What Women Need

(This post was edited for and originally published on the Baptist Convention of New England’s blog on June 24, 2019. You can find it here.)

While working with a program that prepared couples for long-term missions, I began to notice a deeply troubling disparity in the expectations and the definitions of spiritual excellence for males and females. Husbands were loaded up with classes, mentoring, books, and accountability groups – but a monthly meeting was too much to ask of their wives.

Both inside and outside the world of full-time ministry, studying the finer points of our faith is a mainly masculine enterprise. Aren’t women busy enough without diving deep into the Word? Let Pinterest catechize them. But when half the Church is spiritually deficient, the entire body walks with a limp.

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How It Works

You brave soul. Good for you! We can tackle this beautiful book together. How?

For each chapter, there’s a corresponding schedule, a plan to keep us on track. Sermons are linked for easy online access, or you can print the whole thing out if you enjoy manually checking off calendar squares as much as I do. As we wade deeper in, I’ll post chapter summaries of favorite quotes, questions, resources, and aha moments.

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Touring with John

I’m typically a safe adventurer. While you won’t find me out hiking mountain ranges or surviving the desert wilds, I love a good epic (and much like Bilbo, I prefer to read said good epic in front of my fireplace with a steaming cup of tea). Curled up with a sweeping journey through a vast landscape with all kinds of perils is my favorite. Should the villain gain too much ground or the challenge be too great, I can slam the book shut and go for a walk. This sort of adventuring allows for limits, boundaries to insulate its readers from insanity. (Because who needs to miss work for weeks due to the carnage of the battle at Hogwarts? Tempting, yes. Practical, no.) Calculated risks—the kind found only in the pages of a book—are my jam.

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The Percolating Life

Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly…

(Colossians 3:16)

The best part of grocery shopping with my mother was the coffee aisle. Millions of beans waited in a line of plastic dispensers, each with a distinct scent. As soon as the other shoppers had moved on, I’d drift from one end of the canisters to the other, nose up close to the spouts, taking in every smell along the way. (I was an odd child.) Mom would bag up her beans, take them home, and the air would smell like heaven a few minutes later.

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Word: 30 Ways to Begin, Part 1

The preparations are all finished. You’ve got a cozy little nook waiting for you, a chunk of time blocked out just for this, essential supplies at the ready, an alert mind, and a soft heart. Now what?

We took our time getting settled because I wanted the process of preliminaries to be as non-scary as possible. Now that we’ve arrived at the starting line, I’d like to offer a wide assortment of ideas to get your creative energy flowing.

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Word: Arranging Your Heart

The Wizard of Oz always fascinated me. Maybe it was the singing and the dancing or the pair of glittery heels with the power to change everything that impacted me so much. Or when reality shifted from greyscale to Technicolor and the world was new. I think, at the bottom, it was the characters. Remember the Tin Man? While the Scarecrow desired a brain and the Lion wanted courage, the Tin Man longed for a heart. How often have I found myself in those same metal shoes, not really feeling stupid and not really feeling afraid, but not really feeling much of anything because the heart is out of place?

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Word: Readying Your Mind

Have you ever gone on a picnic, realizing too late you forgot the picnic basket (piled high with scrumptious bites and sips) on the table at home? I mean, that’s kind of a major part of the outing’s whole point, right? You could call that the picnic that wasn’t. In the same way, you can make all the preparations for studying Scripture and leave your brain behind. (Not speaking from experience or anything. Nope, nope, nope. Okay, fine. Maybe.)

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Word: Collecting the Essentials

You’ve claimed your space. Established a time. Now the fun part: hunting for the ideal set of tools! My heart goes into low-level mourning every September when I re-realize I’ve grown out of new school supplies—a shiny backpack, lined paper, glittery folders, sharp-pointed pencils that leave No. 2 lead on my hands. Pastel paper clips and pretty rulers, sticky notes in an assortment of colors.

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