March is Women’s History Month, and Whatever Girls will be highlighting 31 Christian women or groups of women who live/lived and lead/led with strength, dignity, and exemplify/exemplified the virtues of Philippians 4:8 each day of March, and we invite you to journey with us.
Day 1: The Pilgrim Mothers
In 2016, I had the privilege of traveling to Plymouth, MA with my son and our church, and got to see, stand on and touch the sacred ground the brave men and women who made the treacherous 66-day journey to America to flee tyranny in the name of religious liberty, landed. This experience was life-changing and touched my heart at the deepest levels and set my soul on fire.
There were 18 adult women passengers on-board the Mayflower, three of whom were in their third trimester of pregnancy. The Mayflower arrived in America on November 11, 1620. Only five of the 18 women survived the first winter. “The Pilgrim Mother Monument (in Plymouth) depicts a sober minded individual who cares for the well-being and training of her children as she arrives in the new world. Her face depicts the difficulties facing women and children in traveling to the wilderness in 1620. As she clutches her Bible, she is aware of the responsibility necessary to implant truth that will keep her family and children facing a bright future in spite of their present sufferings. The monument is a fountain, depicting the family as the source of stability for both church and state. The inscription on the back-base reads “they brought up their families in sturdy virtue and a living faith in God, without which nations perish.” “Tenacity. Resilience. Hope – these are the lessons that we learn from these intrepid women. Let us recommit ourselves to honor the example of the Pilgrim Mothers by serving as good and faithful stewards of the dreams they carried across a mighty sea.” -Daughters of the American Revolution/D.A.R. (The “Pilgrim Mother Monument was a gift from the D.A.R. in 1920)
“During their first winter in America, half of the recently landed Pilgrims died. But the Mayflower mothers were hit the hardest. They were the first to go without food. The first to go without shelter. They, more than any of the others, took what little they had and gave it to their children. They sacrificed for the survival of the next generations. They died for us. During that first winter, about three-quarters of the women died. Not far from the Plymouth shoreline today, there stands the Monument to the Pilgrim Mothers. It reads, “They brought up their families in sturdy virtue and living faith in God without which nations perish.” Tim Ballard “The Pilgrim Hypothesis”
To learn more about the Pilgrims, visit The Jenney Museum in Plymouth, MA.
Day 2: Dr. Carol Swain
Dr. Carol Swain, an award-winning political scientist and former tenured professor at Princeton and Vanderbilt Universities, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow for Constitutional Studies with the Texas Public Policy Foundation and an educational advisor for American Cornerstone Institute founded by Dr. Ben Carson.
From high school dropout and teenage mother to highly accomplished university professor and public intellectual, Dr. Carol M. Swain is passionate about empowering others to confidently raise their voices in the public square. She is the author of 11books.
She has served on the Tennessee Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the 1776 Commission.
“I am a follower of Jesus Christ who believes that faith in Him should be evidenced by a lifestyle that reveals his influence on our lives. I honor and respect the wisdom of God’s Word as revealed through the Scriptures found in the Old and New Testaments of the Judeo-Christian Bible. I believe our nation has been exceptional throughout the centuries, because of the wisdom and faith of the Founding Fathers who sought to establish an everlasting covenant with the God of Israel. Their wisdom is found in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. If America is to survive as a nation, we must rediscover our roots and unite as one people. We must recognize that multiculturalism and identity politics fuels division and divisiveness. As Matthew 12: 25-27 suggests, a house divided against itself cannot stand.”
I first learned about Dr. Swain when I heard about the 1776 Commission, which she was appointed to as Vice Chairman of by President Trump. I then discovered she had written a book called “Be the People: A Call to Reclaim America’s Faith”, which intrigued me, and I have been an ardent admirer of Dr. Swain’s since. She is one of the greatest thought leaders of our time, and she inspires me greatly.
Day 3: Elisabeth Elliot
Elisabeth Elliot has inspired me for years. She truly rose above her suffering with the power of Christ.
Her quote “The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman” challenges me to examine my character, which is always a humbling, but beneficial exercise.
Elisabeth was a Christian missionary, author, and speaker. Her first husband, Jim Elliot, was killed in 1956 while attempting to make missionary contact with the Auca people of eastern Ecuador. She later spent two years as a missionary to the tribe members who killed her husband. Elisabeth, along with her young daughter Valerie, would later return to Auca territory to live among and minister to the people who killed her husband. Familiar with suffering, Elliot wrote, “The deepest things that I have learned in my own life have come from the deepest suffering. And out of the deepest waters and the hottest fires have come the deepest things I know about God.”
Elisabeth Elliot’s life work was to share these deepest things: the trustworthiness of God, the blessings of obedience, the hope of joy in the midst of sorrow, the call to love one’s enemy, the priceless treasure of purity, and the true meaning of Biblical womanhood and manhood. She authored over twenty books.
Day 4: Dr. Mildred Jefferson
I only recently became acquainted with Dr. Jefferson by watching the movie “Roe v. Wade”. As accomplished as she was, I am more inspired by her courage, tenacity, and dedication to protecting the lives of all the unborn. If you haven’t seen “Roe v. Wade”, I highly recommend it.
My daughter was an unplanned pregnancy. I was pregnant at 21, married at 22, and divorced at 23. I had no idea what I was doing, I felt shame, and was terrified at the prospect of being a mother. Life certainly didn’t go as planned, as a result of my choices, but by God’s grace, it turned out better than I could have imagined. Being a mother has been the most rewarding and fulfilling part of my life. My heart goes out to women (and men) who find themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy. No matter your circumstances, know that you are not alone. Find a pregnancy center in your community and allow others the privilege of walking alongside you and supporting you. God can take what may feel like the most hopeless situation and make it better than you could imagine. God loves you and has a plan and purpose for your baby’s life, and yours!
In 1951, Dr. Mildred Jefferson was the first black woman to be accepted to and graduate from Harvard Medical School. With 28 honorary degrees, she dedicated her life to caring for the sick and exposing the evils of eugenics. She co-founded the National Right to Life and is credited with bringing Ronald Reagan into the pro-life movement.
According to the Boston Globe she “broke many race and gender barriers in her long career as a doctor”, but most notable is her work and dedication to the pro-life movement. As a young doctor she became concerned with efforts within Massachusetts to change abortion laws. This led her to become a co-founder of Massachusetts Citizens Concerned for Life. She was a founding member of the National Right to Life Committee and served as the president of the organization three times. Dr. Jefferson was known for her eloquence at expressing, and defending the right to life, and traveled around the country using this gift to change hearts and minds. She is even credited with influencing Ronald Reagan’s conversion from pro-abortion to pro-life.
Day 5: Corrie ten Boom
If someone told you there was a 1 in 92,000 chance you wouldn’t be killed, you probably wouldn’t feel too optimistic, would you? I sure wouldn’t. Corrie ten Boom was among 92,000 women set to be exterminated in a gas chamber at a Nazi gas chamber, but was not, due to a clerical error. May we never doubt God’s plans and purposes for our lives and His ability to rescue us from any situation to accomplish His purposes.
There are so many reasons to admire Corrie, but her wisdom forged in suffering, particularly when it came to matters of the mind, and her elevated thinking is what inspires me most about her.
“During Hitler’s reign in Germany Corrie’s family sheltered Jews, ultimately saving hundreds or more. They also secured coupons and false identity cards for Jewish refugees and helped people in the resistance movement. Both Corrie’s father and her grandfather had instilled in her a love and respect for the Jewish people. For identification, Jews were required to wear a yellow star sewn to their clothing. Corrie’s father chose to wear one as well, even though it put him at great risk. At the ten Boom home behind a false wall, a secret room or hiding place for six to eight adults was constructed in Corrie’s bedroom. Everyone in the household practiced drills in the event of a Nazi search. Corrie used a special sign placed in a window of the Beje to communicate with underground workers, including a group of young Dutchmen she enlisted to help her. One man whom the ten Booms helped betrayed them to the German police. The Jews in the hiding place were safe, but Corrie, her father and Betsie were taken to the police station and subsequently to German prison where the elderly Casper ten Boom died a few days later. 92,000 women died in Ravensbruck, a Nazi concentration camp, including Betsie.
Corrie often referred to Psalm 31:15 which says “My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me”. She was delivered from Ravensbruck concentration camp just before New Year’s Day 1945. She walked out a free woman, made her way back to Holland and spent ten days in a nursing home, only to discover that one of the nurses had been a former Girls Club leader who was happy to care for her and nurse her back to health. Years later Corrie learned she had been discharged from Ravensbruck because of a clerical error. Every other female prisoner her age had been sent to the gas chamber just after her release. In 1945 Corrie ten Boom opened a rehabilitation home in Holland for prisoners of the concentration camps. The house donated for the service was the fulfillment of a prophetic dream Betsie had while in prison.
In obedience to God’s call after World War II, Corrie traveled to sixty-four countries sharing the love of Jesus and the message of forgiveness. She became what she called a “tramp for the Lord” and wrote a book by the same name in 1974. Many times she did not know where she would unpack her bags or how she would pay for her passage. But God, in His providence, always met her needs. She lived a life surrendered to Him and experienced many miracles. She ministered to people who had been traumatized by war, recognizing the need for forgiveness in their healing because of her own experiences. At a church service Corrie encountered a German guard from Ravensbruck and, through God’s grace, forgave him. She also wrote a letter of forgiveness to Jan Vogel, the man who betrayed her family to the Nazis.
Day 6: Louisa May Alcott
Most everyone has at least heard of “Little Women”, and I dare say anyone who has read it probably thoroughly enjoyed it as I did. It was inspired by the Alcott family, who were no strangers to hardship. I didn’t know anything about Louisa May Alcott before researching these 31 women, but I greatly admire her devotion to her family, especially that she adopted her baby niece after her sister’s untimely death. I also didn’t realize she was a woman of faith, and I found the quote shared on our image to be both timely and timeless.
“My child, the troubles and temptations of your life are beginning, and may be many; but you can overcome and outlive them all if you learn to feel the strength and tenderness of your Heavenly Father as you do that of your earthly one. The more you love and trust Him, the nearer you will feel to Him, and the less you will depend on human power and wisdom. His love and care never tire or change, can never be taken from you, but may become the source of lifelong peace, happiness, and strength. Believe this heartily, and go to God with all your little cares, and hopes, and sins, and sorrows, as freely and confidingly as you come to your mother.”
