Is Your Church a Hugging Church?

I started the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, which as Pastor Rick Warren describes . . . “We’re a hugging church.” So I knew that women attending one of our Woman to Woman Mentoring Orientation Coffees would need welcoming from a “Greeter/Hugger” at the front door.

Some churches starting the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry question the need for a Greeter/Hugger, until they have an experience similar to the church who shared this story with me:

A helper offered to be the Greeter/Hugger at our Orientation Coffee, but she couldn’t hug a stranger so she would shake hands. We aren’t a hugging church, but since we were following your Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry Coordinator’s Guide where you stress the importance of having a Greeter/Hugger, we decided we would have her help in another area and find someone who would hug the women as they arrived. Then during the sharing time, one woman said she was a newlywed, and shortly after their wedding, her husband deployed overseas. The hug she received from the Greeter/Hugger was her first hug in eighteen months, and that hug assured her the mentoring ministry was just where the Lord wanted her. After the Coffee, the helper who said she couldn’t hug strangers, said she would be the Greeter/Hugger at our next Orientation Coffee.

How Did Church Members Greet Each Other in Jesus’s Day?

God’s design for the church was for believers to be family. Jesus made that clear in Mark 3:31-35:

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”

“Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.

Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

We often refer to ourselves as brothers and sisters in Christ, and some churches still call each other “brother _______” and “sister _______,” but most have dropped the use of this familiar term, maybe to a detriment. Families hug each other in greeting, so it shouldn’t seem strange for brothers and sisters in Christ to greet each other with a hug.

The early church actually went a step beyond a hug and greeted fellow believers with a kiss. This wasn’t a romantic kiss, but one like Europeans or relatives give to each other, maybe on the cheek. When Paul sent letters to the churches, this is how he told them to greet each other . . .

“Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.” Romans 16:16

“All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.” 1 Corinthians 16:20

“Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss.” 1 Thessalonians 5:26

Peter also said, “Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” 1 Peter 5:14

Why Don’t All Churches Hug Today?

I asked several people if they had a time of greeting in their church, and if so, was it shaking hands or hugging. One man replied that there was greeting prior to the service and if you had a relationship with someone you might hug them, but if there had been some animosity or misunderstanding, you wouldn’t want to hug that person. I thought that was interesting since this is church we’re talking about! But then I had a disagreement with someone, and it was hard to hug that person until we resolved it.

When my husband and I travel and attend churches, we notice that sometimes we’re the only people hugging. One church we attend regularly, the pastor sticks out his hand to shake my husband Dave’s hand, and as Dave gives him a hug, the Pastor laughs and says, “Oh yes, you’re the hugger.”

I don’t remember that many people hugging when we first started attending our small mountain community church where we live now, unless they were already friends, but now everyone hugs! I’m so used to hugging people, I once hugged our new neighbor, and I barely knew her. It just seemed like the welcoming thing to do, although she did seem a little surprised, I did it without thinking . . . because I’m a hugger.

Admittedly, some people are extremely private and don’t like people invading their space. They’re uncomfortable hugging, especially if they don’t know you. I’ve never had anyone take inappropriate advantage of hugging in church, but I suppose that could happen too. And it’s important to caution children to be leery of anyone they don’t know hugging them inappropriately, and be sure your church has a vetting process for everyone working in youth and children’s ministry.

Here are hugging etiquette considerations if you’re a hugger like me, but not sure how the other person feels about hugging:

  1. If it’s a first meeting/greeting, shake hands, especially with the opposite sex.
  2. After several meetings, try a side hug. If you feel resistance or tenseness, return to handshakes.
  3. Be open. Explain that you’re a hugger, and ask if they’re OK with a hug in greeting and honor their wishes.

If you’re uncomfortable with hugs, that’s OK. Don’t feel badly or that you have to explain. A bright smile, and kind, friendly greeting speaks volumes.

“An honest answer is like a warm hug.” Psalm 24:26 The Message

What are your thoughts on giving hugs during greeting time at church?

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Are You The Woman Today You Want Your Daughter to Become?

