“Your love has given me much joy and comfort...for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.” Philemon 1:7
Let me take a moment to introduce myself to those who do not know me yet. My name is Heather Johnson. I am quirky, sometimes too serious, sometimes silly, compassionate, and slightly awkward...or maybe more than slightly awkward. I love God and I love people a lot. I am not always good at it though. I am a work in progress. One of things that God has placed on my heart...
“Your love has given me much joy and comfort...for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.” Philemon 1:7
Let me take a moment to introduce myself to those who do not know me yet. My name is Heather Johnson. I am quirky, sometimes too serious, sometimes silly, compassionate, and slightly awkward...or maybe more than slightly awkward. I love God and I love people a lot. I am not always good at it though. I am a work in progress. One of things that God has placed on my heart as an ongoing ministry, whether it be official or unofficial, is the ministry of uniting people. We are better together. I believe God created us to be in community and when we are connected with others, we grow, we thrive, and mutual transformation occurs. Therefore I invite you to keep reading to hear some ideas I have for seeing moms grow in their connection with one another and with their Creator. I can’t do any of these ideas on my own, but I think that if someone else will catch the vision with me, some really beautiful things can be planted and the blooms of which we may see for years to come.
There are a few different elements I would like to integrate into MCC’s mom's ministry. Though the acronym for MOPS is “Mothers of Preschoolers”, I hope to be able to bless and encourage moms of many seasons of life. I do not want moms to think that they age out of having a mom's ministry simply because their kids are now school age. So, moms...of ALL stages...we want to hear from you! We want to serve you and be here for you too. One of the things that drew my family to Mountain Christian Church was how much people looked out for one another. We have experienced so much love and support from many families. I want other moms in our community to feel as welcomed and loved as I did. Let us continue to love one another and spur one another on to love and good deeds! Let us look out for each other and intentionally look for ways to encourage one another.
God created me with a specific passion to see people of diverse backgrounds united. So when I stepped into the MOPS coordinator position this summer, it wasn’t long before I started thinking about how I could combine the moms ministry with my love for people from other countries. I personally believe that when we are serving in any ministry capacity it is important that we think about how God created us and what passions He has given to us and to integrate our passions into our ministry. For me this was to integrate our church partnership with International Students Incorporated (ISI) with MCC’s moms ministry. I have been an international student before and I know the loneliness, the culture shock, the vulnerability that comes with that and I also know the power of kindness from a local person to refresh the heart and bring so much joy and comfort. I’m imagining the friendships that develop between moms of the east mountains and moms from all around the world, who are currently living in Albuquerque, could lead to a ripple effect of transformation that we cannot even fathom spreading to all ends of the earth. I see an image of a map with arrows going from East mountains to Albuquerque and from Albuquerque shooting out every direction to all over the globe. We cannot underestimate the transforming power of intentional relationships.
Another emphasis that another mom on the leadership team wisely suggested we pursue is recruiting more mentors. We want to set up a mentor-mentee partnership for moms to grow in their connection with moms that have more life experience. How valuable is it for moms to have older or more experienced moms to learn from and to be encouraged by! This is something that the Titus ministry is doing so well. My hope would be to have one mentor for three moms.
Connection with God and with others is what leads to positive transformation. When we connect with others, we thrive in our roles.
A call to action
There are so many ways you can get involved in making this ministry effective in reaching moms in our community and be a part of the transformation that takes place when moms are encouraged and empowered to thrive in their motherhood. Maybe you are a mom yourself or maybe you were highly impacted by a mother and you want to support moms to know they are valuable and to be supported in growing in their role. Here are some ways you may be able to help:
- You can become a friendship partner to an international mom (If you are a mom yourself)
- You can sign up to be a mentor mom and encourage moms weekly through phone call, email, in person, letters or any other way you think of to show your care.
- You can make homemade gifts or baked goods for the moms in our community and drop them off with the MOPS coordinator.
- You can become a delivery person to deliver gifts or baked goods to moms
- You can host mom and her family for Thanksgiving or Christmas at your home
- You can be a motivational speaker at a moms event
- You can bring a meal to a mom who recently delivered a baby or is facing some difficulty.
- You can donate diapers for our moms with infants
- You can serve on the MOPS leadership team
- You can help recruit other moms to be friendship partners for our international moms.
- You can be a volunteer driver for our moms who do not have cars.
The Women Who Have Transformed My Faith
I’m incredibly blessed to have had many people pour into my life over the years. I want to share about three very different women and how they have each transformed my faith! Most girls can attest to the fact that their mothers had a big impact on their life; I know that mine certainly did! It wasn’t always having deep conversations or reading the bible together, most moments I remember were simply watching her live her life out for Christ. The way she...
I’m incredibly blessed to have had many people pour into my life over the years. I want to share about three very different women and how they have each transformed my faith!
