Simply Wonderful programs…

For years I have mourned the assumption by many that Women’s Ministries is a silly social group layered in “bubble gum” themes, and am concerned that we are not always our best advocates.

Women desire both community connection and life-giving content infused with the Gospel. Because we live in a broken world, we fully experience all that it is to be human. Love. Loss. Pain. Joy. Elation. Brokeness. Concern. Longing. Loneliness.  Our roles and relationships leave us exhausted. The Women’s Ministries group is a safe, loving place where Christ is welcomed as central to everything we do.

And so – we can choose better!  Infuse meaning into every act.  Every time we gather we have the opportunity to make this holy time.  Use symbols, projects, tutorials, and even….(gasp) celebrations to make the main thing *the main thing. Infuse JOY!   Allow the Spirit to transform your women.

IDEAS!  Simply Wonderful Programs.  This is an IDEAs platform where you can browse and identify programs that can be adapted to your location. Find free downloads and materials that can be used without hours and hours of preparation.  Use these resources for other groups as well- you are limited only by your own imagination!   I have determined to present only cost-conscious ideas as prices do not determine effectiveness.  Currently serving in Moldova, Eastern Europe, I am keenly aware that inspiration and connection are achieved as women spin “hay into gold”.

Find some of our favorite ideas for your group on this blog site, and if you like them, leave a positive comment!    Seeking creative inspiration? Yes!  Always! Fight to create the group you’ve always dreamed of.

Major Ronda Gilger               grace4ashes


Ronda and Lamb
“feed my lambs”


“If the SHOE FITS wear it”

Favorite shoes program

“If the Shoe Fits- Wear it!”

Have each woman bring their FAVORITE pair of shoes.

Sharing time: “Why is this your favorite?” Answers range from: “They are gardening shoes and remind me about how much I love to work in my garden”; “I use my running shoes every day as I get out and exercise”; “These old slippers…I just can’t throw them away they’re so comfortable”.

Use some of their ideas to underlie your devotion about “Walking with the Lord”.

Teach women 2 or 3 basic Bible study techniques; ensuring that they know how important it is that they learn to “walk”… because they will need “spiritual strength” to run (persevere), and to “garden (harvest-evangelize), or to be as comfortable with prayer as you are slipping on your favorite comfy slippers.

Tonight’s Activity: God sees great BEAUTY and VALUE!

The best elementary school rooms I see are plastered wall to wall with imaginative paintings, pictures, sayings, writings. These are each works of art that “tell” stories about the children. What does Alyssa dream about?  Her art looks so brave and bold? What does Matthew want to do when he grows up? It appears that Anna is a poet and Erin loves little doggies! Noelle wants to move to Mars!!!

IDEA: Take the time to explore the value of each woman present.  “Make it your mission to underscore their great worth and abilities.  During this session, you are asked to have some freedom from the traditional weekly schedule you might follow.   You want to allow them to express who they are- understanding that you are facilitating the process.

watercolor woman with butterflies

Ladies enter the room which has been set up with paper-covered tables, art supplies and worship music playing in the background.  Begin with your welcome and prayer, then invite them to take part in a new activity!  The activity they are being invited into is to reveal their true identity:  NOT BY WORDS… but on paper (a roll of butcher paper would be great!). Pictures, poetry, magazines can be placed on each table, from which the ladies can cut out pictures, words painted that express their hopes, dreams, prayers. At first- this may feel uncomfortable.. but you are prepared!   Have art supplies on hand. When you are done- adorn the walls and take a moment to look and comment on the whole of the project. Ask: What do you see here? I see God’s masterpiece within you! What do you see in one another’s work?

Still-way too often women hide their own talents and gifts in deference to serving those around them….or they feel they have nothing to offer.

The truth is- –
*No circumstance, mistake, problem or weakness is so big, that it can remove God’s unique expression of Himself in you.

blue butterfly

“Why?”, you ask.
Because God’s work of art in you is sealed with the Holy Spirit from the moment you became His. God’s work of art is insured by His love.
The amazing thing is this: God puts the brush in your hands and invites you to paint every day upon your canvas.

Don’t be mistaken. God is not afar away observer. He inspires us from within — by reshaping our hearts and renewing our minds.  You and I have a part in this growing art: to nurture our interests and rekindle our giftings. It is time to start living as God’s work of art. Because you are exactly that.