Louisa May Alcott is best known for her best-selling book “Little Women” “but her path to literary success wasn’t an easy one. Rather, it was born out of a mix of diligence, necessity, and great talent.” (American Woman’s Bible)
The Alcott family lived in extreme poverty after a failed investment made by her father. As a result, Louisa dedicated her life to helping her family by working as a governess and seamstress, but ultimately, she wanted to make money as a writer. Her first story “The Rival Painters” was published in a weekly newspaper and she was paid $5. She eventually gained traction and her reputation grew, and in 1867, an editor asked her to write a book about girls. She wrote “Little Women” in two months, writing non-stop. Though she had little hope for its success, the first printing of the book sold out, and it has never ceased being in print. Her success afforded her the opportunity to pay off her parent’s debt and take care of them for the rest of their lives.
Louisa never married, but she adopted her younger sister’s baby girl when her sister died in childbirth.
Day 7: Susanna Wesley
I have heard about Susanna Wesley and her great influence in the lives of her sons, John and Charles, over the years, and as I have started studying her life, I am greatly inspired and challenged by her discipline in the midst of a life as full and busy as hers was. She was deeply devoted to her faith-even going as far as deciding “she would never spend more time in leisure entertainment than she did in prayer and Bible study. Even amid the most complex and busy years of her life as a mother, she still scheduled two hours each day for fellowship with God and time in His Word…” She was also a devoted wife and mother.
Susanna delivered nineteen children, but nine — including two sets of twins — died in infancy. “Susanna’s household organizational skills are the stuff of legend. She knew from personal experience that quality one-on-one time with a parent is hard to come by in a family with many children, yet powerfully important. So she set a rotating schedule through which each of her children spent an hour with her alone before bedtime on a designated night each week.”
Susanna was also committed to her children’s education, even that of her daughters, though it was unpopular at that time for girls to be educated.
“Susanna’s household organizational skills are the stuff of legend. She knew from personal experience that quality one-on-one time with a parent is hard to come by in a family with many children, yet powerfully important. So she set a rotating schedule through which each of her children spent an hour with her alone before bedtime on a designated night each week.”
“Early in her life, she vowed that she would never spend more time in leisure entertainment than she did in prayer and Bible study. Even amid the most complex and busy years of her life as a mother, she still scheduled two hours each day for fellowship with God and time in His Word, and she adhered to that schedule faithfully. The challenge was finding a place of privacy in a house filled to overflowing with children.
Mother Wesley’s solution to this was to bring her Bible to her favorite chair and throw her long apron up over her head, forming a sort of tent. This became something akin to the “tent of meeting,” the tabernacle in the days of Moses in the Old Testament. Every person in the household, from the smallest toddler to the oldest domestic helpers, knew well to respect this signal. When Susanna was under the apron, she was with God and was not to be disturbed except in the case of the direst emergency. There in the privacy of her little tent, she interceded for her husband and children and plumbed the deep mysteries of God in the Scriptures. This holy discipline equipped her with a thorough and profound knowledge of the Bible.”
Primary source: FaithGateway.com
Day 8: Anne Frank
This young lady needs no introduction. Though she didn’t make it to womanhood, her short life of 15 years left an indelible mark on history, and her writings are a treasure.
“Anne was born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1929. “Unemployment was high and poverty was severe in Germany, and it was the period in which Adolf Hitler and his party were gaining more and more supporters. Hitler hated the Jews and blamed them for the problems in the country. He took advantage of the rampant antisemitic sentiments in Germany. The hatred of Jews and the poor economic situation made Anne’s parents, Otto and Edith Frank, decide to move to Amsterdam. There, Otto founded a company that traded in pectin, a gelling agent for making jam.
On 1 September 1939, when Anne was 10 years old, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, and so the Second World War began. Not long after, on 10 May 1940, the Nazis also invaded the Netherlands. Five days later, the Dutch army surrendered. Slowly but surely, the Nazis introduced more and more laws and regulations that made the lives of Jews more difficult. For instance, Jews could no longer visit parks, cinemas, or non-Jewish shops. The rules meant that more and more places became off-limits to Anne. Her father lost his company, since Jews were no longer allowed to run their own businesses. All Jewish children, including Anne, had to go to separate Jewish schools.
The Nazis took things further, one step at the time. Jews had to start wearing a Star of David on their clothes and there were rumours that all Jews would have to leave the Netherlands. When Margot received a call-up to report for a so-called ‘labour camp’ in Nazi Germany on 5 July 1942, her parents were suspicious. They did not believe the call-up was about work and decided to go into hiding the next day in order to escape persecution. In the spring of 1942, Anne’s father had started furnishing a hiding place in the annex of his business premises at Prinsengracht 263. He received help from his former colleagues. Before long, they were joined by four more people. The hiding place was cramped. Anne had to keep very quiet and was often afraid.
On her thirteenth birthday, just before they went into hiding, Anne was presented with a diary. During the two years in hiding, Anne wrote about events in the Secret Annex, but also about her feelings and thoughts. In addition, she wrote short stories, started on a novel and copied passages from the books she read in her Book of Beautiful Sentences. Writing helped her pass the time. When the Minister of Education of the Dutch government in England made an appeal on Radio Orange to hold on to war diaries and documents, Anne was inspired to rewrite her individual diaries into one running story, titled Het Achterhuis (The Secret Annex).
Anne started rewriting her diary, but before she was done, she and the other people in hiding were discovered and arrested by police officers on 4 August 1944. The police also arrested two of the helpers. To this day, we do not know the reason for the police raid.Despite the raid, part of Anne’s writing was preserved: two other helpers took the documents before the Secret Annex was emptied by order of the Nazis.
Via the offices of the Sicherheitsdienst (the German security police), a prison in Amsterdam, and the Westerbork transit camp, the people from the Secret Annex were put on transport to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp. The train journey took three days, during which Anne and over a thousand others were packed closely together in cattle wagons. There was little food and water and only a barrel for a toilet. Upon arrival at Auschwitz, Nazi doctors checked to see who would and who would not be able to do heavy forced labour. Around 350 people from Anne’s transport were immediately taken to the gas chambers and murdered. Anne, Margot and their mother were sent to the labour camp for women. Otto ended up in a camp for men.
In early November 1944, Anne was put on transport again. She was deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp with Margot. Their parents stayed behind in Auschwitz. The conditions in Bergen-Belsen were horrible too. There was a lack of food, it was cold, wet and there were contagious diseases. Anne and Margot contracted typhus. In February 1945 they both died owing to its effects, Margot first, Anne shortly afterwards. Anne’s father Otto was the only one of the people from the Secret Annex to survive the war. He was liberated from Auschwitz by the Russians and during his long journey back to the Netherlands he learned that his wife Edith had died. Once in the Netherlands, he heard that Anne and Margot were no longer alive either. Anne’s writing made a deep impression on Otto. He read that Anne had wanted to become a writer or a journalist and that she had intended to publish her stories about life in the Secret Annex. Friends convinced Otto to publish the diary and in June 1947, 3,000 copies of Het Achterhuis (The Secret Annex) were printed. And that was not all: the book was later translated into around 70 languages and adapted for stage and screen. People all over the world were introduced to Anne’s story and in 1960 the hiding place became a museum: the Anne Frank House. Until his death in 1980, Otto remained closely involved with the Anne Frank House and the museum: he hoped that readers of the diary would become aware of the dangers of discrimination, racism, and hatred of Jews.”
Primary source: AnneFrank.org
Day 9: Harriet Tubman
I have been fascinated with Harriet Tubman for as long as I can remember. She has been referred to as a “Bible-quoting, gun-toting, evangelical Christian abolitionist who trusted in God’s above all else.” A former slave, Harriet Tubman is credited with helping lead hundreds of slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad.She never learned to read or write, but she had a “capacious memory for Scripture”.
“Like her Old Testament counterpart, Harriet “Moses” Tubman led many of her people out of slavery and into the Promised Land, but she was also like him in another respect. Before God used both Moses and Harriet, He first took them away from all that they had once known and loved. That prospect was enough to make Harriet’s two brothers turn and flee in terror, preferring “the devil they knew.” But for Harriet, freedom was worth paying any price, bearing any burden. She would not wait for someone to grant it to her, and she did not intend to be deceived by a master, as her mother had been.
Harriet had heard of two large cities where blacks lived free: Philadelphia and New York. She made up her mind to get to one or the other in spite of desperate handicaps—she was penniless and a fugitive of the law. She had no maps, no compass. Her food supply consisted of the paltry snack she had taken from her cabin. She had never been taught to read or write. There was no one to encourage or support her. Even her husband would sound the alarm the minute he realized that she had run away.
Nevertheless, there was at least some balm in Gilead in the form of a woman who had once offered to help Harriet if she ever decided to break away. She had met the white woman, a Quaker named Miss Parsons, while working in the fields one day. The woman had stopped to exchange greetings with Harriet and became curious about the origin of the scar on the slave’s forehead. Miss Parsons was clearly moved by the story. She told Harriet about her farm in nearby Bucktown and that “if you ever need any help, let me know.” It was a cryptic invitation. Harriet wasn’t entirely sure what Miss Parsons could do for her, but the woman was her only human consolation at the time she escaped.
That Harriet trusted Miss Parsons at all is extraordinary in and of itself. Until that time, whites had given her few reasons to believe in their goodwill. She was soon to discover, however, just how many decent white people were out there in the wider world, people who had deep convictions against slavery and who were poised to help her win her precious freedom in any way they could.
Harriet and her brothers had left in the early morning hours, and after the men had turned back, she raced on to Miss Parsons’ farm. She found it just as the woman had described it. Fortunately, Miss Parsons remembered Harriet and was glad that she had come for help. This association was Harriet’s first encounter with the Underground Railroad. After eating a nourishing meal, she listened as the Quaker told her about two other “stops” on the mythical railroad and the people who would help her as she made her way north.
Harriet moved quickly and furtively that night when it was safer to travel, following the bank of the Choptank River. She always kept the North Star to the front and left of her. When she couldn’t find it among the clouds, she would find her direction by feeling for moss that grew on the north side of trees.
In the morning Harriet finally arrived at the first house to which Miss Parsons had directed her. She became frightened, however, when the couple she met there gave her a broom and told her to start sweeping outside. Was it possible that Miss Parsons had tricked her? Was this some kind of trap? That seemed too out of character for the gentle but determined Quaker. She wasn’t the betraying kind. Later that day, the man of the house relieved Harriet’s fears when he loaded his wagon with produce and quietly directed her to scoot down low and hide under it. Then he covered her with blankets and got behind the reins. Although she was nervous as he started down the road, she was so tired that she quickly fell asleep to the lulling sounds of the wheels against the road and the rhythmic clip-clop of the horse’s hooves.
At the next stop along the Underground Railroad, Harriet received food and more information for her journey, then continued on her way, her face resolutely set toward the North. She continued along the river, walking at night, staying off the main roads where she was more likely to be discovered. When she could follow the water no longer, Harriet kept on a northeasterly course toward Camden, Delaware, where Ezekiel Hunn, a farmer who was active in the Underground Railroad, provided food and information about her next stops. She had made it past one state line—only one remained.
