By, Noelle Rhodes
I became friends with Sharon in my late twenties. I was living in Northern Ireland as a missionary at that time and Sharon took me under her wing. She was a spunky, full of life Northern Irish woman who never stood still while she talked to you. She had so much joy pulsing through her veins that she would nearly jog in place while you had a conversation.
Sharon would often invite me to her house for something that she called a "cuppa”. A “cuppa” is simply a cup of tea often served with a plate of cookies. When I would arrive at Sharon’s home for a “cuppa”, she would always greet me with the most vivacious welcome. Sharon had a way of making you feel as though you were the one she had been waiting for. She would swing open the door and screech with glee,
“It’s Noelle! Noelle is here,” she would say in her Northern Irish accent, “come on in! I have been waiting for you!”.
After a big hug, she would take me by the hand and lead me to her kitchen which was tucked at the back of her house. It was then she would order me to “take a seat at the table” which was always strewn with her children’s school work and plates of half eaten toast. With one swoop of her arm, Sharon would slide the toast and school work to one side of her table and say,
“There. I cleared a spot for you.”
As I would settle into a seat, she would put the kettle on, pour the milk into a tiny jug and pick out a special mug just for me to use. She did not own matching mugs.
When the tea had brewed, she would pour it into the carefully chosen mug and walk it over to me - with a jug of milk in the other hand. She'd place my “cuppa” before me and as she slide a plate of biscuits towards my way she'd ask….
“Now, Noelle, What is your story?”
She would ask me this question nearly every time I found myself at her table. What she meant when she asked me this was,
“Tell me what is happening in your life. What you are most excited about? What is keep you up at night? What is going in your world?”
As I sipped tea, I would pour my heart to her… because she made room at her table for me to do so. Sharon would listen to me talk about what I was worried about...and what I was looking forward to… she allowed me to dream and plan for the future… and she even let me process the past. This was at a time in my life when I felt very lost in a very big world. I felt incredibly inadequate, anxious, and alone but not at her table.
It never failed that at some point in my story, she would stop me and say, “Ha! You just reminded me of something I read in the Bible today. Here let me tell you.”
Sharon would jump and grab her Bible and journal. Without hesitation, she would share with me what God had spoken to her and what she believed God was saying to me too.
“Look at that!” she would say, “God is speaking to your story right now!”
Somewhere between the first cup of tea and the third, I would realize at Sharon’s table that I had a story.
I had a story that God was in.
I had a story God was speaking through.
I had a story God was speaking to.
And I had a story someone wanted to hear.
I want to be a Sharon.
I want to clear a space and make some room for women in their twenties and early thirties tell their stories and hear what God has to say to them in the midst of their stories. This is why I am so excited to be apart of the new ministry of Her Life Speaks, “The Table”, a small group bible study for women 21-31 years old!
A table is not just a place where you can belong… a table is place where you can become who you are meant to be.
I can't wait to meet you at The Table.
Her Life Speaks is all about Her testimony, Her life, and who God is in Her story. Here we write our stories in hopes of helping other women find their relationship with Jesus Christ.