If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know I’ve been writing, editing, and proofing a new book, Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Last week, I turned in my final proof edit to the publishers, Leafwood Publisher, as I anticipate it’s September 12, 2017 release. Then I learned the exciting news that this book is now on Amazon ready for preorders! You can order now, and as soon as it’s in stock at Amazon, you’ll receive your pre-release copies. The more preorders, the more they bring in stock. Will you help me get this book into the hands of mentors and mentees, those wanting to know how to be a mentor or mentee, and Women’s Ministry Directors to guide women in all seasons of their life.

This book will guide and equip women from tweens to twilight seasons in how to biblically mentor or be a mentee! I think it’s the first book of it’s kind written for both M&M’S! One endorser has already said every Women’s Ministry Director needs this book in her library. As the summer goes on, I’ll share more tidbits about this book for all women.  So drum roll please . . . I’m unveiling the cover!

The Mothering Season

When I speak to women about mentoring, I tell them that their first mentoring responsibility is to their daughters if they have daughters or nieces. They’re the role model for these young girls and they’re mentoring to them what it looks like to be a woman today: either a woman of the world or a woman of the Word. And then, I ask the question: Are you the woman today you want your daughters to become because they’re watching you, and as much as they don’t want to be like you, they will probably become just like you at sometime in their life.

In Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, I share how during my backsliding years, my daughter wanted to be just like me. I realized some of the poor choices she was making were a reflection of the poor choices she was watching me make.

That was a huge revelation to me that I needed to make some changes in my life. When I did rededicate my life to the Lord and start living a godly life, she didn’t want any part of it. She liked the way we were living more by the world’s standards than by God’s ways. And that’s the story I talk about in Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. I went down on my knees and prayed Scripture for her daily for six years; all the time showing and role modeling for her the blessings of being a rededicated woman of faith.

I’m happy to say our story took a happy turn and Kim did eventually give her heart to Jesus, and she has done a much better job than I did raising her three children in a Christian household. She’s mentored them in character qualities that her two daughters and son are obviously noticing. For a school project, 3rd grader Sienna was to write why her mom should be in People Magazine. I must admit, I was troubled by this teacher’s choice of a magazine that 3rd graders had no business knowing about or writing an article for, so I was relieved when Sienna said she had no idea what People Magazine was, anyway!

But what did impress me were the character qualities Sienna wrote that she saw in her mom. My daughter is a fitness instructor with a fabulous figure, she’s gorgeous, dresses stylishly, and always looks beautiful. So when Sienna decided to write about why her mom should be on the cover of People Magazine, she easily could have talked about these superficial, outward qualities, but at eight-years old this is what she wrote, exactly how she wrote it, no edits from Grammie:

My mom should be on the cover of the People magazine. My mom’s name is Kim Mancini. My mom is medium height, has brown hair, and her eyes are brown. There are so many reasons why my mom should be on the cover of the People Magazine.

One of the amazing things about my mom is that she is trustworthy. My mom trusts me all the time. My mom does not lie. My mom is trustworthy with my whole family. Now you know why my mom is trustworthy.

My mom is the most honest person in the world. She is honest with me. She once said, “Do not be scared that’s not real.” My mom is honest with my grandparents. There is no doubt, my mom should be on the People Magazine because she is so honest.

My mom is so helpful. My mom helps me when I am hurt. My mom helps me with my homework. She helps me get ready for school. My mom should win an award for being the best mom ever. My mom is the best mom in the world.

By Sienna

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Sienna’s mom, is trustworthy, honest, and helpful. Later she wished she had included hardworking. Isn’t that what every mom wants all her children, not just her daughters, to say about her?! Good job Kim.

What would your kids write why you should be on the cover of People Magazine?

The Mancini family. Sienna is next to her brother

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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.

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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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The “Call” That Changed My Life

Feed-My-Sheep-390x250Site of Peter’s Primacy Church at Tabgha, near Capernum – the area of Seven Springs

When you saw the title of this blog, you probably thought I received a life-changing phone call, but I’m not talking about that kind of a call. I’m talking about “The Call” from the Lord. Yes, that “Call.”

Twenty years ago, April 25, 1995, I was at a Women in Ministry Conference in Portland, OR trying to figure out how God was going to use me when I finished seminary. I had told Him I would work anywhere except in women’s ministry. Why? Because when I was a divorced, single, working mom, I felt unwelcome in women’s church activities. There were definite clicks and I wasn’t part of the “in group.” As the manager of an insurance team, I had watched some women’s ruthless ways in business, cattiness, nonprofessional, and whining and I didn’t want any part of it. Surely, the Lord knew that and would use me in the business world.