From Camden, Harriet journeyed to Middletown, where Ezekiel’s brother, John, received her into his home, which was also a station. She ventured next to New Castle, then on to Wilmington. That is where she first came into contact with an extraordinary man who would become her fearless partner in rescuing slaves, as well as her devoted and lifelong friend.
Born in Philadelphia in 1789, Thomas Garrett was a Quaker shoe salesman who harbored strong anti-slavery convictions. When he moved to nearby Wilmington, Delaware, in 1822, he started hiding runaways in the rooms above his store. During the next forty years, Garrett assisted between twenty-five hundred and three thousand slaves, giving them food, shelter, money, and of course, plenty of shoes. At one point toward the end of his “career,” the authorities fined Garrett so heavily for assisting slave refugees that he lost everything. At the age of sixty, he had to start all over again. Once he earned back some of his earlier prosperity, however, he was arrested and fined again for continuing to assist runaways. The incredulous judge at his trial told him, “Garrett, let this be a lesson to you, not to interfere hereafter with the cause of justice by helping runaway negroes.”
Garrett was not persuaded. He responded in true Quaker form, “Judge, thee hasn’t left me a dollar, but I wish to say to thee, and to all in this court room, that if anyone knows of a fugitive who wants a shelter, and a friend, send him to Thomas Garrett, and he will befriend him!” It was said of him that “not even Luther before the Council at Worms was grander than this brave old man in his unswerving adherence to principle.”
During the course of her courageous escape, Harriet had been rowed up the Choptank and hidden in the attic of a Quaker homestead. She spent several days in the haystack of a German immigrant and in a free black family’s storage hole for potatoes to elude any pursuers. Now it was time for one more wagon ride north. From there she walked across the Pennsylvania line. Her first impression of freedom both intoxicated and awed Harriet. She said, “I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person, now that I was free. There was such a glory over everything. The sun came up like gold through the trees and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven.”
Although this was the end of Harriet’s journey to liberty, she was just at the beginning of many decisions and difficulties. Where would she live? What kind of job would she find? Would she make new friends? Whom could she trust? Looking back in her later years, she described how she felt at that time:
“I knew of a man who was sent to the State Prison for twenty-five years. All these years he was always thinking of his home, and counting by years, months, and days, the time till he should be free, and see his family and friends once more. The years roll on, the time of imprisonment is over, the man is free. He leaves the prison gates, he makes his way to his old home, but his old home is not there. The house in which he had dwelt in his childhood had been torn down, and a new one had been put up in its place; his family were gone, their very name was forgotten, there was no one to take him by the hand to welcome him back to life.
So it was with me. I had crossed the line of which I had so long been dreaming. I was free; but there was no one to welcome me to the land of freedom, I was a stranger in a strange land, and my home after all was down in the old cabin quarter, with the old folks, and my brothers and sisters.“
For Harriet it was time not to rest and relax but to start working toward the attainment of her lifelong goal—to be used by God to set many of her captive people free. She said,
But to this solemn resolution I came; I was free, and they should be free also; I would make a home for them in the North, and the Lord helping me, I would bring them all there. Oh, how I prayed then, lying all alone on the cold, damp ground; “Oh, dear Lord,” I said, “I ain’t got no friend but you. Come to my help, Lord, for I’m in trouble!”
Shortly after her arrival in Philadelphia, Harriet met William Still, who would become a vital part of that venture. Through Still’s Philadelphia Vigilance Committee, Harriet found places to live and to work, and she learned more about the activities of the Underground Railroad that had helped her escape. In fact, she spent most of her evenings at the Vigilance Committee offices.
During Harriet’s first year in the North, she had several jobs, mostly as a laundress, cleaning woman, cook, and seamstress at hotels and in clubhouses. Harriet so enjoyed her freedom to choose her own work and bosses that she moved a lot in those initial months. Because of her dogged determination to rescue her family, she lived frugally, laying aside most of her wages for that purpose.
Harriet Tubman was determined that all blacks should be free. In spite of her formidable journey north, “No fear of the lash, the bloodhound, or the fiery stake, could divert her from her self-imposed task of leading as many as possible of her people ‘from the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.’ ”7It wasn’t enough to have moral convictions against slavery. Harriet believed such convictions were only good if a person acted on them. She was, for her part, willing to do whatever it took.
Harriet Tubman’s great-niece, Mariline Wilkins, believes the woman’s name, Miss Parsons, was a code she used for her Underground Railroad activities.
Day 10: Mother Teresa
I remember as a child it seemed like Mother Teresa’s face was always staring back at me on the television, the newspaper, or from the magazines at the grocery store. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I began to comprehend the depth of her devotion to the Lord and to mankind. Especially through the lens of my own pride, selfishness, and stubbornness.
She devoted her life to serving Jesus and her fellow man as a missionary providing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual care to the least of these. From a young age she had a deep love for others and was greatly influenced by her mother.
She said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” I have been mediating on that quote for some months, and the Lord is still using it to speak to me.
“By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”
“Small of stature, rock like in faith, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was entrusted with the mission of
proclaiming God’s thirsting love for humanity, especially for the poorest of the poor. “God still loves the world and He sends you and me to be His love and His compassion to the poor.” She was a soul filled with the light of Christ, on fire with love for Him and burning with one desire: “to quench His thirst for love and for souls.”
She was the youngest child born to Nikola and Drana Bojaxhiu. Her father’s sudden death when she was about eight years old left the family in financial straits. Drana raised her children firmly and lovingly, greatly influencing her daughter’s character and vocation.
In September 1928 at the age of18, she left her home to become a missionary in Ireland. In December that same year she moved to Calcutta, India.
She took a short course with the Medical Mission Sisters in Patna, then returned to Calcutta, and to the first time to the slums. “She visited families, washed the sores of some children, cared for an old man lying sick on the road and nursed a woman dying of hunger and TB. She started each day in communion with Jesus in the Eucharist and then went out, rosary in her hand, to find and serve Him in “the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for.””
Over the years she received numerous awards, beginning with the Indian Padmashri Award in 1962 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. She received both prizes and attention “for the glory of God and in the name of the poor.”
“The whole of Mother Teresa’s life and labor bore witness to the joy of loving, the greatness and dignity of every human person, the value of little things done faithfully and with love, and the surpassing worth of friendship with God.”
Primary source: MotherTeresa.org
Day 11: Bethany Hamilton
March is Women’s History Month, and Whatever Girls will be highlighting 31 Christian women or groups of women who live/lived and lead/led with strength, dignity, and exemplify/exemplified the virtues of Philippians 4:8 each day of March, and we invite you to journey with us.
I recall hearing about Bethany when the movie about her life and shark attack in 2003, Soul Surfer, was released. Her story inspired me, for sure, but as a mom of a young girl at that time, I wanted to know more about Bethany in hopes my daughter would be inspired by her, too. All these years later, we still enjoy watching Soul Surfer together, and I often loan the movie out to the girls I mentor. She has risen above her challenges and is an overcomer, and a great role model for girls of all ages!
“If you are a mother, a grandmother, an aunt or a mentor to young girls…this message is for you.
I have moments, watching my children from afar, knowing that each day how I raise them will make the world of difference. The world is pulling at us so much and not always in good ways. The uncertainty and chaos in today’s world can be disheartening.
I often ask myself, “Am I doing this whole mothering thing right?”
I think often yes and sometimes no. But I do know that I am the right person to raise and love and protect my boys and prepare them for all the world will throw their way!
Have you heard this quote…“Life doesn’t come with a manual. It comes with a mother.” I realized I am my children’s instruction manual!!
It’s humbling, awe-inspiring, terrifying…but truly an honorable a joy to serve them! I couldn’t help but think of my own mom and everything she’d done for me when I was growing up. No doubt with the help of God. This journey is such a blessing!
So to my fellow role-models and “instruction manuals” to young women in your life, please pause and think deep:
1) Are you doing all you can to prepare the precious girl in your life for what lies ahead? To blossom and shine!
2) Are you sure you’re reaching her, influencing and inspiring her, and lovingly developing a bond that will last a lifetime?
Or is the world doing all the influencing?”
“I can remember being around 8 years old, on the beaches of Hawaii, my birthplace, and confidently knowing God loved me and that I was going to be a professional surfer. My confidence in these two things shaped the foundation of who I am today. Even when I was attacked by a shark at 13 and lost my arm I’ve been stable in my mind and beliefs.
Despite the challenges life has thrown at me I’ve done so much more in my life than I ever could have imagined – From outscoring some of the world’s best female surfers, to having movies like Soul Surfer made about me, and going around the world to talk to thousands of amazing people.
Today I’m a wife, mom of three beautiful healthy boys, and this truth is still the same. God loves me, and being a professional surfer is my calling.
The strength, identity and foundation of my life is in the faith that God has given me. With God I am unstoppable!
Let me be real in what I mean by “Unstoppable”.
No, I’m not perfect. And Yes, I have crazy hard days and times in my life, but I’m rooted in my faith and the truths of God. This is how I know that whatever huge life waves or gnarly challenges come my way, the Lord is with me and on my side. Because of Him, I am Unstoppable.
God wants this for you too!”
Primary source: BethanyHamilton.com
Day 12: Mahalia Jackson
I was beyond thrilled when I discovered Mahalia Jackson listed in my book “Courageous World Changers; 50 True Stories of Daring Women of God” because I have listened to her all my life, but didn’t know anything about her, or that she was referred to as “The Queen of Gospel”, though, the way in which she sang should have been the tip off. As excited as I am to share some details about her with you today, I implore you to check out her music. Her Christmas music is among my favorite.
“Born in New Orleans in 1911, Mahalia Jackson grew up in a shotgun home shared by 13 people. Raised by her Aunt Duke after her mother died in 1917, economic circumstances forced Jackson to quit school and work at home when she was in fourth grade. Her earliest influences were the sights and sounds of Uptown New Orleans: banana steamships on the Mississippi River, acorns roasting in Audubon Park, hot jazz bands, the beat-driven music of the Sanctified Church, and Bessie Smith’s bluesy voice wafting from her cousin Fred’s record player. But Jackson found her greatest inspiration at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, where she sang on Wednesday, Friday, and four times on Sunday. Even at age 12, her powerful voice could be heard all the way to the end of the block. “You going to be famous in this world and walk with kings and queens,” said her Aunt Bell, predicting an illustrious future for a voice that would change the face of American music, empower the Civil Rights movement, and bring Mahalia Jackson worldwide renown.
