At one time or another, every woman has felt overlooked, unimportant, and bruised by the world. But there’s good news. While the opinion of others may drag us down, the God who created us has an entirely different opinion of who we are. That’s because we are His creations, and everything He created is good!
Women today are searching for ways to make a difference in their daily lives. Whether they are working women, stay-at-home moms, or women moving into their retirement years, they all want to be a somebody who makes a positive impact in the world around them. The Bible is filled with “anonymous” women who made a significant impact in God’s story.
Anonymous helps women discover their uniqueness and significance to Christ by exploring some of the "anonymous" women of the Bible. Though we do not know their names, they all were known and loved by God. Each week of this six-session study begins with an overview of the anonymous woman’s story, including background material with relevance to the cultural lifestyles and surroundings of the day. The daily lessons explore her story and the ways that all women can relate to her. Contemporary “anonymous” stories and quotes from everyday women are sprinkled throughout, reinforcing the very personal relevance of this powerful study. Together women will explore and grow in their relationship with Christ as they find their significance in the heart of God.
The participant workbook includes 5 lessons for each week with space for recording reflections and answers.
Other components for the Bible study, available separately, include a Leader's Guide, DVD with six 24-29 minute sessions, and boxed Leader Kit (an all-inclusive box containing one copy of each of the Bible study’s components).
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About the Author
Cindi Wood is a sought-after speaker and Bible teacher as well as the author of Anonymous: Discovering the Somebody You Are to God, the popular Frazzled Female series, and other books and studies. Combining biblically-based teaching with humor from daily experience, she offers hope and encouragement to women of all ages and walks of life as she speaks to groups across the United States and internationally. Through her many public appearances, magazine articles, and guest interviews on TV and radio, Cindi’s committed passion and practical delivery help women to discover joyful living through a deep encounter with Jesus Christ. Cindi and her husband, Larry, live in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, and enjoy ministry partnership with their two adult sons and daughters-in-law.
Read an Excerpt
Discovering the Somebody You Are to God
By Cindi Wood
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2014 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
Shades of Anonymous
When You Feel Invisible
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."
Isaiah 30:21 NIV
Imagine you are a five-year-old filled with panic at being lost in the crowd. When I was that age, my mother and I were walking on a busy sidewalk in Charlotte, North Carolina, when my hand slipped away from her grasp on me. Immediately sensing the anguish of being un-tethered to security, my eyes focused on the back of a woman twenty feet away. I was sure she was my mom, and I began calling out and running toward her. Halfway there I heard a voice shouting from behind me, saying, "I'm here, Honey. Come back." Hearing my mom's voice quieted my pounding heart and made everything okay. She had never lost sight of me and was calling me back to her side.
My friend, earthly living can leave you feeling lost in the crowd and untethered to security, but there is One calling your name. God loves you and is calling you to walk with Him for the journey that He has planned specifically for you! I'm praying that you will hear Him call!
Our Name: Known
This week we begin our study by searching God's heart and exploring our own thoughts about our perception of anonymous. What does it look and feel like? How does God long to touch our hearts during those times when we think we are less than we really are? You'll perhaps be reminded of times when you felt nobody knew your name or cared anything about you. You'll also be reminded of others whose stories that have caused them to feel the same. And the good news for all of us is that we are known—and loved—by God!
As we prepare to explore four women from Scripture who had life-changing encounters when they came face to face with Jesus, you'll revisit your own salvation experience or journey of faith. And if you've not yet invited Jesus to be your personal Lord and Savior, you'll have the opportunity to take Him up on His gift of grace during our study time together.
This first week of Anonymous is a bit different than the others as it prepares our hearts and minds for digging into the anonymous stories to come. May you find rich blessings ahead!
[She] who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1 Amplified
This is a verse I tucked into my memory files many years ago. I often call it to mind when I need a hefty dose of God's stability to see me through a particular situation. I encourage you to write it on an index card or a note in your phone or tablet so you can keep it near for quick reference. When memorizing Scripture, I practice saying it throughout the day. I also call it to mind when I go to bed and when I get up. It's also becoming a sweet experience for me to think over it when I wake up during the night.
When I memorize a new verse or passage, I begin by taking a few words at a time, talking them over with the Lord. For this one, I spent a couple of days considering the phrase, "[She] who dwells in the secret place of the Most High." I talked to God about where His secret place is and how I dwell there.
Memorizing Scripture slowly and thoughtfully will help you find personal purpose in its meaning, and that will help you to memorize it!
Day 1: Ever Feel Anonymous?
Focus: God's Deep Love
If I speak in tongues of human beings and of angels but I don't have love, I'm a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and I know all the mysteries and everything else, and if I have such complete faith that I can move mountains but I don't have love, I'm nothing. 3 If I give away everything that I have and hand over my own body to feel good about what I've done but I don't have love, I receive no benefit whatsoever.
