Intersection of Life and Faith

10 Women Who Inspired Me When I Was in Church

  • DiAne Gates GriefShare
  • 2018 9 Jan
10 Women Who Inspired Me When I Was in Church

Growing up, we are rarely aware of moments when our spiritual, emotional, and mental learning curve soars because of someone’s actions or reactions to us.

But the day arrives when we’re faced with situations, decisions, or judgment calls and our brain remembers a person or a moment in time, and we stand awed by the sovereignty of God, realizing He strategically orchestrated that learned lesson in our past.

Some of those moments, people, and lessons registered in my heart as I sat down to write about these women who lived out God’s word to me in surround-sound and HD.

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  • 1. Courage to Love

    1. Courage to Love

    Baptist Churches in my generation sponsored Girls’ Auxiliary or G.A.’s.  Miss Lily Stanbaugh was not only the church librarian and our G.A. leader—she had polio. In braces, on crutches, in a wheelchair polio. But she never complained. Her library was the hangout for all the teen girls at First Baptist Jacksonville. She loved Jesus and the teens He gave her to shepherd.

    Miss Lily often took the whole bunch of girls to her family’s farm, where we had epic slumber parties. Of course, not much slumber went on with ten to fifteen giggly teens. She listened, gave counsel, and encouraged us to learn the Word of God.

    As I look back, I gave no thought to the mountains of time, courage, and wisdom she showered on us; nor the cost she physically paid for being there. Miss Lily lived out the principle, “Nothing is impossible with God…” Her courage set life’s standard for me.


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  • 1. Courage to Love

    2. Diligence in All Things

    I remember her stern face calling our Sunday School to prayerful silence each week. Mrs. Ethel Rosser demanded diligent attention to everything we were involved in. But I couldn’t figure how she could be stern one moment, then a crinkle quirked her lips, and she’d chuckle.

    Mrs. Rosser and Miss Lily determined those God gave to their charge would commit God’s Word to memory—long passages I still remember, and the books of the Bible … and old hymns. How she loved to sing, and I find myself, in moments we sing old hymns in church, never having to look at the hymnal—because of Mrs. Rosser.

    Her steadfast diligence seeded in my heart and continues to prod me to keep on keeping on when life is difficult and I don’t understand why.


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  • 1. Courage to Love

    3. God's Truth Applied to My Life

    First Baptist was a large downtown church, and I don’t know how Dr. and Mrs. Lindsay managed, but our pastor and his wife were personally involved in the lives of all those under their care. Those were the beginning days of the I am woman hear me roar movement. I remember sitting in her class and her saying, “My husband is the head of our home, but I’m the neck that turns the head.” I smiled, cloaked in immaturity.  Finally, a woman who understands the modern world. But you could have heard a pin drop in that room of young brides.

    She went on to teach that we could become this neck of support. That strong, steady column which allowed our husbands’ heads to rotate, to view all situations, in order to make sound decisions for the safety and security of their family. With God’s Word she said we could become that quiet, gentle, foundation of support rather than a proverbial pain-in-the-neck wife who prevented her husband from becoming God’s appointed head of the family.

    I’ve never forgotten her wise application of biblical truth—truth that needs to be shouted from roof tops and in pulpits today.


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  • 1. Courage to Love

    4. A Faithful Friend and Mentor

    The 1960s spotlighted a nation in transition; a restless nation attempting to wrench away from time-honored values. But I am thankful the southern half of our nation’s ways were slow to change. Friends of our parents still played an enormous part in the lives of their children, and one of my mother’s friends, Bess Pryor, set the example for me.

    This lady indeed walked in the light of that quiet, gentle spirit Paul speaks of, in spite of her difficult life. She and my mother were best friends and shared the same Christmas birthday. I spent many hours in her home, babysitting her three children, watching Mrs. Pryor living out biblical principles of love and faithfulness, even when her life became messy and full of heartaches.

    I still hear her sweet laughter and feel her arm around my shoulder, encouraging me to remember—God is in control. He is faithful. And He loves me. 


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  • 1. Courage to Love

    5. Unconditional Love

    Dot Kirkland was a second mother to me—a spiritual mother. Dot and her husband Kirk led my mom and dad to Jesus when I was a baby, and for the duration of her life she supported and encouraged me. She was always ready, with open arms full of unconditional love—even when I was a brat.

    They lived beside a small river in Jacksonville. Each evening, hordes of crickets and frogs filled the air with their shrieks in the dark, and they scared me. I remember one evening she came to tuck me in and found me huddled under the covers, shaking. She hugged me close. “As long as you can hear the crickets and frogs, God is telling you everything’s alright.” And I raised my children with Dot’s counsel.

    Years later in Houston, Texas, a bull frog came to live in our wood pile. Every night, he sang long and loud. ‘Til the night of thirty tornadoes. The storm front moved in at midnight and that little frog shut his mouth and didn’t utter a peep for two days. My teenage son declared he wasn’t going to budge ‘til the bullfrog sang.


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  • 1. Courage to Love

    6. Our Proverbs 31 Wife and Mom

    Christine Bell Nickels didn’t have godly parents—but I did. She spent her teen years in the Parental Home for Girls. After she and Daddy married, neighbors Dot and Kirk Kirkland led them both to salvation in Jesus Christ. Consequently, I grew up in a strong church family. These two women covered my life with prayer, wise counsel, and sometimes a well-needed switch to my backside.

