Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I Feel Pretty

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Or is it? In today’s world it seems beauty is what the media defines “beauty” as. From popular TV shows like Forty Years Younger to American Idol, we are bombarded with pressures to be younger-looking, wrinkle-free, thin, a certain hair color, larger chested or smaller chested, well-dressed, straight-glowing white teeth, and well, perfect. But, according to whom and at what cost? As Christian women, how do we balance efforts to feel good about ourselves without succumbing to pressures of the media?

At our very core we are yearning for validation. We seek affirmation and the simple fact that someone in the world thinks we are valuable. As young Christian women today, how do we respond to the contradictory images we encounter? How does the impact of media affect us on a personal level? How does it affect the way we relate to others and more importantly to the One in which our very image is made?

Please take a few moments to watch the video below sponsored by Dove. Their Campaign for Real Beauty is powerful and is changing the minds of women all over the globe. Do you see yourself in its message? Speak! Sparkfly readers…we want to hear your stories, thoughts, and concerns. We are always listening.


Monday, October 30, 2006

Love Yourself

Self esteem is a valuable commodity. It is most often nurtured by parents, caring teachers, and loving friends. There seems to be a shortage in the United States today.

Thankfully, the challenge of low self esteem is being addressed by companies like Dove and actors like Geena Davis. The media plays a very important role in defining standards for appearance and personhood. This is not only a challenge for the young girl, but it is an issue that women of all ages face.

Too often we look in the mirror and do not like what we see. We are tempted to judge ourselves by popular culture’s standards for beauty, intelligence, style, and character. We must try to deny the urge to do so.

How can we cultivate positive self-esteem? What is needed in order to boost our confidence? Do you have a dream that needs to be supported? Maybe you have an idea that’s never been shared for fear of its possible silliness.

We believe in your giftedness and unique contribution to this world. We believe in your ability to be writers, activists, lawyers, mothers, doctors, chefs, teachers, ministers, and whatever it is you have envisioned that doesn’t seem to exist yet. Our world needs you to believe in yourself so that your goals can be accomplished in the most excellent way. Our world is hungry for the fruit of your dreams

Today, if you have a dream, concern, thought, or fear that needs to be shared, we are listening.

PS We will be listening tomorrow too and any day you would like to share.

PPS Click on the Dove link to see a great clip on beauty.

suzanahraffield@yahoo.com, loricburgess@yahoo.com

Friday, October 27, 2006


Where can you find out how many grams are in a pound while baking a cake in another country? How can you connect with friends from all over the world? Websites and blogs have revolutionized the way we learn and communicate. Let's share some of our favorites. For a list of Sparkfly's picks, visit the permanent side bar. For those of you who blog, please share your link.








www.beauty tips for ministers.blogspot.com

Speaking of the internet - take a look at this interesting slide show.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Words on a Page

Books are like friends. Here are a few of my current favorites and quotes from them:

Eat This Book

Eugene H. Peterson
"Spirituality . . . means going against the cultural stream in which we are incessantly trivialized to the menial status of producers and performers, constantly depersonalized behind the labels of our degrees or our salaries. But there is far more to us than our usefulness and our reputation, where we've been and who we know; there is the unique, irreproducible, eternal, image-of-God me. A vigorous assertion of personal dignity is foundational to spirituality." pg. 23

How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed
Slavenka Drakulic
"Here you have to think of food, because it has entirely diverse social meanings. To bring a cake for dessert when you are invited for a dinner - a common gesture in another more affluent country - means you invested a great deal of energy to find it if you didn't make it yourself. And even if you did, finding eggs, milk, sugar, and butter took time and energy. That makes it precious in a very different way from if you had bought it int he pastry shop next door."

The Experience of God: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology Vol. 2. The World: Creation and Deification
Dumitru Staniloae
"The body cannot be understood apart from the spirit . . . The body is the primary reservoir of those countless contingent material possibilities that are being made actual by the spirit through the agency of an equal number of its own inherent possibilities, which are capable of being brought into act. Yet, apart from the body the possibilities of the spirit could not be actualized. In some fashion the spirit, too, is being formed through the body or receives the impression of its seal."

