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First Thoughts Blog

Author: Elizabeth Parker, Director of Women in Ministry

My Cup Overflows

In well-known Psalm 23, David is so content, so overwhelmed with emotion in light of God’s provision and promised blessings that he proclaims, “My cup overflows!” Women, in some capacity or another, all yearn to feel like David in this psalm. We are all thirsty for God’s Word and God’s grace and blessings. We want to be “filled up” to the brim, to the point of overflowing! We show up with our empty cups, ready to be filled with God’s goodness and joy.
But often, we underestimate our ability to pour into other’s cups. We believe the lie that we can’t really contribute unless our own cup is overflowing.  Or maybe we miss opportunities to pour into others because we believe that we have nothing to offer, that our presence doesn’t really matter. Or more boldly, we don’t pour into others because it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable for us, or because it means sacrificing something we don’t want to give up like our time or energy. But the truth is, on a daily basis, we can simultaneously feel “full” in some ways and “empty” in others. And so it’s possible to approach each day with an empty cup in one hand and a water pitcher in the other. 
Women’s ministry requires all of us. We are a complex gender, full of wants and needs, desires and dreams and emotions. We are absolutely not one size fits all. So we need all hands on deck. We need to retrain our brains to believe the truth that we do have something to offer, that our presence DOES matter. After all, God created us for a reason, giving each of us our own characteristics. And wherever he has put us, we express the gifts and strengths he’s given us. Even in our everyday lives, we have endless opportunities to be ministers of the gospel. God can use anyone (and we mean anyone!) to spread gospel truth and to be his hands and feet. We are all different, but we are all united in Christ.
So come thirsty. Come with an empty cup in one hand because the good news, more than anything else, is that God’s Truth is sufficient to fill us up. God is always ready and willing to pour out his grace. Come ready to drink up God’s goodness and joy.
But also come with a water pitcher, ready to serve his life-giving water to others. Come willing to be inconvenienced. Come willing to move into empty spaces and stir one another up in love using the gifts and talents he has instilled in you. Come willing to nurture other women in their relationship with Christ. It’s a weighty and important responsibility, but oh, what a privilege it is!    
We believe that God has intentionally placed every woman in this church, not only to grow our faith upward, but also to grow it outward, with one another. Our prayer is that Women’s Ministry would be a safe, honest, God-glorifying place where we can come together in study and prayer, serve one another in love, and connect in deep, meaningful ways. Our prayer is that we come together with compassion, attentiveness and grace-filled sacrifice, and then we take our water pitcher outside of the church walls, outside of Sunday morning and into the mission fields God has called us to. Our prayer is that each of us come with an empty cup in one hand and a water pitcher in the other. Let’s encourage a culture of water pourers, and may our cups overflow!
By Elizabeth Parker
Women's Ministry Director

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1: 6-8).


Let's Face It, We Need Each Other

As an only child my perspective of the church is kind of unique. Let me tell you why. Only children can’t help but be just a little bit spoiled because on a day-to-day basis we didn’t have to share toys until we went to school. There was no competition with siblings so we were always winners. There was never a brother around to (literally) pound some humility into us and there was never a sister around to steal our most beloved dresses. One of my favorite compliments is someone seeming surprised that I’m an only child. It's always strange when someone asks me if I had siblings and, after I answer, the reply is “Oh yeah, that makes sense.” 
As a member of the Church (God’s people from Adam to eternity) we are NOT only children. We are a part of a huge family. This is the family that God uses to bring about his purposes and to bring glory to himself. When we function as a family we put our gifts and skills together with others and we use that combination of gifts to fulfill our calling as the Church. We work together to take our faith and the truth of the Gospel to our city, our country and to all the world. Our western notion of individuality is not biblical and is anti-church. How is that so? We are called in Scripture to be life-givers to one another. We are called to serve, to sacrifice and to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to be each other's greatest prayer warriors lifting one another up to God just as Christ intercedes for us in heaven. Women’s ministry, youth ministry and all the other ministries of the church are not there to give you just another thing to do. Speaking for the women’s ministry specifically I can say we really have a lot of fun! Bible studies are enjoyable and there is often laughter. Retreats are exciting in that we get away from daily life, play fun games and laugh with (hopefully not at) one another. HOWEVER, Women in Ministry doesn’t primarily exist for fun. Every Bible Study, every luncheon, every retreat we do is primarily to take women further into Christ and to connect them with one another. 
At First Presbyterian, I have found men and women who are committed to praying for me; not just as the women’s ministry director, but as a 20-something young woman trying to figure out her life. I have men and women who pour into me their knowledge of God and their experience of his sovereignty and goodness. Some of you have taken the time and energy to meet with me and share about God’s faithfulness in your lives and you challenge me when I fear he will not be faithful in mine. I have had the privilege of walking with women through excruciating life circumstances. I have reaped the benefits of loving reminders of my sinfulness. Thank you for being my brothers and sisters. Thank you for welcoming me into your family.
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