    God granted Mama His wisdom, talents and gifts, a faithful husband, and two healthy children. And she loved Jesus. Besides having a beautiful voice, God gave her the gift of hospitality and encouragement. She loved to prepare meals for people who liked to eat. After my brother and I were grown and gone, she became a marvelous caterer whose smile could light a room, but whose glare could drop a disobedient kid at thirty-paces.

    Before air-conditioning, when house windows were open, I often heard mom singing. I’m sure she never realized the testimony those hymns were to her neighbors and friends, but especially to me. She taught that you can’t sing and remain disgruntled. In her final days, when she remembered nothing, she lay in her hospital bed humming Amazing Grace and other old hymns. Do you know enough hymns to change your attitude each day? Mama never tried to be my friend, but she fulfilled God’s command—she was a strong, faithful, and influential mother.


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  • 1. Courage to Love

    7. A Faithful Warrior for the Kingdom

    In January of 1989, after living in rebellion for many years, I met Nancy Leigh DeMoss during Life-Action’s revival services at Spring Baptist Church in Texas. The revival where I met and trusted Jesus, my Savior! I had known about Jesus since childhood—I knew He died for the sins of the world—but didn’t comprehend that He died for my sins. But that night, His Spirit spoke and I listened. He died for me. And He changed me.

    God never saves anyone and leaves them the same. Nancy Leigh DeMoss led a women’s Bible study during this fourteen-day revival—a Precept Bible Study. And thirty years later, I’m still searching God’s Word through Precept that Nancy DeMoss began in my life in 1989.

    Nancy Leigh committed to reclaiming women of God’s creation to the Lord Jesus. Her dependence on the Word of God kindled a fire in my spirit to daily feast on the Bread of the Word so His Spirit would continually transform me to be like Jesus—one step at a time. I’ve never been the same. If you’ve walked the aisle, been dunked in the pool, and there’s no change, you best be asking yourself and seeking God’s help—because the Spirit of God always changes the believer’s heart and life as they are transported from darkness into His Kingdom of Light.


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  • 1. Courage to Love

    8. A Friend Who Loved Me - Warts and All

    After the revival, God provided two ladies and their husbands who opened their lives and hearts to my husband and I and loved us, warts and all. After wallowing in the ways of the world, warts are predictable—word warts, way of thinking warts, reaction warts. And Kathy Cook loved me in spite of my disgusting warts.

    God puts mentors in or lives whose talents and interests coincide with those He gives us. Kathy and I had a heart for missions and God gave us a bread ministry. As I passed a local grocery store one afternoon, the thought I wonder what they do with their old bread tapped a tune in my brain. I stopped, went in, and asked. The person who took their old bread away had to stop, and they needed someone else to fill that place. Kathy and I began delivering bread that multiplied to the Mildred McWhorter Mission Centers.

     The warehouse lady learned where the bread was delivered and other needed items appeared in the baskets of bread—like bags of rice, beans, even toys or over-the-counter medicines. Isn’t God amazing? We just need to be willing.


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  • 1. Courage to Love

    9. One Friend's Good - but Two are Better

    Audrey Pratt and I shared artistic talents, and she invited me to work with the ladies' decorating group at Spring Baptist. She also had gifts of wisdom, counseling, and hospitality, and my parched heart soaked up every drop of kindness and love she poured into my life.

    Years later, after the death of our daughter, we lived in another city, but daughter’s grave site was in Spring. Audrey invited our family to stay with her family the night before the service. Kathy and Audrey fed, loved, and comforted us during our time of overwhelming grief.

    These two ladies came alongside me, making me feel welcome and part of the church family. When I needed comfort while grieving they illustrated how I could help others. Are there new folks in your congregation who need that acceptance into the family of God? Ask God to help you help new believers find their place in His family.


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  • 1. Courage to Love

    10. Every Woman Needs Mentors

    Different needs—different mentors. God placed a third lady in my life—another Precept leader and spiritual mentor, Judy Kay Savage.

    One of Judy’s gifts is teaching, and she saw me through those early years of Precept Bible Study; years when my thoughts swirled with the overwhelming lessons I learned from studying God’s Word. Judy always asked me the same question whenever we met— “What’s God teaching you today?” And then, she’d wait for an answer. This made me stop, think, and understand God’s desire is to teach us every moment of every day.

    We’ve moved to Dallas, but I know if I met Judy for lunch today, her first question would be, “What’s God teaching you today?” And as always, she would require me to think. As you’ve read about these ten amazing women, what did God say to your heart? Do you spend time each day listening for His voice? We all become so involved with the things of this world that we forget only the souls of saved men and women, boys and girls, and the Word of God will transition into God’s Kingdom. Who are you inspiring in your journey?


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    DiAne Gates writes for children, young adults, and non-fiction for adults through her blogs, and She writes monthly articles for Christian online magazine,
    Freelance artist and photographer, she also facilitates a GriefShare support group.
    She has written numerous books, including ROPED and TWISTED. She is a wife, mother, and Mimi, whose passion is to share those hard life lessons God allows to conform us to the image of His Son. Find DiAne on Facebook