Sisters With The Sowers
The world sought to put an ax to community but the Lord brought it more near than ever. Sit down, have a coffee with us, be encouraged.
Mid-pandemic I sat across the table from my friend Bethany. Bethany is a gal I have a running past with, in the sweetest way possible. The Lord has been so kind to make and keep us friends.
The Clearwater Threshers bonded us as we were ticket takers under the hot Florida sun, the only weather baseball knows in these parts of the state, besides game-delaying monsoons of course. We laughed and chatted amongst the game each time we worked. Neither of us had a relationship with Christ back then. We would hang out on occasion.
Fast forward to 2020, mid-pandemic, both on fire for the Lord, and the world slowly waking up from its shutdown slumber. Across the table from her, coffee in hand, after not hanging out in so long, we both mulled over the reality that faithful, tested, true Christ-centered community with like-minded sisters was often hard to come by.
My mind had been turning for months and COVID-19 only impressed that reality deeper into my bones. I wanted to learn from ladies who were older and wiser than I was, I wanted to relate and connect with gals who were nearly my age who understood my here and now, and I wanted to share what I was learning with those younger than me. Yes, yes yes. Discipleship.
For now, instead of getting into the trenches of the importance of Biblical discipleship and being mentored by others, which is of extreme importance, I wanted to take a different approach.
I'm going to share with you seven questions I asked a few ladies from all different stages of life, who, by the Lord's goodness, happen to be a part of my community in some form. My prayer and genuine hope is that this would be like having coffee together or a fly-on-the-wall glance into their lives. These are the women I have the privilege, by God's providence, to be sisters with. These are the sowers, the ones who go out by the power of the Spirit and do the work the Lord has called them to. These are their stories. I hope you find solace, support, and sisterhood in their words and through their hearts.
1. What do you wish people didn't assume about you?
Krystal - 1)That I’m an extrovert; I’m an introvert with a major case of anxiety.
2)That I’m perfect! I’m a sinner, a work in progress, I’m on the constant pursuit of holiness. (I recommend that book, The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges)
Christie - I am a super-independent introvert, which means a whole lot of my life happens inside my own head. A lot of times, engaging with people is pretty challenging for me, especially if it’s on the small-talk level. I wish I could do a better job of not giving off a vibe that I just want to be left alone, that I’m not interested in connecting with people. I know it’s easy for people to make that assumption about me, and it can be discouraging. I have a need for lots of alone time to process, decompress, etc. and also a need for deep connection with people. That can be hard to translate to others.
Michelle - That I will arrive on time. The struggle is real and has been for decades.
Hanna - The first thing that popped into my head was that people always assume I am much younger than I am. Just from my looks, I’m always mistaken as a high schooler which just makes me feel insecure in how I’m perceived to strangers and inadequate professionally as many people take me less seriously because of my younger look.
Amanda - I wish people didn't think because I'm not always a smiley person that I am not happy.
2. What does your quiet time look like these days?
Krystal - If I don’t wake up before my family to fit it in, then it looks a little like driving to Target or Publix alone blasting Hymns or Housefires worship music and sitting in the parking lot just praying and praising in my car.
Christie - Daily time in prayer and reading Scripture are essential for me. Prayer is a super important part of my quiet time. I lift things up to God constantly throughout the day, but I also find an intentional time of just saying “good morning” to God, acknowledging my need for him that day, asking for filling by the Holy Spirit, and preparing for reading the Word are vital. My task-oriented self comes out in my prayer time because I designate each day for a particular prayer focus: Monday – my kids; Tuesday – my husband; Wednesday – my church; Thursday – the school where I work; Friday – lost people I know and care about; Saturday – people whose needs are on my heart; Sunday – the church as a whole and the message God will send on that day of worship and gathering. That’s not to say that I ONLY pray for those things on those days, but I like to have an area of focus. I know that’s way too structured for some people, but it works well for me! When it comes to reading Scripture, I like to read through the Bible from beginning to end and then just start over again. I don’t try to get through it all in a certain period of time, and it typically takes me 3-4 years. In my daily reading, once I sense that God has given me a word that convicts or that I need to meditate on, I often just stop there, even if it’s just a fraction of a chapter. I also have a journal where I like to copy Scriptures that I will revisit regularly to pray for my kids. (I have 3 – ages 23, 20, and 17.)
