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.
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What by design Means to Me
By Karen Moniz
Filling out get-to-know-you questionnaires used to make me cry. Well, actually, I felt a rub when I got to this section in particular: “List any hobbies.” My life was loaded with “interests,” but having a hobby would require sacrificing a commitment from my calendar and vainly spending that time on myself. After I became a follower of Christ at the age of 13, my family’s extracurricular activities focused on church and evangelism, following to a fault the model of God’s command to Adam and Eve to “tend and keep” the Garden of Eden. It became clear that God had designed me with leadership skills and a love for public speaking, so therefore my offering in return would be to use those gifts with an all-consuming faithfulness that became my hallmark quality.
In my skewed thinking, however, I put most of my energy first into ministry and expected my closest loved ones to understand and be satisfied with my “leftovers.” As tension mounted, I absurdly prayed that the Holy Spirit would reduce the amount of “need” my loved ones had for me in order to match the amount of “free time” I had available for them. Never underestimate the evil of overcommitment!
After we became empty nesters, my relationship with my husband of 23 years hung by a thread, my depression was exposed, I agreed to Christian marriage counseling, and I stepped down from all my commitments and, consequently, lost my purpose in life. “But God,” in His mercy during this long “time out,” graciously protected me from self-destruction, collected the broken pieces, and tenderly restored me with his healing balm – to Him be all the glory!
In the fall of 2009, at our church’s women’s retreat, I signed up for the hike during the Saturday free time. (The idea of wasting valuable free time for frivolous activities still bugged me.) During the hike, I was joined by the retreat speaker, and I shared with her my unspoken longtime desire to serve God through public speaking. Her reply was, “You should get involved with by design ministries.” Six months passed before I even glanced at the by design website. The monthly Together Groups for women in spiritual leadership caught my eye, prompting me to email Executive Director Linda Moore, who connected me with Susan Moody, coordinator of the North Shore Together Group that met at a Panera Bread near me. Gathering with these four or five ladies to discuss how God was working in our lives and ministries was therapeutic for me. In a safe space, we shared our ups and downs openly and, being from different churches, we benefited from the objective feedback. In December 2010, fellow Together Group member Margot Rox encouraged me to share with Linda what by design had meant to me.
Linda’s uplifting reply caught me off guard. She did not ask me to help the ministry in any way! By design’s core values and mission statement were foreign to me: celebrating the way God designed me and offering support along my journey. The first by design ministries event I attended was called “Celebrate Together” and included dozens of women from all over New England in a beautifully decorated hotel ballroom. Sitting in that crowd would prove to be one of my first and most uncomfortable lessons on how to simply be a “participant.” In the years to follow, I received sound teaching and wise advice from godly women of all ages who had walked a similar path before me. During the free-time segment of one by design reTREAT, I even took a walk alone with no agenda other than to listen for God’s voice in “the cool of the day.” By God’s grace, I now have balance in my life, with eyes to enjoy the “garden” and not just “work” in it. I actually have a hobby, too: gardening! I am eternally grateful to God for by design ministries and am proud to be a part of its mission.
Need to find some balance? Let us help!
by design ministries is here to support you. We are the busy woman’s ministry. Whether you need rejuvenation, encouragement, training, or connections with like-minded women, we’re here for you. What do you need? Message us and you’ll be contacted by a caring and helpful staff member who can connect you to the right resources.
Karen Moniz – Karen’s childhood included dinnertime Bible quizzes, singing in nursing homes, and street evangelism. At 13, she accepted Christ as Savior. She’s been married to Dave for 30 years, and they have two grown children. To celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary, Karen entered the Mrs. Essex County Pageant at the Topsfield Fair and won! Karen provides companionship to seniors and leads an evangelistic Bible study in a retirement home for women. Her motto is: Keep God big and keep looking up!
Karen is one of our featured speakers in the by design Speakers Directory as well as being a member of the board of directors for by design