Precepts

We have another opportunity for Bible study on Wednesday mornings, called Precepts, led by Kay Bjurstrom and Betty Hoffman. It goes from 9-11:30 am, and meets upstairs in room 211. They are doing “James: A Faith That’s Real”.

Precepts is an organization that was founded and is led by Kay Arthur. They are devoted to helping people deeply study God’s word, and have different groups who meet under that umbrella all over the country. Each week, the work from the previous week is discussed. Then, they view the video lesson, and have prayer requests. I hope that gives you more information, if you were looking to go to this study. You, of course can contact Kay or Betty for more information, or feel free to contact me as well with any questions at women@sugargrovechurch.com. Here is the link to sign up:

The Gentle Art of Discipling Women

The next opportunity we have for you lovely ladies, is the class “The Gentle Art of Discipling Women. This class is on Sunday mornings and starts this Sunday, September 8th, at 9:30 am. This class meets in room 207, which is upstairs across from the sanctuary. This is a smaller class, but there are still some spots open, if you are interested. This class is led by Andi Schrock, and she has had many years of experience in this area.

Andi will be leading you through Dana Yeakley’s book, “The Gentle Art of Discipling Women”. Dana Yeakley walks with you through the foundational principles of who you are in Christ and how you are uniquely equipped to pass along what He has taught you.  This course will help each woman discover her unique gifting in discipleship through her relationship with God, her personality, and her story.

If you are interested, please sign up here:

https://sugargrovechurch.wufoo.com/forms/mgsfay31t61fu8/

As always, if you have any questions, please contact me at women@sugargrovechurch.com. Hope you ladies have a wonderful Thursday!

Shannon

Monday Night and Friday Morning Studies

This week, I wanted to share with you about our studies that we offer both Monday night and Friday mornings. Both with be doing “Stepping Up” by Beth Moore, a study on the Psalms. Friday morning starts up September 6th, and goes from 9:00-11:00 am. It is led by Julie Overholt, and she has been leading this group for many years. This is a group of ladies that I have been able to lean on through very hard times. We share prayer requests, and after the video session, discuss the questions at our tables. Child care is provided at this study, and we take turns bringing in breakfast each week.

Our Monday night study is led by Amy Luebbehusen and April Brinckman. They have many years of experience leading this group as well. This is a group that you’ll be able to share prayer requests, and lean on each other in your struggles. They discuss the previous week before the video, and then have more discussion after the video as well. They have light snacks and coffee available each Monday.

I hope that gives you a little more information on these two Bible studies we offer, and we’d love to see you there!! Sign up here, if you are interested:

Time Out for Moms

This week, I wanted to share with you ladies about our Time Out for Moms group. This group meets the 1st and 3rd Thursday each month starting September 5th, then ending on December 5th. They go from 9:30-11:30, and have childcare provided. I can’t say enough good things about the women who have provided childcare for the moms over the years. They are truly amazing, and I have trusted them with my own kids when I was in moms group. They taught my kids songs and verses, and took time to read to them, and just love on them. This year, our leaders are Amy Ellis, Allison Doyle, and Bonnie Mast. These ladies have been a part of our group, but God has called them to lead this year. They are organizing speakers on various topics that will appeal to mothers, and will help you grow in your faith, and in your parenting. If you’d like to sign up, or would like more information, please go to: https://sugargrovechurch.com/women/

You can also email women@sugargrovechurch for any further questions on this or any other study/group in the Women’s Ministry.

Moms in Prayer

Hope you ladies are doing well, I know I am looking forward to getting back into the school year routine! I know it can be a busier season for a lot of us, but I love having more of a routine, and seeing everyone more often. I wanted to tell you about the next group we offer at Sugar Grove, Moms in Prayer.