Most girls can attest to the fact that their mothers had a big impact on their life; I know that mine certainly did! It wasn’t always having deep conversations or reading the bible together, most moments I remember were simply watching her live her life out for Christ. The way she loved, the way she offered grace, and the way that nothing was so important that she couldn’t pause to listen to me; even if I was only telling her something silly at five years of age. I got to do dishes by her side, helped her clean, and learned what it looked like to be a woman of God; a maiden warrior for the kingdom of heaven (which, by the way, is as epic as it sounds). I watched her stumble, heard humility in her repentance, and saw as she got back up and kept going.
You might wonder how watching my mom walk out her faith actually impacted me for Christ? It's true, we weren’t always talking about the Bible or doing studies together. What I learned from my mom, what I felt and experienced in our bond was just as important; the power of relationship. Just like Christ wants to have a relationship with us, my mother demonstrated (and still does) how that relationship looks. That God is never too busy to hear my plea, no matter the time of day. That my loving Father smiles and laughs with joy when I dance in the kitchen or the field or sing praises to Him. She showed me that He is always there, always ready to listen, and always guiding me if I rely on Him. Because she proved herself to me in the little things, she was able to prove herself in the big things, like talking about Jesus and why I needed a Savior from my sins. I am so grateful for my mom; especially as she continues to impact, challenge, and encourage me in my faith daily.
There are two other women who have also transformed my faith; both are sisters, one by blood and one by Christ. My sister, Rebecca, has been one of my best friends since high school. If we go a week without getting some good one on one time with a cup of tea and passing the baby back and forth (because, you know, snuggles), we feel a bit empty. The connection with this woman and sister of mine is amazing to me because I know that only Christ could have transformed us from bickering siblings to best friends! He truly is the one that gave me a change of heart in regards to my sister, started the bond between us, and continues to pull us together. She’s a fellow warrior. Sometimes we’re fighting side by side on the spiritual battlefield. Sometimes she’s guarding me from the arrows of the enemy while I kneel in exhaustion from the fight, listening as she whispers verses and truth in my ear.
There’s something uniquely special about having a sibling following Christ next to you; the fearless ways they speak in truth and love. It’s like they know you’re not going to leave them and there’s a security about the relationship. There have been many times when Rebecca was far more willing to speak a hard truth than to allow me to continue to wallow in self-pity or anger. Did I like it? Nope, but I always came back and appreciated it later. By the grace of God, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and the prayers offered up for me by said sister, I always come around. I think it’s because, just like my mother, she has made a point to be in relationship with me. She’s never failed to be there for me- even if all she could do at the moment was let me know she was praying for me. She’s never been afraid to step in and help me fight my battles whether by encouragement or boldly pointing out the lies that I’ve been listening to. She is truly my sister, in every possible way, by blood and by Christ.
The courage she presents and the strength she possesses inspire me, daily, to live my life for Christ and Him alone. To continue growing myself, to push past what the world deems ‘ok’ and instead strive for what God says is ‘good’. To run the race with diligence so I may hear one day, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’. I think I’d like to keep her around, always.
And my sister in Christ, Desarae. While we may live states apart, God has given us an incredible connection. While visiting Desarae and her family in Quitaque, Texas a few years ago, my spiritual life changed forever. There was something about Desarae, something about her family. I felt right at home the moment I stepped through the door. When I got to participate in their Sunday night prayer meeting, God opened my eyes to what it feels like to be intimately connected to people I’d only met 15 minutes before. To experience the overwhelming love of Christ being poured into you by strangers is one of the most incredible things that has ever happened to me. That night at the prayer meeting I sobbed. Yes, sobbed, in front of strangers. Their response was to surround me in love and grace.
All this came about because a woman named Desarae, whose heart is so full of love for others, reached out and wanted to be my friend. God placed Desarae in my life during a time I desperately needed the love she had to offer. I had been incredibly hurt just a couple years prior, a wound that cut deep. I had attempted patching it over, stuffing it down, and trying my best to ignore it. Desarae was the friend that was able to wrap me in a hug and help me see that my brokenness was nothing to be ashamed of. That I didn’t have to be strong in the hurt and the pain. I just needed to let God hold me and heal me.
Besides that, she invested in me. Despite the distance, she has worked hard to maintain our friendship. To encourage and pray for me when I’m down and to allow me to do the same for her. She has become a true friend, a sister in Christ, and has given me a friendship that will last through eternity.
