5 Ways to Have a God-Glorifying Small Group

Last week as I was shutting down my computer, I noticed a Facebook tag from my dear friend and fellow author/speaker, Pam Farrel. Pam leads a group called Seasoned Sisters, and you’ll be able to read all about how she started this mentoring group for women going through midlife in my new book Mentoring For All Seasons when it releases in September this year! Pam shares in it several stories about being mentored and being a mentor during transition seasons of her life.

Several months ago, Pam told me her Seasoned Sisters group wanted to read and discuss my latest book that Pam endorsed, Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten. They purchased the books, and then I got a message from her that more women wanted to join the group as the word got out how much they were enjoying my book. You know how this encouraged me and warmed my heart since my vision for Forsaken God? was for Christians to make a change for God in our culture by simply remembering how good God has been to them in their own lives. There are discussion questions after each chapter for group study, and the book isn’t just for women: it’s for all Christians!

So back to last week’s Facebook tag. Pam was meeting with her Seasons Sisters and they sent me a live video to say “Hi” and tell me what Forsaken God? has meant to them. Several comments: “Very timely! I don’t want to watch the news; I just want to read this book.” “Forsaken God? will put the headlines in perspective and give you God’s view.” Here’s the short video for you to watch yourself.

One woman said she had given the book to a waitress. I was blessed and encouraged. If you read last week’s blog post 10 Ways to Change Our Culture, you know my heart for motivating Christians to take a stand for God in their sphere of influence. I’m praying some of you thought there was at least one way you would apply to your life.

The Value of Small Groups / Bible Study Groups / Life Groups

Small groups or Bible study groups or life groups, whatever your church calls them, are the perfect place to mature in your faith and encourage each other to take your faith public, as we’re told to do in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).

My husband and I met in a small group at Saddleback Church. He was the co-leader of a business group that included men, women, couples, and singles. It was my first experience in a small group, but Dave and I have been leading small groups and support groups (such as Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter) ever since. Sometimes we lead together, other times he might lead a men’s group and I’ll lead a women’s group. We’ve led groups at a mega church like Saddleback, and at the small church in the mountain community where we now live. Our favorite groups are couples groups.

Like every small group, some of our groups ran smoothly with everyone committed, and others had problems that we had to address for the good of the group. Here are five key areas where God taught us through trial and error how to have a small group that glorifies Him and enriches the spiritual life of all the group members.

  1. Create a safe place with confidentiality – Do members of your group feel like the group is a safe place where they can share openly without condemnation, criticism, or worrying that what they say will leave the group?

Prayer time can unintentionally become a gossip session. Members should feel confident that prayer requests or comments made during the meetings are not discussed outside of the group, without permission from all individuals involved.

Spouses should not share stories about each other without receiving permission, whether or not their spouse is present. To keep the group accountable in this area, when a spouse starts to talk about his or her spouse, the leader can say something like, “That sounds like a hubby [or wife] story. Hubby [or wife], do you want us to hear this?” And if he or she says no, then nix the story.

  1. Don’t Try to Fix Each Other – Are members trying to solve each other’s problems or give unsolicited advice?

Members shouldn’t try to speak into each other’s life unless asked to do so. Often a member just wants to share a difficult situation and is solely looking for compassion, understanding, and prayer. The group should listen respectfully, and possibly offer constructive and empathetic comments from their own experience, as long as those thoughts are biblically sound, and above all, encouraging. No quick fixes or “you shoulds.”

Sometimes members with difficult issues can dominate the entire meeting and that might be appropriate if someone is in an immediate crisis. But if this becomes a pattern, the leader/facilitator gently suggests that the member might benefit from speaking with pastors at the church or offer to talk privately and pray with him or her after the group.

  1. Set Clear Expectations and Request Commitment – Is everyone committed and giving priority to meetings and communicating in advance when they aren’t going to attend? Do all members have clear expectations of what they’re going to receive from the study, and are they in concert with the group?

Will it be a social fellowship group vs. a Bible study group, or a combination of the two?

Commitment and making meetings a high priority is imperative. Members shouldn’t have an “I’ll-be-there-if-I-can” attitude. Your goal is to become a spiritual family growing and doing life together, respectful of each other’s time and efforts.

There’s nothing more discouraging as a leader than to prepare for the group and then start receiving the phone calls and emails, often at the last minute, that members aren’t coming. One way to share the commitment and ownership of the group is to pass the facilitating of the group among the members. So it’s not always a leader/members group, but a group with everyone having a part in facilitating the meetings.

Make sure you have a group covenant that clearly states the purpose of the group and allow everyone an opportunity to express his or her expectations. This is also a good place to reemphasize confidentiality and commitment expectations.

  1. Maintain Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit—Do you spend enough time in the Word and let the Holy Spirit lead or are you rushing through studies to reach a goal?

Regardless of the focus or purpose of the group, everyone must be reading from the Bible every meeting. Members need to spend time in God’s Word and in prayer during the meetings and during the week for spiritual growth to occur.

It’s important to end at the agreed expected time so people can plan, but don’t be overly concerned how much material is covered each meeting. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead and expose just the right discussion for growth in everyone’s life.

  1. Encourage Active Group Participation – Is everyone doing his or her outside study material between meetings and participating in the discussion? Do some people never talk and others do all the talking?

It’s important for the health and growth of the group that everyone comes prepared if there is homework or reading between meetings, and that each member has an opportunity to participate in discussion.

A good way to engage people who tend to be quiet is to ask them to read a Scripture, and if it applies to a study question, that’s an open door to read their answer. Or to prevent them from feeling pressured to respond first, after some initial group discussion on the question, the leader/facilitator can invite their input. These suggestions also are effective in preventing the group from relying on the same group members for answers and discussion.

Small groups are vital to the spiritual growth and maturity of a church congregation, whether the church is large or small. It’s easy to get lost in a large church and not feel accountable, but a small group makes a big church small. In a small church, like where we are right now, small groups expand the ministry and teaching during the week and can make a small church seem like a large extended family.

What other things have you found to be a problem and/or helpful in keeping your small group effective and maturing together in Christ?

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All my books have discussion questions for groups. I’ve also written a Face to Face Bible Study Series for women. There are seven in the series and each one is a perfect length for summer study. Or there’s a First Place 4 Heath Bible study God’s Best for Your Life.

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Love Your Body—Why Are We So Angry?

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

As if we didn’t have enough diseases to try to avoid, the current election has created a new one—Political Anxiety Disorder or Election Stress Disorder—hospitalizing many people across the nation. They’re so upset about the outcome of the election affecting their lives, that they’re having panic attacks and all the physical symptoms of anxiety:

  • Pounding heart, sweating.
  • Headaches, stomach upset, or dizziness.
  • Frequent urination or diarrhea.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Muscle tension, tremors, and twitches.
  • Fatigue or insomnia.

