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God’s Will and a Whale: Seeking Answers From the Story of Jonah

I was walking with a dear friend this week and discussing the struggle to understand the concept of God’s will and plan. Like me, she’s endured the painful process of divorce and the wreckage in the family that follows. Was it God’s will for her to marry her husband, or did she hear him wrong? Did God always know that it would end in divorce? Did she need to go through this devastating situation to be refined into the image of Jesus? Was that God’s plan all along? And what of her ex-husband, a former youth pastor who walked away from the church and his family? Did God give up on him? Or maybe more honestly, the question is, why is his life not in total ruin while my friend’s life feels so painful and difficult? Why does it seem he’s enjoying the good life while my friend struggles? 

What about you? What part of your story do you wrestle with God over? Where do you ask that painful question, “Was this your will?” It’s particularly difficult when your question about God’s plan includes the painful consequences of someone else’s poor choices, where their sin becomes your problem. 

As I prayed later that evening, I reflected on my story. Did God know my marriage was not going to last? Was this the only way he could truly reach my heart and turn my head and heart towards him entirely? And in that moment, God brought Jonah to mind—a man who audibly heard God’s will for him and turned the other way. With fresh eyes the following day, I revisited the book of Jonah and realized that I had played the role of every character in the story…except one. 

Wickedness Won’t Win

God asked Jonah to “get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are” (Jonah 1:2). And there lies the first thing I needed reminding of. God sees wickedness, and he isn’t a fan. He sees the husband who has an affair, the abuser who took your innocence, the injustice that is still unresolved, and he wants it to stop. I can rest in knowing that God sees my pain and the impact of someone else’s poor choices. He has a plan to call it out. 

I have been like Jonah – turning my back, running away from God, and causing others in my wake to experience the consequences of my choices and justifying my actions. And being angry in the process about what God’s asking me. It feels unfair. I am confident that I can forge my path while exercising and abusing my free will. 

“But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the Lord” (Jonah 1:3).  God’s plan was for Jonah to go to Nineveh. Jonah planned to get out of town and as far away from Nineveh as possible. Jonah’s free will turned him in that direction. As a result, a whole boat full of innocent bystanders was thrown overboard into the storm of the century. Chaos ensued. They reaped the consequences of Jonah’s disobedience. 

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Wave  

“But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold.” (Jonah 1:5) 

I’ve been the passenger on a boat tossed in the waves of someone else’s chaos. The seasickness kept me unable to eat or sleep. I threw every ounce of energy at the storm to try and fix it while the person who caused the chaos seemed to sleep right through it. Was that God’s plan for me? To be refined in the fire of someone else’s poor choices? As I look back at God’s originally stated command, it wasn’t for the passengers of a ship to be tossed at sea. But Jonah’s free will brought it to the deck of their boat. “The sailors were terrified when they heard this, for he had already told them he was running away from the Lord” (Jonah 1:10). How do you contend with the Lord whose plan seems to cause chaos at your expense? The sailor’s first response was to “row even harder to get the ship to the land” Jonah 1:13). The proverbial “I can fix this” that so many of us have struggled with. Seeing the wave of destruction coming at us, we put our heads down and exhaust ourselves while trying to improve it. And some of us will do that for years, sacrificing our bodies to save someone asleep. 

Will You Save Me?

Eventually, they realized that in their own power, they would never make it out of this alive. “Then they cried out to the Lord, Jonah’s God. Oh Lord, they pleaded, Don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. Oh Lord, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.” (Jonah 1:14)

They threw him off of the ship. 

The storm stopped at once. And it’s important to note that even though the storm stopped at once, the impact of the storm remained. I have to believe that the PTSD from that experience lasted a lifetime for many of those on the crew. There was a financial impact from throwing the cargo overboard. The boat most likely had damage that needed repair. When they arrived at their destination, I imagine some crew members decided to give up shipping altogether and find work on dry land. But also, “the sailors were awestruck by the Lord’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him” (Jonah 1:6). Out of Jonah’s free will choice, outside of God’s original plan, out of the chaos, came a saving belief in God. 

Calm Seas and Chaos

Jonah is tossed off the boat into a calm sea. Did you catch that? “The storm stopped at once” (1:15) means that Jonah, who caused all the chaos, was welcomed into a calm sea. I picture him floating peacefully into the water, almost relieved to be off the boat where the pain of his choices was so evident. I picture the husband who moves out of the family home into his own quiet place, away from the demands of parenting and the tears streaming down the face of the woman he betrayed. And I’m angry at Jonah, and God, if I’m honest. Because while I’m dealing with the storm’s aftermath, he’s tucked into the belly of a whale, safe and sound, with no responsibilities and visible consequences. From the ship’s deck, I can no longer see what’s going on below the surface, giving me plenty of room to create a narrative that makes me feel like I’m getting the raw end of the deal. 

Imagine if that’s where the story ended. How would we feel about God’s plan for our life? In my journey with the Lord, I confess that I find myself stuck in this very place, returning to the deck of that ship. I look at the destruction caused by someone else’s choices and find myself angry. In those moments, it’s important to know that regardless of what happens to the person thrown into the sea, God sees my pain and meets me there. The answer to whether this was God’s plan for me or the result of someone else’s disobedience is no longer my focus. What’s important is God saved me from a storm. I am in awe of his power. And I choose to serve him. No matter how devastating the storm is, God can stop it immediately. 

Waking Up in a Whale

Remarkably, God also extends mercy to the man who ran away. Apparently, the calm waters visible from the sea’s surface were not as relaxing as I assumed. Inside the belly of a whale, Jonah has a change of heart. I imagine that Jonah had moments of incredible terror and extreme loneliness, leading him to contemplate his own slow death. Perhaps for Jonah, his disobedience caused him to come face to face with the knowledge of just how much he needed the Lord. Was that God’s plan all along? I can’t answer that question for Jonah any more than I can for myself. But I know the outcome in Jonah’s case; he cried out, “Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies. But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows” (Jonah 2:8-9).  

