Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Thousand Miles

A Thousand Miles
by Sarah Fry

I have a confession to make.  I love New Year's Resolutions.  I know they have a bad rap.  And they make people angry and depressed or amused and irritated.  But for me, when the Christmas gatherings start winding to a close and Auld Lang Syne starts playing, I love the chance to get out my computer or a big chunky journal and start scheming and planning.


You know what I think?  I think resolutions have a bad reputation because we don't use them  right.  I think we use them to set ourselves for a big fat failure, then beat ourselves over the head from about March on.  It's sort of the nature of resolutions.  We RESOLVE to do some things that we have had a hard time doing in the past. Sometimes  (often!) those things are really very hard things to accomplish.   So we resolve to lose weight.  Or to be kinder to our husband.  Or to have better devotions.  Or to declutter our world and live a more simple and minimalistic and peaceful life.  And it's hard stuff.  Change comes slow.  And life happens and keeps on happening.  And  so we get discouraged and angry and we just sort-of shrug our shoulders and move on down the road the same as we always have.


But I have been doing a lot of studying on the power of habit.  Habit is what makes up pretty much everything about us, really.  Our attitudes and work practices and family functions and the way we dress and the thoughts we think and the food we is all driven by thousands of little bitty habits.  They all add up to who we are and how we function. 

So for me, sitting down with a journal in the New Year is less about conquering the world and more abut analyzing the many ongoing habits of my life.   The nature of my work as a mom and homekeeper seems to be naturally filled with millions of little things.  Little, huge things like laundry and unmatched socks and daily lunches.  But really, if I were a surgeon or a bestselling author, it would be the same.  My daily habits would make or break me.


One of my favorite quotes is "The Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. ~ Lao Tzu" 

And we think, yeah, that first step is hard!  Starting a diet or training for a marathon or managing a household or getting a's hard to get started!  But what I have learned is that it isn't really the first step on the first day that's hardest.  It's the first step every day.  One step on day one doesn't do much for me, really.  It's taking a step again.  Every. single. day. that makes real progress.  The day that really only matters - is today.


If I view every resolution as a mountain that must be conquered quickly and completely,  I will fail.  Period.  But if I resolve to just take the next step today.  And then again tomorrow.  And then Thursday.  And then again Monday after I miss some days...and then again in March if February is pathetic.  Then I will see real habit change. 

I think what kills us is we view the whole resolution as one big huge thing that is either conquered or failed.  Instead, my New Year's resolutions are almost always much the same....a continuation of the same habits I worked on last year.  Because my habit-goals are based on my priorities.  And my priorities stay pretty constant over the years.  So naturally, the habits I am developing are going to stay the same.  That's not's success!  Progress is slow and constant and sometimes invisible. 


But drinking that glass of water or getting up those extra minutes or shutting that mouth that wants to speak too quickly or plugging away at a project or a degree one day at a time...these are the habits that become building blocks to the life we want.  And so in most cases, they aren't going to completely go away!  Ever!  It's actually very liberating to realize that it isn't a pass/fail situation.  It is a lifetime commitment to keep taking steps. 

One thing we need to realize is that we have a limited capacity for the amount of change we can make.  Studies show that self discipline is a muscle that gets tired - but that can also get stronger with continued use!  There are two ways this can work.  We can zone in on one goal that we attack with focused intensity, even if it means giving some other important things less attention.  Or we can take a look at a wide range of habits in our lives and be content to chip away - slowly and daily - at all of them.  Both of those methods work.  They just work at different speeds.  It just depends on where you are in life. 

Here's the good news:  Whether it's lacing up running shoes and stepping out the door, or filling up a hot soapy bucket for cleaning, or turning on the computer to write the next paragraph...once you take the first step that day, it usually gives you a happy feeling for the rest of the day every time you think about the satisfaction of having that small step completed.  And habits build on one another.  It's a powerful thing. that I've given myself this lovely little pep talk. I'm ready to accept (again) that I'm not going to fix all the things this year.  But that doesn't mean I give up.  At the end of next year I will still be me.  But I will have taken lots of single steps.  And that adds up. Guaranteed.  That' s a happy situation.

