Some Women Are Still Like Eve: Listening to the Serpent

Have you ever wondered why Satan approached Eve and not Adam in the Garden of Eden? Why didn’t he go up to Adam and start challenging him about whether or not God really said they shouldn’t eat from the tree of wisdom? Let’s review Genesis 3:2-10 NLT:

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”

When the shrewd serpent, AKA Satan, showed Eve how beautiful and delicious the fruit was, and she wouldn’t need God, Eve caved. Husbands want to please their wives. Since that day, the Devil has made it his mission to get women and men to choose evil over good, Satan’s ways, not God’s ways. Already owning the world, Satan goes after the Christians he loses who turn from their evil ways, repent from their sins, and choose to follow Jesus Christ. Not deterred, Satan still dangles that forbidden fruit in the form of lies, sin, temptations, pride . . . anything that makes us feel we don’t need God, just like when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-10).

Jesus used Scripture to fend off Satan. If we’re not grounded in God’s Word, we’re easily deceived and distracted by the Deceiver, the Ruler of this world. Mothers have a huge influence over their children’s beliefs: what they watch on television, the video games they play, the amount of time they spend on electronics, the friends they keep.  A real and present danger is the lure of the secular world on women, and thus goes the next generation.

Since November 8 when the progressive liberals lost the presidential election, they have desperately tried to delegitimatize Donald Trump’s presidency. Refusing to accept defeat, they plotted a “Women’s March” in Washington DC the day after Inauguration Day. Supposedly, these women were marching for “women’s rights,” which were never clearly defined.

The rally featured speeches from activist Gloria Steinem, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, Democrat Elizabeth Warren (a fierce supporter of Hillary Clinton wearing a Planned Parenthood scarf) Madonna, actresses Ashley Judd, America Ferrara, and Scarlett Johansson, and director Michael Moore, among others.

Michael Moore . . . what does he have to do with women’s rights? Nothing! Then a group of largely women senators and other politicians took the stage.

In an article by Meghan Keneally, Good Morning America, titled “Politicians, Activists Rally Crowd at Women’s March in Washington,” Keneally noted: “With the timing and sheer number of people involved, it comes as little surprise that there are various causes attached to the march, which was largely billed as a demonstration in support of women’s rights and civil rights but for many has clear political undertones connected to the inauguration of Donald Trump.

This was obviously not a march for all women’s rights, since they barred all Pro-life groups!

This was also not a grassroots movement by a grandmother in Hawaii like the fake news media would have you believe. This was a well-planned Democrats’ attack aimed at President Donald Trump. So only Satan, the father of lies, could lure women, many bringing daughters, into marching for “women’s rights,” when it was actually political activists needing a big crowd to support their own agendas.

Even when asked why they were marching, most women quoted political election rhetoric, liberal media points, or didn’t have a clear answer. Satan’s trademark is confusion.

Women were the pawns of political interest groups, while supposedly protesting Donald Trump’s treatment of women. Ironic!

Maybe the women missed the fact that Donald Trump appointed Kellyanne Conway as the first woman presidential Campaign Manager and now Counselor and Advisor to the President? She broke a glass ceiling.

Some said they marched because of something Trump said over eleven years ago and publically asked forgiveness for and I wrote a blog about. Instead of granting him forgiveness, they knitted pink hats as idols to memorialize the vulgar word they’re protesting, and now demeaning slang words for women are freely rolling off their lips, yes including their young daughters. And Satan laughs!

So hypocritical when many at the march were yelling vulgarities, had obscenities on signs, and were listening to someone like Madonna give a profanity-laced, vulgar talk saying she thought about blowing up the White House. Does anyone see the dichotomy there? These women brought their daughters to hear Madonna who demeans women as sex symbols in her songs and costumes, has a filthy mouth, and talks of bombing the White House! She is a disgrace to womanhood and not a role model for our daughters. And the liberal anti-Trump Hollywood “stars” act in R rated movies exploiting women, participate in explicit sex scenes with other actors, and use vulgar language in movies and call it “art.”

Maybe they think President Trump is a racist? Really, what has he said that’s racist? He wants to help the inner cities and protect America from terrorists and illegals invading our country. He has many black pastors advising and supporting him. Were they marching against that?

Oh maybe they were marching against possibly losing the right to murder their babies, even up to the day before delivery? Ah Satan the tempter again: Did God really say life starts at conception? Did God really say thou shalt not kill?

Abortion never was or will be a woman’s right. Sex is a right and a choice, but it is not a right or choice to kill an unborn baby for convenience, pleasure, or wealth. Only Satan would tell a woman abortion was a right. But every unborn baby does have a right to life!

Could they be marching about losing Obamacare, because they might lose free abortions or birth control while the cost is skyrocketing and strapping families, businesses, and doctors are overwhelmed with paperwork? There will be a replacement for Obamacare and there are safe clinics that help women get medical checkups and provide help with pregnancies. It’s Satan’s lie that women will lose health benefits without Planned Parenthood.