“Anxiety weighs down the heart.” —Proverbs 12:25a

“So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body.”—Ecclesiastes 11:10a

Anxiety Can Lead to Anger

If you receive my monthly About His Work Ministries email newsletter,* the opening article this month was “When Things Are Out of Control.” I received more comments on that article then I have from any article I’ve written all year. When things happen that we don’t like or don’t want to experience, but can’t change, it makes us anxious and we can become angry. Anger is a legitimate feeling and reaction, but what we do with that anger can damage our health, our body, and our relationships.

Unbridled anger results in bitterness, hardening of the heart, and often an offensive attitude that expresses itself in vile words and/or aggressive behavior. While there may be a quick release of angry emotion, if the root cause of the anger continues it eats away at mind, body, and soul, and others become victims of the residual fallout.

As the election progresses, I’ve had the most angry, vulgar, mean, vicious lashing out comments I’ve ever experienced on my blog posts and Facebook posts. It’s alarming that people live with such angry, bitter thoughts in their minds and hearts and use hurtful, X-rated words in their daily lives. I’m sure when the election is over, they’ll find something else to be angry about and their health, both physical and mental, will suffer.

Today it’s almost impossible to have a debate without it turning into a disagreement.

“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.”–Psalm 37:8

Where is the Anger Originating?

“Don’t sin by letting anger control you.”—Ephesians 4:26 NLT

“People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.”—Proverbs 14:29 NLT

Do you know the media outlets design the news to raise your blood pressure, anxiety level, and anger meter? They purposely create headlines to generate a negative response. The media wants you to engage angrily with either the person or situation their reporting on—they want you mad. Occasionally, they’ll throw in a feel good story, but usually it’s SENSATIONAL “BREAKING NEWS” not substantiated or factual . . . just hearsay, opinions, or “maybes” . . . and you walk away worried . . . angry.

As surely as a north wind brings rain, so a gossiping tongue causes anger!”—Proverbs 25:23 NLT

I write articles for an online Christian magazine, and they’ve discovered that the more negative the title, the more people read the article. Christians are being conditioned right along with everyone else.

Physical Signs of Anger

What does anger do to you physically? Some symptoms are . . .

  • clenching your jaws or grinding your teeth.
  • headache/migraines.
  • stomach ache.
  • increased and rapid heart rate.
  • sweating, especially your palms.
  • feeling hot in the neck/face.
  • shaking or trembling.
  • dizziness.
  • stress which can cause anxiety.
  • increased blood pressure leading to heart disease.
  • eating disorders.

You could pick from the above list, or add to it how you feel when you’re angry or someone around you is angry. Next time, take note of how your body reacts. Or better yet, learn to control your anger and remove yourself from an angry environment or situation.

What Can We Do About Anger to Help Our Bodies?

  1. Our anger may stem from feeling out of control. We don’t think we can make a difference or change our circumstances, but we can. When you’re doing something about a situation and you feel a sense of hope and purpose . . . your anger subsides. I’m going to refer you to a post I wrote for Crosswalk for how to make a difference one person at a time: You Don’t Have to Get Elected or Make Movies to Change Culture.
  2. In my Bible study Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche: From Conflict to Community, I discuss the damage anger can do to our bodies if we don’t learn how to deal with it:EuodiaSyntycheCover72dpi1-200x300

Anger is an emotion felt in the moment that requires quick resolution. Many horrific acts occur and hateful words hurl in a “fit of anger.” You cannot retrieve actions or words.

            Uncontrolled raging anger makes us, and everyone around us, miserable. Pastor Doug Fields, likes to describe anger in terms of “outies” and “inies.” An “outie” is someone who spews out anger and doesn’t hold anything back. You know exactly how mad outies are and they want you to know. Often outies are over their anger once they have their “verbal vomit,” as Pastor Doug calls it, and they’re ready to move on. The problem with outies is the potential for people to be hurt, and even maimed, during the verbal, and maybe even, physical outburst.

            Inies on the other hand are the ones that profess they aren’t mad. “Everything’s fine.” they say, maintaining a thin smile while stewing and brewing inside. They may stuff down their anger for a long time while it burns, churns, and turns to bitterness. Inies find quiet, sly, unexpected ways to express their anger, or some never let go—the anger eats away at them physically, emotionally, and spiritually for the rest of their lives. Other inies only can hold their anger inside so long until the pressure builds into a sudden and violent explosion—the fallout being lethal to themselves and anyone in the vicinity.

            So how do you have healthy anger? Here’s the “ABCD” steps to take:

Acknowledge—that you’re angry.

Breathe—take a time out and step away from the source of anger.

Call on God—He knows what you should do regarding the source of your anger—ask Him.

Defuse—release your anger to God.*

*Excerpt from Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche: From Conflict to Community

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”—1 Peter 5:7

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*If you don’t receive my online newsletter, contact me or sign up on the website.

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How To Stand Against Cultural Opposition & Disunity In The Church By Erica Wiggenhorn

 An Unexplainable Life book cover

Erica Wiggenhorn, author of An Unexplainable Life: Recovering the Wonders and Devotion of the Early Church, is our guest blogger and Erica and I both have a heart for the church today to learn from the church of the past to impact our current culture. In Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, I trace the mishaps of the Israelites and how we can learn from their mistakes and forgetfulness of God’s goodness. Erica traces the biblical conflict that started right from the beginning of the church and offers solutions of how to confront inevitable conflict in the current church that is sadly influencing our culture away from God and the church. I’ve also written about resolving conflict biblically in Face-to-Face with Euodia and Syntyche: From Conflict to Community.

Enjoy and pray about Erica’s post below.

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One of the very first things I noticed about the early Christian church is that trouble started right away. The church was barely a week old before issues arose.

This shouldn’t be a surprise since the Christian church is made up of people—flawed, imperfect human beings. Yet we are somehow shocked today when issues occur within the church. We shake our heads in disbelief when believers disagree with one another, or are outraged when others come against the church because we don’t condone their lifestyle or support their beliefs.

The church should expect opposition within its walls and without. By living in a false mentality that the Christian church will perpetually function in peace and unity, we are deceived into not dealing with it. We think something is wrong. But what if we opened up the pages of Scripture, realized that there have always been issues, and therefore actively prepared for them? What if we intentionally wrestle and pray through difficulties before they even arise?

Disagreement and opposition are nothing more than the enemy’s plans to thwart the church. Here are just a handful of accusations that came against the early Christian church within weeks of its inception:

  • Prejudice
  • Favoritism
  • Insurrection
  • Governmental and social unrest
  • Hypocrisy
  • Deceit

How many of these do we see today? Nothing has changed, friends. But what if we changed, went back to the beginning, and prayed specific, powerful prayers like the early believers did?

How Should We Respond? What Should We Do?

“You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one’ … Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” (Acts 4:25-26, 29)

Look at what God did as a result of this prayer: “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” (Acts 4:31)

God gave them a visible demonstration that His power was mightier than Rome’s greatest emperor! The early Christians didn’t cower in the corner wringing their hands because they faced opposition. They confronted it head-on by addressing the One powerful enough to help them overcome it! They prayed to God. The early Christians in the book of Acts realized that regardless of what they faced, God was on their side and the church was going to continue.

God has warned us that we need to prepare for disagreement and opposition. We need to prayerfully decide how we are going to respond to difficult issues. We need to study the Word of God so we are aware of our enemy’s schemes.

