By Alex Davis
When I attended the kickoff event for Restored Ministry’s second year, I was struck by the great variety of women in attendance. They haled from all different places and walks of life: women with grown children, women with young children, women without any children at all, married women, single women. The common thread binding us all, aside from our faith and our status as professionals, was the desire to connect with, learn from, grow with, and encourage other women. That desire was a tangible, powerful force in the room.
Restored is an organization that purposefully equips women with the tools to walk through their callings as mothers, wives, and professionals by providing an affirming and supportive community. Additionally, it offers a fresh perspective on working motherhood and departs from the outdated dialogue about women who work: that we have to choose between family and our jobs, between happiness and success, between being there for our children and excelling at what we do professionally. While we may not be able to have it “all,” we can have all of the things that matter most to us – and we can serve uniquely as moms who also work.
The 2018 kickoff event featured two speakers – both women with decades of business experience and a encouraging, empowering perspective on work. The first speaker, a wellness coach and mom to three, discussed the “six dimensions of wellness” – a theory on nurturing all parts of ourselves from the physical and occupational to the spiritual and emotional. The second speaker shared advice on using the workplace as an opportunity to love people well and to share Gospel truth. “You cant overflow if you’re empty,” she explained as she emphasized the need for busy women to nurture themselves first in order to successfully support and minister to others. Throughout the two talks and the Q&A session that followed, the tone in the room was constantly encouraging and even though I am not yet a mother, I still felt that my voice and presence was welcome. Being surrounded by women who are trying to take the world by storm through simply living out what they’ve been called to do and embracing who they’ve been called to be was empowering and soul-refreshing.
I was so fortunate to meet and interview the Executive Director of Restored, Allie Roepe, and to steal an inside glance at the formation and growth of this powerful ministry.
Alex Davis: Tell us a little about yourself and your career path. What did you do professionally before starting Restored?
Allie Roepe: After graduating from the University of Florida with a degree in Elementary Education, I was met with a hiring freeze in the midst of the Great Recession. Since teaching was not a viable option, I took a job selling new homes. My experience in sales led to a 10-year career in the human resources and payroll sales industry. I chose to leave the corporate world in June 2017 to lead Restored and focus on my recently re-branded photography business, Crafted Photography.
AD: When did you first feel the call to start Restored?
AR: I don’t really remember the exact single moment that God placed the call on my heart. There wasn’t a burning bush or a bold sign – just a quiet whisper and nudging from Him in my heart to create a place where women like me could join with other working moms to learn about Him, feel welcome, and find community. It’s safe to say that God began to nudge me during my quiet time in the winter of 2016 and continued building a dream into early spring of 2017.
AD: Have you always felt a pull toward ministry?
AR: Actually, no. It was never something I had really considered prior to starting Restored. I didn’t grow up in a Christian family, and I don’t have any church leadership or ministry background. In fact, these were some of the things that made me feel ill-equipped and hesitant to lead a ministry, but through studying God’s word and listening to much wise counsel, I quickly learned that God loves to use the most “unlikely” people to further His kingdom and spread His love to others. The way the Lord has called me to this ministry, and subsequently equipped me, has been one of the biggest examples of His sovereignty and faithfulness in my life.
AD: In that same vein, have you always had a heart for ministering to women?
AR: I would say that I’ve always had a passion for connecting with others. In both my personal and professional lives, I always chose environments where I could connect and communicate openly and enthusiastically with others. I thrive in social situations and love to uplift and encourage other women. So creating this in a ministry setting was a natural extension of my spiritual giftings.
AD: What experiences in your life made you feel like we needed to start a new dialogue about the role of working moms in the Church and society?
AR: The biggest experience was the feeling of loneliness and isolation I felt as a working mom. When I was pregnant with my daughter and during the first challenging year of motherhood I felt like the “only” mom who worked, which I know logically is impossible since more than 70% of mothers now work outside the home. Every class, program or social gathering for new and young moms was on a weekday morning or during a time that wouldn’t accommodate a working schedule.
I am all for Christian programing that accommodates moms who stay home with their children and for those with flexible schedules. We need those programs, too! However, society hasn’t really “caught up” to the new reality of modern American families. We need to do a better job of meeting moms who work where they are by offering Christian resources, programing, community and encouragement at appropriate times because they are so hungry for it.
AD: Tell us more about Restored. What is its mission?
AR: Our mission is to purposefully equip professional moms for life at work and at home. We are committed to creating welcoming atmospheres that encourage moms in the workplace to engage with each other and learn from peers. We seek to fulfill the significant gap that exists in church programming for moms who work outside the home by providing encouraging, uplifting, biblically-based opportunities for connection at times that will work with busy schedules.
AD: What is the day-to-day of running a nonprofit like?