Jackson was 16 when she joined her Aunt Hannah on board the Illinois Central Railroad. Like many African Americans in the South, she moved to Chicago for better opportunities, but she found only low-paying domestic work during her first several years there. Ever lifting her spirit through church and its music, Jackson joined the Greater Salem Baptist Church and began touring with the Johnson Brothers, Chicago’s first professional gospel group. As a “fish and bread” singer, Jackson performed for donations in storefront churches, basement halls, and other makeshift venues. Later, she made tickets for her appearances — ten cents each — and found work singing at funerals and revivals. During this period, Jackson made a vow that she would live a pure life, free of secular entertainment. She promised to use her voice for spiritual song — a promise that she kept.
By 1937, Jackson had made her first set of recordings with Decca Records. Her first side, “God’s Gonna Separate the Wheat from the Tares,” only saw moderate commercial success. Despite her A&R representative’s suggestions, she refused to make a blues record, remembering her pledge to sing only gospel music. As a result, she lost her contract with Decca. Then married to her first husband, Ike, Jackson decided to buy real estate and invest in her own business, a beauty shop. High-paying offers for work in the theater rolled in, and though Ike protested, Jackson kept her vow. Gospel music was becoming popular in Chicago churches, and Jackson was building a community of gospel musicians. Among these was Thomas Dorsey, a talented Atlanta-born African American composer and pianist who had migrated north with a vision for gospel music. He chose Jackson out of all the singers in Chicago to be his partner, and, as a traveling act, the two ushered in the Golden Age of Gospel.
In 1948, Mahalia Jackson recorded “Move On Up a Little Higher” for Apollo Records, selling one million copies in the United States. A white radio DJ, Studs Terkel, helped to popularize the recording, playing it alongside the hit rhythm and blues records of the day. With her riveting contralto, Jackson was as captivating as popular blues singers, and gospel’s bouncing beat proved just as danceable, even to those who didn’t go to church. Jackson began to tour extensively. And though she battled racism and segregation, especially in the South, she could collect hundreds of dollars for a single concert. In 1950, she was invited to perform at Carnegie Hall as the headlining act at the First Negro Gospel Music Festival, a monumental event in the history of gospel music.
In 1954, Jackson signed with Columbia Records and recorded Bless This House. The first of her 30 albums for the label, it included traditional numbers such as “Down By the Riverside,” two compositions by her old friend Thomas Dorsey, and a spiritual version of Gershwin’s “Summertime.” Jackson’s Colombia deal included a national radio show out of Chicago, The Mahalia Jackson Show, the first all-gospel radio hour. The show drew a tremendous positive response, but when Jackson suggested a television series to CBS-TV, executives explained that national sponsors would not take a chance on a “Negro show,” fearing that their sales would drop in Southern markets. After twenty weeks, CBS cancelled Jackson’s radio show because it failed to secure a national sponsor.
Mahalia Jackson’s struggle with racism had urged her to get involved in the Civil Rights movement at its onset. With the Montgomery bus boycott, the movement had begun to unfold quickly. As early as 1956, Civil Rights leaders called on Jackson to lend both her powerful voice and financial support to the rallies, marches, and demonstrations. Boycott leader Reverend Ralph Abernathy invited Jackson to Montgomery to sing at the first anniversary of Rosa Parks’ historic act. Braving hecklers, Klansmen, and widespread violence, Jackson rolled into Montgomery on a train. At the station, Abernathy greeted her with another young preacher named Martin Luther King. Though she was afraid for her safety, King’s speeches inspired her, and the two became friends.
By 1969, with Kennedy, King, and many of her other beneficiaries deceased, Jackson had retired from the political front. She had battled illness for years. Still touring almost to the end, she visited Africa, the Caribbean, Japan, and India, where she met Indira Ghandi, an instant fan. Jackson’s final performance was in Germany in 1971. Soon after an operation on her pained abdomen, she died of heart failure in January 1972, at the age of 60. Hundreds of musicians and politicians attended Jackson’s two funerals. In Chicago, Aretha Franklin performed “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” and Coretta King praised Jackson for being “black and proud and beautiful.” Mourning continued at a second funeral in New Orleans, where thousands of hometown admirers gathered to honor the greatest gospel singer of all time, a woman who had conquered poverty, racism, and hardship to win fans and friends all over the world.”
Primary source: http://www.mahaliajackson.us/biography/
Day 13: Lydia Darragh
I just recently learned about Lydia Darragh and was instantly drawn into her story. I imagined myself in the room, watching her as she spied on British officials that had commandeered her home as they held a secret meeting in which they planned a surprise attack on General George Washington two days later in Whitemarsh, 16 miles from her home. As a Quaker pacifist, I imagine she was conflicted about getting involved, but she obviously felt relaying the urgent warning was what she was supposed to do. From what I have read about her, she often spied on the British, sewing notes with plans in her son’s coat so he could deliver them. I think Lydia’s story is thrilling, and she absolutely deserves the title of war heroine because of her bravery and dedication. I’d love to see a biography written about her, or even a movie made about her!
“An Irish immigrant and Pacifist turned Patriot spy, Lydia Barrington Darragh defied British officers and braved a military checkpoint to dispatch critical information to the Continental Army during the American Revolution.
Lydia Barrington was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1729 and emigrated to Philadelphia in 1753, shortly after marrying her family’s tutor, William Darragh. In America, Lydia’s husband continued to work as an instructor, while she took up work as a midwife and raised the couple’s five children. Though William and Lydia were both Quakers and pacifists, their eldest son, Charles, joined the Continental Army, serving in the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment.
When the British occupied Philadelphia in September of 1777, General William Howe moved into a home located across the street from the Darragh’s family residence. Not long after, General Howe attempted to expand his headquarters into the Darragh house. With the aid of a second cousin that was serving in the British army, Lydia was able to convince Howe to permit the couple to remain in their home in exchange for allowing the British to use their parlor as a meeting place.
Because the Darraghs were pacifists, and publicly remained uninvolved in the war effort, the British officials did not suspect that Lydia might be acting as a spy for the Continentals. However, while living so close to the British officials’ headquarters, Lydia succeeded in gathering information about British activities, which she passed along to Charles through coded notes delivered by one of her younger sons.
On December 2, 1777, British officials held a private meeting in the Darragh home, as per the arrangement made between Lydia and General Howe. The officers ordered the members of the family to remain in their bedrooms for the duration of the meeting, explaining that they would be awakened when the business had concluded. Despite these instructions, Lydia pretended to retire to bed, but then covertly listened in on the secret meeting, securing important information about the British plan to lead a surprise attack against General George Washington’s Continental forces at Whitemarsh, located sixteen miles north of Philadelphia, in two days’ time.
That night, Lydia kept the information to herself but made the bold decision to warn Washington of the impending attack. The day after the meeting, Darragh received permission from General Howe to visit her youngest children, who were staying outside of the city, and to purchase flour from the Frankford mill. With her official pass, Darragh succeeded in moving past the British lines to the mill, and then on to the Rising Sun Tavern, where she informed an American soldier that Howe was planning an attack on Whitemarsh on December 4th. Some accounts hold that this soldier passed the information along to Colonel Elias Boudinot, who proceeded to warn the army at Whitemarsh. Boudinot’s account, as he described the event in his memoirs of the war, suggests that Darragh hid a note in an old cloth needle book, and passed the information to him that way.
Regardless of the manner in which the information reached the Continental Army, Washington’s forces were prepared to repel the British at Whitemarsh, and after several days of skirmishing, Howe called off the attack. Suspecting that a member of the Darragh family had overheard their plans, the British questioned Lydia when they returned to Philadelphia. Remaining calm, Lydia claimed that she and the rest of her family had been asleep through the meeting, and the British officers let the matter rest.
After the death of her husband in 1783, Lydia continued to raise the family’s children while working in a store until her passing in 1789. Though the couple’s graves were located in a Quaker cemetery not far from their original home in Philadelphia, both Lydia and William lost their membership in the Society of Friends before the end of the war, suggesting that their contributions to the Revolution became known to their community.
Though history has presented differing accounts of how she alerted the Continental Army of the impending British attack at Whitemarsh, Lydia Darragh remains an important example of heroism and patriotism in the fight for American independence.”
Day 14: Elizabeth “Betty” Greene
A young girl, fascinated by airplanes, saves her pennies, and at age 16 takes flight lessons. She goes on to become the first pilot (not just female) for Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF). I am just getting acquainted with Elizabeth Greene but am so inspired that she learned at a young age what she was called to do and took active steps towards achieving it. Not to mention, she broke ground in a big way in what was predominantly an all-male industry.
Maybe you’re like me and regret some risks you didn’t take in life or take the steps to make dreams that were within reach come true, for whatever reason. It’s easy to get stuck in that space of regret and wondering “what might have been”, but I think we are best served by inviting the Lord to speak new life into old dreams, or new dreams entirely, into our hearts and follow the steps He has laid out for us.
“Elizabeth Everts “Betty” Greene was born in Seattle in 1920. Betty and her twin brother, Bill, were the youngest of four children of Gertrude and Albert Greene. Her parents were strong and active Christians who worshiped at a Presbyterian church and started a Sunday School in their neighborhood. They nurtured this faith in their children, and Betty’s two older brothers went into Christian work.
Betty developed an early love of aviation and, like many young people of the day, was fascinated by the adventures of Charles Lindbergh, Admiral Byrd, and Amelia Earhart. As a teenager, she took flying lessons and even flew a solo flight. Betty longed for travel and adventure, and when a trusted older friend suggested that she use her flying for Christian mission work, Betty “leaped for joy at the thrilling thought of combining flying with [her] love for God.”
Betty Greene began her professional aviation career by serving with the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) during World War II. She flew several kinds of military planes during the war and did experimental work on high-altitude flights. After the war, Betty helped found the Christian Airmen’s Missionary Fellowship, later called Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF).
On February 23, 1946, Betty embarked on the first MAF flight, taking off from Los Angeles, California, with Mexico City as the final destination. Flying a red 1933 four-place-cabin Waco biplane, Betty began the flight with two passengers, Wycliffe workers Ethel Lambotte and Lois Schneider. Ethel worked in Wycliffe’s office in southern California while Lois was rejoining her husband Bob, who was a linguist, on the field.
The initial flight took much longer than expected after Betty grew disturbed by something coming off the engine. She decided to land in Tuxpan, Mexico and have the plane examined. Ethel and Lois went ahead to Mexico City on a commercial flight the next day. Betty later discovered the debris coming off the engine was nothing more than flaking paint.
The next morning, Betty took off from Tuxpan and headed to Mexico City where she connected with Wycliffe Bible Translators founder Cameron Townsend. He asked Betty if she could take him to their Jungle Camp near Tuxtla Gutierrez, a city located south of Mexico City. And away they went.