Exactly what real “rights” were they marching for?

Women love getting together for a cause and climbed on planes, buses, and vans, but listening to them shout obscenities, wave signs with vulgarities, and denounce a newly inaugurated president wasn’t unifying. It isn’t God’s way. It is Satan whispering in their ears: God’s ways don’t work in today’s culture. Your rights are more important! God’s irrelevant in 2017. You don’t need Him. It’s all about you.

And that brings me to my heartbreak: I know Christians were marching.

The liberal progressive activists, who sponsored that march, stand for everything that opposes the Bible and God.

They didn’t open or close in prayer. There was no praise music. Not one pastor spoke. They only mentioned God’s name in vain. Instead they promoted hate, creating unrest, division, disruption, disunity, and denouncing a freely elected President.

Christians don’t support abortion of precious babies, the liberal progressive agenda of same sex marriage, the demonizing of Christian values, the denial of male and female genders, the removal of God from the public square, or the denouncing of Israel  . . . so what would draw a Christian woman to a march like this?

Here’s what Christian women should grab their sneakers and their daughters and hit the streets to march against: sex trafficking, child prostitution, childhood cancer or any cancer, selling drugs to youth and drug addiction, bullying, abortion. March for Pro Life, to help single moms or for women in countries who really have no rights because American women have amazing rights!

I believe that anyone who would turn out for the liberal “Women’s March” is looking for role models and mentors in all the wrong places. They are listening to the mainstream media and following the culture. The church needs to step up and provide mentors, guidance, and the Truth from the Word of God not from the world! Why are Christian women listening to Hollywood? Madonna? Gloria Steinem? Michael Moore? The same serpent that deceived Eve?

President Trump cannot turn America back to God. It’s time for the women of the church to get involved. How many of you know a woman who marched who you could have counseled? Wake up Christian women. God is calling you to get involved!

I hope you will share this post and pray about how God is calling you to be part of a revival. The doors have opened with President Trump’s and the conservative platform’s victory. Now we must do our part because the battle has just begun.

Brandon and me

I want to close with a personal story to share with any who think abortion is a woman’s “right.” I praise God every day that the 15 year-old Hispanic birth mother of my amazing twelve-year old grandson never went into a Planned Parenthood clinic. Yes, he was her second baby, so they would have eagerly advised her to get a quick abortion and head back to school to continue with her life. But praise God, she chose to give Brandon the right to his life, and blessed a childless couple by choosing them to become the forever parents of this precious gift of God. That young girl did continue with her life knowing she chose to cherish life and will never suffer the haunting nightmares of so many women who chose to sacrifice life.

Read more of Brandon’s story in Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby? A Companion Guide for Couples on the Infertility Journey

If you have had an abortion or know someone considering it please read: Prisoners of Choice.

Another confirming article written by a woman about how women were pawns in what was really a political activists march: Billionaire George Soros Has Ties to more that 50 ‘partners’ to the Women’s March on Washington.

March for Trump

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Dear God, We Need Friends!

Wedding Day

When Dave and I were newlyweds, we prayed and asked God to bless us with Christian friends. God answered beyond our wildest expectations and He continues blessing us with new friends. As one friend recently exclaimed, “You sure do have allot of friends!”

Ours was a second marriage for both of us. I had been single for 17 years, so my friends were mostly single and Dave, single only several years, had focused on work and his kids. We knew it would be important for us to have a social life comprised of couples who shared our values and beliefs, so we said an intentional prayer that God would bring those couples into our lives that He wanted us to have as friends.

Making Friends Outside the Box!

Dave and I met in a small group Bible study he was co-leading through Saddleback Church, where we were both members. This group was for people in the business world, but there were several couples in the group, so we had a head start on our quest for “couple friends.”

We were willing to look outside our church home of Saddleback Church, so when I heard about a course called Marriage Builders offered at another local church; we decided this was perfect preparation for our upcoming marriage. And you guessed it . . . we made another group of friends, had a great time socializing with the couples group at this church, and the pastor who taught Marriage Builders officiated at our wedding. A couple in the group we became very close with videotaped our ceremony.

While considering where to go on our honeymoon, I heard an advertisement on the radio for a cruise to the Caribbean with Calvary Pastors Chuck Smith, Jon Courson, and David Hawking. I thought: What a great way to spend our honeymoon on a cruise with hundreds of Christian couples. It didn’t matter what church they attended—we were all in the family of God. It was great fun being the “newlyweds” on the cruise and we came home with a new group of friends.

Come Join Our Small Group or We’ll Form One

Dave and I were intentional about asking other couples we met at the gym, at church, in the grocery store, friends of friends . . .  if they would like to join our small group Bible study. Soon the focus of the group changed from business-oriented to topical and everyone was welcome to join. As the group expanded, so did our circle of friends.