"A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules."            Anthony Trollope
"We tend to overestimate what we can do in a short period and underestimate what we can do over a long period."   Gretchen Rubin, Manage your day-to-day
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.".....Aristotle

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Homebuilders: Robbie & Rachel England

Resource Review by:  Robbie & Rachel England

What is Home Builders?  What are some of the topic studies they include?
HomeBuilders is simply a small group consisting of married couples who want to strengthen and encourage each other in the adventure of marriage.  The name originated from FamilyLife's Ministry and they have many studies from Communication to Parenting and many more.  We have kept the name, but have found that FL's curricula tends to be a good starter, but perhaps not as challenging for groups that have been together for a long period of time.  Other studies we have done in our HomeBuilders group are:
  1. Love and Respect, by Emerson Eggerichs (our favorite)
  2. Family First Aid, by James MacDonald (DVD series)
  3. 10 Choices that Will Change Your life Forever, by James MacDonald (DVD series)
  4. Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti, by Bill and Pam Farrel
  5. Have a New Kid by Friday, by Kevin Leman
  6. Say Goodbye to Bad Attitudes, Complaining and Whining in You and Your Children, by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller
How do the meetings work?
We have done it different ways - we have met twice a month for 3-4 months and taken the rest of the year off; we have met in the winter, spring, and fall and taken summers off; we met once a month for several years; and now we meet once a month from January to June, have a weekend retreat together in September, and a Christmas party together in December.   
We begin around 6:30 and have the first half-hour be a social time.  We get started with the study around 7:00 and finish around 8:30.  Then we have refreshments made by the host family until around 9:00.  We meet at a different house each month.

Who is qualified to lead a HomeBuilders group?
Any couple who loves God and is interested in making their marriage - and others around them - grow stronger.

How should I go about starting a HomeBuilders group?
We started ours by inviting 20 couples from church and work.  Only 10 came, but it was a great start - and we had to split the group after a year!  Ideally the group should be no more than 6 couples.  We have had the same four couples for the last 7-8 years.  We have had two different kinds of HomeBuilders groups - this one that has stayed together for a long time (and we are in similar places of life - same age children, and all strong in our marriages) which has been the kind of group that has been "iron sharpens iron."  We have also (in the off-months when not doing this group) done more of a mentoring HomeBuilders with couples of different ages and some with significant marital issues.  These groups were a little more intense and took more energy on our part.

What if no one will talk?  Will I be embarrassed?
We set it up so that each person gets to ask a question.  They don't have to answer it, but for that moment they are the facilitator.  We also teach couples to look around the room when answering, not just at the leaders.  Also, we have learned to WAIT.  Give people a chance to answer - and sometimes say - "Now we are going around the room... Everyone share one thing they remember about dating..." etc.  This breaks the ice and gives people a chance to talk without having to struggle to answer something.

Why is HomeBuilders so wonderful?
It's a persistent reminder of the most important human relationship we have.  It also provides accountability, camaraderie and support for the challenges and blessings of married life.

What are some of your Home Builders stories?
We have many - most of them are stories that stay in that room.  We walk away from our evening refreshed, motivated, and encouraged.  It isn't fireworks - it is candles.  We feel the steady burn of consistency through these other couples.  We hope to grow old with them and share all the stages of life with them!

What else would you like to add?
We love HomeBuilders so much - it is something that our children have grown up thinking is "normal" for married couples.  Our prayer is that when our children get married that they will all have the opportunity to be a part of a wonderful HomeBuilders group like ours!   

The Homebuilders Small Groups Series

Friday, December 19, 2014

Who is He in Yonder Stall?

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder:
 and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, 
The mighty God, 
The everlasting Father, 
The Prince of Peace.  
Isaiah 9:6

            “Who is He in Yonder Stall,” is a carol that is somewhat new to me.  Although it is included in many traditional hymnals, it was not in the hymnals of my childhood.  It has become one of my favorites because it not only tells the nativity story, but reminds us that Jesus, the baby, is the victorious “King of Glory.” 

            Interestingly, the fun Christmas song, “Up on the Housetop,” has something in common with this beautiful carol:  both songs are by the same composer!  Benjamin Russell Hanby was born in Rushville, Ohio in 1833.  William Hanby, Ben’s father, who was bishop of the United Brethren church; had been indentured to an abusive master as a young man, and as a result, was sympathetic to the plight of those in slavery.  The family was active in the Underground Railroad and their home was used as safe house.  Benjamin grew up heavily influenced by both the abolitionist movement and the church.  He graduated from Otterbein College in 1858, married, and pastored a circuit of churches.  However, by 1864, he felt the need to better provide for his growing family, and found that focusing on music better fit his gifts.  He began working for a music publisher in Cincinnati, and also started a singing school in New Paris, Ohio that became quite popular.  Although he was no longer pastoring, Ben considered this his ministry to the young people of the area.  Locally, it was called “Ben’s singing church.”  In December, the singing school was to provide entertainment for a Christmas party for the area’s poor children.  For the occasion, Ben wrote a song called, “Santa Claus,” which later became the song we know as, “Up on the Housetop.”  His little brother appears in the song in the reference to “the stocking of little Will.”  The song was extremely well received, and it was said that Will came just to hear its first performance.  In 1865, Ben moved his family to Chicago, in order to accept a position with the Root and Cady music publishing company, the largest firm of its kind in the country at the time.  He continued to compose many songs, but most of those have been forgotten.  His final composition was “Who is He in Yonder Stall?”  The song is used as a Christmas carol, but like several other hymns, it is a rehearsal of all of the life of Christ, not just His birth.  The song’s verses are melodically repetitive, but the triumphant chorus makes up for what the verses lack. Benjamin Hanby died early, at the age of 33; but he left a mark on the world with his music.

