Our team at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction is honored to share with you an In Her Words post written by a dear friend and breast cancer survivor, Sharon Hawkins.
You are the founder of Grace in the Wilderness: A ministry for Today’s Business Woman, tell us a little bit about your organization and what lead you to create this inspirational place for women?
Grace In The Wilderness is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and is an out-reach ministry whose mission is to encourage women of all ages:
- To look upward to God as they discover Him in a new and deeper way,
- To look inward as they discover who they are in Christ, and
- To look outward as they discover God’s plan for their lives.
We sponsor 5 conferences a year–Valentine’s Tea for Widows (Feb.), Women’s Conference (2 days, last weekend of Feb.), Conference for Moms of Special Needs Children (June), Teen Conf (Oct.) and a Christmas Brunch for Moms Who Have Lost Children (Dec.).
We also issue a bi-monthly Women’s Newsletter (GITW) and a quarterly newsletter for Teen Girls called “Gracie’s Way”. We welcome our readers to also share their stories. These are free email newsletters, subscriptions at our website: www.wildernessgrace.org.
In March of 2008, my mother passed away after battles with breast cancer and colon cancer. During her 3-year illness, my plate was so full–I helped care for her through cancer and for my dad with Parkinson’s, ran a very busy business with 10 employees, all the while being a wife and a mother to a teenage son and a special needs younger son. After Mom’s death, I was so weary and I prayed and asked God to please take something off my plate. His answer shocked me–He called me to start a ministry for today’s busy women and He didn’t take anything away. Later, when I was seeking answers about why He wanted me to juggle all these things, God revealed to me simply that if I was going to minister to busy women, I had to be one. Wow, why didn’t I think of that?
What did you hope to accomplish through founding Grace in the Wilderness, what is your vision for the future?
I hope to help other busy women find the help, love, support, forgiveness and grace that I have found from my relationship with Jesus Christ. Life is hard with God. In my opinion, it’s impossible without Him!
Grace In The Wilderness has grown. I added a Partner, my friend Marie Pritchett, right after starting the ministry and now there are many volunteers who make up “Team Grace”. God has given us a special focus and compassion to also reach those in the very difficult situations of life, those “impossible” situations we refer to as “wildernesses”. Our vision for the future is to expand to reach out to other special groups, such as single moms, teen moms, abused women, and other groups who are hurting and need encouragement and support. We hope to add a conference for cancer patients and their families as our next step.
I see you host quite a variety of events, can any women’s organization hold an event with you?
We don’t exactly hold events for other women’s organizations. But we are always open to working in conjunction with and supporting groups who help women as long as it allows us to stay true to our mission.
What impact has Grace in the Wilderness had on your own life?
I really thought Grace In The Wilderness was about our helping others through their wildernesses. Again, what was I thinking?!? It seems that, once again, if I’m going to minister to this group of women, those in hard places, God wants me to know what that’s like.
In June 2011, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. In July 2011, I had double mastectomies. In August 2011, I had silicone implant surgery. After several months of my body rejecting those implants, in November 2011, I had DIEP Flap breast reconstruction with Drs. Kline and Craigie in Mt. Pleasant, SC. (The Drs. and Chris are the best and East Cooper is a wonderful hospital.)
Also in November of 2011 just before my third surgery, I was diagnosed with melanoma and I had to have an out-patient procedure for that.
In the midst of this six months of chaos, my employee, who was my best friend (notice I said “was”), was sent to federal prison for embezzling more than $600,000 from me and my business. What?!? Yes, unbelievable, I know.
But what’s more unbelievable is that I sit here now 100% cancer free. I was diagnosed with two cancers within five months and the doctors were able to remove them both completely-no chemo, no radiation. Through my own wilderness experiences, I’ve found that God’s provisions are endless and through serving others, I’ve learned that you simply can’t outgive God. That’s God’s amazing grace in the wilderness and that’s what our ministry is all about.
Sharon Hawkins wants others to know that she is totally in love with Jesus. In 2008, she answered God’s calling to begin a
Ministry called Grace in The Wilderness.. Sharon’s the wife of her best friend, Scott, and the mother of two very special boys, Taylor (16), and Bradley (10), that she and Scott adopted from Ukraine as a toddler. As a businesswoman, she owns Benefit Resources where she works with 12 amazing women who together seek to put God first in the business. She loves fun, mission trips, reading, camping and spending time with her family and friends.