Several years into our marriage, Gary Smalley came to Saddleback with his Making Love Last Forever conference. Dave and I took a training to lead Making Love Last Forever couples groups and found ourselves leading a group of much younger couples, who had all been married longer than we had, but were newer in their faith. The couple who hosted that group in their home refers to Dave and me as, “The most influential couple in their faith journey.” That’s humbling.

We’re Moving—Opportunity for New Friends

We bought a “writing” cabin in the mountains and immediately started making new friends, even though we were “weekenders.” We attended the local church, invited neighbors to walk, come over for dinner, play games . . .  and soon people were saying I should run for mayor because I knew so many people.

Then two years ago, we made the major move from California to the mountains of Idaho where we knew no one except our daughter’s family, who live over an hour away. I wondered how we would make new friends, but I didn’t wonder for long. Again, we joined the local community church where the members embraced and welcomed us. Soon we had invitations to potlucks, football parties, game nights, and a neighbor reached out to me and we’re best friends and walking buddies—even though we our theology differs, we both love the Lord. Another group of friends surrounded us.

Vacationing with the Family of God—A Glimpse of Heaven

In my blog post “Love Song Couples Getaway,” I shared the story of Dave and me deciding to celebrate our 20th anniversary . . . just as we did on our honeymoon . . . with a group of Christian couples we didn’t know. It was the best vacation of our married life, and in just one week, we made friends with couples who have become near and dear to us. They live in Southern California, where we just moved from, but we still have our mountain cabin and grandkids in So Cal and recently joined these couples for a reunion.

Staying in Touch

The friend I mentioned in the opening paragraph who exclaimed, “You sure do have allot of friends,” was reacting to the recap of our trip to Southern California. We told him about:

Lunch with the wife of that host couple of the Making Love Last Forever group, whom we hadn’t seen in 10 years after they moved out of So Cal. We picked up the conversation like we had never been apart. I discovered they would be in So Cal the same time as us on Facebook—a great way to keep in touch with friends.   Lunch with Robin Coleman
We had a reunion with three couples we met on our Love Song Couples Getaway vacation in May. Love Song Couples Getaway reunion

Enjoyed a lovely sunset dinner with couples from that original small group Bible study where Dave and I met, and we’re always welcome to stay with them when we return to Orange County.

Dinner with our original couples small group friends

We then spent a week at our So Cal mountain cabin socializing and visiting with our friends and neighbors, including my author friend Joanne Bischof and her husband Noah

Dinner with author Joanne Bischof and Noah

Friendships Are Our Witness

In Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, I tell the story of my daughter Kim contemplating becoming a Christian and worrying that she might not have any friends. But then, she said, “Well you and Dave have so many friends and you’re always having a good time. And I guess I don’t need those friends who won’t accept me.” When she made that comment, Dave and I had only been married five years …we were just getting started on making friends.

As Christians, we need to remember that someone is always watching us to see how we interact with others and are we open to fellowshipping.

We must also befriend nonbelievers or how else will they learn about the blessings and joys of knowing Christ. But those we “hang with”, and share our lives with, should share our morals and values, and we should be a support system for each other.

Proverbs 17:17
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.

Let’s be friends on Facebook!

I would love to hear how you make treasured friends.

Will You Be My Spiritual “Big Sis”? Guest Post By Pat Ennis

Our guest blogger today, Pat Ennis author of The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook , confirms my passion and mission to encourage churches to be more intentional about applying Titus 2:3-5 in the lives of the women in their congregations. We often think of a mentor as a spiritual mom, but Pat offers the perspective of a mentors being a spiritual big sister—

 

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My commitment to mentoring comes from my early years as a young professional when there was an absence of older women who were willing to lend a helping hand. Many offered criticism, few offered help. I vowed that if I survived, I would be willing to help others on their spiritual and professional journeys. The young women whom I have mentored serve our Lord throughout the world. I love the times when I answer the phone to find one of them on the other end of the line. Their personal visits are always a blessing and their e-mails, cards, and letters often arrive to encourage and minister to me on challenging days. I am looking forward to our reunion in heaven and count it a privilege to be “the older woman” in their lives!

The strategy outlined in Titus 2:3-5 provides the biblical foundation for understanding the mentoring relationship, while the book of Ruth details an example of its application.  However, despite the fact that Titus 2:3-5 is an instruction, not a suggestion, to Christian women . . . few are willing to mentor.  Excuses range from, “I don’t have time” to “no one cares what I have to say”.

A Revealing Survey 

The “Perceptions of Homemaking Study,” which established the foundation for The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook, revealed the twenty-first-century woman’s knowledge of—and ability to perform successfully—life skills commonly associated with the management of the home. In the study, 2,315 respondents completed a 30-item survey. Each respondent could list four skills to complete this statement: The homemaking skills many Christian women lack are. . . .

