“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.”
Women Together is a group that welcomes women of all ages and backgrounds from across All Saints Church in Lindfield.
Meeting throughout the year, our events are a great opportunity to meet new friends, build relationships, to support and encourage each other and to deepen our relationship with Jesus. Some events are great to invite our non-Christian friends in the community to. We believe that God has a purpose for every woman in his church, regardless of the stage of life they are in.
We would love to welcome you at any of our events.
Women Together Newsletter - June 2020 (PDF)
Women Together Programme - 2019-2020
Interview with Carmen Payne, September 2020
Written Summary of Interview
I [Antonia Easley] asked Carmen to introduce herself
Carmen is married to Jonny, our youth pastor. They have a daughter Eleanor who is 18 months old. She is American but spent her teenage years living in Israel. She studied for 4 years in London, training to be an osteopath, which is where she met Jonny.
I asked Carmen how the last six months, since Covid restrictions, have been for her.
She said it has been hard being so far away from family, and having no-one to take over care of Eleanor for a while to give her respite. But that the extended time with Jonny being around more had given them time to bed in as a young family. Carmen has enjoyed growing things and lots of videocalls with her parents.
I asked Carmen to briefly outline the changes she has experienced over the last few years.
Carmen and Jonny got engaged and hoped to be married in 2016. On finishing studying she returned to the States. It turned out to be a much longer wait than expected and they were finally married in 2018. Carmen then left home, married and arrived in a new community, and a year later Eleanor was born.
Changes involves new things, so I asked Carmen what were the things she felt God had added to her, the things she was celebrating over this period of change.
Carmen said she is most of all celebrating a wonderful, kind hearted husband; a happy little girl and lots of new friendships.
Less talked about is the loss associated with change. I asked Carmen if there were things she felt she had lost alongside the gains of the last few years.
She talked of the loss of being so far away from her family. Carmen uprooted from good friends, two jobs and colleagues and exchanged all of that for a place where she knew no-one, couldn’t work and couldn’t drive.
I asked Carmen to talk a bit more about the emotional rollercoaster of the last few years.
Carmen and Jonny had a long two and a half years of living opposite sides of the Atlantic Ocean waiting to be married. They went one six month stretch without seeing each other at all. The pain of separation, the frustration of waiting and the uncertainty of not knowing when it would be over were all really painful.
Jonny had to change direction in order to earn enough money to apply for a visa for Carmen. So there was sadness and frustration on this front too.
Finally it was possible to apply for a visa and make wedding plans, so this was a period of excitement and moving forwards. But this soon turned to more intense uncertainty and a complete sense of helplessness as the visa was not forth-coming. On top of that, the stress of organizing a wedding from across the world, while still not having confirmation that it could happen.
It was a time of really crying out to God. Carmen’s initial flight she had booked to come to the UK had to be cancelled as the visa still hadn’t been granted.
It all came together with literally a few days to spare and Jonny and Carmen were finally married.
Having lived with a big physical distance for all that time, there was a lot of sudden adjusting to do, now that they were living together. Although Carmen says that they had at least developed good communication.
Then into the challenge of meeting new people and making a new home, Carmen got pregnant and had to deal with bad morning sickness.
A bit further down the road, after Eleanor was born, Jonny and Carmen started to realize that she wasn’t doing so well mentally and emotionally and that she had post-natal depression. It wasn’t something she told people about, although she is grateful for people who were so kind even though they didn’t know. Being unwell like this took her off guard, it was unexpected and out of character for her to feel that way. Recognizing “I don’t laugh anymore” was hard. There was also an extra layer of complication with the guilt she felt. “I should be feeling happy.” Counselling for a few months helped to turn things around and helped her see the toll of the previous years of change and stress.
I asked Carmen what she had learned about herself through all of this.
“That I’m rubbish at identifying what I’m feeling” Carmen said. That it’s hard to admit that she’s struggling, that she just wanted to get on with it. She’s learnt that it's ok to need help and that actually everyone loves to help. She’s found that you can hold sadness alongside happiness, that you can be both at the same time.
I asked her what had helped her over the last years.
Carmen spoke of the preciousness of supportive Christian friends who will pray for you. Learning to hold on to the knowledge that God is always there and always in control has also helped her keep going. Our circumstances don’t change who he is or who we are to him. He still loves and accepts us whatever is going on.
Developing this I asked what God has shown her of himself.
Carmen answered that God is always good, even when circumstances are not. He is never worried, or caught off-guard by turns in events. He is sovereign.
To us unplanned seasons can feel like a waste of time, while we wait to get on with the proper plan. But Carmen says God has shown her that he has a purpose for the here and now.
Finally, I asked Carmen what she might say to someone else who was struggling with the impact of change.
Carmen wanted to reiterate about trusting in God’s sovereignty and his trustworthiness, although your feelings may not change and you may not always understand.
She wanted to remind people that it’s ok not to be ok and that God doesn’t expect us to have it all together. It’s right to let him into the worries and pain.
If you have not been to one of our events before or if you are new to All Saints, please do speak to one of our committee who would be delighted to tell you more about us:
Antonia Easley (Chair)
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