Women's Center for Ministry Newsletter 
March 2020
In this issue:
-Summer 2020 Women's Transformational Leadership Class!
  Learn how you can audit WL503
-Devotional: Psalm 62:8
  by Michelle Ruetschle of Sunset Presbyterian Church in Portlannd, OR
-Buckets and Barrels 
  an article by Dionne Joseph
-Lifted Hands
  a poem by Leanne Stanton
-A Love Like No Other
  an article by Robin Mounce

Feeling anxious during this pandemic? We have designed this newsletter to bring you comfort and encouragement during the Coronavirus. We are praying for you, hoping you will sit in your favorite chair by a window or the fireplace with a cup of coffee and ENJOY!  Let the music begin!     

Women's Transformational Leadership (WL) Summer 2020 Class!
Learn more about WL503

Longing to be connected to other women during the Coronavirus crisis and be growing in your faith?  Here’s a great alternative! This class will be taught by ZOOM, right from the comfort of your own home.  Don’t miss out on this golden opportunity! 

WL 503 // Women in Pain, Part 2
Revisiting additional aspects of emotional pain in women’s lives, this course enables an increased awareness of pain through biblical experience and the lives of women today. Students will identify tools of compassionate, effective, and strategic pastoral care. They will learn about local resources for those in pain and/or their caregivers, how to make appropriate referrals, and how to understand empathic listening and presence. Issues discussed will include miscarriage, child death, infertility, parents in pain, religious abuse, physical disabilities, chronic pain, and homelessness. In addition to the in-class topics, other issues students may choose to explore via a reflection/research paper could include terminal illness, military families, and incarcerated women. 1 credit.
  • Graduate Credit Application Deadline: March 1
  • Graduate Credit Class Registration Deadline: March 30
  • Cost for Graduate Credit: $600
  • Application: If you have not yet applied to Western Seminary, you can do so on our website, or by clicking this link here 

  • Prerequisite: High school diploma or GED
  • Application and Registration due: the week before class starts.
  • Cost to Audit: $130
  • To Enroll: Click Here! (This option allows you to take classes for audit OR to earn a certificate).
Instructor:  Marie Dezellem
Location:  Western Seminary Portland Campus
                   5511 SE Hawthorne Blvd
                   Portland, OR 97215
Dates:   June 5 & 6, 2020
              9:00am - 4:30pm
Devotional: Psalm 62:8
by Michelle Ruetschle of Sunset Presbyterian Church in Portland, OR
A refuge is a place of safety, a shelter from a storm, a fortress in a battle, a hiding place amidst persecution. But a refuge can also be a safe relationship, a person who knows and accepts and loves you, the person you trust with your most private thoughts. While a shelter might protect you from a storm, it’s the embrace of a person as it rages that brings true comfort.  A fortress is a true defense, but it can be a cold and unwelcoming place without a fellow soldier. A hiding place, while secure, can be desperately lonely without a companion.

David, a true soldier, describes God with images of strength and protection: a rock, a fortress and a refuge.  These images might tempt us to imagine God as an impersonal fortification, hard and strong and dependable but detached.  That is, until we are told that we should pour out our hearts before him.  Now we know that David is talking about a different kind of refuge.  God is not just the cold walls that offer us protection in storms and battles and persecution.  God is the listening ear, the shining face, the warm embrace that sits with us as the thunder rolls and the arrows fall.
David begins the psalm by saying, for God alone my soul waits.  God is his person, his soul’s home, the place where he pours out his heart.  Every drop of anguish, every anxiety, every unruly thought and emotion can safely flow, the soul tipped so that all is discharged before his loving gaze.  More than mere walls of shelter, we need a safe and familiar place to bring our souls when life is hard.  Our God is that safe relationship, our soul’s true home, the one who will offer us perfect love, true wisdom, utter grace.

