When Abingdon Women suggested that you “Send a Friend Sailing” on our Your Life, Your Faith cruise retreat, we had no way of knowing just how many incredible women we would meet thanks to your submissions. Selecting just one of them to join us―when each was so deserving―was exceptionally difficult. We read stories of missionaries, church leaders, and spiritual mentors. We heard of teachers, witnesses, and sources of strength. “The living grace of God,” “selfless,” “strong,” and “encouraging” were just a few of the ways you described these women.  Most are caregivers or survivors, and sometimes they’re both.

The winner of the Abingdon Women Your Life, Your Faith cruise retreat, selected by a panel of our authors, is Rosalind Shirley from Arlington, Texas, a member of St. Barnabus United Methodist Church. Ros was nominated by three friends and fellow church members, Pennie Boyett, Callie Henicke and Sue Lawless.  In her submission, Ms. Boyett shares the following:

When her husband had a stroke almost seven years ago, Ros Shirley’s life turned upside down. But rather than isolate herself and say, 'poor me,' she created these incredible groups of women – a Sunday school class, a weekly Bible study, and an informal group called Ladies on the Go who rent a bus and take day trips several times a year. I’m in the Sunday school class and know what it has meant to the 20 or so women who are in it. We laugh, we cry, we pray for each other, we celebrate birthdays, we welcome new people, we watch faith and friendships grow―and Ros was the catalyst. Yes, she is exhausted by being a caretaker and she will enjoy the rest and renewal on the cruise, but don’t be surprised if she brings people together in all sorts of surprising ways!

Ms. Lawless adds, “Ros never complains and is a source of inspiration to us all,” and friend Callie Henicke writes, “Ros has brought the light of Christ into all of our lives...ensuring we take care of each other and those outside the walls of our church.”

Susan Salley, Associate Publisher of Ministry Resources, Abingdon Press, had the pleasure of sharing the good news with Ros:

On Friday, I called Penny Boyette to let her know that Ros was the winner and to talk about the best way to contact her. As it happened, her church was hosting a 100-woman Mother’s Day brunch. They arranged for me to call in and wait on the phone while they called her up as a door prize winner. The whole room just exploded with cheers when they heard Ros was going to be our guest on the Abingdon Women’s Cruise!

Ros was “surprised, honored and grateful” to have been selected for the cruise retreat. She says:

I am overwhelmed that my caring and generous friends have helped make this happen. These have been difficult years, but God has carried me, sometimes dragged me, through this experience and brought me safely to a place of peace and comfort that sustains and strengthens me. I look forward to meeting and spending time with other women of faith on this special cruise.”

The St. Barnabus UMC women who nominated Ros shared how they came to know about the cruise giveaway: “Our group attended the Abingdon Women Your Life, Your Faith event at Arborlawn UMC in Fort Worth, Texas last May. There we met Babbie Mason, Jessica LaGrone and Kim Reisman and signed up for the Abingdon Women newsletter. Almost a year later, we saw the Send a Friend Sailing announcement in that newsletter.” Ros notes, “After meeting the authors at the conference at Arborlawn UMC, our Sunday School class has completed their Bible studies and the women came back 'on fire!’”

In the coming months, we will share on our blog the inspiring stories of other deserving women who were nominated for this sailing get-away.  To learn more about the Abingdon Women Your Life, Your Faith cruise retreat, featuring Babbie Mason, Jessica LaGrone and Melissa Spoelstra, please visit our website

(Main photo: Sue Lawless, Pennie Boyett, Ros Shirley, Callie Henicke) 

(Thumbnail photo: Ros Shirley and her daughter, Kristi Shirley Johnson who will accompany her on the cruise.)

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