RestoWomen Gatherings: Nov 7

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RestoWomen! Do you plan to eat dinner Tuesday, November 7?
If your answer is YES, wonderful… you should dine with some new friends in one of the small RestoWomen Gatherings taking place that night.unnamed
What’s in it for you?  A small, comfortable gathering, in the home of another RestoWoman, where you’ll come around the table to break bread.  New relationships will be fostered and old relationships fed.
Come join us!  Sign up now to attend of the Women’s Gatherings on Tuesday, November 7.  And invite a friend to join you!
We eagerly await all that God has in store for us as we connect in this intimate way.
~RestoWomen Gatherings

Women Unscripted: Tuesday September 26, 2017

Prayer Painting - Prayer by Angu Walters

Calling all RestoWomen: would you like some fresh energy and ideas for your prayer life as you head into Fall?

New season. New habits. New workout program…. New prayer life?

This Tuesday, September 26, we will have our first Women Unscripted of the season 7.30pm – 9pm – and we have an incredible line-up of women who will lead our time together.

There will be six workshops, including 

• praying for our parents,

• praying for others with the Book of Common Prayer

• praying for and with our kids, 

• praying for the persecuted church 

• praying for our families

• praying for the nations

Each workshop led by an AMAZING RestoWoman (or two)!

Will you join us? You will get to go to two workshops out of the six in the time we have… and you will WANT to go to all six. Each workshop will give you some ideas, tools and a chance to practice.

It will be fun. And you will learn new ways to pray… Do come!

And bring a friend.

So looking forward to re-connecting with you, 

~Liz

Oh and by the way: three more notices!
1. Do you want to be a mentor? Email Liz and she will connect you to Cindy and the team ( all women welcomed, special place for those 40+) No skills needed… just lived experience!

2. Nov 7: gatherings in homes. Save the date – and would you like to be a hostess? Email Liz and she will connect you to Kara Stevenson for more info

3. The Retreat: Feb 9-11, 2018 Save the date and sign up after the fall retreat. Email Liz and she will connect you to Jennifer if you would like to be involved in planning.

Women Unscripted: Ways to play

Mature_Children_ImageTwo weeks ago, Resto women gathered in the fellowship hall to eat junk food, laugh hysterically, and discuss the topic of play. Why? This was the latest in our series of Women Unscripted events, which have been working through the book of Ephesians all year to explore the theme “Growing Up in Christ” (Eph 4.15). As we’ve walked through this series – through our monthly Women Unscripted events and our February retreat – we’ve discovered that growing up in Christ means, paradoxically, becoming little children. As we mature, we learn to trust more and more in our true identity as God’s securely loved children. We are not orphans, left alone to make life work in a broken world. No, we are God’s children: safe, loved, supported, nurtured.

So throughout the spring, we’ll be looking at what it means to be God’s children. Our retreat speaker, Kristen Terry, identified for us four things that children do: They play. They rest. They work. And they celebrate.  These four traits will guide our Women Unscripted events throughout the spring, and correspond with the remaining passages of Ephesians.

And that’s why several weeks ago we explored the seemingly strange topic of play. We discarded our adult sensibilities for one night to snack on gummy bears, Doritos, and cookies. We heard from three wonderful panelists (including our first teenager!) who embodied a mature playfulness and helped us to think and laugh deeply. Through their stories, they invited us to shed pretense, to embrace delight, and to invest “structured unstructured time” into friendships that are safe and intimate and joy-filled.

We also studied Ephesians 5.1-20 together, noticing the kind of exuberant freedom God invites us to as we delight in our identity as “children of light.” At first glance, the passage feels like a long list of “don’t”s: don’t get drunk. Don’t covet. Don’t indulge sexual immorality. But amidst those, we catch little glimpses of a kind of bright, exuberant lightness and freedom.  We see that we are beloved children; we are a fragrant offering; we are to walk in love and light; we are to wake up and shake off our dull sleepiness; we are to bask in Christ’s light shining on us; and we are to sing – a lot! together! – from the heart. All of these images give us clues to how simple, free, and holy our play can feel as securely loved children.