“For we are God’s masterpiece (the original Greek word poema is translated “poem“), created in the Messiah Jesus to do good works that God prepared long ago to be our way of life.” Ephesians 2:10

Don’t discount that voice inside you, the one you were born to speak in — whether you do it through writing, photography, cooking or engineering, teaching, crafting and anything else.

rainbow butterfly watercolor

DIY Customizeable THEME Banners & Printables 4 yr EVENTS!

A Boquet of DIY Crochet face-cleansing flowers.

A DIY Original pattern for our CROCHET enthusiasts: I love projects that make sense and can be used daily.  Below I share an Eco-friendly little makeup removal flower that you crochet. These are so easy that you will crochet a pile of them out of your cotton sports weight yarn scraps. They make wonderful gifts. I crochet about 10 of them for girlfriend gifts and place them in a toile 4×6 gift bag- so cute.

Crochet mini face cleaning pads

They save your washcloths- look sweet filling a bowl in your bathroom, and are simply thrown in with your laundry along with your wash. 

For this project you will need:
US Size D Crochet Hook. 3.0 mm.
Sport weight cotton yarn scraps– Using sport weight creates a smaller, tighter make up removal flower.

To download the pattern as a pdf: click on the link below;
Eco -Garden Make up Removing Flowers

Tip: These can be made with one solid color yarn for your entire flower– or you can change colors on each row. Pictured are a variety of petals using the same pattern, but alternating colors of cotton yarns on rows 2,3 or 4.


Row 1: ch 4, sl st into 1st chain to form loop.
Row 2: ch 2 (forms 1st dc). 11 dc, sl st into 1st dc space.
Row 3: ch 1, 2 sc in each dc of previous row (24 sc). Sl st into1st sc space.
Row 4: *5 dc in 2nd space from sl st, sl st in 2nd space to complete petal (shell). Repeat from * 5 times (6 petals total). Tie off and weave in ends.

Summertime DIY French Garden Tins

Summer is in the air and the idea of creating your own French Garden inspires thoughts of beauty and adventure.   Summerrtime tins

This Summertime DIY French Garden Tins project upcycles “throw-away gift tins” and adds beauty for minimal cost.

I am an avid THRIFT STORE NUT & after seeing this idea; I ran to our local thrift stores to find these tins in various sizes. I paid .25 to 1.00 gathering up a collection of tins a few at a time. Using either silks or fresh flowers- fill your tins and set atop a mirror or cloth napkin. You can make one, or fill an entire event center with groupings of this little masterpieces.  Warning: Addictive DIY Project.

Why- I’m proud of you!

thrifty too!

Hidden Treasure: Thoughtful, Impactful Reading

An important read for women in ministry.  Authored by Major Leanne Ruthven, bringing together experience and studies, and voices that are honest,  written with wisdom and boldness.   This could be used as an online bible study for officers.

Hidden Treasure

Read #HiddenFigures? Now read #HiddenTreasure
Salvation Army officer-women share the joys and frustrations of leadership in the church. Now available on NOOK, Kindle and in hard copy athttp://commerce.salvationarmy.org.au/
#empowerwomen #itsnotrocketscience

Pinecone Candles DIY Simply Wonderful

Add a beautiful DIY element to your Christmas programs.
Drawn to the simplicity of these Christmas decorations, I wanted to share them as a TO-DO for your group as well as adding a lovely devotional thought. Teach-Worship-Create.
Pinecone candles
Using a kitchen shears-or smaller garden pruning shears (make a few calls to have several available for your program). Cut the top half off of your pine-cones, one at a time. I suggest lining your work area with a plastic garbage bag or table cover. Using a Hot glue gun-glue in your tea lights and it is just that simple. Line them down the center of a table, group them, or give them as fits. Be sure to use the tea-lights with the hardened plastic insert. For those hosting large events- this may be just what you are looking for.

Have each person share a situation in their life which seemed “IMPOSSIBLE” at the time, but each must also acknowledge God’s work in that situation. Allow each person just a minute or two- Be a gracious “director” here.