We need to realize that trouble is often our greatest indicator that our enemy is threatened and God is at work. And as we study, pray, and come together with other believers wrestling through issues and injustices, the Holy Spirit will move with power—wall shaking power—and give us everything we need to continue to spread the news of Jesus! Two thousand years later, the gospel is still spreading!

Next time you feel overwhelmed by cultural opposition—pray. Next time you’re discouraged by disunity within your church—pray. Even before either one happens—pray, because it’s going to happen. Make sure you’re ready.

For more information about her latest Bible study, An Unexplainable Life: Recovering the Wonder and Devotion of the Early Church, and Erica’s Every Life Ministry click here.

Now It’s Your Turn

What is your general response when disunity occurs within your church?

How do you specifically pray for your church’s protection against cultural opposition?

What is one key way to prepare ourselves for opposition within our church or from without?

You can comment below or if you received this blog by email comment here.

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Thompson’s B&B and Ministry Retreat

Write for God with website

Dave and I have always had a heart for turning our home into a refuge for friends and a retreat for couples in ministry. When we lived in Southern California, we bought our cabin in the mountains for that very purpose, along with using it for my writing retreat. I did more writing there than entertaining when we lived in So Cal, even though we repeatedly invited couples and family to come visit. But now that we’ve moved away, when we go back to the cabin, we’re “booked” solid. Funny how that happens more now that we’re gone then when we lived there. We’re just glad the Lord has allowed us to keep that cabin and use it for His glory.

When we moved to Idaho, our home has a basement apartment perfect for guests. Many friends and family have accepted our open invitation to visit and let us pamper them with food, fun, field trips, and peaceful relaxation.

A special treat has been opening our home to fellow authors/ speakers I know through AWSA (Advanced Writers & Speakers Association), or through networking among those of us in the ministry of writing and speaking. Even though we might not know each other well, we know that what we have in common as Christian writers and speakers is enough for us to have a blessed time together.

The adventure for my hubby, Dave, is that he has never met any of the authors and their husbands who come to stay with us. But he knows it’s going to be a great time because we’re fellow Christians and that’s enough to build a friendship and relationship.

I was talking to a friend who is not a believer and explaining how we’ve never spent time with, or in some cases even met, some of the guests coming to our home. She said, “Well you share the same morals and values so you know they’re not going to do you any harm.” I thought to myself, she gets it. Even though she’s not a Christian herself, she understands the camaraderie Dave and I share with fellow Christians and what a testimony this is to her and others.

The First Time

The first time I introduced my husband to the experience of hospitality with people neither of us knew was when we took a trip to Montana. I knew author/speaker Tricia Goyer lived in Montana at the time. So I contacted her online and said we would be visiting her town and suggested we meet for coffee. When we got into town and I called her, she invited us to come to her home for dinner instead of coffee. As we walked up to her front door, Dave said, “You’ve met Tricia before, right?” Chuckling, I said, “No, we’ve never met!” My husband was shocked and replied, “This should be an interesting evening.”

We both had the best time and stayed until almost midnight. After that wonderful experience, he has never hesitated when I say, “Guess who’s coming to stay with us for a few days?”

Opening Our Home to Traveling Friends and Authors

Kathi and Al Macias

Two years ago, author and speaker Kathi Macias and her hubby Al were coming through Idaho, and I invited them to stay with us. I knew Kathi, and had met Al at an AWSA conference where we discovered that we all attended the same high school. I was in the class ahead of them. We had a wonderful time during their visit with us, and Al and Dave quickly became great friends. When we visit our So Cal cabin, which is near the Macias’s home, they come to visit, and Al and Dave have even spent a day on the golf course together.

Bill and Pam Farrel

This past week, Pam and Bill Farrel, who have love-wise marriage ministry together, were speaking in Montana, and I invited them to spend a few days with us in Idaho. You guessed it . . . Dave had never met either of them before, but by now, he already knew it would be a great time. And so it was. The Farrels were coming off a speaking weekend and going home to face a home remodel, and hopeful sale of their home. They were so ready for a break, and that’s what we hope they experienced while here. We enjoyed our first float down the river with them, a mountain walk, and hours on the deck with deep and meaningful conversation, laughs, fellowship, ministry discussions, and again, making new forever friends in Christ.

floatingPam's collage

Recently, a friend from our Couple’s Bible study said, “You really have a lot of company.” We had hosted California friends in December and January, and always savor our times when the grandkids are here for a visit. Dave and I have truly come to know the blessing of the Apostle Paul’s advice: Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. 1 Peter 4:9 NLT. We also have been the blessed recipients of cheerful hospitality from so many of our friends and family when we travel.

Dave and I offer our home and our hearts and invite friends, acquaintances, and fellow ministry workers for Christ to come and experience what we love about God’s beauty in our mountain paradise. Many have taken us up on that offer, and we pray that many more will enjoy what those who have visited call: “The Thompson’s 5 Star Bed and Breakfast.” But don’t worry; we’ll feed you three meals and snacks too!

Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:13

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

If you received this blog by email, leave a comment here.

You can read more about how God helped me become more hospitable and balance my Martha with my Mary, in my Bible study Face-to-Face with Mary and Martha: Sisters in Christ.

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Overcoming the Naysayers in Your Life

Live Love LaughRustic Blooms*

Hubby and I just returned home from a month in sunny Southern California. We had a great time visiting with friends and family and worshipping in Idyllwild Bible Church and Saddleback Church. Both of these churches hold dear spots in our hearts and as do the godly pastors gifted in leading their congregations to a closer relationship with God. Last week, I shared a message we heard at IBC from John Holesclaw. Many of you commented on how God has been calling you to Go Beyond the comfort and calm of your daily life as God calls you to follow a new vision.

Today, I want to share with you some thoughts from Pastor Rick Warren’s message of Ignoring the Naysayers that might come out of the woodwork when you start following that vision.

As I listened to Pastor Rick preach, I was nodding my head the entire time because I had experienced every one of his naysayer points when I started Woman to Woman Mentoring. In fact, when I train churches on starting Woman to Woman Mentoring, I always warn them to beware of the naysayers and then I tell them how God helped me overcome them to push through and start a ministry that God has taken around the world for the past twenty years.

If you have a vision that’s bigger than you . . . that only God could bring to fruition . . . you’re going to experience naysayers. Here are a few points from Pastor Rick’s sermon with an example from my own experience. I would love to hear about some of your experiences.

Naysayer: “A person who says something won’t work or isn’t possible; a cynic who habitually expresses pessimistic views.”

How I Defeated the Naysayers in Starting Woman to Woman Mentoring and You Can Do the Same in Your Life.

  1. Remember That They Are Not God!

The fear of human opinion disables; but trusting in God protects you from that. Pr. 29:25, The Message

“The bigger God’s opinion in your mind, the smaller the opinions of others.”—Rick Warren

Naysayers don’t know what God has said to you so they don’t understand your dream or vision from God. It’s not their “call,” it’s yours! They are not God.

