​A conversation-based series for women

   Isaiah 54:2“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, strengthen your stakes.”

As women, our metaphorical tents are pretty full.We often care for the many people and play several roles in life. We are wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, friends and neighbors. Women balance many tasks and relationships throughout a given day. For this reason, it is important for us to stop, reflect and spend time with the Lord as well as other Christians to renew our spirit and minds. This renewal fuels and reignites us to continue you running the race that the Lord has set before us. “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31. We need to be filled with the word, which gives us strength and be reminded that we are not alone. Generally speaking, women also seem to have an innate need for conversation. We tend to process more fully when we have had a chance to talk about it. 
In women’s ministry, we have felt the need to create an opportunity for women to gather and grow together while providing ample time to connect. We believe the Propel Women program provides an environment in which women can focus on a theme based in scripture, connect with other each and be encouraged in their walk. This fall we have focused on Isaiah 54:2 with the theme of growth. By pulling key words from the verse itself, we have been able to have deep, meaningful conversations. We first began with the word enlarge. As Christians we are called to enlarge our tents. To make room for God and others. This takes time, intentional discipline and sometimes the willingness to be uncomfortable. Many women expressed that it can be difficult to fit God and others into their day. We challenged each other to create elbow room in our lives for God and to allow the spirit to move. If we are tightly wound and lack extra space and time, we end up boxing God out of our daily life.

​We then discussed the concept of stretching. By dictionary definition, to stretch means to straighten or extend one’s body or a part of one’s body to its full length, typically so as to tighten one’s muscles or in order to reach something. Now that we’ve enlarged our tent and made elbow room for God to move, we can be stretched to reach something new. After performing an actual physical stretching experience as a group, we discussed what this can mean in our spirit. Sometimes spiritual stretching is painful. Many women agreed that it was during a stretching season that they felt closest to God and the most pruned. One thing is for sure, we have to have a willing spirit and openness to be stretched. The stretch can often bring new feelings, emotions or aches that we haven’t felt before. However, it also brings us to a new place with God! You have to grow to where God needs you to go! 
In exercise, a stretch is a motion that helps you elongate muscles, therefore providing length. Now that we’ve stretched out, we want to stay in that stretch and begin the process of lengthening. This has spiritual application also. We don’t want to just stretch and then shrink right back to our original position, but instead stay there in the growth. We talked about how staying in those moments with God is so important. Welcoming the Holy spirit into our lives and opening up our arms to Him, wide open! Then, He can lengthen the areas of our spirit as He sees fit. Whether it is a challenging dynamic at work, a personal conviction He’s placed on your heart your working through, chronic illness or a relationship that has been strained… we can lengthen our cords and grow!
As the verse says, lastly, we need strengthen our stakes.We need to build up our spiritual biceps and stay grounded! One of our favorite lines from this lesson was, “There is weight training and then there is wait training.” Sometimes, the stretching and lengthening process can take a while. It takes time and resistance to grow stronger. Taking time to meditate on scripture and analyze our strengths in this season as well as areas we need to become stronger can be powerful. Are you spiritually or emotionally strong right now? Are you intellectually or physically strong in this season? By developing and maintaining daily spiritual disciplines as well as encouraging each other, we can grow in our relationship with the Lord. To stay grounded, grow spiritually and stay strong we need the word of God. His word needs to be our foundation. 
It also helps to have other Christian women cheering us on. We believe this is key in women’s ministry. The world is quick to pin women against each other, but not God. He wants us to be each other’s cheerleaders, building one another up and strengthening each other! We all have struggles, areas we need to improve on as well as a longing for connection. Gathering together to equip and encourage one another is a precious opportunity. We have learned a lot as we have processed these verses together and we hope more women will get to experience the Propel program.

   Hebrews 10:24-25“And let us consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds. Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. “ 

by Joanne Sharp