            At the end of one year and the beginning of another, what a blessing to consider, once again, the beautiful incongruities of our Savior.  He was born, weak and helpless; yet He is the One who lives today, acting as our Great High Priest, making intercession for us.  He lived a sinless, perfect life and yet He ministered with love and understanding to the down-and-outers of His day.  He was approachable, even by children.  He was both wholly ordinary and exraordinarily holy.  And now, this ordinary Man, Who is God; is no longer the meek Man of Sorrows, but the Mediator to whom all power has been given; Who holds the keys of death and hell, Who sits at the Father’s right hand, presenting your needs to the throne of God!  It is in His name and through His blood that we have access to a Holy God.   And so, this Christmas and at the beginning of a New Year, may we rejoice in His story, and crown Him, Lord of all!        

Who is He in yonder stall
At Whose feet the shepherds fall?
Who is He in deep distress,
Fasting in the wilderness?

Lo! at midnight, who is He
Prays in dark Gethsemane?
Who is He on yonder tree
Dies in grief and agony?

Who is He that from the grave
Comes to heal and help and save?
Who is He that from His throne
Rules through all the world alone?

'Tis the Lord! O wondrous story!
'Tis the Lord! the King of glory!
At His feet we humbly fall,
Crown Him! crown Him, Lord of all!

- Joy Barnett, writer for The Ladies' Companion


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Highly Favored and Blessed

It happened while I was grocery shopping.  I opened the foggy refrigerator door to get the milk, suddenly alone as the kids wandered over to stare longingly at the Little Debbie cakes.  Just then a neatly groomed man on a Wal-Mart scooter spoke up beside me, “You are highly favored by God and blessed among women.”  Stunned, I stammered some reply and was amused when he then asked me if I had seen a specific brand of garlic bread he was there to buy. I laughed about it as I left the store and teased my husband that our family might not be as ‘complete’ as we thought.  However, his words, originally addressed to Mary by the angel Gabriel, stuck with me. 

Bill Gaither has written a Christmas song often performed in Southern Gospel circles.  It says, “Mary was the first one to carry the gospel and that news brought joy, sweet joy!”  Yes, Mary had the amazing privilege of carrying the actual Son of God in her body for nine months.  That is unparalleled by any of our experiences as mothers.  But are we not blessed and highly favored as well?  We have our own special privilege that is not to be overlooked or understated. 

As Christian women, we also “carry the gospel” around with us!  Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit.  We are alive in Christ- alive in the One with whom the Father is ‘well-pleased.’  What a Christmas gift we have received!  We are “highly favored and blessed” among the women of this dark world, carrying the joy of the good news that changes lives and that can bring the spiritually dead new life in Christ.  Let’s answer this blessing with the same attitude of submission and joy that Mary modeled for us:  “Be it unto me according to thy word…  My soul doth magnify the Lord!”  May that news bring “joy, sweet joy” to your Christmas season this year! 

-         Charity Brown, writer for The Ladies’ Companion

Friday, December 12, 2014

Being Jesus...At Christmas

                                                                       by Cheryl Watters
                                                        Secretary/Treasurer, Women of Worth
Many people are alone and don’t have someone to spend the holidays with this year. They may be sitting at home longing for a phone call, a knock at their door, or perhaps a Christmas card in their mailbox.

When asked to write this article I thought to myself, "It’s been 13 years for me since my husband died but the raw feelings are still so close to the surface. I am not sure I can do this article justice. Those are wounds that are so deep and I don’t really want to rip those scabs off again. It hurts!" God assured me that He would help me write it, and that perhaps something I could say by my own experience may be what someone else needs to hear.

It was May of 2001 when Steve went to Heaven after being diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer just 23 days before his death. We had three children to continue raising. How could this be happening! At 42, I just couldn’t fathom ‘doing life’ alone. I begged God to heal my husband and allow him to remain with us. After all, we were going to grow old together. He could retire early due to the number of years in his shop and we loved to travel. We needed each other. God, in His infinite plan, did not see fit to answer my prayer in the way that I had envisioned, but chose to heal Steve by taking him to Heaven.