As a woman whose husband left, I can not tell you how I longed to hear those words directed toward me – for my husband to repent and accept God’s mercy for him. But that isn’t my story. And I confess I’m sometimes frustrated that God didn’t change his heart. It makes me sad for all the other women I know who are single moms, not by choice but because their spouse chose to walk away. 

In a still, small voice, I heard God say, “Sometimes you’re the whale.” Sometimes, God brings into your life a person who needs shelter from a storm they created for themselves. “Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah” (1:17). The whale didn’t do the work to change Jonah’s heart. The whale was simply the safe harbor protecting Jonah from the depths while he reconnected his heart to God. 

Have you ever thought about being the whale? Who or what served as a whale in your own life? What safe harbor allowed you to repent and receive God’s mercy? 

Walking Toward the Wicked

Jonah’s experience landed him on the beach, where he faced a choice. Do I go to Nineveh or try to escape another way? Confession: I’ve been left on a beach facing a similar decision and decided to walk the other way. I’ve experienced God’s mercy for me, thrown up my hands in praise, and vowed to follow him. But when I headed towards Nineveh and saw that evil still existed, a wave of pain still stored in my body from the years of chaos overwhelmed me. My anger (maybe fear) flared again, and I began my return to the boat. 

But Jonah did what God asked him to do. He went and declared, “40 days from now Nineveh will be destroyed” (3:4). I can feel the tightness of my jaw just thinking about the justified rage Jonah felt. You evil people are going to get what you deserve. God’s plan is for your destruction. It’s about time! Their whale had arrived. 

In contrast to Jonah’s songs of praise, the people of Nineveh “declared a fast and put on burlap to show their sorrow” (3:5). Their king implored them “to turn from their evil ways and stop all their violence. Who can tell? Perhaps even yet God will change his mind and hold back his fierce anger from destroying us” (3:8-9). And God changed His mind. He changed His plan. He didn’t carry out the destruction He had threatened. I’m left again to contemplate whether this was God’s plan all along. Or, in their free will, did Nineveh, do I, change God’s mind? 

Altered Plans 

Jonah is angry again. This time for the very thing he praised God for in the belly of the whale: “I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord. I’d rather be dead….” (4:3).  The Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry about this?” (4:4).

Is it right for me to be angry that God’s plan and will is entirely out of my control? To raise hands of praise when his mercy falls on me but question God’s faithfulness when it falls on someone I don’t think deserving? To create a narrative where I’m the victim while ignoring that He saved me from the storm? I am Jonah. I am the crew member on the boat. I am the whale. I am Nineveh. 

God Will 

The only character in the story I am not is God. And therein lies the genesis of the question my friend and I contemplated on that sunny afternoon walk. What is God’s plan? What is his will? And if the seas of my life are stormy, does that mean God’s plan was for me to weather a storm? When the person who caused our chaos is in calm waters, is our anger toward them justified? If God sees fit to withhold destruction from the very one who caused my pain, do I assume his plan is unfair? 

A still, small voice inside me responds to my questions with compassion, mercy, and unfailing love. 

You are like Jonah; sometimes you’ll follow my lead, and sometimes you’ll run away. My plan covers whatever choice you make. You are mine.

You are a passenger on the boat, negatively impacted by someone else’s choice to run away from me. My plan covers whatever choice they make. You are mine.

You are a whale providing a safe harbor, and you have been sheltered in the belly of a whale. My plan covers whatever choice you make. You are mine.

You are the recipient of the message that your choices bring destruction into your life and the lives of those around you. My plan covers you and those around you. You are mine.

What is God’s will and plan? I don’t know. And I do know. It’s to extend his compassion, mercy, and unfailing love to all of us. To stir up the storm, to calm the storm, to shelter in the storm, and to deposit us on the beach. 

What’s my plan in response? It is to remember that I am every character in the story except God. I can extend compassion, mercy, and unfailing love to others (and to myself) while trusting that God is in control. Remember that God sees the evil, the destruction, and the way to calm the storm. And when necessary, to return to the question as I walk alongside others in my life who also struggle with it. To rest in the knowledge that I’m not alone in the questioning. And when I hit the beach, I breathe in the air, look out over the horizon, and thank God that his plan for me always leads me to Him. 

 

About the Author: Amy Oliver is a divorced single mom of two teenage girls who is passionate about helping women heal and rebuild life after divorce. She is a realtor in the state of Oregon, a writer/speaker, and the founder of Healing House Solutions, an organization that provides women with financial guidance and advocacy during the divorce process. Amy is a certified divorce financial analyst and trauma informed leader. She brings a wealth of personal experience having done the hard work to heal and rebuild her own life after her 20 year marriage ended. Amy attends A Jesus Church in Tigard, Oregon.

 

 

Carrying Each Other’s Burdens: A Refection on Galatians 6:2

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

The Powell River Circuit is a 35-mile canoe journey that crosses 8 lakes and includes 5 hilly portage hikes. Loaded with tents, sleeping bags, cooking gear and food rations crammed into overnight backpacks, my high school gym class set out for the 5-day adventure in a remote part of British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast. We’d been preparing for months and organized ourselves in partners to divide tasks and plan for success. It didn’t take long for Janice and I to realize we needed help. 

The idea of portaging is simple: Canoe across a lake and pull up to a portage— basically a hiking trail —then unload the gear and carry it (including the canoe) to a re-entry point on another lake. It sounds easy, but no amount of tenacity could achieve what our bodies could not. After miles of paddling, the canoe was too heavy for our weary arms and didn’t rest on our frameless packs the way it did for some of our classmates. Soon into our second portage, Bryce switched spots with Janice and carried the weight of our canoe while I balanced it in the back. Before long, students traded backpacks and partners to ensure the load was shared. While everyone had something to carry, burdens were distributed based on need and competency. Some of my classmates were physically stronger, some had more food, some had better endurance, and others were able to make wise decisions in a hurry (an invaluable asset when a storm arose, capsized canoes in near-freezing water, and separated us from our teachers). 

