The theme was “Time to Focus on Vision.”  The event was the annual LIFT Director’s Retreat.  And the choreographer was God Himself.

Directors and leaders of women’s ministries from around Arizona gathered on Friday, March 11, to focus on developing a vision for their ministries.  It was a day set aside to encourage and equip directors and ministry leaders.  We expected to be blessed, and we were.  What took us by surprise was the way God made His presence and His control of the event known in such an unmistakable way.


From the earliest conversations and the pre-event prayer circle, we could see God’s hand at work as He choreographed the preparations and thoughts of the presenters to reinforce a unified message.  The theme:  God is in control; every vision must begin and end with Him; and nothing else matters except who He is, no matter what life brings our way.

With the stage set in this powerful way, Kristina Bailey did a great job of facilitating the day and teaching us how to receive, clarify and cast a vision for ministry.   As input was solicited from each woman present, it was enlightening to see and hear the recurring patterns of how God makes Himself and His intentions known to each one of us. 

The women’s ministry of North Phoenix Baptist Church treated us to a wonderful salad lunch.  The LIFT leadership team led us in games, get-acquainted activities, devotions and music.  It was fun to see the creativity as ladies sang, danced and performed impromptu songs and skits. 

At the end of the day we left inspired, encouraged, and challenged.  It was such a great day, I guess we’ll have to do it again next year!


As the newest member of the LIFT leadership team I have been privileged to be a part of the LIFT planning meetings for the last two months.  What a joy it is to see the hearts of these women, working behind the scenes and planning events in order to bless other members.  They truly do have a heart for God and for you.

Take the February 11 meeting, for example.  The discussion around the table as we planned for the event, “Time to Bless Our Members”, was fun to watch—one idea building on another as the details and schedule unfolded.  So it was exciting for me to witness the real thing and see how everything worked out.

It was wonderful—all of it.  From the decorations and favors on the table, the vintage handkerchiefs inserted into “bless-you” notes, the mingling of women during table topics discussions, the incredible desserts provided by Trinity Bible Church, to the inspiring presentation by Catherine Martin.

I arrived at the event after a long day and a stressful drive, but the tension and cares of the day dropped away, and I truly was blessed by the event.  If you were there I hope you felt the same blessing.  If you missed it, I’m sorry.

Our speaker, Catherine Martin did an outstanding job of sharing how critical it is for every woman to have a personal quiet time with God on a daily basis.  It was really a “calling out” of Christian women.  She reminded us again that we need to plan for our daily appointment with God, make it a priority, and follow through.  After all, how can we expect to win against the enemy if we have not spent time with the One who gives us the strength, courage, wisdom and power we need?

Since the February LIFT event, I have been able to follow through on Catherine’s challenge in a tangible way.  I teach a ladies’ Bible study for busy working women, and we were just getting ready to start a new series.  After hearing Catherine speak, I recommended we use her book “A Heart That Dances” as our study guide.

It’s an awesome study, calling us to intimacy with God through a regular quiet time, and I can’t wait to see how God is going to use it in our lives.

But back to LIFT.  I can assure you that the same kind of care and planning is going into this next event, the annual Directors’ Retreat.  If you have not yet registered, please do so today.  Give yourself the gift of time away from your busy schedule to refocus your vision and connect with other ministry leaders around the valley.

I hope to see you there on Friday, March 11.


Deborah Barber


 It was a fabulous first event of 2011—

  • The long line of tables filled with a variety of resources from women in Christian ministry.
  • Wonderful refreshments provided by Calvary Community Church in their beautiful atrium.
  • Women in deep discussion around the tables, sharing their thoughts about what God is leading them into in 2011.
  • A thoughtful, heart-tugging “meet the team” moment as Jennifer shared her excitement to be part of the LIFT planning team.
  • Soul-stirring worship, praising the name of our Savior.
  • Dr. Alice Mathews, with her “professor” hat on, teaching about the history of Christian women’s ministries through the years, and drawing us forward into the exciting conclusion:  Yes, times are changing, and what women are looking for in Christian women’s ministries are authenticity and pathways to spiritual growth.
  • Mingling and sharing, hugs and laughter, prayer and praise.

