My dress hangs loose but I can’t fit into my jeans yet. It’s only been a few months since giving birth to my first child when a friend stops me in the church lobby.  We both carry car seats with newborns like purses dangling on arms when she pleads with me to start something for new moms. A play group, bible study, anything – because she’s desperate.

She speaks teary of loneliness, isolation and tired that smothers joy.  We’re the same age, wear the same dark circles of new motherhood, but I’m the pastors wife and his wisdom shadows me capable.

I think about how just weeks before, I stood in the closet with hot tears staining cheeks, admitting to him how unprepared I felt to raise a life. What does the only child of a single mother that spends most nights romancing a cheap bottle of wine know about being a mother?

Bravery comes as an unexpected gift, attached to the heels of new life for a mother. I grasp that gift like a fish flopping on the kitchen counter and say yes, I’ll do it. Provide a community where weary hearts can rest, find solace in the reflection of their kindred kind.

They flock like birds to scattered seeds on new grass at the beginning of spring. Wear those car seats and diaper bags as badges of honor for the price of shoulders to lean on. Savor His wisdom from Words of Life once a week.

And weary hearts that once lay scattered like rags around the city quickly become a vibrant community in parks pushing swings, around backyard pools and barbecues, lunching beside plastic cities at McDonalds.

Our kids drive cars now and the mothers, we spread out to where His finger points. We worry about the price of gas, college entrance, and fine lines; marvel at how time really does fly, and wonder how silent life will feel just around the corner.

When I reflect upon conversations between many of those same women today, I realize that it doesn’t take years of experience or eloquent speech to build a community of lifelong companionship. Just a bit of holy bravery rooted in compassion to listen to the voice of destiny, and then say yes.

Sometimes that yes yields a harvest of flourishing families. A lifelong look into eyes that share the sacred pilgrimage of becoming the people He created us to be.

So, get going. I’ll be right there with you—with your mouth! I’ll be right there to teach you what to say. Exodus 4:11, The Message

Have you ever wanted to lead something? Perhaps pioneer something new but stuttered in stepping out because of a lack of experience? Let’s talk about it and encourage one another here in the comments.

By Shelly Miller, Redemptions Beauty

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  1. 2

    Beautiful Shelly! God has often called me to do brave things that I don’t feel “gifted” or prepared to do. I’ve been leading small groups and Bible studies for years by God’s grace and courage alone. I am not a born leader. I was shy and afraid to open my mouth in public most of my life…but that’s how God works. He uses our weaknesses for His glory!!

    • 3

      I’m so proud of you Eileen. One of the things I’ve enjoyed most over the years of ministry beside my husband is seeing women step out in areas where they are gifted but hesitant or afraid to do so. It’s so rewarding to watch someone risk and then flourish in their gifts, blessing those around them. I’m sure the groups you’ve led have been enriched by what you bring.

  2. 4

    This couldn’t have come at a better time… I want to start a prayer blog for sister in laws.. When our enemy uses the broken in our families to hurt us it’s hard to move back on the other side of that hurt..back to a place of love.. So I feel lead to openly start praying for her and to have others who also fight this battle to form a community type… It isn’t where we can place our complaints it’s where we can start building them up.. Where the list can be found…

    • 5

      ‘LOST’ lol not ‘list’

      • 6

        I think the greatest thing we can do when pioneering something new, stepping out into uncharted waters is to pray, pray and then pray some more. Knowing His heart, submitting to His purposes is what carries us through the execution of a dream. He doesn’t need our experience, He needs our heart to follow Him. So glad this was timely for you Tina.

  3. 7
    Amanda Dolinger says:

    This is so timely Shelly! God has called me into women’s ministry (and I am still working full-time, with hubby and two girls under age 6!), and beginning September, I am the new Women’s Director at my church. This a big job, and I have been openly discouraged by others (within and outside of the church) to not take it on for various reasons. But God has called me to do this, put this ministry in my heart, and how can I not be obedient to what He has called me to do? I never thought in a million years this is what I would be doing, or that I would be teaching anybody, much less other women, especially those who are older and more experienced than me! I think the brave thing is admitting that I am not enough, and to just be the willing vessel that He wants me to be, and let Him do it through me! I’m praising Him for putting your words in my path as I prepare for this new adventure!

    • 8

      Amanda, I was also the women’s ministry director for a mega church when my kids were the ages of yours. And how I would love to sit with you over a cup of coffee and talk. My heart just pounds joy thinking about this new adventure for you. Those years carry some of my most fond memories. And you are on the right track, knowing you’re called being the most important thing. Because when adversity or difficult days come, you need to know this truth: He called you. I would love to pray for you during this season. Please feel free to email me at shelly@redemptionsbeauty.com.