On Betty’s first attempt to reach Tuxtla after refueling in the village of Minatitlan, she turned back when a heavy storm rolled in. However, during the return to Minatitlan, the Waco’s engine died. Betty decided to switch gas tanks and quickly attempted to re-fire the engine. It worked and they safely returned to Minatitlan. She later discovered that water in the fuel drum from which she filled the left tank caused the engine to shut down.
The next morning, Betty flew Cameron to Tuxtla on a short flight, reaching her destination one week after taking off from Los Angeles on the first MAF mission flight.
Betty served as an MAF pilot for 16 years, flying in 12 countries and touching down in some 20 more. In 1962 she began working at MAF headquarters, and later served as an MAF advocate until her death in 1997.”
“Betty was a lady” in the highest sense of the word, said her longtime friend Eleanor Vandevert. “She wasn’t out to make herself stand out as anyone in particular, but after you left the room, you knew that she was.”
Primary source: https://maf.org/about/history/betty-greene
Day 15: Dr. Henrietta Mears
My friend Cathy “introduced me” to Dr. Henrietta Mears. For the past few years a group of us have been reading the Change Your Life Daily Bible together in a year. Becky Tirabassi, who put the Change Your Life Daily Bible together, also has a book called “The Burning Heart Contract”, which is another resource my friend connected me to. Before reading any further about Dr. Mears, please read this brief description written by Becky Tirabassi, which will give you some important background and how this situation is so divinely connected: https://www.burningheartsinc.com/history
Henrietta C. Mears was one of the great Bible teachers of the 20th century, and one of the founders of the National Sunday School Association. While Christian Education Director at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, she built one of the largest Sunday Schools in the world and wrote curriculum that was in such high demand that to publish it she founded Gospel Light in 1933. Such notable Christian leaders as Richard C. Halverson, Luis Evans, Jr. and Bill Bright were among her students. Miss Mears developed “cradle-to-grave” age-appropriate curriculum, published a new style of Vacation Bible School, and lent her support to distributing Gospel materials around the world.
In the summer of 1947, a small group of people met to pray at a cabin at Forrest Home Christian Conference Center in the San Bernadino Mountains of Southern California. This prayer meeting lasted all night amid tears, joy, pleading and praises to our God. By the time they were done for the night, they had all experienced a unique move of the Holy spirit within themselves. They made a covenant among them that night, calling themselves, “The Fellowship of the Burning Heart.”
Henrietta Mears, Bill Bright, Richard C Halverson, Louis Evans were the original four. Others who passed through the Fellowship included Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, Jim Rayburn (Young Life founder), J. Edwin Orr (Revival historian), Billy Graham, and more. The testimony of these members and deep commitment has for years been an inspiration to me. Here is the commitment they made:
The Original Charter of the Fellowship of the Burning Heart:
“His word burns in my heart like a fire” (Jeremiah 20:9)
I am committed to the principle that Christian discipleship is sustained solely by God alone through His Spirit; that the abiding life of John 15 is His way of sustaining me. Therefore, I pledge myself to a disciplined devotional life in which I promise through prayer, Bible study, and devotional reading to give God not less than one continuous hour per day (Psalm 1).
I am committed to the principle that Christian Discipleship begins with Christian character. Therefore, I pledge myself to holy living that by a life of self-denial and self-discipline, I may emulate those Christ-like qualities of chastity and virtue which will magnify the Lord (Phil. 1:20-21).
I am committed to the principle that Discipleship exercises itself principally in the winning for the lost to Christ. Therefore, I pledge myself to seek every possible opportunity to witness, and to witness at every possible opportunity, to the end that I may be responsible for bringing at least one to Christ every 12 months (Matt. 28:19; Acts 1:8).
I am committed to the principle that Christian Discipleship demands nothing less than absolute consecration to Christ. Therefore, I present my body a living sacrifice, utterly abandoned to God. By this commitment, I will that God’s perfect will shall find complete expression in my life; and I offer myself in all sobriety to be expendable for Christ. Rom. 12:1-2; Phil 3:7-14
To learn more about and to participate in the Burning Hearts Contract: https://www.burningheartsinc.com
Day 16: Queen Esther
One of the most well-known women of the Bible and oft quoted Scripture is found in the book of Esther. Esther became the queen of Persia around 475 B.C. and was instrumental in saving the Jewish people of Persia from extermination. Esther is a glimmering example of doing what is right, even if you are scared, standing firm in your faith in God and trusting Him with the results, even if it means your own personal peril.
Esther’s parents died when she was young, so she went to live with Mordecai. Esther was Mordecai’s uncle’s daughter (his cousin), and he adopted her and raised her as his daughter. They were both Jewish.
After he banished Queen Vashti for dishonoring him, King Ahasuerus of Persia held a beauty contest and selected Esther as his new queen because of her beauty.
A few years into Esther’s marriage with the King, Mordecai learned of an evil plan by a man named Haman, who carried a great offense against Mordecai, to exterminate all of the Jews in Persia. Mordecai sent word to Esther of this plan through her messenger. Mordecai implored Esther to intervene with the King to save her people. Prior to this, Mordecai urged Esther to keep her ethnic identity to herself, likely due to the anti-Sematic atmosphere.
There was a major obstacle, however. The rule was you could not approach the King without being summoned by him, or you would be executed. This went for the Queen, too. So, intervening for her people meant putting her own life at risk. Esther sent that message back to Mordecai. Mordecai responded “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, liberation and rescue will arise for the Jews from another place, and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14)
This was Esther’s time to realize the purpose for which God placed her when and where in history.
“Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews who are found in Susa, and fast for me; do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants also will fast in the same way. And then I will go in to the king, which is not in accordance with the law; and if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:15-16)
On the third day of the fast, Esther bravely approached the King in his courtyard and requested that he and Haman attend a banquet she had prepared for them.
Fast forward to the banquet, “Now the king and Haman came to drink wine with Esther the queen. And the king said to Esther on the second day also as they drank their wine at the banquet, “What is your request, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your wish? Up to half of the kingdom it shall be done.” Then Queen Esther replied, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my request, and my people as my wish; for we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, killed, and eliminated. Now if we had only been sold as slaves, men and women, I would have kept silent, because the distress would not be sufficient reason to burden the king.” Then King Ahasuerus [b]asked Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, [c]who would presume to do such a thing?” And Esther said, “A foe and an enemy is this wicked Haman!” Then Haman became terrified before the king and queen.” Esther 7:1-6.
If you know the rest of the story, you know that Haman was actually hanged with the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai, Mordecai was promoted, and the Lord provided the Jews with supernatural deliverance from those who hated them, but they still had to go to battle.
This is the cliff notes version of the book of Esther, I strongly encourage you to sit down and read it in full.
Also, no substitution for reading the book of Esther, but the “Book of Esther” movie, starring Christian actress Jen Lilley is really good!
Photo credit: Book of Esther movie, PureFlix
Day 17: Susan Norris
9 years ago, a mutual friend connected me with the founder and executive director of Rescuing Hope, Susan Norris. Whatever Girls works with girls, so this connection was made because Rescuing Hope is a non-profit that works to eradicate sex trafficking in America and educate the public about sex trafficking and social media safety.
I didn’t know very much about sex trafficking or the dangers lurking online, so Susan really opened my eyes to the crime hidden in plain sight, which I have in turn, shared with others.
Susan also wrote a book called “Rescuing Hope; A Story of Sex Trafficking in America”, which is a work of fiction, based on real life survivor experiences and interviews with law enforcement, parents, and others.
Susan is a tireless advocate for survivors of sex trafficking, and Rescuing Hope helps them obtain the help they need for healing and recovery and to get reestablished in life. Affectionately called “Mama” by several survivors, she is often the only lifeline they have to a healthy and safe world.
As one of the top national experts on sex trafficking, Susan is a highly sought-after public speaker, educator, and advisor to schools, law enforcement, medical professionals, government officials, members of Congress, business professionals, realtors, hospitality professionals, and many others.
She is a devoted wife and mother to two adult children. God and family are her top priorities.
She is also an amazing friend. Over the last nine years, she has become one of my closest and dearest friends and confidants. She is wise and discerning and offers incredible insight, spiritual wisdom, and truth, which I value so much. She is one of the first people I call when I have news or something good, funny, or bad has happened.
She will call out of the blue and ask me, “what’s going on?” because through the Holy Spirit, she knows something is up. She is the kind of friend who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten the words. She is a heart sister.
I am thrilled to honor Susan during our Women’s History Month profiles, and urge you to check out her website, which has top notch resources for kids, parents, educators and healthcare workers, and her book, and follow Rescuing Hope on social media.
Day 18: Donaldina Cameron
Today’s woman of history is new to me. Donalinda Cameron has an intriguing story! She was Scottish-American and moved to California as a young child. As a young woman, she began teaching sewing at the Presbyterian Home, a safe place for Chinese girl refugees. She eventually went on to run the Presbyterian Home, and by the end of her life she was credited for saving up to 3,000 Chinese girls!
“She moved with her family, parents, two older brothers, and four older sisters to California in 1871. In 1874, when Donaldina was five, her mother died. When she was a child she had few contact and experience with immigrant populations. At nineteen, Donaldina was engaged, but for reasons unknown, did not marry. When Donaldina arrived in San Francisco, she was 25 years old. Soon she discovered the problem of “Yellow Slavery”. When a friend’s mother, Mary P.D. Browne, took Donaldina to the Presbyterian Home and begged her to help the cause. In 1873 protestant women launched the first attack on this reality.
The mission’s founder, Margaret Culbertson intrigued Donaldina’s mind with stories of mission, for these reasons she decided to dedicate one year to teach sewing and useful skills. Culbertson and the Presbyterian Home were a safe place for refugees, where to get an education. Culbertson and Cameron worked to rescue Chinese immigrants until Culbertson’s death in 1897. After Culbertson’s death in 1900, Donaldina became superintendent of the Presbyterian Home. She continued the mission of saving young Chinese immigrant women. This work was “the only foreign mission enterprise ever carried on in the United States”. Donaldina rescued more than 3000 Chinese immigrant girls and women from indentured servitude.
In 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act barred Chinese women from entering the United States unless they were already married to men in the United States. Originally passed to prohibit sex trafficking, it created a dangerous and illegal system where young women would present forged marriage papers that said they were already married to Chinese men in the United States. Single men could not send for Chinese wives, nor did the law permit them to marry non-Chinese wives.
The small ratio of Chinese women to men bred a rampant prostitution market. To feed this market, Chinese girls and young women, mostly from Canton, were bought, kidnapped, or coerced into a move to the United States. This phenomenon was dubbed the “Yellow Slave Trade”. The women were sold by their own families to criminal societies, called Tongs, as domestic servants or prostitutes. Girls in their teens were pressed into prostitution. The little girls were sold for household servants burdened with heavy labor and endured severe physical punishments. As they got older, they were frequently sold into prostitution as well. Chinese women lived brutal lives, usually dying within five years. In San Francisco, a Chinese organization, Chinese Six Companies, attempted to stop the criminal societies but collapsed because of an infiltration in the organization.