The following are some of my favorite books. These readings have changed my worldview and challenged me as a person. They have had a significant impact on my life and the way I see God. What books have changed your life?

Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia by Jean Sasson

Princess Sultana’s Daughter’s by Jean Sasson

Let Your Life Speak by Parker J. Palmer

Gospel Medicine by Barbara Brown Taylor (Pretty much anything by Barbara Brown Taylor)

Tracks of a Fellow Struggler by John Claypool (Anything by John Claypool)

Operation World by Patrick Johnstone

Laborers Together with God by Catherine B. Allen

Favorite Fiction/non fiction: The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser (Describes the struggle of a young girl during the civil rights movement in Atlanta)


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Say Cheese

What do your favorite pictures reveal about who you are? Today we are collecting photographs. Join in and share your Shutterfly, Snapfish, or web photo links of your choice. Or, sign up at flickr.com and post there.

A few of Lori's favorite pics are posted here and Suzanah's here:

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sing Your Heart Out

Here are a few favorite artists andsongs . . . join in and add yours. Our iPods are getting lonely.

Miriam Makeba - especially the Click Song and Pata Pata
I have a friend who lived in Mali as a child. Some nights she and her brother would sneak out to hear Miriam Makeba at a local club.

Kate Campbell - today's favs., Crazy in Alabama, How Much Can One Heart Hold
Sparkfly's friend Tamara is going to NYC today with Kate for a conference. Blessings on them.

East Mountain South - Hard Times

All things Tim McGraw - I can't help it.

U2 & Mary J. Blige - One
If you don't own this song, it is definitely worth downloading.

I Nine - Same in Any Language
Today's photo is of Carmen Keigans from I Nine.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Few of Our Favorite Things

It is the last week of October and Sparkfly share time. Over the next five days we will explore a few of our favorite things. Today's topic is favorite movies and/or favorite quotes from movies.

Iron Jawed Angels - Fabulous movie about our sister suffragettes in the early1900s. The women portrayed in this film remind us that a grass roots campaign, of any kind, can make a difference. Every voice counts. Every vote counts and that should remind us to exercise the right at every election, making sure to vote our conscience. Watch this movie. It is powerful. Scenes to watch for: When the older women steal the younger women's money and kick them out of the organization. When Alice Paula and Lucy Burns discuss marriage.
Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood - This movie is just plain fun to watch. However, be prepared for some serious and violent content. In the end, Divine Secrets is about forgiveness and redemption.
Favorite lines: "How about some shrimp for supper?" and "Mary, mother of the motherless, can you see me? I'm here. It's me again. I need Divine intervention once again." PS - The books are even better than the movie (Little Altars Everywhere and Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood)

Inn of the Sixth Happiness - This 1958 film is based on the real life events of the missionary Gladys Aylward. As a young, single woman, Gladys feels a deep call from God to be a missionary in China. Despite the many obstacles she faces with a mission board, Gladys Aylward (played by Ingrid Bergman) finds a way to support herself and achieve her life-long dream and calling. This is a moving story about one woman’s dream to listen to God and follow, no matter the cost.
Madea’s Family Reunion - This 2006 film starring Atlanta’s own, Tyler Perry is an absolute must see! Madea’s Family reunion is a comedy and a drama wrapped into one that will leave you laughing hysterically one moment and crying the next. Madea is the grandmother and matriarch of an African American family. Throughout the movie, Madea seeks to help members of her family as they struggle with difficult inner city issues as well as those in her family who live as the elite. The movie has too many life lessons to count! After seeing this film, you feel as you’ve just “had church” and you will be sure to find yourself in one of the dynamic characters! Watch and enjoy!

What are your favorite movies and quotes? Please post them in a comment for future viewing enjoyment.

21st Century, Stylish, and Happening, Women's Day of Prayer Soiree

The first Monday in November is designated as Baptist Women's Day of Prayer. Throughout the world women will meet for prayer starting on Sunday November 5.