Carrying each other’s physical, spiritual, and emotional burdens is a form of loving one another. It fulfills the second greatest commandment, to “love your neighbor as yourself” and is evidence of the first, to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”  (Matthew 22:36-40). While we should never negate our own responsibilities and burdens (Galatians 6:8), Paul knew that the best way for the Galatians to live was in community – where pride and self-sufficiency is exchanged for dependence on Christ and others.

Let’s purposefully lighten the loads of our brothers and sisters and allow them to carry ours when we can’t; running the good race (Galatians 5:7) together in a quest to finish strong.

For Further Study

Remembering that there were no chapter divisions in the original text, read Galatians 5:25-6:10. Note everything related to “another” or pertaining to how we should live alongside/in community with others.

Look back over your notes and star anything in the lists that reflect areas where you struggle to maintain Paul’s exhortation for Christ-like community living. Thank the Holy Spirit for bringing these things to your attention, and take time to confess them. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you make changes and seek to bear others’ burdens. 

Finally, re-read Galatians 6:2 and write a responsive prayer. Feel free to use this one and insert your own reflections.

Father, thank you for the gift of community through Christ. Forgive me for the ways I try to carry burdens not meant for me to carry alone. Help me see the strengths and gifts you’ve given me that will help lessen the load of others. I confess to being (insert appropriate words and phrases from your observations here) and long for a deep and true faith that pleases the Spirit. Amen.

 

About the Author: Lisa DaSilva is a wife, mom of two young adults, and advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word. With an M.Ed in Curriculum Development and a teacher by trade and passion, she writes, speaks, and teaches the Bible to anyone who will read or listen. As the director of Arise Ministries Collective in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Lisa believes every woman has a voice. She longs for the day when they find freedom to use it for the glory of God and the furthering of His Kingdom. Lisa is a recovering striver, lover of simplicity and thrift store junkie. She often has to convince people she’s an introvert. Just a loud one.

 

“He Is Love” & Other Resources to Help Celebrate Lent

Christians around the world set aside the six weeks before Easter to prepare for Christ’s death and resurrection. This season of surrender begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Silent Saturday – About forty days of remembering, fasting, and giving. ⁣

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We want to cultivate a rhythm of Bible-centered meditation, reflection and personal response this Lent and beyond. He is Love: Daily Scripture & Prayer From Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday (and Beyond) provides a simple and practical way for us to do just that. Using carefully chosen passages that are foundational to our faith and propel us to live in ways that honor Christ’s sacrifice, author and Arise board member Sarah Bulkley has partnered with her artist mom and designer brother to give us over 40 days of  Scripture and prayer. Each day leads readers through a countdown to Easter, with additional space for crafting our own responses to key passages.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A set of six FREE printable Scripture memorization cards by @sheletterstruthco correspond to the book and are available through this link. They’re the perfect size (4×6) to frame, post on a refrigerator, tuck into your Bible, or mail in a note to a friend. Commit to reading them, meditating on them, and memorizing them on your own, with your family, or alongside other women as you move through this season of Lent and the He Is Love resource.

May this season of repentance and beginning again yield sweet communion with Christ. Our sacrifice for His glory.⁣

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop the Hurry: A Day of Rest With the Lord

After a stressful work week I long to spend time with my Heavenly Father. I want to get some of that rest He talks about in His Word. What does He say? 

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28‭-‬30 ESV)

I feel a gentle nudge in my heart from the Lord inviting me to sit with Him. I know I need to talk with Him about what bothered me during the week or what’s worrying me –  To let Him tend to everything that’s going on in my heart and mind. But resting with the Lord is a discipline. It’s not our natural instinct. Like working out or drinking 8 glasses of water a day, I feel so much better after I do it, but actually doing it is the hardest part. I know I need time with the Lord, but sometimes I reach for the TV remote instead.

It’s not that watching TV is all bad, or whatever the numbing pastime of choice is (busyness, social media scrolling, online shopping, alcohol…). These things may be fine in moderation, but are a problem when we turn to them for rest. After binge watching a show for hours I don’t feel rested. I feel restless, bored and unsatisfied. After spending time with the Lord, I always feel more peace, more joy, more grateful, and more content.

Are there times when you feel weary or worn down and instead of seeking the One that gives true rest you choose to numb, distract or entertain yourself?

I’m inviting you to join me on an adventure this year – To visit a spacious place, a guilt free zone, a place with no to-do list because everything has already been done. A whole day that is set aside to enjoy God and your loved ones. A day to do the things that give you life that you normally put off because you are too tired or too busy or too tired from being too busy. A day to marvel at God, who He is and His goodness in your life. A day where time slows down, you catch your breath and He refreshes you. I’m inviting you to celebrate the Sabbath.

I know what you might be thinking, because I once thought it, too: “The Sabbath is so legalistic” or “I don’t have time to practice the Sabbath” or “What even is the Sabbath?”

I mentioned earlier that resting with the Lord is a discipline, but more specifically, it is a Spiritual discipline. Like prayer, Bible study, worship and service, followers of Jesus practice disciplines to connect to Him, hear from Him, show devotion to Him, and look a little more like Him.

Let’s look at the creation story in Genesis 2: 

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”(Genesis 2:1‭-‬3 ESV)

Here we see God showing us a healthy rhythm for living – Work six days and rest on the seventh. God did not need to rest. He doesn’t get tired, but we do. He made us and He knows what is best for us. In verse 3, it says He made the day holy. Holy means set apart for God. The seventh day was made special and was meant to be different from the other six.

Think for a moment. What would your life look like if you did all your work in six days so you could rest on the seventh? If you have a busy life or busy family schedule I know this may seem impossible, but try to keep an open mind.

