New Things

Dear Friends,

Do you smell the change of seasons in the air? Earthy leaves, smoky camp fires, and freshly scrubbed kids in new leather shoes remind us that a new season has begun—a season ripe with possibility and promise, bursting with potential.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:18-19

Of all the newness this season brings, however, the blank notebook is the sweetest. Snow white sheets of opportunity hold pages of unwritten story, full of breadth and depth, waiting to be awakened and finely crafted. This is each one of you. This is us. We are the paper. And thankfully, our merciful, loving Father is the pen. Not just a dime-a-dozen hotel room Bic, but a beautiful, costly fountain pen, poised with purposeful plans for beauty and grace to flow across the pages of your life, bringing joy to your heart and glory to His name. Our God is the God of new. New plans. New purpose. New story. New you. How will He compose you this season? We hope you will ask Him, and listen for His response. We hope you will let us know what He whispers into your heart and what He does in your life.

As for the three of us (Julie, Beth & Kim), He’s doing new things in our lives as we do our best to be faithful with all He has placed in our hands. He showers us with new mercies daily as we nurture our grown and growing children, love our husbands, and tend to the needs of our elderly parents. We are on our knees before Him as we navigate our way through this ministry called Woven, aspiring only to bring the riches of his love and grace to others and to ascribe all glory to His name. So we’d like to let you know what God has written on this year’s Woven page so far…

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

During each of the past four years we have created one new retreat curriculum (The Truth About Redemption; Grace, the Way Home; Unshakable, Standing on the Rock; and Passport to Joy, Sealed by the Spirit). Each of these curriculums was shared with women from various churches in many different retreat formats. We are so thankful for every opportunity we have had to share what God has given us with you, and with your friends, sisters, mothers, and cousins! To say that each retreat experience was a joy and a privilege is only scratching the surface of how we feel.

Each retreat was birthed out of much prayer, listening, and work. What also emerged from that prayer, listening, and work was the realization that God wants us to put together Bible study curriculum. We have known he was leading us this way for quite some time, but did not know exactly what that would look like on a practical level. We do now. In order to devote the time and energy we need to prepare a live-taught 10-week study on Joy, we will not be creating a new retreat content this year, nor will we plan and host our own retreat as we have done for the past three years. Planning and managing a weekend retreat at a hotel is quite a big endeavor – especially while also preparing the content and teaching for the retreat. God impressed on our hearts that at this point in our ministry hosting our own retreat is not the best way for us to steward our gifts and energies toward the direction of his will. (That said, presenting one of the four retreats we have already prepared alongside a church team would be a different story … :)

So … why are we telling you this? Well, first of all, because we thought you might be wondering what was up for this year and wanted to let you know. Second, because we would love it see your smiling faces at our Joy study in January (Wednesday morning and evening at The Chapel, Libertyville and Thursday morning at Christ Church, Lake Forest). Keep an eye out for details. And last, but not least, we treasure your prayers!

As this new season gets underway, know that we think of you often and will be praying for you—praying that you will open the cover of your new notebook and surrender to the pen of God as He crafts the beautiful, joyful story of your life.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB