Sisterhood is Eternal

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A_Michele

Unbelieving, I held the phone to my ear. Joanne? Sick? We always talked by phone every few weeks, but wait … how long had it been this time?

And now a call from her husband with tears in his voice. I could feel the conversation moving in a direction that I could not absorb.

Hospital.
Organ failure.
Death.

The easy, relaxed freedom of our ties suddenly appeared to have been foolhardy. Although Joanne had been in her seventies, I truly had thought she would live forever–or at least until we were both “caught up together with Him in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”  (We spoke of it often.)

Now she was already there, and I hadn’t even given her a proper send off.

Homeschooled sons, a toddler, a baby, and a five-hour drive made for some challenging funeral logistics, but the patient husband and I managed to attend somehow, because I had been asked to share words about Joanne and our friendship–an incredible gift to me in processing the beauty and the loss.

But it was not what helped the most.

Morbid as it sounds, the empty shell of her—the sick body looking so wrong and so hollow–pierced the grieving just enough to make room for thanksgiving that God had allowed her to fly free of it. Here’s where the theology gets fuzzy, but “absent from the body, present with the Lord” superseded the void she had left behind, and with Holy-Spirit-fueled certainty, I knew that something stronger than heredity had been passed along to me during our decades-long sisterhood, a genealogy of spirit stronger than blood that came to me through:

Shared ministry in which we lost ourselves in the communication of Truth;
Witnessing her determination to be ordained during her retirement years;
Hours spent in prayer at a messy kitchen table;
Arguments over obscure Scripture passages when I was a headstrong teenager;
Her unshakeable conviction that God had plans for me.

Although it is untraceable from a practical standpoint, still, I ponder this concept: a genealogy of Spirit—a sharing of faith and calling that runs back through all my known spiritual influences and beyond memory to the time of Christ.

When Anna the prophetess saw the Messiah Babe in the Temple, I picture her charging forth with a message of hope to pour into every ear. How many of the faithful who stood in the women’s court were baptized into her incurable optimism?

When that five-times-married Samaritan woman embarked upon her calling as an evangelist, isn’t it true that her proclamation of the good news would have set off a chain reaction of righteousness that reverberated forward for generations?

Did Lydia the business woman ever come alongside a sister, put an arm around her and say, “How about you and I practice this life of following Jesus until we get it right?”

Was Priscilla ever confronted—brought up short—by a wiser, more discerning sister who pointed out the gaps between her theology and her life that were big enough to drive a Roman chariot through?

I receive from them, women of the distant past, as surely as I have been blessed with the gift of Joanne’s sacrificial building forward into my life. Cherishing what I have received, I am determined to choose availability over “me-time;” vulnerability over image-management; relationships over the elusive merit-badge in housekeeping.

I have not even begun to build forward in the way that Joanne did, but because of her investment, there is a genealogy of Spirit running forward through me and into the lives of women who need time in front of an open Bible; who need to gather and pray, to share their stories around a circle of coffee mugs so that they, too, can build forward into their daughters and their friends—into women I will never see or know.

This vision of an eternal sisterhood, the privilege of carrying forward the same Truth cherished by my New Testament sisters urges me to lean into this unfinished story; to show up in the church library on Sunday mornings with my Bible and my notes; to continue inviting young women into my kitchen for bean-canning, pickle-making, and talk about marriage and mothering.

The truth is that this is not a neat and tidy narrative where I am carrying a torch into a crowded auditorium, an unreached people group, or a visible public ministry.  The beauty of this unfinished story is that the Great Commission is not always fulfilled with a passport and a suitcase.

Sometimes two women sit at a messy kitchen table, and the Spirit is there, and the eternal sisterhood goes on.  

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Michele Morin
I am wife to a patient husband, Mum to four young men and a daughter-in-love, and, now, Gram to one adorable grandboy. My days are spent homeschooling, reading piles of books, and, in the summer, tending our beautiful (but messy) garden and canning the vegetables. I love to teach the Bible, and am privileged to gather weekly around a table with the women of my church and to blog at Living Our Days about the grace I am receiving and the lessons from God’s Word that I am trusting.
Michele Morin

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Michele Morin
  • Bev Murrill

    Have I told you lately that I love you, Michele Morin? You are such a gift to me and to many others and though I’ve never met you face to face, your words cheer my heart and inspire me to be better.

    Thanks so much for telling me about Joanne and the role she played in your life. I have not had an older mentor such as she, but I’m so grateful for the peers who have mentored me and who have allowed me to mentor them… we’ve shared together the bits of wisdom we have, and we’ve received from each other in just the way you have told us of here.

    I love this line so much. It thrills my heart and I embrace it for myself and those I am sister with.

    ‘I knew that something stronger than heredity had been passed along to me during our decades-long sisterhood, a genealogy of spirit stronger than blood that came to me -‘

    Your writing is life giving.

    • Such a lot of love to receive first thing in the morning! Thank you . . .
      I’m so encouraged by the sisterhood here, particularly the young women whose hearts are bold and whose words are beautiful and expressive.
      And then, there’s the brave heart who travels the world talking about Jesus — Bev, you are in my prayers today.

      • Bev Murrill

        Thank you, Friend. One day we’ll give each other a big hug and have a long cup of coffee/tea … Emmanuel. xx

        • pastordt

          Oh, and I would love to be at THAT messy table, you two. 🙂

        • What a treat that would be. Oh . . . geography!
          But, then, as you say . . . Emmanuel.

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  • Anna Smit

    Michele, this is so very beautiful. Isn’t Christ-filled fellowship beautiful, with a sure and steadfast hope that when we part we will meet again? Thank you for sharing this moving piece. I am so sorry for your deep loss, but so thankful you live filled with such beautiful hope and peace through our Saviour.

    I have been incredibly blessed by similar fellowship and thank God for opportunities to give back just a little of what He has blessed me with through the gift of spiritual mothers and sisters. Since losing my Mum these spiritual mothers have been a special blessing indeed. God knows what we need, better than we do ourselves.

    • Yes, yes, yes. There’s hardly a day that goes by that I don’t miss my friend and long for her input and wisdom, and yet there’s the knowledge that these decades on a fallen planet are just a trifle compared with all eternity. But what moves me about your comment is the motivation that’s there to “give back.”
      I know that I’m a debtor as well — so much received from the goodness and love of women who have been sign posts and the arms of God to me.

  • Joy McEwen

    So beautiful:) This year God has brought together a group of moms into my life who get together weekly to share our prayers, concerns, and brokenness in womanhood and parenting. One of the most enriching parts of the whole experience has been the joy we can share together and the things we can learn from each other despite (and because of) the wide age range (our kids range from 2 to 35). Out of this experience I have become a firm believer in cross-generational women’s ministry in the church- it is so needed! Thanks for highlighting this:)

    • Wow – what a great thing you have going there! So wise to pool the wisdom of the generations all in one place, and I’m sure you’ve got some great stories of how people have been changed and comforted within that group! Joy, what a gift this is for your community of women!

  • I’m grieving this week for a pastor friend who went ahead to the Lord – she might not even have remembered me, but her shining witness has stayed in my heart for more than ten years. I pray I could be such a shining light. I love your post – it meets me right where I am!

    • Oh, to say that I’m sorry for your loss seems insufficient. I’m reminded of the cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 11 — those saints whose stories spur us on in our faith because of who they were and how they trusted. May you find that this dear pastor friend becomes part of your cloud, witnessing to the possibilities of all that YOU, Morag Renfro, can be for Him — a shining light and a heart of love and encouragement.

  • Sandy Hay

    Like Bev I didn’t have an older mentor. Something I had truly prayed for. BUT….Many younger women have sat in my messy kitchen. Those times are priceless. Now it’s my granddaughters. Only God can explain what goes on there, what passes between us….older to younger and younger to older. Some days it seems as if the women who write on this page are sitting in my kitchen….like today. Thank you Michele.

    • I’ve often had that thought — that it would be delicious to sit around a table with the women who “gather” here.
      Sandy, the gift of time and presence that you are giving to your granddaughters is priceless. Thank you for being here today with your words.

  • This post just vibrates with goodness and honesty and hope … This may be my favourite post of yours, Michele. So tender, strong and beautiful.

    • I am so thankful for the opportunity that this bit of writing gave me to remember all that I’ve received and how blessed I’ve been — and still am. Maybe this post resonates for you because of this beautiful messy table where this present-day sisterhood has come to be!

  • Pam Ecrement

    I wrote on your home page as well, but just have to say again how much this resonates in my heart and spirit! Thanks again, my friend!

    • Pam, thanks for being part of the sisterhood. Your continual affirmation — and your own words of wisdom and clarity — are treasures to me.

  • pastordt

    AMEN, AMEN, AMEN. Beautiful piece, Michele, and so, so true. Thank you, sister-friend, for your good heart and your good words. (and this one would work beautifully with next month’s theme, too!)

    • I hadn’t thought of that . . .
      Your encouragement is a precious thing. And I appreciate what I read and know about your own part in this genealogy of Spirit. You are an inspiration to so many.

  • Beautiful, Michele!

    • Thank you, Gayl.
      An encouragement to me — as usual!

  • Saskia Wishart

    Oh yes, I can echo what Sandy said below, sometimes this Sheloves space is like a messy kitchen table where women gather to share their stories and wisdom and pain. I often feel quite lucky to be among the younger ones to come and glean new insights and life from the words here. Like today Michele, where you have painted a very alive picture of this eternal motherhood.

    • And your words, Saskia, add to the beauty of the sisterhood. So often you have shown up here with an offering of just the right encouragement. The sharing of it all makes for so much life and hope!

  • Jerri Miller

    Love, love, love this: “the Great Commission is not always fulfilled with a passport and a suitcase.

    Sometimes two women sit at a messy kitchen table, and the Spirit is there, and the eternal sisterhood goes on.”

    You open my eyes to new concepts every time, Michele. I have to say the thought of an eternal sisterhood has not been one I’ve dwelt on. But you are so right on!

    Doing life with each other … isn’t that what the church should be all about? ~ Jerralea

    • So often it’s the simple tasks, shared, that lead us into sisterhood and sharing of life with a friend. This business of the “genealogy” of faith started rattling around in my brain when I was studying in Hebrews — Chapter 11 is like a table of contents to the Old Testament saints, but then all those lovely sisters in the gospels and early church era. What if we could trace our roots back to the Great Commission? Just think of the generations of faithfulness that have gone into those years!

      Thanks, Jerralea, for bearing with me in my speculations!

  • Kristy

    I think everyone has pretty much summed it up in the comments here, but I still want to chime in and say this is good stuff. I will be reading it over and over.

    • Reading eyes are a gift to any writer. Thank you, Kristy, and thanks for letting me know that you’re there.

  • Alia_Joy

    Two women at a messy table, I get. I love when you write, “Cherishing what I have received, I am determined to choose availability over “me-time;” vulnerability over image-management; relationships over the elusive merit-badge in housekeeping.” AMEN. May we be present and available and open to the “genealogy of spirit,” that runs through women when we gather at the messy table.

    • All the women I have been impacted by most powerfully had value systems that pressed against the things we are “supposed to” value. Their energy and resources did not go into a perfect house. Instead, they had a heart for making “a home” happen with people who needed them. It seemed to happen naturally for them, but, looking back, I’m sure they made a conscious choice — and I want to do that too.

  • You certainly know how to bless others. She sounds like a wonderful person and your words about her are beautiful. This touched my heart.

    • Oh, thank you for your encouragement. It has been wonderful to share the story of my friend with so many sweet readers. May each of us find this kind of friendship and may we BE the kind of friend who blesses and builds forward into others.

  • Liz

    Beautiful and inspiring, Michele! God’s people are literally everywhere and He calls us to care for all of them. Investing in the younger women is a crucial part of passing on our faith to next generation. I’ve just realized in the last 5 years or so, I’m becoming one of the older women, who should come alongside the younger and share what I’ve learned and how God has pulled me through. Blessings to you, my friend!

    • Liz, I remember when it began to occur to me that I was one of the “older women.” My friend’s passing had a lot to do with that, as I realized how much I had received from the Lord through her. At every phase of life, it’s important to have those who are learning from our experience AND also those who can speak truth into our lives where it’s needed. Thanks for reading, and for your insights!

  • Michele, this is beautiful. Your last line made me tear up. Lovely, lovely post. Thank you for sharing. I’m so sorry for your loss. ((hug))

  • HeleneBurns

    I have been traveling and I fell behind on reading every SheLoves post and so I’m on my second cup of coffee on a Saturday morning and I just finished this breathtaking post. Michele – thank you, this is so beautiful, so rich and so very important. Every word grabbed my heart and I am captivated by the relationship you share here. I, too have been blessed by relationships like yours and I am feeling more committed than ever to be that for others.

    • Helene, what an honor to accompany your coffee!
      Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. I’ve loved this opportunity to remember and relive the blessing of a formative friendship, and am also trusting God to show me how I can be more present for other women, spurred on by the example of so many SheLovelys.

  • I linked up next to you at #GiveMeGrace. I am so glad I did. This is so lovely.

    • Jamie, so happy to connect with you! Thanks for reading!

  • bethwillismiller

    Michele, what a wondferful way to honor the legacy of your sweet sister in Christ! Your tender words cause me to pause and thank our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the dear sister in Christ who meets with me for lunch and prayer each week, and all the precious sisters in Christ, like you, with whom I have the privilege of sharing our faith and our lives in this amazing blogging community. Many blessings to you ❤️

    • Beth, how wise you are to carve out time for regular lunch and prayer with a sister. You know, since writing this post, I’ve been reminded again and again how God has worked in so many ways and given so many wonderful sisters to fill the void that was left when my friend/mentor passed away.
      Every blessing to you, friend!

  • Lisha Epperson

    Blessed by your words this morning Michele. I nodded quiet amen’s after each line and felt a deep connection to the blessed lineage of which you speak – a true genealogy of spirit. Thank you.

    • I’ve been blessed by that connection – through my reading of the Word about God’s women, and through reading the words of women who reflect His glory today. So many gifts come along with our great salvation.

  • Michele, I think this is the best post you have ever written! But then I have thought that of several 🙂 But truly, such an important truth for us all to embrace – sometimes the most important ministry happens right around our own kitchen tables. Thank you!

    • Joanne, you are such an encouragement. I have learned so much sitting around tables with God’s women, and I believe that the seed for that was planted back in high school with my mentor/friend. When things are happening in our lives, we are rarely aware of their impact until much later. I try to remember this . . .

  • Joelle Povolni

    Michele, thank you for this post. Without sisters older, younger, and our same age where would we be? Linking arms in the sisterhood of God love and encouragement, is the only way to move and build forward. I love the concept of building forward in others lives and making yourself vulnerable enough for others to build forward in our own lives. Thank you for building forward in many lives with this post! Blessings!! Joelle

    • Oh, Joelle, your words today are a gift.
      And I think you’re really on to something with your thoughts on vulnerability. It’s so much easier to be plastic and perfect before others, never letting them see our struggles, and yet there is no passing on of grace in this is there? Thanks for reading and for joining in the conversation.