Support Groups: Cultivating a Garden of Friendship
- Monday, May 16, 2011
One sunny, summer afternoon in 1994, two women, strangers, met at a local library. A member of a local congregation, knowing these women shared a common vision and complimentary gifts and talents, had arranged the meeting. The women came together, hearts satiated for ministry to homeschooling families. That afternoon, soil was tilled to cultivate a garden of friendships.
Shelley walked with confidence, carrying an organized stack of papers. The other woman, timid yet filled with anticipation, brought a blank notebook. After brief introductions, Shelley, familiar with business-related agendas and operating procedures, a remnant of her pre-motherhood business career, instinctively led the meeting, her gift of administration evident. The other woman sitting across the library table listened and pondered, filtering Shelley's words through her gifts of helps, service, and mercy.
Though very different in gifting and personality, the women quickly became friends. They retreated to the beach and took their children to the park to play, never missing an opportunity to discuss the future of the group. Sipping raspberry tea, they prayed for their husbands, their children, and the ministry they led.
Seeds of one friendship, spread on fertile soil, sprouted other friendships within the ministry. Shelley organized a team of moms to houseclean for a member who was physically challenged by debilitating disease. The meals ministry provided several months of meals for an expectant mom on bed rest. Members celebrated with families meeting milestones. Relationships blossomed. Friendships were strengthened. Lives were changed.
Last Tuesday evening the NHE (Northside Home Educators)* purpose and mission statement came full circle as Shelley breathed her last breath. I was immediately surrounded by the relationships Shelley and I birthed in the library fourteen years ago. You prepared meals. You called with condolences. You carried out the words penned by Shelley's hand, ministering to me.
NHE exists today because members continue to assist, encourage, and pray for one another. Those yet to enter this faithful community of believers will be blessed beyond their understanding, as I have been. Thank you for pouring out Shelley's love on me.
With warmest regards and thanks,
As fragrant gardens of friendship, support groups send forth seeds to grow, bloom, and change lives. NHE is one of many support groups planted in homeschool communities across the United States and around the world. Beginning as a vision in the mind of a leader, a group has the potential to blossom relationships, blessing families. However, a bountiful support group requires careful planning, fertilizing, and pruning.
Are you contemplating starting a homeschool support group? Do you currently lead a support group and want the group to be more effective? As a member, are you wondering how you can better serve your local group? Whether leader or member, every person plays a vital role tending the garden. Learning how to better serve in your role blesses others who are walking the garden path beside you.
Rooted and Grounded: Soil Tilled With Biblical Principles
We envisioned NHE rooted in Biblical principles, reflecting the love of Christ. As homeschool moms, Shelley and I knew members would need practical encouragement, sage wisdom, and fervent prayer. Desiring to interweave these aspects with the purpose and mission of the ministry, we pored over Scripture for Biblical guidance, discussing how key components would impact future members.
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