Sunday, April 6, 2014

When Your Life Doesn't Look Like You Imagined... by @ShelleyHendrix

Sharing a little update on C4C, our history, where we are today, and how none of it looks like I wanted it to look. ~ Shelley

Debra Courtney,
1st Director of C4C
I clearly remember the first time the idea of a community-wide, cross-denominational ministry for women entered my mind. I was sitting at Atlanta Bread Company with my friend, Debra. Debra was the first person God laid on my heart to invite into the ministry I was already leading. We met to talk about life, ministry, and where we sensed God may be taking us. We discussed the different events we had been a part of it and the local study we were leading at our home church. This was August of 2007. She asked me something along these lines at one point in the conversation, and like a hinge on a door, when this question was posed, the direction of my life changed, and it never went back to what it was before. She said, "Shelley, if you could do anything, what would you do?" And the answer surprised me. 

You see, I had already been speaking at various events around the US, mostly in the SE where I live. I had written a book and was considering writing another one. At the time, I was leading a conference series with a friend of mine, and I thought I knew the direction I was heading. So when I told her what I told her, I knew it was a desire and a dream that God was placing in me. It both scared me and excited me at the same time!

C4C Fall 2009
I said, "What if we could take the best of both worlds and put them into one ministry opportunity for women? I mean, what if we could take the elements of events, like a weekend retreat, a Ladies' Night Out, or conference and have the energy and excitement of this type of experience and combine it with the best of what we see in a weekly Bible Study or class: the friendships built, the relationships nurtured, and hearts and lives discipled? And what if we could do this as a seasonal ministry for women from all over the community so that no one has to think she has to belong to a certain church or denomination to attend? What if we could create a place of grace where we can nurture a woman's heart and teach her who she is (in Christ) instead of giving her yet another list of things to accomplish to make yet another person in her life happy?" Or something to that affect. This was almost five years ago.

A lot happened in my own life personally, in my family, and in the lives of others who joined with us to create this kind of place. I surrendered to follow God's path, and then the wolves showed up in full force. It was one of the biggest challenges of my life.  The details would take far too long for a blog post to comfortably contain. So,"yada, yada, yada" (ha ha), we began meeting officially in September of 2008.

At the time, the only other community style ministry that came even close to what I could picture was a little Bible Study out in Houston, TX that you may have heard of. *Wink* But I sensed God was up to something different here. Not better. Just different. As we've met seasonally now for the past 4 years, my understanding of the purpose and mission of C4C has changed quite a bit. And, you know what, I'm perfectly fine with that. I've watched way too many people wait, and wait, and wait some more to get perfect clarity on something they sense God calling them to do before they'll take even the slightest risk before taking a step. Although in some cases we do need to look before we leap, in other cases, God calls us to take a big leap because He has already seen where it is we're heading and He is already there!

C4C is a place of grace for
women of ALL ages!
I had no idea in the fall of 2008 that the official name of the ministry would be something as cute and fun as "Church 4 Chicks." I was trying to be all deep and spiritual with a different name. 

I had no idea how many teens, tweens, and elementary age girls would connect with the messages and the mission of C4C. It has been such a neat surprise! I LOVE watching the generations connect in authentic relationships with one another, doing life together, and ministering to a community arm-in-arm. It's been incredible!

And, I definitely had no idea the Father would use someone like me to start a ministry that would not only touch a handful of people here in my own community, but that He would choose to use me to reach women all over the world--maybe not thousands like others He chooses to use in that way--but women and girls from all walks of life in various parts of the world, with the message of His immeasurable grace and the new identity He offers each and every person. It's overwhelming to be even a small part of what my Heavenly Father is up to in my generation. 

C4C Fall 2010
And, today, I think about the women and girls who have shared how much C4C's mission and message means to them. I think about the women and girls who are getting it: getting it that God really does love them and really does have an incredible purpose for their lives. I think about women and girls who have never served others through ministry before, but are discovering the many gifts and talents within them that have remained dormant up 'til now. 

I'm also beginning to think more and more about those women out there who know God has also called them to something specific in their generation. I find myself wanting to be their biggest advocate and biggest cheerleader. I want to tell them that no mountain is too big for their God. Whether that mountain is formed by painful memories and experiences in their past; issues they view as disabilities; financial challenges; educational setbacks; WHATEVER! God is NOT waiting for us to remove the mountain so that we can get to work for Him. God is waiting for us to surrender to the Mountain Mover so He can do a work in and through us!

I want to tell them that there will ALWAYS be voices of negativity and condemnation and misunderstanding and judgment out there, but to PRESS ON as they PRESS INto their Heavenly Father. I want to tell them that this world is big enough for every single believer to be FULLY engaged in her purpose without it taking away from anyone else, so don't let petty jealousy of others keep them from going full on with their life's mission. 

I want to tell them that, although a purpose-filled life is going to be HARD at times, it sure beats living a life without purpose! I want to tell them to exchange regret for new dreams. 

Beloved with Kim of Queens, Kim Gravel 2009

I want to tell them to look for others to encourage along the way, too. To not be a voice of negativity to others. To realize God will never take from them to give to someone else, so to send envy packing when it rears its ugly head in her life. I want to tell her that her Heavenly Father is slap-happy crazy about her and that He will catch her when she falls and will redeem the mistakes she is going to make along the way. 

Church 4 Chicks doesn't look like what I thought it would. But it looks so much better than I ever imagined! And you know what else looks different? ME. It's true that God is more about the journey than He is about the destination. And I'm so thankful He is. I'm not where I want to be, but thank God, I'm also a long, long way away from where He found me. 
Friend Me Conference 2013

If you're interested in learning more about C4C, please feel free to visit our website at All of our Social Media Links are here and on our main home online.

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