Moms in Prayer is part of a larger organization, “Moms in Prayer International”. We have a small group of about 6-8 women who meet regularly on Monday mornings, in room 208 from 8:30-9:30, and we start on August 26th. This year, it will be led by myself and Laurie Ness. Our specific school we pray for is Elkhart Christian Academy, but many of our moms represent different schools. The focus is to pray for our children, and the schools they attend, as well as lifting each other up in prayer. We spend time in corporate prayer, and then split off into smaller groups, to share more personal requests, and to pray for our children. I can’t think of anything more important than spending concentrated time in prayer, especially as a group. There is so much power in prayer, and if this is something you are committed to, then this is definitely the group for you! Once again, if you have any questions about the group, please email me at women@sugargrovechurch.com. To sign up for this group, or any other Bible studies we offer, please click here: https://sugargrovechurch.com/women/

Things Coming Up

So, I wanted to take a few minutes to introduce myself to you ladies who may not know me, or even know that I have taken over as Women’s Ministry Director here at Sugar Grove.  We have so many new people, and that is so exciting, but that also means that there are a lot of women who may not know how to plug in!  

My name is Shannon Baad, and I am a stay at home mom.  My kids are Jacob (8) and Olivia (6), and both attend Middlebury Schools.  I am married to Jim, and we have been married for 17 years. We have been attending Sugar Grove for about 9 years.  We love our church family, and have seen a lot of changes since we’ve been here. I love women’s ministry, and have been to pretty much every women’s event I could attend since I started at Sugar Grove. Previous to serving as Women’s Director, I co-led our Time Out for Moms group for 4 years.  I still have a lot to learn, and I am still trying to get the hang of all that I am supposed to be doing, so I humbly ask for your patience as we move forward.

Each week, leading up to our Fall Bible Studies, I wanted to highlight the different studies and groups we offer.  I want to start with our Single Moms Bible Study, because they start first. They start meeting August 21st, along with the Awana schedule.  That way, if you need childcare, your child can join Awana, and you can learn and grow yourself! Our leaders for this group are Becky Bender and Val Bierlein.  These are two amazing women, who have been leading this group for several years. This year, they are doing a continuation of Lori Little’s study, “Hope and Help for the Single Mom”.  This study helps you learn 21 principles of being a healthy single mom. This group has really given a lot of support to our single moms over the years, and if you are a single mom, and looking for other women you can connect with, please sign up:

Please let me know if you ladies have any questions, and I’ll be highlighting another group next week, here on our Facebook page, so stay tuned!!  Feel free to check out our website at any time for all of the details of our Fall studies. You can contact me at women@sugargrovechurch.com.

Oh, How He Loves Us

So, you probably thought I just gave up on this whole blog thing.  Well, I didn’t plan on not writing for so long, but then you know, Summer.  Let’s just say I am not sure what happened.  The Summer flew by, and there were just so many things that happened that I wasn’t quite prepared for.  You know how it is, it’s just life.  We are in a tough season over here, but that’s okay, I am trusting in the Lord, and know by the end of it all, there will be so much I can tell you that the Lord did in me and in my family.

I have been reading quite a bit though, I just haven’t had anything to share with you lately.  I always want to encourage on this blog, but this Summer I had nothing encouraging to say, hence the silence.  In the last month or so, I have read a couple of books that have really changed me, and God really used them to encourage my sad, defeated self.  I read one about having the confidence in how much God loves you, and that He has made you for a specific purpose.  We know these things, right?  I’m pretty sure I have told you these things myself, but we all get discouraged, and we all forget.  Well, the book also talks about how God loves us not matter what, and His love is not based on performance.  There is nothing that can stop His love for me.  Pretty incredible, SO undeserved.

I realized that somehow I got caught up in trying to live up to God’s love in performance.  I am not sure when the shift happened, but it seems that I fall into this pattern after I feel I have failed God.  It has taken me 38 years to realize that I have been doing this over and over.  Then, I realize the truth, that I just repent, and then move forward.  It’s like I think I need to be punished for my failures, instead of asking for forgiveness, repenting, and moving forward.  I get stuck wallowing.  I don’t know why, I know better.  I feel frustrated at the time wasted, and the lies I believed from the enemy.  I hate it.  But you know what Paul says…

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Romans 7:15-20 NIV

So, here we are.  I’m done wallowing, and believing that God isn’t too happy with me.  He sees me through Jesus, so He is pleased with me, just based on that.  There is nothing I can do to earn or take away from that.  That just amazes me, and I will always fail to get my tiny brain around that fact.  His upside down love, that just doesn’t make any sense.  It’s upside down grace that gives us chance after chance to keep pressing toward that goal.  He wants that for us, for He knows who we are becoming, and who He is making us to be.