4 Love is patient, love is kind, it isn't jealous, it doesn't brag, it isn't arrogant, 5 it isn't rude, it doesn't seek its own advantage, it isn't irritable, it doesn't keep a record of complaints, 6 it isn't happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. 7 Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. As for prophecies, they will be brought to an end. As for tongues, they will stop. As for knowledge, it will be brought to an end. 9 We know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, what is partial will be brought to an end. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, reason like a child, think like a child. But now that I have become a man, I've put an end to childish things. 12 Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known. 13 Now faith, hope, and love remain—these three things—and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13 CEB
Years ago I was rushing to catch the connecting flight that would take me back to the comforts of my North Carolina home. It had been a sweet event for the ladies who had gathered for the weekend retreat. They had come longing to understand more about what a relationship with Jesus Christ means and how it plays out in daily living. As I left them, I was filled with sweet thoughts of how the Holy Spirit had opened eyes with understanding and filled hearts with hope—that plus a bit of anxiety that I might miss my flight. Plane doors were closing as I lighted with a determined bounce outside the pilot's cubby. It didn't even matter where I'd be sitting; I was just grateful that it was on the inside of this plane. My relief was soon replaced with an unexpected dousing of melancholy to my spirit.
"We were hoping nobody would sit here." These were the words I heard after I'd joyfully skirted down the aisle and pulled up beside the man and woman on either side of the little perch of a spot that was reserved for me for the flight home. It was a rare moment that left me with absolutely nothing to say. Oh, there were some mental retaliations that sprang to my mind, such as "Thanks for the warm welcome" and "Excuse me, your Highness," and such; but the Holy Spirit simply closed my mouth, and all in all that was a very good thing for that moment. It was good because it got me thinking about how our perception of others can be a negative anchor that plops down and settles within our souls. That was evidenced in my internal reaction to this situation. I had just come away from a fun time with girlfriends where we'd shared the love and hope of Jesus and how His joy is available for every stressful detail of life. For a few sweet days, we had enjoyed navigating the waters of His deep love. And then, with that one comment I seemed to hear, "Drop the anchor; we're going to dock here for a while!"
So, where were we docked? Smack-dab in the middle of hurt feelings and wounded ego, with a little pride swirlin' around—you know, all those feelings that in an instant can take your mind off Jesus and place it on yourself and your own importance. And then, unless you pull up anchor pretty quickly, you'll crouch down deeper in that crud of self-indulgence.
My friend, the purpose of this Bible study is to join you in your travels. Some days we find ourselves in a good place, a place of enjoying God's peace and direction in life. And we want to celebrate together the goodness of God. Other days we find ourselves hunkered down in the crud, and on those days we especially need to approach the welcoming heart of God. He has your spot reserved and longs for you to focus on Him. He wants you to allow His great love for you to override negative circumstances and negative opinions of others. He also wants you to allow Him to pull up any anchor of negativity that has weighed down your soul and clouded your vision of Him. We all have those weights of our past. It's never His plan that you live a life chained to sadness over yesterday. It's also not His plan that you live your today defined by the faulty perceptions of others—especially the perception of being anonymous.
So, let's talk about the concept of feeling anonymous. Here's our working definition for this study:
anonymous – lacking individuality, unique character, or distinction
This first week of our study is designed to get you thinking about the love that God has for you. It's a time of preparing your heart and mind for deep revelation from God. My goal is also to help you begin to identify with these four nameless women straight from the pages of God's Word. Make no mistake about it: although nameless to us, each of these real, anonymous women held a special place in the heart of God. Each of their stories is included in His Word to encourage us and empower us to live life in vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ.
I'm so excited for us to connect during the next weeks. Today's the day to begin preparing your heart to move in holy tandem with these four women who were transformed from being nobodies by earthly circumstantial definition into glorious somebodies in God's marvelous scheme of things.
Let me pray with you:
Dear heavenly Father, thank You that You are the God of the anonymous ones. I know beyond all doubt that You called this study forth in Your holy design for this time and this place. Bless the precious heart of each woman who is reading these words. Give her hope and empower her heart right now to receive the things You have in store for her. I thank You in advance, and I love You. Amen.
Now, to get your mind revolving around the theme of anonymous, respond to the following:
Have you ever felt anonymous (as defined on the previous page)?
Based on what you know about the direction of this study so far, what do you hope to gain from it?
Now, some deeper thoughts ...
Think of a time when you were hit with a random, sudden distraction that caused you to lose your focus on God's love. It could involve anything. Briefly describe that event.
Is there something or someone from your past that seems to have you anchored to lies about who you are?
Concerning that person or thing, how have you tried to find freedom?
Have you resigned yourself personally and privately to the lie that you can never be completely free from this weight emotionally?
If so, what do you think is the source of this false assumption?
What would you like to experience in your relationship with your heavenly Father during the upcoming weeks?
Talk to Him about it by writing your thoughts below or in a journal or notebook.
