a well-watered woman
Terri Shaver is an active member of our online community. She recently completed the Walk in Grace: Ephesians study with the community, and we asked her to share a little more about herself and her walk with the Lord as a fellow Well-Watered Woman.
Introduce yourself as if we were on a coffee date! Tell us about yourself. Would you be drinking coffee or tea?
I’m Terri Shaver, 62-year-old wife, mom of four, and Busia (“grandmother” in Polish) to six grandchildren, age five and under! We live on a small 17-acre farm in mid-Michigan with our dog Charlie and 12 chickens.
Definitely coffee! With a lot of cream and sweetener!
Life is crazy-busy with my own interests and being the best Busia I can be! I was an RN for 23 years before going back to photography school at almost age 50. I was a professional photographer, working for a couple magazines for about 11 years, during which time I started a non-profit organization, photographing men, women, and children undergoing treatment for cancers and other life-threatening illnesses. I have since retired from the Executive Director position and am now just a volunteer photographer for the organization. I have many hobbies: sewing, knitting, and gardening primarily. I’m a “crafter” and have been my whole life. I’ve done every craft, from ceramics and macramé back in the ‘70s, to decoupage, stained glass, and dried flower arrangements. Since retirement, though, I’ve had to narrow down to my primary three: my garden, sewing, and knitting … mostly knitting socks.
When did you start following Jesus?
My husband and I lost a daughter, Lindsey, at birth. She died sometime during early labor. This was back in the early ‘80s when monitors weren’t the normal procedure and early labor seemed uneventful. She was perfect and beautiful in every way … just born still. I had a nurse friend who was pregnant at the same time I was. Two weeks before Lindsey was born, she had a son. Cindy was a strong believer and reached out to me after Lindsey died. She invited me to her home and, on occasion, asked us to babysit Luke, her son. Now, some might think that cruel, but God knew what I needed. I had “empty arms,” and holding a baby was what I needed to heal. She eventually invited us to church, which we started attending regularly, but it wasn’t until months later at a small group evening that both my husband and I prayed to receive Christ as our Lord. That was February 1, 1984.
What is your definition of a well-watered woman?
When I think of “well-watered,” my mind immediately goes to my garden. I’ve had vegetable gardens for more than 40 years, and I know how important water is to what I’m growing. Without water, things die. So, when I consider a “well-watered woman,” I see a woman who is regularly going to the “well” of life, the Savior. Drinking regularly from the “fount of living water.” She is nourished and growing in her faith, much as my plants flourish and grow strong with water and nourishment. Jesus is the water and the Holy Spirit is the fertilizer. As we are filled with the Word and strengthened, nourished, and challenged by the Holy Spirit, we grow and produce the fruit in our lives that will draw others to the throne of Jesus.
How do you give Jesus the first moments of your day?
Regularly. Period. I know that if I miss a day without my morning quiet time, my day isn’t the same, and it would be so much easier to miss a second, and then a third. I have a Bible reading program on my phone, which gets me reading the entire Bible during the year. I’ve read through it entirely for several years now. It’s just how I start my quiet time. I usually am involved in some sort of a Bible study constantly as well. I find it keeps me in the Word, digging deeper and learning more. So I may work on a current study, journaling what I’m learning. I’ve been Bible journaling since the “craze” began several years ago, but don’t journal in my Bible. I keep a separate journal, that I use to document what I’m learning with prayers and messages to my grandchildren. I’ve created a small pile of journals to date, and hope to keep it up for years to come. It’s interesting to look back and see answers to prayers and see where I’ve grown spiritually. Since I’ve always been an artsy person, my journals are full of colorful drawings, paintings, and playful handwriting.
What sort of spiritual season do you find yourself in now? What verses are you clinging to in this season?
When I retired in 2014, I found myself wondering what God had for me in this next and probably last season of my life. I knew time was precious and that I’d have to make it count. I prayed and honestly felt God tell me that my time was to be spent building a spiritual legacy for my grandchildren. For them to learn from me about God and to physically illustrate God’s love for them. So, that’s when I started the journaling books, leaving behind my thoughts, prayers, and what the Lord was teaching me at the time. Now that the oldest of my grandchildren is five, I want to start Scripture memory with her. She’s a sharp little girl and I know she’ll learn easily! We do spend a lot of time together and I want her to see Jesus at work in me.