I am amazed by it all, and I am amazed that God would even love me.  That He would even use me.  I am in another season of humbling.  It has not been fun at all, but it is much needed, for I can struggle with pride, and there is no place for that when you want Christ to be seen in you.  I want it to be only Him, and Him alone.  What about you?  Do you know that God loves you, that’s it?  Nothing can separate you from that love!

Love Your Neighbor

With it being Summer and all, I’ve had a little more time to read books.  I don’t have any regularly scheduled Bible Studies and things like that during the Summer, so I end up reading a  lot more.  I just finished reading “Love Lives Here” by Maria Goff.  It was such a good book, and really got me thinking about loving my neighbors.

I think I mentioned in my last post that I had just heard Bob Goff speak at a conference not too long ago.  Bob and Maria are married, and I think they are such an interesting pair.  They are so different, so reading her book was interesting to me after seeing what Bob is like.  They both shared stories of loving their neighbors.  They have a parade in the neighborhood, and have relationships with their neighbors, and really love these people well.  Their stories inspired me, and just really made me think that’s what it looks like to love others like Jesus.

I, on the other hand, have found it difficult to even get to know my neighbors. I never see many of them out, and I am not one to just go knock on people’s doors.  I just don’t want to bother anyone.  They seem not to want to be bothered.  I don’t know if that’s really true, but it has taken four years of us living here to finally get to know at least a few of them.

For most of you, I’m guessing you may be in a similar situation.  If you are a mom, it’s difficult, because you are taking care of your own little ones at the moment, and you can’t always do much for others.  I have been in that place since we have moved in, but I am able to do a bit more now that my kids are older.  It is hard to find the balance, though.  There are many other areas in my life where there are relationships to maintain, sometimes it seems a bit overwhelming to add neighbors to the list.

I just think about how it used to be, neighbors were like family.  They were people you counted on for things, because, well, they are right there.  All of my neighbors are at different stages of life than me.  Most of the close neighbors have older kids, they are grown and out of their house.  So, it’s hard to find things in common at times.  I am trying to make sure I obey God about how I interact with the neighbors around me, and I know that we are not called to everyone, well, because there is only so much of us to go around.

I have gotten to know a couple of neighbors better, since God has opened my eyes to these people around me.  Some have been over little conversations here and there over the years, and I felt God call me to pursue a couple of them more intentionally.  Like, having them over for dinner or just taking time to help  them with something.  God is teaching me to not be afraid to invite people over for dinner, and to just be the one to make the first move.  Sometimes, I get caught up in where things are going with a new friendship, what it will turn out to be.  I just need to obey God in that moment, even if that’s all it ever is.  I tend to also judge where a person is at, and I just need to show them Christ’s love.  His beautiful, unconditional, selfless love. That is very hard at times, because you want people to be like you and think like you. As I have learned this year though, Jesus did not come to judge the world, but to save it.  My job is not to be the judge.  Jesus will do that next time around.  I have to love people where they are at, and God will do the rest.  He will show me what to say, and what to do.  I simply need to surrender my all to Him, and His Holy Spirit will give me all I need.

We do need to love our neighbors, really love them, in a radical, selfless way.  We can not do this in our own strength, though.  Take the pressure off of yourself.  We can not do it ourselves, I repeat, WE CAN NOT do it at all without Jesus living through us.  Just let Him lead you to love your neighbor, that can be someone next door, it can be your husband, it can be your kid, or it can be your crazy co-worker.  God had placed these people in our lives for a reason.  Let’s love them like crazy in a majorly unloving world.

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.        Mark 12:30-31  NIV

Don’t Stay There

I know it’s been a while AGAIN!  April has been a crazy month, so there just has been so much going on.  One thing that I got to do this month that was a huge blessing is the mom’s conference I go to every year.  It’s called Hearts at Home, and I highly recommend it to you moms out there.  It’s just like other people who get to go and learn how to be better at their jobs, and boy do we need help with being a mom!  Well, at least I do!