We can’t seek the approval of men over the approval of God. It doesn’t matter if others don’t agree with us. Don’t worry what other people will think; worry what God thinks.

When I was starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, I heard things like:

  • Somebody tried that a few years ago and it didn’t work.

Me: Might have been wrong person or wrong time. I’ll find out what they did that didn’t work and do the opposite. I’ll also try to locate the women who were interested in mentoring at that time. God definitely wants a mentoring ministry at Saddleback now, and he’s told me I’m the one to start it.

  • Twenty years ago, Saddleback was a seeker church and the average age range was 25-45, so people said I wouldn’t find women old enough or spiritually mature enough to be mentors.

Me: Well someone who accepted the Lord six month’s ago is spiritually older than someone who is seeking and who better to relate to a seekers questions and hesitations. We wouldn’t look at Titus 2:3-5 as chronological age, but spiritual age. We might not have large age or maturity ranges, but we would have women who had walked longer with the Lord than someone else.

  • I’d never been involved in women’s ministry before so who was I to start a ministry?

Me: I won’t be influenced by how things “have always been done.” I’ll be open to listening to the Lord and taking my direction directly from Him. My personal writing and speaking ministry became About His Work Ministries.

Ask yourself: Who am I allowing to play God in my life?

  1. Don’t Get Distracted by Negativity

So I replied by sending this message to them: “I am engaged in a great work, so I can’t come. Why should I stop working to come and meet with you?” Four times they sent the same message, and each time I gave the same reply.—Nehemiah 6:3-4 NLT

“Every opportunity comes with opposition.”—Rick Warren

Billy Graham quoted Neh. 6:3-4 when he was doing crusades in London and the journalists were harassing him. He was too busy saving lives to take the time to go down and answer the journalists’ taunts.

Rick said that naysayers’ distractions come in the form of: ridicule, rumors, threats, and endless discussion to slow you down.

I experienced all four of those attacks when starting Woman to Woman Mentoring, I even had a mutiny on my original team, which later became the imputes to write The Team That Jesus Built and Face to Face with Euodia and Syntyche: From Conflict to Community:

  • You should have teas not coffees.
  • “Mentee” is not a word.
  • Who are you to start this ministry?
  • You’re only writing about this to make money.
  • Woman to Woman Mentoring is only for our church not others, so you shouldn’t be writing resources for other churches to start the ministry.
  • You could never match M&M’s simply by prayer.
  • Women won’t come.
  • You can’t match two strangers
  • How are you going to find two women to match in such a large church?
  • And so it went . . .

Ask Yourself: How is negativity distracting you from accomplishing your goal?

  1. Never Attack Back—Leave It in God’s Hands

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.—1 Peter 2:23 NIV

“I’m most like Jesus when I stay silent under attack. Bless them instead.”—Rick Warren

The best way I found to deal with naysayers was to not engage them. Don’t waste your time and emotion trying to convince them they’re wrong, or getting into endless discussions. This is hard to do because we want to defend our position and get them to agree with us, but I learned to simply ignore them and not give fuel or energy to the negativity. A ministry was being birthed that was clearly God’s will and that’s the only opinion I valued. A successful ministry blessing the women would prove the naysayers wrong.

Ask Yourself: How am I wasting time and energy trying to defend my goal and vision?

  1. Stay Focused on God and His Promises

The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?—Psalm 118:6 (NLT)

“The size of your God determines the size of your goals.Rick Warren

To do a mighty work for God, we need to remember that we don’t need the approval of others to be happy or successful; we’re only seeking a “well done” from God. I knew that I had received a Feed my Sheep call from the Lord who had revealed that the feeding meant mentoring and the sheep were women. I had said yes to that call and that was the only thing that mattered.

Somehow, someway, my Great God was going to use me to start a ministry that would change the lives of women for years to come. My role was to not be distracted or dissuaded by naysayers, listen closely to the voice of God and do what He said to do, and give Him all the glory for doing something only God could do.

Ask Yourself: What “call” has God given me that He promises to fulfill, if I let Him?

I would love to hear how God speaks to you about overcoming the naysayers in your life.

You can leave a comment below, or if you receive this by email click here.

Portions of this blog are from Pastor Rick Warren’s message “Ignoring the Naysayers” at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, November 1, 2015.

*Rustic Blooms is a new sign making venture of my daughter Kim Mancini. I’m sure she had a few naysayers along the way (not me), but she’s making beautiful creative artistic signs as the orders pour in and I’m so proud of her.

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Rest On Labor Day and Pray for Those Who Can’t Take the Day Off

I’ve always looked at Memorial Day and Labor Day as the bookends of summer. Both are now three day weekend holidays that also commemorate the end of one school year and the beginning of the next—although today’s schools don’t stick as closely to that schedule anymore.

You probably have memories of Labor Day picnics, family reunions, and barbecues commemorating the official end of summer; but beyond that, few stop to think about why we even have the day off. What is Labor Day anyway?

History of Labor Day

In 1894, Grover Cleveland made Labor Day a federal holiday after a failed attempt to break up a railroad strike. Observed on the first Monday in September, Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers.

Traditionally, all stores closed on Labor Day so workers could celebrate the holiday. Today, most stores are having Labor Day sales and their workforce is hard at work on a day dedicated to resting from work. Many people work on Labor Day without realizing: Hey, I’m a worker that has contributed to my company and I should have a day of rest!

It's Labor Day take the day offPray for Those Who Can’t Take the Day Off

Not every worker can take the day off and rest today. Those employed in the service industries often find holidays their busiest time: firemen, hospital employees, policemen, restaurant workers, gas stations, and now we can’t seem to go a day without a grocery store open. Seems like we could stock up on Saturday.

My father was a California Highway Patrolman and he took his turn at working every holiday. Labor Day is notoriously a heavy traffic day as travelers return from the three-day weekend. If you’re on the road today, drive carefully, courteously, and obey the speed limits. Pray for every policeman you see on the road. They have a family keeping a plate of ribs or a hamburger warm for the end of their shift.

Work or Rest?

The Crosswalk.com article, Labor Day: Your Need for Both Work and Rest by Nick Batzig, caught my attention. It started out …

“As we come to celebrate another Labor Day, it may be beneficial for us to step back for a moment and consider what Scripture has to say about the rhythm of work and rest—i.e. the cyclical configuration by which all the events of our lives occur.”

The article discussed God’s original plan for work and how that all changed when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit and why God wants us to have times of rest and refreshment. Batzig listed several changes over the years that have resulted in work being motivated by prestige, self-esteem, peer pressure, fear, anxiety, and lack of purpose outside of work, rather than providing for our family. The following point resonated with what I see happening in families today:

“Whereas traditional societies said that you got your meaning in life through your family, and through basically fulfilling a fairly prescribed social role—either as a mother or father, or a brother or sister, or husband or wife, or a son or a daughter…You just needed to find a way to make a living because family was what everything was about. But we’re the first culture in history that says, ‘You define yourself by defining what you want to be and by attaining it—and then you have significance.’ There’s never been more psychological and social and emotional pressure on work to be either fulfilling or at least lucrative. There’s never been a culture like that.”