I remember someone telling me that people would surround me with their acts of kindness, phone calls, visits and conversations but that this would eventually cease to be the case in the future. I couldn’t fathom it. I thought, "Have I been guilty of that in my past? Will people really shun away from me or be afraid to talk to me? I have not changed! I am still ‘me’ so why would this be the case? Surely my case will be an exception." Sadly, this did happen to me. This is not a pity party but just stating facts.

It was difficult for people to accept the fact that Steve was not there when they came to visit, so they didn’t come over. It was/is hard for people to talk to me about Steve because they are afraid it will hurt me. I want to scream, "Talk to me! This is my soul-mate! The father of my children! I loved him with all of my heart! Talk to me!" It’s almost impossible to get across to people that you truly do want to talk about your spouse, parent, sibling or child that has gone on before you. A hurting spouse, parent or sibling wants to hear you reminisce of all of the good times you had together. They love to see the sparkle in your eye as you say how much your loved one meant to them too.

I remember the Christmas after Steve died (in May), telling my friend, Sue Arnold, "Oh, I don’t think I will put a tree up this year. It will be too hard to see the tree up because that was Steve’s favorite pastime – to just sit by the lit tree in the evenings and relax." She said, "Cheryl, your children need the tree up. You always put a tree up. You are going to put a tree up." I said, "Sue, I can’t! I can’t make myself do that. Besides, who will even come to see it? Steve’s not here!" She said, "I will be over next week and we are putting your tree up." If you know Sue, she was determined and showed up at my house and we went into the sunroom, where I always put my tree. I felt like my heart would break in two that night. I could hardly stand the pain associated with this event. I remember working a while, then stopping and sitting in the two rocking chairs, which were side-by-side at the time because of all of the boxes in the room, and just reminiscing. We talked of the good times. She let me cry. She cried with me. We talked of the good memories of Steve, and how he would have wanted me to put up the Christmas tree, and to make the best of my difficult situation. Was that
wise of her to do this to/for me? Yes, a resounding yes! She cared enough to step out of her comfort zone and help me work through my sorrow and pain.

Down through the years, there have been instances when I have felt like I couldn’t go to an event, whether it was a holiday gathering or a wedding and thought, "I just want Steve to go with me. I can’t do this alone!" I will admit, sometimes I have failed. I have sat at home, had a big pity party for myself, cried myself to sleep and felt rotten. Then there are times when I have picked myself up by my bootstraps and said, "Cheryl, get it together. Steve is not coming back. You know he is not coming back, so just go and enjoy yourself." Recent-ly, I went to a wedding and when the usher asked me if I had anyone with me, I nearly burst into tears as I said, "No, I am alone!" I ended up sitting behind my pastor and his wife and my pastor’s wife, Jody Johnson, asked me to sit with them at the reception. That’s compassion. When you are the third person in a party, you literally feel so out of place but when someone links arms with you and says, "Join us" it makes the event seem so much more enjoyable.

During the holidays I find that I love to go to the mall, as that is something that our family has done since we were married. It is a family tradition to go to the mall the Saturday before Christmas and just walk! Watching the people scurrying around frantically. Yesterday, I drove 12 miles to go to the mall, got there, drove into the parking lot, trying to find a parking spot, and had such an overwhelming feeling of loss that I turned the car around and drove back home. I couldn’t make myself go in. Some days are harder than oth-ers. However, if I have someone to go with me, it makes the trip so much more enjoyable.

I have started a singles group in Cincinnati and these ladies are becoming very close to me. We call each other and say, "Hey, want to meet for breakfast on Saturday? Want to go to a thrift store with me? I am planning an event for work, would you care to help me?" This type of interaction helps all of us. Some of us are widowed, some have never married and some are divorced. We all face the same struggles! I heard one of the ladies tell me the other day, "I don’t really have any Christmas presents to buy this year." That is sad. I hope she has somewhere to go for Christmas this year. I hope someone cares enough to say, "Would you like to join our family gathering this year?" Many times I think our worlds revolve around our little family and then when one of us are called to Heaven, we are all lost. We don’t know how to function. I think this is especially true if the family is young or there are young children at home.

It is wise to start new traditions when someone dies. It’s painful to do the same things without them. Af-ter Steve died, we changed the way we ‘did’ Christmas morning. We sometimes opened the gifts earlier or later than usual. When grandchildren started coming along, I found it easier to concentrate on the positives of having new life. I have always felt that my grandchildren were handpicked by Steve. I certainly have no proof that he even knows, but it just helps to ease my pain while going through this stage in my life.

