By Sarah Beliveau
On April 6th close to 200 women from over 40 churches spanning 4 states gathered at Trinity Baptist Church in Nashua for some sweet treats and fellowship. The atmosphere hummed with warm conversation as both new and familiar faces snacked on everything from chocolate covered strawberries to apple pie, from cupcakes to French macarons, and the thoughtfully included gluten free options.
For nearly an hour, ladies sipped on coffee or tea and fellowshipped with one another until music, the telltale sign to gather, flowed from the sanctuary. Rachel DeLong, Caroline Pack, and Katie Hinchliffe, young members of Trinity Baptist Church, played and sang sweetly to welcome the women into the sanctuary and prepare for a time of worship.
by design’s Linda Moore welcomed everyone and thanked Trinity for the honor of being able to partner with them in organizing a night that would be both inspiring and thoroughly enjoyable. She thanked everyone for coming out and for all the partnership that had happened in order to make it possible. In complementary response, Mary Allen greeted by design ministries with gratitude for all their hard work and sacrifice, and kicked off the night with prayer, her focus on Jesus.
The worship time, led by the Trinity Chick Band, was equally sweet and adoring of the One who gave it all for us. Strewn throughout the songs of worship, they read scriptures that spoke of His goodness, His sacrifice, His redeeming us unto Himself by tearing the curtain (Matt 27:50, Heb 10:19-22) and calling us into His presence. What a beautiful name, Jesus, who gave it all for us. What a beautiful man, who rescued us freely in order that we might rest in the One whose yoke is easy and burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). What a beautiful God who created us and loved us enough to bring us back to life (John 1:1-5)!
As worship came to a close something beautiful happened. Worship leader Lisa Smith opened the floor for women to call out those scriptures that were their favorite, that inspired them, gave them hope, and spoke of Christ and His love. For 5 full minutes the room was filled with one sweet voice after another declaring the Word. The room was stirred with the sound of His praise and the exclamations of His goodness and love.
After the time of worship, Rachel DeLong blessed the Lord with one more song before Linda Moore stood to welcome the guest speaker. She introduced Jan Carlberg with a bio written by a dear friend of Jan’s. It spoke not only of her many roles throughout her life, including the role as the “First Lady of Gordon College” and wife to the beloved Jud Carlberg, but also of her godly character and her love for others. It was an introduction that honored well a true woman of God.
Jan rose from her seat next to her young granddaughter who was with her and climbed the steps to the stage. The next hour was filled with stories, laughter, and a few tears, all the while magically, it seemed, weaving God’s scriptural truth into the hearts of those listening. Her talk was titled “Love Lifts for Sagging Spirits,” and while she assured us the principles would lift our spirits, she could not guarantee it would lift sagging body parts. Such was her sense of humor throughout the evening.
Jan spoke four words, coupled with scripture and stories to elaborate, that spoke directly to the overloaded and overwhelmed spirit so many suffer from today. She used words that she compared to the training of a dog, with levity mixed into her analogy, and she spoke each word with the authority of a sage woman who had walked long and hard with Jesus. The kind of authority many women need to hear when it comes to stopping and allowing Jesus to lift our sagging spirits.
COME, she stated in her best dog training voice – Matthew 11:28-3 – Then “Come”, more gently, as she spoke the truth that He gives rest to the weary and burdened heart.
SIT – Again, strong and firm – Psalm 139:1-2 – Sit, for He knows you, He loves you, and He wants you to be with Him. She punctuated this point with a story of how one day, before her husband’s passing, they had picked up her mother to drive somewhere and Jan had offered her the front seat. Her mother took her face in her hands and said, “Jan, you sit in the front, life is short, never miss an opportunity to sit with your husband.” It struck to the heart the reality that our time is short. We need to take every opportunity to SIT with God.
HEAL (heel) – Proverbs 17:22 – Here she reminded us that in laughter is medicine. Here she encouraged us with her own stories of grief being made bearable by His joy. Here she reminded us that the watching world would see our joy and witness Christ. Our neighbors will gather and say, “Look what the Lord has done!” Joy lifts us and we can laugh at the days to come for we have confidence in the Lamb!
STAY – Colossians 4:2 – Jan spoke straight to the heart of every woman who has ever been a Martha. STAY! It is in His presence that we are lifted! If we devote ourselves to prayer and keep our eyes wide open in gratitude for His goodness, thankfulness lifts us! She shared tearfully about the grief she experienced with her husband Jud’s passing, and paused before she spoke of how she missed hearing him read his favorite scripture, Psalm 63. Her voice strengthened, however, as she read the scripture aloud and once again spoke with authority: Christ satisfies, and with joyful lips we praise, even when singing is not easy.
She closed by reading Romans 8 and reminded us that it is because of His GREAT LOVE for us that we even dare to come, sit, heal, and stay. Yet in that great love, we find all that we need. We can laugh, cry, and be broken in His arms, and He will bring joy, light, and healing. He has given us new clothing to wear, as it says in Colossians 3:12-15, and when we put it on, we must let the peace of Christ control our hearts, and be thankful.
He loves us.
Jan was a gift to the women gathered. Her stories that had everyone laughing and crying in turn brought the reality of resting in Christ down to a relatable and practical level. She lit up the room with her affection for the One in whom she rested, knowing with full confidence that she could forever speak of the goodness of God, and His love.
He lifts our spirits to Himself and gives our weary souls rest, joy, healing, life!
As the evening came to a close, the worship band led the group of women in one more song, and read Revelation 5:12-13, a declaration of blessing, honor, and glory to the One who sits on the throne.
The roomful of nearly 200 women from 40+ churches spanning 4 states was left with this reminder: to Him be all the glory, that He who sits on the throne of heaven invites us to come, sit, heal, and stay there with Him.
(You can view the photos from this event on our Facebook page.)
Are you interested in having an event like this at your church? If so, contact us and together we’ll design an event that is a perfect fit for the women in your church and your community.
– the staff of by design ministries
WELCOME, FRIENDS. I’m Sarah Beliveau, a creative soul who loves Jesus! I’m most interested in seeing the gospel lived in the everyday moments, and I long to express beauty and truth through the creative arts. I live life together with an amazing community, in the perfect (well, in my ever so humble opinion) New England region. I am a chronic pain overcomer, traveling hair stylist, mental-health advocate and caretaker, mentor, artist and designer, aspiring actress, writer, and basically lover of all things creative. I’m so thankful you’re here, traipsing together through the wild journey we call life. You’re loved, and oh so welcome.
Sarah is a member of by design’s WeConnect Leadership Team. Read more about WeConnect!