How Can We Change Culture?

I’ll admit that I’m a recovering workaholic. The only way I’m able to balance work and rest is to prioritize the things that are the most important to me—serving God and my family. My ministry is About His Work Ministries, so I’m fortunate to serve God through my work of writing and speaking. I also make sure to schedule times of rest with my hubby, and we often plan those times into speaking event travels and trips to see our grandkids. We also serve in ministry together as Dave assists me with About His Work Ministries, travels with me when I speak, and we co-lead a couples Bible study. But when I’m spending time with my family—my husband, children, and grandchildren—I set aside “work,” even ministry work, and focus on family.

That doesn’t leave much time in my schedule for “extra” activities, and so I’ve had to learn to say no to some good things. Before I say “yes,” and find myself with no time to rest and refresh, I’m trying to remember to do two things:

1. Pray and ask God if it’s something He wants me to do. Does it have Kingdom value?

2. Assess if I have the time and energy to add this activity to my calendar, and if so, what should it replace?

If I sense God telling me to go for it, I know I must remove something from my calendar or I’ll become unbalanced trying to get all the work done and rest will suffer. If you want to study more about what the Bible has to say about living a balanced life, you might enjoy my Bible study, Face to Face With Priscilla and Aquila: Balancing Life and Ministry.

What do you do to find times of rest and refreshment in a world that values work over rest?

 “Come to Me, all of you who work and have heavy loads. I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28 (NLV)

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How to Mentor in a World Forsaking God

Thelma Wells take 2See note at end of blog for Thelma Wells comment about this picture*

You might want to grab a cup of coffee or tea before you start reading because today’s post is a little longer than usual. Once I start talking about mentoring …it’s hard to stop.

Since Adam and Eve, every generation has lived in a fallen world, but I think you would agree that our culture is falling away from God faster than any time in history. What one generation did in moderation, the next generation does in excess.

Just as the apostle Paul saw the need for mentors in his day, as he wrote to the young pastor Titus, we desperately need mentors today. And yet, many who should be stepping up to mentor and teach the next generation are falling away just as quickly as our world is falling away from God. Do you see the same correlation that I do?

If we don't teach our children

Such a sad, but true reality … and because spiritually older men and women are not reaching out teaching and training the next generations, young people are left to figure things out on their own while listening to the liberal barrage of worldly advice derailing them from every direction—media, schools, friends, the community…. They’re not hearing the truths of God; they’re bombarded with the lies of Satan. And yet, God set in place a way to prevent this. Yes, we could have avoided much of the evil happening in the world today if Christians and the church had been willing to invest in mentoring the next generation.

Praise God there are still many Sunday school teachers sharing the Gospel with the precious little ones who manage to find their way to church. And many churches have a youth ministry, but then as young people mature and start making their own decisions, the church often backs away when needed the most.

Instead of helping young people confront the difficult issues they’re dealing with today, the church becomes shy and reserved about discussing real world issues. Instead of ensuring these young people have mature Christians involved in their lives, like Paul was to Titus and Timothy and Elizabeth was to Mary, the church pulls away and so do the young people. Abandoned when they need guidance and counsel the most! Here is just one example of what our young people and parents are dealing with today:

The witness of God on the human heart will be silenced by a culture that approves of what we naturally know is wicked and damaging. To isolate just one issue, as transgender identity spreads and is accepted, little boys and girls who years ago would have received sound counsel to inhabit their God-given bodies will instead be encouraged to undergo drastic surgery. They will experience profound confusion as a result and will be –by some estimates—twenty times more likely to commit suicide than their peers. This is just one illustration of the baleful effects of the forces that now bully our body politic into conformity to anti-wisdom and anti-truth.” Owen Strachan “What the Future Holds” Tabletalk August 2015

What Can We Do?

So how do we everyday ordinary Christian women make a difference in today’s confused and fallen world? We speak, teach, and train the Truth straight from the Bible. In “In Touch” devotional, Dr. Charles Stanley defines wisdom: “Wisdom is the capacity to see things from God’s perspective and to respond to them according to scriptural principles.” We need to help spiritually younger women learn spiritual wisdom from the Bible to help them navigate the moral decline of our country.

For example, there are Christians and even pastors and churches today who say that Jesus never spoke against homosexuality, but no matter how many credentials these pastors and churches have behind their names, they’re only revealing how unwise and unfamiliar they are with the entire Bible. They forget that Jesus and God are One and God clearly delineates throughout the Bible the roles of men and women in marriage and sexual relationships, and that marriage is an earthly replication of Christ with His church. All you have to do is go to a concordance or Biblegateway.com to see verses like:

I delight greatly in the Lord;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10

As a young man marries a young woman,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you. Isaiah 62:5

From the beginning to the end of the Bible, you clearly see God’s plan for marriage between a man and a woman and the delineation and roles of each gender. The people of Jesus’ day knew the Old Testament teaching about sin, they didn’t need it spelled out for them by Jesus. Jesus didn’t specifically say don’t snort cocaine, don’t engage in sex trafficking, don’t murder unborn babies and sell their body parts either, so does that make them all ok? Of course not! The people of Jesus’ day knew it was a sin to degrade their bodies, engage in sexual immorality, or murder and these are still sins today. So we need to help the next generation understand how to apply the entire Bible to living a moral upright and righteous life instead of trying to use the Bible to justify a sinful immoral unrighteous life.

How Does Titus 2 Apply Today?

The verses in Titus 2:1-8 describe God’s plan for mentoring men and women and those verses are just as applicable today as they were when Paul wrote them. I’ve said many times that these verses are the job description for every Christian man and woman. I like the J.B. Phillips translation for this discussion. Let’s look at each verse starting with the men. And by the way, I want you to think of “older” and younger in terms of “spiritually older” and “spiritually younger.” Remember this is the apostle Paul telling young pastor Titus how mentoring works:

Now you must tell them the sort of character which should spring from sound teaching. The old [older] men should be temperate, serious, wise—spiritually healthy through their faith and love and patience.

So Paul tells Titus to provide sound teaching to the spiritually older men so they will be spiritually mature, wise, patient, and full of love as they lead their homes and teach the younger men (verses 6-8). Then likewise, these same things apply to the women along with areas specific to women:

Similarly, the old [older] women should be reverent in their behaviour, should not make unfounded complaints and should not be over-fond of wine.

Synonyms for reverent are worshipful, respectful, and humble. Many translations refer to unfounded complaints as not gossiping and slandering others. And interestingly Paul warns women against drinking and some translations even use the word addicted to wine. I’ve written many times on why drinking is a bad role model and Paul thought so too.

They should be examples of the good life,

This doesn’t mean the good life in terms of material possessions and a pain-free life, but the amazing joy and peace we experience as followers of Jesus and receive God’s goodness.

