Kelley Lane held up a large cardboard sign marked with a message in bold, black letters: “Frazzled Mom.”
She then flipped the sign around to reveal a much different point: “Free and Strong.”
Standing before a crowd of about 150 women, Kelley shared the story of transformation behind those words.
As a young mother in the early 1970s, Kelley struggled with the pressures and challenges of motherhood. “Although I loved being a stay-at-home mom, it started to block my confidence as a woman,” she admitted.
That began to change when she attended her first meeting of a Christian Women’s Club. There she met godly Stonecroft women who would become her mentors, and soon she was invited to join the local Planning Team. Serving on that team through the years, “I was exposed to opportunities of leadership and growth that I would not have had otherwise,” said Kelley, now a Women’s Connection Regional Rep in Wichita, Kansas.
“Stonecroft training has allowed me to become a better wife and mother – and a stronger woman in my world,” she said.
Kelley is one of eight Women’s Connection leaders who shared their Stonecroft stories through “cardboard testimonies” during a Stonecroft 80th anniversary celebration in Topeka, Kansas, in May. Rita Pettit, Stonecroft Regional Administrator and Chair of one of two Women’s Connections in Topeka, organized the presentation with a desire to “honor the Lord and Stonecroft” by showing how He has used this ministry to change the lives of ordinary women.
The ‘magnet’ of Stonecroft
“Cardboard testimonies” usually are given in silence with the storyteller displaying a simple “before” and “after” message, often about a life changed by Christ. But Rita asked her presenters also to tell the personal stories behind their written words.
Their stories set the tone for the later keynote address by Dr. Naomi Cramer Overton, Stonecroft President and CEO, who shared her “rally vision” of loving 1 million women toward Jesus by 2025.
For her own cardboard testimony, Rita marked the words “good life” and “abundant life” on her signs. Rita explained that she already was a dedicated Christ-follower when she attended her first Christian Women’s Club meeting in Topeka several decades ago. But Stonecroft soon became “a magnet that kept me glued to God’s Word and prayer,” she said.
Rita became Chair of her local Planning Team and later a Stonecroft Speaker and Speaker Trainer. She even got her whole family involved in Stonecroft, including her mother, sister, and daughter, Susan, who each became a Stonecroft leader. Rita’s late husband, Ed, guided Stonecroft Bible Studies as well.
Rita said she is grateful to Stonecroft volunteer leaders and staff who have “mentored, encouraged, and been good examples, pointing me in the right direction for what God had for me to do.”
‘More than a conqueror’
Deanna Roudybush, a Women’s Connection Chair and Regional Rep in Topeka, chose the words “self focus” and “others focus” for her cardboard signs. She said she began attending an After 5 group many years ago, and was invited to serve on the Planning Team. A new believer then, Deanna lacked confidence even to pray aloud in front of others. Her Stonecroft mentors encouraged her to take her eyes off herself and to instead focus on Jesus and others.
“I am still a work in progress,” Deanna said, “but Stonecroft leaders taught me how to reach out to others and not to focus on my own self except to increase my love for the Lord Jesus every day!”
For her part, Kris Driskill, Stonecroft Regional Administrator in Missouri, displayed a cardboard sign with “just a homemaker” on one side and “more than” on the other.
As a young mother, Kris was invited by a friend to a Stonecroft outreach brunch that changed her life. “I felt like I had no value in the world except to cook, clean, and take care of babies,” Kris said. “I was insecure and fearful but hid those feelings well.” God used that meeting to begin a journey that led Kris back to her Savior and a trust in His plans for her and her family.
“Stonecroft has given (the) opportunity for the Lord to use me in ways I had never imagined,” Kris said. “I’ve learned I am ‘more than’ a conqueror through Jesus Christ. (Stonecroft’s) training, friendships, and mentoring have helped mold me into the woman God designed me to be. I have gone from worrier to warrior. I am ever grateful for His mercy, and the patience of those I served with through the years.”
‘My cup overflows’
Joyce Leach, Women’s Connection Area Rep in Abilene, Kansas, selected the words “so so” and “my cup overflows” for her cardboard messages. Joyce said she was a “so so” Christian during her years as a teacher, not devoting much time to God. That began to change when a friend invited her to a Christian Women’s Club outreach after Joyce retired 17 years ago.
“I was deeply impressed by the whole event,” she said.
Soon, Joyce began attending a Stonecroft Bible Study, which led her to start spending more time in prayer and God’s Word. As she heard testimonies from other Stonecroft women, “what was shining through was God was being given the glory” in their lives, she said.
Today, Joyce introduces many other women to Stonecroft – and to her Savior – as she and fellow Planning Team members organize monthly outreach meetings in Abilene. She said she’s thankful for Mrs. Helen Duff Baugh, founder of Stonecroft, and her vision in bringing together Christian women for a common mission, rooted in prayer, 80 years ago.
“Wouldn’t she be proud of every group, of every event, organized in the name of Stonecroft?” Joyce said. “Wouldn’t she be humbled to be here today?”