Friends and relatives of these girls and women started leave secret messages for Donaldina at the Presbyterian Home indicating the house where a girl was held captive. Rescues were often secret nighttime raids conducted with ax and sledgehammer wielding policemen. Donaldina quickly became a master at finding girls that had been hidden. She even spent a night in a San Jose jail while seeking the release of a Chinese woman. In fact, there were corrupt police who agreed to cooperate with the Tongs. The Mission Home and its inhabitants were under constant legal and physical assault from the slave owners. For these reasons, the house has trap doors and false walls. The girls she rescued called her affectionately, Lo Mo, or old mother. Tongs used to nickname her “Jesus Woman” or Fahn Quai, “White Devil”. In 1895 sticks of dynamite were found on the porch and in the window.
Donaldina became adept at protecting already rescued girls. The women forced to reside at the Presbyterian Home and convert to Christianity. They were only allowed to leave the home if they married a Christian man that Cameron approved of. In April 1906, a big earthquake and fire forced the evacuation of the Presbyterian Home. Donaldina braved the oncoming fire and military police to retrieve the records that gave her guardianship rights to her girls.
The Home was destroyed; it was rebuilt in 1907 at 920 Sacramento Street, where it still stands today. Cameron seeks to gain financial support for her mission. She also challenged popular preconceptions, such Chinese women were incapable of integrating into American society. Donaldina founded also two homes for Chinese orphans or the children of the rescued women.
The Chung Mei Home served young boys, while the Ming Quong Home was for girls. Donaldina retired from her missionary work and the Presbyterian Home in 1934 when “Yellow Slave Trade” ends up. Donaldina Cameron is credited with breaking the back of the Chinese slave trade in the United States. After she moved to the Palo Alto area. Before her death, she was considered a “national icon. She died on January 4, 1968. In 1942, the Presbyterian Home has renamed the Donaldina Cameron House. Cameron House works today as a comprehensive family service organization and multi-service agency for Asian communities, 920 Sacramento Street San Francisco, CA 94108.”
Day 19: Helen Duff Baugh
I was immediately drawn into Helen’s story. She had a calling on her life, she saw a need and did something about it. As a result, thousands and thousands of lives have been impacted. And to think, she was supposed to be a passenger on the Titanic!
Helen was born in Ireland, and as a young girl felt the call on her life to share the Good News with others. In 1910, her father, a preacher, travelled to America. Two years later, he sent home enough money that the rest of his family could join him in America. They were originally scheduled to travel on the Titanic, but Helen’s mother exchanged their tickets for a ship that was leaving two weeks before the Titanic because she was so homesick to see her husband.
The family began serving in churches in Minnesota and Ontario, eventually settling in Portland, Oregon, where Helen’s father became a pastor of a church. Helen’s father was concerned for people in rural areas, so he began traveling to surrounding small towns during the week and held evangelistic meetings. Helen and her two sisters joined him and sang. They were called the “Duff Sisters Gospel” (nicknamed the “Three Irish Roses”).
After Helen and her sisters got married, the trio stopped singing together. Their early life ministry training prepared them for something bigger. Helen and her husband, Elwood Baugh, a banker, had two children.
Helen clung to Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” and felt called to pray with others for an avenue to share the gospel with more people. She gathered a group of women to pray together for the spiritual needs of America, and eventually they had enough women to divide into multiple groups, soon, there were 24 groups of women praying monthly, asking the Lord to open up ways for them to reach even more women.
Soon, one of Helen’s husband’s female co-workers began asking him about the afterlife, so he and Helen decided to hold a meeting for this woman and other women who worked at the bank. Over time, these meetings grew, and Helen formed the Christian Business and Professional Women’s Council to encourage prayer meetings among working women.
After her husband’s death, Helen began traveling to start groups in other cities, recruiting workers, and challenging girls and women to serve the Lord. She began similar groups for homemakers, called Christian Women’s Clubs. Eventually, all the ministries were gathered together under one umbrella; Stonecroft Ministries. Stonecroft Ministries is a network of women across the world that offers Bible studies, publications, connection groups, mom events and more.
Primary source: American Women’s Bible
Day 20: Betsy Ross
We know her as the maker of the first flag, the Betsy Ross flag, but there is so much more to this woman’s life. While I could not find a lot of information about her faith, evidence shows she was, indeed, a woman of faith. I imagine she had to lean on her faith a lot-she experienced deep loss in her life, as you will read about.
I am so inspired by her dedication to her country and using her gifts and talents for the greater good.
Elizabeth (Betsy) was born in 1752, the eighth of seventeen children. To help earn her keep, her great aunt taught her how to sew. She went on to be an apprentice for an upholsterer, which began her lifelong career as a seamstress.
Betsy met and fell in love with John Ross, a fellow apprentice of the upholsterer, and the son of an Episcopal assistant rector at Christ Church. At 21, she decided to marry John against the wishes of her parents. Even though John was a Christian, he was not a Quaker like Betsy and her family, and she was not supposed to marry “out of the meeting”, or, someone who was not Quaker. The penalty for doing do was expulsion, which meant she was cut off emotionally and economically from her family and church. In November of 1773, John and Betsy secretly rowed across the Delaware River in the dark so they could be married in New Jersey. When her parents found out, she was disowned, as well as excommunicated by the Quakers. She and John joined the Christ Church.
In 1774, John and Betsy opened their own upholstery business. At this time, the rebellion against England was gaining momentum, and as strong American patriots, they supported colonial rights. John enlisted in the Continental militia and died in service shortly after the Revolutionary War started. Because her husband died fighting for freedom, Betsy was determined to continue the fight for their country. Betsy was a widow just three years into her marriage at age 24.
Still cut-off from her family and a widow, Betsy decided to continue with her and John’s business, repairing uniforms and making tents, blankets, and stuffed paper tube cartridges with musket balls for prepared packaged ammunition in 1779 for the Continental Army.
In 1776, when Betsy was just 25, a secret committee of men sent by the Continental Congress, including General George Washington, hired her to make a flag for their country. She continued making flags for the United States government for 50 years.
In 1777, Betsy re-married; a suitor from her youth, Joseph Ashburn, and they had two daughters, one of whom died at 9 months old. Joseph was a soldier with the American forces and was taken prisoner by the British in 1781. As Betsy waited for word on her husband, she continued with her business making quilts and blankets. She also left Christ Church and joined a new group of Quakers called Free Quakers, that supported the Revolution. Joseph died in prison in 1782.
In 1783, Betsy married John Claypool, another suitor from her youth. They had five daughters, one of whom died in infancy.
In 1793, Betsy’s mother, father, and one of her sisters died of a yellow fever outbreak. Her husband, John, died in 1817. Betsy continued the upholstery business for 10 more years. In 1827, she retired from the upholstery shop, leaving it to one of her daughters. She lived with different children during the next 9 years, continuing to sew, but this time for her family. She went totally blind in 1835 and died on January 30, 1836.
Primary sources: Historyswomen.com/early-america/betsy-ross/, various articles/books
Day 21: Catherine Booth
I’m sure you have seen the red kettles at Christmastime over the years outside grocery stores and shopping malls. I had no idea the Salvation Army had such a rich history, rooted in the gospel. Digging into the life of Catherine Booth was very rewarding. I hope you enjoy learning about her!
Catherine Mumford was born in 1829 in England. As a child, she had spine, lung, and heart troubles. By the time she was twelve, she read the entire Bible eight times.
As a young woman, she became interested in social reform. She met her husband, William Booth, a preacher, at a temperance meeting at the Juvenile Temperance Society, which promoted abstinence from alcohol. They married in 1885 and had eight children.
Catherine and William founded the Salvation Army, an organization dedicated to serving the poor and preaching the gospel. Catherine was bold, and with her husband’s support, she spoke at revivals and church meetings and became a popular, in-demand speaker. Money she earned went towards funding soup kitchens and homes for delinquent girls. Catherine began recruiting young women to serve as street preachers in the slums and on the docks. This group, called The Hallelujah Lassies wore military-style uniforms and their mission was to bring Christ to alcoholics, drug addicts, and downtrodden women. The volunteers were often harassed and sometimes physically assaulted as they marched through the streets with their signs and musical instruments calling everyone to their outdoor tent meetings.
William and Catherine were dedicated to discipleship and evangelism, and their ministry grew worldwide. Most of the Booth children went on to work with the Salvation Army, as did some of their sons in law.
The Salvation Army’s impact throughout the world is immeasurable.
Day 22: Abigail Adams
I remember growing up my mom had a book about the letters between John Adams and his wife, Abigail. She told me about their incredible relationship and how, throughout their marriage, John was often away working for long periods of time, but they stayed connected through their letters. I learned that Abigail was a trusted friend and advisor to her husband and someone he deeply respected. During that time, women were not seen as equals, so his reliance on her in these ways was significant.
Abigail was born in Weymouth, Massachusetts, the second child of Elizabeth Quincy Smith and the Reverend William Smith, who was pastor of Weymouth’s North Parish Congregational Church. Her father was one of the most educated and prosperous citizens of their community. He instilled in Abigail the importance of respecting God and serving others. Her mother devoted much of her time to visiting the sick and delivering food, clothing and firewood to needy families, and Abigail often accompanied her.
Girls were not permitted to go to school in Abigail’s time, so she was instructed at home. History remembers her as highly intellectual with a great thirst for knowledge and wisdom. She once said, “learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”
Abigail’s grandfather, Colonel John Quincy, liker her father, a very influential member of their community, was instrumental in her upbringing, as well as her grasping of the importance of freedom.
After a two-year courtship, Abigail married John Adams, a young lawyer on October 25, 1764. They spent long periods of their courtship apart, relying on writing letters to stay in touch.
The marriage of John and Abigail was very successful. Abigail managed the family and household while John’s legal career became more demanding of his time as greater opportunities came about. The time apart was difficult on the family, but they knew the cause was worth it.
John and Abigail had five children, Abigail (nicknamed Nabby), John Quincy, Susanna (died just after she turned one year old), Charles, and Thomas.
Throughout their marriage, as John was away, Abigail remained at home, managing their farm and educating their children. Their letter correspondence increased, and Abigail would keep John informed of activity between the British and American military near their home. Though she was behind the scenes, she was very supportive of her husband’s career and just as devoted to the independence of America as John was. John regularly sought her advice in all matters, and in fact, President Harry Truman once said that Abigail Adams “would have been a better President than her husband.”
Abigail died from typhoid fever in 1818.