  4. 9
    Sharon O says:

    I really loved this writing. We need others to walk alongside us and sometimes we don’t have the strength to even ask. As older women we need to keep a watch out for the younger weary ones, and remember even a half hour just to go to the store alone or take a bath would be a blessing to one who is so fatigued. I really do think more can be done. It takes courage and boldness and a heart who is willing to start something new.

    • 10

      I love your heart here Sharon, you’re so right. When I walked through those tired, wearisome years of raising young children, I asked the Lord to help me never forget what it feels like so I could give to those behind me walking through the same season. Maybe we can pray together for a generation of spiritual mothers for those needing an extra portion of grace.

  5. 11

    Shelly, I loved this. Sometimes I feel so inadequate and unqualified for the ministry He has called me to. I often ask myself “how can you speak about THIS when you haven’t even experienced total healing in your own life?”

    Thank you for your comments over at Jen’s, I love meeting other women who are called to similar things and the community that surrounds it. Let’s keep in touch :)

    • 12

      Erin, its really a joy to connect with you today. And maybe the healing comes in taking the risk that requires an act of faith. It’s in those moments of realizing our inadequacy at the foot of the cross that freedom welcomes us with open arms.

  6. 13

    Thank you for the encouragement. Reading the other comments I find I am not alone in that I sometimes think I am called to do certain things, but fear of “lacking” in so many areas keeps me from stepping out. I need to remember He doesn’t give us a spirit of timidity, but strength. Thanks for the reminder, and to those who have shared, thanks for the community!

  7. 14

    It’s what I love the most about blogging Holly, the way we encourage one another to press on. Praying you step beyond your fear into calling today.

  8. 15

    Standing, applauding, cheering for the wisdom and compassion here. Yes to everything, just yes!

  9. 17

    Have you ever experienced that awful moment when someone is waving wildly at you? You sure that it’s at you, so you wave back as enthusiastically, only to realize with embarrassment it wasn’t you. Ouch.

    I think sometimes that is how it feels when God is calling us to follow his lead. We look at him in confusion, then look around, completely puzzled, wondering to whom he is waving. Only then do we realize, often with fear and trepidation, that is us that he beckons forth.

    After the blog posts I have been led to today, I believe he is beckoning to my husband and I, encouraging us to say yes to helping lead our teen youth group, in spite of our never having led a youth ministry of any type. Thanks for all the encouragement in your post and in the comments!

    • 18

      Kim, I love your analogy and yes, I’ve had many of those moments. I’m so excited to hear how the Lord used blogs as encouragement – what I often call sacred echoes – for you to step out in faith and say yes. Praying you feel a sense of holy empowerment as you move forward.

  10. 19

    I’ve been wanting to start a writing group at my church. I don’t have the courage to ask because I’m afraid the idea will be pooh-poohed. There’s no place for a writers group in a church, right? I belong to two writing groups. One meets weekly and is led by a gracious lady who is able to set good, safe, boundaries. The other meets once a month and is basically about learning from other writers. The first one may be gone this year because of budget cuts, and it’s given through a college. I need to be (in) couraged.

    • 20

      Annette, at our church our Pastor has been teaching on the seven cultural centers of influence (7 mountains). Groups based on these mountains are springing up everywhere. If you google 7 mountain strategy you will several websites. Be incouraged my friend, that whisper is the Holy Spirit moving you into your mountain.

  11. 21

    Annette, I am sitting here cheering you on because I really can’t think of a better place to have a writing group than a church. I once interviewed a young upcoming writer at a church about their programs to support artists in many fields. She expressed to me how harsh and depleting writing groups can be out there. She longed to have a place where the Holy Spirit led writers to minister to one another in honesty and love, to encourage one another and pray for one another instead of being critical and judgmental. I say to you: pray, pray, and then pray some more. And I hope He says go for it! If He does, I hope you’ll tell me how it goes.

  12. 22

    “…it doesn’t take years of experience or eloquent speech to build a community of lifelong companionship. Just a bit of holy bravery rooted in compassion to listen to the voice of destiny, and then say yes.”

    This is beautiful. It makes me want to open-wide my heart and my arms to embrace those who may just need someone to say, “I know. I know,” and hug them tight and be available…

    So beautiful, like always, my friend.

    • 23

      Yep, there are lots of women that need that hug of empathy. We’re just not very good at letting people know our pain. Your words are like a good tight hug Michele-Lyn, keep sharing who you are with the world.