As a sign of solidarity, Sparkfly will host a gathering at Camp Pinnacle in Clayton, GA. Come one, come all!

What: 21st Century, Stylish, and Happening, Women's Day of Prayer Soiree
Where: Camp Pinnacle, Clayton, GA
When: November 5, 4:30 pm to November 6, early morning breakfast
Why: To pray for the needs of women around the world and to share a few of our own
Cost: $15 for state of the art cabin lodging
What to Bring: Your favorite snack and beverage

See Kneeling Places post on October 11 to find out more about Pinnacle

Friday, October 20, 2006


Today's dreams come from the country of Ethiopia. Abeba Zerehun is a young woman who received treatment for an obstetric fistula at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. The UNFPA estimates that more than two million women suffer from fistulas. The hospital in Addis,
". . . provides free fistula repair sugery to aproximately 1,200 women every year. . . "1

This month the Impulse Book Community is reading the Hospital by the River, written by Dr. Catherine Hamlin of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. Impulse has issued a challenge for us to donate enough money to provide fistual repair surgery for one woman. (click here to read more about donations) So far we've collected $50 and we have $400 to go. Consider donating as a birthday present for a friend or family member.

What is obstetric fistula? It is time for us to learn and to educate others. The UNFPA has a 60 second video that helps explain the condition.

Meet the dreams of Abeba Zerehun, age 18, from the southern region of Ethiopia.

I studied in school until 7th grade. I helped my mother at home with housework, but I didn't have to carry too many heavy things. I got married when I was 15. I met my husband for the first time on my wedding day. My parents chose him for me. I felt sad that I had to quit my education, but otherwise I liked my husband. He was a good man.

I got pregnant one year later. My pregnancy was fine. My labor started at three in the afternoon and my husband and my mother were with me. A traditional doctor told me to go to the hospital. I got a free letter from my kebele. I went to Asosa Hospital and they operated to take out the baby, but it was dead.

After the baby died, I went back to my village and two months later my husband married another woman. My friends were there to help me in the village. I lived with my mother. When I came to Fistula Hospital, I was very happy. I knew this was the place where I would get cured. It has been 15 days since my operation and now I am dry.

I have made friends here. We have fun together and we talk about our health and our operations. We ask each other, what will you do when you are cured?

When I am cured, I want to go back home and continue my education. I want to study and I want to become a doctor like the doctors here and help girls like me who have this problem.

When I go back to my village, I will tell other women to go immediately to a hospital so that they won't have a problem with their labor. Most people don't know that a hospital can help them, but if they knew, they'd go.

1 www.fistulafoundation.org/hospital/

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Global View

Today's snapshot comes from a young woman living in New Zealand. A quick glance at the country reveals a strong indigenous people group, the Maori. The Maori were highlighted in the 2002 award winning film, Whale Rider. The movie's star is Keisha Castle-Hughes, born to a Maori mother and English-Australian father. According to an October 6 AP release, 16-year-old Castle-Hughes is pregnant.

The World Population Fund's website states that, "Pregnancy is a leading cause of death for young women aged 15 to 19 worldwide . . . girls aged 15 to 19 are twice as likely to die in childbirth as those in their twenties." Thankfully, Keisha Castle-Hughes will more than likely have access to proper healthcare during her pregnancy and delivery. For many around the world, healthcare is not available.

In this year's Save the Children Mother's Day Report Card, the ten worst places to be a mother and a child are: Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Yemen, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

The UN has adopted the improvement of maternal health as one of the eight Millinneum Development Goals. Click here to learn more and to find out what we can do to make a difference.

So, New Zealand, country of strength and heritage is where we find today's contributor to Sparkfly. Did you know that New Zealand was the first country to give women the right to vote? Ok, Ok, here is the interview . . .

Born in Africa, Sarah Stiles Bone is a 25 year old woman who lives in Wellington, New Zealand. On September 30th she married the love of her life and will soon be moving to her husband's native country of the US for one year.

