Summer Sampler: Who is a God like you...

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I hope you will be touched anew by this series of women sharing the gracious works of God in their lives.  At by design ministries we call it the Summer Sampler: weekly stories from women sharing lessons they've learned along the way. You can also find more stories at



Keep On Swimming
by Jane Rattray    
Have you ever noticed that the simplest decisions often have the strongest impact in your life? A few summers ago my BFF approached me, convinced that we should spend our summer training to participate in the Transformational Triathlon. And I agreed!! As you probably know, a triathlon includes swimming. At this point I could barely swim half a lap in an indoor pool and I had just signed up for a quarter mile open water swim. Then a fellow swimmer nonchalantly mentioned that there were SNAKES in this pond.

Apparently my Heavenly Father had decided it was time to confront a few of my lingering fears head on. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of snakes, okay, we were obviously in for a crash course.

7:00 a.m. on a July Saturday morning found me mustering the courage to jump into a "cool" New England pond. It quickly became evident that I was the weak link. The other swimmers were going deeper and farther than I was ready for. It was unwise and unsafe for me to go out alone, so how could I possibly train in this open water?

Immediately I knew the answer, the one who was most qualified to help me. But could I humble myself and ask? Could I swallow my pride and say, "I need your help"? Could I trust my husband to accept me in my weakness and still love me?

I had some tough choices to make that summer. My fears had led me to a place in my marriage where I had built up walls, my feeble attempts at "protection" that were threatening our relationship. I was at a crossroads. Would I trust God to give me the strength to push my body further physically than it had ever gone before? Would I believe that He would carry me through to the finish line? Could I humbly ask for help?

Race day arrived. Stumbling out of the pond, nauseous and ready to quit, I felt myself tightly wrapped in a towel in the arms of my husband. Words of encouragement echoed in my ears as he led me up the hill, helped me climb on my bicycle and with a gentle shove said, "You can do this!"

At my crossroads it would have been so easy to quit, to admit defeat and stay cocooned in my fears. But it was in accepting my weakness that I gave my husband the opportunity to love with actions when I struggled to believe his words. II Corinthians 12:9 came alive for me that summer as God asked me to do something that seemed impossible, ridiculous even, to let Him use my body as an instrument of His Power and my weakness as a tool for healing. With a simple, "Yes, Lord" I unleashed God's power to transform my body, my faith and my marriage in a miraculous way.

And God is so kind... I never saw a single snake the whole summer!

Jane is facing another crossroad in her life as she nears the end of her 21 year "homeschool Mom" career. She is the Mom of three amazing daughters and an incredible son, and is Grammie to the world's cutest two year old grandson. The next road she hopes to travel is one of speaking and writing. It is her desire to encourage women to live their stories well, believing that they were uniquely created by God as His precious masterpiece. But no matter where the road leads she knows it will be a wonderful journey with her one true love, her husband of 32 years beside her, cheering her on each step of the way.

Upcoming Events and New Resources
by design Birthday
It's been 25 years since Beverly Weinhold began "Women's Ministries" under the umbrella of Vision New England. Since then, this ministry has grown tremendously both in breadth and depth! We will be celebrating all that God has done and how he continues to advance His kingdom through His daughters in New England. Our "birthday party" will be held on October 4th from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Immanuel Church in Chelmsford, MA.  Register Now


A new Speakers Directory is here! You can download or find out how to order a printed copy on our website. An online version is coming later this summer.

Make your life count!  Our Understanding Your Personal Calling and Mission class is now available for purchase, along with accompanying Note Pages. Buy Now