Those verses describe mentors who are positive godly role models—not telling, but showing mentees how to live as Christian women. I inserted “older” because you don’t have to be old in chronological years to mentor … just spiritually older than the person God asks you to mentor.

so that the younger women may learn to love their husbands and their children, to be sensible and chaste, home-lovers, kind-hearted and willing to adapt themselves to their husbands

The result of spiritual mentoring is mentees learning how to be loving wives and mothers who aren’t persuaded or influenced by the world’s ways. I love the way this translation describes keeping house as home-lovers who have kind and gentle hearts toward their husbands. How many marriages might have been saved if young wives had a mentor!

a good advertisement for the Christian faith.

The NIV reads, “so that no one will malign the world of God.” When we live the way God wants us to live, we’re a walking Christian testimony. But people today are maligning the Word of God and trying to trash the Bible. But we can help women be a shining example of all the Bible stands for by how we live our personal lives, raise our families, and help others find the peace that only God can provide in a world quickly turning its back on God. We can make a difference one woman at a time.

And here are Paul’s final words in this passage to the young men:

The young men, too, you should urge to take life seriously, letting your own life stand as a pattern of good living. In all your teaching show the strictest regard for truth, and show that you appreciate the seriousness of the matters you are dealing with. Your speech should be unaffected and logical, so that your opponent may feel ashamed at finding nothing in which to pick holes.

Does this sound overwhelming to you? It shouldn’t, because this is how God wants every Christian to live for Him, and we’re just sharing that life with another woman: Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness—my tagline. Someone helped us learn how to live as mature Christians and now God wants us to pass on what we learned to a confused and vulnerable generation. The God of the Bible is still the God of the 21st Century.

A Survey of Women’s Ministry Directors

Dr. Gail Hayes daughter Gabrielle was 10 yrs old when her mom brought her to an Advanced Writer's and Speakers Conference and other Christian authors mentored her. Today Gabrielle is 17 and just signed a two book contract!

Dr. Gail Hayes’ daughter Gabrielle was 10 yrs old when her mom brought her to an Advanced Writer’s and Speakers Conference and Christian authors mentored her. Today Gabrielle is 17 and just signed a two book contract!

God gave me a call into ministry and a passion for spiritual mentoring. He has imprinted on my heart the urgency of every Christian passing God’s truths on to the next generation so they will embrace His ways for themselves. Not telling them what we believe, but helping spiritually younger men and women have a personal relationship with Jesus. Then we take the next step nurturing them to develop the knowledge, wisdom, and conviction to live for Christ, even in a world quickly turning to the ways of Satan.

This means we need to care about the next generation more than we care about ourselves. Our hearts need to break for confused young women who don’t value their worth and virtue as they look for sexual thrills, escape reality through drugs and alcohol, become dissatisfied with their appearance, or even their gender. We need to reach them quickly with the message that they are daughters of the King before they let the world make them slaves of Satan.

I did a survey recently on Facebook asking how many in Women’s Ministry would invite, welcome, or allow young women starting around age 15 to their events. Here’s a sampling of replies. I would encourage you to prayerfully read them all and see what God says to you about your personal role in mentoring and what your church is doing to mentor the next generation:

  • Yes, it is a way to mentor them. I think it’s fine if they’re come with their mother, aunt or someone else who is older.
  • No better place for her to be than with godly role models and those with a genuine walk with Christ.
  • We are their example!
  • I think it depends on subject matter. We’ve put age limits on women’s retreats because we’re trying to make a safe place for women to share personally about difficulties that may be too intimate to come out in casual conversation at coffee after a Sunday service. These deeply private issues are not likely to be shared within a group that has younger girls in attendance. (And probably shouldn’t be)
  • It would depend on the occasion. Special events, yes! An overnight retreat where confidentialities are shared…not.
  • Specific events, yes, but not across the board. I do think that we (the organized church) have placed too much emphasis on “youth group” being kids. They really are young adults and if we trained up our children biblically, there doesn’t seem to be a time for running around with peers and treating college life as if it’s a kids club, i.e., “college kids.” I’m more open to bringing those young women along right from their pre-adulthood … more so than I used to be.
  • I agree. There was a time that 14/15 was seen as grown and people of that age were treated as such.
  • If the topic/focus is intimacy in marriage, I think 15 and up is the perfect age for girls to acclimate into women’s events. They are being inundated and influenced by the most godless culture like no other time in history. There’s something powerful about women of like faith gathering together to worship and bask in His presence. Our girls need to be in that environment as much as possible. Feeling free and safe to share and be vulnerable are best and most appropriate in smaller group settings.
  • For retreat … 14 and up with a pre-interview required with each girl 18 and under. In other words, I would suggest that the mother or adult woman could not simply register them. This approach works well at our Christian school, placing responsibility for success on the student, rather than the student being enrolled by their parent(s). What is the purpose of the retreat? Will the young teens hinder the purpose? OR … make sure that your adult women attendees understand that when they register, they are agreeing to be part of the mentoring team at the retreat … training for both young and old. This means 24/7… when they lie down, when they wake up, and when they walk by the way….
  • I agree that the youth groups can cause what I can only describe as a ‘segregated’ body. One way to get the younger women 13-16 involved is in areas of service, such as a funeral dinners, VBS, nursery helpers etc. this way they will make a connection with the women who are involved in serving in women’s ministry and true relationships are formed then they have women to look at as examples. They then have an adult they can trust and to go to when they need advice or help.
  • I spoke at a retreat where teens 15 and older were invited. It changed the way the women 20 and older interacted with each other – everyone was more careful. Moms with daughters present didn’t open up. I know the difference because I’d spoken at this retreat previously. Laughter, tears, and authentic sharing were subdued. However, when I spoke at a daylong conference and 15 year olds were included, it was great.
  • I think every woman should be a woman’s minister and 14 and 15 year olds should be invited. Our girls are so vulnerable these days that we should be training them as their maturity allows.
  • Great question! I love taking my daughter to the retreats I help with (she 1st attended at age 7)…sometimes if I know the speakers story is a bit too much for her, she just comes to help set up, but she’s still involved. This year (she’s now 10) she is the co-decorator for ReNEWed Life Women’s Event! I would love to see teens attend our events as well…simply living out Titus 2!!
  • General events, like women’s Bible classes, conferences etc. are an awesome way to start the process of developing interest and thus passion for God’s Word and ministry for teen girls. I’m not certain however it’s best to include them in small group mentoring with adult women. Many women have expressed their discomfort with being authentic and sharing adult issues and needs with children in the group. Retreats can be a good place for teens if there are appropriately centered issues for their age group. I believe however this needs to be an individual decision by the retreat leaders for an event because there are some adults who would consider a teen, a child, and be uncomfortable to share her space, time and personal story with one or more there.
  • I would let them at twelve years old.
  • I’ve done retreats where there were girls in jr high through 80. I loved it! I lead the small group discussions for the tweens and teens. In the general session talks, the girls mostly sit together. At times, I speak directly to the women and then to the teens. Lots of giggles and learning.
  • Tried to offer both wide range of 14-90 age, and also stage/ age specific events.
  • ..NO QUESTION! With young women (this means girls) facing more “in your face” issues than ever before, I would definitely open it up to them. I work in schools and girls are HUNGRY and looking for reasons to remain pure. They are searching for boundaries and hoping that women will lead them. Handle your business and God’s business Girl!
  • It is what the Bible teaches us to do….”older women teach the younger women.” Sadly, in many cases that is not what is happening to our world today…. Young women are not being taught the values of godly living but instead Silly Women are leading them right on into worldly thinking while promoting things that will cause them much sorrows and unhappiness.
  • Without a doubt. Even if you are addressing issues that married women face. The girls today are savvy and if not, this bold world warrants that they be aware. Women’s events are fine for the Titus 2 connection of older teaching younger women, but the more intimate setting of home and hospitality really shouts interest, trust, and caring. We can all take part in mentoring someone to love Jesus more and more, and then they will quite naturally love and befriend the least to the greatest as opportunities arise because Jesus-living becomes their nature, not their second nature.
  • If breakout sessions are part of the event, you want the discussions to be age appropriate. Depending upon the intimacy of breakout topics, separate groups for the teens might be appropriate. Women who need help with abuse or other issues might be reluctant to speak if young women were present. An event encourages and promotes safety and privacy that difficult revealing and conversations will go no further than the event.
  • Yes, I highly recommend that ladies bring their daughters, granddaughters, and neighbors ages 12-13 and up to our monthly Sister 2 Sister events. We offer worship, meal, speaker who covers everyday issues backed by biblical truth, and we have table talk time. I encourage ladies to bring their daughters to our overnight retreats. We still have some moms who use the retreats as respite from daily life and they choose not to bring their girls. Others do bring girls, mostly 15 years and up.
  • Yes!! We are commanded in Scripture to teach!
  • Our experience…The best thing… at age 15 she can see into her future by listening to choices and consequences of others. Everyone else at the event loved the youth factor …for their wisdom and fresh perspective. It is breathtaking to watch God work through all of the women of age. My heart too, feels that God is creating a movement to LIFT women to flow THROUGH the generations, and as a result? We will IMPACT our families, businesses, and entire cultures- straight from the HEART of the home. (aka: a woman’s heart).
  • I would like to add, in our case, we had a very deep filled, release of fear in our class- and subjects of abuse, murder etc. All of the women were set free- including the younger generation … no one felt like they needed to hold back. However, MAYBE it depends on the type of group you have.
  • You could add to that: “How many of you are careful to invite OLD women who feel very left out?
  • We need every generation in our groups. Only then do we have the body life Paul speaks of in Corinthians. We need their wisdom!

