How do you measure success? It’s an interesting question. One that’s been posed to me as the leader of The Marcella Project. I find measuring someone’s changed thinking hard to do. Deconstructing and reconstructing someone’s belief system is not a straight line nor is it a quick easy to see process. This week our board will meet to work through how we measure success. Even if I can’t give a clear answer to that yet, Jesus has been gracious to show me that it’s happening.
This past month I’ve been committed to being mindful of the Spirit. Watching. Listening. Paying attention to threads. One thread I’ve seen is our work is trickling down into the lives and work of others.
For example, last week I attended a fundraiser for New Friends New Life (NFNL), a ministry committed to eradicating sex exploitation. (P.S. NFNL is one of our partners. Check them out on our website.) Kelly Cruse is the Executive Director of NFNL, a M100 member, and a previous board chair of TMP. Basically, she’s a dynamo! At this year's fundraiser they highlighted their “Mankind Project,” and their speaker spoke on the need for “reframing masculinity.” As I listened I realized we’ve (TMP) played a part in the formation of what was happening. Kelly’s been gleaning from TMP for years, and the idea of recapturing God’s vision for women AND men is trickling into her work at NFNL.
Then there are these amazing women in Indiana. I received a picture of a stack of resources on Tara Wallace’s desk. Tara graduate from our She Can Teach (SCT) course and has attended our past three Summits. The resources she used to preach her Sunday sermon are a direct result of her involvement with TMP. And then there’s the facebook message I got from Amanda Clark. She is also a graduate from the SCT course and Summit attender. She had been invited to another church to preach on the Blessed Alliance in their Sunday service. (P.S. Amanda has decided to take a group of people through our Imago Dei Study. Pray for changed minds and hearts.)
How do I measure the impact? I'm not sure how, but God’s letting me see that it is happening.
This past month Marijoy Horton hosted a Lime Green discussion at her house. I met Marijoy years back when I was a pastor in a mega-church. She spent years sitting at my feet learning, or should I say re-learning about Jesus’ vision for his women. Years later she’s hosting a Lime Green discussion in her home. She’s become a voice for change and a leader in ennobling women in her sphere of influence. She plans to continue to host more “salon” discussions in the Austin area. Pray for more and more to in the Austin area to hear Jesus’ vision for his image bearers.
Jesus showed me a few fun things from our Summit this year. After the Summit I had three separate conversations with women about their desire to attend seminary. I wonder if there’s a correlation? I sense when women see other women teach, preach, and theologically expound they start to wonder if they too can do it. Suddenly, dreams they dared not dream are actually dreamable. All it takes is seeing it and having someone suggest and encourage them to “go for their dreams.” I love being able to remind women who hesitate, because it feels so selfish to take the time and money to attend seminary, that this isn’t their dream - “it’s God's.” How do I know? Because what sane woman says, “Oh, I’d love to spend my money and limited time studying the bible all day long?” Most women aren’t saying that, so when you do it’s a good chance it’s God’s dream he’s placed within you. I love getting to ennoble women to dream God’s dreams.
Pray for the leading of the Spirit for these three women. (And Lisa who dreams of getting her PhD and was feeling discouraged. Dr. Russell was able to speak into her life about that!) May the Lord raise them up to be sound and profound preacher–pastor-theologians.
One of the sweetest surprises to our time at the Summit was Dr. Stephen Boyd’s response. He has contacted Steve and me several times. He so enjoyed being with our group of men and women. My husband Steve was able to suggest that Dr. Boyd update his book on masculinity. After getting further advise from fellow colleagues at Wake Forest, he’s decided to do just that. Steve and I will be stopping in to see him over our summer travels.
Oh yeah, another fun thing. At last year's Summit (2016) Dr. Sue Russell asked if I would join her in writing a book on sibling relationships as it pertains to the debate on the role of women. At this year’s Summit (2017) we handed out a few unedited copies to attendees. We invited them to make comments, ask questions, anything to help us communicate the content well. I’ve compiled their feedback, and on June 5-10th I’ll met up with Dr. Russell in California to continue our work on the book. Pray for clarity, simplicity, and oneness in voice. It’s not easy to merge two people’s voices into one.
Speaking of books, this summer I’m heading to the east coast to work on a book I’ve been wanting to write for a while. The book is on women as image bearers. My working title is “Image,” and I’m opening with a chapter on our body image. I’m very excited. If it seems like I’ve fallen off the edge of the world, just know that I’m alive but in hiding writing my little heart (and head) out. Pray for the right words and for the Spirit to use this book to free (ennoble) women.
I’ll be in touch from somewhere on east coast –
Grateful for you,
PS. We are taking off from hosting the Summit in 2018 so Jackie can host a trip to Israel teaching on Women in The Word. We’ll also be taking next year to put the Summit under construction (visiting ways to make it better and better), so we’ll keep you updated with news about Summit 2019!