The second night of the conference, I was sitting at a round table, sipping coffee and listening to piano music while awaiting the evening’s speaker, Jill Briscoe. Suddenly, without warning, I heard the words “Feed my sheep.” I looked around the table to see who was talking about sheep, but everyone was engaged in their own conversations. So I said, “What sheep? Where? And what would I feed them if I found them?” Again, I heard, “Feed my sheep.”

I Agreed to Feed His Sheep! Now What?

As I realized it was the Lord talking, I said, “Ok.”

That night, I called my husband and excitedly told him about my encounter with the Lord. Dave calmly said, “Well honey, let’s pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal to you what this means.” So we prayed.

God answered the next morning when the speaker told us she was going to teach from John 21:15-17 where Jesus is telling Peter if you love me, “Feed my sheep.” I looked at the handout to see what her topic was and she was going to talk on “Shepherding Women in Your Church.” I let out an audible, “Oh, no!” This can’t be possible; surely God has the wrong woman.

When I arrived home, God began to reveal that the sheep were women and the feeding was mentoring, and I’ve been feeding His sheep now for twenty years. First, I started the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church, which continues blessing women in churches around the world. Then God asked me, a non-writer at the time, to write a resource to help churches start their own mentoring ministries. Next, He sent me on the road to share the Titus 2:3-5 message and glued me to my computer writing books about “Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness.”

Celebrating 20 Years in Ministry

Speaking @ Circle Drive Baptist churchCircle Drive Baptist Church, Colorado Springs, CO April 25, 2015

On April 25, 2015, in commemoration of my 20-year anniversary of feeding His sheep, God had me speak at Circle Drive Baptist Church in Colorado Springs on the topic they chose, “Reigniting the Titus 2 Woman.” The next day, I trained in Parachute, CO at Grace Bible Churches Woman to Woman Mentoring ministry first Kickoff Night. I hadn’t taught at a Kickoff Night training in many years, but it was such a sweet way to reminisce and be back in the heart of where it all began—watching women walk side-by-side with Christ at the center of their relationship.

Kickoff NIght @ Grace Baptist Church, Parachute, CO

Kickoff Night @ Grace Baptist Church, Parachute, CO

 

Do I think God planned for me to have those mentoring speaking engagements on the exact 20-year anniversary of hearing “Feed my sheep”? Absolutely! That was all God. No coincidence, no serendipity—100% God celebrating with me the amazing ministry that can take place when we simply say “Ok” to His call.

How is God Calling You?

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.—Romans 8:28

God calls all of us. Every Christian has a purpose and a call. But the key to knowing your call is to listen…have ears that hear God when He speaks whether it’s through reading your Bible, hearing a sermon, listening to worship music…. He’s talking all the time, but we have to listen.

When we hear His Call, we have a choice, “Yes Lord I hear ou and I will do what ou ask, and go where ou lead.” Or “Not now Lord, I’m too busy … too tired … too unsure of myself … just not ready to make such a commitment.”

Where has God been calling you? What has He asked you to do? We’re living in times where every committed Christian needs to know God’s purpose for our life and follow the “Call” that will not only change our life, but the lives of others, the culture, the world.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.—Proverbs 19:21

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I would love to hear your mentoring story to share in my next book. If you’ve been a mentor or mentee, please contact me.

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Are You Parenting from Fear?

I had the privilege of endorsing the book Mothering from Scratch by Kathy Helgemo and Melinda Means, and I can assure you this is a book every mother wants to read. I met Kathy and Melinda at The MOM Initiative Better Together Conference in Jacksonville, FL last summer. Kathy took my workshop on Praying for Your Prodigal based on my book Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. In today’s guest blog, Kathy shares the feelings that stirred in her while listening to me speak.

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Breaking Free From Parenting Out of Fear

by Kathy Helgemo

 

I heard Janet talk at the Better Together conference last July on the topic of Parenting Your Prodigal. Once she started talking about parenting out of fear, I found myself sitting up. Listening. Wondering. Do I do that?

Oh, really Janet.” I thought. “You must be talking to someone other than me.”