Let’s look at a few more examples of Sabbath in the Bible. In Exodus 16, the Israelites are in the wilderness after God delivers them from Egypt and frees them from slavery. God provides manna each day for them to eat, but on the sixth day they are instructed to gather twice as much so that they can rest on the seventh. God is teaching them how to work and rest. As slaves, the idea of rest would have been foreign to the Israelites. They likely worked hard every day without weekends off or vacation time. God was giving them a gift, but sadly, they may not have seen it that way.  Exodus 16:27 reveals that some still went out to gather manna on the seventh day.

In Exodus 20:8-11, we see the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments. God’s people are instructed to “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” If we read through all of the other nine commandments there aren’t any that are not still good to follow today. They are all full of wisdom and the Sabbath is included in them.

Let’s recap. So far we have learned that incorporating the Sabbath is a healthy rhythm for living. It’s a beautiful and wise gift from God. We discover even more in the New Testament gospels:

“He [Jesus] went on from there and entered their synagogue. And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’—so that they might accuse him. He said to them, ‘Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.’ Then he said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.” (Matthew 12:9-14 ESV)

Jesus points out that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. Over and over in the New Testament Jesus heals on the Sabbath. In Luke 13:10-17, He heals a woman that was bent over and could not straighten herself. In Luke 14:1-6, He heals a man with dropsy and in John 5:1-15, we see Jesus heal a man at the pool of Bethesda. 

The Pharisees added their own rules to the Sabbath. These extra rules made Sabbath legalistic and burdensome to the people. The Pharisees had lost sight of the real purpose of Sabbath and were more interested in appearing religiously perfect. Religion without the love of God and people is empty and not of God at all. They didn’t care about the people they were supposed to be ministering to. True Sabbath must involve the heart. Jesus cared about the people. His example and message in the gospels shows that we too can do good and minister to others when the opportunity presents itself – Regardless of what day it is. Jesus is not saying we no longer need to observe the Sabbath. He is stripping away the extra rules that were added. 

The evil one will always take a good and pure gift from God and twist and pervert it into something it was never meant to be. I find it interesting that to this day so many followers of Jesus still view the Sabbath as legalistic and burdensome. We are missing the heart of Sabbath. The Sabbath is a gift to us to rest and enjoy God. 

If you have never observed the Sabbath before, it may take some time and practice to figure out what works for you. That’s ok. I personally had never seen the Sabbath lived out well by anyone, so it was hard to know where to start. Here are some things to keep in mind when planning your Sabbath.

Practical Tips for Getting Started

Pick a day to practice Sabbath – Most people choose Sundays, but another day of the week may work better for you. Sabbath is traditionally observed from sunset to sunset. So if you pick Sundays to Sabbath, it would start on Saturday at sunset and end on Sunday at sunset. 

Plan ahead and prepare in advance – Sabbath will not happen without some planning. Get your groceries, do your chores, maybe get a meal in the crockpot earlier in the day so that when sunset comes you can just eat and relax.

Be intentional – Light a candle and say a prayer to begin your Sabbath. Invite others to your Sabbath meal. Talk about what God is doing in your lives and remember all He has already done. Celebrate Him.

Enjoy God as you spend time with Him – Practice some of the other restful Spiritual disciplines like reading Scripture and meditating on Scripture. Add times of silence, solitude and prayer.

A Few Things to Avoid 

Work – Sounds simple, but figuring out what work is for you can be tricky. For example, some people enjoy spending time tending to their yard and they even feel connected to God while they are outside with their plants, they call it gardening. I call it yard work and it is work for me. Ask yourself: “What is life giving to me?” and “What activities make me feel most connected to Him?”

Buying things – The Sabbath is a day for cultivating gratefulness and contentment by enjoying what you already have. Shopping can feed that little voice in us that constantly wants more, bigger or better.

Avoid distractions – Cell phones are the biggest culprits. They are constantly distracting us. I’m not going to tell you to turn it off, but be aware of how much time you are spending on it and how often you check it. The goal is to be present to God and the people you choose to spend Sabbath with.

I pray that Sabbath would become something you look forward to every week. Since I’ve started practicing Sabbath my thoughts on it have drastically changed. Before, it seemed impossible. I doubted that I could get everything done so that I could celebrate Sabbath, and worried about how I would fill the day. It took some trial and error finding my restful rhythm with the Lord, but was so worth it! Give it a try, ask Him for help and be open to the ideas He brings to your mind. I believe it will be worth it for you, too.

All for His glory,

About the Author, Sarah Bulkley

I’m a wife, dog mom, pediatric dental assistant. I love spending my free time meditating on scripture, listening to old sermons, practicing yoga, and antique shopping.

I fell in love with Jesus at a young age, but my passion for women’s ministries and Bible Study really began when I joined my first Bible Study group in 2010. I love encouraging women to know and love the Bible.

 

 

While We Wait: An Advent Reflection

The Wait

Gifts are wrapped and stockings are stuffed. Lights twinkle on the tree and candles flicker in homes and churches services across the country. It’s Christmas  – one of my favorite times of the year. I love seeing little ones giddy with excitement. They’ve been waiting since before Thanksgiving when store shelves abruptly traded turkeys and leaves for Santa and snowflakes, and hope the wait will be worth it.

As children of God, we’re waiting too. Every one of us.

It’s why we celebrate Advent through the Christmas season.

Since the fall of man, the faithful in the Old Testament waited for the promised Messiah. They were waiting for a King. Their savior. Because many had their own ideas and assumptions of who He would be and what He would do, they missed the blessing. They failed to see Jesus as the Savior of the world and are still waiting for His first appearance.

Now, as Christ-believers, we wait for our Savior to return and make all things new – forever bridging the gap between our sin and the glory of the Father. Oh, what a day that will be!

Because we live in a broken world until Christ’s second coming, we wait for earthly dreams or needs to be fulfilled as well.

As you read this, you’re likely waiting for something.

Waiting to feel known. Waiting for a wayward child. Waiting to experience love. Waiting to be forgiven. Waiting for healing. Waiting for the fulfillment of a promise. Waiting to be understood.

