Her Story

Recapture the Wonder

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True confession. Last week, where I thought I really wanted to be…needed to be…was at an amazing leadership conference, sitting with my friends old and new in an auditorium full of world-changers. 

So much of my identity and worth was attached, is attached to me showing up in those spaces.

Introverted? Actually, yes. Yet I have an inordinate need to be visible, to be seen, where it matters and when it matters. I crave the inspiration, the buzz, the synergy. Crave is not a good word, friends. Rarely is it a good word.
This craving I have, that perhaps some of you might share, is one that needs to be wrestled to the ground with a cease and desist order, once and for all. Because the myth, even the lie, that wonder can only be experienced in big spaces in the spotlight, perpetuates, is that you need to be seen to be valued. This is so not true.

 When I really pressed in last week, I heard so clearly that the right place to be was right where I was.  I heard so clearly that my place of worth is not driven by context or platform, but by Presence. God always has me where He wants me because He’s got some things He wants me to know, to hear, to create. I would not be open or listening in a crowded room of louder voices, telling me how to be more, be better. The inspiration is credible and amazing, to be sure. But the craving for it is from a darker, more insidious origin.

 I know myself. I know I am more quick to choose a place where other voices and powerful presentations fill the space in my empty heart. Maybe I’m even an addict for the ‘wow’. I am grateful I chose, with great effort, to give back my ticket for the ‘wow’ and instead chose to embrace the wonder.

There is no ticket required for the wonder. 

The wonder of time to create and let my own voice come to the surface has a free entrance. I am unbound by the need to be anywhere but where I am.

I don’t need to be the right girl at the right place the right time to be seen.

 The right place is where I’ve surrendered my agenda and opened up my soul to His presence. I am in a place where I can continue to dream about how God is calling His Canadian girls to rise to their collective voice to transform their nation.

And I am listening for my own voice to find itself. This is my auditorium right here and I am seen by the audience of One, exchanging my fear of missing out for the joy of missing out. The wrestling may take a lifetime to settle itself but every time I get to choose wonder over wow, I move closer to the center of the heart of Jesus.

Gather Women has intentionally chosen WONDER as our word for 2019 and as the theme of Gather Rise, taking place October 25-26, 2019 in Ontario.  We want to model the way by sharing our stories of where we experience the wonder of our Creator.  It is becoming more real to me that His wonder is to be savoured in the secret place of belonging.  

I pray you will learn to recapture the Wonder of God in 2019 in a fresh way. May His presence wash over you and fill you with joy as you trust Him to position you exactly where you need to be. You can trust His presence to find you there. 

Would you join us?

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By Misty Ropp, Compassion Canada

As a woman who loves Jesus, I have a deep desire to make a difference in this world. But in the face of great need worldwide, so often I cry out, "There is too much to do Lord! I can’t possibly make a difference!" Ever feel that way?

One thing I have learned working at Compassion is that small things really can make a difference. October 11 is International Day of the Girl, a day set aside to recognize the unique challenges girls face all around the world: challenges like child marriage, discrimination, violence and, as the story below casts a light on, period poverty. 

The unexpected way men are combating period poverty in Uganda

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Men working at sewing machines may seem like an unconventional picture—even more so when you realize they are sewing reusable feminine hygiene products! But for several men in Mulatsi, Uganda, this is a regular practice that is strengthening their community, generating income and empowering their daughters.

Period poverty refers to the lack of access to hygiene products for girls living in poverty—something that was an immense struggle for women and girls in Mulatsi.

Sanitary pads cost approximately $1 for a package of seven, a burdensome price for families living in extreme poverty. As a result, women were forced to improvise. “One woman told me she uses newspapers; another, rugs; another, cloth from old blankets; and still another said they cut off part of an old mattress,” says Jacky, the director of the Compassion child development center at Mulatsi Church of Uganda.

A far-reaching problem

Period poverty was the biggest problem raised by women during a community meeting organized by the church.

The men in the community were largely ignorant to the need and did not see it as their responsibility to provide pads for their wives or daughters. Milton, one of the fathers in the community, confesses that he didn’t expect to have such conversations with his daughter. “I thought it was not proper for a girl to talk to me about sanitary pads,” says Milton. He would tell his daughters to have such conversations with their mother. Like most of the men in the community, Milton did not give his wife money to buy pads—the family could not afford it.

Jacky learned that period poverty was causing other significant problems like teenage pregnancy and school dropouts.

“Three of my daughters got pregnant,” says Aida, the mother of a Compassion beneficiary. Aida had discovered, to her dismay, that her daughters were trading sex for pads. This practice was not uncommon for girls in the community.

