Firstfruits began with an idea: How could women’s needs to gather with other women, experience God’s love and go forth more centered on their own giftedness and purpose be met? Then the Holy Spirit stepped in and something powerful happened!
In the beginning … Firstfruits began as a vision for a women’s ministry whose purpose was to gather women to experience God’s love. And as a result, be transformed!

As word spread about this unique opportunity, other parishes became interested in hosting a Firstfruits gathering. It became apparent to the founders of Firstfruits that this “gathering” needed to be moveable. We became known as a moveable feast of spiritual opportunities for women.

Real Beauty

If I asked you to describe yourself in one word, what would I hear? Short, round, tired, or scattered? Maybe on a good day I would hear smart, fun, caring, or successful. I bet my new hand mixer (see previous blog) that no one would use the word “captivating” to describe themselves.

That word has been on my mind a lot lately as I am reading through the book entitled Captivating by John and Staci Eldredge in anticipation of the Lenten series Tom and Carol Sullivan will be facilitating for men and women at Firstfruits in March.

I looked up the word “captivating” and it means “charming” or “capable of attracting.” Not top on your list of personal attributes?

According to the book, the feminine heart was wired by God to desire just that. To unveil a beauty to the world that is unique and capable of attracting. And I don’t mean The Bachelor television show kind of attracting. We long to be loved and treasured for the beauty that is each one of us. To be precious and enough. To be captivating just as we are.

But the world does a great job of breaking our hearts and if we allow it, making us feel less than adequate. Our precious, perfect, unique God given beauty gets buried under the messages we get from the world. And its starting younger and younger as the messages bombard us from everywhere.

Maybe that is why I received that random phone call eight years ago. It was a week before the very first Firstfruits gathering and I was praying about what I was going to get up and talk about as I welcomed the women who would be in attendance that morning. The phone rang and it was Fr. Don Zerkel. I had no idea who he was. He said he had seen an advertisement in the Catholic Herald about Firstfruits women’s retreats. (To this day I don’t know how that ad got in the Herald.) He said that as he was doing his daily prayers, the book of Ezekiel came to mind , in particular Chapter 16, verses 8-14 and he felt compelled to call me. He then said “Well, the ball is in your court now, God bless.” And hung up.

Of course I ran to get my bible and read those verses. They were perfect. I encourage you to read them sometime. The last verse is the one we need to memorize and tell ourselves every morning when we look in the mirror.

You were renowned among the nations for your beauty,
perfect as it was, because of my splendor
which I had bestowed on you, says the Lord God.


The splendor of God has been bestowed on each of us. The definition of splendor is magnificence, brilliance, or gorgeous appearance. All this has been bestowed on you and on me. We are magnificent, brilliant, and gorgeous not because of anything we apply, moisturize, or tuck but because of God.

When we put our sense of adequacy in the hands of other human beings our hearts will be broken. Safe in the hands of God it can be healed. It can know real love and give real love as a result. It will just overflow from a heart that knows it is captivating!

Inside all of us is that little girl we see in the opening picture longing for someone to love us just as we are. To look in our eyes and feel sheer delight reflected back. Let God be that someone.

You might be wondering, did I ever hear from Fr. Don again? A few years ago I went to the funeral of my dear friend and Firstfruits partner in crime, Mary Stachowiak’s, sister. Guess who presided at the funeral? Fr. Don Zerkel. Turns out he was one of Mary’s sister’s best friends. And I didn’t even know Mary back when I got that call.

Don’t you love how God works!

A fellow-captivating woman,


Joan Carey, Firstfruits executive director, is an author and speaker with a passion for helping women grow in their relationships with God. Her Ponder This book contains a series of modern day parables sure to get you thinking about and seeing our extraordinary God in our ordinary experiences. Joan invites you to use resources on this website for daily reflection in your journey to grow in God's loving care for you.
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