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Weekly Devotions

Brenda Burney                     
Debbie Hoogesteger
Deborah Dee Brayton            
Deborah Breault                   
Donna Cooney                     
Willie Mae Hawkins
Elaine Blanchard                  
Lizette Merchán                 
Rachel Chapman                  

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November 2009 Weekly Devotional
by Rachel Chapman

The Blessing of Sisterfriends

Week of November 1, 2009

As we enter the holiday season we will often be reminded to count our blessings and be thankful for what we have. I contend that one of our greatest blessings that we may often overlook is our relationships with other women, our sisterhood. Different from friendship, sisterhood is an undeniable bond between women that goes beyond age, ethnicity or background. Whether she's a blood relative, a stranger or fictive kin, we can almost always find a shared or similar life experience with a sisterfriend.

As you know, women have always played instrumental roles in society – often without proper recognition. In the workplace, at home, at church or in the community, women tend to do so much to meet the needs of others yet we often do not take care of ourselves physically, mentally or spiritually. Research shows that as we get caught up in doing for others we often do not eat healthy, exercise, make time for prayer and meditation or talk with someone when we have a problem. We are to "honor God with our bodies" (1 Corinthians 6:20). Society tells us that we must be strong so we tend to push on, often keeping things bottled up inside. In Proverbs 3:5 we are reminded to "Trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding" especially during times of despair. As humans we sometimes forget and bow to the many expectations – often self-imposed – to be superwoman. The pressures of meeting those expectations can periodically cause feelings of frustration, loneliness, depression and worry, sometimes affecting our health. God does not intend for us to worry but to have faith that He knows what we need (Matthew 6). On occasion that need is filled by an unlikely or unexpected connection with another woman. Research shows that strong, nurturing relationships between women offer safe places to be heard, validated and affirmed through shared experiences. A Penn State Study and the Harvard Medical School's Nurses Health Study indicate that women who turn to other women for friendship may live longer by reducing stress, lowering blood pressure and experiencing more joy in their lives.
When God places a sisterfriend in our lives to share our experiences with, it enables us to be healthier, happier and more self-confident. In turn when we feel good about ourselves, we are more willing and capable of meeting the needs of others.

Prayer:   Dear Heavenly Father, Please open my eyes and my heart to truly see the women you have placed in my life. Please allow me to embrace the similarities and differences and to appreciate the strength, beauty and resiliency of all women.    Amen.

Reflection:  God wants us to be in companionship with others. Think of a woman you enjoy talking to. Make a list of her attributes.

John 15:13  Ecclesiastes 4:9

Week of November 8

A Blessing, huh?

Female relationships are not always easy. Just as trust, loyalty and commitment are important components of any relationship, jealousy, miscommunication and insecurity can derail it. Sadly, we can all remember a time when we felt betrayed by someone we trusted. Look at the two women who entered into the pact to eat their sons in II Kings 6: 24-30. The mother of the dead son complained to the king not that her son had been eaten but that the other woman did not keep her agreement. She felt betrayed (her lack of remorse is for a different discussion). Of course our first instinct is to say " How disgusting-I would never do anything like that!" Let us thank God that our daily situations and cultures do not put us in this position. However, if we were to replace the idea of eating the children with the concept of entering a deal to help each other with: dating a mutual acquaintance, finding a job or borrowing money…would you feel betrayed? Do you put your trust in the wrong people? Have you been the one to not keep the agreement? Betrayal looks different to different people. Another example may be the frustration Martha felt when she complained to Jesus that her sister Mary was not helping her with the work (Luke 10: 38-42). What may have been Martha's motivation? Would she have felt vindicated if Jesus had rebuked Mary? Do we try to make other women look bad to make ourselves look good?

Believe it or not, these circumstances can be a blessing. Perhaps the untrustworthy person is not meant to be a part of your life and you learn that before more damage is done. You can move on to get past the hurt. In most cases surviving the feelings of perfidy may make you stronger and help you to grow. Maybe the lesson to be learned is not really about you. Maybe God is using you to be the example of trust and loyalty. Try to put yourself in the other woman's shoes and attempt to understand why she acted the way she did, what she may need. Feelings of low self-esteem and frustration can contribute to a woman's unhappiness with herself and her situation. The key is to objectively look at the sources of those feelings and not allow them to keep us from being open to the possibilities God has for us. This could be your opportunity to lead someone to Christ. What a blessing that would be!

Prayer:  Dear God, We know that people come into our lives for a reason and a season. Please give me a discerning heart that I may clearly see an opportunity to be a friend. In your precious name.      Amen.

Reflection:  Distractions of life such as busyness, judgments and expectations keep us from developing our relationships with other women and with God.

  Luke 6: 37-38                        Ephesians 4:29

Week of November 15

Nurturing Bonds

By definition, Nurture means to feed and protect; to support and encourage; to bring up; train; educate.

I believe that beside the definition should be a picture of a woman. For the most part, isn't that what women do? In order to protect, support, encourage, etc., you must be in relationship. From the ancient days when women were gatherers and harvesters they recognized the importance of being with other women for protection, support, companionship and survival.

An excellent example of a nurturing relationship is the story of Ruth and Naomi. After the death of her husband and sons, Naomi decided to return to her homeland. Her daughter-in-law Ruth not only made the long journey with Naomi but vowed "Your people will be my people and your God, my God" (Ruth 1:16). Ruth left her family, her culture and her religion of worshipping many gods for the unknown with Naomi. She then willingly went to glean in the barley fields in order to support Naomi and herself. Ruth's acts of loyalty, commitment and compassion did not go unnoticed by Boaz, the landowner and close relative of Naomi's husband's family. In an effort to make certain that Ruth was provided for, Naomi encouraged and educated Ruth in the Jewish traditions which led to her marriage to Boaz.

These two women had a bond of support and dedication built from their shared experiences. They both demonstrated great strength, commitment and faith. Aren't those wonderful qualities to share with someone?

Prayer:  Dear Lord, Thank you for the many nurturing women who teach, influence and encourage others. Please give me the insight to seek opportunities that I may be a blessing to someone today.   Amen.

Reflection:  Do you see yourself as Ruth or Naomi? Do you have a nurturing relationship with another woman?

Proverbs 2: 20 Proverbs 12:16

Week of November 22

Passing It On

Each and every one of us has something important to offer as a friend. We all have gifts to share (Romans 12: 4-8). Fostering positive, nurturing relationships allows us to use our gifts in ways we may never have thought possible. The key is to not limit our selves by only approaching those we feel comfortable with but to challenge ourselves. The saying "God is more interested in our character than our comfort" comes to mind. Listen, talk, laugh and cry. Being able to share in the safety of a nurturing environment with one or a group of women builds feelings of confidence and affirmation. When we extend ourselves to others, we invite them to be a part of a sisterhood.

Prayer:  Open my eyes Lord
              And let me see
               All of the beautiful women
                Especially those who do not look like me. Amen.

Reflection:  Take time to review the list of attributes you wrote for the first week then
 celebrate how many of them you recognize in yourself. Next, reflect on the
 frustrations that came to mind during week 2 and acknowledge any that apply to
 you. Focus on ways to use these self-realizations to enhance your relationships
 with other women.

Psalm 34: 3    Romans 1: 11-12


Ms. Dámaris Vélez
Secretary, Local Church Ministries
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115