I don’t consider myself a scared person. I actually don’t consider myself a particularly anxious person either. So, I found it interesting when God started laying on my heart that this was a problem of mine. I don’t have this problem, remember?

But this day He revealed to me that I truly did. And I better pay attention. Pronto.

Parenting from a place of fear has more to do with us than our kids. Yet, they suffer the consequences. Ouch.

I don’t know about you, but I have trouble enjoying the good times on occasion. For years, I constantly worried about my kids repeating my mistakes. Not theirs — mine.

I have parented my children as if they were making the same mistakes I did — even when they weren’t making any at all. No wonder they felt like they were doing something wrong. Guilty. For nothing.

They weren’t doing anything in particular.

Sure I did it when I was their age.

But they didn’t.

And hopefully they won’t.

Here is some of the evidence that I found in myself about parenting with fear:

  • I made normal transitions into drama-filled experiences. Too much attention. Too much anxiety. It’s akin to keeping on the training wheels way too long because it’s easier than seeing scraped knees. It’s normal to stumble and fall.
  • I tried to control their relationships too much. I didn’t want them to get their feelings hurt or hang out with “the wrong kids”.  After all, that’s what happened to me. However, they need friends and connection. They also need to learn how to discern the difference between good and bad influences.
  • I completely exaggerated everyday dangers. Here are some examples: strangers, alcohol, mean people, strange places. Dirt! For Pete’s sake. Those problems are not going to leave the planet anytime soon. I had an “all or nothing” attitude regarding some of them and it got out of control.
  • I worried about their achievements as if they were my own. How is this fearful? It’s the fear of failure. If we have struggled with the fear of failure ourselves, it’s so easy to project it onto our kids. For example, perhaps we were never a straight A student. We struggled just to get by on B’s and C’s. Suddenly, our kid’s excelling in school. Obsessing over of their grades becomes our focus. It’s much easier than to work through our own feelings of failing as a student.
  • I tried to prevent any kind of pain. We are their mothers! Gosh, darn it! We don’t want to see them in any kind of suffering. Unfortunately, that would prevent an awful lot of learning too. We can love them through anything. Teaching moments only happen when we get out of the way. Now, that’s scary!

Remember…

Love is the opposite of fear. Willing our child’s good above our own can be hard.

Staying in the place of fear, however, robs them of the security of knowing what real love is.

Let’s focus on loving our kids, giving them the security that their good is truly the center of our motives and actions.

And there you have it….

When are you parenting out of fear?

 

How can you break free and parent more from love?

 

What’s one area you can turn over your fear to God letting Him take control?

 

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Mothering From Scratch.

 

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Kathy Helgemo blogs over at Mothering From Scratch. She co-wrote the book Mothering From Scratch: Finding the Parenting Style That Works for You and Your Family with Melinda Means. Together they support and encourage moms to develop their own mothering recipe.

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Is Your Soul At Rest?

McCall Retreat

Our “Cabin” for Crouch Community Church Women’s Retreat

This past weekend our church had its annual women’s retreat in the beautiful setting of McCall, Idaho. We stayed in a retreat cabin on the lake and the weather was spectacular! We enjoyed early morning walks, kayaking, amazing meals out on the deck overlooking the lake, skits, karaoke, making new friends, and all the “slumber party” things we girls love to do.

But mostly we fellowshipped together, enjoyed worship time, the teaching of our speaker Phyllis Cook, and a Sunday morning devotional led by new friend, Athena Crowley. What a treat it was for me to just “be” and not have any specific role except to enjoy and refresh. I prayed that God would give me divine appointments and something to share with you today.

God is so faithful!

Divine Appointments

Have you ever prayed for divine appointments? I think God loves it when we do because He can really show up big time and He gets all the glory. I’ve written before about praying for divine appointments and how God has answered them for me in amazing ways and He didn’t disappoint this weekend:

1. The retreat speaker, Phyllis Cook, and I had never met so when we started talking she asked my name. When I said “Janet Thompson,” her face lit up in recognition, “I have one of your books.” She went on to explain that while a friend of hers from Israel was visiting, she wanted to buy Phyllis a book for her ministry at Meridian First Baptist Church where Phyllis’ husband pastors. Phyllis and her friend went to the local Christian bookstore and the friend chose my book The Team That Jesus Built and bought it for Phyllis. Phyllis and I marveled that God brought us together and we took this picture for Phyllis to send to her friend in Israel.