Day 23: Fanny Crosby
The woman recognized today, Fanny Crosby, is brand new to me, and she was remarkable and inspiring. Her life was almost immediately challenging, but she had positive role model in her grandmother, and learned how to put her trust in the Lord, and He was her source of joy.
When she was only 6 weeks old, Fanny developed an eye infection. A man pretending to be a doctor treated her with a hot mustard pack over her eyes. The infection went away, but the treatment left her completely blind. Not long after, her father died, leaving her mother a widow at 21. Her mother worked as a maid to support her and Fanny.
Fanny’s grandmother was very influential in her life. She did not want Fanny to see herself as disadvantaged, so she taught Fanny about the Lord and how to have a relationship with Him and helped Fanny to “see” what she couldn’t see with her natural eyes by reading to and describing things to her, and having her work with textures and scents. She read the Bible to Fanny and taught her how to pray. She had a talent for remembering things she heard and memorized several chapters of the Bible. Fanny said of her grandmother “My grandmother was more to me than I can ever express by words or pen.” (I can relate, as I had a grandmother who meant the world to me, too.)
Fanny began writing poems, and even became a published author when newspapers published her poetry. Her poems also appeared in two poetry books.
When she was fourteen, Fanny was accepted into the New York Institute for the Blind, and even went on to teach history and English there for eleven years.
At 37, Fanny married a former student and teacher at the school. He played the organ, and the two of them wrote and played music together. Fanny also learned how to play several instruments, including the guitar and harp. Fanny and her husband had a child, but sadly, it died in infancy.
Fanny also wrote hymns. One of her more famous ones being “Safe in the Arms of Jesus” and “Blessed Assurance”. Writing hymns was a way she could share Jesus with others, and she was said to have written her hymns for those who didn’t want to hear preaching from the pulpit and for the poor.
She and her husband lived in a rough part of New York and did mission work there. She would often counsel those who attended prayer meetings and shared about joy, love, and forgiveness.
Fanny continued to use her talents throughout her life to write poems and hymns, two autobiographies, and poetry books, and served the poor until her death at 94.
Day 24: Sadie Robertson Huff
We are excited to recognize a young woman who many of our daughters grew up with, Sadie Robertson Huff. Many of you know Sadie, along with her family, from the reality show “Duck Dynasty”. The show was a family favorite of ours!
It’s been a few years since Duck Dynasty was on the air, but Sadie is still very much a beacon of light for Jesus and source of encouragement for millions.
At 24, Sadie is the author of four books, has been featured in two music videos, television shows, including Dancing with the Stars, and four films, is a popular speaker, podcaster, and founder of the online Live Original community that helps girls “discover real sisterhood, intentional relationships and learn from my (Sadie’s) favorite mentors.”
Sadie is also married, and she and her husband, Christian, have a precious baby girl, named Honey.
Despite her fame and many accomplishments, Sadie is very transparent and doesn’t just put on a good show for people. She is real in sharing about how she has struggled with fear, which so many young girls identify with.
As a mom and someone who works closely with young girls, I so appreciate that Sadie is a trusted role model for girls, and that she has created a space where she shares the love of Jesus, doesn’t compromise the truth, models what she preaches, and inspires others to do the same. Additionally, Sadie does not shy away from addressing the very real struggles our young people are struggling with, like fear, comparison, cancel culture, and our thought life.
We live in a self-obsessed, approval-addicted culture that is so distracted and intoxicated by social media that we barely know how to function in real life relationships and communities. I am grateful for the example Sadie sets in addressing these topics, while elevating the life that Jesus offers us.
I encourage you to check out Sadie’s books and her website and follow her on Instagram. She’s a great resource for girls of all ages!
Photo credit: Amazon author page
Day 25: Leah Church
Yesterday I was having coffee with a friend and she shared with me about a decision she and her husband made that had the potential for blowback in their family, but they stuck with their convictions because they follow the Word of God, not seek the approval of man, even if it means disappointing loved ones. A few hours later, I read an article about a young woman who released her dreams of playing college basketball because the lifestyles and extra-curricular activities that went along with basketball were in conflict of her faith and biblical principles.
I’m sharing the link to the article I read about her, rather than sharing a personal narrative like I have been doing. Please, take a few moments to read her story and be sure to share it with a young lady in your life.
‘Basketball Wasn’t Worth It’: Former UNC Player Chose to Leave Team Rather Than Compromise Her Faith
Photo credit: article, image source: YouTube Screenshot/Leah Church
Day 26: Mary, Mother of Jesus
Jesus’ mother, Mary has always stood out to me for her faith and obedience. When the angel of the Lord told her she would become pregnant with the Savior of the world, Mary asked how that would be possible, since she was a virgin. She didn’t complain and say, “why me?”, she accepted the angel’s answer and said “I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say!” (Luke 1:38) She accepted her calling with grace.
Mary was just a teenager and not yet married to Joseph and being pregnant out of wedlock would be shameful for both of them. She could have lost Joseph, her family, community, and of course, her good reputation. Despite all that could go wrong, her faith in the Lord was greater than her confusion and fears.
Of course, none of us will ever have an experience like Mary, but there is no shortage of opportunities to give way to fear and shrink back from opportunities to serve God in exciting new ways, and I pray that we will respond as Mary did, yielding her fear to her faith.
An Angel Appears to Mary
26 During Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin. She was engaged to marry a man named Joseph from the family of David. Her name was Mary. 28 The angel came to her and said, “Greetings! The Lord has blessed you and is with you.”
29 But Mary was very startled by what the angel said and wondered what this greeting might mean.
30 The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary; God has shown you his grace. 31 Listen! You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of King David, his ancestor. 33 He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.”
34 Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you. For this reason the baby will be holy and will be called the Son of God. 36 Now Elizabeth, your relative, is also pregnant with a son though she is very old. Everyone thought she could not have a baby, but she has been pregnant for six months. 37 God can do anything!”
38 Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say!” Then the angel went away.
Mary Praises God
46 Then Mary said,
“My soul praises the Lord;
47 my heart rejoices in God my Savior,
48 because he has shown his concern for his humble servant girl.
From now on, all people will say that I am blessed,
49 because the Powerful One has done great things for me.
His name is holy.
50 God will show his mercy forever and ever
to those who worship and serve him.
51 He has done mighty deeds by his power.
He has scattered the people who are proud
and think great things about themselves.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
and raised up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with nothing.
54 He has helped his servant, the people of Israel,
remembering to show them mercy
55 as he promised to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his children forever.”
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
Luke 1:26-38, 46-56
Day 27: Ruth Bell Graham
When I think of Ruth Bell Graham, I think of a quiet strength, and a woman who had confidence in the purpose and significance of each role she played in life. She was so much more than evangelist Billy Graham’s wife. Though she was behind the scenes a lot, her husband said “When it comes to spiritual things, my wife has had the greatest influence on my ministry.”
“Ruth Bell Graham, wife of evangelist Billy Graham, was born at Qingjiang, Kiangsu, China, on June 10, 1920, as Ruth McCue Bell. Her parents, Dr. and Mrs. L. Nelson Bell, were medical missionaries at the Presbyterian Hospital 300 miles north of Shanghai. As a young girl there in the small hospital compound, Ruth first sensed the great calling to abandon all for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Her childhood was spent on China’s mission field with her parents and siblings Rosa, Virginia, and Clayton, surrounded by disease, despair, and the eventual disorder and chaos of civil wars. The suffering she observed only strengthened in her the conviction of mankind’s need for the Savior. Until her early adult years, she dreamed of serving as a single missionary in a far corner of the world — the mountainous nation of Tibet.
At the age of 13, Ruth was sent to boarding school in Pyongyang, in modern-day North Korea, where she studied for three years. Under terrible homesickness, Ruth learned to overcome the loneliness of being far from loved ones by taking care of the needs of others, a skill that would serve her well in the coming years.
Ruth completed her high school education in Montreat, North Carolina, while her parents were there on furlough. In the fall of 1937, she enrolled at Wheaton College, outside Chicago, Illinois, and three years later was introduced to “Preacher,” the nickname other students gave the strapping Billy Graham from Charlotte, North Carolina.
The couple began courting, and so also began a struggle in Ruth between what she thought was her calling to the mission field and her blossoming love for the driven young evangelist. In late April 1941 after much struggling in prayer, Ruth realized her life’s mission was to be bound up in Billy’s passion for evangelism. Shortly after their graduation from Wheaton, the two were married in Montreat on August 13, 1943.
For a brief period, Ruth served as a pastor’s wife in Western Springs, Illinois, before Billy moved on to serve as an evangelist with Youth for Christ; as president of Northwestern Schools in Minneapolis, Minnesota; and eventually as evangelist and president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
With their increased time apart due to frequent preaching trips — and with their first child on the way — Ruth convinced Billy to move the family to Montreat, near her parents. Ruth’s ministry flourished in the mountains of western North Carolina, where she built the family homestead and raised five children: Virginia (Gigi), Anne, Ruth, Franklin, and Nelson Edman (Ned). Ruth treasured her role as the strong woman behind “America’s Pastor” and was Billy’s closest confidant, most trusted advisor, and dearest friend. She loved to move behind the scenes, away from the spotlight, and helped him craft and research sermons and even books.
A gifted poet and writer herself, Ruth authored or coauthored 14 books.”
“If I marry: He must be so tall that when he is on his knees, as one has said he reaches all the way to heaven. His shoulders must be broad enough to bear the burden of a family. His lips must be strong enough to smile, firm enough to say no, and tender enough to kiss. Love must be so deep that it takes its stand in Christ and so wide that it takes the whole lost world in. He must be active enough to save souls. He must be big enough to be gentle and great enough to be thoughtful. His arms must be strong enough to carry a little child.” -Ruth Bell
Duane Litfin, president of Wheaton College, remarked after her death, “Strong, steady, and dauntless, Ruth Bell Graham was the glue that held many of the parts of their lives together.”
Primary source: billygraham.org/about/biographies/ruth-bell-graham/
Day 28: Lila Rose
I have been following her online for as long as I can remember. Her passion and determination for raising awareness about the truth of abortion resonates with me. I have been pro-life my whole life, but also have great empathy for women who find themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy and support organizations that come alongside women (and the man in their life) and support them throughout and beyond their pregnancy in a variety of ways.
24 years ago, I discovered I was pregnant and felt terrified and ashamed. I was unmarried and not long into my relationship. I was blessed to have loving and supportive parents and grandparents to encourage and support me. I know that’s not the case for so many women.
Abortion never crossed my mind, and looking back, I believe God used my unplanned pregnancy to keep me from heading down a dark path. I can’t imagine my life without my daughter.