I could go on for hours about these amazing women in my life and the countless others who have impacted my life in some way or another. However, I picked these three to share about because there is one common thread between them that I think is really important: relationship. Through my unique relationships with these women God has been showing me that I don't have to do it all of be it all. I often get overwhelmed at the idea that I have to be everything to a person. That I have to always have the right thing to say or do when someone needs me. But the beautiful truth God is showing me in all this is that I don’t. Sometimes I get to be a part of someone’s story for only one chapter. Maybe even only a sentence. Perhaps for some, I get to be part of the entire book. It’s easy to get caught up in what we think we have to be doing in order to shine a light or make an impact in someone’s life. It can be exhausting to think and believe that. Yet I’m encouraged as I read through God’s word and learn about all these different men & women in history. How each one was unique and different and yet still used for the Kingdom of God and His glory. Not a single one “did it all”- except a man named Jesus who did do it all by conquering sin and death.
To my three mighty warrior maidens, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to love me right where I was at while encouraging me to grow. Thank you for showing me friendship in so many ways. Thank you for pointing me back to Christ every single day but never looking down on me when I struggled to move in that direction. Most importantly, thank you for striving to be like Christ, remaining humble through it all, and loving others like He loves us.
If you are struggling to find a sister in Christ we'd invite you to visit our Women's Ministry page and get plugged in at MCC. We have women's Bible Studies, a new Titus 2 Women's Disciplship program, and quarterly women's gatherings. There is a place for you and we'd love for you to join us!
A Peace I Wasn't Expecting
It brought a peace I was not expecting. Who knew that a 6-hour financial class could bring years of peace? Not me. I wasn’t expecting that at all. After all, I was the one being dragged there by an eager spouse. I was convinced that a budget would never work after watching my parents try and fail numerous times growing up. But something needed to change, big time, so I went...
It brought a peace I was not expecting.
Who knew that a 6-hour financial class could bring years of peace? Not me. I wasn’t expecting that at all. After all, I was the one being dragged there by an eager spouse. I was convinced that a budget would never work after watching my parents try and fail numerous times growing up. But something needed to change, big time, so I went.
Von and I were a pretty typical American Christian couple, loving God but living the world’s way financially. We both grew up in lower-middle-class families, and felt like we were pretty frugal. We didn’t buy extravagant things, but we had just gotten out of college and felt like we “should be able to afford” some luxuries that we hadn’t had during the college years. So now we had a car payment, two mortgages on the same house, and student loans. Ah, the American Dream! But we also were now down to one income since baby #1 arrived. We were really struggling to pay the monthly bills, let alone the emergencies that kept popping up. Just thinking about paying the bills raised my blood pressure; talking about it was another problem entirely.
Let’s be honest, marriage is hard enough; add in a baby and financial stress, and peace is gone.
So as surprising as it was, Living Debt Free Workshop brought us a peace we never expected. You might wonder how. How? Well first, it made us realize that the money isn’t ours, it’s God’s. He’s entrusted it to us to take care of us and to bless others. When it’s not yours, it takes a little pressure off. I don’t have to hold on so tight because it belongs to my Father who loves me!
Secondly, it made us look at real numbers and figure out what our income really was and what our expenses really were. Our needs versus our wants, and the bottom line. While that sounded scary at first, not knowing and always guessing caused far more fear! Asking, will I be able to pay for this? The first time I wrote a check to pay for yet another trip to the shop for our old van, and I KNEW that there was money in the account to pay for it, was my “ah ha” moment! Peace had arrived!
Thirdly, it allowed us to choose where to put the money that God had entrusted us with, to use it most efficiently and generously. That ability to choose was huge! And to know that the choice wasn’t permanent, but could be changed as needs changed, while still keeping within our means. And because of this ability to choose, we were able to be more generous and debt started falling away. That was peace right there!
Lastly, talking about money was no longer an emotionally charged blame game. We were now a team, working together on solving a problem, and dreaming together. Ok, this may sound weird, but we actually LIKE talking about money now. Crazy, right?! Peace, once again.
After we saw the change in our lives, we had to share it! So, about 13 years ago we started teaching financial bible studies and classes, and have had the privilege of working one-on-one with singles and couples to help them along the same journey. We would love to share this peace with you!
If you are looking for some Biblical financial tools for 2020, we would like to invite you to join us for the Living Debit Free Workshop on February 1 from 9:00am – 3:00pm in the MCC Fellowship Hall! Practical topics including what the Bible says about money, how to set up a spending plan, saving, debit payoff, and more! Lunch and child care provided! Sign up in the foyer or contact me, Elisa, to learn more!
The Impact They Had
During Women’s Bible study, at our first small group meeting of the year, our leader asked that we each share a little bit about ourselves. Oh boy….an ice breaker, everyone’s favorite. Ladies started with basic information about children, spouses, places they had lived, how long they’d attended this study and where they went to church. We quickly made connections of which states we’d lived in (Texas is well represented in our small group!), having the same number of children, etc. Then something special, something unplanned and holy-spirit led, happened: we started sharing our testimonies...