I imagine the weary traveler who arrives home as night is falling.  She sees the familiar shape of the house and her heart warms at the known angles, the way the path shifts upward and slightly to the left as it approaches the door, the way the trees lean in toward the roof, as if in conversation.  But it’s the windows that draw her in, the silhouette of a mother or a husband or a child, the warmth of the lights that say that someone is home.
God’s lights are on.  He is waiting for you to come inside, not just for food for your body, not just for safety from the storm, but for a long conversation, a kind smile, a listening ear, a warm embrace.  He is your familiar place of safety.  He is your heart’s true home.

What is a place that you’ve loved, a place where you have felt safe?  Imagine meeting there with God today.  Imagine the warmth of his presence lighting up the space.  Tip your soul and pour out its contents before his loving gaze.  Talk to him about anything.  He is both safe and trustworthy to listen.

Abba Father, thank you that you are a safe refuge for our hearts, a place where we can come when our lives feel unstable, when our souls need a safe haven.   Help us to trust you with our real thoughts and emotions, to talk to you, to know that you are truly present.  We love you.  Amen.


Having grown up in seven countries across three continents, Michelle Ruetschle considers herself a true global nomad.  Despite a brief career as an attorney, she finds her current endeavors raising three sons, teaching bible studies and being a pastor’s wife equally fulfilling.  Michelle loves books, film, photography and travel but finds her greatest adventures involve her lifelong discipleship journey with Christ.  In 2010, these adventures took a particularly challenging turn in the form of her husband’s tragic motorcycle accident and the long road of recovery from quadriplegia. Out of that experience, she penned her book, Forty: The Year My Husband Became a Quadriplegic, available on Amazon.

Buckets and Barrels
an article by Dionne Joseph
It is difficult for creature to learn the ways of Creator. Like a child with a pail at the ocean trying to move the whole of the sea into a hole she created in the sand—it doesn’t fit. If such revelation were to successfully occur, it could only be through great pains taken by Creator to reveal something of himself to creature. Small doses that would be absorbed—not lost to overflow.

In one sense then, a scoop of the knowledge of God is enough. Enough to transform our hearts and change our minds. But only at first. Just as sand soaks up sea and remains thirsty for more—so do parched souls, once woken, cry out for spiritual saturation and cleansing because in this case, enough isn’t enough.

I have a friend who lives with her family on the other side of the world serving survivors of war and famine in the name of Jesus—sharing the burden of trauma alongside the foreign-familiar. And other friends, content with Bible study in cozy homes and tender messages about how much Jesus loves them. And I wonder, how does one risk everything and another, nothing yet both believe they’re living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God?

And I’m the latter. I love Jesus but want to mitigate risk. Why give Jesus all—if a portion is enough?

What a creature-thought! The Spirit has been poured out, like an ocean, on sheep who answer to Israel’s Shepherd: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

I may find inspiration from some neighbors and misunderstand others—but this is not my primary responsibility. Do I hear his voice? Do I obey the call on my life? These are the questions I ought to ask because, who am I to pass judgement on God’s servants? It is before God they will stand or fall—and God has the power to make them stand.  (Romans 14:4)

We are to offer our whole selves as living sacrifices that are holy and acceptable to God. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are to recognize the will of God in our lives and walk in it. But even this is grace-gift from above. And the faith by which we lay ahold of the power to offer, transform and perceive---it’s according to the measure of faith God has assigned. (Romans 12)

Some Christians are given a bucket of faith and others a barrel—but let us not be satisfied with one serving!  We’re to encourage one another—daily, so that we’re not reduced to steel-hearted, self-pleasers who live like every knee won’t bow and every tongue won’t confess.

Press on to the know the Lord. Let us be like sand, ground fine by years of ocean washing, enduring cycles drying-up and soaking-in, always hopeful for more.

Known as "Auntie-Mom" to the children she meets through a ministry of foster care, Dionne Joseph is a writer, advocate and conference speaker who lives on mission with her family near Seattle, WA.  She loves encouraging women to pursue Jesus, the source and sustainer of all the purpose, satisfaction and rest our souls crave. Join her at .