So, at this conference, we learned about a book called The Kindness Challenge, by Shaunti Feldhahn.  She spoke there and pointed out that we are not as kind as we think we are.  She also said that just doing something kind for someone would change how they act towards us as well.  You may see some results right away, or you may see some pretty quickly.  It was really interesting to hear some of her research, and something I guess I hadn’t thought too much on.  I mean, I try to be kind every day, and I ask the Lord to help me be who He is asking me to be.  Some days that is super hard, and others days, not too bad.

The thing is, kindness is a fruit of the Spirit, which just kind of occurred to me.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.   Gal. 5:22-23  NIV

So, right there it is.  For me, that means that quality, kindness is not attainable without the Lord’s strength, without the Holy Spirit living inside of us!  Are you with me on this?  I am not naturally that kind of a person on my own, like in my flesh, you know?  I am kind of naturally nice, but kind is a whole ‘nother level people.  It’s Christlike.  It’s what we can’t do without His strength.  It shows other people around us, that we are truly His followers, and makes them feel loved.  When we are kind, it sticks out in this world.

I am doing the actual kindness challenge with some amazing ladies from my moms group that went to the conference as well.  We have been sharing what we are learning, and it’s blowing my mind.  It’s amazing to see how God works when we obey Him.  You choose a person, and you do a generous act for them, then say something nice to them, and about them to someone else.  Also, you may not say anything negative about them.  This is all for 30 days.  This ain’t for the faint of heart!  I chose my husband at first, but then God showed my that my daughter Olivia is someone I need to choose.  She is at a difficult stage right now, and it is very hard to be patient with her at times.  She can be illogical, and just super exhausting.  She has been hard to deal with since she turned three, three is a very bad stage in our home.  I don’t know why, I guess we are just blessed!  Since she turned four, it’s a whole new level of drama, disobeying, and overall rudeness.  Just note that this isn’t negative, I am just telling the truth!!

I started Tuesday, because, well, I forgot Monday.  I just started being more patient, being intentional about asking God for the strength, and praying for what I needed in that moment.  It just has made me more conscious of my actions and words.  I have held back critical and sarcastic comments, and have been able to stay calm with her.  I have not been perfect by any means, but knowing you have a whole group of ladies to keep you accountable, you sure don’t want to tell them how much you screwed up!  I have seen changes pretty quickly in Olivia.  She has obeyed me faster, said “thanks” without prompting.  She is quicker to compromise, and just has been kinder as well.  I have been trying to do the things she’d like to do, within reason.  I’m just seeing how selfish and lazy I can be with her.  I’m also becoming very aware of how much I still struggle with being in control.  Through this challenge, I have really let go of a lot of that, and it has been very freeing.

The thing that has been hard, is that watching how kind God is making me, it really makes how I have been lately seem really unkind.  I mean, it makes me feel really awful.  I feel so guilty for not being a better mom to my kids, and for the times I just have not been patient, or I just let my agenda trump them.  I am so bad at putting tasks first, and hurrying along the parenting stuff, because frankly, I don’t always know what to do.  It’s just hard dealing with two little, sinful humans.

My point is this, I can’t stay there in those feelings.  This fruit that God is cultivating in me is showing me how sinful and selfish I can be when I try to do things in my own power.  It’s showing me how far I have to go, and it is humbling me.  This is exactly where God wants us.  It takes courage to move forward, a lot of it.  We want to wallow sometimes in those bad feelings.  I feel like if I beat myself up enough, then I’ll beat others to it.  It know that’s dysfunctional, but I know I’m not alone in this.  I know sharing this with you will help at least one of you!

On the trip to the conference I had to drive, which isn’t my favorite.  I ended up going down a one way street with lovely ladies in my car, and another van followed me.  Thankfully, we are all just fine, and can laugh now about it.  It was so embarrassing for me.  I beat myself up and down, back and forth, and was having a hard time getting past it.  God showed me that if I didn’t move forward and let this go, I was really going to miss out on all He had for me that weekend.  I let it go right then, and it was so hard people.  I mean, really hard for me.  I don’t quite understand why, but I had to forgive myself.  I am really good with forgiving others, but myself, not so much.