Sparkfly: What are your dreams for the future?
Sarah: I want to love God's children . . . wherever it is that God leads us. I want to live in community within the developing world. Being born in Blantyre, Malawi, I am uncomfortable with western living. Take me to Africa! I want to help through the promotion of education. I believe it is the key to breaking the poverty cycle.

Sparkfly: What keeps you motivated as you seek to obtain your dreams?
Sarah: Listening to missionaries out there living their dreams. Last weekend I met a couple who lives in Calcutta, India. They are back in New Zealand for the birth of their second baby. They shared about their work in a bag company that has about 100 women sewing these trendy bags instead of being prostitutes. Wow! This couple was beaming and they had such a peace about them.

Sparkfly: What are obtacles that deter you from following your dreams?
Sarah: The usual, silly doubts and fears about not being good enough. Money struggles, family ties, wanting to control instead of surrendering to our awesome God and God's better plans for me.

Sparkfly: Have there been influential people in your life that encouraged you and motivated you as you moved forward?
Sarah: The itinerant pastors from the church I attended at university. They travel all over the world ministering at YWAM bases. They are genuine about their faith, they really live it. Despite their importance they would sit and chat with me. They prayed for me and ministered to me in a very powerful way during a pivotal time in my life.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Imagining Ourselves

Paula Goldman is the founder of Imagining Oursleves, a project that, ". . . showcas[es] the vitality of our generation as a way of inspiring young women to action." Paula writes, ". . . I have talked with thousands of young women in every corner of the globe, and have been stunned by the courage and accomplishments of our generation. We are not only participating in record numbers in the workforce and educational arenas. We are also charting new paths in our families and in our personal lives, and contributing positive solutions to the most serious problems facing our communities."

This month's Imagining Ourselves website theme is, "What defines your generation of women?" Click here to meet Yen Chua from Singapore and read her answer to the question.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Dreaming Together

Today we continue our interviews with women and their dreams.

Brittany Rasmussen Mackey is 27 years old and lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the Coordinator for the Andrew P. Stewart Center, an inner city ministry that reaches out to children and their families. Sparkfly asked Brittany the following questions:

Sparkfly: What are your dreams for the future?

Brittany: To be an advocate for social justice (poverty, homelessness, hunger, etc, especially in cities in America); to create a replica of Mission Waco in Atlanta

Sparkfly: What keeps you motivated as you seek to obtain those dreams?

Brittany: The continual need that I see, despite so many people/organizations offering services--clearly none of them are working

Sparkfly: What are obstacles that often deter you from following your dreams?

Brittany: Fear of failure, lack of funding, not being able to do it my way

Sparkfly: Have there been and are presently influential people in your life that encourage you and motivate you as you move forward? Who are they and describe briefly how they affirm you.

Brittany: Jimmy Dorrell is the Founder and Director of Mission Waco. He is the person who most inspired me to do what I do. He continues to be there to field any question I have in addition to affirming me in so many ways.

Ashley Curtis is 19 years old and in her second year of college at Kennesaw State University.

Ashley told Sparkfly that her dreams are ultimately to one day do something that she loves and to make money. Her number one dream is to earn enough income that she can take care of both her mother and her grandmother. She explains that she feels a responsibility to give back to generations before her.

Ashley’s number one dream is to become a runway model and/or a professional dancer. She described her passion for wanting to really “make it” one day. But, her fears often overcome her as she struggles with self doubt and the discouragement from others. She also described her struggle financially as she strives for lofty dreams. She discussed her “real dreams” and then the ones that were more “realistic”. She is majoring in education and also sees herself working with children in some capacity.

Ashley’s faith plays a role in her dreams as she anticipates the unknown. God has revealed to her on many occasions a way of bringing good out of bad circumstances. She believes that with each turn of events, God’s hand is working out a plan. She moves forward hesitantly, but confidently that she will one day fulfill a portion of her dreams.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Building a Global Community

Alex Ellish Alexander is a South African who loves to travel. She and her husband Phil, a proud Irishman, moved to the International Baptist Theological Seminary in August. Alex is here to further her theological education and her goal to become a minister. I recently spoke with her about her dreams and goals for the future.

