“Hospitality is about reaching out in service to others and using what we've been given to meet a need in their life.”
The term "homemaker" might sound a bit boring until you understand what it means to me. Sure, it has a little bit to do with cleaning and cooking and maintaining a household, but being a homemaker is so much more.
Home is where we live. It's a place of comfort and refuge. A place of rest. It's where love is. Home is where you can be you and I can be me. Home is family and friends and relationships both old and new. Home is a state of mental and emotional peace. So, to me, being a homemaker is anything but boring. It's a badge of honor that I wear proudly each and every day.
My mother has the gift of hospitality and was constantly entertaining guests in our home as we were growing up. She planned everything from business dinners, baby showers, summer picnics in the yard and fun birthday parties for adults, children and grandchildren.
Growing up, our weekends were constantly filled with people coming to our home - whether they were with youth groups, church groups, school groups, or just friends and family coming in for a visit. I remember my Mom welcoming guests with open arms and feeding them from our kitchen table. She was a consummate host to everyone who entered our home, and I remember - even at an early age - how much fun it was to share with others what we had been given as a family.
God has blessed me with a wonderful, loving family, and I have always enjoyed creating a safe environment where we can gather together and laugh and play and learn from one another.
Shortly after John and I were married, we began sharing our apartment with friends - having them over for dinner and playing cards or board games. We quickly discovered this was something we both enjoyed doing together. We would plan the menu, go grocery shopping, clean the house, cook the food, entertain our guests and even clean the dishes together after the guests were gone.
Recently we had the joy of building our own home for the purpose of enjoying family and entertaining and hosting groups, both large and small. I enjoy the challenge of offering a warm, inviting and comfortable place to anyone that enters through our doors. We are grateful for the home God has given us and we enjoy sharing it with our family and friends.
We believe our home is a gift and we try to steward this gift in order to honor God. When we moved into our home we had a time of dedication and even posted a plaque just outside our front door as a reminder that:
We believe the Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength. Everything we have comes from God. So we give Him only what He has already given us.
We live in a culture that is becoming more and more disconnected. Sometimes we just get too busy to connect with others. One of my greatest joys as a homemaker is being able to open our home to others to give people the opportunity to connect, not just with us, but with each other. Hospitality is sharing what we have in service to others and using what we've been given to meet the needs of others.;
“The fact that God entrusts us to be His hands and feet is overwhelming, but what a joy it is to follow where He leads...”
One Sunday, after church, John challenged me with a question: What if God is calling us overseas? and I began struggling with the idea. My head wasn't quite there yet, but it was at that moment that I felt challenged to be a part of something God was doing... out there.
God began prompting my heart for missions in the early 1980's. Through church programs and personal study, my heart began to break and I asked God to "help me see the world the way You do," but I wasn't sure what to do with this conviction.
Two and a half years later, we found ourselves in Atlanta listening to Dr. Charles Stanley at First Baptist Church, Atlanta. Dr. Stanley often encouraged his congregation to "obey God, obey God, obey God," but something about the challenge that day moved me to make a list of all the possessions and actions and goals and dreams I wasn't giving to God.
Finally, God brought our hearts and minds together and instead of asking, "Why would we do this?" we began asking, "Why wouldn't we?"
That's when we began our journey in Brazil as missionaries with the International Mission Board. Our first year in Brazil we were in language school and it was tough. Afterwards we moved to Rio de Janeiro, and we found ourselves far out of our comfort zone, living in the midst of abject poverty and heartache. I spent my days working with children and John worked hard within the Treasurer's Office for the Brazil Baptist Mission.
After a year or so of building relationships and sharing the Good News of Jesus with the people in our town, John and I were asked to start a church in a favela.
"Favela" is the term used for a shanty town in Brazil. Most modern favelas came to be when people left rural areas of Brazil and moved to cities. Without finding a place to live, many people ended up in a favela.
I think God often takes us out of our comfort zone so that we might lean more willingly on Him. So, with God as our guide, we started a small church - John preached to our tiny congregation, and I played the keyboard. It was in this very congregation where our daughter became a believer.
Seeing God change the hearts of the people in this community one by one was evidence of God's miraculous power to transform the heart of any man, woman or child.
Starting churches, teaching God's word to adults and children and sharing the love of Jesus to those around us became the focus of our ministry. Now many of those discipleship groups are still encouraging the wonderful people of Brazil to this day.
In 1991, my Mom and Dad visited us in Brazil and presented us with a challenge. By this time, my parents were heavily invested in the WinShape Foundation and were establishing several foster homes in the states. They suggested we do the same in Brazil. John and I prayed earnestly that God would continue to lead us in a way that would bring glory to Him and soon Lar WinShape ("Lar" is the Portuguese word for "home") was established.
