Friday, July 12, 2013

The Story Behind Friends of the Heart

First Came Study, in My Study
Fifteen years ago two friends, young enough to be my daughters, asked me to be their mentor. I had served on a church staff, and these two gals, Kim Messinger and Janine Boyer, were just getting their feet wet in church ministry. They thought I might offer tips on navigating ministry waters, so off we sailed.

We began meeting weekly at 5:30 a.m. in my upstairs office, which we called “Our Upper Room,” to read and discuss Christian books. In time the stack grew. And grew. And grew. Who knows how many books we have waded through? We should have kept a list.

Then Came Service, Wherever the Spirit Led
Along the way we decided not only to study together but to serve together. We visited shut ins and held teas. Then we mapped out a plan for a women’s retreat for the women of Kim’s church. Ten women, ranging from high school age to two octogenarians, attended, and we had a great time--such a great time that we decided to do it again. We sailed into deeper waters by posting a website and offering our services as Friends of the Heart.

I hope you don’t mind that I am taking this blog post to tell our story and what we offer. Summer is a great time to look at the year ahead, and we already have engagements scheduled for 2014. So here is an overview of our retreats and other special programs. We would love to present a program for the women of your church. And if you know others involved in women’s ministry, we’d love for you to pass this post on to them.

Our Retreats and Programs

“If Our Closets Could Talk” is based on people from the book of John: the Samaritan woman (some things no longer fit her life), the man at the pool of Bethesda (who needs to give up some things, such as his mat) and Mary (who uses what’s in her closet for her Savior). We focus on what might be blocking women from becoming all God calls them to be. This retreat includes skits focused on things we find in our closets with application to our “life closets.” Kim and I are “keepers” while Janine freely throws away. We build that into our skits and have fun with it. As part of this retreat I offer a dramatic presentation from memory of the first three chapters of the book of John. (It takes about 15 minutes and people always hear things they never notice when reading familiar scripture.)

"At Any Age, At Any Stage: Celebrating the Christian Life” is based on Psalm 139. We focus on how God is with us at every age and every stage of life. Skits feature the characters of Dora the Explorer (Janine as a young, risk taker facing choices, changes and challenges), Wonder Woman (Kim as a busy busy busy gal, yet keeping God as a priority; don't you love her costume) and Hyacinth Bucket of the British sit-com Keeping Up Appearances (Shirley, representing the mature years with an attitude). These characters make for very funny skits. I do a dramatic presentation of Psalm 139, which takes just five minutes. Good if you have a variety of ages attending.

“Just Say ‘Yes’ to God!” is based on the book of Philippians. We focus on “Looking In” - issues that keep you from moving on in life, “Looking Up” – developing an ongoing relationship with Christ and “Looking Out” – using your talents, gifts and passion to touch the world. Our skit characters are Mary, Martha and the psychologist (guess who is who?). For this presentation I offer a dramatic presentation of the book of Philippians from memory.

The first session of a retreat is normally introductory. Then there are usually three one-hour teaching sessions, which include a skit (five minutes), a talk (25 to 30 minutes), a song related to the theme by Kim (5 minutes) and the rest of the time for small group work for which we provide discussion guides.

And the Big News is we’re working on a new retreat based on the book of Ruth. This will have a different format altogether. Can’t wait to see how it evolves.

Our retreats may be adapted as one-hour programs and we also offer “That Face in the Mirror: Who Do You See?” (good for Mothers Day) “Mary: Ordinary or Extraordinary?” (good for Christmas) and “Friendship: Got It In You?” (good anytime, any group, even groups including men)  Visit to learn more.

Contact Information
So that’s who we are and what we’re about. Contact me by e-mail or call 717-692-2721 if you would like more information. Looking forward to interacting with the ladies at YOUR church. J

Upcoming Dates:
If you’re in the area, please join us:
July 16, 6:15 p.m. – Binghamton (NY) After Five (Shirley)
July 17, 11:30 a.m. – Owega (NY) Christian Women’s Club (Shirley)
August 12, 11:45 a.m. – Wilmington (DE) Women’s Connection (Shirley on her and Bill's 52nd anniversary)
August 13, 9:30 a.m. – Dover (DE) Women’s Connection (Shirley)
August 19, 11 a.m. – Millersburg Senior Center, “Friendship: Got It In You?” (Friends of the Heart)
September 7, 10 a.m. – First United Methodist Church, Millersburg, “Just Say ‘Yes’ to God!” (Friends of the Heart)
September 20-22 – Women’s retreat at Camp Hebron with Camp Hill U. M. Church, “If Our Closets Could Talk” (Shirley, leading with friend Carole Hamm; you'll love Carole)