Posts Tagged ‘For Ladies Only’

Story by Bev Carroll. Photos by Susan Brown.

FLO groupGod created us for fellowship with Him. But in His incredible mercy, He gives us fellowship with each other so that we can be encouraged in our relationship with Him. That fellowship can be both a place for us to use our gifts and to be fed as we grow in understanding who He is and who we are. For Ladies Only (FLO) began as a way for our church to concentrate on this fellowship for women.

 “Besides the obvious – study and learning, we fellowship (eat and laugh). One of the biggest benefits for me is I have gotten to know my church better, and I have FUN!” —Gwen Garrett

Bev CarrollThe events and programs FLO sponsors are as unique as the women who organize and attend them, and their reasons for participating are as varied as the ages and stages of life they represent. Shannon Le says: “As a mom to four small children and wife of a former pastor, FLO has been a safe place to share very deep and intimate life experiences with women who loved and encouraged me, without judgment or criticism.”

FLO Bible studyOur goal to provide discipleship and Christian fellowship opportunities led to the formation of intergenerational Bible studies. These were particularly helpful to Evelyn Cronin: “I was at a really low point in my spiritual life when I first came to FLO Monday Bible Study. I value the age range of women in attendance – some older, some younger – as it gives me perspectives so different from my own. I’ve grown as a woman, a mother, a wife, and above all, as a child of God.”

FLO teaIn addition to book clubs, trips to Christian conferences, preparation for the week the CARITAS women spend at FBC every July, there is the annual Christmas Tea, perhaps the most visible of FLO’s events. While the tea requires much work by volunteers, it is an effort of great joy. Debbie Blankenship talked about her experience helping with a tea that closely followed her mother’s death. “I arrived on Friday morning to help prepare the food, overwhelmed with sadness. However, everyone in that kitchen was so kind, and they all wrapped their arms around me, showing me how much they cared. I found out during that weekend how much the women of FLO mean to me!”

Each of us finds a place in FLO that is the most meaningful. For Janet Chase “the Monday morning Bible study made the greatest positive impression on me, both for my emotional and spiritual health, when I was transitioning from job loss a few years ago. I’ll be forever grateful for a safe place to share, grow, and pray with strong Christian women.”

FLO-conferenceMy favorite part of FLO is being able to watch women combine their unique gifts and weaknesses and passion for God in the service of His people. The strengths of all women involved combine into a perfect whole as they serve each other and our church. In them, I see a glimpse of the body of Christ at work in our church and our world.

FLO Crew: Judy Watkins says, “It has been an honor to serve on this team and get to know and work with these lovely Christian ladies!” The following serve with Judy: Anne Ball, Debbie Blankenship, Gail Broughton, Lorna Brown, Susan Brown, Beverly Carroll, Janet Chase, Donna Earley, Pam Franklin, Spencer Huber, Maureen Lipford, Kaky Minter, and Lynn Turner, staff liaison.

Contact: Bev Carroll, 804-387-1154; FBCRichmond.org/FLO

Bev CarrollBev Carroll is a teacher, speaker, and author of two books: He Wants You to Know and God Chooses People Like You. Her passion is to help others see God’s word as absolutely relevant in their daily lives. Bev taught English and Humanities in high school and college. She and her husband Jay have two sons and one perfect dog.

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Story by Joyce Clemmons. Photos by Susan Brown.

WAWAIn 2003 FBC staff recognized the need for a more diverse women’s ministry, and FLO (For Ladies Only) began to take shape. As the organization grew and expanded its ministry, we began to look at the needs of those who were widowed or who were caring for chronically or terminally ill spouses. In 2005, WAWA (Widows and Women Alone [caregivers]) was formed.

WAWAWhen a woman is widowed, she immediately steps into a world she could never have imagined, no matter how prepared she might be. She no longer fits with “their friends” and must make new friends and find new interests. Decisions that would previously have been made as a couple or by her spouse must now be made on her own. Tasks such as having the car serviced or paying the monthly bills that may have been his to deal with are now hers. This is in addition to handling her grief and making decisions about what items to keep and what to dispose of, and how to do that. All these changes happen while her emotions are up and down on a daily basis.

WAWA became a part of my life after my husband’s passing. Breaking bread together with others who are grieving or struggling with caregiving gives us comfort and support and bonds us. This group has been a very meaningful experience for me these past couple years.

WAWAWAWA is structured to be a mentoring group where a new widow can feel comfortable even if she only feels like crying in her plate that day. She knows the others will understand. The intent is for new members to move forward at their own paces. As Betty Lowry shares, “WAWA helped me get through a very low point in my life – the loss of my husband. Maureen and the other ladies ministered to me from their same experience.”

Shirley Barnes explains that WAWA gives a chance “to see ladies we haven’t seen for a month and enjoy going to a lot of new restaurants.” The group meets for lunch once a month at different restaurants. Members trade ideas about such things as whom to call for a repair job, what to do with things that are too precious to throw away but no one else wants, and how to do the necessary tasks they’ve not done before.

WAWAPatsy Apsley appreciates that “Maureen always has a devotion and prayer” to begin. The meeting is structured to follow with open discussion of any relevant subject. There are currently thirty members on roll, with an average attendance of eight to twenty.

For more information, contact Maureen Lipford, 804-270-1264.