Lifted Hands
a poem by Leanne Stanton

Silence the ringing in your head,

Tune into my voice instead.


There are things I wish to tell you,

There are great heights I wish for you to tread.


There are longings in your heart,

I wish to raise them from the dead.


All your fears, I hear them.

I am saddened by your dread.


If you would lift them up to me,

My peace will follow you to bed.


I am speaking but you cannot hear,

Over the distraction you permit inside your head.


Come to me, you weary and you burdened.

Lay your covering down.


Step under my great feathers,

I long to clothe you with your heavenly gown.


Give me your ashes,

To you I bestow a crown.


Lift up your praises,

And your enemies I’ll drown.


Reach up your hands,

I will not let you down.

Leanne Stanton is a preschool teacher at a Christian center and does ABA therapy for children with autism. She is incredibly passionate about helping families find new ways to communicate with and understand their children. She wholeheartedly pours into her work teaching children about God's love for them, and finds it both deeply rewarding and challenging. 

God's Word and His Truth will Pierce our Emotions
an article by Robin Mounce


“The  precepts of the Lord are right,

giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the Lord are radiant,

giving light to the eyes.”


               Not long ago I was listening to Dr. Laura, a psychologist who has a Sirius talk show.   She is direct and straightforward as she interacts with the caller, and she can be quite aggressive in her advice.  Normally, her advice is sound and healthy; I have listened to her for over 20 years.  As I was listening to this call, the caller was quite emotional as  she described her heartache in great detail.  Dr. Laura stopped her mid-sentence and told her to “stop with the emotions! You are getting all worked up and your mind is going places that it does not need to go.  We are not going to proceed until you get your emotions under control.”  

               Dr. Laura explained that our emotions can encourage us to lose perspective, and we will make decisions based on emotions instead of what is the reality of the situation.   I sat and thought about her advice and asked myself,  “How do my emotions govern the way I make decisions and skew my thinking; do I lose track of reality?”

               Recently I was reading Psalm 33 and stumbled upon verse 4.  “The word of the Lord is right and true;  he is faithful in all he does.”  I centered on the phrase “the word of the Lord is right and true.”  I started asking the question, “How does the right and true word of the Lord pierce my emotions?  How do I gain God’s perspective in the midst of an emotional situation?  What does his truth look like in the middle of my emotions when I am distressed about a situation or when I have no answers to the questions that befuddle me?  What is your truth in all this, Lord?”  

               As I dug into the passage,  I cross referenced the verse and went to  Psalm 19:8.   It illuminated Psalm 33:4 and clarified my question,  “How does God’s Word and His Truth pierce my emotions?”


“The  precepts of the Lord are right,

giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the Lord are radiant,

giving light to the eyes.”


               God’s precepts and commands are founded in righteousness. As D.A. Carson so eloquently writes, “The law of the Lord is perfect, trustworthy, right, pure, righteous, radiant, reviving the soul, making wise the simple, giving joy to the heart, enduring forever, more precious than gold, sweeter than honey, warning, promising great reward.”  Why would I depend on or allow my emotions to get out of control?  Why would I make a decision that is not based in God’s truth?  I need to “stop with the emotions,” and depend on the truth of God and his word.

Robin Mounce has walked with the Lord for over 50 years. While she does not always enjoy the process of sanctification, God has taught her that his healing is what keeps her intimately walking with him. Robin has mentored and discipled many women, including future pastor’s wives at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary (Boston) and at Western Seminary (Portland), and taught many Bible studies. She recently opened a coaching ministry,, that helps women who are experiencing personal, marital, or professional transition and are looking for a new vision for their lives. Robin has been married 33 years and has three adult children.

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Women's Center for Ministry at Western Seminary

Phyllis Bennett, Director
Amanda Zentz, Administrative Assistant
Phone: 503.517.1931
Fax: 503.517.1889

5511 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, OR 97215

The opinions expressed by the various authors in this newsletter do not necessarily represent those of Western Seminary. We provide information on an as-is basis. We make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this blog, nor will we be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its use.
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