“I have difficulty in waiting for the answers. I’m sure they will come, but I want to know now.” Alex told me that some days she wishes for a “normal” life. “It would be great to have two kids and a dog. I could have a proper meal waiting for my husband at the end of the day. It would be a safe place.” Alex is describing the conflict that many women who are called to ministry feel. “There are split parts of me,” she said, “They are in conflict with no resolution in sight.”

Alex’s call is to the ministry and I believe she will do well blending the “split parts”. Ultimately, she is excited about her future. She’s enjoying her current class on Church and Society. “Being a Christian is not just about saying a little prayer. Being a Christian is primarily what you do about social justice in the world around you. It is about how we live day to day with those around us.”

When asked about her dreams she said, “I want to get to the end of my life and know I did the absolute best I could do and became the person God wanted me to be. I must always ask the questions, is [what I’m doing] worthwhile and will it make a difference? My dreams are about a way of being.”

I asked Alex if she could envision any position in the world what would it be? “I love community. People are changed when they belong somewhere. I want to be involved in a ministry that attracts people that need community and healing. As a minister within this community I wouldn’t be the only one with answers. Everybody would encircle each other and learn from each other. This is why I want to become a minister. The Church has amazing possibilities. The Church should be the fountain of justice, social action, love, and community.”

Friday, October 13, 2006


This weekend, may we take a sabbatical from wrestling and bask in the light of good friends, times of rest, and the strength of our God.

Some prayer requests for the journey:
On Thursday of last week LeAnn G. shared a concern with us regarding her aging parishioner who had just been diagnosed with a terminal illness. He died this week and his funeral is on Sunday. Please pray for LeAnn as she helps plan his funeral and ministers to his family and friends. Pray also for her as she mourns the loss of a special congregant.

Continue to pray for Flower from Burma. Pray also for Purity from Burma who is searching for funding sources for her university studies.

Pray for Mandy M. and her doctoral studies. Pray that she will have extra strength for the journey and time to have fun in addition to studying.

Pray for the work of the Christian Women's Leadership Center in Birmingham, AL.

Pray for Lori and Jacob as they navigate many upcoming changes.


(Please add to the list as you feel led.)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Should We Let Go?

A Sister Reader has written expressing her difficulty in wrestling with God. She feels as if she doesn't deserve to demand a blessing, but she needs one.

Is there anything we can do to deserve a blessing?

Our sister reader is expressing honestly how many of us feel. We have grown up in churches that prescribe formulas for spirituality. "Have a morning quiet time that consists of 20 minutes of Bible reading and 30 minutes of prayer. Be sure to include adoration and confession. Make time for God and God will make time for you."

What if the "quiet time" that is better suited for me involves dancing in my kitchen to U2? What if on Tuesdays and Thursdays a 20 minute morning walk is where I meet God? And on Fridays, I visit BBC on-line to pray over the state of the world. Why not? God doesn't match a formula and why should we? So often we berate ourselves because we can't measure up to someone else's standards for us.

Today, may we dare to be like Jacob and say to God, "I'm not letting you go 'til you bless me."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Kneeling Places

Wrestling with God takes on different forms. For some it looks like prayer and for others, journaling. We wrestle with God for many reasons. Sometimes it is because we are unhappy with our jobs or where we go to school. Hannah wrestled with God about her infertility in 1 Samuel 1. Verse 10 states that, "Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried - inconsolably."

What are other reasons we wrestle with God? Most of the time my wrestling occurs when I am faced with a decision. At times there are two paths before me and I don't know which one to take. One of my decision making rituals involves one of three locations.

While in college and seminary I worked at a summer camping program for girls in Florida and Georgia. Every week, hundreds of girls filled with excitement and promise visited camp. And every week, God would speak to me. Sometimes in big ways and sometimes in small ways, and without failure, God spoke.

Consequently, when I'm faced with a huge decision my first thought is to drive to one of the three locations where I worked to listen for God's voice. God always speaks to me at camp. In her poetry, Ann Weems talks about our kneeling places. Camp is my kneeling place.