“My fourth daughter would open up to me,” she says. “When she began her periods, she told me, and I got her an old cotton cloth and folded it for her. I had several she would wash and keep.”

Some of the girls opted out of school because of how difficult it was to manage their cycle every month. The World Bank estimates that across Sub-Saharan Africa, one in ten girls misses school during their menstrual cycle, and many drop out of school altogether.

Working towards a solution—together

When the staff at Mulatsi Church of Uganda learned of all the struggles women and girls were going through, they were moved to intervene.

Then a group of Compassion church partners, of which Mulatsi Church of Uganda is part, applied for funding for menstrual hygiene interventions through Compassion’s Complementary Inventions. With the funds they received, the churches were able to educate their communities on the importance of menstrual hygiene—and teach their communities how to make reusable sanitary pads. One set of seven reusable pads costs $1.50 to make and will last an entire year.

Community members make reusable sanitary pads together.

Community members make reusable sanitary pads together.

The center staff first learned how to make the reusable pads, and then conducted training for community members—both women and men. They not only trained Compassion beneficiaries and their parents, but also students at three local schools, and other local leaders, who were then able to teach others in the community. All churches in the group received training, and everyone who received training was asked to train others in turn.

The project also specifically addressed men’s attitude towards menstruation and feminine hygiene. While the project was led by women, men followed closely as unexpected—but welcome—allies. Milton says, “After the training, I realized that as a father I should learn how to make these sanitary pads.” The making of reusable pads has also become a source of income generation for families. “It has also helped me because now I am able to make them and sell them and get money to do other things,” says Milton.

Milton and his family.

Milton and his family.

At first, other men demeaned Milton when they saw him making and selling sanitary pads. “In the beginning it was shameful before the men in the community. But I found it useful. I have now educated other men. I think [their attitude] stemmed from their background.,” says Milton.


International Day of the Girl is a day we hope will prompt people like you to get involved and make a difference in the life of a girl. Girls and women like you and I, who can say "YES, Lord! Use me, and may I be openhanded with the things you’ve given me to encourage and uplift my sisters worldwide." 

So, would you join us in praying for girls around the world on October 11? To learn more about how you can tell a girl that she is loved and her life has value and worth, click here.


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HERstory: Making Space For Yes

Written By: Leah Austria

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A few years ago, God's whispers of calling and conviction caught my attention. Some whispers were exciting to hear: hospitality, generosity, building community and sharing my faith journey through writing. But when He also asked me to address my finances, suddenly my eager ears pretended to not hear Him. 

We had a house, two cars, vacations, and a busy, comfortable lifestyle befitting a bouncy little nuclear family. And once we settled into our new church community, our three kids were thriving and my husband and I were enjoying a marriage and family life that wove God into every moment, not just on Sunday mornings.

Mostly.

I wanted to be that good soil Jesus spoke of (Mark 4:1-20), where His good news would flourish and His glory would seep through everything I did. 

"Send me! Send me!" I hollered at God so many times. "Tell me what you want me to do!"

But it took over three years to admit I had heard His response:

"First thing's first."

While many facets of my life aligned with my desire to be the good soil, there were still thorns that had to be cleared for it to come to fruition.

My life was riddled with so many distractions that it was easy to claim I didn't hear the Holy Spirit.  And debt left no space in our budget for the generosity I so longed to practice.  

Then, just before Christmas 2016, it seemed our list of priorities turned upside down. Or, perhaps, right side up.

The months that followed saw us purge 80% of our material possessions, find a new family for our beloved dog, sell our house and downsize from 2200 square feet of living space to a 900 sq ft rental condo.  The process was physically and emotionally exhausting.  It reshaped our thoughts about stewardship and taught us to surrender to God's timing and providence.

The practical wisdom fuelling these big leaps came from popular authors on minimalism and simple living, and even pioneers of the tiny house movement. My true guidance, though, was found in Scripture, where we are instructed to "owe no one anything except to love one another" (Romans 8:13a), warned that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" ‭‭(Luke‬ ‭12:34‬), and encouraged to be faithful with what has been entrusted to us (Matthew 25:14-30).

There's still more work to do.  There are still lessons to learn about saying no and the concept of enough. There are still clothes, kitchenware, sentimentals to pare down.  But here I am today, debt-free, living with less stuff and less busy-ness, enjoying a stronger marriage and family dynamic (a happy by-product of doing super-hard things together), offering to God a true availability for Him to send me where His glory can be magnified, and having the freedom to say yes.


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