Once this picture of play emerges, we see all those “don’t”s for what they truly are, a sort of sham play that masks as freedom, but actually just temporarily numbs, distracts, or soothes us as we attempt to make life work on our own, apart from the care and provision of our Father.

And so we discussed at our tables ways that we play, or wished we could play. We shared our favorite places, books, and habits. We laughed a lot! And now we’ve compiled the content of those discussions into a “Ways to Play” document, for any among us who need some ideas. Notice that nearly all of these involve movement, senses, and being outdoors. Why not grab a friend or a bag of gummy bears and head outside for a playdate with God this month?

Ways to Play:

Playing with kids and their toys

Baking

Sprinting (rather than walking) between destinations, the way kids run to the water fountain

Watching sports

Dipping toes in the water

Being read to aloud

Walking in the sunshine

Drinking coffee by the window

Riding roller coasters

Swings

Rocking chairs

Hiking the Billy Goat trail

Walking in grass

Coloring

Water games

Playgrounds

Toes in the sand

Exchanging a genuine smile with a stranger

Caroling

Paddleboarding

Books: Madeleine L’Engle, Brothers Karamazov

Gardening

Running

Barre

Yoga

Playing music

Dropping leaves/petals into water

Throwing/skipping rocks in water

Walking through Lubber Run Park

Concerts at Wolf Trap

Visiting local gardens

Painting

Throwing a ball with a dog

Laughing with dear friends

Hula hooping

Jumping across rocks in a creek

Picnicking

Fresh air

Dancing in the kitchen

Drinking coffee/wine with a friend

Knitting

Sewing

Travel

Digging in dirt

Walking in the woods

Writing letters

Quiet

Dressing up

Sitting in the sun

Looking for little signs of God’s love in ordinary things/places; e.g. heart-shaped things

Spending time with horses

Getting away from DC

Grilling

Bike rides

Games with family/friends

Coming up:

Women Unscripted Tuesdays, 7.30pm in the Fellowship Hall:

April 25: Mature children work

May 16: Mature children rest

June 20: Mature children celebrate!

Do come – and bring a friend…

~ Amy Rowe

(and Liz Gray)

A story about a ring… and God

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Over 120 RestoWomen gathered last weekend in Middleburg to consider what it means to be mature and secure children of God.  Kristen Terry led us through scripture, brain science and attachment theories to help us better understand how we view God as our parent and how we can rest secure as His children.  On Friday night, Kristen guided us through an exercise recalling a memory involving a happy child.  In small groups, we shared how those memories led us to consider what God might be saying to us.  There were over 120 different stories, different memories, and different revelations about what it means to be a child of God over the weekend.

The recurring thread in my own story was challenging me to examine my constrained view of God and the way I constrain myself in approaching Him.  How do I limit what I believe God can do, or what He cares about, or even how He cares for me?  In my notes on Friday evening I reflected, “God is not contained within the box I have created for Him.  He is surprising.”  The words I associated with my memory were free, unleashed, or unchained.

On Saturday, as Kristen encouraged us to think about our relationships to others and our ability to develop trust, I really struggled with the word distrust.  Distrust can imply a sense of suspicion and that didn’t seem fitting for the way I approach God.  There have been big moments in my life when I have felt fully and completely trusting of my heavenly Father.  And yet, day-to-day, am I a child of God that is fully trusting?  Am I a child that climbs into the lap of my Father to tell him what I need?  Am I “letting God love me?” as Kristen asked us on Sunday. 

No sooner had Kristen finished her final talk when I looked down and fiddled with the ring on my right hand.  It is antique ring that belonged to my husband’s grandmother, gifted to me by my mother-in-law.  I have cherished this gift and have loved wearing a reminder of the generations before me.  As I looked down I noticed a dark hole where the antique diamond had sat just days earlier.  My heart dropped and I quickly tried to remember the last time I had seen the ring intact.  I mentally began to rewind my movements.  I had sat in a least 5 different chairs, I had walked to and from my room, I had scraped my plate into the trash in the dining hall after dinner, I had walked along the river and skipped rocks Saturday afternoon.  There was no way I could retrace my steps of the previous two days.  I leaned to the friend sitting next me and pointed to my ring.  “Dear Jesus,” she said as grabbed my hand “help us find the diamond.”  I snickered.  Really?  I am not asking God to help me find a diamond.  Surely we could pray for bigger things.  Just moments earlier as we prayed together, I had prayed BIG prayers.  I had prayed for emotional healing and wholeness for the women in the room.  Surely God has better things to do.  I showed Liz the ring and she too stopped to pray, but again the skeptic in me stopped her, “we have already prayed Liz, but thanks!” I quipped.