So, with my personal experience and deeply held beliefs, I appreciate and admire the work Lila Rose and her team at Live Action do to educate the public on abortion and their investigative reports surrounding sex-selective abortions of pre-born girls, the covering up of the sexual abuse of minors, sex-trafficking, infanticide, and other wrongs towards women and children not covered by the mainstream media.
Live Action was started in 2003, by Lila Rose, then 15 years old, in her family’s living room after discovering a book, several years earlier, with photos of children who had been killed by abortion. Lila was moved to help inform other young people about what abortion does to a preborn child. Lila worked with friends to make pro-life presentations to groups and shine a light on the reality of abortion. Lila started undercover investigations in 2006, while at UCLA. She was 18 at the time.
When Lila was a freshman at the University of California, Los Angeles, she noticed that while she knew fellow students were facing unplanned pregnancies, she didn’t see pregnant students on the UCLA campus. To find out what resources and support UCLA offered its pregnant students, she put herself in a pregnant student’s shoes — by posing as a pregnant student. During that first undercover investigation, the head nurse told her that UCLA “does not support women who are pregnant” and referred her, instead, to get an abortion.
In that first investigation, Lila found a common thread that she would continue to uncover in every investigation that followed: No matter what the abortion industry and its proponents say in public, abortion is not an empowering “choice.”
Since that first investigation in 2006, Live Action has grown to become one of the leading national pro-life organizations in America.
Lila Rose is a writer, speaker and activist. Lila founded and serves as president of Live Action, a human rights nonprofit with the largest digital footprint for the global pro-life movement. Lila’s investigative reporting on the abortion industry has been featured in most major news outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Atlantic, CBS and ABC Nightline. Her media appearances include Fox News’ Hannity and Tucker Carlson Tonight, as well as CNN, BBC, and many other national television and radio programs. Lila has written for the Hill, Politico, USA Today, and First Things, among others.
Lila speaks internationally on family and cultural issues and has addressed members of the European Parliament and spoken at the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women. She has been named among National Journal’s “25 Most Influential Washington Women Under 35,” and Christianity Today’s “33 under Thirty-Three.”
Lila is the author of ‘Fighting for Life: Becoming a Force for Change in a Wounded World.” She is the host of “The Lila Rose Show,” a podcast that tackles relationships, faith, culture, and politics.
Learn more about Lila Rose at: LiveAction.org and @lilaroseofficial
Day 29: Gerri Johnson
I’m blessed to know the woman we are honoring today. She has been a close personal friend of mine for 10 years. We met online-her friend answered a Craigslist ad about an event I was hosting on her behalf. As they say, the rest is history.
We have collaborated on many projects together over the years, she is the Vice President of Whatever Girls, and I help her with her business, too. We enjoy sharing ideas and dreaming together-there’s quite the synergy between us. I also so appreciate that our friendship is rooted in our faith, and I count her among my closest, most trusted friends and confidantes.
She is a visionary and a doer. She sees challenges as opportunities for growth and innovation. She started her business, Farm Salvation as a hobby in her garage in 2012 (the same year we met) and grew it by participating in vintage shows and making a name for herself as a result of all her hard work and her integrity. She also participated in the large, well-known Farm Chicks event for years, growing her customer base each year.
A handful of years ago, she embarked on a new adventure-opening her own brick and mortar store. Situated on the corner of Lefevre and Lake in Medical Lake in an old bank building is her fulfilled dream-Farm Salvation. Farm Salvation is more than a vintage/antique mercantile gift shop-it’s become a fixture in the community and the region. A destination place, even. People show up for more than vintage Pyrex and candles-they keep returning because of how Gerri makes them feel and the hope they leave with.
She follows her dreams and trusts God with the results. She is constantly looking for ways to grow and learn, a true entrepreneur, and looks for opportunities to include others in her plans. She is sacrificially generous, and has personally challenged, pushed, and supported me in countless ways.
If you are ever in our area, you must visit Farm Salvation at 106 S. Lefevre in Medical Lake.
You can follow them on Instagram and Facebook @FarmSalvation
Day 30: Grace
Today we are recognizing a woman I have known for her entire life and have seen her change and grow into the remarkable young woman she is today. We have had nearly 24 years of life together, and we have seen each other at our best, and worse. We have walked through some deep and dark valleys together, but we always make it through together and stronger.
She is the one who made me a mom. She helped me grow up (incrementally, of course). I know God used her to save me from walking down some really dark paths. She is the original Whatever Girl. She’s now a wife and mother, but she will always be my baby girl.
Being a mom can be hard, especially when it’s time to let go. You become keenly aware you are no longer the most important person in your child’s life. You may find yourself sandwiched between two generations-your aging parents and your aging children and the reality of time is inescapable.
Through the valleys and seasons, she has lived up to her name, Grace. She has been loving, understanding, patient, forgiving, fun, and so much more.
Watching her as a wife and especially as a mother, I see her faith growing and the living out of Philippians 4:8 (the Whatever Girls verse) as she loves and serves her sweet little family. What a joy it is to see her do what she was made to do. I couldn’t be prouder of her.
In her spare time (as a mom of a 6 month old) she is just starting a business called @the.signcompany and she helps me here at Whatever Girls, too.
Day 31: Grandma Mary
Today is the final day in Women’s History Month, and anyone who knows me remotely well won’t be surprised about who the cherry on top is; my grandma.
She was born in 1926 in Missouri and lived on a farm with her parents, two brothers, and sister. She had some health issues and her parents thought perhaps relocating to the northwest climate might help her, so after high school she traveled alone by train from Missouri to Bremerton, Washington, where one of her brothers was already living, to get a job. She worked in an office, and a munitions factory.
One night after she had taken a bath and washed her hair and had put it up in pin curls in a turban, her friend asked her if she would fill in for another lady on a blind date. The lady who was supposed to go was sick, leaving her boyfriend’s friend dateless. She resisted, but begrudgingly agreed to go, turban and all. The date went so well that just six weeks later she married the handsome Marine Raider who was supposed to go out with another girl. They made their home in Spokane and had a beautiful love story that lasted 68 years until my grandpa’s death at 91 in 2014. (They were even featured in a book called “War Bonds” by Cindy Hval and are the beautiful couple on the book cover.)
She had a beautiful life, but it was not without challenges and heartbreak. In 1953, her father was murdered by a chicken thief on their farm in Missouri. My grandma’s brother, who was just a teen at the time was also shot and seriously injured, but thankfully, survived. I can’t imagine losing my dad like that.
My grandparents had 8 kids, the final two were twins. At one week old, one of the baby girl twins died in the hospital. My grandma never even got to hold her baby. Heart wrenching.
After he graduated high school during the Vietnam War, my dad (their oldest) enlisted in the Marine Corp. Patriotism and duty to our country is something our entire family values, but even so, as a mother, I know it had to be hard to release your son in that way.
I know that my grandma experienced many of the same issues all women go through as wives and mothers, and then some. Her faith was the foundation of her life. She didn’t grow up in a religious church going family, but she told me her family believed in God, and when she was a young bride, her mother in law discipled her.
I was fortunate to live within 15 minutes of my grandparents my entire life, and we were very, very close. We saw each other often and spent a lot of time together during the summer at our family cabin at the lake. Most of my best memories involve my grandparents. When I was old enough to drive, I enjoyed going over to visit with my grandparents and just being in their presence filled my heart.
I am so grateful to have had 42 years with my grandma (39 with grandpa) and that my children grew up with my grandparents being an active part of their lives. It is not lost on me that that is a rare blessing. At 24 and 18, my kids cherish the relationship they had with their great-grandparents and speak of them and their memories are shared with great affection.
I always dreaded my grandparents’ death. It’s not that I was consumed with constant anxiety, but I knew when the time came, the grief would be monumental, and their absence would be deeply felt. It was, and it is. It was four years in December that my grandma died (eight since grandpa died) and they both are still very much a part of my life. I think of them daily and cherish the memories and love we shared. I am blessed to have many of my grandma’s items, and something as simple as using her whisk brings a smile to my face and I feel like she’s with me.
Yesterday my daughter, Grace, and I met up for pedicures, shopping and lunch, and while we were looking at TJ Maxx, I saw a plate with a pretty lemon pattern and said “Great-Grandma would love this.” I stopped by Costco on my way home and an elderly woman caught my attention. She was wearing jeans and tennis shoes, and the way she looked from behind was just how my grandma looked when she wore jeans and tennis shoes. She didn’t wear them often, but she looked super cute when she did. Sometimes when I look at pictures of our 6-month-old grandbaby, Parker, I think of how much she would have loved him and delighted in being a great-great grandma. She absolutely loved all children and had such a way with them. She was so sweet and playful with them and cherished their lives.
One of the biggest lessons my grandma taught me by how she lived her life was the power of our thoughts and the importance of taking our thoughts captive. She always had a positive and grateful attitude. I remember she would say “there’s no use feeling sorry for myself…” or if she was sick “I am just so grateful for the health the Good Lord has blessed me with, I know many other people are worse off…”. I don’t remember ever hearing her gossip about anyone, and she always looked for the best in other people and in situations.
She also modeled mental, emotional, and spiritual health and maturity. I can’t overstate how important it is that we pursue that for ourselves and our families. It is deeply felt when it is missing, and the fruit of its presence is peace, joy, and less drama. Not a very articulate description, but when you know, you know.
I remember one of the last times I saw my grandma at her house. It was about a week before she died. She was sick and we knew the end was near. Her at home nurse had just left, and it was just grandma and me in her living room. I was kneeling on the floor next to her chair helping her elevate her feet and to get comfortable and my eyes filled with tears and my lips started to quiver. She said, “Oh honey…” and then I was sobbing into her chest and she cried, and she kept saying “I know, I know…” as she held me. We knew. There were no words. Our tears did the talking for our breaking hearts.
I could write a novel about my grandma and how beautiful, elegant, smart, wise, loving, devoted and genuine she was, and how she valued the truth. She was the epitome of strength, dignity, virtue, and she lived out the pillars of Philippians 4:8.
I know regrets are often a result of death, and I can honestly say I have none with my grandparents. Nothing was ever left unsaid between us. We always told each other “I love you” and hugged and kissed and told each other how much the other meant to them. They showed up for me, and I showed up for them. They knew they were appreciated and honored, and that they were leaving us a legacy of love and beautiful memories. We spent a lot of time together, we lived a great and beautiful life together. I was with both of my grandparents when they died. I got to say goodbye knowing that I will see them again in Heaven and I rest in the peace of no regrets and the pure joy and appreciation that God blessed me with two of the most amazing people for grandparents.
I would give anything for one more minute with them if only to see their faces as they saw their great-great grandson for the first time. I would photograph it and show it to Parker and tell him “look how loved you are!”
Thank you for the gift of your time these last 31 days as we have shared about women who exemplify the mission of Whatever Girls. I hope they have inspired you to influence the culture around you.