Holidays are extremely difficult for people who have lost loved ones. If I could give advice to anyone right now, it would be to talk to people about their loss, show that you care, mention the name of their loved one and let them know that you loved that person, and you miss them too. Hugs are always helpful. People are so afraid to be genuine and transparent when dealing with the loss of a loved one and I know I always try to act like I have it together. I don’t! I remember going to a store and walking down an aisle and someone sprayed Jovan cologne. I was just walking aimlessly, heading toward the front of the store. As soon as I smelled that cologne I burst into tears. The person probably wondered what was wrong with me. I remember another time while at a store and the clerk said something, and I burst into tears and said, "I am sorry. I thought I was ready to come out in public but obviously, I am not." It’s hard after someone dies to go on with life as usual, but it is so much easier when shared with a friend. During this holiday season, make sure all of your friends and family are with someone they love. Don’t let anyone spend the holidays alone. Be a friend. You may need them someday.

 - originally printed in Pilgrim News & Notes, the online publication of the
Pilgrim Holiness Church, Inc.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Christmas Reality

by Stephanie Burley

Advisory Member, Women of Worth Committee 

 The season is in full swing. Lights are twinkling, holiday tunes are filling the air waves, and department store advertisements are fighting each other for space in my mailbox. As I look through the thirty-one days of December in my calendar, I realize the hours are quickly filling with legitimate obligations. Taking a moment to do the math, I conclude that this is not only going to be a busy month, it will also be a pretty expensive one. Then I begin the list of my self-imposed expectations: I will actually bake for the annual women’s meeting cookie exchange, as opposed to buying cookies and arranging them on a tray (who really believed I created those little masterpieces anyway?). I will not drop my Christmas cards in the church exchange box seconds before distribution begins (or sheepishly and apologetically take them to the distribution room just as the assembly line has finished sorting and stacking). I will have every gift wrapped and under the tree no later than five days before Christmas Eve (I may or may not be the mom who, right in the middle of gift-giving, remembers that one of the kiddo’s gifts is still buried in the hall closet – in the shopping bag). This is the year I will make Christmas magic for my family, my friends, and my ministry. This is the year.

As I continue my mental wish list, my thoughts are interrupted with the sounds of Nat King Cole’s "Silver Bells" and I’m transported into a world of holiday perfection. Oh, if only I could stay for awhile! Suddenly, my trip is cut short by a little voice that says, "Mommy, I need you now!" Reality replaces the Christmas fantasy and I quickly tend to the needs at hand, still hoping and praying that this will be the year I can finally make it all happen.

Then, all at once, I’m overwhelmed by the realization that over 2,000 years ago, the most miraculous and perfect Christmas did happen! It really had nothing to do with home baked cookies, designer cards, or Nat King Cole. The Saviour of the world was born! He came in human flesh to set the stage for the redemption of the human race. The circumstances were dire. This was no Norman Rockwell rendering. Jesus’ birth was humble and lowly. His mother was young, innocent and scared, but she was chosen for that time to fulfill an important role in this unfolding storyline that would forever change the course of history. She is widely respected and remembered today for her virtue and her complete abandonment to God’s will for her life.

When I examine the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, I am inclined to adjust my priorities. God has given me an important role, as well. I need to be a reflector of the Light this season. My family, my friends, and my ministry need to see the message of Christmas lived through my humility and self-sacrifice. If I create the perfect Christmas, no doubt I will miss the opportunities that come from imperfection. I will walk away empty, not because I have poured myself out for others, but because I have attempted to satisfy myself with temporal festivities, rather than being filled by the One whose birth we celebrate.

If previous Christmases have left you feeling unfulfilled, join me in making this year one of awe and worship. Relax and rejoice in the reality of Christmas!
- originally printed in Pilgrim News & Notes, the online publication of the
Pilgrim Holiness Church, Inc.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Holiday Wassail

 1 qt. cranberry juice
1 qt. apple juice
1 qt. tea
3 cups fresh orange juice
3/4 cup lemon juice
2 cups sugar
2-3 cinnamon sticks
12 whole cloves

Mix all ingredients together in large pan, heat well on medium heat. Stir often.  Serve warm and drink for healthy holiday cheer. The Sankey family enjoys this drink EVERY holiday season:-)
  - a Janet Sankey special

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Starting a Blessing Team Card Ministry

What is the Blessing Team and who are receives cards from you?
The Blessing Team is a card and phone call ministry program designed to encourage the elderly, shut-ins, and missionaries associated with our congregation. We have expanded a bit to include widows (no matter of age), military,  and those in prison with association to our church.

Approx. how many cards do you send out per year?
We send a minimum of 372 cards out per year.  We send out one thinking of you card per day.  Most people get 2 cards/month.  Then we also send Birthday, Anniversary, Sympathy, and Get Well cards.  We usually send 5-6 cards to each recipient for each of these occasions.  

Concerning the number we send per month, for a group just getting started, you may only have 5-10 recipients.  This means you may only send 10-20 cards/month.  I have a list of 21 recipients just for my elderly/shut-in/widow list.  This means we have a higher of volume of cards per month and need more volunteers to keep it running smoothly.