Personally, this is a difficult season for me. For the last four years, I’ve been caring for sick elderly parents and faced the loss of my mother. Being the family nurse, I’m the one who usually is called and is the primary caregiver. This has all been mentally and physically exhausting, and this spring I found myself in a deep depression. Digging out from this hasn’t been easy, but early on, I heard from the Lord to “hide in the shadow of His wing” (Ps. 17:8), which I’ve been doing. Finding comfort and now a little light on the other side, I’ve been clinging to verses of comfort and reassurance that He “will never leave me or forsake me” (Deut. 31:6).
What intentional daily habits help you remain rooted deeply in the Word of God?
My morning quiet time in the Word and prayer are non-negotiable. Even when we’re traveling or camping or whatever, I make time for daily reading of the Word and I’m usually involved in some sort of Bible study, either in a group setting or on my own. If not, I have several favorite teachers and I’ll listen to a teaching through YouTube or a podcast. I have to have some sort of teaching. It keeps me thinking and meditating on what I hear. Especially now, working out of this depression, I’ve become even more dependent, and am currently working through a study by Sheila Walsh called In the Middle of the Mess. I frequently journal or illustrate something that God is teaching me with drawing, watercolor, or lettering a verse.
Worship through song is another crucial daily activity. I always have Christian music playing, either my playlist on my phone or the local Christian radio station. I sing along loudly, even though I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Worship can make my day go from good to great or on those days lately, when it’s tough to get one foot in front of the other, take me from dark to light. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of worship—singing to the Lord songs of praise, singing love songs to Him, singing Scripture to Him. He loves the sound of our worship and He is worthy of all we can offer.
A few years ago, my husband and I decided to establish a Sabbath Day in our home. Sunday is always a busy day with church and our growing families who only have weekends to visit or be involved, so we chose Thursday as our Sabbath Day. We don’t do any work that day, but have our own quiet times, then come together as a couple to pray together and have communion. We spend the day at rest, reading or doing enjoyable things that don’t include work. We are not legalistic about it, but Thursdays are important and we try as best we can to not schedule anything on that day. It works well for us and we both look forward to Thursday’s arrival each week.
Who is a "well-watered mentor" or example in your life, and how has she helped you become a well-watered woman?
There have been many through the years, in different seasons, but one remains the longest: my best friend Cindy, who walked with me to the place where I committed my life to the Lord. She was with me through the death of our baby, and still to this day challenges me personally and spiritually to dig deeper, to be more, and to be inquisitive. We have lived through having and raising our children, to growing our marriages to be stronger, through illness and tragedy, and now through the deaths of our parents. She is full of wisdom and brings a calm to my life. I love her dearly and often look to her for wisdom and encouragement.
What books are you currently reading, or have recently read, and would recommend to our community?
I always have a couple different books going at once. Some I need to read slowly and digest over long periods of time, like the one I’m reading now, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver. I started it when I discovered I was walking down the path of depression. I was trying to spin too many plates for too many people, carrying burdens I was never meant to carry. This book has me sitting at the feet of Jesus, getting all I can from Him. It’s caused me to slow down, make different choices, and take down all the plates for a while.
I’m also just starting a book by Gary Thomas called Cherish. I’m always interested in making my marriage even better with better communication.
A couple years ago, my sweet husband built me a greenhouse that has a small corner where I’ve placed a rocker and a table. Here is where I find the greatest peace and quiet and time to read. In the early spring, though it may be cold outside here in Michigan, it’s warm inside and I find great comfort among the growing plants. They constantly remind me of God’s faithfulness. The simple act of placing a seed in the ground and watching it grow into something much bigger that itself is simply a miracle. He is faithful in growing us into more than we can ever imagine.
If you could tell every woman on this blog one piece of wisdom, what would it be?
I guess it’s multiple things: keep your heart turned toward the Lord. Always keep looking up. The enemy will do anything to take our eyes off Him, whether it’s acquiring things, busyness, jobs, or illnesses. Try your hardest to spend time with Him daily, even if it’s just a few minutes in prayer. It’s the most important thing and you can pray anywhere, anytime—driving to work or to pick up or drop off kids. But pray.
Devote time to your spouse if you’re a wife. Be attentive to his needs, respect him, and care for him. You’ll be a couple a lot longer than you’ll be raising children. Make sure you have mutual interests as well as your own. You’ll spend a lot of years alone together after children are gone. Make sure you have things to do together and are able to communicate.