Our 2011 theme for LIFT is TIME.  “…who knows but that you have come to this position for such a TIME as this.“  Esther 4:14.  If you were at this first 2011 LIFT meeting, I’m sure you came away blessed and encouraged.  If you missed it, don’t let the next one sneak by you.

Nothing in Life is Free by Samantha A. Wright

You’ve heard the old adage, nothing in life is free, right? I have always balked at that statement because certainly, if Chick-fil-A is giving away their tasty chicken strips, they’re free, right? Well, I guess except for the drink you bought with them to wash them down. Oh, and the gas you used to drive to their location. Not to mention the time you burned to go specifically to their store for lunch to get the free chicken. Don’t forget that lunch took twice as long because everybody and their brother came for the ‘free’ meal, too. But still, wasn’t is mostly free? I recently had the opportunity to see this phenomenon first hand in my own life. That nothing in life is free….

A few months ago my in-laws had some furniture they were looking to re-home and asked their kids if they were interested before they asked outside of the family. My favorite chair and secretary were on the list, along with a couch and love seat. I talked my husband into putting dibs in on those items…they’re free, after all, right? Later that week, we borrowed a truck from a friend and headed 90 miles east to grab our new free furniture to replace our 14 year old hand me downs. How exciting!! All said and done we spent $50 on gas and $10 for fast food, and I was still thinking our free furniture was still a pretty good deal.

Days later, a new home was found for our old furniture then I set to work bringing the new furniture into the house. When my husband asked where the new furniture was going and I told him he exclaimed, ‘oh no! This furniture is too nice to put in the great room. We need to put it where the kids can’t even sit on it.’ Okay. Plan B. Let’s put it in the family room. The furniture fit perfectly and made the room look cozy and warm with its gold and green hues. As I sat back and admired my new room I paused. Hmm. There’s a problem. But only a slight problem. The walls were painted a suede blue color to match the green down chairs I had in the room before hand. The blue didn’t look bad, but it really didn’t look great, either. My decorating instinct kicked in and I started to obsess about how much it would cost to repaint the wall. I quietly slunk out the door and disappeared to Home Depot on a mission. Horrified at the $40 a gallon price tag of the special paint from two years previously I left a bit discouraged. My free furniture was starting to cost me more than I had originally anticipated. Thankfully, days later, I was able to discover a gallon of demonstration paint in the oops section for $1 and after adding 3 cups of white paint I already had, I was able to create the perfect color for my wall. Sadly, my compulsion to make the room just right didn’t end there. I was so elated at saving so much money on paint I was compelled to go buy new decor for the room to match the style of my new furniture. Before I knew it, my new furniture had become an obsession that was growing wildly out of control, and consuming my life.

Pondering the whole situation I began to think of my relationship with Christ. Easter is upon us and churches will be emphasizing the free gift of eternal life made available through Christ’s resurrection. The gift of salvation is free, all you have to do is ask for it. Just like I asked for the furniture from my incredible in-laws. The furniture I received, though free from the giver, made a change in my life that motivated me to action. This action had a cost; namely a different paint color and new nick knacks. Conversely, the gift of salvation I received from Christ was free. The change the Holy Spirit brings to my life compels me to action as I let the Holy Spirit consume my life. My resulting actions have a cost; namely denying myself. 2 Corinthians 3:18. Scripture says a believers is a new creation in Christ and will be transformed. 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:17-21. Salvation most certainly is a free gift, but living a spirit filled life has a cost. This isn’t a new idea~Jesus told his followers they needed to evaluate that cost of discipleship before they made a commitment. Luke 14:25-33; Luke9:23.

As we are sharing the gospel, whether this Easter season or 3 months from now, we need to communicate that life in Christ is a free gift and the benefits far outweigh the cost, but there is a cost. Salvation isn’t a gift you place on a shelf to gather dust, rather it’s a gift put into action, through the work of the Holy Spirit, that compels life change. As John Calvin penned, “Indeed, faith alone saves, but the faith that saves, is never alone.”

Please share how your salvation has specifically cost you.