How do you choose people to help with the ministry? Do you have trouble getting enough people to help?
We took time during a Sunday evening service and presented the Blessing Team to the congregation.  After the presentation, each person was given a form they could fill out if they wished to participate.  This form included a place for Name and phone number of the volunteer and if they wished to send cards, make phone calls, or both.  It isn't hard to mail a card so we usually have a lot more volunteers for this part of the program.  Making a phone call requires a bit more time and for some, it's a bit more uncomfortable.  This part of the program is a bit more challenging to have enough volunteers. 

How do you keep things organized?
It can be time consuming to initially get started as you begin to collect all the information--addresses, birthday, and anniversary.  Once I received the needed information, I started a Word document to keep the information.  I set it up in Landscape format with 3 columns. After it was complete, I printed it off to keep in a folder for easier access and to have right in front of me as I prepare the monthly calendar. 
As for keeping the volunteer information together and organized, I made an Excel spreadsheet with 4 columns--Volunteer. Phone number, Card, and Phone.  In the row with the volunteers name, I simply put an "x" under Card or Phone or both so I know what they volunteered for. 
I have a couple of the Elderly ladies who volunteered to participate.  Since they are also recipients, I make up a completely different sheet for them so they don't see who is supposed to send them a card or give them a call.  I make a simple note in Word format (or equivalent program) and include the persons name and address for them to send the card too.  I provide phone numbers if they wish to make a phone call also. 

I try to make sure that each recipient receives cards from different people.  In other words, I try to make sure the same volunteer does not send a card to the same person for a month.  I also make sure that a different volunteer calls the recipient.  That way they are hearing form more than one person throughout the month.  I have a large enough group of volunteers that I can do that.  

Because we send 2 cards/month to most of our recipients, I also go through the cards and work to make sure the recipient doesn't receive the same card more than once.  

Organizing Calendars
Some thoughts on how I organize my calendars each month--For example, in January, I will start listing the recipients from the top and go down through the list.  To mix it up a bit, in Feb. I might start in the middle of the list and work my way through.  Then in March, I might start and the bottom and work my way up.  This helps mix up when the recipient receives the cards during the month.  I do similar things with my volunteer list.  I go by what I feel like doing that month.  When just getting started, it might be easiest to do the same thing several months until you're more comfortable with what you are doing. 
If you have a large group of volunteers compared to the number of recipients, you can always take half of the volunteers and use them to send thinking of you cards and use the rest to send birthday and anniversary cards.

How do you share information with the members of the ministry?
I use a calendar on the computer, and fill it out.  I put the Recipients name at the top of the daily square.  Underneath that I put a picture of a phone or a capital P for phone volunteer with the volunteers name beside it.  Below that, I put a picture of a card or a capital C with the volunteers name beside it.  This lets the volunteer know what they need to do for that recipient.  After copying the calendars, I write the volunteers name at the top, then go through and highlight their name throughout the calendar.  I get cards together, stamp the envelope, and put them inside the calendar. I then pass the calendars with cards out at church to each volunteer.
     The recipients address' are copied onto the back of each calendar every month.  If the recipient is new or not from our church, I information in small print beside the name letting the volunteers know who the recipient is and how they're connected to our church.
     I have also put together a calendar for either a "Missionary or Military in focus".  We as the volunteers to please send a card to the family we chose for that month.  This card and stamp is provided by the volunteer.  If the Missionary or Military chosen is over-seas, I try to provide the postage information for that location. 

**General info :)
The volunteer puts their own personal note inside the card and should sign his/her own name.  If they wish to state what church they are from, they can.   The phone call does not need to be a long phone call.  Just a call to let them know you are thinking of them and to provide them a listening ear.  You don't have to talk much, just listen--However, they will need some interaction :)

Who funds the ministry? Do you provide the cards and stamps?
The church provides the cards and stamps for the volunteers.  As the director of the program, I choose the cards I wish to have sent, pick up the stamps from the post office, and pre-stamp the envelopes prior to handing them out to the volunteers. 

Have you received any positive feedback from people who have received letters or cards through the ministry?
I have had several people comment on how encouraging it has been receiving the cards and phone calls.  Just a note to let them know someone is thinking and praying for them is such an encouragement. 

What are some ideas for how this ministry could be expanded?
When the Blessing Team was originally started, they included visitation.  This is a great way to expand the program, especially for those in nursing homes or who are unable to get out of their homes much.  It's a bright spot in their day to have someone drop by. 