The 4,599 responses revealed that many younger Christian women lack the homemaking skills of cooking, sewing, organization, time management, hospitality, and cleaning.

Women who would be considered “older women” in their churches (35 and above) comprised 62.9% (1,459) of the respondents. They overwhelmingly replied that they are confident in their homemaking skills. However, as they responded to the open-ended questions, the women expressed concern for the lack of biblical character and practical skills possessed by the younger Christian women (15-34 in age) they encounter.

A Break in the Mentoring Cycle

The results suggest a break in the circuit: he Titus 2:3-5 model is being ignored in our evangelical cycle of women’s ministry. The survey results pose a thought-provoking question: Have the younger women become less teachable or have the older women failed to teach?

Seeing answers, I spoke with the editor of the Biblical Womanhood Blog to discuss how the Titus 2:3-5 passage can be practically applied to a mentor/mentee relationship. A gifted, well-educated young woman in her mid-twenties, she provided some insight to what comprises a meaningful mentoring relationship. She commented that in her opinion a mentor is like having a “big sister” who is willing to make a life-to-life relational investment—nurturing, involved, invested, and a willingness to walk with you through “your journey”.

Probing a bit deeper I asked where the “spiritual big sis” draws the line between being interested and intrusive. I so appreciate her suggestions:

  • Ask questions rather than make demands.
  • Serve instead of control.
  • Demonstrate a willingness to mentor.
  • Be an available voice.
  • Avoid perfectionism. The scriptures challenge us toward excellence. Perfectionism is God’s responsibility. That means the mentor needs to be willing to share her “mess ups” so she doesn’t give the impression she walks on water.

Formal or Informal Mentoring

I believe that mentoring relationships can be either formal or informal and have some practical suggestions for each to share with you.

Formal Mentoring Suggestions

  • Reading and discussing a Christian women’s book together (for example, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free by Nancy DeMoss, Loving God with all Your Mind by Elizabeth George, or my book with Lisa Tatlock, Becoming a Woman Who Pleases God).
  • Completing a study like Janet Thompson’s Face-to-Face Bible study series, written for mentors and mentees to do together.
  • Reading and discussing a commentary on a book of the Bible (such as Titus).
  • Memorizing Scripture or keeping a prayer journal and then spending time talking and praying together each week.

Informal Mentoring Suggestions

  • Discussing questions raised by the younger woman (regarding relationships, skills, or life experiences).
  • Working on projects together such as planning events or holidays to learn practical skills in management (set goals then work together to accomplish them).
  • Simply spending time together talking and letting the younger woman see your life and family.
  • Sharing your knowledge about practical home management (menu planning, cleaning house, or paying the bills).

Whether formal or informal, “The Seasons of Mentoring Cycle” begin when younger and older women regularly spend time together.

Pat Ennis is a distinguished professor of Homemaking and Director of Homemaking Programs at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas. She is a speaker and author, and her most recent release is The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook with Dorothy Patterson (Crossway, March 2013).

Christian Homemaker's Handbook

Mentor From Your Mess

Kathy McDaniel and me

Kathy and Janet in Colorado

I saw the following post on the Facebook page of a dear long-time friend of the family. Kathy is a mom weathering through a difficult and long divorce. I asked to share her sage words of wisdom with my readers because she describes lived-out mentoring.

Kathy said absolutely and prays that her sharing will help many others!

God doesn’t allow us to go through difficult circumstances just to build our own character. As we experience His faithfulness in all situations, He wants us to share where our strength comes from with someone on a similar journey.

My passion is to help other women understand that mentoring is simply—Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness—my tagline for living the Christian life. Kathy gets that. I hope you do too!

Kathy’s Facebook Post with editorial review:

Reach Out and Touch Someone

I continue to hear more and more stories of women in the midst of divorce or separation, physical, verbal, and emotional abuse, and the victims of financial “money moving.” If you know someone going through this, please reach out to her. Let her know you care and that you’re there for her.

Pray consistently for her and her children! I can’t tell you how isolating it can be when your world is crashing down: you’re bruised and battle scarred, scared, and trying to be strong for your kids. It’s so easy to isolate because you have nothing left to give; but that’s when you need others to hold you up, pray for you, and bring you a Costco pizza so you remember to eat and feed your kids.

Don’t Let Anyone Walk Through Difficulty Alone

I never would have made it through without my family, friends, and church family, huddling around me and lifting me up in prayer. They wouldn’t let me isolate—even when I tried—and I am so blessed because of it. The numbers of women walking through this battle is staggering, and we need to make sure they don’t walk alone! And if you know a dad in this situation, reach out to him. The numbers aren’t as great, but the pain is just as deadly!

Honor Faithful Love

My heart aches when I see so many families torn apart by infidelity, abuse, porn, and arrogance. To those with a faithful spouse who keeps walking with you in the middle of life’s chaos, hold him/her close. Treasure them, pray for them!