Phyllis Cook and me

Retreat speaker Phyllis Cook and me looking straight into the bright beautiful morning sun!

2. I felt God impressing on me to speak to a woman at the retreat, but I couldn’t find the appropriate time. The last morning, I said, God if You want me to do this You’re going to have to intervene. He did!

3. Our last meal, I sat next to a woman I had not met. We started chatting and I learned that she and her husband had just moved to Garden Valley in the summer. She heard about the retreat when they visited our church and decided to come. I invited her to our couples Bible study group and she was excited for them to join us.

4. I loved the gluten-free, honey, organic, pumpkin muffins that were on the snack table. Someone said that “Athena” made them. I had not met Athena, but as we started talking, she said, “Oh, you’re the author I was told to meet. Could I talk to you over dinner and discuss the book I’m writing?” We enjoyed a dinner of great food and “author” conversation.

Athena Crowley and me

Athena Crowley and me

 

Finding Rest for Your Soul

When I called home Friday night, hubby prayed that I would have a time of rest and refueling as I prepare for a very busy fall of speaking and writing.

In God’s perfect providence, Phyllis Cook, our retreat speaker, chose Matthew 11:28-30 as her topic for the weekend:

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

The first night she talked about verse 28 as God’s invitation to rest, refreshment, and peace. Ahhh just what my husband had been praying for me.

The next morning, she helped us focus on verse 29 to find inner peace from Jesus’ example of gentleness, humbleness, forgiveness, and a servant attitude.

Her last session explored the paradox of taking on a yoke to find rest! Phyllis pointed out that Jesus’ yoke of humility is far lighter than trying to bear the yoke of pride and all of its manifestations.

Phyllis had us look at the yoke of pride. Are any of these weighing you down?

  • Complaining against God
  • Lack of gratitude
  • Anger, moodiness, impatience, rudeness
  • Perfectionism
  • Talking too much about yourself
  • Seeking independence or control—my way
  • Devastated by criticism
  • Defensiveness or blame-shifting
  • Not having close relationships
  • Competitiveness that always has to win or be first (I added to this to the her list)
  • Can you think of more?

Here’s how Phyllis explained Jesus’ yoke of humility. Do you see why it’s light?

  • Trusting God’s character
  • Not questioning God
  • Focus on Christ
  • Lots of prayer
  • Thankfulness
  • Willing to wait, long suffering
  • Good listener
  • Serving
  • Teachable spirit
  • Repentance, asking forgiveness
  • Close-relationships
  • Letting others win or go first (I added this to her list)
  • Can you think of more?

I was at peace all weekend and felt an incredible sense of rest in my soul and my spirit. Even when my mind wandered to all I had to do when I returned home . . . including writing this blog . . . I couldn’t conjure up a single moment of anxiety!

Arise and Go About His Work

My soul being at rest does not mean it’s time to stop speaking and writing. Contraire! It means I continue on About His Work with renewed energy and focus. Our Sunday morning devotional by Athena Crowley, the sweet woman I mentioned above who made the delicious pumpkin muffins, confirmed God’s call on my life . . . but this was not just a call to me. This was a call to every Christian!

Athena read Song of Solomon 2:10-13

My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
11 See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me.”

From this passage, Athena shared that we are to arise from our “winters” of:

  • Apathy
  • Depression
  • Our Own Interests

Because it’s springtime in our souls! God is calling His people into into a closer relationship with Him so that we can go out and share the light of His glory to others who need more of Him in their life . . . or don’t yet know Him.

The world is full of so many who are stumbling in darkness. God calls every Christian to be His flashlight to help the lost find their way into the light of His glory. If our light is going to shine brightly, we need to refresh, renew, and refuel!

Is your soul at rest?

Can you choose humility over pride?

Are you ready to arise and be God’s flashlight?

If yes, then start praying now for those divine appointments where God will use you in a lost and lonely world.

 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

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Do You Have a Mentoring Story?

 Mentoring

 

“You should write a book about mentoring!” the editor suggested at the International Retail Show in 2006.

“You should write a book about mentoring!” the agent suggested at the International Retail Show this past June!

Do you think God is trying to get my attention? I do, and I’m listening. I so want to do His will.