~Sherry Schuler~
Independent Reliv Distributor
Key Director

About Sherry:
I spent 6 years of my childhood sharing in my parents ministry as missionaries where I watched my parents love and serve and I developed a love for helping and encouraging others.  I've been married to an incredible man, Phil, for 15 years.  We are parents to 4 beautiful girls, Leticia( 12 yrs), Christina (10 yrs), Deanna (7 yrs), and Janessa (2 yrs).  I attended Union Bible College for 2 yrs and Ivy Tech and IUPUI where I gained my Associates degree in Nursing. I'm a Registered Nurse by trade working less than PT in this capacity, I'm a Full time SAHM, and have been blessed to share the hope of Reliv for the past 9 1/2 years.  I have recently began crocheting and enjoy doing it in my spare time :) and I love music. I've been in charge of organizing the Blessing Team for approx 6-7 yrs. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Women of Worth Retreat '14 Beulah Beach

Have you ever been to a lodge on the lake with a group of Christian women who spent the weekend laughing, learning and worshipping?
Then, you need to make plans to join us at Beulah Beach next October because you missed a great retreat. This ladies’ gathering is an annual event hosted by the Canton-Massillon Chapter of Women of Worth and has been enjoyed for many years by women from several states. In fact, we like to say that this retreat was the “original” Women of Worth event, a sort of “mother” who has, in recent years, birthed several other retreats in other regions.

Maybe the word "retreat" sounds boring, like spending the weekend studying seaweed or maybe it sounds too involved like writing a term paper or perhaps it even sounds painful like having wisdom teeth extracted. Yeah, I agree; I wouldn’t be too excited about any of those ideas.

But the annual Women of Worth Retreat on the shores of Lake Erie is filled with lots of fun, wonderful new friends and incredible spiritual renewal. When you arrive at the venue, the porch of the lodge is warmed by smiling faces, fall flowers and gourds and a basket filled with crisp apples. You are given your folder, an apple and a room number and "welcomed." Walking on the wooden floor of the lodge and clattering down the hall with your suitcase takes you back in time and makes you feel like you’re on vacation. If you’re fortunate enough to land a room with a lake view, you can throw open the window and feel the cool breeze and see the waves lapping onto the shore. After you’re moved in, you’ll want to go back out and sit on the porch to greet friends or walk to the beach and let the fact sink in that you’re on your own, no laundry to fold or meals to cook or dishes to wash. God has given you a weekend away!


As the retreat unfolds, you will make some new friends, eat meals in a dining room overlooking the water, laugh yourself silly and get closer to God in amazing ways. You will enjoy a concert of music and spend some time praying with others. You will have some free time on Saturday to go shopping or read a book or even take a nap. You will rediscover yourself and reclaim some joy.

This year, our weekend was packed with lots of good things, and I think everyone went away with some kind of gift from the Lord. The retreat opened with a concert with the Isbell family from Tennessee. This group was new to many of us there, and we quickly fell in love with Eric and Rachel and their children, Autumn and Kaleb. Their music was inspiring and challenging and fun and good! They gave us music from many genres – southern gospel, bluegrass, folk and even a bit of Cajun, I think. Sometimes, we wiped tears from our eyes and sometimes we stomped our feet a little. God used their music to bless us.

Eric Isbell Family
The featured speaker this year was Charlotte Frederick from Cincinnati, Ohio. I think all of us were challenged by her opening presentation on "The Discipline of Solitude and Rest." She spoke from her heart, revealing the stress of her own life in previous weeks and encouraging us to find strength in quietness before the Lord. Her message was one of challenge: there must be space in our lives for silence because God speaks to us and nourishes us in moments of solitude.
Mrs. Charlotte Frederick
Mrs. Janet Sankey (WOW Director), Mrs. Charlotte Frederick, and Mrs. Lorena Glick (Retreat Director)

On Saturday afternoon, we took some time to put it into practice – each of us finding a place to
be alone for a little while and then breaking off to go into town or spend some time on the beach. Saturday evening was a time of singspiration with music from ladies of the various churches. Then on Sunday morning, we gathered for a worship service. The ladies sang hymns like "How Firm a Foundation" and newer choruses like "I Build My Life on You." Charlotte Frederick spoke to us about Jesus, the refuge and fortress of our faith. Then, we closed the last session by gathering in prayer groups around the room and sharing burdens and praying together. The room was filled with a real sense of God’s presence.

After a last lunch together, it was time to pack our cars and head home. Women left with smiles and hugs and talk of coming next year. The pictures and good memories will have to do until next October when we do it all over again – and, next time, we hope you join us!

The Women of Worth retreat is held every year on the first weekend of October. For more information, contact the Canton-Massillon Women of Worth on Facebook or email Lorena Glick at

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Junction City, OH Women of Worth Retreat 2014

"My Anchor Holds" served as the theme of the 2014 Junction City retreat.  The retreat guest speaker, Mrs. Gisela Riggs, inspired the group by sharing her life story.  Her accounts of faith, prayer and fasting challenged the hearts of all who attended.