The list is endless. And exhausting.

Waiting tries my patience and throws me into dependence. I can’t control the outcome in a waiting season and, to be completely honest, that’s the part I like least. My fleshly desire is to meddle – to open closed doors and close the open ones. I rush through the wait to find answers and create quick solutions.  

But what if we entered our time of waiting with a sense of eagerness instead of animosity?  What if we leaned in with anticipation rather than anxiety? What if we waited with hope instead of despair?

What if we changed our perspective entirely, and began to see the wait as part of the promise instead of a means to the end?

What if we believed that God was up to something and that the result would be as good as He is?

If we trust that God is sovereign, we need to trust that the wait fulfills a purpose. It may not look the way we wanted or prayed for, but the process itself can draw us into a deeper relationship with Christ, grow our faith, and refine us into something more beautiful than we imagined.

5 Things To Do While We Wait

Honest truth? I often don’t feel like reading the Bible, praying, or worshipping God in my waiting season, but these are imperative disciplines to growing our faith and, ultimately, glorifying God. If we want the wait to be productive, we need to be proactive. Setting healthy patterns and habits in our lives will ensure we are ready for the wait when it comes.

Here are things we can do in both preparation for a waiting season AND when we’re smack dab in the middle of it.

Meditate on the Word – 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”  It’s ALL USEFUL. Read it, memorize it, meditate on it, sing it, study it.  It will teach you, rebuke you, correct you, and train you in righteousness. It will focus your attention on the truths of heaven rather than the things of earth.

Commit to a Bible Study in your church or with friends and keep “Study my Bible” at the top of your To Do list. If you need a place to start in your waiting season, try the book of James (be sure to look into what it means to have true joy when reading the first chapter) or an Old Testament book like Exodus or Daniel that speak of God’s sovereignty. Use one of our favorite Bible Study methods such as the Inductive Study to understand the incredible depth and truth of Scripture.

Pray – Seek God with your requests and be honest about your struggle through the wait (He really can handle it), but also ask Him for an open mind and heart as you wrestle through the uncertainty.  Be open to seeing things a different way and tell Him you trust Him with the process and the outcome.

Remember that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness – He hears our groans and intercedes for us when can’t find the words to speak (Romans 8:26). My favorite prayer of all time is known as ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ and can be found in Matthew 6:9-13. It gives all glory and rightful dominion to God while asking for His Kingdom to come and will to be done. It gives me peace and security during a time of waiting.

Worship – It’s easy for me to worship and praise when things are going well, and whole lot harder when they’re not. Go ahead and blast that music in the car and let the tears fall. Praise Him anyway.

I have absolutely been that lady at the red light with hands raised high and snot pouring out of my nose in worship.  On one occasion I even rolled down my window to assure a concerned woman in a neighboring vehicle that I was indeed OK – Just praising God.

Here are some songs to sing during a time of waiting:

Talk to a Trusted Friend – Choose people who are valiant prayer warriors and gifted secret keepers. Be candid about your wait and ask them to wage war with you. One word of caution, though – Be sure to meditate on the Word of God, spend time in prayer, and worship the Almighty God yourself instead of just asking others to do it for you. I’ve been guilty of calling or texting a friend to pray and then not even doing it myself.  I’ve welcomed encouraging Scriptures from sisters before seeking truth in my own study of His Word. Let’s be women of discipline in the waiting season instead of women of chatter.

Reflect – Use a journal to remember what God has done in the past. These can be personal stories of His faithfulness through other waiting seasons, or ones that resonate from Bible study and meditation. If you’re a regular journal-keeper, spend time looking over past prayers/entries and look for the ways God blessed you in times of waiting or difficulty. Keeping a journal can be a beautiful way of accounting for the things you’re learning and giving Glory to God for His ongoing faithfulness.

The End

Maybe you’ll wake up Christmas morning and find that everything you’ve been waiting for is right in front of you. But probably not.

And it’s OK. Transformative, even, if we allow the wait to mold us and make us into new creations for His great glory.

As followers of Christ, we can be assured that the wait will end.  

In great glory.

Revelation 21 testifies to the abundance we’ll receive after Jesus returns to make all things new:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

Until then, my friends, wait well. It will all be worth it in the end.

With great expectation,

Lisa

 

About the Author:

Lisa DaSilva is a wife, mom of two teenagers, and advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word. With an M.Ed in Curriculum Development and a teacher by trade and passion, she writes, speaks, and teaches the Bible to anyone who will read or listen. As the director of Arise Ministries Collective in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Lisa believes every woman has a voice. She longs for the day when they find freedom to use it for the glory of God and the furthering of His Kingdom. Lisa is a recovering striver, lover of simplicity and thrift store junkie. She often has to convince people she’s an introvert. Just a loud one. Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.

 

Poured Out: Reflections on the Alabaster Jar

The symbolism and significance of an alabaster jar is beautiful to me. Luke 7 tells the story of a woman who learns that Jesus is eating at the home of a Pharisee. Specifically called out as a “sinner,” the woman displays a beautiful act of reverence and repentance when she enters the house:

And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.” (Luke 7:37-38, ESV)

I could go on several rabbit trails and seriously geek out on dissecting this passage: the significance of wetting His feet with her tears and wiping them with her hair, kissing them and anointing them with oil…SO. MUCH. to unpack.

But for the sake of this article, I want to focus on one thing: the sacrificial offering she made by pouring out the (most likely very valuable) contents of the alabaster jar. 

I love tattoos. I have several; almost all of them are Scripture-based, and most are results of careful, thoughtful planning and consideration. My most recent one from August 2021 (pictured) is a broken alabaster jar. I intentionally placed it on my inner right forearm, with the fractured jar and spilled puddle pointing downward toward my wrist and hand to symbolize the costly, precious ointment poured out as an offering. Nice, right?

