International Women's Day 2014
The theme of International Women's Day 2014 is 'Inspiring Change', calling for positive change in the lives of women across the world. We believe in a God who is in the business of change. Our God is a God who is continually at work in our hearts and our lives, who has saved us by His grace and gives us life to the full.
We also believe that there's huge value to be found in the women that encourage us in our faith along the way. So, today we're celebrating all the women who inspire us to change, to grow, to dream big, to love well and to adore Jesus. We hope you will find these little glimpses into their lives inspiring too. Here's to precious mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers and friends!
Rosemary ~ Susie Cox
My granny Rosemary, aged 86, heads up our rather large family since her husband died 12 years ago. She is the most active octogenarian I've met, caring for sick neighbours, hosting Alpha suppers and church groups, going on long family walks and cycling to the shops, not to mention Tuesday evening folk dancing. What is most inspirational is her love for Jesus and for other people: her door is always open (not literally, although I think a lot of people know where the spare key lives) and she makes you feel like nothing, in that moment, could be more important than listening to you.
Esther ~ Torie Stubbs
I find Esther from the Old Testament incredibly inspiring because God used a woman who, from her circumstances, wouldn't have appeared to be someone who would change the world. But God saw her as significant, and he had an awesome plan for her life, one that would take her from poverty to the palace of a king. God's plan was for Esther to be born for 'such a time as this'; in the entire history of life, God had Esther's role planned out from the start, and he used her to set a nation free! Esther embraced God's call on her life, even though it could have meant giving up her life! If we could all know just how significant we are in this time, in this year, then we may too get supernatural boldness and be used by The Lord to do the unimaginable! _________________________________________________________________________
Angela Ahrendts ~ Emma White
When Lucy asked me to write a short paragraph about a woman who I find inspirational, many lovely ladies went through my mind - the Queen (such a hero), my Mum (just amazing), my friend Julia (always encouraging but also lovingly challenging me) and so many more. However, I settled on Angela Ahrendts.
Angela Ahrendts is currently CEO of Burberry, and will shortly move to join the executive team at Apple. In 2013, Angela was listed as Forbe's 53rd most influential woman in the world and she was also made a Dame. Her time at Burberry was extremely successful and during her tenure, the company's value rose from £2bn to over £7bn. Given the turbulent times that many businesses experienced during the 2008 financial crisis, this is amazing! As well as this, Angela is a wife, a Mum to three children and a committed Christian who quoted Jesus in her TED talk.
So why do I find Angela so inspiring? Well, as someone who has the whole of my working life stretching out ahead of me, it is so encouraging to see examples of Christian women who have dreamed big dreams, worked hard and pursued their passions. We should be passionate and excited about our work, and ask God to show us how he would have us work for His glory. This will look different for every one of us. God needs all sorts of girls to do lots of different things, so that we can shine as lights for Him into the many different parts of the world - in businesses, charities, homes, schools, hospitals, everywhere. We can take heart from Angela Ahrendt's example that it is important to be excited about work and the opportunities that God gives us to use our skills and energy. Let's not think too small. _________________________________________________________________________
Bethany ~ Rebecca Wall
My cousin Bethany is an inspiration to me. She is brave and pioneering, gentle, wise and has a humungous heart. She always wanted to work with street children and not long after graduating she left comforts of family, friends, security and moved to Paraguay. She had only GCSE Spanish and moved their alone in faith. What she has done is amazing. She now runs a school for slum children at a feeding station, she is fluent in the language and has touched the lives of so many children, simply by loving them, something many of them have not experienced before.
Despite their often traumatised pasts and behavioural difficulties, the kids are so eager to learn. These children are society's outcasts, yet to her they are precious treasures whom she loves dearly (and who adore her). She is a shining example of Jesus' love, an obedient servant who I think is an incredible example of an amazing response to Jesus saying: "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." _________________________________________________________________________
The Woman At The Well ~ Naomi Allen
My inspiration is an outcast, a nameless woman with a history of failure. A woman who had every excuse to avoid Jesus and slip away back into her life of darkness. Instead, she chose to talk, to listen and to try to understand. Despite being in a seemingly hopeless situation, this woman trusted in the man who called himself the Messiah and allowed his promise to change her life. This is Jesus: the ultimate life-changer! Will we choose to listen and follow? _________________________________________________________________________
Suse ~ Nell Goddard
Let me tell you about Suse. She’s my big sister who isn’t really a relative at all, and one of the best things that ever happened to me. She showed me how to paint my nails, curl my hair, and beat my brother at play-fighting. She taught me that it’s okay to be an introvert, and a love of silence is to be embraced, not ignored. She showed me that academic theology isn’t just for old men, but for 20-something women as well. She taught me, by example, to trust God even when it hurts. She showed me the delicate beauty of embracing your emotions, and acknowledging that people have hurt you. She has taught me forgiveness, acceptance, and honesty. She has asked questions I didn’t want to answer, and then loved me to a point where I felt safe enough to share. She has been more than a best friend, more than a big sister. She has been a true gift from God, a blessing, and an inspiration. _________________________________________________________________________
Emily ~ Katrina Bass
At only 12, she may not quite be a woman yet but I am so often inspired by my best friend’s little sister. Emily has such an unconditional love for people. God has blessed her with a huge heart and the ability to seek out those in need, giving them a glimmer of the enormity of Jesus’ love for them through her words and actions. Her joy and laughter is contagious and one cannot help but notice her security in God as her saviour. (PS: Hannie & Lucy are also among Emily's biggest fans - we love her very much and are continually energised by her generous, cheerful and selfless approach to life!)
Corrie ten Boom ~ Lucy Beauchamp
Last summer I started reading The Hiding Place, the story of Corrie ten Boom. I was so hooked on her story that I ended up reading all her books within the space of a week! Throughout WWII, Corrie and her family hid Jews in their family home to keep them safe, risking their lives to do what they believed was right. Eventually, the family was found out, and Corrie was the only one to come out of concentration camp alive.
Despite the terrible loss of her family, the hatred shown to her, the terror of the concentration camps and her own poverty, sickness and pain, Corrie remained absolutely fixated on Jesus. I was so captivated by her story not only because of the amazing things she went through and went on to do (she became an incredible international speaker after the war!), but more because she just became more and more like Jesus no matter how difficult her situation was. She models forgiveness in a way that is absolutely radical. There is something inescapably attractive about Corrie's beautiful outlook on life, one that is saturated with thankfulness and humility. In all her achievements, her courage, boldness and energy, Corrie points right back to her Father in everything she says and does, giving all the glory back to Him. That's the kind of woman I want to be!