I scurried back to my room during the break to check under the bed and in the bathroom.  Nothing.  I headed back in time for eucharist and scanned the gravel path as I walked.  Nothing.  After eucharist ended we started to say our goodbyes.  As we filed out of the Stone Barn, I scooted down one of the rows of chairs and something caught my eye—the size of a crumb. There it was.  Tiny and sparkling and right in front of a chair I had been sitting in on Saturday morning.  The relief as I scooped up the little diamond and clutched it in my palm was not in finding what I had lost, but it was in confirmation of the truth I had been seeking all weekend— that sometimes God truly is surprising.  That sometimes He loves us in ways that are small and seemingly insignificant.  Those questions I had jotted in my booklet all weekend— Can I trust Him?  Can I let Him love me?  Yes. yes.

As we were leaving, I shared the story with Kristen.  She grabbed her folder and began to read something that she hadn’t had time to share during the session.  This is what she read:

Praying for Abundance

A slave feels reluctant to pray; they feel they have no right to ask, and so their prayers are modest and respectful. They spend more time asking forgiveness than they do praying for abundance.

An orphan is not reluctant to pray; they feel desperate. But their prayers feel more like begging than anything else.

But not sons; sons know who they are.

Mine were just home for Christmas; all three of them. They are young men now, out making their way in the world. And as is fitting to their stage in life, they are living on limited means. But when they come home, they get to feast. The refrigerator and pantry is theirs to pillage and they don’t have to ask permission. When we go out to dinner, there is no question that dad will take care of the bill. For they are sons—they get to live under their father’s blessing; they get to drink from the abundance of my house (Ps. 36:8).

And when the holidays were over and they packed up and left, they took with them my best shoes, my best sunglasses, some of my favorite books, climbing gear, and cigars—with my absolute pleasure and blessing. Luke was the last to go; he was hoping to pillage some of my travel gear for an upcoming trip. I said, “You are my son—everything I have is yours. Plunder as you will.”

This is how sons get to live; this is how a father feels toward his sons.  – John Eldridge

The truth is I was praying like a slave, reluctantly, trying to be modest and respectful.  How appropriate that one of the words I associated with my memory was unchained. 

When I got home I recounted the story to my family about the lost diamond, the prayer of a few friends, and the way God answered that prayer.  My child looked me in the eyes and, as children do, exclaimed, “God probably really loves you.”  Indeed He does. unnamed

~Hannah Royal

An Introvert’s Invitation to the Women’s Retreat

images“So long as there are men and women, Christ walks the earth as your neighbor, as the one through whom God calls on you, speaks to you, and makes demands on you. That is the most serious and most blessed thing about the Advent message. Christ lives in the shape of the person in our midst.”

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Mystery of Holy Night, p. 11)

I love Advent. I love candles and children singing and handmade presents and hot chocolate and special prayers and rituals. But I’m also an introvert who thrives on solitude and slowness, so the shopping and parties and events of this season stretch me to my limit. I often come to Christmas day – and the beautiful season of joy that follows – limping and weary and longing for a break.

Which is why I begin to look forward to the women’s retreat every year around this time. It’s so well timed to refresh me after the holidays, to interrupt the mid-winter doldrums (which, in my house, includes stir-crazy kids trapped indoors and behaving like caged wild animals), and to strengthen and inspire me for the year that lies ahead. But wait, I know what you’re thinking – I said I’m an introvert, right? And the women’s retreat involves a LOT of women, many of whom I don’t know, right? And this year’s theme is something terrifying like “corporate spiritual disciplines,” right?photo-3

Right. Yes. I’m an introvert who loves the women’s retreat and can’t wait to dive into corporate spiritual disciplines. Why?

