Our Set Apart Team Honors the Godly Women in Their Lives
Who Have Been Marked by the Grace of Christ Within and Without
The Beauty of Kindness
The cheery office wrapped you in a warm hug the moment you crossed the threshold. Buttery yellow office chairs and the smell of a comforting cup of cranberry vanilla tea made you feel less like you were in an office and more like you were in Grandmother’s sitting room — the place where you bring your tears, your latest answered prayer, your relationship woes, your biggest success. Women would come into the office with so many questions and would leave with more of Jesus … the only answer they truly needed. All because of a Christ-claimed vessel named Sandi.
It may not have been a traditional sitting room, but to call it a counseling office would have felt sterile and austere when you witnessed the beautiful ministration of the Spirit of God that would work within the soft hearts that would visit her. The air was thick with the presence of Another who would lead and guide her into all wisdom as she fervently sought the Lord before opening her mouth to speak. A holy fear rested upon her silvery hair, as she knew deeply that words have the ability to wound or to bind, to build or to tear … and that one could say something absolutely right, but in the wrong way. Kindness was a constant mainstay in her conversation, in her posture, in her smile.
Her articulation was braced by truth and love, and delivered as an uplifting tonic that was selectively chosen for each situation. A soft hand on a shoulder might be all that was necessary. Or perhaps a clear-cut, straightforward answer was the kindest thing that could be expressed. Either way, whether the Word of God was on her lap or upon her tongue, the fruitful result of years of steeping herself in truth in the early mornings when she met with Jesus.
. . .
I quickly lost count of how many women shared their heart with “Mama Sandi” — our dearest dean of women at Ellerslie and my personal friend. For five years I sat next to her as she shared comfort and consolation, dispensed words spoken in due season, and — at times — offered a loving exhortation or rebuke. There was never a shortage of those who wanted to be in her company — myself included. And the reason for this was because she radiated the kindness of Christ.
Kindness is on the rise these days, but whether or not it is the right kind of kindness is another matter entirely. In our cultural climate, being kind has been redefined to mean blind tolerance of anything and everything, regardless of whether or not it is in agreement with what God says. But this new norm is harmful.
One of Sandi’s treasured scriptures about the essence of beautiful womanhood says, “[The virtuous woman] opens her mouth with wisdom and on her tongue is the law of kindness” (Prov. 31:26, emphasis added). Through her faithful example, I learned that the law of kindness is comprised of mercy, love, and truth. All must be held in tension and deftly applied to every social situation. And when those gracious ingredients are present, kindness is present as well.
Sandi showed me that kindness is so much more than a saccharine-sweet smile that is void of compassion or honey-laced words that smack of niceties but are emptied of truth. At its base, kindness is the mercy of God on display in and through our lives. As she loved Jesus with all of her heart and allowed Him to shine His love through her, kindness was always the result — no matter what personal frustrations or heartaches she may have been carrying at the time.
Through her example, I saw firsthand that a beautiful woman is a kind woman. A kind woman is a Christlike woman. And a Christlike woman is a merciful woman. And that is just the sort of woman I want to be when I grow up and have silver hair of my own … just like Sandi.
“…Be kind to one another,
Tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God in Christ forgave you.”
The Beauty of Faithfulness
by ANNIE WESCHE
Wrapped in the soft, early-morning light, with the scent of freshly brewed coffee gently tip-toeing into every corner of the still-sleeping house, she sat in her usual place on the leather sofa with her treasured Bible open on her lap. The steaming coffee held between her hands in her dainty black and white cup — a welcome companion to this intimate morning hour with Jesus — began to warm and wake her, aiding in the attentiveness she desired to bring to this time.
Upon the open pages of her Bible rested a stack of 100 or so well-handled notecards — each one holding the prayer requests of a different woman. Lovingly, she would pick up the top card, scan its contents, close her eyes, and bring the now-familiar requests before the Lord.
Quiet intensity rested on her face as she dismissed invading thoughts about the day ahead. If any distractions persisted, she would reach over to a piece of paper nearby and jot it down to tend to later. Immediately, she’d turn her heart and mind back to earnest prayer over the individual cards in her stack. Card after card, she faithfully brought their names and needs to Jesus.
Sometimes I would rise early to that same scent of wafting coffee and quietly slip past the living room as she was praying. Other times I would wake after she had already finished and had moved on to the many demands of her day, but her cards would still be on the coffee table, secured with a rubber band, and resting on her Bible — a testimony of her faithfulness in the early morning hour.
. . .