I didn’t edit these, and as you can see the majority of these women’s ministry leaders championed including the younger generation. These young women today face worldly choices and temptations at very young ages, and we need to reach them BEFORE they make unhealthy choices that they will live with for the rest of their lives. And for those women who have already made some regrettable choices, we need to introduce them to our gracious, loving, and forgiving heavenly Father.

Mary (mother of Jesus) was probably only 15ish when the angel Gabrielle told her to go to her relative Elizabeth (John the Baptist’s mother) who was in her 80’s, and what a beautiful mentoring story. I wrote about that mentoring relationship in Face-to-Face with Elizabeth and Mary. Surely, this is still God’s will for one generation to teach and train the next!

My 9 yr-old granddaughter and I are studying together Face-to-Face with Mary and Martha

My 9 yr-old granddaughter and I are studying together Face-to-Face with Mary and Martha

Special Offer

If you’re starting a fall women’s Bible study, I’m offering a face-to-face chat on Google Hangout with every group that orders their Face-to-Face Bible studies from our website for the remainder of August and September. Order your studies, and I’ll contact you about when we can chat.

If you receive this blog by email, leave a comment here.

*Thelma Wells Facebook Note about Opening Picture

The God of the Universe has called me to speak to the nations about His mercy, grace, love and glory and has freed my daughter Vikki and her daughter Marsaille to travel with me to the Women of Faith Conferences throughout America to spread His good news. I give thanks to God in the name of Jesus for this blessing. Marsaille is 10 years old and God has called her to proclaim His name in song, poetry, dance, acting and worship. She is mentored by the best, her mother and other family members, The Women of Faith speakers and performers and gets to learn from Sadie of Duck Dynasty and entertainers like Building 429, and watch the dynamic Sandi Patty. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!
Dedicate your children to God, lead them to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because you do not know what doors will be opened for them by God!
A grateful Grandmother, Thelma Wells, Core Speaker for Women of Faith

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What’s Your Story?

Little girl praying

As many of you know, I’ve been writing the past three months on a new book which will be out March, 2016, How Good is God? I Can’t Remember … Creating a Culture of Memories.  I hope you’ve enjoyed all the guests who have enriched this blog with posts on many varied topics. I’m blessed to have so many talented and gifted author friends and I know you enjoy hearing from them.

I was surprised when several people asked me if I thought this would be my last book? I wasn’t sure why they would ask that except for the fact that we were under great spiritual attack and duress while I wrote on a topic that the enemy hates–remembering God in a culture that is quickly forgetting God.

But that would never stop me from writing and speaking for the Lord, until the day He decides to take me home. My ministry is About His Work Ministries and I plan on being about His work until my last breath. So it might not surprise you that I’m gearing up for the next book. I gave you a glimpse into it several months ago when I asked for stories, but I switched plans when the How Good is God? book had such a short deadline. So now I’m back to the mentoring book and I need your stories.

Do You Have a Mentoring Story?

If you follow me, you know that my passion is mentoring—Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s faithfulness. Since I wrote Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, and Maintain a Mentoring Ministry in 1997, God has been starting mentoring ministries in churches all over the world, and mentors and mentees (M&M’s) have been experiencing the blessings of mentoring.

Over the years, many ministry leaders have sent me stories about starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, and many M&M’s have sent me their stories too; but I also know there are many untold stories that would bless my readers. Will you help me write this book?

I Need Your Help

The working title is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Here’s what I could use:

  1. What would you want to read about in a mentoring book about the seasons of a woman’s life?
  2. What would encourage you to be a mentor or mentee?
  3. If you’ve been in a mentoring relationship—either as a mentor or mentee or both—would you tell me your story? Even if it didn’t go like you planned.

If you would like to share your story, please leave a comment and how to contact you. Or go to the contact page on this website and leave me a message with your email address and I’ll give you more details.

Generation to Generation

FullSizeRender-2My 9-year-old granddaughter Katelyn asked if she could have one of my books for Easter, which made my heart swell with joy. I decided she was not too young for us to do a Bible study together, so I gave her Face-to-Face with Mary and Martha: Sisters in Christ.

An important aspect of remembering God, is helping the next generation know God. It’s our job description as Christian men and women!

Together we can reach, encourage, and teach what we’ve been taught to the next generation.

 Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives.

Titus 2:1-6. The Message

 

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What to Do When Your Child is Sad

Joanne Kraft, a fellow The M.O.M Initiative mentor mom, has a new book out The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids. I asked her to share with you a snippet from her book. No matter how old your child is, it’s hard to see him or her sad or unhappy. The mom in you wants to fix everything and make them happy again. But as Joanne reminds us, sometimes you just need to let them cry.