First of all, I am careful to fight off FOMO to carve out a few hours of contemplative solitude over the retreat weekend every year. I know I need this time in order to fully engage with the retreat experience and to go home replenished rather than depleted. If you’re introverted, I highly recommend you consider doing the same, and I’d be happy to share what works for me.

But more importantly, though I am introverted by temperament, I also firmly believe that I am created in the image of a triune, relational God. I am made for community, and I cannot experience the fullness of the life Jesus offers me apart from it. I have been profoundly impacted by the vulnerability and wisdom of our Resto Women community, and my faith is strengthened, challenged, and deepened by immersing myself in it every year at the women’s retreat. There is nothing like a weekend set aside to pray, sing, laugh, cry, learn, and seek God with a group of honest, messy, and unique women. I love it.

This year, we’ll be digging into corporate spiritual disciplines like worship, confession, prayer, and celebration. Every introverted cell in my body resists this topic, mainly because of the word “corprorate.” I’m quite content to pursue (or lazily not pursue, as is more often the case) spiritual disciplines on my own without those pesky other people all up in my spiritual grill. But it’s my resistance to the topic that also most excites me, because I have experienced how God loves to surprise me with joy and healing in the places that feel most risky, especially in community.

So come, dive in with me to a scary topic with a bunch of people we don’t really know. Take a risk. Consider the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer above, and trust that you will, indeed, encounter Christ in “the shape of the person in our midst.”snow-friends

~Amy Rowe

Wisdom of Walking Gatherings

12 summer ladies happy hourOne of the main reasons we joined Restoration was for community. As Restoration has grown, it has become all the more important and challenging to create community. Small groups, the women’s Retreat and the Women Unscripted panels last year were all awesome ways to take a risk and plug in a bit.

And The Wisdom of walking gatherings were a natural extension of our church’s desire to have people know and feel known so that we can tangibly share God’s grace and restoration with each other. The gatherings last year were set up so that women could have more of a chance to sit and get to know other women in a smaller, more casual, conversational setting than the typical post-church hello or Women’s Unscripted event. And perhaps through those gatherings, one on one hangouts or even just simply being able to have a slightly deeper conversation over post-church donuts could occur.

While I love the other women’s events, there is something so intimate to being in someone’s home, sharing food (and wine!) and actually talking to someone. So, when the opportunity to co-host with Alex came my way, I jumped at it! As someone who feels relatively connected at church, I loved that I met and hung out with women that I had never seen before (because of different services/stages of life etc.) while also getting the chance to have real conversations with women who I only knew in passing. Like most things, it felt a little risky (even as the hostesses and the fact that I always battle social anxiety!) to be doing this and to imagine how the evening would go and the flow of conversation…but as we sat in Alex’s cozy home, it felt totally worthwhile, despite some of the natural awkwardness, to be together. For some of us, our only obvious commonality was our love for Jesus and our connection to Restoration, but clearly we all, even just with those two sheer facts, have so much to offer each other and our larger community; to sit, to share, to break bread with all different women, felt holy—and felt like such a confirmation to me of my husband and my decision to join Restoration.

It felt like a gift to sit with these women, each with her own story of how the Lord has worked and moved in her life, and get the chance to know each of them a little bit; to come together for the sole purpose of simply knowing and being known? Isn’t that what we all crave? I can’t wait to attend another Wisdom of Walking gathering this fall and see who God has in store for me to meet. Maybe it will be you?!

Sign up here for this fall’s round of gatherings.

~Catherine Burke

Making Space

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My gas tank light flashed on.  Ugh, I heaved. What an apropos picture for what I feel like right now.  The morning was still dark and I was driving to meet with three seventh grade girls whom I was supposed to be “mentoring.”  But I felt out of gas. Runnin’ on empty.  Like I had nothing to give.  I should NOT be doing this!  What in the world do I have to offer them?  I feel like I’m barely holding it together and they’re supposed to look up to me? Yikes.  I pulled into the parking lot and saw one of their moms pulling out.  Another whammy to myself: not even on time.  The mini-van slowed and the mom rolled down her window.

“Caitlin, hi! How are you?”

“Uhhh.. great,” I faltered.  This particular mom had actually mentored me for the last several years.  She must be thinking ‘why am I letting my daughter be influenced by this girl?’  “Grace,” I spit out before I would think the better of it. “I’m actually feeling like I don’t have much to give.  Like, I am a mess.  And..” I trailed off.

