I can’t believe I got through that! Truth is I’ve said that a lot over the past 7 years. Life happens to all of us, so the challenges I’ve faced are not unique, or shall I say possibly not as tragic to you as they felt to me, but to me my life was just downright hard for an extended period of time. The amazing thing is, I made it through with my head held high and a smile on my face, day by day, piece by piece, by the wonderful grace of God… and the Ladies of Leyton Grove. Who are these ladies? They are my girlfriends in my weekly Bible Study.
I am one of the twelve ladies who put on a monthly event called First Friday for Women in Southlake, Texas. Once a month we brought in an inspirational speaker to offer practical insights and encouragement to help hundreds of ladies get through life’s daily challenges. During that time one of my friend’s husband died and another faced an unwanted divorce. They both needed more than once a month encouragement of First Friday or Sunday service sermons to walk them through their life transitions. So I asked my First Friday friend Denise if she had any openings in her home Bible Study to add the three of us. And that is how my journey with Ladies of Leyton Grove began—me just wanting to help my friends. Who knew I was the one who soon needed the strength to get up each day?
After 5 years of my in-laws living with us, my father-in-law passed away in February of 2011. Death is hard, even after a long illness. My husband is an only child so the loss seemed more intense when it’s just you and your parents. When my Bible study found out about his death they physically showed up at my house with cleaning supplies and a vacuum. Yes, they cleaned my house! While I was in the midst of planning a funeral their creative kindness was exactly what I needed and couldn’t possibly ask for! And that gesture was one of many ways the Ladies of Leyton Grove carried me through my life trials. In the past 7 years my in-laws both died, my house burned down, I fell down the stairs and couldn’t sit for 9 months, got a call from the CDC saying I received a tainted injection that had killed a dozen other people that week, had back surgery, and just as I was recovering from all that I received a heart wrenching diagnosis of a close family member… whew… and that’s just a few highlights of my personal challenges. This doesn’t include any of the heartaches and needs the other ladies in my small group were facing at the exact same time.
We are doing life together. We, the Ladies of Leyton Grove, walk one another through each of our life challenges—some extreme, some minor—from illness, death, financial collapse, relationship crisis, parenting dramas, wedding celebrations and everything in between. Being involved in a small group Bible Study for the past 7 years has offered me the privilege to study the Bible and build a closer personal relational with the God who loves me, sees me and cares about the details of my life. An ongoing small group gave me the unexpected ongoing support of amazing women who are there to lift me up no matter what happens. And even more importantly I’ve had the privilege of being able to reciprocate and help my friends during their hard moments of life. It’s been a rewarding two-way street. Truly the Proverb is correct: “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17.
If you haven’t already found your own “Ladies of Leyton Grove,” I promise you it’s worth the effort. Girlfriends are there to get us through a lifetime. Why not find a small group of friends to bring you closer to God and be your cheerleader when you win and your encourager when you’re down? (Most churches offer ongoing in-home small groups. If you can’t find one right for you at your own church, ask around. Chances are there is one just right for your personal needs nearby—or grab 6 or more friends and start your own. The place we find most of our study guides is www.lifeway.com searching in their Bible Studies section. There are always news 4-10 week studies being released.)