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Arise Women's Ministry: Five Years

November 18, 2023

"I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on your mighty deeds."

Psalm 77:11-12

November 2018: I left a women’s ministry at my former church, and I believed my gifting and passion was to be involved in women’s ministry full-time. Our new church did not have a women’s ministry, and as I prayed about what to do next, God spoke to my heart, “If there is no Christian women’s organization in this area, you should start one.” I knew that was God. But what I didn’t know was what to do next. God inspired me to call the ministry Arise, based on this verse: Isaiah 60:1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.”

January 2019: I got a job as an instructional assistant at an elementary school. I used those six months as a test to see if I wanted to renew my teaching license and become an elementary school teacher again. I decided it wasn’t for me. But then I was left with no career path. I wanted to be in full-time women’s ministry, but God wasn’t opening up that door, and I had to help provide income for my family. I thought that in order to start my women’s ministry, I would need a large amount of money gifted to me so that I could start the non-profit organization and be paid by it. Well, that wasn’t happening. God asked me, “Why haven’t you done what I told you to do?” I said, “I don’t have any money! What am I supposed to do?”

July 2019: I took a job working at a call center. I started an entry-level job that “anyone” could do. I had been looking for a job but had gotten stumped because whenever I looked on Indeed, I wasn’t qualified for anything. The only experience and education I had was in teaching. I saw this particular call center job a couple of times on Indeed and wasn’t too interested, until I ran into a friend at the grocery store who told me her husband was the manager and could get me a job. I knew it was God leading me to take it. Little did I know how difficult the job would be for me. It was frustrating. Humbling. And I would be very confused about why God led me to it. It felt like wasting my time and wasting my life when I was supposed to be in women’s ministry with Arise.

December 2019: My dad was diagnosed with cancer. We didn’t know how quickly he would leave us. This post isn’t about my dad, so I won’t say much. I don’t have the words. But to those of you who have lost someone to cancer, you know.

February 2020: My dad passed away. My biggest cheerleader was gone. I think of him so often now that Arise is doing well. I know he would be proud of me. And I know I would not be the woman I am, the one who is able to listen to God and lead other women in this ministry, without my dad loving me and encouraging me so well for the first 44 years of my life. I miss you, Dad. When I get to Heaven we can talk about all the things that happened here after you left, ok? I know that you’re proud of me, but it will be good to hug you and hear you say it.

March 2020: Covid-19 hit. The world started shutting down. My job got harder because the number of phone calls coming in increased, while the number of people we had working on the team at the call center dwindled. I hated that season of my life. Every day after work I would take my puppy to the field to let her run and play, while I would cry and talk to God. I felt like God was wasting my life. I felt like I had so much more to offer than just answering phone calls all day. I was miserable. And I was jealous of my husband, who is a pastor. I often thought of how unfair it was that he got to have a job he cared about, a job where he could use his gifts, a job where he got to impact the kingdom of God, while I had to take phone calls all day that meant nothing to me.

May 2020: I was having (another) rough day at work, and was crying in the bathroom. God asked me, “Why haven’t you done what I asked you to do?” I paused and thought, “Well, last time You asked me that it was because of money, but right now, after refinancing our house, we actually have a large savings account. I guess I can’t say it’s because of money anymore….” God impressed on me that just like Jonah, who was stuck in the belly of the whale because He did not obey God’s direction to go to Ninevah and preach to the people there, I would continue to be miserable, “in the belly of the whale” at this call center, until I obeyed. I decided right there that it was time to move forward with Arise. I made a big decision while sitting on the floor of the bathroom at work. I decided to figure out the next steps for Arise instead of waiting for God to drop it in my lap.

May 2020: I went to the park to pray about who would help me with this ministry. God brought to mind my dear friend Jamie and my dear friend Kristi. I reached out to both of them to ask them to pray about being involved and helping me with Arise. And they both said yes! Looking back on how I met each of them, it’s so moving knowing God knew when we met that they would one day be involved in leading Arise with me. I met Jamie when her daughters attended my preschool class. She attended Bible study at my former church with me, and I had the privilege of baptizing her in April 2018. It will always be one of the best days of my life. Having her working in Arise with me is the sweetest gift, because she was there with me at my old church when God showed me how much I loved women’s ministry. She was with me from the “beginning.” I met Kristi at a women’s conference in February 2018. We had an instant connection, (partly due to sharing the same name!), and I couldn’t let her get away without getting her contact information that day. And God knew that we would work together in Arise! He’s so cool!