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

Here’s what I could use:

1. What would you want to read about in a mentoring book?

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.

share your mentoring story

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

I know God is smiling that I’ve finally paid attention to His call. In the beginning, I thought God’s call was just to write resources to help start mentoring ministries and then teach and train about mentoring. But He’s also been gently nudging me that there’s more mentoring work to do!

O God, . . .I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do. Psalm 71:17

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The Making of a Mom

In May, I  introduced you to you my friend Stephanie Shott who has a heart for moms and a burden for moms mentoring other moms, one mom at a time. Stephanie is the founder of The M.O.M Initiative, where I am a mentor mom!

God divinely brought Stephanie and me together from opposite corners of the United States–Stephanie lives in Florida and me in Idaho. But when we met face-to-face last year, it seemed as Stephanie talked, my words came out of her mouth and vice versa. God has give us the same passion for woman to woman mentoring, following the Lord’s direction in Titus 2:3-5.

Today, July 14, is the release of Stephanie’s book the Making of a Mom, which I had the honor of endorsing. We both hope to meet many of you at The M.O.M. Initiative’s first conference July 31-August 2.–Better Together. There’s still time to register.

Following is a glimpse into Stephanie’s story and her call from God to start The M.O.M. Initiative:

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I caught a glimpse of her as she walked across the parking lot. She looked to be about sixteen. Young in years, but great with child.

Reflecting on my own teen pregnancy, I couldn’t help but wonder if she was ready for the journey ahead. Did she grasp the greatness of her newfound role and how everything she had ever known was about to change? Would someone walk with through her motherhood or would she have to go it alone?

I was eighteen when my son was born and had no idea what it meant to be a mom. Oh, I thought the whole mom thing was going to be a breeze, but it didn’t take long to learn that my dream of motherhood was very different from my reality.

I wanted to be the mom who did all the right things, never had to count to three, and baked her own bread.

But instead, I was a single mom, without Christ, without a mentor, and without a clue.

As the years passed, I married, and not long after that I became a Christian. Everything changed except that I still didn’t have a mentor and I barely had a clue.

For me, motherhood was like a messy experiment and my kids were the guinea pigs. 

That was twenty-seven years ago, and as I reflect on the way I muddled my way through motherhood, I can’t help but wonder where all the mentors were. I remember looking up to several women in the church, yet for some reason I was never able to wiggle my way under their wing.

But it shouldn’t have been that hard, and no mom should have to go it alone. After all, mentoring should be woven into the fabric of the church. Right?

Mentoring moms is powerful. It’s how you and I can change the world. It’s not only a God-given way in which we can leave a legacy of faith, but it’s also an amazing tool to help us reach our communities and this culture for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Two years ago I started The M.O.M. Initiative—a ministry devoted to helping the body of Christ make mentoring missional. Evangelistic in nature, the mission is to begin M.O.M. Groups that not only minister to moms who know Christ but that we reach those who don’t.

Ultimately, our goal is to reach a MILLION MOMS for Christ. And if only 3 women in 1/2 of the churches in the United States would mentor just 3 other moms, that would translate into reaching a MILLION MOMS for Christ and impacting over 2.5 MILLION CHILDREN as a result.

Sitting in the parking lot, a ministry was born and a book was conceived. I wrote The Making of a Mom to be a unique dual purpose resource. A book to help lay a solid biblical foundations for real moms who are in the trenches of motherhood…to help answer the deep questions of a moms heart and to help each mom embrace the significance of her role as a mother. I want moms to know they are deeply loved and profoundly influential.

I also wrote The Making of a Mom to provide and in-reach and an outreach resource for the church.

To help the body of Christ weave mentoring into the fabric of the local church. As an outreach, The Making of a Mom equips local churches with a unique resource that will help them weave mentoring into the fabric of the church and to reach their communities and this  culture for Christ by mentoring moms in urban areas, in low-income apartment complexes, neighborhoods, prisons, homeless shelters, crisis pregnancy centers, the mission field and wherever young moms can be found.

You see, if we reach the moms of this generation, we’ll reach the heart of the next generation. but if we don’t, I’m afraid we’ll lose them all.

Today, you and I have an opportunity to change the world one mom at a time through the power and beauty of mentoring.