Alas, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! There is nothing too hard or too wonderful for You.
~ Jeremiah 32:17(AMP)

Today we have each been part of creating the impossible- A pine-cone that when it’s candle is lit- glows, showing the beauty of the flame. Traditionally when one lights a pine-cone on fire people scatter and call the fire department! You have contained the power of the fire, redirecting its energy. Impossible? Of course not.
Now if you want to hear about IMPOSSIBLE- Read about the parting of Red Sea, the fiery furnace of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, a virgin birth, the raising of Lazarus and all the other miracles recorded in the Bible. We serve a God who works in the realm of the impossible every day.
No matter how impossible we see the situation we’re in today, or how hopeless and difficult the road ahead seems to be, there is a truth that reaches through to where you are today – a promise that our God sees what we don’t see, and He works the whole thing out and brings us through. God sees possibilities in our impossibilities – for with God nothing is impossible.
It seems hard for us to completely trust Him when our world is crashing in around us, but as we grow in our relationship we trust…more today, more tomorrow…more in the future because of the faithfulness of this One who was born, lived and died so that we could be forgiven and restored with our Loving Father.

Today, let’s pray…holding one another up as they go through their own difficult life circumstances- We must learn to take our eyes off the circumstances and look to Jesus. Joy, knowing the faithfulness of our Savior.

“The Blessings Tree”

Teaching Gratitude- Create a resource that you will use over and over again.

For family, for your group- no matter the age.
By Ronda Gilger. ****for our knitters!

It’s quite easy to add up offenses, unjustness, disappointments, and losses. It becomes a work of the heart to stop and take just a moment to be aware of the blessings and beauty.

First, create the “tree”. Into a sturdy vase arrange several thin branches- adding enough so that it resembles a bare tree. Lovely right? But it gets better!

I wanted to create a visual illustration to remind me of hope. We all need to work to keep from being swallowed by the negative that is everywhere. Hold onto Faith. Grace. Inspiration.
The challenge: On days where you are overwhelmed and it seems impossible to see anything good -Everyday—�Be aware… look for it. Even when you feel broken- look. For one kind word. For the music that inspires, the touch of a friend, for something silly that makes you laugh or the way someone’s inward beauty shines through. ONE thing.
The idea is that we need to do more than merely survive our days.
Speak it out loud as you hang your leaf on the tree. One per day- for a week. Repeat.
Hold onto pieces of “wonderful”. At the end of the week, your Blessing Tree is in BLOOM! And I’m working on a different color set for each member of the family so that as we sit down to dinner/ we have one thing “built-in” to speak about! And the more leaves on the tree- the more joy. I have grown kids and this is for each family- a new way to see every day. I also have a set of 30 for the office…great for morale.
And remember-we may be someone else’s blessing-

Materials-(2) US2 DPNs
Sock yarn to sport weight
Darning needle and scissors

Loopy Stem: CO 3. Work icord for 2.75”.
What is an icord? Video link at bottom of post.
Begin Row 1 of leaf.
Row 1: K1, YO 1, K1, YO, K1. Turn. (Odd rows are Right side-RS).
Row 2: K2, yarn to front. Sl1 st. Yarn to back, K2. Turn at end of every row. (Even rows are Wrong Side-WS).
Row 3: K2, YO, K1, K2
Row 4: K3, YF, Sl 1 St, YB, K3.
Row 5: K3, YO, K1, YO, K3
Row. 6: K4, YF, Sl 1St, YB, K 4.
Continue pattern until your leaf is 17 st across the front of leaf.
Back of this row: K8, YF, Sl 1 St, K8
A. Next row- K 17 across.
B. Back of this row- K8, YF, Sl St, K8.
Repeat A & B 1 more time.
Decrease rows:.
Knit across row to last 2 stitches…K2tog. Turn.
Repeat this row until you have 1 stitch left.
Cut yarn 8″ and pull through this last stitch.
Using a tapestry needle…weave in end of leaf and form loopy stem.
Steam with your iron holding it 1/2″ above the leaf…shape.
Make 7 leaves plus 1 Holder to create your set.

Loopy holder: (to “thread all of your Blessing leaves onto when the lesson is done”
Cast on 3 stitches. Knit cord for 10”
Continue to create a smaller leaf-
from the end of the icord exactly as you made the leaf until there are 13 stitches on your needle. Continue and decrease as in the leaf pattern from 13 stitches down to one.
Weave in ends and form a smaller loop on Icord end.
***tie a knot using icord close to leaf end. Tie another knot over the first knot to bulk it up- adjust to make an attractive knot.
You will thread the leaves onto the holder and the smaller leaf through the small loop of the holder to store your Blessing Tree leaves.
Options- add beads?
icord …. https://youtu.be/wcJvy1oZhco
YO=yarn over
YF=yarn front
Sl 1 st=slip 1 stitch
YB=yarn back
K2tog. Knit 2 stitches together.