May 2020: Jamie and I met to discuss the logo for Arise. I told her all about what God had placed on my heart when He told me about Arise and all the light I could see in my mind over it, and she knew it would have to be like a sunrise/sunset. She designed this beautiful logo. It’s perfect. Thank You, God, for gifting Jamie with the talent to create this logo that represents the dream You gave me.

May 2020: I met with a friend who had started a non-profit a few years earlier. She gave me tips about filing for a business name with the State of Oregon. She said they hired a lawyer to help get all the legal pieces in order for their non-profit status and bylaws, etc. I felt overwhelmed by the whole legal part of it. I was confused about filing a business name with the State. But just after I met with this friend, one day while I was at work at the call center, I met a guy who used to work for the State of Oregon in the business name department! Whaaat? Yeah, that was God helping me out for sure! I created an email address for Arise and I filed the business name with the State of Oregon. It was an exciting step!

June 2020: I started building a Board of Directors by reaching out to my friend Kris to see if she was willing to be the Treasurer. I knew Kris because we had previously attended church together and she had been a small group leader in the women’s Bible study I had led at that church. I knew she was mature, both emotionally and spiritually, and I knew she was responsible, organized, and had financial management experience since her job is in finances. Kris asked me some really good questions about my plans and dreams for the ministry and about what the role of Treasurer would entail. It forced me to compose those thoughts and write them up, which always helps with direction. After praying and considering it, Kris agreed to be the Treasurer and said we would figure out all the non-profit financial things together as they came up. I was so grateful! First two board members in place: Kris as the Treasurer and me as the President. I see You, God. Baby steps.

June 2020: God put it on my heart to tell about Arise. I didn’t want to. I thought that in six months, I would have raised financial support and would be able to quit my job, and Arise would be a non-profit with several different ministries going, and then I would announce it to the world. I would say, “Look at this cool ministry God helped me start! Here are all the things we are doing! Look! Yay!” But God didn’t want to do it that way. He told me to write about Arise on my blog. Even though it was still just a dream. God said that when a baby is born, all you have is a name before it enters the world. So He told me that since I had the name for Arise, that’s all I needed to introduce the dream to the world. I strongly believed that writing that blog post was going to bring some kind of help to my ministry. Because God made it clear that I needed to write about it.

June 2020: I posted a blog about Arise, explaining what He told me to do and where I was at with it (which wasn’t very far!) A Facebook friend that I had never met in person (her family had recently moved from California and had found our church online, so we became Facebook friends), read my blog post and felt led to get in touch with me to talk about Arise. Her name is Darla. I went into the meeting praying that God would make it clear if Darla was meant to help in any way with Arise, even if it was just in giving me advice or pointing me in the right direction. We met for coffee…and I knew. I sit here smiling over that conversation. It was incredible, really. I just knew that God meant for her to be part of Arise. She had experience in women’s ministry. She really liked that Arise was non-denominational and felt strongly about helping me make sure it stayed that way, not associated with any certain church. She had a dream of writing her own Bible studies one day. She advised me that Arise needed a written statement of faith, something I hadn’t thought of yet. She said she would feel comfortable leading Bible study. I told her I had two leaders already, Jamie and Kristi, and Darla suggested that the four of us meet for Bible study and to start planning. When I left that coffee date, I wrote all about it in my journal, and I saw God. He had prompted me to post that blog, and I just knew he would use it somehow! That day I messaged both Jamie and Kristi to tell them all about Darla and ask if they would be interested in meeting for an Arise leaders Bible study.

Summer 2020: Jamie, Kristi, Darla and I started meeting for Bible study and planning. I shared with them how frustrating my job was and how I expected that when God told me to start Arise, He would have provided more time and energy for me to do it. I wrestled with God over that. I hated that my stupid call center job was taking all my energy. I started wondering whether my family could afford for me to work part-time so I could devote more to Arise. As we met regularly, I liked seeing Jamie, Kristi and Darla start to build friendships with each other. God knew we would be a good team! I feel joy and gratitude at what God did then and what He continues to do to knit us together. We worked together on our Arise mission statement. I knew that the purpose of Arise is to build women’s relationships with Jesus (using the Bible) and to build their relationships with other women. I love the mission statement we came up with:

Arise Women’s Ministry

Bringing women together to study God’s Word.