Adopt a broken family into your hearts. Let their kids see a healthy marriage—they need to know it’s possible.

The First Step in Healing is Helping

For those who have walked the broken road and survived, share your story, wisdom, failures, hugs . . . as God leads you. Offer hope to those who can’t see past today! God allows us to go through trials because He has a greater purpose than we can see. One of those purposes is to comfort those who are on a similar journey. You understand what they are dealing with, when no one else can. You know how to pray for them. You know how to help them avoid things that you didn’t avoid. Guide them through the deep waters so that one day they can guide someone else.

Most importantly, point them to the ultimate Guide: Jesus Christ!

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Kathy is living out my paraphrase of Titus 2:3-5: Teach another woman what you’ve been taught so she can someday teach what you taught her . . .

Read more of Janet’s thoughts on mentoring.

Celebrate National Grandparent’s Day with Prayer

 

Grandparents day

Grandparents laughing with grandchildren 

Did you know there is actually a National Grandparents Day? This year it is on September 13. Have you been planning a celebration?  It certainly isn’t recognized like Mother’s Day for Father’s Day, but those of us who are grandparents know what a blessing it is to have grandchildren…and that’s celebration enough for me!

I LOVE being a grandparent. I like to say that God saved the last for best. My husband, Dave, and I have eleven grandchildren and we plan our schedule around spending time with each of them.

My friend Lillian Penner is the National Prayer Coordinator for the Christian Grandparenting Network and I invited Lillian to be a guest blogger today to talk to grandparents about how to celebrate National Grandparents Day by praying for our grandchildren. I pray for each of my eleven in my morning quiet time, and I can visibly see God at work in each of their lives. Enjoy Lillian’s post today–

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Christian Grandparenting Network is asking grandparents all over the world to unite in prayer for their grandchildren on Sunday, September 13, 2013. This date is the official United States National Grandparents Day designated by a Senate proclamation signed by President Jimmy Carter in 1978.

            Our grandchildren are living in a desperate moral and spiritual climate navigating in a world hostile to truth. Satan has launched an aggressive attack on our families, schools and our nation to desensitize our children to truth and righteousness. Perhaps at no other time in our history is a call to prayer more urgently required than it is today for our grandchildren.

            The mission of Christian Grandparenting Network (CGN) is to promote effective grandparenting, which is intentional about assisting our children and grandchildren to know and follow Christ wholeheartedly. CGN is issuing a call to all grandparents to join with other grandparents in their churches, community and around the world to “Stand in the Gap” for an intentional day of prayer for the next generation.

Will you stand in the GAP to join grandparents worldwide on Sunday September 13 to pray for the next generation that they may walk in the truth? Will you volunteer to plan an event with your friends or in your church?

To join the movement  go to our Facebook page, “Like” our fan page and under the “more” tab, you’ll find a link to my free e-book Reflecting on My Grandparenting Journey.

For additional information and resources go to www.gocgn.com or contact Lillian Penner lpenner@christiangrandparenting.net.

A Blessing and A Hearbreak

agold-book

Last week, I was grumbling about filling out a long form for a local author’s group. I really don’t like forms and had procrastinated until the night before the due date. I decided to go to Amazon for ISBN numbers and descriptions, and there it was—I couldn’t believe it—Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey was in the top 100 Best Sellers for breast cancer books —#28 in Books > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Diseases & Physical Ailments > Cancer > Breast Cancer!

I seldom look at my Amazon sales numbers, which change daily. If I let those numbers influence me, I might never write again. So I have no idea how long this book has been on Amazon’s bestseller list—every author’s dream—or how long it will stay there. Let me clarify that my book was not in the top 100 of all books on Amazon, but it was in the top 100 in its category. The number fluctuates from day to day, but it’s stayed in the top 100 for awhile.

In shock, I clicked on the link to the page displaying the top 100 books; and yes, there it was #28! A joyous “Yahoo!” quickly turned into a heartbreaking moan . . . this could only mean that more and more women are being diagnosed with breast cancer. In the span of a few moments, my feelings transgressed through shock, joy, gratefulness, praise, sadness, and finally humbleness that God would use me to comfort and encourage so many breast cancer sisters.

Reaching Out

Recently, I learned on Facebook that two author friends have breast cancer. One I have known for years, and the other I’ve only recently met on Facebook. I’ve left occasional comments and “likes” on their timelines, but I felt the Holy Spirit persistently nudging me to engage with these breast cancer sisters on a more personal level.

I knew what I was to do—I messaged each one and simply said: I’m a three-time breast cancer survivor and I’ve written a book that might bring you comfort. I’m praying for you and want you to know that I’m here for you if you have questions or just want to chat or cry. Immediately, both responded back thanking me and had so many questions that only someone who has been through this heartbreak could answer. One wrote: Thank you for reaching out to me. I’ve asked the Lord to bring me together with women who have experienced this and that can encourage me. You are one of them.

Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness

People all around us are praying that the Lord will bring someone experienced in what they’re going through. God has allowed me challenging experiences like having a prodigal, infertility, breast cancer, divorce, being a single parent, my father murdered, blending a family, and chronic back pain to name a few. In dealing with life’s hard times, I have two choices—as  do you—1) wallow in self-pity that spirals into depression and a victim personality, 2) trust God and turn hurts and pains over to Him and let Him use them to His glory.

It’s A Choice

I will rejoice that God has used my breast cancer to help me pen Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer to comfort, encourage, and walk beside other women who are dealing with this devastating disease. And I will rejoice that for now, it is an Amazon Best Seller because hopefully the publisher will keep it in print longer to bless other women. That has been a long-time prayer because publishers need to see books selling in order to keep investing in them.

I am humbled that God has gifted me with the ability and desire to share my life experiences with others to offer hope in God alone. It’s hard to believe He thinks I am worthy of such a calling, but as long as we are on this earth, there is going to be pain and suffering, and if He thinks I can help comfort the afflicted then I am blessed, even if it’s heartbreaking.

 

What experience do you think God is asking you to share with someone who is hurting right now?

 How can you reach out and let them know that God is there for them and so are you?

Breast cancer book

Got Books?

academic,books,leisure,libraries,research,shelves,volumes,information,knowledge,stacks

My former Pastor, Rick Warren, says that every leader is a reader. Pastor Rick is a voracious reader, and consequently, knowledgeable and well versed on a variety of topics. I understand and share Pastor Rick’s passion for reading as evidenced by visitors to our home: walls of bookshelves overflowing with books, and books and magazines bookmarked or dog-eared in every room. I never want to find myself without something to read, so I’m often reading many different books and articles in different rooms of the house, at the same time. I had to laugh when my 7 year-old granddaughter asked why I had a magazine rack in the bathroom! That seemed normal to me J.

Sharing a Love of Reading and Writing

This past Saturday, I enjoyed spending the day with others who share my love of books. I presented my authored books at the Pacific Northwest Church Librarians annual conference held in Nampa, Idaho. Many local authors were there with their books too, and we all enjoyed a keynote presentation from the delightful and prolific Lauraine Snelling, author of 70 books and still writing.

Lauraine asked if we could remember a librarian who had influenced us as a young reader. Since her audience was comprised of librarians and authors, all our hands shot up! Lauraine mentioned that when she was a child, the librarians at her local library and the bookmobile fostered her love of books.

Lauraine’s question prompted memories of my childhood and the bookmobile that parked in our neighborhood every other week. If you’re too young to remember bookmobiles, they were libraries on wheels. The closest thing I can compare them to is a very large, gutted out motor home with bookshelves full of books lining the walls. The local neighbors could check out and return books.

As a kid, I would ride my bike to the bookmobile and check out my limit of books—the library limit or the limit I could fit into the basket on my bike, whichever came first. When I was sixteen and could drive, I spent countless weekends at the library doing research for class projects. I would pack a lunch and spend the day. Just walking into the library gave me the same rush as walking into a bookstore does today. So many books, so little time, as I’ve always been a slow, but persistent, reader.

Fostering the Love for Books in the Next Generation

Today, I live in a tiny rural town—no bookmobiles, but we have a brand new library where my grandkids love to go when they come to visit. We check out their limit of books, DVDs, and backpacks full of fun activities—going to the library is actually right up there with going to the pool and the river—well maybe a close second. But I love it when one of them asks if we can go to the library!

Many of our eleven grandchildren have their own library card at their local libraries, and Grampa and I often choose books for birthday and Christmas gifts for the grandkids and their parents.

How Can Reading Change Your Life?

I did not set out to be a writer. I have degrees in Food Administration, Business Administration, and Christian Leadership, but not writing. I’ve always been in awe of those who could engage a reader by mastering the art of conveying and organizing thoughts, ideas, research, and words into a book. I never thought that would describe me someday. Then in 1997, without me seeing it coming, God asked me to put into writing how to start a mentoring ministry. Still I didn’t consider myself an author; I was just writing a manual for how to start, grow, and maintain a mentoring ministry. Then those who used Woman to Woman Mentoring How to Start, Grow, and Maintain a Mentoring Ministry to start their mentoring ministries wanted to know how to train, and offer mentor and mentee handbooks. More “resource” writing.

Next, it was my husband suggesting I write Bible studies for the mentors and mentees to study together and the Face-to-Face Bible Study series was born. Then, I had breast cancer and longed for a book not yet written. God prompted me that the purpose in my breast cancer was to write that book, and Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer was written out of my pain and desire to provide my breast-cancer sisters with the book I wished I had: a mentor, friend, record keeper, love letter from God, snippets of other women’s stories, and places to write my own story.

