My dear friend Donna shares from her heart as she reminds us that God abundantly blesses our obedience to Him. Donna Cronk is author of the women’s Christian novel, Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast, available on Amazon in print or Kindle. The sequel will be released next summer. You can hear more stories from Donna’s life at her blog: donnacronk.weebly.com.
I’ve always been a hands-on mom. Raising two sons was the joy of my life. Room mother, baseball-dugout mom, soccer, scout, and band mom, and I was that mom who washed the whole team’s grimy uniforms at midnight in a motel during a tournament road trip.
Maybe it was because my older boy had a severe heart defect and we almost lost him as a baby, that I saw early on how precious every moment with them was. Or maybe it was just how I was wired.
Once they hit their teens, I started internally fretting. I couldn’t imagine our home without the boys’ presence. What would I do if there were no games, or scout outings, or band performances to attend? I couldn’t imagine the empty nest.
Back then I was in a church life group of a few women my mother’s age. These women had been through many things, and I enjoyed their wisdom, and the structure of their group. The leader was gracious and allowed plenty of time for chitchat, but also kept it moving so that we got in a lesson and prayer time, as well as got everyone home at a decent hour on a Sunday night.
My own mother had long-term advanced Alzheimer’s disease and spent years in a nursing home before she passed. Being in the company of older women filled a void of missing mom and women like her.
I was content in that group, but it occurred that once the boys left the nest, I’d like to start a women’s life group for empty nesters. I told no one, keeping this idea to myself. I had no specific women in mind, but felt sure there were some like me in our congregation.
Besides, I had a few years to work on a plan. I’d research Bible studies, keep my eyes open for “the right women” to ask. I had three years before son number two went to college. In three years, I’d begin to pursue this idea. It was enough having it on the back burner, a comfort when I thought about the boys leaving home. I kept it hidden in my heart.
Then one night at my older women’s meeting, the leader asked if she could see me afterward. I couldn’t imagine what she wanted. She shared that she and a ministry leader wondered if I would consider leading my own women’s life group. This stunned me. How could they have known my plan?
While it was my usual nature to thank them and say maybe – someday – and explain that I wasn’t ready for this challenge – what I said instead was, “Yes!” I recognized this unexpected invitation as the Holy Spirit confirming this idea I had begun nurturing, and that He was asking me to step out in faith and do it now.
I met with the ministry leader and told him that I had an idea what such a life group might “look” like: It would be a group of midlife moms whose kids either had left home or were about to, and we would do life together, with the Lord’s leading, in this next phase of life. We could support, encourage, and pray for each other as we navigated such landscapes as becoming mothers-in-law, grandparents, and dealing with things I hadn’t yet imagined.
Ironically, he told me that the pastor’s wife, Delaine, had the same vision for a life group and maybe the two of us could lead it together. Delaine and I went to breakfast to talk about this. I was nervous because we didn’t know each other well. Come to find out we were the same age – five days apart, and we had other similarities. The plans came together with ease. She had a few women in mind; I had a couple. We asked them and they came to the meeting. We used the format of the life group I had attended.
That was almost nine years ago. In that time, The Midlife Moms (MLMs for short) has enjoyed countless outings together and served the church by cooking dinners, helping with Bible school, and planning all-church retreats. In-between, we studied and prayed with and for each other, laughed, cried, vented, and praised God. I am grateful for the lessons we have studied together, the hard truths we have sometimes faced in those lessons, and in the answered prayers we see. We have fun. We know each other’s cast of characters and life stories. We are friends. We are sisters.
My husband and friends have told me that I have changed since these women came into my life. I am happier, less judgmental, feel more confident, and grounded with the support of other Christian women who have my back as I have theirs. I belong.
I laugh at the joys that God, through this group, has given me; life’s bright spots that I never could have imagined possible. For example, I am a “water” person. I love being on or near the water but that is not an interest of my husband’s. One MLM has a lake house and four times a year, she generously hosts our gals where we ride her boat around a beautiful lake, swim in the clear water, and go tubing. God gave me this desire of my heart to be around water in a way that I never would have had otherwise.
I also had never heard of Bible Study Fellowship until a member of the group invited the MLMs to go. A couple of us are members and I thank God for how much my knowledge and love for His Word have grown in me.
God even granted me a life-changing visit to Israel and guess who baptized me in the Jordan River? My co-leader, Delaine. On the other arm was another MLM sister.
We have never had a cross word between us. With about a dozen women gathered in one setting for nine years, I consider this nothing short of a miracle.
I’m reminded of the Israelites who had to be ready to move when God said so. He was taking them to a new land just for them. They would do well if they listened to His instructions and obeyed what He said.
I am so grateful that God planted this seed of a women’s life group in my heart, and then confirmed it through others who asked me to move before I thought I was ready or capable. What a blessing I would have missed had I said “Not now, Lord,” or “Me? Who am I to do this? Pick Delaine, she’s the one qualified.” For whatever reason, He wanted me to help found and lead this particular group, this particular ministry.
What seeds has God planted in your heart or mind? Will you move when He asks or wait for what you think is a “better” time? When He says go, I urge you to go. Blessings await you. And, such opportunities may not pass your way again.
Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”