Because the Truth sets us free

and our sisterhood makes us stronger.

October 2020: We launched our website! That was an exciting step that made it feel real.

November 2020: We decided to hire a law firm that specializes in helping to establish non-profit organizations. We had been given enough donations (and bottles and cans!) to pay the legal fees.

November 2020: I got a promotion at work. For over a year I had been asking God why He was wasting my life, and I had thought the thing that would benefit Arise the most is if I could quit my job at the call center and just work for Arise. It turns out, God wanted me to stay at the call center because He had a lot for me to learn. Specifically God wanted me to learn about my own weaknesses, and He wanted me to learn about Leadership. This promotion was such a blessing, and I look back on it often as a reminder that when we are in a miserable season of life, God is always working ahead of us. There may be a turn in the road we never see coming, so we can’t give up hope! God will reveal His plan in His own timing.

January 2021: Arise started its first Bible study! Looking for Lovely was the name of it. We had 15 ladies come to that first study! One of them was a friend from my church named Jolynn. She joined to support me and my dream that God had given me. Later she would say that she didn’t realize how much she needed this women’s ministry! (And spoiler alert, in 2023 we would ask her to join the leadership team).

February 2021: I won’t go into detail here, but God revealed to me some personal areas of sin in my life due to my past. It was a huge distraction to my ministry in Arise and felt like such a weight that I was carrying. Again, I questioned God’s timing and plan. Why would He bring all this up in my heart just as Arise was officially beginning? I talked to a few trusted friends about what was going on, and then I talked to Seth about it.

June 2021: I started Biblical counseling to deal with some things from my past and to learn to overcome the sin I was dealing with. That experience really humbled me. I thought God asked me to start Arise because I was such a strong, godly woman who didn’t struggle with many issues. It was overwhelming trying to process a lot of sadness while trying to devote energy to Arise at the same time. God pointed out to me that He brought strong leaders to Arise to help me so that I didn’t have to do it all. Because I couldn’t do it all. I was barely holding on sometimes with working full time and going to counseling and trying to keep up with my family and with Arise. He taught me the joy of allowing others to lead and to see them shine with the gifts He had given them. I shared with the other leaders that I was going to counseling (partly because I had to since I had to arrive late to Bible study due to counseling only being offered Monday nights). I didn’t share with the entire group what I was dealing with, but I would mention little hints, and I hope that made me seem more real and approachable to admit I was struggling with my past.

August 2021: We got a notice from the IRS establishing that we were an official 501(c)3 charitable organization.

April 2022: We had our first women’s retreat! It was so cool how God helped us come up with the theme for this retreat. Due to the counseling I was going through, the issue I was learning to overcome was not looking to others to find my self-worth, but looking to God alone. I was wondering if that might be something we should focus on for our retreat. Also, we had been sharing theme ideas and one of them was “Fill Your Cup.” It piqued my interest but I wasn’t sure how to use it. Also, Darla had been praying about a theme for the retreat and had kept coming back to Ephesians 3:14-19. So when the four of us leaders (Darla, Jamie, Kristi, and me) met for a planning retreat, when Darla read aloud that passage we saw something cool!

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

“…that you may be filled…”! It went right along with “fill your cup” and with God being the only One who can satisfy us with His love. I remember how the four of us were so delighted that God brought all our thoughts together in that moment. I remember the room we were sitting in and how the light looked, and I remember the joy in knowing God had answered our prayers for guidance about what to focus our very first retreat on. I’m filled with gratitude right now remembering it, because I was nervous about deciding on a theme. But God always shows up! We had nine ladies attend that first retreat. Each of us got a cup with our name on it, as a reminder that God is the only One whose love can truly fill our hearts in a lasting way.

Darla, Kristi and I each wrote up and led one session for the retreat, which I was sooo nervous about! But of course, it all went well and God used our efforts to create a meaningful weekend of fellowship and time with Him in a beautiful setting in Scio, Oregon, right on the river.

