Deb Giles is a faithful Mom Heart friend and volunteer. She has been attending conferences as often as possible for years. I am so excited for you to hear her Mom Heart story!After returning from the first Mom Heart Leader Intensive in August 2010, I was very inspired and wanted to start a Mom Heart group in my area. I met with a sweet friend and we prayed about starting a group. We then began meeting at her home with 5 or 6 ladies each time.Currently, we meet every Thursday evening in my home for dinner and book/bible discussion. Most of the women are homeschool moms and military, either active duty spouses or retired. Their ages run from twenty-five to seventy years young. Of the 22 women on our Facebook page, about half of us meet every week. (We have women from across the U.S. in our group, not just local friends. Our entire group represents 93 children and many grandchildren as well!)Our local group has become very close-knit, helping one another with day-to-day things, encouraging and mentoring one another, whether we are older or younger. We message one another daily via group text. This, I believe has allowed us to form an amazing bond. We are a family, getting together outside of our regular meetings, be it one-on-one, or a quarterly get-together with all the families, taking turns hosting this in our homes. For the majority of us, this group has become our "Thursday Evening Fill-Up." Even though we may be pouring out to others, we are also filled by one another's presence.Over the years, we have had women come to our group and maybe only stay one or two meetings, and we've had some who have been with us off and on throughout our five years. Not everyone has time to complete the book study, but they do come to hang out and just be together nonetheless. We are average, everyday moms who want to get together and praise God for what He has given us, and not focus on the negativity that goes on in our lives. We make it a point to encourage, uplift and be voices of strength for those in our fold that are going through strife. We want each lady who attends our group to feel loved, appreciated and like they can conquer anything life throws at them because we are all standing together, fighting together, loving together and nourishing our souls together.Currently, we are reading through "You are Loved" once again. We've had new women join since we did it last and we thought this was a good study bring them into our fold. In the past, we have gone through many of Sally Clarkson's books as well as a few that were not hers, but good for those who were in our group at the time. I think my favorite book will always be, "Seasons of a Mother's Heart" as it was the first of Sally's books I read.I was able to read an advanced copy of her new book, "The Life Giving Home" and it has quickly become my favorite. I have always wanted a home like Sally describes in this book and she and Sarah are giving insight from how they view home. I like the different styles in writing, the different perspectives and the idea that home is not just about four walls that surround your family. Home is what you, as a mom and as a family, make of your time together. Home can be anywhere you are.
Attendees of Deb's local Mom Heart Conference
Last fall, our group stepped out with me in faith and we held our first ever, "A Mom's Heart in IL" conference here locally. It was something I had been hearing God tell me to do for several years, but I was scared! A friend and I brought the loosely planned idea to the group and God took it from there. In our little corner of the world, we worked hard: advertising, planning, preparing, and celebrating our conference. We had about 40 women in attendance and I invited some of my friends, whom I met through Sally, to be speakers. It was a jammed-packed full day, but what a blessing it was! To know that God used our tiny group of women to reach out and touch lives of others in our area was such an emotional experience. We grew closer as a group. We grew closer to God. We have already begun preparations for a second conference this fall.If you had told me six years ago that I would be leading other women in my home each week and hosting conferences, I probably would've laughed at you. However, I am finding out that God has plans that are not necessarily what I dreamed. Being a leader has its challenges. I worried about whether my house would be clean enough, whether my children and grandchildren would behave, whether I would behave...Through lots of prayer and loads of grace, I trust God to bring those who need the friendships, who need the encouragement, who need Him. I don't worry about whether my house is spotless anymore. There are times the house looks passable, at least in the rooms where we meet, but there are times when there are dishes piled in the sink, the grandkids are being loud, I haven't cooked dinner for my family, let alone the women who are attending. But, again, God's grace and the love of the women in our group make even my less-than-perfect days seem bright and beautiful.And so, for any mom, young wife, or even a teenage girl needing guidance, if you feel lonely, if you seek like-minded fellowship and encouragement, I would say, start a Mom Heart group today if there isn't one close to you. Trust God, step out in faith and let Him do all the work. He will bring women to you that you may not know how to reach. Women who do not feel equipped to mentor will show up and mentor without realizing that's what they're doing. Trust HIM, you won't be disappointed!If you want to pray for our group here in the St Louis Metro area, please pray we continue to let God lead us. That we continue to encourage and uplift others, whether they are in our group or some stranger we meet at the store. Pray for God's light to shine through us and for Him to have all the glory. Pray for our second conference coming this fall. Pray for those attending, for those speaking or helping in any way, and pray for our families too.Deb's Mom Heart group is hosting a Mother-Daughter Tea on April 30, 2016. Know anyone in the St Louis Metro area? Please direct them here so that they can attend! Also, follow their Facebook page , A Mom's Heart in IL for other events such as their Mom Heart conference in October.Does Deb’s story encourage you? Pray, get brave and love the women around you!