Now, here I am seventeen books later and working on the next book. Had I not been an avid reader, I couldn’t have started and lead the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry. I read every book I could get my hands on that dealt with mentoring—starting with the Bible. I could have never written Bible studies without reading the Bible, commentaries, and researching how to write Bible studies.

Reading may not prompt you to become a writer, but it will expand the horizons of your mind and your world. However, let me encourage you to be selective with what you read. Not all books are equal, and not all books are good for our minds. Many books, like many movies and television shows, are actually detrimental to our mental, emotional, and spiritual health. There’s power in the written word: for good or evil. Be selective in what you read. Remember: trash in, trash out.

I recommend selecting reading material from Christian bookstores and Christian book sites like christianbook.com. Of course, the best book to start with is the best seller of all time—the Bible.

I would love to hear what made you a lover of books and what books you’re reading now. Please leave a comment and let’s share with each other. I’m reading Congo Dawn by Jeanette Windle and really enjoying her knowledge of the Congo and the story line. Ok, now it’s you’re turn.

Character From An 8 Year-old’s Perspective

First day of VBS

The above picture is of the grandkids and me heading off to our first day of Vacation Bible School at our church, located at the bottom of the hill we live on. The kids and I like to walk down to VBS every morning and trudge back up the hill after the hot lunch provided for all the VBS kids!

At the bottom of the hill, we have to cross a two-lane country road, which is the only access in and out of our area, so it’s busy in the morning. Where we live there are no stoplights or crosswalks, so the kids and I stand patiently waiting for our chance to cross the street. When there’s a clearing in the “traffic,” we hold hands and walk across the road to church. As a side note, we live in a rural area, so I use the term “traffic” very loosely!

Several mornings, the kids and I were surprised and elated that cars going both directions simultaneously stopped to let us walk across the road. They were literally stopping traffic for us. We waved a thank you, and in true country fashion, the drivers waved back with a nod of the head conveying: no problem . . . our pleasure . . . have a fun day. We probably looked like a protective mamma duck and her little ducklings trying to cross the road.

One morning as cars were stopped for us to cross the road, 8 year-old Brandon intuitively commented, “Grammie, you know those people who stop for us . . . they are people of character!” I was truly stunned to hear such wisdom coming from my precious little grandson, who gave his heart to Jesus at VBS. I told Brandon that he was exactly right; they truly were people of character. Then I mused that those kind motorists had no idea the impression they had just made on this little guy.

Brandon’s definition of a person of character seems to be someone who does the right thing: goes out of their way to help others, even if it’s inconvenient. A person who sees someone in need and stops to help, even if it makes him or her late, or others are irritated with their act of kindness. Someone who thinks of others needs before their own needs and are always looking for people to help or assist. It made me wonder how many people I influence every day by my actions and my deeds. Would I be considered a woman of character . . . all the time? Am I always looking out for someone, literally or figuratively, standing on the side of the road needing someone to stop and notice his or her dilemma?

In busy towns, I’ve seen so many motorists  who barely let someone cross in front of them in a crosswalk before rushing on through or making an impatient turn when pedestrians just clear the front of their car. These could be drivers headed to church or late for a small group meeting or rushing to do good, while not seeing the good they could do right in front of them.

It makes you think doesn’t it?

Speaking of people of character, my husband Dave’s story of being a father who follows The Father was featured on Father’s Day at The M.O.M Initiative. So proud of the godly husband, father, and grampa he is as the Spiritual Leader of our family. Now that’s a man of character!

Growing a Life While Growing a Family

I’ve invited fellow The M.O.M. Initiative Mentor Mom, Julie Sanders, back to share more about her new e-book Expectant. Her writing has been published in Declare His Name, in magazines such as The Message, P31 Woman, and in adult and children’s Bible curriculum. Julie is committed to teaching God’s word in a personal and relevant way that gives women confidence to walk out faith in life.

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As the weeks progressed, my skin stretched to capacity and I grew bigger. My heart was full with expectation about our child and motherhood. When the time came for the class session about C-sections and surgery, our instructor prepared to show a video to the parents-to-be. Never one to enjoy the inside story of the human body, I told my husband it was time for me to excuse myself from the final class. I ran out. Taken by surprise, he ultimately joined me in the hall, and we went home. After all, I insisted, a C-section wasn’t something we needed to know about.

One emergency C-section later, I wondered if that final class might have prepared me for a finale and a beginning I did not expect. As gradually as my stretch marks had appeared, my expectations expanded with each new outcome, challenge, and dilemma of being a mother. “How could anyone prepare for this?” I wondered from my hospital bed. Would the Birthing Class video have shown me what it looks like to meet your baby through the window of an incubator?  First time mothers, and even experienced mothers, often find their journey into parenting thrusts them into a world they didn’t anticipate and  aren’t ready for.