Maybe you have one too, and your kneeling place is a hiking trip or a pen and a piece of paper. Regardless of location or medium, there are times when meeting God is the most important thing we can do. Let us seek out our kneeling places and not let go until we get answers - even if the answers are not the ones we wanted to hear.

ps This picture was taken at Lake Yale Camp in Florida. If you listen closely, you can hear God on this dock.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Sister readers, what does it mean to wrestle with God? Jacob did it in Genesis 32: 24 -26. Sparkfly has a friend who refuses to "let God go" until God blesses her. She's asked for ways to symbolize her petition and struggle.

Thankfully, our God welcomes us in dialogue.

Do you ever wrestle with God? What are some tangible ways to ritualize the struggle?

Monday, October 09, 2006


Last week we walked through our greatest needs together. As we continue to ponder what those might be, we want to share a very candid "conversation" from a sister traveler. Today, may we be confident, in the words of Thomas Merton, that our desire to please God does indeed please God.

Sister Traveler:
". . . sometimes I question my own life….think that I should have more 'goals and objectives', more '5 or 10 year plans'. How I wish I could tell you what the specific outcomes will be . . . over the next year.
All I can say is this: God has called me to a ministry that is not clearly defined or scripted, but from which God is speaking. Truly what I experience is that as I 'Be', God does the 'Doing'. It’s not comfortable or secure. I second-guess myself all the time, berate myself for not “Doing” enough. But then God speaks into my insecurity with words which remind me (for about the 1000th time) that my identity is not in what I can 'Do' for God but is simply knowing that God loves me because God created me. God is not going to love me more or less because of what I 'Do'. God’s love is unconditional. As I grow in that knowledge . . . , I experience so much freedom, and an ever increasing ability to hear God’s voice in my heart, leading and guiding me to 'Go' and to 'Do' things that I had never imagined I could or would. To take some real risks. And a big learning and growing curve for me is then letting those things go, not second-guessing or labeling them a success or failure: letting them go, and knowing that the outcome is in God’s hands, and will be God’s work."


Consider becoming a part of the Impulse Book Community.
There are two great selections this month. You can choose one or read both!

Friday, October 06, 2006


Is it a lack of time or desire that keeps us from deepening our spirituality? Two women share their thoughts concerning current needs.

Sparkfly: What are your three biggest spiritual needs?
Anonymous: My first response is, I need more time to dedicate to spiritual learning and growth! I need more role-models living a spirit-filled life before me! Yet, I have so many spiritual resources (human and otherwise) at my finger-tips and I spend so little time taking advantage of them! So perhaps the truth is:
  • I am time-poor due to my choices (or just lazy)
  • I am indifferent (or I simply don't believe spiritual growth will make much of a difference in my life)
  • I am arrogant (I don't believe I have much to learn)
My greatest spiritual need: I need a deep longing within myself to grow spiritually.

Sparkfly: What are the three biggest issues you are currently facing?
  • the struggle between cherishing where I am presently in my career versus where I want to be
  • finding solitude
  • being "salt and light" in the "real world"
Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, October 05, 2006


What does an executive director of a national women's organization have in common with an associate pastor of a church? Many things. Both jobs require well beyond the traditional 9 to 5 work week in addition to specialized and often intense ministry.

Virginia Holmstrom is approachable, down to earth, and well versed in issues that affect her constituency - American Baptist Women. LeAnn Gunter is energetic, creative, and cares deeply for her congregation - Peachtree Baptist Church. Read below as both share issues pertaining to their ministries.

Editor's note: Sparkfly realizes that thankfully, not all women who read this blog are Baptist. It just so happens that today's contributors are.
Sparkfly: What do you see as the three biggest issues American Baptist Women face?
  • how to reach out and include younger women in their ministries
  • how to bless and encourage different ways of doing women's ministries in their churches
  • meeting the dire and increasing needs of missionaries through our White Cross program
Sparkfly: Readers of this blog, what are ways that you wish "older" women would include you?
Sparkfly: What are some issues you face in your personal life?
Balance - this continues to be a constant struggle for me. My natural self tries to fit as much as I can into one day. The tension lies in wanting to "do my best" in work, ministries I partner with, significant relationships that I want to maintain, and daily chores/tasks of every day life. It's no wonder that in feeling exhausted or overwhelmed, I often wonder, "what am I doing to take care of myself?" Often times I am caught up in the trap of being busy and taking care of myself seems to be the first thing to go.