During Women’s Bible study, at our first small group meeting of the year, our leader asked that we each share a little bit about ourselves. Oh boy….an ice breaker, everyone’s favorite. Ladies started with basic information about children, spouses, places they had lived, how long they’d attended this study and where they went to church. We quickly made connections of which states we’d lived in (Texas is well represented in our small group!), having the same number of children, etc. Then something special, something unplanned and holy-spirit led, happened: we started sharing our testimonies.
Something that began as a basic introduction soon became intimate. Acquaintances became confidantes. Memories from when we had struggled or been hurt, been encouraged and drawn to our Savior were shared. We nodded in understanding, laughed with each other, and stood in awe of the ways God had pursued each of us. The commonality among each story was that none of our stories represented lives lived solo…..in every story SOMEONE had prayed for us or spoken encouragement into our lives, SOMEONE had come alongside and invited us to church, SOMEONE shared the gospel, their testimony or their faith with us. Every. Single. Time!
In 1Peter 3:15 we are reminded,
“You must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.”
In my Bible study that morning, these women lived that, what an example!
As I look back on my life I am awed by the number of people God set in my path….some for years and others only for a season. A childhood friend’s mother who wrote me letters sharing the gospel when I was a non-believer, a neighbor who shared God’s word with me when I would call and ask for advice, women who kept showing up and praying over me and my family. Although their words were important, their PRESENCE was life-changing.
"It’s impossible to change someone’s past experiences
about religion and church
but it is entirely possible to share your testimony
of who Jesus is and how He has transformed your life."
You see, life is not meant to be lived solo. In Pastor Frank’s sermon a few weeks ago he said, “We are designed to be in community.” Do you wonder what that looks like? He continued, “We should be asking ‘Are you struggling? Can I help you? We should be willing to say ‘I will commit to walking with you, to walking thru this with you.’ To be the one who says, ‘Yes, I will join that group and be in community.’”
I wonder if most of the people who changed our lives that we shared about on Wednesday even know the impact they had; they were Sunday school teachers, neighbors, friends, parents of friends and more. It made me wonder, “Jodi, how are you showing up for the people around you? Are you ready to share your testimony and why do you hold back?”
Be encouraged to show up in people’s lives in a real and tangible way. It’s impossible to change someone’s past experiences about religion and church but it is entirely possible to share your testimony of who Jesus is and how He has transformed your life.
MCC has so many opportunities for discipleship, fellowship and community and we would love to help you get started whether it’s in a community group, Bible study or serving with a local ministry or international missions.
By the Grace of God
We rejoice as God answers our prayers! I was taught to sew and embroider at a young age. Both my mother, and her mother (my Nana) took the time to teach and encourage me. I observed Mom and Nana sewing or embroidering and then giving the item away. I felt the love they put into the works of their hands and observed the joy of those who received. That memory accompanies me to this day. And so, it is my desire to pass on this love and encouragement. And God brought together...
We rejoice as God answers our prayers!
I was taught to sew and embroider at a young age. Both my mother, and her mother (my Nana) took the time to teach and encourage me. I observed Mom and Nana sewing or embroidering and then giving the item away. I felt the love they put into the works of their hands and observed the joy of those who received and that memory accompanies me to this day. And so, it is my desire to pass on this love and encouragement to others. By the grace of God, other ladies at Mountain Christian Church share the same heart and Sister in Stitches was born and continues to grow.
In Fall 2017, at the begining of the Sisters in Stitches (SIS) ministry, we envisioned a three-fold ministry within MCC. First, a ministry to make prayer quilts. Second, we desired to mentor young people to sew with the purpose of learning to use their time and talents to make usable items to bless others and thus glorify God. Thirdly, SIS wanted to have fellowship and grow in the grace of the Lord as we quilted and prayed together. The goal and heart-felt prayer of SIS is first to honor God with the works of our hands and seek His will. By God's grace, Sisters in Stitches and Kids in Stitches (KIS) continues to grow just like a quilt.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. ~2 Corinthians 1:3-4
In God’s perfect timing, the part of our ministry that first flourished was teaching young people to sew. Our desire is to teach them skills and enthusiasm to sew on their own. At first, just learning to use a sewing machine was an accomplishment! But as the kids continue to learn and grow with each KIS Workshop, learning skills that are built upon in the next workshop, we are so encouraged, as are the kids, that they are becoming more proficient.
And even sweeter than seeing new skills mastered, as we sew we continue to encourage the kids to pray and share ways we all can bless others with the work of our hands.
Another goal of SIS to make prayer quilts. The idea behind these quilts is simple, yet powerful. As we stitch these quilts, we pray for the recipient and encourage the kids to do the same. If we don't know who the quilt is going to, we still pray, trusting God already knows. At our next workshop in October, each KIS will make a nine-patch quilt block and then we will sew all the blocks from each KIS together to make a prayer quilt.
As we continue to turn the direction of this ministry over to the Lord, we praise him for bringing our prayers to fruition. If you have interest in SIS or KIS please contact Davra Clayton.