Shortly after getting my newest piece, I felt a strong conviction from the Lord:

“It’s not enough to just keep putting pretty tattoos on your body to show how pious you are. How are you actually living out the messages and images you have chosen to brand on your body?”

Ouch.

This forced me to seriously pause and ask myself:

What am I holding onto that God may be asking me to release to Him?                                                           What do I need to let go of and fully surrender to Jesus?                                                                                    

What is in my alabaster jar?

Before I continue, I want to make this disclaimer: anything that is written in this article is as much directed at me as it is to the reader. This topic is a result of my own convictions, and the questions that I am posing are ones that I have been wrestling with and continue to wrestle with. 

What each of us considers precious may widely vary. If you are a wife, mother, or working professional, you may include your spouse, child(ren), or your career in your jar. Perhaps certain friendships, memories, or healthy routines and habits are in there too. These are all sound answers, especially since you cannot put a price tag on most of them. The absence of these things from your life would undoubtedly be detrimental (or devastating) to some degree. All these things require surrender, trust, and faith. Letting go of our children as they grow, make mistakes, and mature; trusting the Lord with our marriages and careers; and faithfully stewarding our time, treasure and talent are all easier said than done. 

Are there things in your life that you are holding onto (maybe even subconsciously) that are holding you back? Keeping you up at night? Causing you great anxiety, fear, or anger? What barriers are you putting up around your heart that you need to allow Jesus to break through and tear down? Things that you wouldn’t typically consider “precious,” but are taking up a huge amount of space in your life?

Sometimes, the costliest things we need to pour out at the feet of Jesus require our humility, confession, and repentance.

Do you harbor resentment toward someone you love? Is there unresolved conflict with someone in your life? Who do you need to ask Jesus for help with forgiving? Have you grieved something or someone at length? Do you need to humbly acknowledge an addiction or destructive behavior or pattern and courageously ask for help? Are there idols that need to be removed?

The sinful woman in Luke 7 certainly didn’t think twice about the cost of the fragrant perfume in her alabaster flask; she willingly shattered the jar and emptied the valuable contents at Jesus’ feet. As fellow sinners, what’s holding us back from doing the same?

Proverbs 28:13 tells us that “whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (ESV). I have a feeling the author wasn’t referring to prosperity in the typical sense here (i.e., confess your sins and you’ll be wealthy and happy). But what if the trade-off for not humbly confessing the dark corners of our hearts and minds is being robbed of our ability to prosper in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? (Galatians 5:22-23, ESV). 

If I’m being totally honest, there is not one fruit of the Spirit that I feel like I embrace. Not one. Why? Because if I’m being real with myself, my alabaster jar is overflowing with feelings of bitterness, resentment, anxiety, and fear. I think the root of all of these is the feeling of inadequacy. I never feel (and don’t know that I have ever felt) like I am ENOUGH. Just as I am. I have always tried to do more, be more, buy more. Stretched myself to maximum capacity, once nearly to the point of death. I have never actually fully stepped into my identity as a beloved and treasured child of the Most High King, choosing rather to focus on the things that limit me rather than my professed faith in a limitless God.

So…what then? What am I doing about it? How am I answering the Lord’s call to live out the art I’ve forever chosen to put on my body for the world to see?

It’s a daily choice. A choice to commune and converse with Jesus, not just to check a box and not out of obligation. A choice to read and study His Word and seek first His wisdom and perfect promises. Most of the time I’m terrible at it, and because of His lovingkindness He gently continues to nudge and pursue me as if to say: “Keep choosing me.” It’s a choice to be completely honest and transparent about my feelings and struggles because He’s not afraid of my anger, my imperfections, and my shortcomings. 

There is something so liberating about confession. Brutal honesty and transparency can cut like a knife, but it can also break chains and lift heavy yokes of burden from our shoulders. The beautiful relief is nothing is going to catch Jesus by surprise. He already knows everything. He’s just waiting for us to realize these things for ourselves and come to Him with hands open. 

So bring your jar full of your marriage, your children, your possessions, your career, your body, your health, your mental health, your treasured memories. Bring your flask full of anger, bitterness, resentment, apathy, unforgiveness, selfishness, fear, uncertainty, and addiction. It doesn’t matter what you’re carrying, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. 

 

About Ali Gadbaugh: Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Ali is a homebody who counts coffee, her husband and daughter, and Jesus as a few of her favorite things. She likes to add a little sarcasm and humor to life, and is passionate about growing and deepening her relationship with her Savior.

 

 

 

Summer Psalms to Help Us Praise ( & Printable Scripture Cards)

Too many followers of Christ feel bad for displaying any emotion besides peace, gratitude and contentment. Fear, anger, resentment, and even grief are hidden and remain unexpressed. But the psalmists exhibit a completely different approach. They lay their hearts on the line. They experience (and share) a full range of uninhibited emotion and pour it out to God. They question, beg, wonder, protest and mourn. They celebrate, exalt and praise. They proclaim the power, greatness and worth of God. They come to Him honestly and with humility.

A Little Background

Written over a number of centuries (probably between 1440 BC and 586 BC), the book of Psalms is composed of 150 sacred songs. Created by numerous authors, they became an integral part of Hebrew rituals and worship. Although many of these songs are cries of disdain and pleas for help, the traditional Hebrew title of the collection is tehillim, meaning “praises.” 

In their raw emotion, the psalmists remember God’s character. They recall his generosity, forgiveness and faithfulness. They ask Him for grace and vengeance. And as they do, their awe and fear of God grows and brings Him praise.

Our Response

We want to model the psalmist’s praise and come to our great God with anything and everything on our minds and in our hearts. We want to trust that He is listening, that He sees, and that He will guide us to His truth. We want to grow in our love for Him and be reminded of His goodness.