There was a speaker there, Bob Goff.  He said something that really brought it all home for me.  He was sharing about how someone could be standing in front of a movie screen, that you can’t see the movie.  They are blocking it.  He said to not be like that, don’t block others from seeing Jesus.  I realized that by holding on to my past mistakes with my kids and with one ways, that I was blocking Jesus.  I was letting it block me, and others from seeing Jesus as well.  That’s why we can’t stay there.  Let the Lord convict your sweet heart, and let’s move on.  It takes so much bravery and courage, but that’s what Christ died for.  He doesn’t want you to stay like you are.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.    Phil. 3:13-14 NIV

 

Jesus Prayed For US!

I’m no theologian, and there is so much about the Bible I still have to discover. I have learned so many new things this year by being a part of Bible Study Fellowship.  We have been studying John, and boy, it has been eye opening.  There is so much that I have not seen before.  So much new insight into Jesus’ life on earth.  It has been bringing everything together for me.  God has used everything I have been learning in John, sermons, and Bible studies, and made it one big lesson.  Only He can tie all of these seemingly random stories and pieces from His Word together.  He even does it in a beautiful, loving way. He wants me to draw close to Him, and has been drawing me all of my life.  I don’t deserve that, but I am so thankful He has never given up on me.

The thing that my mind can’t stop thinking about is the lesson from a few weeks ago.  We were in John 17.  This is the chapter right before He is arrested.  He prays the entire chapter.  He starts by praying about the fact that the hour has come, and that it is time for Him to finish the work God gave Him.

I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.  And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

John 17:4-5  NIV

Then, His focus turns towards the disciples.  He prays for them from verse 6 to verse 19.  Wow.  My favorite part of His prayer is this:

I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of joy within them.  I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.  My prayer is not that you would take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

John 17:13-15  NIV

What a prayer for other believers.  This is such an awesome example of how to pray for each other as we are out ministering to others, and doing our best to live for Him.  I want to have that full measure of joy, and I am betting you do too.  I also don’t want to be taken out of the world, if God is still using me, and to see how He prayed for protection from the evil one.  Not safety, but from the evil one.  I’m not saying it’s wrong to pray for safety, but as the Lord leads.  Following Christ is definitely not safe, nor do I want to be a comfortable Christian.  It does give me great comfort to see the prayer for protection from the evil one.  That is the eternal, and that is what is most important.  All of the disciples were martyred, except John.  So, they were not kept safe from the trials and hardships of following Christ, but were kept safe from the evil one.

Finally, the chapter closes out with Jesus praying for all believers.  Also, for future believers.  That includes us, ya’ll!  Seriously.  I could not believe what I was reading!  I’m guessing I have read this before, but I did not grasp that part.  It just overwhelmed my soul, and the thought that we have words written down, that we can read anytime of Jesus praying for us.  Crazy.  Also, it is again, another example of how to pray for one another.  Here is my favorite part of our prayer:

…May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one- I in them and you in me- so that they may be brought to complete unity.  Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

John 17:21-23  NIV

So, we get to be in complete unity with God, and then with each other as well. That is what God wants for us, to be in unity with Him, but then with each other as a body of Christ.  I love the part at the end of that verse that says that God loves us, even as He loved Jesus.  That is a lot of love from God. Jesus was completely obedient to Him, even unto death, the Bible tells us.  God loves me just as much.  Pretty incredible, and pretty incredible to know that He wants to be close to me, and that He sent His Son to pay the high, high price to save my life.  The only thing He asks is that I believe in and accept His Son.  These are things to really think about with Easter coming up.  The resurrection is of course the best part.  Let’s not forget all that Jesus did for us, and what God must have gone through watching His Son take our wrath. Jesus kept obeying in all of the events leading up to the crucifixion, and He never overlooked anyone needing salvation along the way.  Even in the agony He knew He was facing, He took time in John 17, to pray for His disciples, and then to pray for us.  He really could’ve taken up that whole chapter praying for Himself, and no one would have blamed Him.  Even in facing a horrible death, knowing that He would be separated from His Father, He prayed for us.

Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

John 17:24  NIV

PS. Please go and read the entire chapter, don’t just take my highlights.  See what God shows you when you read it!