This month we’d like to look into the life of Connie Creamer here at GFC and find out what following Jesus – as a woman – looks like for her. It is true that Jesus offers to freely forgive our sins and cleanse us from all our unrighteousness when we call on Him – saving us from a future eternally separated from Him as His enemy. This is all by faith in Jesus Christ alone, not by our good works so that we can’t brag about it. But being released from a fear of dying isn’t all Jesus offers, He offers us His very life to dwell inside of us with power and a position of purpose and influence in His Kingdom work that gives us a joy in living! This is living with mission - as we build a community to reach a community as women for women! Praying we encounter Christ and experience transformation (not merely learn information) let us stir one another up in our faith to follow Him yielding our energy, time, talents and whole heart…
Good morning Connie, thanks for being willing to share where God is working in your life and what it looks like for you to follow Him and live with mission as His disciple daughter!
CONNIE, just so we can get to know a little about your background, how long have you been at GFC?
We have been attending Grace for about five years.
Are you married? Do you have children? What occupies the majority of your time in the week?
I have been married to my husband Tommy, my high school sweetheart for 40 years this coming March 17th. We were blessed with the gift of two children. Allison McCown, our daughter and son-in-law Shane, and their two children Reed (almost 5) and Lauren (1) are actively involved at Grace and central to our coming to this faith community. Our son Adam and his wife Katie live in Fresno, Ca. where he works for the state of Ca. and is a National Guardsman, who will be deployed to Afghanistan around March 23rd.
We have made some significant changes in our lives with my retirement about a year and half ago, and Tommy’s retirement 6 months later. We have used this time to reconnect as a couple, share some leisure activities together, stay in touch with some old friends and family, keep weekly contact as a proud Nana and Papaw with our grandchildren, assist with elder care of Tommy’s mother every other weekend, plugging into opportunities for connecting at Grace, and establishing some mentoring relationships.
When did you give your heart to Jesus and make Him Lord of your life?
I was raised in a Christian home with parents who were able to “live out” their faith before me, but was led to make my personal commitment to Christ at a National Youth Assembly after my sophomore year of high school.
Did you know at that time what it meant to follow Jesus as His disciple daughter?
I am certain my view of the life of a disciple of Christ was clouded by spiritual misconceptions and my own immaturity, but I was keenly aware of His “goodness” and that I was “His workmanship” and that “He who began a good work in me would bring it to completion”.
As you’ve grown as a woman, how has your view of following Jesus as a woman changed?
I hope it can be said, as I have grown, my view of Christ has deepened and matured. I know in analyzing myself in the light of Christ, I have often been living a “Martha” (busy) life of service which is in reality “leaning on myself” and subtly seeking to please Him through my goodness. I know I am still “a work in progress” and sometimes have to refresh my awareness that His grace is a gift to me!
Have you always felt sure about where God was leading you? Did it ever get confusing for you? If so, what did you do?
Truthfully, my life has been, looking back, somewhat like looking at a tapestry from the wrong side. I can now see the beautiful nature of how God was weaving many aspects of my life together in His beautiful fashion but, at the time (on the back side), it appeared somewhat lacking in appeal. Making decisions and following His lead, was always clearest, when bathed in prayer. There was also the gift of feedback from Godly pastors, Christian friends, my years of involvement with Community Bible Study programs, or in later years my experience with the Emmaus Walk and that community; all of which, served to keep me “grounded”.
Did you always feel confident when you stepped out to serve? If not, what held you back and how did you overcome?
Have I always felt confident stepping out in service? Goodness, no! There have been many times I accepted areas of service, very much intimidated by the tasks at hand, but finding as I truly turned to Him in prayer, it was the reassurance that it is never about my adequacy but rather His sufficiency. I know He can always demonstrate His ability to use ordinary people, when I am called on to step out in faith.
You had an interesting career for many years Connie, share with us what you did and what God taught you during those years that has impacted your spiritual walk.
I did find my career truly rich and fulfilling. Initially I began as a part-time social worker with a home health agency working primarily with the elderly, and the last 15 years served in a full time capacity as a social worker with Wellmont Hospice. What a rich opportunity God provided me to “journey” with people from all walks of life, living with life threatening disease processes. There were many sacred moments of being a part of precious good-byes, life review, resolution of regrets, and to witness His peace for those who trusted in His provision for their eternal life.
This career gave me a clear perspective about the brevity of our time on earth, about His faithfulness to walk beside us in the “dark valleys”, the importance of our life choices—good and bad, and the impact of them on those around us.
During this time, I elected to relocate my aging parents, who have since passed, but witnessed firsthand, God’s provision for me to be a part of their last years of life, and the challenge of “the long good-bye” for my Mother with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. I was able to identify, firsthand, some of the emotional pain and dilemmas of those I served. God did not let me waste this season, as my personal and professional life blended, and I clearly felt His grace every day.
What would you say He has given you to do this season to serve Him, what particular mission(s) with Him are you living out in His power?
For this season of life, as always, there is the challenge to balance the use of my time. I am grateful for the opportunity to spend time with my spouse and celebrate the simple pleasures of life. We have been given the awesome and humbling privilege to be near our grandchildren. We hope to be imparting an awareness of God’s love for them. Tommy’s elderly mother, who requires 24 hour care, provides us an opportunity every other weekend to care for her needs and reflect on our own need to maintain a servant’s heart. I have been actively engaged in reaching out to some younger women in a purposeful way and hope to be an encouragement to them in their current life season. Perhaps the most significant area for growth I see for me, is to pursue greater intimacy with Christ through prayer and study of the Word.
You’ve been a great blessing to me as a woman and as a sister, Connie, and this year you’ve helped out with Grace Women Study, and have served as a Connector for those who want to volunteer in Grace Women in some way. Why do you serve in Grace Women ministry?
I serve in the Grace Women’s Ministry because, first of all, it is Biblical. (Titus 2) I know God calls us to be in relationship with each other, to share our joy and trials in our journey of faith, to be encouraged, to encourage, forming new bonds of friendship, to share in the life giving qualities of studying the Word together.
What benefits do you experience as you serve in these ways?
We are so richly blessed when we are investing in the lives of others and are privileged to see what Christ is doing as we submit to His Lordship in our lives.
It’s a new year Connie, and some women are tempted to fear the unknown in our future – for ourselves, jobs, loved ones, health...how have you overcome in this area? What encouragement would you like to give them today?
I have watched others and have personally been at the place of living life centered around “What If’s…”. My word of encouragement is in the person of Jesus Christ. My value and your value have not been of our own creation; it is of God’s. He sent Christ to redeem us. He is the God of the Universe, the Alpha and the Omega. Do we need to question His ability to “work all things together for our good” or that because of His victory over death “He always lives to intercede for us”? (Hebrews 7:25) Know that as each of us face the uncertainties of life, we have to place each of these areas into His hands and come to know He is worthy of our trust.
Connie, thank you for your friendship to me, and for opening your heart up a bit today for our women to enjoy and from it gain encouragement and strength. You are a woman of wisdom and we praise God for you!
Posted on Wed, January 30, 2013
by Heather Yates