by Maddy Mandall
Recently I was privileged to stand in a room with around 100 women as they ate, shared, laughed, sang and reflected on the place Jesus has in their life. It was a Women’s Breakfast with the usual highlights like carefully decorated tables and copious tea and coffee.
However, my favourite part of the morning came when one of the women approached me as everyone was heading home. She told me how much fun she had with the ladies at her table. Not because they were all her age, not because they were all her close friends – quite the opposite. Her table had a teenager, a single young adult, a mum of five from our church, a mum of two from our playgroup and another woman who gave birth to her first child two days later! These women hadn’t all met, they didn’t run in the same social circles or serve in the same ministries. But they shared, laughed, welcomed the visitor from playgroup and left thankful to God for the way He unites us in fellowship. Now that’s what I call a Women’s Breakfast win!
The following day I stood in our evening service as we sang our last few songs. As I opened my eyes, my line of sight fell on the family in the front row: mum and dad with their four children, one girl and three boys. Their daughter is 7 years old, and had spent a large portion of the night playing the motherly-sister role to her baby brothers. But in these final few songs something shifted, she stopped chasing her brothers and instead faced the front towards the team, she was singing along to every word and swaying from side to side. I could feel my smile widening as I watched this precious girl paddle into the waters of worship. Tears began to flow as I watched her lift her arm a little by her side, as her sway increased. I approached her after the service with my warmest demeanour and told her how beautiful it was to see her singing to Jesus and worshipping with us. I told her God loves her, and He loves when we sing to Him. She gave me a little shy smile and sidled over to her mother, who I in turn encouraged. This mother always worships with everything she has, even with four children at different levels of engagement and focus in a service!
All these anecdotes are merely meant to be signposts to a simple truth: women, when we embrace each other, and build one another up we can see beauty flow from our sisters. A teenager polishing off her fifth pancake at a breakfast can bring joy to a tired young mum; a young adult receiving healing in her life can encourage a middle-aged woman; a seven-year-old can bring a 25-year-old to tears in worship; that 25-year-old can encourage a mother of four to continue discipling her children with passion and love. But all of these things aren’t passive, we can’t build one another up by staying quiet, or staying in our own lane. It requires courage to sit at a mixed table at an event, to walk up to someone and encourage them out of the blue. But goodness, is it worth it!
This world we live in is tough and dark, and women have countless reasons to feel torn down every day. Let’s begin to counteract those reasons with bold encouragement, sparkling honesty and surprising kind words. Filling the younger women around us with the knowledge that their worth is in God and they shine as they live for Him; and spurring on the older women we know as they continue to love, disciple and serve those around them. Whatever beauty you might see – speak it!
Maddy Mandall is the Worship & Connections Coordinator at Wynnum Baptist Church, where she and her husband Tom worship. Maddy is passionate about discipling others to help them see worship is a whole-life commitment, as well as empowering women in ministry and helping them to reflect deeper on their faith and what it means to be a woman after God’s heart in an ever-diversifying time.
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