Vocation - "What are you going to do with your life," seems to be the question asked most often of people. Even when you are working full-time in a wonderful church setting, it seems you are not without asking yourself this question. Ministry doesn't seem to be an answer that fits into our mold of vocations. So I struggle with, "How long do I say in this form of ministry?" "When do I move on or am I being moved on to another ministry of interest?"

Sparkfly: What are the biggest issues you face as a minister?
Grief - I minister to a lot of aging congregants. Having celebrated four years of serving in this church, I know these senior adults fairly well. I know their children and grandchildren. We have buried their friends and loved ones together. Recently, a member of this group was diagnosed with a terminal illness and has a short time to live. I am working at helping the congregation and his friends prepare for his death. At the same time I am wondering how I should grieve and prepare myself for grieving. One of the struggles with being a woman and working in a male dominated ministry role is do you show emotion? What is appropriate emotion for your congregation to witness?

Spiritual Formation - Often we place the importance of spiritual formation for our congregants above our own spiritual formation. We tend to forget that it is at the intersection of our willingness to hear and listen to God's voice and God's voice speaking to us that we first heard and experienced call in our own lives. Perhaps our personal spiritual formation should overflow into what we are teaching others to practice in their own lives.

Relevance - How do we involve the church and its practices in being relevant for people's lives today . . . How does what we talk about and practice on Sunday mornings overflow into the world on Monday - Saturday? What difference does it make?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Issues of Our Hearts

"God beckons us to greatness and to be all that we are created to be. Therein, lies the issues of my heart . . . I am constantly fearful that I will look back on my life and wonder if I fulfilled God's plan for me," wrote Lori on Monday. Others have written in sharing similar fears.

In addition, balance has emerged as a theme of our needs. How do we balance our positions as daughters, wives, students, and ministers of the Gospel? How do we relate to God in a powerful and life-fulfilling way? Many of us have expressed staleness in our relationship with Christ. If we truly believed our relationship with Christ was life-giving, wouldn't we commune with Christ more? What would our communion look like?

Some have shared about the need for peace along the journey. Peace in knowing, as our Global Minister from yesterday mentioned, that God will guide us in the daily and long term issues.

Sister travelers, your words are powerful and important. Thanks for pondering these issues with us. What are your deepest needs?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Our needs are great. There is comfort in sharing them. Today we hear from a global minister in Asia. She is originally from the US, married, and the mother of three children. Sparkfly asked her what she thought were the needs of women in the country where she lives and to name her three greatest spiritual needs.

Global Minister:
"This is not speaking from my culture, but as one living cross-culturally I see the biggest needs for women in this area of the Pacific Rim [as]: good health care, economic provision for basic needs, education that is affordable (cost of schooling from Pre-K on up is prohibitive for some) . . . "

Sparkfly: What do you feel are your three greatest spiritual needs in your current age, stage, and position in life?
Global Minister:

  • Small group accountability for Bible Study/prayer/experiencing God at work
  • Consistent, ever-deepening personal walk with . . . [Christ] through the Word, prayer, fellowship, witness
  • Believing God for the daily and the long term issues
Thanks to all for yesterday's comments. We thought they were powerful. Please feel free to continue posting, sharing your thoughts and needs.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Our Deepest Needs

What is your deepest need? This weekend I was in conversation with some friends who have started reading the Ruth Haley Barton book for the Impulse Book Community. In her book, Sacred Rhythms, Barton asks the reader to name her deepest need from God. This week we are discussing issues women face globally. These issues are often translated into great needs. Is it possible that in some parts of the world spiritual needs are a luxury over which survival takes precedence?

Let us consider the questions together as we hear from a variety of women around the world. If you desire, please comment and name the three biggest needs you have at this present season in your life.