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By Rachel Lewis Allee. Photos by Susan Brown.

calloutSometimes it’s good to let your mind wander—even when you should be paying attention—and Bev Carroll will tell you so. She spent a lot of time not listening while Margaret Feinberg spoke at a women’s ministry conference in Ridgecrest, NC a couple of years ago. To her credit, Bev, at Ridgecrest with other members of FLO (For Women Only), had started listening intently to Feinberg describe her research methods for her latest book. The popular author and speaker had spent time with a shepherdess, a farmer, a beekeeper, and a vintner in search of fresh spiritual insight to those biblical occupations. But as Bev listened, she couldn’t help wondering what other biblical metaphors might reveal about God.

Bev Carroll

Bev Carroll signing her new book.

Her curiosity eventually got the best of her, and before long, Margaret Feinberg’s voice had dimmed to a distant murmur. “I’m sure she had a wonderful speech,” Bev says, “but I drifted way off and I pulled out a piece of paper, and I’m like, OK, what did God say He was? So I started writing stuff down. I made a huge list of things. Then I thought, I want to know.”

Back home in Richmond, Bev began to research. She found some Bible study tools on the internet and was fascinated by what she learned about rocks, fire, bridegrooms, and other metaphors that God uses to describe Himself. “As I researched these, I was blown away by how meticulously Jesus followed each one of them. Even though I didn’t know what they were, He had been faithful to them back then.”

Bev, who teaches the Seekers class at FBC, knew that all this knowledge would make a great series of Sunday school lessons. Over the next seven or eight months – from late 2011 and into 2012 – she wrote a set of teaching notes on her findings and presented them to her class.

That’s where she thought things would end. “When I finished the conclusion, I thought that I was done – into the manila folder, into the drawer.” But Donna Dalton, a member of the Seeker’s class, had other ideas, according to Bev. “She walked up to me after class and gets right up in my face with her finger, and she said, ‘Do not put this in a drawer.’ Then she said, ‘You’re going to write a book, and I’m giving it away Christmas 2013.’”

No way, no how, thought Bev, and she told Donna as much. Her reasons piled up in a long list: She had not gotten a word from God about writing a book. She was good at grammar, not creative writing. She was too busy holding down three jobs, working with FLO, and being a mother to her two sons. In the meantime, Donna kept praying for Bev, who cautiously decided to stick her pinkie toe in the water, so to speak: “I thought, well, I’ll just sit down here and try to write an introduction. If it comes, great; if it doesn’t come, even greater! So I sat down and the intro just flowed.”

She worked on the manuscript from September of 2012 to February of 2013. There were roadblocks along the way: she struggled to write a couple of chapters – particularly the one on “Word” – and when she looked for publishing information, nothing presented itself. She poured out her frustrations in prayer. “‘If You want me to write this book,’” she says of her requests to God, “‘You’re going to have to give me the words for this chapter. I need to know this publishing path.’ I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m in the remedial class. If God’s not really clear, I miss it. I told God, ‘You better make this really clear, or I’m done.’” She went home, put the manuscript in a drawer, and felt peace.

Then some funny things started happening. “If you don’t think God has a sense of humor, then you don’t really know Him,” Bev says. While reading through the materials of a FLO Bible study called Stuck, she saw information for Thomas Nelson Publishers. She visited the website and almost immediately a popup about self-publishing appeared on the screen. She took that as a sign, finished the book, and published it for a fee through Westbow, Thomas Nelson’s beginning writer’s label. He Wants You to Know, by Beverly Lipford Carroll, was officially in print.

Enter the dreaded marketing process. Thomas Nelson called and told Bev they wanted to offer their promotional services and market her book “to the moon and back” – for a large fee. Bev immediately balked. This was not an appropriate route, she felt, but what in the world could she do? She was no marketer – far from it: “I used to pay my little brother to sell my candy bars (for school chorus fundraisers) for me,” she remembers.

The thought of having to promote the book herself made her stomach turn, but she knew paying the publisher wasn’t the answer. Frustrated at what she perceived as a lack of guidance, she told God she was lost, and that she quit. This time, she didn’t see a way out. She called Thomas Nelson and told them that she would not be using their promotional services.

The following Sunday, God’s sense of humor showed up again. “I got up that morning like usual to get ready for church, went over my notes on Moses, and they were on all the excuses Moses gave God at the burning bush [and afterward when confronting Pharaoh]: ‘I can’t do this, get somebody else.’ More than any other moment in Moses’ life, picking the snake up by the tail, that was his moment. Either he was going to trust God to be God and ignore everything he knew to be right, or he was going to trust his best judgment.”

There was another surprise. The next day, feeling good with herself about that Sunday school lesson, Bev went to her job in a preschool office. A rather large black snake was curled up on the mat outside the front door.

Bev’s takeaway lesson from that incident? “He didn’t give me a plan, but He did tell me to stop whining,” she says with a laugh.

He Wants You to KnowAt this point in the marketing journey, she still doesn’t have much of a plan going forward. Her cousin Anne has agreed to help, and Bev has written a study guide with group discussion questions to go along with the book’s “Father” chapter. She also wrote an introductory brochure and sent it to a number of area churches. One responded with interest and many others said they would have been interested, but their fall curriculums were already set. On October 6 in the FBC library, Bev signed somewhere in the neighborhood of 45 copies of He Wants You to Know. She also has a website, beverlycarrollrva.com. The door is wide open and Bev is anticipating her book’s future in spite of the unknowns. “I believe God gave me this book. If nothing more comes out of this than my journey, it’s worth it. If someone else’s journey needs to be impacted, then I need to be faithful.”

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