As a speaker for women’s retreats, my mum had a beautiful gift for boldly exhorting women through her radiant enthusiasm and her truth-filled messages. But one of the aspects of every retreat that touched the lives of the ladies in attendance was her invitation to faithfully pray for them — once a month, for a full year. She’d hand out three-by-five notecards for them to fill out, and at the end of the day the cards would be collected and brought home to add into her prayer rotation.
I witnessed her faithfulness to this pledge for many years, and her passion to be true to her commitment was quietly, yet beautifully, evident. Throughout the many years of being her daughter, she often reminded me, both directly and indirectly, how important it is to be faithful, out of love for Jesus and as a reflection of the character of our God.
Faithfulness was woven throughout the whole of my mum’s life — in her regularly scheduled phone dates to pray together with someone, in accountability with friends in their Bible verse memorization, in time given to knowing and loving the Word of God, in discipling others, in her commitments to serve, in her marriage covenant of nearly 40 years, and much more. She was faithful. While her legacy of faithfulness was not one of perfection, it was one of sincere, intentional, and passionate pursuit of being “faithful in all things.” (See 1 Timothy 3:11.)
A short time after the Lord took Mum from this earth and into His presence, my father and I came across many of those stacks of notecards — some several years old with added notes of the ways God had answered prayers throughout the years, and others that she had still been praying over when she finally became too ill to continue. The beauty of this faithfulness till the end moved us deeply as we pondered the eternal impact of all her years sitting with Jesus in the early morning hours, praying earnestly for hundreds of women. Heaven will one day reveal the impact of such a simple but faithful act of love for, obedience to, and faith in the One who is truly, and perfectly faithful!
“God is faithful,
By whom you were
Called into the
Fellowship of His Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:9
The Beauty of Generosity
by MANDY SAELER
As I’ve pondered the lives of the godly women that have impacted and influenced my life, I’ve noted a common golden thread woven through the fabric of their lives: the golden thread of generosity.
Oftentimes, we tend to think of generosity as being primarily rooted in financial resource. However, there are many ways we can be generous by simply contributing to the lives of those around us, in both evident and unseen ways — whether it be in some form of love expressed, a prayer uttered, a show of genuine thoughtfulness, a compassionate heart, a talent shared, a skill taught, or something else.
God has uniquely gifted each of us with the potential to substantially invest in the lives of those around us as we walk in harmony with Him and are purely motivated by His love. My own life has been touched by women of faith who have lived loving, giving lives, and I’d like to share a few words about the unique ways each of their lives showcase the beauty of generosity.
Ann — A Pastor’s Wife
Ann was a pastor’s wife for nearly 50 years. For the duration of her husband Chris’s life and ministry, Ann was a beautiful support to him. More than you or I will ever know, Ann was generous in sharing her husband’s time and spiritual strength with others, while also lending her own unique gifting to the church.
Whether they were hosting gatherings at their own home, organizing events at the church, cooking up a storm of the best fellowship hall meatballs, or stirring up a healthy dose of levity and laughter — Chris and Ann were truly cheerful givers of all they had.
Ann is a woman whose faithful life sings of loving God and loving people.
Gail — An Insightful Gift-Giver
Gail is a woman who is always finding special ways to recognize the people around her with thoughtful gifts and meaningful celebrations. She is wonderfully creative and fun, while also being incredibly insightful and thoughtful. I’ve never known her to miss a chance at celebrating a milestone in a truly meaningful way!
Her prayerfulness and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit attunes her to His heart for those around her, and it’s a marvel to see the way her God-given talents, enacted and guided by her personal walk with the Lord, touch the lives of others.
Gail is rich with creativity, consistent in her relationship with the Lord, and the overflow is the lavish gift of God-led love heaped upon others.
Lynn — A Woman of the Word
Lynn is known for sharing the wisdom of God over cups of tea on her blue sofa. As a result of being shepherded by God through valleys of hardship and loss in her own life, Lynn’s heart is soft toward her Shepherd and tender toward others and the challenges they are facing.
She is a prayerful, empathetic listener, and yet a clear-minded and brave exhorter. She urges the women who share a seat on her blue sofa to heed the clear Word of God in their unique situation. And she does so because obedience to God matters.
Lynn is generous with her time, her tea, and the treasures of wisdom gleaned from many years of faithfully walking with the Lord.
. . .
These women remind me of what beautiful things flow from our lives when we start by giving our lives to Him! Their example teaches us that the essence of generosity is to give joyfully, right where God has placed us, through the means with which He has equipped us. Yes, it can and will look differently for each and every one of us, but it all starts with first giving our lives to Him, that He might pour His life and love through us to touch others. And what a beautiful thing it is to touch the lives of others with the God-led, God-enabled giftings and abilities He has given us!