Our very own Nancy Tauzer has created printable Summer Psalms Scripture cards to help. Commit to reading and meditating on an entire Psalm, then use these poignant passages to remind you of what you’ve learned. Memorize them, frame them, or send them to friends. Tape them to a refrigerator, bedside table, bedroom mirror, or anywhere else you’ll see them every day. However you use them, remember this: “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens and His sovereignty rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). He already knows what you’re feeling and can handle your honesty. Trusting that He’s good enough to handle your emotions brings Him great praise.

With great expectation, 

Links I Love
  • Understand more about the history of the Psalms at The Bible Project and by clicking here
  • Pam Forster has a few simple studies that help unpack Psalm 37 and Psalm 103 using the inductive method. The title says they’re for “busy moms,” but I think they’re great for everyone and have learned a lot from them both.
  • I’m a huge fan of reading plans. They keep me organized, motivated, and are a great resource for studying alongside others. Try this 28 day plan. It doesn’t cover every Psalm, but I love the direct links to passages for easy access through the Summer. 
  • Psalm 34 is another great Psalm to Study! Use this resource to help, and read about my own experience with the Inductive Bible Study Method here. You can also download and print these GORGEOUS Psalm 34 Scripture cards from artist Anna deRoos.

 

About the Contributors

Lisa Da Silva – Author

I’m a wife, mom of two teenagers, and advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word.

A teacher by trade and passion, recovering striver, and lover of simplicity, I enjoy thrift store shopping and often have to convince people I’m an introvert. Just a loud one.

Loving Jesus and making Him known really is my everything.

 

 

 

 

 

Nancy Tauzer – Scripture Card Creator

I am fond of trying new recipes and projects. I am a giver. Good listener. Softhearted. Loyal.

I’m a wife and momma of two boys who is probably drinking coffee and waiting for the laundry to fold itself. I enjoy hiking, dancing and organizing all things.

Growing up, I thought being a follower of Christ was only going to church on Sundays. Fast forward to today and I have an intimate relationship with God; continuing to grow in awe of his love for us.

 

 

Podcast 036 – “Trust, Passion & Perseverance” With 18-Year-Old Adventurer Lucy Westlake

 

 

Lucy Westlake has been climbing mountains since she could walk. With a deep love for the outdoors and a
the ability to push physical and mental limits to new heights, this 18-year-old adventurer has her sight set on breaking records for God’s glory. Join Lisa as she chats with Lucy about her quest to become the youngest female to complete the Explorers Grand Slam, her passion for making safe drinking water accessible to all, and how her faith in Christ is at the root of all her goals and accomplishments.

Scroll down to the bottom of this page to see how you can support Lucy as she heads to Everest this month. This is a story you won’t want to miss!

Noteworthy Quotes

“During my travels, I’ve seen first-hand how many people don’t have access to safe drinking water. My goal is to become the youngest female to complete the Explorers Grand Slam. And with that I hope to gather the support needed to make safe water more accessible to those who need it. Raising awareness is key.”

“As I watched the daily procession of my pen pal and other women and young girls in the community walk
two miles to a hole in the ground, wait among hundreds of people and animals for their turn to draw water, and then carry the heavy jerry can filled with contaminated water back to their village on their heads, my heart was burdened. I heard a cry from millions of thirsty mouths and dying children that resonated deeply in my heart. This cry echoed across many lands, many cultures, and many beliefs, and I knew right then that this was my calling: to help solve our world’s water and sanitation crisis.”

“I knew God had given me this gift, but I didn’t understand why… When I let go of the resentment of Denali’s failure and truly learned how to trust God in every aspect of my life, my longing for the mountains returned, but this time, not for the summit or breaking records, but for pushing my limits and relying on God. So now when I climb mountains, I continually remind myself, “Your ability is God’s gift to you, what you do with it is your gift back to God.” So when the moments get really hard and I get really weak, God grabs my hand and keeps me climbing.”

“When I reach what I perceive as the limits to my physical, mental, and spiritual being, I can feel God take control and fill me with His strength and power. My flesh is weak, but He is strong. Alone, I could never accomplish what I have, but with God anything is possible.”

 “It’s not about breaking records. It’s about pushing limits.”

“Don’t look at the whole mountain. Just look at one step at a time, and trust God for the next.”

“Maybe you can’t, but He can. You aren’t alone. I could never accomplish what I have through my own strength alone. Many times at the beginning of a day with a long hike ahead of me, I look down at my backpack and I feel so hopeless. It looks bigger than me and I think “how in the world am I going to lift this, let alone carry it on my back for 7-8 hours.” But don’t let those types of doubts and fears creep in – those are the devil’s attacks in your mind. Even when it seems impossible, I lift my backpack onto my back and start hiking, and each step He gives me the strength for another.”

Ways to Follow and Support Lucy

To read more about Lucy’s failure on her first attempt on Denali, read Katie Arnold’s article in Outside Online, “Lucy Westlake Is the Grittiest 13-Year-Old Mountain Climber We Know.”

To learn more about Lucy and follow her adventures, visit her website and Instagram (@Lucy.westlake.22)  

By purchasing a sweatshirt on Lucy’s Etsy shop, 100% of profits go directly towards safe water projects she is personally connected to in Uganda and Kenya.

To help Lucy fund her upcoming Everest trip, consider making a donation on her GoFundMe page. She committed to this trip on faith that God would provide the funds to cover it. 

 

Podcast 035 – “Book Talk, Biblical Justice and Togetherness” With Tracy Daugherty – Part 2

Join Lisa DaSilva and director of The Freedom Challenge, Tracy Daugherty, as they talk about their new Bible study and what it was like to join forces and write it TOGETHER. This is the second episode in a two part series.


Get your copy of What the Lord Requires: A Six Week Study of Micah 6:8 and find tips and printable Bible Study Discussion Questions for leading your own small group here. Proceeds from the sale of this book will support The Freedom Challenge in its mission to set more women and children on the pathway to freedom. Download your study calendar and join us live @ariseministriescollective beginning April 20th for weekly study sessions with Tracy and Lisa. Stay tuned for more resources and updates coming soon!


