Laura: Two years ago, an Equip Her class leader put five women together at a table and assigned them a table leader. That was how it all started . . .
As they began to get acquainted around that table, they found out these things about each other:
- Two were retired missionary wives
- Two were widows
- One had a husband facing the uncertainty of retirement
- One was in the process of placing her husband in a memory-loss facility
- One had a husband with serious health issues who was also at the beginning stages of memory loss
- Two were dealing with macular degeneration of the eye
- Five were mothers of adult children with many, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren
- One did not have biological children but has helped raise 4 and continues to have an impact on their lives
- All are from different church backgrounds: Methodist, Baptist, CMA, Presbyterian, Assembly of God
- All love Jesus and have been walking with Him for years
Only God knew how much the very souls of these 6 women needed each other . . . and how they would impact each other’s lives. Let’s hear from them and learn how God has revealed His awesome character through the window of Friendship.
Claudine: I have to admit I didn’t necessarily want to be in a group that first day, and I certainly did not want to be the table leader. To be truthful, I’m not even sure I wanted to be there at all. I guess I was in a sort of spiritual funk. But God . . . My heavenly Father knew what I needed.
Through the friendships of these 5 women, I have seen again and again that God really does know how and who and when to put lives together “for such a time as this” for His glory and our good.
Laura has told you a little about some of the circumstances in our lives. But there is no way to really tell you how we have grown into a supportive, caring, kind, patient, spirited, fun-loving group of very, very diverse gals. And DIVERSE we are. That’s where God’s humor comes in!
God knew that day what I needed and what I didn’t need.
I didn’t need more Bible studies, more prayer, more accountability, more agendas or to-do lists. I didn’t need to try harder and work more. I simply needed some friends who would accept me just as I am–warts and all.
We are all at that place in our lives where there is no comparing or competing or second guessing or judging. We don’t have to be afraid of saying the wrong thing. We aren’t out to fix each other. We are what we are, and it’s not going to change . . . not at our ages. We laugh a lot. Have lots of fun. Some of our times together are spontaneous and some are planned. We are available to each other, but not demanding or smothering. It’s a SAFE place.
That’s what God is like. He’s loving and kind and so patient. He knows our weaknesses and strengths. He accepts us as we are. And He cares. Oh, how he cares. He is always available but never forces His way on us. I see the character of God in so many ways. I see it in my friends.
I am so thankful to Berean and our leadership for providing this connecting point. And, yes, I am out of my spiritual funk!
Anne: Fellowship with other Christian women is a wonderful gift from God who is the center of it all. In between our Gideon study and our Children of the Day study, our group has enjoyed monthly get-togethers outside of our Tuesday Mornings. Our times together include brunches and food, laughter and tears, wonderful fellowship and the sharing of prayer.
One day I called Kay’s house and said to her husband, “Hi, this is Anne, one of the Babes. How are you and Kay doing today?” I think he was a little surprised, but after talking to Kay and hearing their situation, I was able to send prayers heaven-ward for them.
In November, I became the third widow in our group of 6, and I am enthusiastic about becoming as given to the Lord as Claudine and Pat are. You see, I am freer now to spend time with the Lord in prayer, study, and worship. I have more time to exercise my calling.
In spite of the obstacles many of us are facing, these women are trusting in the Lord and persevering in the faith. They do not complain or grumble. They walk the walk. These women anchor me.
We have fun. We smile a lot. And one thing I’ve noticed in our class is that we are the table our teacher, Kathy Bowman, has to shush most often.
These five women are my Forever Sisters in the Lord. They compel me to grow deeper in my love and service to Christ, my Savior and King.
Nancy: Ours has been a life with lots of moves—lots of new situations—lots of new people to love and be loved by in return, to share life and pray with, but also to be sharpened, encouraged, and rebuked. It has been no different in our coming to Berean. God has placed me in a group with 5 other women who have already re-enforced the character of God in my life.
There is Claudine, who with her bare-bones honesty has inspired me to be open and to search the scripture to see “whether those things are so.”
There is Pat, who being the practical, observant woman she is, has taught me the graces of being on time and standing tall. And I don’t resent that! Pat is a woman of prayer. I admire her a lot.
There is Lois with whom I have shared many of life’s lessons. Even though we have served on opposite sides of the world, lessons such as adjusting to a new culture and language, developing close relationships without family, and making do in all kinds of circumstances have bonded our relationship. Lois is a woman of courage and determination
Then there is Anne, the life of our group. She is the fun-loving one, always bringing laughter into our midst. She sums up the characteristic of joy to our Berean Babes.
