This year’s Summer Sampler Series answers the question “What does by design do?” Each post will address an aspect of our ministry, as told by women who have been positively impacted. We hope that their stories encourage you and inspire you to take advantage of the support, training, and resources available to you from by design ministries.
For more information about the wide range of services offered by our ministry, please click here.
Pandemic Pasta and a Tale of Forgiveness
By René Allen
“The shop is closed temporarily” read the sign. Immediately I suspected a case of the virus. Was I being judgmental?
Last November I committed to creating and delivering a gift basket for a Salvation Army radiothon raffle. I reached out on Facebook for some ideas. I set to work and created a nice prize. It just needed a ribbon or bow to tie it together.
I reached out to a local shop owner who was gifted in this area. The shop was set up in such a way that you could enter just the first few feet and then a table created a barrier and workspace. After all, we were in the midst of a pandemic!
She’d greeted me at the shop door with no mask and I was more than a bit upset – but didn’t say anything. I thought, “Doesn’t she know how this thing spreads? I thought she was a Christ follower – shouldn’t she have the love of Christ and be more thoughtful toward others?”
She grabbed some ribbon and began to craft a beautiful bow. Suddenly she looked up and exclaimed, “Oop – where are my manners? I’m going to go get my mask!” and off she went. I thought, “Well it’s a bit late now – if you’ve got the virus, how many people have you infected with your carelessness?”
I thanked her for the lovely ribbon and she didn’t charge me for it because it was for a Salvation Army event. I left with an unsettled spirit. I confessed my sinful attitude to God.
Enter my Together Group – a few women in my area who gather for fellowship, teaching, debate, and discussion. This group is so valuable – giving me friendship, a place to bring my concerns, express my opinions, make a fool of myself – whatever. I feel safe with them. I learn, I grow, I lead, and I find grace. Together Groups are fabulous! They are an arm of by design, a New England–based ministry specifically for women in leadership. There’s probably a Together Group near you! My group meets monthly, and the friendships I’ve developed within my group are wonderful, warm, and affirming. And I’m utilized in ways aligned to my gifting – Together Groups are such a blessing! After talking with friends about my heart reaction, I was able to identify why I got so annoyed – and confessed my fears to God.
Weeks later, I came to the shop and saw the sign. I remembered my annoyance with her and that, regardless of her mistake, I hadn’t come down with the virus. Now it seemed maybe she had. I thought back to her not wearing a mask and wondered if she’d brought this on herself. Oof – my attitude last November seemed to rush back and cause me to stumble again. Had I become weary of doing good, of loving people? Had I forgotten my lesson on faith, love, and fear?
I reached out to her by text, and she confirmed that she had COVID. After renewing my mind with confession and receiving God’s forgiveness, I became His servant once again and ensured that she and her family were fed over the next several days.
Pandemic spaghetti, soup, and other edibles were made and delivered with a sense of purpose and with a renewed sense of my role in this world: to do the good works He prepared in advance for me to do – serving out of a sincere love.
This was a wakeup call for me. Service done with a sincere love and a forgiven heart was so refreshing! May I never have to learn this lesson again. I hope it doesn’t take another pandemic to teach me the restorative motivation of love as part of my continual walking in the Spirit. But if I ever need a reminder, my Together Group will help me take those steps and once again be an instrument of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Now, where have I heard that before?
“Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.” Romans 6:13
See if a Together Group is a fit for you.
If you’re looking for connections, support, and encouragement with like-minded women who love Jesus, then Together Groups might be a fit for you. To learn more, visit the Together Groups page on our website. There’s probably one in your area, and if there’s not, contact us and we can help!
“I was first introduced to by design ministries several years ago when I attended my very first retreat shortly after I began serving on the Women’s Ministry team at my church. I feared that I was a bit out of place and like I didn’t belong but I was welcomed by all and was quickly made to feel at home. I have since then taken many classes and attended many events which have helped me to grow in my faith. I have been involved with my Together Group for many years now too which has been another blessing in my life. Our group generally meets monthly and we have loved, supported, and encouraged each other in our individual ministries and in our personal lives over the years. We have learned and grown together, and of course we pray for each other regularly which is the most important thing we can do for each other. I want to thank Linda Moore and her team for all they do to support and encourage me and all women serving in their churches. I feel so grateful and blessed by this ministry.”
~ Pam Moran, Women’s Ministry Team, Harbor of Hope Church
René Allen’s love for God and His Word brings hope, encouragement and joy into her mentoring and women’s ministries. As a pastor’s wife, mom, bible study leader, life coach, author and mentor, her personal warmth and experience are used by the Holy Spirit to connect powerfully with believers and seekers alike. She and her husband have been in ministry for over thirty years with the past two decades in the New England area.