It doesn’t take long for a mom to realize motherhood is as much about growing her own life as it is about growing her family. While a woman may want to make plans, anticipate changes, and avoid the unpredictable, each day will be sprinkled with the unexpected like toys on a living room floor. Her body, her adult relationships, her new child, and her normal life will take on a new life.

Magazine images of well-groomed women with cherub-like babes fool us into expecting a baby-book ready experience we can post on Facebook. Each woman’s story is unique, but every woman’s heart is expectant.

What can a woman know for sure as she steps gingerly through the passageway of motherhood through pregnancy, foster care, adoption, or another open door?  She can know that while her own expectations are stretched, God is fully aware of every contraction, emergency, failed adoption, heart ache, longing, weakness, joy, victory:  all of it.  He knows.  Every mother and child can say to the heavenly Father, “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:16) He knows, He is involved, and He works for our good.

Every mother’s expectant heart stretches with all she hopes and dreams for her child and herself.  She will not be alone. The One who saw her child before she did and wrote the days of their life in His own story book, will be with her as she discovers that mothering was everything and more than she expected.

About Julie Sanders

Julie’s first baby has grown up and gone off to college and the second is close behind. Having a baby looked different than she expected, but the motherhood journey has exceeded all she imagined. The hard won truths she discovered in becoming a mom have stayed with her while living and serving around the world, finding that moms everywhere share the same expectations in growing a family. As a pastor’s wife and women’s ministry leader, Julie enjoys walking the path of motherhood with moms in all seasons. When her small group of six young wives began adding children to their homes, she was inspired to write a collection of devotions that would speak to their expectant hearts.

Connect with Julie at Come Have a Peace if you would like to have Julie partner with you in your next retreat, MOPS meeting, special event, or leadership training event. Julie also writes for The MOM Initiative, Do Not Depart, and Exemplify Online.

Stop by EXPECTANT to purchase EXPECTANT for $4.99 on Kindle, iPad, or for use with the Kindle App.

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Who Needs to Hear Your Story?

Sharing Your Story

Another term for “your story” is “your testimony.” A testimony focuses on God, not us. It describes our lives before we turned them over—or returned—to God and on how He changed and transformed us. Your story doesn’t have to have a “happy ending” for you to share it. We give our testimonies to show God’s faithfulness in spite of the circumstances, to let others know they’re not alone, and maybe just to stop someone else from making the same mistakes we did.

When people tell me their hardships, I often advise them to begin journaling because it’s recording the story that will become their testimony.  We must be willing to share our hurts and hang-ups and how God helped us through difficult times. It’s our witness to His faithfulness. It’s the opportunity to give purpose to a crisis. Otherwise, we spend our lives feeling sorry for ourselves. Revealing is the first step to healing.

The Bible tells us that“the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Hidden sin has us in a death grip that will kill us from the inside out. But exposed sin loses its power. We don’t have to worry about others finding out about our past. We can “Thank God we’ve started listening to a new master, one whose commands set us free to live openly in his freedom!” (personalized from Romans 6:18 The Message). One of the steps in most recovery programs is openly telling one’s testimony to a group. Public sharing frees us and allows God to minister to someone in the audience who is going through something similar.

When I told people I was writing Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter and would be including my daughter Kim’s story, they often asked, “How does she feel about that?” I assured them she wanted her story told to help others and, in fact, wrote portions in her own words:

Mom, I want to share my story in your book because you also need my perspective. How can you effectively write about you and me if you don’t know what I was feeling? You can’t teach others what to do correctly if you don’t know what works and doesn’t work with kids. I’m so thankful I’ve come to know the Lord, that my life is so blessed, and that I didn’t make too many serious mistakes along the way. If I can help you save one daughter by sharing my story, then that’s what I want to do!

Your testimony won’t always be shared in a public setting. God will bring people across your path and the Holy Spirit will prompt you to share one-on-one. When people ask Kim and me how we made it through, the best answer we can give them is, “We couldn’t have done it without God.”  And that’s your best answer too!

Kim and I had the opportunity to share “Our Story” at a Mother Daughter Tea at The Journey Church the Saturday before Mother’s Day. Watching my sweet daughter articulately share her prodigal journey as I shared mine, I could only imagine how God was smiling down on us. So many women came up and thanked us for being open and vulnerable.

What story is God asking you to tell and who needs to hear it? In all of my books, I give others the opportunity to have a venue for telling their story. I am currently receiving stories for my next three books. If any of these titles spark your interest, please contact me.

  • How Good is God? I Can’t Remember….10 Ways to Never Forget God’s Faithfulness
  • Dear God, Life is Hard
  • Mentoring: A Way of Life from the Pulpit to the Pew

 

You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14–16 The Message)

 

Excerpts in this article are taken from Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter.


 Kim and me Mother's Day Tea
Kim and me sharing “Our Story” at The Journey Church Mother’s Day Tea