I'm feeling very awed and humbled after the amazing women's event we had at our church on Saturday evening.
I feel so privileged that I get to organize the women's ministry at my church, but I had not planned anything since last August. I was kind of overwhelmed with being in my third trimester of pregnancy, starting homeschool, then having a baby and adjusting to life with a newborn and four kids. In the meantime, my buddy who helped me with the leadership role decided to leave our church to find a church closer to her home.
I hadn't done anything with Women's Link for so long I wondered if I should just let it quietly fade away and hope that no one noticed. I felt so brain dead that I really had no creative ideas, no direction and no vision.
But then I had a bright idea! Maybe I should pray about it! =]
I sat down at my computer not long after that and was amazed as ideas starting pouring into my head. It was totally a God thing.
Our first event of the year was Souper Saturday. The women in our church have been through a lot in the past few years. Many of us experienced the death of a young mom who we all loved. Others have gone through cancer, a debilitating illness or a medical condition that makes life difficult.
Some have experienced miscarriages, the loss of a child or are raising a child with a severe medical condition. Women have lost jobs or their husbands have been without work not just for months, but years.
It's so tempting in these situations to ask, "Where is God?" "Why doesn't he show up?"
The truth is the Bible doesn't promise that life will always be easy.
"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. " ~ John 16:33
His ways are often impossible to understand. But he also promises that we don't have to walk through the tough times alone. He is faithful. He is good. And he won't leave us.
Our speakers were three ordinary women who have faced extraordinary circumstances this past year. Two of them, Terra and Katie, have blogs that you should read to get the whole story. The stories were so powerful that they brought everyone to tears. God showed up.
In the past, we always had 25 women attend our Women's Link events. Because new families have joined our church since then, I estimated we would have about 30 attend this time.
But the excitement started growing, and Souper Saturday began taking on a life of it's own. As more people signed up and started talking about it, more people wanted to sign up. Even with only a few days left, women were still e-mailing me asking if they could come.
In the end, 63 women signed up — more than double our attendance before. God showed up!
Originally, I had planned to have the event on a Saturday in March and had made plans to rent out a meeting room that would have held 40 people. A conflict came up and I had to change the date, even after I had announced it to the women at our church.
I also had to find a new location. I asked my friend, Michelle, if we could use her home. She lives in a restored 100-year old home, and she loves to host. Michelle could have panicked as our numbers grew. But instead, she wasn't fazed. "No big deal! I'll just move all of my furniture into the garage!" God showed up.
The next problem was finding chairs and tables for everyone. Someone suggested I ask two guys at our church to help move large tables and stacks of chairs from our church office to Michelle's house. Our church meets in a high school, so we don't have a physical location where we can host things like this.
The two men were more than happy to help and moved the furniture in and out like it was no big deal. God showed up!
But how would we feed 63 women? I had asked the women attending to sign up to bring either soup, salad, bread, dessert or drinks. Ten women brought big crock-pots of soup and another 10 brought salads. It was the most amazing array of "girl food" you can imagine. The women loved it! We also had WAY more than enough bread, desserts and drinks. God showed up!
With that many people and so many new women coming to this event for the first time, I wanted to have some type of assigned seating. But I didn't want to be the one making the assignments.
As the women walked in, we asked them to take a table number to determine where to sit. It was amazing to hear the stories later about how well the seating arrangements turned out.
I needed to sit at a table near the front so I could get up and down quickly as the "MC" for the night. It sounds strange, but with so many details on my mind, I kind of forgot about the two women I had invited to attend.
When they walked in, they had "randomly" drawn the number for my table! Both of these women have faced extraordinary circumstances of their own. One lives daily with the effects of Lyme disease. The other discovered she had an aggressive form of breast cancer at the age of 35. She recently finished a year of treatment. Make sure you read her story here.
It was great to get to sit with these friends I have known for many years but only reconnected with recently. Two other women sat at our table, which was a nice cozy little refuge for me when I wasn't speaking up front. Even the other two women at our table made amazing connections, such as finding out two of them attended the same high school! God showed up!
I get a little obsessed with the decor at these events, as I've already mentioned. During one of my long nights up with the baby, I had the idea that I should decorate using soup cans and soup ingredients.
I had already found a little recipe holder box that I wanted to put on the tables and decide to use it as the basis of my color scheme — lime green, turquoise and brown. (You can see from my blog that I like those colors!) I found matching tablecloths that made the place look really bright and festive.
I looked online and got the idea to make fake soup can labels in those colors. I called the soups, "Friendship Soup," "Community Soup" and "Cream of Caring". I will have to post a close-up later of the soup can labels. They included an ingredient list, nutrition info, directions and a recipe, just like a regular soup can, but I changed the words to match the type of soup.
Believe me. In my sleep-deprived state, I couldn't have thought of this idea on my own. God showed up!
So many other details came together in such an amazing way. A woman I didn't know that well offered to add her creative touches to some gifts I needed. They were way cuter than anything I could have made!
Another woman brought a microphone and speaker at the last minute. With so many women, they couldn't have heard a word without it!
And Baby Jayda even started taking a bottle just a few days before, allowing me to attend without her. God showed up!
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