Bethany - My quiet time consists of waking up before the sun and praying as I wake up. I then make coffee, light candles and begin with my prayer journal. I read through passages of the Bible, do my devotional and pick either a educational or self help book to read a few chapters of.
Michelle - Sadly, they have been sporadic and infrequent. Working from home really threw me for a loop and I still haven’t quite adjusted. I used to eat breakfast and read my Bible at my desk most mornings, but now it is my new work station. This is no excuse, but I didn’t realize how much I relied on my morning routine and my desk space to do my quiet times. My best and most consistent quiet times have been when I leave my Bible open on a table as an invitation to read. Ask me again in a month how I’m doing and if I’ve created a new rhythm and space!
Hanna - I’ve been doing a “Bible in a year” plan so usually it looks like reading 4-5 chapters and journaling what they spoke to me and praying over that/spending time in prayer for life and my surrounding community as well. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and just want to really focus on a few verses so while I’m eager to learn the Bible by reading it linearly, it will be refreshing to go back to a less constructed quiet time.
Amanda - Reading the Bible and various devotionals while drinking coffee.
3. What is your favorite thing right now?
Krystal - Get ready for a long winded emotional ramble sesh...
I am really really really digging the Youversion app right now. It has without a doubt been the best little blessing and answer to a prayer of mine in this season of my life right now. I was praying for God to start a fire in my heart, for me to have a hunger and a passion to dive deeper, pray more, praise more, you name it, I wanted it. The way things worked out was God ordained, but to keep it short, I’ve been in the Word and praying with a group of 10+ ladies for over a month straight, the new, intentional, gospel-centered friendships that have risen out of this is overwhelming. The love, and genuine concern we all have for each other’s spiritual walk, the accountability, and the opportunity for spiritual growth, and abundance of studies on the app has been great!
Christie - I always have a hard time with “favorite” questions! I don’t know! I feel different at different times of day and different circumstances. But here is something consistent with me these days: With the added stress I’ve been experiencing lately, I find that I love a little (healthy, I hope) escapism. I’m a huge fan of historical fiction and books in general. I find my heart and mind just weighed down these days. Sometimes, I feel deflated, depleted, and burdened so much that tears come easily and I just need encouragement and hope. Taking myself out of the present challenges and looking up and out, thinking about eternity, or visiting (through a book) the times and places I’m naturally drawn to reminds me of all the great, joy-giving stuff that still exists, even though most of my time is spent laser focused on things that need to be dealt with right now.
Bethany - My absolute favorite thing right now is community. Finding other people who love Jesus but are in different parts of their walks acts as an encouragement. It also offers opportunities to serve others!
Michelle - Trying new recipes and cooking with my husband is one of my favorites. I also love riding bikes around the new pier in St Pete and getting froyo!
Hanna - Food: frozen grapes
Coffee: 18 bagels iced coffee in Tampa
Activities: walking around Dunedin
Hobbies: long distance running with no music
Amanda - Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Canes Cafe!
4. How do you feel most connected to God?
Krystal - When I have been intentionally making time in my day for praise/worship, abiding, ceaselessly praying, repentance, and in the Word daily. Not letting the busyness of my day become an excuse.
Christie - I think nothing connects me to God more than worship. I know worship is all about Him, but it is also the most strengthening and encouraging thing for me. Music and nature are my best vehicles for worship. I have some favorite go-to songs (Right now – There Is a King by Elevation Worship and the old hymn Be Still, My Soul.) Sometimes, I’ll take a walk around my block or go on my patio and do some breathing and stretches mid-day, and just “lift my eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help.” All of a sudden, I’m aware of things to thank Him for, and we just talk for a few minutes. Worship just helps me remember who God is. I tend to forget, and in my mind, the immediate things get inflated and God becomes smaller and more distant. I need to set this right every day (sometimes multiple times per day).
