by phone and we met them the next Sabbath and invited them for lunch. This was an awesome Holy Spirit-led ministry that was such a blessing to us. We were looking for friends. ‘If you aren’t invited to the party, throw your own’ is exactly what one of my dearest Oakwood friends and I did. A small social group was started and has been awesome. Our monthly interaction has given me the support I need to feel at home in Atlanta.”
From my four friends I have learned it’s important to ask the Holy Spirit to be present every day, take everything to the Lord in prayer, lean not on our own understanding but on God, and be a friend—it’s a healthy way to live.
Lastly, always remember it’s okay to take a time out.
Nancy Buxton is director of women’s ministries for the Mid-America Union.