Joanne uses an example from Mary and Martha that I also share in my Bible study, Face-to-Face with Mary and Martha: Sisters in Christ. Jesus cried right along with them when their brother Lazarus died, but God had a bigger plan then they could see at the immediate moment. Teaching our children how to deal with disappointments and discouragement might just be God’s plan for us stepping out of the way and letting them cry.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids. Be sure to check the box “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” so you’ll know if you won the book.

Let Them Cry

By Joanne Kraft

 

MMG - Guest Post - Let Them Cry

My teenage son walked down the stairs with a frown on his face. College classes have gotten the best of him it seems. My pep talk with him yesterday apparently wasn’t as good as I thought it was. My future as a motivational speaker went down in a fizzle.

When I brought my first child home from the hospital, cries were immediately met with a soothing rub and my full attention until the whimpers quieted. From baby tears to teenage sulking, I want to make my child happy. I’ve exhausted myself trying to make this happen. I’ve finally realized I can’t make any of my kids happy.

Here’s the clue you may be doing something wrong—when you’re exhausting yourself doing it.

Years ago, when my mom watched me try to stop my kids from shedding tears she gave me my first golden bit of wisdom, “Let them cry. It’s okay. They will be fine.”

When Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus had died, Jesus didn’t come that very day but waited two more days before heading back to them in Judea. When he arrived, he discovered the funeral had already taken place. Lazarus had been dead four days and two very heartbroken sisters who had been crying for days were in deep mourning.

Not only were Mary and Martha in tears, but it’s in this passage of Scripture where we find the shortest sentence in the Bible—Jesus wept. Two words packed with incredible meaning. Even our Savior shed tears. Even He felt sad.

Here’s a few things I learned to do when my toddlers or teenagers were hurt or sad.

  • Let them hurt. Is there anything more contrary to mothering than allowing a child to cry or hurt? But, it’s much needed for their development. Come alongside and give them a hug or sympathize, “Yes, I know you’re sad.” Or, “It’s okay to be sad. Sometimes mommy is sad, too.” And if a child is older, maybe you can empathize, “I understand how hard this is for you.” Or, “I’m sorry you’re going through this.” Follow up with a personal story of your own about a past hurt or grievance.
  • Let them heal. Give them a little time. Don’t let their hurt sabotage your life. Give them space but look for signs of healing: interest in friends, playing again, laughter, an appetite, and conversation.
  • Let them lean. When a child is young, they lean on mom and dad for everything. As they grow older we need to let go so they can lean on God. I can’t expect my adult child to have BIG faith if they have little experience in leaning on a BIG GOD. If I answer their every whim and whimper, I become God in their eyes. Do you want to grow their faith? Let them lean on the only ONE who can meet and exceed their expectations. (Psalm 62:5)

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I have to remind myself, my daughters and sons must feel pain while in my keep. God grows us through pain. How else will they know how to navigate life’s storms as adults? So, precious mamas, let your child cry today. Let them hurt and let them heal and make sure to let them lean on God. Scripture reminds us there’s “A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4) Maybe, today it’s time to let them cry. I promise they’ll be okay.

“A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4)

Final Cover The Mean Moms Guider

Joanne Kraft chair button size Joanne Kraft is a mom of four and the author of Just Too Busy—Taking Your Family on a Radical Sabbatical and her latest book The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids. She’s been a guest on Focus on the Family, Family Life Today, and her articles have appeared in ParentLife, In Touch, P31 Woman and more. Joanne and her husband, Paul, recently moved their family from California to Tennessee and happily traded soy milk and arugula for sweet tea and biscuits. Visit her at JoanneKraft.com.
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Women Need Each Other

Today’s guest post is by my good friend and fellow The MOM Initiative mentor mom, Lori Wildenberg. Lori is talking about several of my favorite topics: women helping each other, friendships of women, Woman to Woman Mentoring, parenting, and the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth, which I wrote about in Face-to-Face with Elizabeth and Mary: Generation to Generation. Lori is giving away a copy of one of her new books if you leave a comment on this post. I know you’re going to want to read them both and I endorsed Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love. Enjoy!

Women Need Each Other (Plus a Give-Away)

by Lori Wildenberg

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My friend Kathy has greatly impacted me over the years. Kathy and I met in high school. She got married a few years before I did and had her first child about five years before I had mine. When I had parenting questions, her bigger perspective was so helpful. Yet she wasn’t so far ahead of me that she lacked empathy for my parenting concerns.

She would say to me, “Oh, just think of it. Three is still pretty little,” when I would lament over my child’s lack of potty-progress.

I have always been able to count on Kathy for sound advice.

She is generous with her wisdom. (I eat it up.)

She is a good listener. (I feel heard.)

She embraces confidentiality. (I feel safe.)

She speaks with honesty and love. ( I trust her.)

And I know she prays for me. (I am grateful.)

Gone are the days of neighborhood coffee parties and regular extended-family gatherings (at least for many of us). But women are still wired to need each other.

Mary, after learning she was pregnant with Jesus, went to see her older cousin Elizabeth. Mary needed support and wisdom. Elizabeth provided both.

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear. But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (Luke 1:39- 45).

We desire to learn from and to lean on one another.

Recently I spoke to a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. In my talk, I encouraged the women to be the mom God designed them to be.

One of the ways this can be done is to find a mentor; maybe a peer with perspective like my friend Kathy or possibly a more seasoned mentor like Mary’s relative, Elizabeth. It’s a biblical concept to have or to be a Titus woman (Titus 2:3-4). I guess that is why mentoring never goes out of style!

As a final thought, to avoid having the mentoring time look more like a gripe session, use a tool to steer your conversation. Of course my co-authored books, Raising Little Kids with Big Love or Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love are not the only resources out there. But I do believe they are good ones because each book has a companion study guide.

If you are a mom, I encourage you to find a Titus woman or to be one for someone else. It is a blessing for both.

I still count on my friend, Kathy for her sage advice. She’s now a grandmom. I’m not there yet, but when I am, I know who I’m “gonna call.”

So… women, who can you support and encourage? Whom would you like to have support and encourage you?

Leave a Comment for a Chance to Win a Free Book

If you would like to be eligible to receive a free book either: Raising Little Kids with Big Love or Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love, please leave a comment below mentioning who your personal mentor is (or has been) and how you are better for the guidance she provides.

Lori Wildenberg loves to encourage and support parents in their quest to be the mom or dad they want to be. Lori is a licensed parent and family educator, co-author of three parenting books, speaker, and founder, with Becky Danielson, of 1Corinthians13Parenting ministry (A parent’s one stop shop for all his or her parenting needs). A perfect day in Lori’s world is a hike with her husband Tom, their four kids, and Murphy, the family labradoodle. For more information or to connect with Lori go to www.1Corinthians13Parenting.com www.loriwildenberg.com or visit the 1C13P Facebook page www.facebook.com/1Corinthians13Parenting

 

If this post was a blessing to you, head over to Amazon where you can find more great faith-based and easily applicable tips and information in our newly released books: Raising Little Kids with Big Love (Wildenberg & Danielson) and Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love (Wildenberg & Danielson).

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