Years ago, I was asked to serve on the leadership team of a new Women's Ministry at church. I was early 20s and kid-free and they wanted my perspective as they got the ministry up and running. I did it, because I was honored and felt bad saying no. It was an epic fail. My part in it - not the women's ministry. The women's ministry grew and prospered and did amazing things. I just hated it. It wasn't where God had called me and I knew that. I served about 6 months before I had enough guts to quit.
My heart was with younger women - high school and college aged girls. I LOVE ministering to young girls and showing them that it IS possible to live life according to God's word. It's hard - but it's possible. I've been so blessed to love on, and live life with, high school and college aged women for almost 10 years now.
Once I had Landon, I felt God calling me to step back and give up my groups. I knew becoming a Mom would overwhelm me enough and figuring out what life looked like would take some time. I had 100% peace about the break and was excited to step back and focus on becoming a family of three.
As Landon turned one, I started to miss leading groups again. I didn't want to rush into it though, so I took it all to the Lord asking for His guidance. He made it clear that it wasn't time to hop back into the high school ministry (and still isn't), but it was time to open my home back up to the college girls. (I've led a weekly group in my house for several years) So, in January of 2014, I started my college group back. We started with 2 girls who I'd been discipling for several years and added 2 more new ones. That group of women makes me smile ear to ear. I LOVE those 4 ladies like they were family members. God has taught us a lot in the year we've been back together and continues to do so.
Now, enter Jonah:
This summer, I was in a Bible study with some friends. There was one week that I was asking for prayer for my college group. I wasn't sure if we were supposed to add a member and was asking them to pray that God would make it clear to me. My friend asked the ages of the girls and as I got to explaining them to her, she said "Oh so that's really a women's group....not a college group". (FYI: The college group consists of only two girls in college. The other two are a newlywed and full time working woman) I QUICKLY responded "No, No...it's college....I DON'T DO WOMEN'S MINISTRY". I explained my failure at it years before, we laughed about it and it became a running joke with my group of friends. (Because I was clearly doing women's ministry and hadn't accepted it) My friend called me Jonah and warned me "you better watch what you say....don't tell God no."
Around the same time, I learned about the Beachbody team and I read the Daniel Plan by Rick Warren. God started stirring in my heart a way to offer effective workouts to women (especially Moms) all while providing accountability, motivation, encouragement, tips AND doing so while sharing my faith. That's when Shape Her was formed. A way for me to minister to WOMEN and help them find their worth in Christ, not the mirror or the world's standards.
So here we are today. 7 months after I proudly proclaimed I didn't do women's ministry ------ and what am I doing? Yep, that's right - WOMEN'S MINISTRY. I minister to hundreds of women through Shape Her, I lead a college aged women's group in my home, and I lead a Women's Small group at church. Funny the sense of humor God has huh? :)
I've learned a lot over the last several months. I've learned that my plans aren't God's plans. And God's plans are best. I've learned I can do a lot of things I didn't think I could - all through God's strength. I've learned God can use me even when I don't feel qualified. I am so happy with what God is doing with Shape Her and how he's using me - a modern day Jonah - who initially said no, to encourage women in their walk with Christ.
Just last week, on my mission trip to the Dominican Republic, I was given the opportunity to lead a session on honoring Christ with your body and 2 different workouts (plus 1 spontaneous one). Had I said no to God on starting Shape Her months ago, and no to going on the DR trip, I wouldn't have experienced His joy and blessings in seeing young women - Americans and Dominicans - make the connection between their faith and fitness. I wouldn't have seen two cultures joining together in that way.
Why am I sharing this with you? To encourage you and challenge you. Is God calling you to something that is uncomfortable or scary? Are you pushing back, telling God no, when you should be surrendering and saying "Yes, Lord, send me!"
I'm thankful that, like Jonah, God didn't have to send a storm or whale to get my attention. (see Jonah 1-4) I'm glad it was simply a Godly friend who saw God's plan, a book written by a stranger, and a passion instilled in my heart years ago. Take my word for it. The blessings that are on the other side, far outweigh the worries and fears and anxiety you feel about saying yes. And remember, there's no better place to be than in the middle of God's will. Don't make him have to hide you away in the belly of a whale until you say yes.