I didn’t have a mentor . . . and I don’t know if that young girl at the gas station will have one either. But no mom should have to go it alone. So, let’s step into our Titus 2 shoes and begin impacting our community and this culture for the Lord Jesus Christ.

We’ll have forever to be glad we did.

To find out more about how you can begin a M.O.M. Group, click this link.

To find out how to sign up to be ONE in a MILLION MOMS who would like to be connected with a mentor and raise your children to know Christ, click this link.

To find out how to order The Making of a Mom.

TheMakingofaMomsmall

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God Given Dreams Do Come True

I hope you all had a blessed Mother’s Day honoring your moms and being honored if you are a mom. This week, I want to introduce to you my friend Stephanie Shott who has a heart for moms and a burden for moms mentoring other moms, one mom at a time. Stephanie is the founder of The M.O.M Initiative where I am honored to be a mentor mom!

As you will read here, Stephanie and I are kindred spirits and share the same passion for women mentoring women according to Titus 2:3-5.

Please welcome Stephanie Shott—

 TheMakingofaMomsmall

A God Dream

Has God placed a dream in your heart but you feel like you’re in God’s waiting room? Wondering if your dream will ever come true? Like the Lord isn’t working fast enough and then suddenly everything begins to fall in place?

That has been my story for the past four years; but the tide has turned and I feel like a fly on the wall of my life as I watch the Lord put together the pieces of the ministry puzzle for The M.O.M. Initiative.  TMI LOGO ~ SMALL

The ministry has been in place for two years and the final piece of the puzzle is coming out in July—The Making of a Mom(available for pre-order)—the premier book to work in tandem with The M.O.M. Initiative.

It’s written for moms and also serves as a resource for the church.

A Book for Every Mom

If you’re a mom, I wrote The Making of a Mom to meet you in the messy places of real life motherhood—to lay a biblical foundation for motherhood and to help you embrace the truth that you are deeply treasured by God…that He sees you and He LOVES you. You weren’t meant to make this journey alone.

The Making of a Mom answers the deep questions of a mom’s heart. “Am I enough?” “Will I ever get it right?” “How can I not mess up my kids when I’m such a mess?”

A Resource for Churches

Uniquely written as an in-reach and an outreach resource, The Making of a Mom includes questions at the end of each chapter and planning guides in the back.

The Making of a Mom answers the three questions almost every mentor, ministry leader, and small group leader asks…

1. What will I say?

The questions at the end of each chapter serve as a catalyst for conversation.

2. What will I do?

The venue-specific planning guides in the back of the book provide the tools to mentor moms in your church, your home, and in your community.

3. What will I use?

The Making of a Mom is a dual-purpose book to reach moms who don’t know Christ and minister to the ones who already know Him.

An Invitation to be ONE in a MILLION!

Are you a mom who would like a mentor? Are you a ministry leader who is looking to begin a mentor ministry to moms? Have you been trying to figure out how you can reach your community for Christ? Would you consider the power of missional mentoring?

The ultimate goal of The M.O.M. Initiative is to impact 1,000,000 moms for Christ through the power of missional mentoring. It really is possible! If three moms in half the churches in the United States mentor three other mothers, over 1,000,000 moms and 2,500,000 children will learn how to live Christ-centered lives.

Exciting to think about, isn’t it?

I’m asking women’s ministry leaders to join me in August as we launch M.O.M. Groups and begin reaching moms through the power of mentoring.

I’m asking every mom to tell your women’s ministry leaders about The M.O.M. Groups and join one yourself.

I’m asking YOU to JOIN ME to REACH MOMS for CHRIST in YOUR COMMUNITY!

To connect with The M.O.M. Initiative to reach moms for Christ in your community, please click this link to find out more about how you can help us reach ONE MILLION MOMS for Christ.

We’re Better Together

Oh…and I can’t forget to tell you about BETTER TOGETHER! The Lord not only put the pieces of the ministry puzzle together, but also He did exceedingly, abundantly above all I could ask or think when He connected the dots for our first conference. (He’s really good at exceedingly, abundantly, isn’t He?! 🙂 )

We’re extremely blessed because Janet Thompson is one of the keynotes and she will also be sharing 4 workshops…so you won’t want to miss it!