Fine. Fine. REALLY, I’m FINE!

FineFineFineSo often we come together and forget that as the body of Christ, we should be a strong support for one another.  We carelessly say, “I’M FINE- REALLY- I’M FINE!” because to say otherwise would be to burden others with OUR problems.  Still, isn’t that what the scriptures teach us? It’s deeper and wider than that!

Pass out a little paper umbrella to those present.

Bear One Another’s Burdens      Galatians 6:2 ESV

 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 

Join into a circle

Leader: Somewhere in life we’ve wrongly learned that Christians are to be happy all the time- after all, being anything “other” reflects poorly on Jesus. And our wrong internalizations are reflected in the words coming out of the Church pulpit today- “Be ye, perfectionists, even as we are perfectionists”. (or at least it seems that way sometimes). When our lives are “sunny” this works, but when the STORMS comes… Well, watch out, my friend, we look all too human. What’s ironic- is that in the midst of our messy humanness-God allows those around us to connect authentically… and we learn that they are “experiencing downpours, and hurricanes of life” as well. And rather than being left sad, weak, and broken; we can find connection and strength- and the realization that God is right there beside us. Let your little umbrellas remind you that you are never alone-even when life “rains down on you”.  Bear one another’s burdens.  Hold one another up.   Silence is not golden.

#1. We are never alone. Hold one another up. *and #2 Restore one another.

We love the message of verse 2, but we don’t want to forget the transforming challenge of verse 1:

Brothers and sisters,  if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 

We understand that there are varying levels of spiritual maturity in any group.  As we gather there is a tendency to speak, to act and interact from our own.  Maybe it is time to speak the truth out loud – To refocus and make it a priority to truly “see” others (not just “ME”).  We need to look for ways to restore one another, to “gently” restore one another.  This word “gentle” is such an important 6 little letters.  Your first step might begin with prayer for God’s best in the lives of someone else.  Oh no!  This might mean that God wants us to pray for that “irritating person”.  Yes!  Exactly.  (*and sometimes, this is us!)

As we bring these two verses together they challenge us because if we are honest we admit that- we are all sinners.  Human and flawed.  We have knowingly crossed the line.  We have all broken God’s laws. This extends to our relationships.  Our words have been weapons. Our attitudes betray the truth of what is in our hearts.

But imagine now, your sisters in Christ surrounding you with love and gentleness- because we are in the business of restoration.  Forgiveness therapy, right?  “And as we bear one another’s burdens” – we are told, “we fulfill the law of Christ”.

So much to take in.  We need to internalize, then to externalize God’s Word as we live out our faith.   One verse does not stand independently.  Relationships are growing and changing and allow for opportunities to teach us to be Christlike every day- in practical ways.  Let the healing begin. Let’s join together to be a part of it.

I pray that you feel God’s presence today as you hear these words.  I am praying this for you.

May God renew your passion and transform the way that you restore one another in gentleness.  If one were to take the ministry of reconciliation seriously- think what miracles in the Church of Christ; the world would see!



Mystery Knitting Project

Mystery Knitting project


For our many women’s knitting & Crochet circles- it may be a fun idea to promote a Mystery knitting project.  You can invite participants to celebrate with one another at a completion event (Refreshments or coffee and tea).  Invite all to wear their “finished knitties” and just watch their sense of accomplishment grow!

Materials: You need 200 yds. of a sport or worsted weight yarn, and US size 9-12 knitting needles.

    *Cast on 20 stitches
    *Row 1.knit 8, turn, knit back to beginning.
    *Row 2.knit 6, turn, knit back to beginning
    *Row 3. Knit 4, turn, knit back to beginning
    *Knit across all 20 st.
    Repeat these rows until the desired length is reached. End off.

I hate to ruin the suspense but the pictures are here!  Have fun!  They call this the Potato Chip Scarf (because no one can make just one!)  Note: you can also wear 2 together for a different effect!    If you are keeping this a TOTAL MYSTERY- You can print a copy of the instructions here:  MYSTERY KNITTING HANDOUT