Back to the Beginning

By: Jenni Walker and Beth Doohan

“I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.”  ~Psalm 40:8

“Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life.  I give myself, my life, my all utterly to Thee to be Thine forever.  Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit.  Use me as Thou wilt, send me where Thou wilt, work out Thy whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever.”  ~Betty Scott Stam

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Welcome once again, Wholehearted Woman! We are so thankful for YOU and the part you play in this ministry. This week, we wanted to focus on two things: looking forward and looking back. First, we are proud to announce the release of our newest publication, Wholehearted Woman Stories! This FREE devotional features 15 stories from wholehearted women just like you! You will be inspired by their courage, authenticity and wholeheartedness. Please enjoy this devotional by visiting our Resources page for this and other materials. We pray God touches your heart through this devotional!

Second, in celebration of nearly five years of ministry with weekly devotionals, our book The Wholehearted Woman: Who She is and Why She Matters, accompanying study guide, and several mini-devotionals, we wanted to take you back to the beginning of Wholehearted Woman Ministries. As you read the Wholehearted Woman Stories of our 15 featured writers, we recognize the importance of looking back to thank God for His faithfulness and praise Him for all HE has done, is doing and will continue to do! With that in mind, we give you the story of how Wholehearted Woman Ministries began:

A Gathering of Women

The pleasant sound of women socializing with one another filled the condo living room.  You know the sound.  It is heard every time a group of women gets together.  Someone puts on a pot of coffee, and before long the room is permeated with women connecting with each other through rapid-fire dialogue, hugs, laughter, and even tears.  Such was the case nearly every Thursday night in my sister’s home from 2015-2016 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Women we knew from college, from church, or had met in a passing conversation at the gym, gathered on a weekly basis to grow in their walks with the Lord and in fellowship with one another.

That cheery living room was always bursting with conversation, and strewn about the carpeted floor wherever there was room were Bibles, journals, pens, and copies of Elisabeth Elliot’s Let Me Be a Woman from which we read weekly.  Once everyone had a beverage in hand and a plate of tasty treats balancing on one knee, we would all quiet ourselves and pray for God’s blessing on our time together.  Over the next year and a half, God would use these women to work in each other’s lives, to bless others in their community through local outreaches, and to respond to Him with surrendered hearts as He drew us all a little closer toward His plans and purposes for our lives.

Fast-forward a year and a half later, and the study of Let Me Be a Woman was coming to a closeEach chapter had been thoroughly discussed, corresponding Biblical precepts studied, and meaningful memories made.  Beth and I were still hosting monthly meet-ups with the Bible study ladies – short devotions, the occasional outreach, or just coffee and fellowship.  This left our Thursday evenings open again, and the question lingering unspoken in both of our hearts was, What next?  Should we start another book study about Biblical womanhood?  Or was there something else God wanted us to do? That question would soon be answered for both of us…

Willing Hearts

It was a hot Tulsa day near the end of the summer of 2016.  Beth and I had just met together with one of our friends from the Bible study to catch up and to hear about her recent trip to Africa.  A few hours later, we said goodbye to her and began the short walk under the shaded trees of the apartment complex walkway to the parking lot.  It was there that we were about to have what I believe was a God-ordained conversation.

Upon reaching our cars, we stood chatting awhile about the upcoming week with keys in hand, enjoying the afternoon summer sun and doing a traditional “Minnesota goodbye.”  If you have grown up anywhere in one of the northern states of the Midwest, you will know what I am talking about.  This sort of goodbye involves taking a few steps toward the door while still in the house, stopping and chatting more, exchanging heartfelt goodbye hugs and sentiments, then taking a few more steps toward the door.  Once arriving at the door, a hasty exit is not to be made.  Lots of lingering, more chatting, and another round of hugs is likely to ensue, and the exiting party members finally walk down the sidewalk to their cars, waving and calling out thank-yous and goodbyes as they go.  Of course, the homeowners may make the walk with them, extending the goodbye a bit longer.  Or perhaps the people making their departure are leaving in separate cars.  This requires stopping and chatting some more before making the final round of goodbye hugs and, finally, driving home.

My sister and I were in the “stand by your cars and chat some more” stage of our traditional Minnesota goodbye this summer afternoon when our discussion shifted toward a topic that both of us feel very strongly about: women knowing who they are in Christ and living lives fully surrendered to Him.  As we shared what was on our hearts, from specific verses to the anthem of a popular Meghan Trainor song at the time, Beth asked, “What if we started a women’s ministry?”  Hmm, a women’s ministry.  “We could set up a website,” I said thoughtfully.  That sounded like a lot of work and commitment, but we had already been doing women’s ministry, so why not start a website? It would be a great way to expand our reach to other women with the things God had taught us through the years about Biblical womanhood.

Something Deeper

But we did not want what we wrote about on the website to just to be about us and our own experiences.  As we continued our conversation in the sweltering heat, a vision of women with their identities rooted in the truth of the Bible was forming in our minds and hearts.  What would it look like in a woman’s life if her whole heart was surrendered to the lordship of Christ and the authority of His Word?  Greater intimacy with the Lord, confidence and boldness in her Christian living, a sense of calling in her current seasons of life, growing sensitivity and wisdom from the Holy Spirit, and an unwavering commitment to reach others with the gospel were just a few of the things that we knew would result from a woman with that kind of surrendered heart.  And, thus, the idea for The Wholehearted Woman was born.

The next months would involve discussion of ideas, prayer, planning, LOTS of writing, more planning and prayer, and then more writing. And now the time has come to kick off the website by looking together at the question, who is The Wholehearted Woman?  She is a woman with a transformed mind and heart who lives what the Bible says confidently and courageously, knowing who she is in Christ, as she makes a difference in the lives of those around her for the kingdom of God. Through this discussion, we prayerfully crafted our mission statement: “Helping women be fully surrendered to the lordship of Jesus Christ and courageously ‘on-mission’ for Him – one heart at a time.”  God cares about your heart.  But He does not just want part of it; He wants all of it! The Bible emphasizes again and again the theme of seeking the Lord with the whole heart:

“I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.”  (Psalm 40:8, NKJV)

“Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart.”  (Psalm 119:2)

“Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever, for they are the rejoicing of my heart.  I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes forever, to the very end.”  (Psalm 119:111-112)

As we seek God with our whole hearts and incline them toward His Word and His ways, we grow deeper in our knowledge of Him:

“To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”  (2 Peter 1:1b-4)

Three things are emphasized in these passages about those who seek the Lord with their whole hearts:

  1. They incline their hearts toward the Word of God (i.e. His testimonies).
  2. They grow in their knowledge of God.
  3. They delight to do His will.

These three characteristics are at the core of what Wholehearted Woman Ministries stands for in our mission. We often share stories of heroes of the faith, both those who have gone before us and modern heroes just like you! We know that as Christians, it is important to learn from the godly examples of other men and women of faith (Hebrews 12:1). Over the next three articles, we will share about three women who each modeled one of these characteristics in her life. In the meantime, we hope you are encouraged by the Wholehearted Woman Stories shared and enjoyed this look back at the beginning of Wholehearted Woman Ministries. To God be the glory!

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