  13. 24
    Lynn Morrissey says:

    Wow, Shelly, how I relate. I had our daughter, Sheridan, when I was forty, and I knew that I was flying by the seat of my proverbial pantyhose! I had no earthly idea what I was doing, and I was scared to death! I recall at one of my showers not even knowing what half the presents were! I had never so much as heard of a bumper bad or onesie! But I finally consoled myself, realizing that the baby woudln’t know the difference either! :-) Believe me, I knew I was going to have to rely on the Lord in ways I had never dreamed possible. What made this especially hard for me is that God was asking me to leave a full-time career to raise my daughter–to leave the well-loved and famliar for the unknown. It felt as if I were leaping into the dark, without a safety net and I was so frightened. So I was hardly brave (that sounds far too noble to describe me), but I leapt anyway, because He said to, and somehow I knew that “underneath were the everlasting arms” of the Lord to catch and sustain me. And oh, how He did! From there, He guided me to lead Bible studies, write, speak, facilitate–all things for which I was woefully ill-equipped and which I hesitated to do, trembling in my boots. It’s certainly a fearsome thing to take the risk to do new things; yet over the years, I’ve discovered that it is a more fearsome risk not to do God’s bidding. When we don’t take the leap, we risk losing the thrill of watching God do mighty works on our behalf, risk not experiencing His power and guidance, risk lacking deep intimacy with and dependence on Him, and risk missing the excitement of the adventure in following Him. Mostly, we risk losing the joy of letting Him use us to draw others to Him. I do think that God is asking me to pioneer something new, now that you mention it, and I have been hesitating– a lot! I feel so small, so ill-equipped, so fearful. But thank you, dear Shelly, for reminding me that experience is not required for bravery. A simple “Yes, Lord” will do! You are a wonderful encourager (en-courage-er!)

    • 25

      You say it beautifully Lynn. We risk more by saying no than yes. So why wait in fear? Let’s get out there and be brave together. We’ll have lots of stories to tell when we do.

  14. 26

    This is beautiful.

    We pray for hearts to lead in groups that go together on common grounds, doing life together, mentoring and praying for each other’s concern, building up and growing together. We call these “Life Group.”

    You are right, Shelly. God uses those who say yes and adds to their abilities. No need fro experience, for it will come when one is willing and have love.

  15. 28
    Beth Williams says:

    I’ve been called out of my comfort zone at church. I know some sign language to Christian music. Our music director asked me if I would do it for special music. I accepted, but each time I get up in front of the church I’m a nervous wreck. Being in front of people is frightening to me.

    It seems that God is with me each time because when the music starts my emotions kick in & I do a fairly good job.

    Great post!

    • 29

      So proud of you for overcoming your fear to bless others. I pray that the power of Christ upon you will continue to remove the fear and that you will stand in peace in your faithfulness.

  16. 30
    Tamerriell says:

    This post was so beautiful. I am that lonely single mother romancing a bottle of shoulda,coulda, wouldas, with tired eyes and a broken spirit. But for some reason when I read this I realized I could do more and BE MORE! Thank you for a glimpse of what CAN BE. *smiles*

    • 31

      Thanking Him with you for hope that sparked when you visited here today. And praying for those tired eyes and broken spirit. May you feel His peace and renewed purpose upon you as you care for your children alone. So appreciate that you left a comment.

  17. 32
    Jen M. says:

    Beautiful words Shelly. There have been a couple of different times when I was looking for a neighborhood prayer group/Bible study group and there hasn’t been one in my area. I wondered if that wasn’t a nudge to try leading one myself. I am an introvert by nature and it is so hard for me to start a conversation, let alone try to lead women. I look back and wonder if I missed a huge blessing and being a blessing by hesitating. I just have the hardest time getting past the shyness and the I’m-not-good-enough-prepared-enough-gifted-in-encouragement-enough to do it.

    • 33

      Jen, so grateful you left a comment here and I apologize for the delay in responding. It was my birthday yesterday so I was a busy girl. My daughter is an introvert so I’m learning how hard it is to lead when you don’t feel like it is who you are. Sometimes its a gift to have someone co-lead with you who fills in the places where you don’t feel strong. Is there a friend that might start a group with you? Keep praying, I know God will give you the courage if its something on His heart for you.

  18. 34

    The church where my parents belong to is a large congregation and twice a year they have a craft-day “ministry”. Where women are invited to come spend the day, bring crafts to work on (or in one woman’s case she brought filing), and have fellowship with others. It’s very low pressure with the day starting and ending with a prayer and of course they pray over the meal. I would love to start something like that in our much small congregation – maybe just once a year. But I have no idea how to even begin to organize, or who might be better at it in our church (and I could assist).

    • 35

      Carmen, somehow I missed your comment. I wanted to just say that I had a couple of gals start a scrapbooking evening while I was leading women’s ministries that sounds a lot like what you’re describing. People that didn’t scrapbook brought other projects so they could still enjoy the community and it ended up being very successful. We hosted it about 4-6 times a year and held it in our church cafeteria. You do need a place with some space for people to spread out. I hope you do it. Find a friend or someone with good organizational skills to help you for the first one and it will evolve. Blessings to you.

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