Bethany - Lately I’ve felt most connected to God when I listen to worship music at the end of the day and just try to have an extended time in prayer.
Michelle - When I am unplugged from my phone and when I am outdoors. Some of my biggest “aha” moments with Jesus have also been when I’m in the car alone. Several of my biggest life decisions have been inspired after listening to a Matt Chandler sermon on I-4.
Hanna - I feel most connected to God when reading and discussing what I read with other believers. It’s always so awe-inspiring to me to learn about how two people reading the same passage can be encouraged in such different ways.
Amanda - I feel most connected to Him while belting out praise and worship music to Him.
5. What makes you feel valuable?
Krystal - Real talk. Knowing that someone with my insanely unbelievable and heartbreaking past, my brokenness, a sinner like me has been redeemed and that I’m a child of God. THAT leaves me in complete awe and gives me so much joy and makes me feel so valuable.
Christie - The non-spiritual side of me feels valuable when I accomplish a task and receive affirmation that I did a decent job. I don’t need (or even like) accolades and attention, but I do just want to know that I didn’t fail. I know this is not where I should look for value, but I do. It also means the world to me to know that I have the love and support of my husband and kids. I tend toward self-criticism all the time. If I’m also receiving criticism from outside sources, it can be crushing. However, it’s all tolerable if I just get a reminder that, at home, I’m loved and supported. Those people are on my side. I also always revisit the amazing grace of God and the fact that He sees me fail every day and yet loves me and looks forward to being together for all eternity. I wish I could wrap my mind around that better than I do. I still baffles me. But when my self and my enemy tell me I am a disappointment, Scripture tells me that I am God’s treasure and that nothing can separate me from His love, not even my own frustratingly consistent failure.
Bethany - I feel valuable when I’m serving others. I enjoy being creative and doing so in a way that bring glory to God fills my heart. Whether it’s photography or being on the worship team - I feel like I have a place.
Michelle - Praying for others. I don’t always feel confident in giving advice, but I know with certainty that praying for people is more helpful than any advice I can ever give. People almost always respond positively and it’s a great way to be reminded of God’s faithfulness in my life and in others.
Hanna - I’m a big words of affirmation person. When someone calls out on me something they see me doing well, especially if it’s something I doubted within myself, I feel so encouraged.
Amanda - I feel valuable when I am asked my opinion and am included in things.
6. Which part of your past do you think has shaped you most?
Krystal - I believe the ugly parts have shaped me the most. They definitely made me the person of faith that I am today. With a heaviness like that, nothing and no one and can lift that except complete and utter reliance on our Father and the finished work of Christ. I’ve gone through deep waters and dark nights, but my faith sustains me.
Christie - The things in my past that I think have affected me the most are the times when God required me to let go of my plans and my sense of control and trust him. This happened in my 20s when my plans for studying and working abroad fell through. It happened again when my pregnancies and births did not go as I envisioned. It happened when we were called to be part of a team founding a school, and here is one other time it happened. There have only been a handful of times in my life when I have felt sure of God’s speaking directly to me. One of those times was when a question in my Bible study asked whether there was anything I had not surrendered to God. I didn’t think there was, but I decided to ask him. I was kind of shocked to feel like he answered me right away. I felt he was asking me to surrender my home, just to let go of the sense that it was mine, the refuge I owned and had a right to. I couldn’t imagine God was calling me to be homeless, and I really wasn’t sure what that was all about! So I prayed and just put everything on the table, including my home. Very shortly thereafter, we found that my husband had to officially become a resident of the county where his new job was. We had two weeks! Obviously, we couldn’t sell our home and buy or rent another in that time period, so we moved in with his parents. They were amazingly welcoming, generous, and accommodating, but my introverted, control-freak self was unsettled in a big way. That season went on way longer than we thought it would and included another move to my parents’ house (also amazingly welcoming, generous, and accommodating) before we finally got reestablished in our new home. Of course, I got to experience His faithfulness in new ways with each of these experiences. I also got to see beautiful things come out of what seemed like disappointments at the time. Having gone through those experiences makes it easier to trust and even to get excited when I get that sense that something surprising, scary, or challenging is happening. It’s so amazing to see God at work.