Through Lar WinShape, we were able to build a home for children of great need. This home became a model establishment and opened doors for us to reach out and minister to the needs of many more orphanages and foster homes throughout the city of Brasilia.
John and I lived in Brazil for 10 years and invested a total of 20 years working directly in international ministry. I will forever be grateful to God for opening my eyes and my heart to the great work He is doing all over the world. My time in Brazil really helped me to have a broader and deeper understanding of the vastness of God's love for His people. The fact that He entrusts us to be His hands and feet is somewhat overwhelming, but what a blessing it is to be His ambassador and speak Truth into the lives of others. You see, He speaks all languages, and He can meet anybody's need... anywhere... any time.
I have seen first-hand that God's work isn't just important here at home; it's crucial that we take His message of love to the world.
These days, I try to go out of the country at least one time every year - including trips to Africa and the Middle East. It's good to be reminded of how the rest of the world lives to keep my life in perspective. I have been blessed to be a blessing to others. Returning to Brazil is always a highlight and it is especially thrilling to take others with us. They too can experience the warmth of the Brazilian people and witness the enthusiasm of those who have found Jesus.
On top of that, we have developed an International Experience for IMPACT 360 students, and we've launched WinShape Camps International Projects with college students. WinShape International is another powerful ministry where John and I help engage with partners and conduct projects with Chick-fil-A Operators around the world.
When I think back on my time as an international missionary, I remember these words my Dad said to me, "If you can help enough people get what they want out of life, you will eventually get what you want." I also know that true happiness is less about me and more about others. That's what brings me real joy.;
“No matter who you are or where you're from,
God wants you to use your immeasurable gifts and talents and abilities to impact the lives
I started attending Camp Crestridge for Girls when I was just 7 years old, and I continued attending camp until I went away to college. I will never forget the excitement I had each year as summer approached, knowing that I would soon be in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina with friends from all over the country.
Even now, I can recall happy memories of arts and crafts, swimming, hiking, canoeing, archery and especially campout nights when we slept under stars, sang silly songs and cooked our own food. For me it was hard to go to sleep, anticipating all the things I would get to do the next day at camp.
My favorite part of camp was getting to spend time with and learn from older girls and counselors who invested so much time and energy in my life.
I was about 11 years old when I found camp to be a place that nourished me spiritually.
There was a particular time that struck me as fog covered the mountains in the distance and I was asked, "Trudy, do you believe those mountains are still there?"
I looked across the landscape and knew that, indeed, the mountains were there even though I could not see them. Even more, God is always there even when we have doubts and become unsettled in our faith. I think about that experience often and continue to be comforted knowing that God is with me... always.
When I was a junior in high school I became a counselor at Camp Crestridge, and my love for camp grew even deeper. To me, there was nothing quite as gratifying and enriching as being able to connect with these young girls and invest in the lives of my campers.
That's still true for me today.
After returning from our mission work in Brazil, my family lived in Virginia for 10 years. During that time, we committed to sending our children to WinShape Camps on the campus of Berry College in Northwest Georgia every summer. My mom and dad started WinShape Camps in 1985 almost exclusively based on the experiences my brothers and I had growing up at camp in North Carolina. When asked why he started WinShape Camps, my dad says, "We just want to allow other parents and kids the same joy we got from camp for our kids."
My first hands-on experience with WinShape Camps was in 2003 when I visited with my daughter, Angela, and volunteered for a week. I had such a great experience. So when we moved to Atlanta in the fall of 2003, I picked up the phone and called the director of the girls' camps. I wanted her to know that I would make myself available to help her in any way. Later at a lunch meeting, she informed me that she was resigning her position. Several months later, I received a call asking if I might consider becoming the interim director.
At first, I was shocked. Never in my wildest dreams had I thought about being a camp director. But I know now that God's providence had been preparing me for this journey since I was 7 years old!
I have a deep passion for developing others and creating a place where God can bring Himself into a relationship with young people. As the Girl's Director at WinShape Camps, I have the incredible opportunity to bring in godly young women to model Christ for the hundreds of campers we serve each year.
The fact that we can be a part of creating a place that lends itself to life-changing moments is a very powerful thing. I love watching little light bulbs go off as God guides hearts and moves within campers, counselors and staff on those sunny summer days and starry summer nights.
I think we all have been given the gift of influence. No matter who you are or where you're from, God wants you to use your immeasurable gifts and talents and abilities to impact the lives of others. I also know that God will often ask us to do things that take us out of our comfort zone - so that we can recognize our total dependency on Him. He is more concerned about our character than our circumstances. With every task, He is teaching me to trust Him more.
At the end of the day, I know that God is the ultimate director of my life, and I simply need to play the role he has cast for me. I asked God to help me maximize my influence, and He sent me to WinShape.;