On a personal note, I remember what God spoke to me during that retreat. We designated a time on Saturday morning for each of us to go be alone with God to pray or read the Bible or anything we wanted in order to connect with God. On the subject of looking to others for approval and value, I told God that I craved having others look at me with admiration. And God said, “If you could only see the way I look at you.” I was overcome. He was telling me that He loves me so dearly and tenderly, and that love surpasses any human adoration I could ever find.

Man, remembering is powerful! I’m crying over here thinking of that moment. Can you see why I love Him so? Also, something I have been amazed at over the last few years is how God has used Arise to help me. I thought He asked me to start Arise for the other women who need to know Him and who need a community of support. I cannot even list all the ways He has shown up for me and how many ways the other women have supported me through Arise. What have I even done to deserve this kind of goodness from my Heavenly Father? Nothing. He is love, so He pours it out on all of us. If we are drawing near to Him we will see it more clearly. Thank You, Jesus, for what you have done in my life through Arise! Apparently, I’m one of the women who needed it.

September 2022: Darla, one of the other leaders, felt led to start a prayer group for any women who wanted to pray over the next generation or those impacting those children’s lives. The local MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers)  group had stopped meeting, and Darla was praying about what God had next for her, and she saw a need. She presented the idea to us and I was so excited to hear it. I reminded the other leaders that when God first planted the idea in my mind for Arise, I envisioned several different regular meeting options for women. We agreed that the Bible should be part of each prayer meeting, not to study the Bible, but to use a verse or passage as a starting point for prayer. Darla leads this group and they meet about twice a month during the school year. It’s called Arise Women of Prayer, which I love! Jamie created a complementary logo for Arise Women of Prayer. I believe this part of Arise was also God’s idea, and I believe the prayers of Darla and these women are mighty.

October 2022: Arise had its first Board Meeting! Five of us met at Jamie’s house and it was so exciting to be officially operating as a non-profit organization. I got to bring together our Treasurer, Kris, and the Arise leaders Darla, Jamie, and Kristi. We adopted the by-laws and we agreed to meet quarterly. Darla committed to be the Secretary, while Kristi and Jamie agreed to be additional Directors. We just had our fifth board meeting last month in October 2023. Whenever we meet I am in awe that these other wonderful, capable, smart, godly women keep showing up to serve Arise Women’s Ministry. It shows that they also believe that God is at work and this ministry is worth being part of. It impresses me and humbles me. And reminds me that this isn’t some silly dream that only exists in my own head. This ministry is real and good and having a real impact on women’s lives. Wow. I just feel awed every time I look at them and see their commitment to Arise. Thank You, God, for these coworkers and friends you have provided!

December 2022: Our Treasurer Kris and I went and opened a bank account for Arise. Another exciting step!

January 2023: After some discussion and prayer, the board members decided to ask Jolynn, one of our most faithful attendees, to be one of the leaders of Arise Women’s Ministry. In the two years since Arise had started, Jolynn had demonstrated spiritual maturity, a passion for God’s Word, and wisdom whenever we asked her for input or advice, and she was always present, pitching in to help clean up or whatever else was needed. She was also very open about how Arise had helped her in a way she didn’t know she needed, increasing her hunger for God’s Word and providing community with other women. Jolynn said she would pray about joining our leadership team, and then in time she agreed to step up and take on this new role. We are so grateful for what she brings to the team! It was perfect timing to add another leader to the team, since things started to pop up this year that meant not all the leaders could be present at Bible study each week. Sometimes I travel for work, and some of the other leaders have had schedule challenges, family health challenges, or personal challenges that have come up unexpectedly, but in spite of all these things, we have been able to have at least two leaders present for each Bible study.

September 2023:  We started our tenth Bible study since Arise Women's Ministry began! We had 25 ladies join the study. It was called Matchless: The Life and Love of Jesus. We met some new ladies and had some of our dear ladies return, and it was such a sweet time, learning new things about Jesus together!