AR: Every single day is different, which I love! One day I could be communicating with our speakers and planning event content, while another I might be meeting with our accountant, working on our website or posting on Restored’s social media. I also oversee our committee of 15 women, serve as the liaison for our speakers, and coordinate our event details.
AD: What has been the biggest unanticipated challenge you’ve faced since starting Restored?
AR: I think the biggest challenge for us is driving consistent attendance at our events. While our overall attendance numbers are consistently strong, it seems challenging for women to attend consistently each month. We are serving an over-extended population of moms! So, it is absolutely understandable that adding “one more thing” may seem challenging to moms who work outside of the home, but self-care and time for friendship and community is biblical and so vitally important to loving and serving our families and our careers well. As women, we tend to put ourselves last, but it is so difficult to pour ourselves out for others when we’re drained.
My hope and prayer for all of the women Restored ministers to is that they understand their true worth. We hope women from all over the Triangle will find two hours each month to receive encouragement, learn biblical truths, develop friendships and find community with other women.
AD: What has been the greatest reward?
AR: I think the greatest reward to date is twofold: seeing how well received this ministry has been, and the large percentage of women who have stepped up to volunteer. The women who attend Restored events are arguably the busiest and most pressed for time, yet they saying, “Yes, we want this,” and “Yes, I will help.” Not only are they attending events, but they are giving their precious time to help carry out our mission to serve other working moms. That continues to amaze me and bless me so much!
AD: Do you feel that women have been receptive to what Restored has to offer?
AR: Absolutely! At every single event I have women come up to me afterward and thank me for starting this ministry. I have heard a similar message from many of them. They tell me that this ministry is so needed, so timely and so valuable for them. Those positive messages of encouragement are part of what helps me to know for certain that this ministry is from God.
AD: Tell us about your events. What was the most memorable event Restored has held so far?
AR: Our events are always wonderful! We meet in the evening from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and usually on a weeknight since we know weekends are family time for most moms in the marketplace.
We offer two events per month, one in North Raleigh and one in the Apex/Holly Springs area. Our events have featured speakers on topics like mom guilt and comparison, professional home organization, juggling physical wellness, and incorporating time for prayer. We also have at least 30 minutes of table discussion after each speaker for attendees to share openly about their experiences and intentionally connect with one another. Outside of those two evening events, we offer at least one more social event per month to give women an additional opportunity to connect in a more informal setting.
I would say the most memorable event was in July 2017 when we featured Emily Sexton, owner of The Flourish Market in downtown Raleigh, as our speaker. Emily is an incredible woman with a heart for serving others and spreading the Gospel. She offered to bless our ministry as a speaker and even brought each Restored attendee a free gift from her boutique! Everyone was so excited to enjoy her beautiful and ethically-sourced jewelry and hear her compelling message about our freedom in Christ. We had more than 70 women attend that event: our largest one to date.
AD: What is the event lineup looking like for 2018?
AR: I am so excited to say that we have speakers on our calendar through July of 2018! The year will be filled with exciting topics, new event styles, and partnerships with other churches and organizations. In March, we will partner with Church Alive’s Professional Women’s Luncheon featuring Kelly Shiley, founder and CEO of Mary Square, as our keynote speaker. We will also host Molly Stillman in June, creator of the popular blog Still Being Molly and the Business With Purpose Podcast. We are also excited to expand from one to two Restored events each month and host at least one social gathering each month as well!
AD: What do you hope that women will ultimately take away from the events?
AR: I hope when women attend our events, they feel encouraged and uplifted biblically, but that they are also welcomed, seen, and find a sense of community in their walk as working moms. It’s easy to feel isolated, and we want to combat that by reminding moms who work that there are other Christian women in the Triangle standing with them, juggling work and family responsibilities and thriving, not just surviving. That said, as we create meaningful relationships with Restored attendees, we also want to point them to Christ and ensure they find a church home that will help further develop these women into who God wants them to be.
AD: What are your long-term goals for the organization?
AR: From the beginning, this ministry has been a big act of obedience to God. God nudged me to start this ministry and has continued to provide for us – from speakers to meeting locations. He has equipped me and our volunteers every step of the way. It is hard for me to predict a long-term vision for this organization because I want to keep in close step with God every day, week, and month as we continue to grow and serve women. If He calls us to expand, we’ll expand. If He calls us to change directions in some way, we will do that too. We are loosely and openly doing this work He has called us to in direct obedience to Him and for Him.
AD: What words of encouragement would you offer working moms who are struggling to balance their personal and professional lives?
AR: My advice would be that while it is hard, it is possible to thrive and not just survive. It does get easier, and surrounding yourself with a supportive community comprised of friends and family is vital to juggling it all. If you feel called to pursue a career while having a family, God will equip you in that path. Never stop leaning on Him and trusting Him in the midst of the chaos. And, know that there are resources like Restored to come alongside you and encourage you through the journey!
For more information about Restored, visit restoredformoms.org and follow them on Instagram at @restored.for.moms.