Grace smiled.  She has one of those reassuring smiles, one that serves as a reminder that everything will be a-okay. “Oh, Caitlin, what a perfect place to be in… for you’re aware that it’s not really about you offering YOUR wisdom or joy, but offering a place for the Lord to work.  You’re making yourself available, and that’s all that’s necessary.”

Ah ha. Right. So I didn’t feel adequate.  Well, that’s not the point.  Or maybe in part, it is exactly the point. HE’S adequate. And He’s in me.  So in I went and we had cinnamon crunch bagels and talked about middle school life.

Later, I walked out with those three darling girls and realized how refreshed I was.  There was a mysterious exchange that had taken place in that last hour.  My weakness, His strength.  My crumbs, His bread of Life.  And honestly it was a gift to be with them and to realize, hey, it is not about me right now.  Self-forgetfulness can be a relief.

I think back to the many women who have been involved in my life over the years.  Each of them lovely, each of them wise.  But what was most impactful to me was their availability, the space they created in their lives to allow me to join.  I remember sometimes jumping in the car and going grocery shopping with one of them.  She invited me to just come alongside her amidst her to-do list.  In my highschool years, I would often meet with a mentor, now a dear, dear friend, at Panera.  We’d order cinnamon crunch bagels.  I know she offered me a lot of wisdom, but what I remember most is just that she was there. She kept showing up every week at Panera.

In the beginning, God created time and space.  And I think He grants us the ability to create specific time and spaces in our own lives.  Creating time and space to walk alongside of other people – whether we are the “mentee” or “mentor” – is an invitation for us to do what Jesus did: invest in relationships… make disciples. He knew we needed one another, knew that we weren’t made to do life on our own.  Our retreat speaker Dale Keuhne’s words come to mind: “human flourishing requires a constellation of relationships.”  Those words have swirled around in my mind for months.  A constellation of relationships… what could that look like for us at Restoration as we consider investing in one another?  Maybe it’s much simpler than we make it out to be.  Maybe it’s about just showing up.

Please join us to discuss the topic of mentoring at the next Women’s Unscripted. This is a chance to hear from different women’s stories, gain practical tools for being and/or finding a mentor, and learn about new avenues to get to know other women at Restoration.  7:30 pm on Tuesday, March 24 (NEXT TUESDAY) in the Fellowship Hall.  Hope to see all Restoration women – and their friends there. All welcome.

~Caitlin Staples for the Women Unscripted Team

 

busyness… some advent thoughts

He [God] gives you the gift of time, so you have to be still and wait.”  Anne Voskamp on Advent in The Greatest Gift.


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At this month’s Women Unscripted: Busyness, we unpacked a lot about how hard and yet how important it is to realize a balance in our busyness.  The questions that were asked revealed that many of us struggle with this balance.

And during Advent – when we are supposed to be waiting for the coming of our Lord – it seems ridiculously hard in our culture to stay balanced.  There are so many great things to say “yes” to: social engagements, shopping lists, family obligations, end of year work demands.

For me, it is a radical discipline to step away from the contagious frenzy.  And like a good discipline, I find it awkward and uncomfortable.  Here are some of the unusual things I challenge myself with during this season to practice the discipline of waiting.

  • Try to avoid rushing at one point during your day.  Don’t run that yellow light.  Stop for that pedestrian about to cross the street.
  • Resist the temptation to do “one more thing” with the last few free moments you have.  Don’t toss in a load of laundry as you rush out the door.  Or run that last errand that will make you “almost late” to your next appointment, even though it is “right on the way.”
  • Deliberately choose the cashier that has the longest line.  While you are waiting, don’t look at your smartphone.  Just observe and even pray for folks around you as you wait.  If someone offers to have you move to another line simply say, “No, I’m ok waiting.”
  • Show up to a meeting early.  Again, just sit and wait.  Don’t pull out your phone.  Notice how strange it feels to just wait, doing nothing and being “unproductive.”  When others join you, maybe you all will engage in a casual conversation, rather than all being buried in devices until the meeting starts.
  • Sign your credit card purchases with “Merry Christmas.”  You really can! I heard a podcast on this!  Writing this takes longer for me than signing my name and is a constant reminder to me of the reason for the season.