On Saturday, the traditional "Prayer Attack" service was held.  During this special time, prayer concerns are shared and each request is individually lifted to the Father.  It has become such a sweet time of concentrated prayer. 

God was faithful to once again meet with the ladies at the Junction City, OH Women of Worth Retreat, and He is to be praised.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

And the Winner Is...

Jonna Barrick Marsh!
Congratulations, Jonna, and thank you for entering the drawing.
Please email your mailing address to:

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Trusting Through Change + A Giveaway (Extended)!

by Stephanie Burley
Advisory Member, Women of Worth

A busy summer is winding down, and school bells across the country have rung in another academic year. While many youngsters are heading back to familiar classes and teachers, others are facing all new circumstances. And then there are the 2014 high school graduates. On behalf of Women of Worth, let me say congratulations to the Class of 2014! Many of our young ladies turned the tassel earlier in the summer and some of them are embarking on what is likely one of the most scary and exciting experiences they have faced up to this point - college! Whether staying at home and commuting to a local community college, moving to another town or another state and living in a residence hall, enrolling in a large university, or choosing a smaller Bible college, change is inevitable. And change can be difficult.
The transition from high school to college is unique to each individual, but there are some basic principles that can help each of us as we face new circumstances. These principles can apply to anyone who is finding themselves in a season of change.
  • Look ahead more than you look back.  For the new college student, the first few weeks away from home can be flat out tough. Even though you are surrounded by people, those for whom you care the most may be miles away. The comforts to which you've grown accustomed are no longer there. At every turn, things are different. The temptation is to allow one’s mind to be consumed with longing for the people and places you love and miss the opportunities for new experiences and relationships. There is nothing wrong with looking back. Reminiscing does the heart good. However, during a season of change, it can be beneficial to use one’s mental and emotional energy to focus forward. Look for those who share your values and begin to build friendships that will be strong and safe. Become involved in campus activities that align with your interests and help you to stretch and grow. Immerse yourself in what God is doing in and through you currently and expect great things for the future.                                           
  • Create a balanced schedule. Although professors will do their part to present you with a schedule for their individual classes, it will be up to you to coordinate all your class, employment, personal, and social schedules. Personality type plays a huge role in how we each create and follow our schedules, and there is not one “right” way, but the important idea is that you find a way that works for you and remain flexible in case of needed adjustments along the way.  Maintaining a strong relationship with God is of utmost importance during these times of change, and time with Him should be factored into the schedule, preferably before other “important” things have a chance to crowd in.
  • Measure all things by the Word, not the world. Whether you are in a Bible college or a public university, you will face challenges to your faith. In the public setting, there will be peers with values that are not Biblical, professors who do not see God as the ultimate authority (and likely deny His existence altogether), and situations that threaten to shake the very core of your spiritual foundation. A Christian college or university should be staffed by professors whose teaching aligns itself with Scripture, but even in the best of environments, faith will be tested. Whether by professors, peers, or circumstances, God will allow us to face periods of strengthening (otherwise known as opposition). Unless we are vigilant, the tendency is to begin to measure ourselves, our values, and our actions by our environment rather than by the timeless, unchanging principles of the Bible. Let’s let the Word, rather than the world, be the filter through which all decisions pass.
  • Rest in the knowledge that God is in control and His plans are perfect. In our humanity, we want to know the future all at once. Rarely does God give us information in quantities that large, and honestly, who could handle it?! To some, He has given an unmistakable calling. Others may only be given a little direction at a time. Be assured, whatever God is leading you toward, He will be faithful to guide you gently and perfectly. If you are walking in the Light, seeking open doors and ministry opportunities, and communing closely with the Father, He will reveal His plans in His perfect time. Karen Ehman said, “God’s job is to unfold our future. Our job is to trust and glorify Him as He does.” 
One of my favorite Scripture passages is found in Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV),

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight."

My prayer is that you will find fulfillment and contentment in this new season of life. What an exciting journey this will be! Don’t forget to connect with Women of Worth through this website and our other social networks. We will do our best to provide encouragement and fun along the way.

 To celebrate this special time of year, we are hosting a giveaway!
 Special thanks to The Stetler Trio for donating a copy of their latest album, Free
This CD is loaded with songs that will inspire, encourage, comfort, and strengthen you.

The giveaway is open to everyone.  To enter, please leave a comment on this post by midnight Monday, September 8th.  The winner will be announced at noon on Tuesday.  Spread the word, and enter to win!

***to order a copy of the Stetler Trio's album or to become more familiar with their phenomenal music ministry, click on the image above.