Lastly, there is Kay. Besides being near my size, Kay is a dependable friend. She is very faithful and loyal.
These ladies all love the Lord and display the many different sides of the character of God.
In many other circles, I am the oldest—oldest child, oldest grandchild, oldest of the cousins; but in this group, I am the youngest! As you can see, I have much to learn from these wonderful women.
Kay: I love these ladies in my small group. For starters, to quote Barbara Johnson, we are all in that age between “estrogen and death.” And what a group to go through this stage of life with. I once read the God doesn’t give us the friends we want. He gives us the friends we need. And believe me, I need this bunch.
C.S. Lewis had this to say about friendship:
“Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one!’”
Though we all have varied backgrounds and different personalities, we have found much to relate to with each other. Many of us have gone through some of the same things, so we can sympathize, offer suggestions, pray for and simply listen to each other.
Recently, Ann’s husband and my husband were seriously ill in the hospital at the same time. My husband John recovered and returned to his earthly home, while Ann’s husband Noble went to his heavenly eternal home. To paraphrase Galatians 6:2—True friends carry us, when we can’t carry ourselves.”
Even Jesus knew the importance of having friends. His disciples were more than followers. They were his friends. He ate with them, traveled with them, laughed with them and discussed spiritual matters with them. Jesus wept for his friend Lazarus. He knows how much we need our friends and on the cross He proved Himself to be our truest friend of all.
I am so grateful to God for these wonderful friends he has brought into my life.
Lois: We moved from Indiana to Lincoln in May of 2013. No need to go into all the details that necessitated that move except to say it was a hard decision and a huge move. It meant leaving everything familiar and landing in everything unfamiliar—except for my precious daughter and her family who live here.
I wasn’t able to get involved with a ladies’ bible study at my church, Northpointe Community Church, because they meet in the evening, so my daughter got me hooked up with your study here.
From the start, I felt like I had landed on a soft pillow. I had instant rapport with these ladies. I felt like I didn’t have to explain what I was experiencing with my husband and his dementia issues. They understood. Their support was palpable. I was home. When I tell my kids what I have found in this group of friends, I can almost hear their collective sigh of relief. How, apart from God, could Mom find a group of friends like this in such a short time?
I have also found the encouragement to “finish well.” I’m not washed up yet, but I am on the other end of the life cycle with the desire to finish strong. I have wonderful examples of that in this group and together we can do it!
I am experiencing God’s purpose for friendship in this group of ladies whom I cherish.
Pat: Sometimes God gives us little “cameo” surprises that unexpectedly bless us when we look back and think, “God did that, didn’t He?” Then there are those rare times when we know immediately, “Wow! God did that!” That’s what I see with our little group. He just sovereignly brought us together, dumped a bucket-full of grace on us and said, “Now you all just enjoy this experience. Relish your relationships with each other and with me.”
How unfathomable are His ways. How wise. He knew just what we needed at this particular time in our lives. Some of us needed friends who understood the loss one feels when we find ourselves as “ONE” when for 50, 60 or even 70 years we had been “TWO.” How do we fit in our new role? Others of us needed friends who understood the pain of watching our husband’s mind wander off into a world where we can’t follow.
God demonstrates His tenderheartedness and comfort through women who will pray for each other when they say they will. These women petition our Heavenly Father so we can still “sing for joy” no matter what our circumstances.
There is a conviction between us that in His sovereign will there is still purpose for our lives—even now, today—because He has a plan for each of us that will bring glory to Him to the end. How gracious of Him to give us new bonding friendships at this time of our lives.
To be together—whether here or at lunch or coffee—is just fun. He has given us the joy of lightheartedness and laughter that has surprised us.
God has chosen to love us through these wonderful friendships and I am so grateful. You just never know what may result from going to a Women’s Bible Study!
Please God, Reveal to us through friends something of your heart; something of what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes; something about ourselves that needs evaluating—a thought, a feeling, an attitude.
Enlarge our hearts as we learn about the journey of one who becomes a friend . . . her stories, her struggles, her joys, her sorrows, her walk with You.
May some of the LIGHT from our friend’s life spill into the window of our soul, and may we see Your face as we look into hers . . . she is your daughter and image bearer.
Help us to hear Your words that you are speaking through friendship.
Thank You for precious friends and the true gift of friendship.