Dear heavenly Father, thank You that Your love is indeed my greatest possession. Keep me determined to reject the lies and remain conscientious about studying and meditating upon Your Word. I know what You say about me is true. Keep me refreshed in that reality. I love You. Amen.
Day 2: Meet the Women
Focus: Our Identity in Christ
Therefore, my brothers and sisters whom I love and miss, who are my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord.
Loved ones, 2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to come to an agreement in the Lord. 3 Yes, and I'm also asking you, loyal friend, to help these women who have struggled together with me in the ministry of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my coworkers whose names are in the scroll of life.
4 Be glad in the Lord always! Again I say, be glad! 5 Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. 6 Don't be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. 7 Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.
8 From now on, brothers and sisters, if anything is excellent and if anything is admirable, focus your thoughts on these things: all that is true, all that is holy, all that is just, all that is pure, all that is lovely, and all that is worthy of praise. 9 Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us. The God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:1-9 CEB
Over the past several months, I've retreated with four women from the New Testament. Consciously, they've been my companions during the day. And on many nights of light sleep, they've popped on the scene and engaged my mind as I entertained questions about how they felt in their daily lives and what it was like to actually see Jesus in person. It's weirdly true that on many occasions I'd peek at the clock several times during the night, excitedly looking forward to getting up to do more research and record my findings. I've never had a writing experience quite like this one. Somehow our great God just connected our hearts.
If you've experienced this kind of heart-to-heart connection with God's Word, you know firsthand how it transforms your life. If you haven't experienced it but would like to, God will make sure you have it if only you ask Him. God wants the Bible to become alive and engaging to you. It delights Him when you earnestly want to dig deeper and understand His revelations on a personal level. My prayer for you is that the weeks ahead will be a growing-in-knowledge-and-love experience between you and the sovereign God of the universe.
Throughout the study, I'll refer to these anonymous women as our girlfriends and sisters. That's because this is who they've become to me as I've investigated their lives and talked to our heavenly Father about them. It's the coolest thing how God has lifted them off the pages of Scripture and placed them before me in present-day-neighborhood familiarity. I've considered their plights and how their circumstances could have undone them, but instead, by God's mercy, they came face to face with Jesus.
To help our study along, I've given these women names so that we might identify with them as real people. Each woman's name gives a reference point of who she was when she met Jesus. Although their culture, lifestyles, and particular stories may differ from yours, you may realize you share traces of their identities.
Here they are, the women you'll meet through our study. First we'll meet Judged in the house of the Pharisee. Then we'll encounter Hurting near the shores of the Sea of Galilee. By the well in Samaria we'll be introduced to Ordinary. And finally, in Jerusalem's temple courtyard, we'll become acquainted with Shame.
We don't know for sure because it's not spelled out in Scripture, but I imagine that Judged, Hurting, Ordinary, and Shame each faced Jesus with warped identities. In other words, they had become the personification of what they were going through.
Life lends itself to that kind of thinking, you know. If you hurt long enough, you begin to view yourself as a hurting person. If you're never noticed as someone making a contribution or if you're never valued, you begin to perceive yourself as overlooked. Each of these women we'll study had some time to develop scars before she met Jesus. I think that's why I've become so intrigued and connected with them. I've had moments with every one of those scars. Here's the beautiful reality. Having a relationship with Jesus Christ dispels every other identity that holds you hostage. We can, however, cloak ourselves for so long in those false identities that we perceive them to be true.
How about you, my friend? Are there events in your past that have scarred you so deeply that you now mostly identify yourself with that situation? Or maybe something is going on with you today that is distracting you from becoming the real you in Christ. Know this: God does not define you by your current or past struggle. He defines you by who you are in Him. As we go through the weeks ahead, my prayer is that you will let go of any negative situations that you have allowed to define you and that you will come to realize your true identity in Jesus Christ. Let me pray for you right now:
Dear heavenly Father, I lift up to You my sister who is reading these words. You alone know the baggage she carries. I pray that her eyes will be opened to Your healing power and that she will embrace and live fully in her identity that is found in You. Amen.
Circle any words or phrases that might have caused you to take on a negative and false identity:
judgment of others
weight or self-image issue
With Philippians 4:1-9 as your backdrop, jot some thoughts below or in your journal. Talk to your heavenly Father about how your anxieties sometimes define how you see yourself. Ask Him to show you how to become refreshed in the reality of who you are in Him.
Excerpted from Anonymous by Cindi Wood. Copyright © 2014 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsIntroduction: Your Personal Invitation with R.S.V.P,
Week 1: Shades of Anonymous When You Feel Invisible,
Week 2: The Woman Who Anointed Jesus When You Are Judged,
Week 3: The Woman with the Issue of Blood When You Are Tired of Hurting,
Week 4: The Woman at the Well When You Feel Ordinary,
Week 5: The Woman Who Committed Adultery When You Are Burdened with Shame,
Week 6: Rhythm of Grace New Name, New Identity,