These disciplines will probably only “cost” you 15 minutes a day. And sure, they are mostly symbolic. However, these daily disciplines that I sprinkle across my day keep me focused on Advent when the rest of the world is rushing by.

~Christine Jones

Men and Women in the Church

men and women in the church

Over the last two weeks, we have worked hard to understand what is universal and what is tied to a particular time and place from 1 Timothy 2: 8-15.  Paul is writing to Timothy about how men and women should interact in the public worship assembly.  Digging in to this passage has afforded us 2 helpful tools for studying the Bible:

  • The Principle of History affirms that God always spoke his word in particular historical and cultural settings:  the Ancient Near East (Egyptian, Hittite, Canaanite culture) is the background for Old Testament revelation, Palestinian Judaism is the background for the Gospels, and the Graeco-Roman world is the background for the rest of the New Testament.  Every word was spoken in a cultural context.  Our task in the 21st century is to ask which things were tied to that particular time and place and which are normative for all times and all places.
  • The Principle of Harmony affirms that when God spoke these words, He did not contradict Himself.   Thus, the conclusions we draw from reading 1 Timothy 2: 8-15 have to ‘harmonize’ withe what God teaches about the interaction between men and women in the rest of the Bible.

The passage is preached in 2 parts.  Part 1 deals primarily with verses 8-10 and Part 2 gets in to the leadership and teaching roles of women that are discussed in verses 11-15.  Feel free to offer comments or critique below!

My Conclusions

In part 2, I attempt to concisely state my position on the leadership of women in the church.  I include it here as a means to understand how I have chosen to lead Restoration.

I believe the Bible teaches that both men and women are given gifts by the Holy Spirit to equip the saints for the work of ministry and to build up the Body of Christ (Acts 2:17, Ephesians 4:13, Romans 12:3-8).  The Bible teaches that the church is the household of God (Ephesians 2:19, 1 Peter 4:17).  God has called men to have caring responsibility (AUTHORITY) for their household  (Ephesians 5:22-23, Colossians 3:18, 1 Peter 3:1).  Christ is the head of the household of God (the church) and He is the model for how men should have caring responsibility for the family household and for the church.

A church with hierarchical authority (that is, one with pastoral offices that submit to each other– such as presbyter to bishop) is best positioned to both have a male head of household AND to create an environment where women can flourish as leaders, teachers, and in all the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  I believe the Bible teaches that women can be deacons, presbyters/pastors/priests, rectors, and bishops, serving under the authority of a male head of the church.

Restoration facilitates a monthly conversation for men called ManUp and a monthly conversation for women called Women Unscripted.  ManUp meets tonight at 7pm for dinner and then a program start of 7:30 sharp.  Women Unscripted meets next Tuesday (October 21) at 7:30pm.  Both of these conversations are open to anyone.  Bring a friend.  These are issues that affect all of us, that can give us hope, that can stir up pain, that remind us of our need for a Savior who delivers us and offers the possibility of reconciled partnership in the Gospel.

Grateful to be in this with you,

-David

Women Unscripted: Unashamed

candle-in-the-dark-2This afternoon I went back to my notes from a planning meeting we had in April when we came up with our name: Women Unscripted. This is what I wrote that evening:

Each woman shared something of their story – and where God has met them, describing how God has stepped into their story and they have stepped into his. We discussed the scripts that so often play in our heads and how we long for Christ to re-write, or perhaps more accurately, re-frame our stories as he brings his light to bear.

Our prayer for 2014/2015: a year where many women come to listen to Christ’s call on their lives. A call to be unscripted. A call to bring the lies we have lived under into the light and choose a new script.

So – Women Unscripted: Unashamed

9/23 – yup – that’s tomorrow night!

at 7.30pm

In The Sanctuary, at our very own church, 1815 N Quincy St

ALL women invited

As always a great panel – opportunities to think, and pray and meet people and ask questions and just be with other women who want to make sense of life and themselves and God. It’ll be a great night. It always is. And there will be chocolate.

Do come. Bring a friend.

Questions? email Liz

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