October 2023: Our second women’s retreat. Ok, here I go, tearing up again. This one. This was the one where God just impressed upon my heart the entire weekend to pause and look at what He had done in the last five years. It was November of 2018 that God first told me to start Arise Women’s Ministry, and here we were the first weekend of October 2023, with a group of 14 of us staying in a house at the coast, overlooking the ocean. Why were any of those women spending that weekend there at the coast? Because they desire what Arise has to offer: knowing God better through His Word and a personal relationship with Him, and having a connection with other women to go through life together, sharing the joys and the suffering and challenging each other’s faith to grow. Wow. I wish I had a better word to describe my awe.

On Friday evening, just after we all got into the house and had unpacked and were gathering for dinner, Jamie got my attention and said, “Come here!” When I neared her, she told me to look out the window at the twilight sky over the ocean. And as I did, she held up her phone to show me the Arise Women’s Ministry logo that she had created 3 years earlier. You guys. I gasped. The colors of the sky that night at the coast were the same as the colors in the Arise logo. I had never seen a sky that looked like those exact colors before. Except on the logo. And now it was right in front of us in real life. And it just felt like God was saying, “This ministry is right where it’s supposed to be.” And He wanted to tell us He loved us and was pleased. I hugged Jamie and was so grateful that God pointed out that twilight sky to her and that she shared it with me. She went outside to get a photo of it.

The retreat was so, so good. We ate good food, we played games, we roasted marshmallows around the fire pit, we walked on the beach, and we had powerful teaching videos and discussion questions that followed.

Our theme was “Beholding His Glory,” based on 2 Corinthians 3:18.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

This time we used videos as the main source of teaching, and after each video, we discussed the content. The focus was on not just accepting Christ to be saved one day after you die, but also intentionally beholding Him, drawing near to Him, following Him, and living for Him every single day, in order to be transformed into His likeness and in order to have the full life He came to give us.

My personal favorite part of the weekend was the scheduled “quiet time” with God on Saturday morning. We gave the assignment to go anywhere to be alone with God, but not to talk to one another at all during this time. We provided an optional Bible passage to read with questions for thought, and we provided an optional art activity of writing a verse or prayer on an art tile and coloring it or adding a drawing.

When we dismissed from the discussion time to head into quiet time with God, I knew where I hoped to sit. The swing.

And apparently, no one else had that spot in mind since I took my time getting out there yet I found it empty. I sat down. I lifted my heart to God and the tears began. I’m emotional! It’s ok. It’s how God made me. Unfortunately, I only brought two tissues with me. I made them work hard for me. Lol. I began to pray and God directed me to look back over the last five years of my life. Look at everything God has done in five years. In my life, in Arise Women’s Ministry, and in the world overall! I mean the pandemic even happened in the time between November 2018 and now. And I lost my daddy. And I went to counseling, which I did not see coming. And now, here are these ladies, gathered together for this retreat, ages 18-72!, here seeking God, seeking the beauty of nature, and seeking fellowship with each other. I was overcome with gratitude that God had asked me to lead this ministry. I was overcome with gratitude for the other leaders and board members, Darla, Kristi, Jamie, Jolynn, and Kris, who have also poured their prayers, love, time, money, and sacrifice into this ministry. Because of their faith that God is at work here. I’m just so amazed and so humbled that I get to be part of it. I journaled about what God had done in the last five years. I drew on my art tile the colors of the sky in the Arise logo (and that God had painted right there in the evening sky the night before to reach down and touch me and Jamie with love), and I wrote the verse that inspired the name Arise.

Isaiah 60:1

Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.

Later that evening we gave all of us a chance to share what God had done in our quiet time that morning. And I told the ladies how I was in awe of what God had done in the Arise and that they were all there right then because of it, and because He knew they would be part of it. I told them I was humbled and surprised that He asked me to lead Arise. But I was so grateful. Oh, and I cried while I told them about it, of course.

I treasured all the other things that were shared by the rest of the ladies about their time alone with God. Isn’t it incredible that He meets each of us right where we are, not just physically but emotionally and spiritually, and He is able to minister to each of us and teach us something precious not matter what we are facing in any given season or moment. There are no words big enough to describe the wonder of this.

January of 2024: We will start our 11th Bible study for Arise Women's Ministry! It's called Jesus & Women. I am eagerly awaiting all that God will do in the heart of each one of us who participates!

Looking back over the last five years has been a delight for me! I'm so curious about where Arise Women's Ministry will be five years from now.

"The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy."

Psalm 126:3


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