                                                                                                                          Scripture References

Ephesians 4:3-6 – “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” 

Psalm 133: 1 – “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”

 


About the Hosts

Lisa DaSilva is a wife, mom of two teenagers, and advocate for women to love God with their heart, soul and mind as they engage in responsible study of His Word. With an M.Ed in Curriculum Development and a teacher by trade and passion, she writes, speaks, and teaches the Bible to anyone who will read or listen. As the director of Arise Ministries Collective in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Lisa believes every woman has a voice. She longs for the day when they find freedom to use it for the glory of God and the furthering of His Kingdom. Lisa is a recovering striver, lover of simplicity and thrift store junkie. She often has to convince people she’s an introvert. Just a loud one. Loving Jesus and making Him known really is her everything.

Tracy Daugherty, the director of The Freedom Challenge, has more than 30 years of experience in pastoral ministry and church planting with her husband, Dan. Working for The Freedom Challenge combines the two biggest passions God has placed on her heart: to affirm the significance of women and to expand the biblical worldview of the church. Based in San Diego County, California, she holds a bachelor’s degree in theology and is an experienced Bible teacher and speaker. She readily admits that her most fulfilling ministry has been as a mom and seeing her three children (and one son-in-love) grounded in their confidence and calling. Before being appointed director of The Freedom Challenge in 2017, she was friends with its founder Cathey Anderson (now in heaven) and a self-proclaimed “girly-girl,” but she traded in her high heels for hiking boots because she was drawn to the cause of championing women. Now, after hiking and flying countless miles around the world with The Freedom Challenge, she’s witnessed the power of women as environment changers, as culture setters and as forces of good in the world. Seeing the impact that she and her fellow Freedom Sisters have made has only further fueled her commitment to leading The Freedom Challenge to its goal: setting 1 million women and children on the path to freedom by 2030.

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Really Can Lead a Bible Study: Tips and Resources to Get You Started

Do you wonder if you have what it takes to start or lead a small group Bible study? Are you willing to try? With a few vital but simple commitments, you can play an instrumental role in leading others through the Word of God. People are longing to learn and be part of a community. They may just need someone willing to guide, facilitate, be a humble example, and learn alongside them. Prayerfully read through the following suggestions and give it a try. Remember, there is a lot of grace as you model life-long learning, but skill and competency require practice. Your ability to facilitate a small group will only get better once you start!

Tips for Leading a Meaningful Small Group Bible Study

Pray – The most effective Bible study leader prays for guidance and asks the Holy Spirit to bring understanding. Submit to God and seek Him daily as you prepare and study. Commit to praying for all of the people in your group on a regular basis. 

Be prepared – Do your homework in advance and have a thorough grasp of the content. Review the discussion questions to see which ones best apply to whatever you studied that week. Participants will know if you’ve cut corners. I’ve found that a leader’s effectiveness is largely related to his or her integrity. While things come up and grace prevails, preparation shows participants that you’re committed to doing the hard work and learning alongside them. 

Keep in touch – Communicate with your group throughout the week. People love to know you’re thinking of them. Tell them you’re looking forward to seeing them and hearing about what they’ve learned. When someone knows you’re expecting them to show up, they often do! 

Start and end on time – Being prompt shows respect. Begin on time even if only one person is there. Participants will quickly learn that you honor their other commitments and will respond by honoring yours. Consider adding 30 minutes before or after the meeting as an optional social time. Your group may choose to gather from 9:30 to 11am, for example, but participants can come early for coffee at 9am if they want to visit and chat.

Share expectations – People want to know their small group is safe. Affirm that things shared within the group are not to be discussed with anyone else. Begin each meeting with this reminder, and consider asking participants for a verbal agreement. It’s also helpful to talk about group discussion dynamics. Encourage everyone to be sensitive to others and to ask themselves the following reflective questions: Do they dominate the discussion? Are they attentive to others and giving them a chance to share? Do they listen well? Are they taking risks and offering thoughts and ideas? Routinely sharing expectations for a healthy small group will save a great deal of time, energy, and possible hurt in the future.  

Be a good listener – Don’t do all of the talking. Leading a small group doesn’t mean you’re the expert. It simply means you’re engaging in the discussion, encouraging accountability, being reliable, and listening well. Model good listening by mirroring what’s been shared and validating others’ observations.

Ask great questions – Some Bible studies come with discussion questions to help guide your group time, but I’ve found that they’re not always helpful. While review questions are fine and may clarify content, I appreciate more open-ended questions that generate thoughtful observation, interpretation, and application of the Scripture (learn more about the inductive method here). The following are questions I filter into almost every Bible study discussion. I’ve also included a link to a printable PDF so you can download the style works best for your group. Consider printing your favorite (bookmark, full-page or half-page) for group members in advance. This will help them feel prepared, know what to look for when they’re studying, and be better equipped to use the questions in future small groups. Who knows? Maybe your Bible study is just what they needed to gain the experience and confidence to launch something new. Maybe your risk and obedience will impact many for God’s glory and the understanding of His Word.

5 Great Questions to Help Guide your Bible Study Discussion
  • Did you learn anything new or see something in a different light through your study today/this week? 
  • What does this passage reveal about the character of God? 
  • What biblical truths were revealed and how might these look in action today? In your own life? In your family? In your ministry? 
  • What do you need to do in light of your new understanding? Is there an action you need to take?
  • Is the Holy Spirit bringing any specific people, circumstances, conversations or sins to mind for prayer, repentance and reconciliation?  If so, take time to lay them before Him. Consider sharing and asking for prayer/accountability.

Consider using these questions and tips to guide a small group through our newest study, What the Lord Requires: A Six Week Study of Micah 6:6-8.  All proceeds from the sale of this book be used to support projects that combat modern day slavery and set women and children on the pathway to freedom. Use this study calendar if you hope to join us for the April 20th launch, and let us know if you’ve decided to start your own group. We’d love to cheer you on!

With great expectation –

 

 

 

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