As I read Natasha Metzler’s post on “faith of my mother” some time ago, I immediately thought of my friend, Stephanie. For almost a decade, she has led a women’s ministry at her church, where she holds baby showers for women in need. Sometimes these women simply do not have a place to hold such an event. She offers the church, free of charge, and provides the location and decorations if needed. Most women, however, have little to no support. Steph plans this shower as if it were for her best friend. She asks them to register for gifts, sends out an email to her friends who support this cause, and asks for gifts and for help with the refreshments.
I have lost count of how many showers I have attended. Most have been happy events, with the mother-to-be and a friend or two in attendance. If we are lucky, a mother, sister, or even grandma is present, sharing joy as gifts are opened and cake is eaten. Some have been sad, even heartbreaking: the bewilderment and the fear that is visible breaks my heart. On more than one occasion, I have managed to keep the smile pasted on my face only until I pull out of the parking lot, then I cry all the way home.
There is no expectation that the recipient of the shower attend the church, or even believe in God for that matter. There is no expectation that they keep in touch. Some do. Some have turned into “regulars” at the showers, bringing snacks and a present, chasing around a toddler that was once the focus of one of these events. Many keep in touch with Steph, by social media or email, checking in every once in a while, maybe passing along a name of someone who could benefit from one as they did. Some simply gather their gifts and leave, never to be heard from again. On occasion, I recognize a name in the police blotter, and I silently pray for both the mother and the child. Sometimes, sadly, we learn through the grapevine that a baby dies.
Steph never waivers from what I see as her calling. She says that we’ve done what we can, and now it’s in the new mom’s hands and in God’s hands. She kept this ministry running while deathly ill herself, resulting in a liver transplant. She asked one of her friends to fill in for her while “she focused on other things for a bit.” Her friend did, then happily turned it back over to Steph in less than a year, with five more women helped by the ministry. The showers were not as organized, but they occurred. This friend has no doubt Steph prayed for each one, and that God led this somewhat scatterbrained person to become a party planner for a short period of time, because that is what was needed.
Steph never doubted anything about this ministry, including that crazy friend of hers. Her faith in everything she does has been a total inspiration to those around her. I know that I am always amazed at her faith. She made mine grow after asking me (that crazy friend) to watch over something she loved dearly and had poured her life into. God and I had a short chat that night, after I immediately accepted her request: I said, “OK, God, I know this request is coming from You. I’m doing this because I love You and I love what Steph is doing, but I will never make this work on my own. You have to make this work, because I am NO party planner!”