Bethany - My single mom raising my brother and I has shaped me more than I could ever express. She taught me how to be strong and showed me what God’s grace and love looks like. That and having my daughter at a young age changed my life. It brought me back to the Lord. In my brokenness I surrendered. I was spiraling out of control living the way I thought I wanted to until I realized how my foolishness led to me bringing another human into the world. I was unprepared, but He used her to draw me close to him. I see His glory as I watch her grow up.
Michelle - My singleness. I am 30 and I just got married. It was really really hard at times and often very lonely. In singleness (for me personally) I got to know Jesus in ways that I don’t think I would have gotten if I had been married sooner. I traveled a lot while I was single and that was really transformative in growing with Jesus. I got to experience new cultures, see His creation on display in different cities and countries, and I got to make friends with people I met from churches around the world.
Hanna - My answer is super broad, but I think moving to a different state and living through various seasons changed me dramatically. Moving to Texas was the first time I was in a situation where I knew absolutely no one and I felt free to be 100% authentic to who the Lord made me to be. This experience permanently changed the way I interact with others around me. Also, in Texas was the first time I really took hold of the Gospel and started to walk the narrow way. It was a really sweet time of surrendering to the Lord and watching Him freely work within my soul to change the way I live and see the world.
Amanda - Losing six beautiful babies to miscarriage and spending seven years in the trenches of loss and suffering. It was like I have ever experienced but the Lord drew me to Him and He taught me so much from all of the years of trial.
7. What's the best advice you have ever been given?
Krystal - “Don’t listen to your heart, you can’t trust it. Listen to what God is telling you. Stay in the Word. Pray.”
Bethany - To not lose my faith when I experience sorrow. When my grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer she always spoke about how God would take a rough situation and make good of it. And He did, our distanced family members came together to support her and my grandpa. She no longer has cancer and I see how He can take us at our weakest and give us strength to accomplish things we never expected to happen.
Michelle - It’s not really advice, but I’ll never forget hearing Sarah S. speaking to a group of women at a retreat reminding us that, “We wait patiently for God to move quickly.”
It’s so true. My biggest frustration with God has always been His timing. I’m thankful that sometimes He gives me a glimpse of why the timing of an answered prayer had to be the way He chose. For those other times that He doesn’t give me glimpses of the “why’s” it just pushes me to trust Him more. In Psalm 84:11, He tells me that, “No good thing does He withhold from those that walk uprightly.” I can rest in Him knowing that He is not withholding the good stuff from me, even when I think he might be.
Hanna - “Get over yourself”- various authors
Amanda - The advice my mom gave me when she told me I should say yes to going out on a date with my now husband.
Phew. How powerful is it to sit back and hear from other God-fearing ladies on the work the Lord is doing in their lives. That conversation at a local coffee shop with Bethany sparked my sincere longing to be in community other sisters, to walk with them, to learn from them, and to appreciate Christ and His faithfulness towards us.
These gals are unique to my community, they're made in the image of God, they have individual gifts and they're being bent to the Lord's will in specific ways, but there are ladies like this in your church and in your community that you can glean wisdom and have real, life-giving friendship with.
Everyone has a story. Everyone has a voice. The Lord is at work. Fight the urge to believe that there is no one worth getting to know near you, no one worth community, or that you are not worth getting to know. We need each other. We were designed for community. We have the opportunity to be sisters with the sowers.