BETTER TOGETHER is a conference in Jacksonville, Florida, July 31st – August 2nd, where 20 speakers are converging together to share 45 workshops for women of ALL ages and ALL stages of life! It’s a weekend of fun, fellowship, giveaways, and sound biblical teaching you can depend on!

Come be refreshed, refueled, encouraged, and equipped.

BTMOM14graphic

If the Lord has tucked a dream in your heart, I want to encourage you to keep on keepin’ on for Jesus. Don’t give up and don’t give in. He who has called you to it will see you through it.

So, don’t lose heart. The Lord sees your hard work and He who began a good work in you will complete it. Dreams do come true…in His time.

April 2014 import 245

Stephanie Shott and me at our first TMI Mentor Mom Retreat

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Mentoring is Not an Option

This past weekend, I had the honor of sharing the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry with churches in Sedalia, Missouri. I’ve shared this message hundreds of times throughout the United States and Canada, and I’m as excited and passionate about encouraging and equipping women to mentor, as I was when I first heard God’s call to “feed My sheep” nineteen years ago. The passion never fades—the excitement of telling a new group of women about the blessings of following God’s instructions for mentoring never wanes.

Mentoring is The Job Description for Christians 

When churches call and ask for advice on how to encourage their women to become involved in a mentoring relationship, I say: Take your women to Titus 2:1-8 where the Lord is giving a command to all Christian men and women. He says for spiritually older men to teach the spiritually younger men, and the women to do the same.

Next, I suggest that they point out that there are no qualifiers in that passage. The verses don’t say: If you have time, or if you feel like it, or if you can fit it into your schedule, or if you aren’t doing another ministry, or if you don’t work, or if you feel comfortable with it, or if you feel qualified, or if you feel called…..

They simply say for Christians to just “DO IT”—no options!

In Titus 2:5 and 8, Paul emphasizes why it’s so important for spiritually older men and women to teach the spiritually younger: “so that no one will malign the word of God” (v 5) or “have nothing bad to say about us” (v 8). But today the culture is maligning the Word of God and bad-mouthing Christians because we’ve stopped following Gods instructions in this passage.

God wants the spiritually mature to help newer believers learn how to become godly role models reflecting how His people live and have relationships and marriages so others would seek Christ through us.

Christian living should help rather than hinder the spread of the gospel.

There’s A World of Hurt

Many young women today are struggling in their roles in marriage, as mothers, as friends, as employees, as women in the church. Where are the women who will selflessly reach out and “show them the ropes” of living a life in Christ?

I’ve heard the sad testimony of women who walked out of a crusade or revival meeting or the church service where they accepted Christ, and went right back into their old lifestyle. One woman told me she even went to a party with her worldly friends the very night she accepted Christ! She didn’t know any different. Many new believers backslide and go years with Christ in their heart but not in their head. Their stories have a common theme…

            I know I accepted Christ. I asked Him into my heart, but I didn’t know what that meant. My old familiar life and friends and unsaved family were all still there, and there was no one from this “new life” that would help me learn how to live it. It just seemed easier to go on as I had before. Only now I had a lot of confusion, guilt, and conviction in my life, which made me feel even worse than before I accepted Christ.

Haven’t you heard these stores yourself? We would never let our babies out on their own with no direction as soon as they could walk and talk. Yet, we let these new baby Christians go out the doors of our churches straight into the world, without a hand to hold to keep them safe until they’re ready to be spiritually on their own. This is tragic when there’s a wealth of maturity in the women of our churches. Women who have so much to offer from walking with Christ, and could help these younger Christian women mature in the Lord.

Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness

Taking the time to reach out to a spiritually younger woman is a selfless act of giving and ministry. Not to preach, but teach. To let your life—with all the wealth of good and bad experiences—be a role model that Christ was with you through it all. There are women in your church who desperately need a woman who will honor the command given to each of us in Titus 2. Women who will teach how to: study God’s Word, be a Christian wife and mother, manage a home and family, deal with temptation or crisis . . . be a “lady of the Lord.”

  • Who is assuming responsibility to transmit biblical values to these women?
  • Who is listening to their questions and their concerns and guiding them to the Book with all the answers and the One who fulfills all our needs?

Blessings of Being a Titus 2 Woman

Many of you know the blessings of accepting this Titus 2 call and command from the Lord. When we make an investment in a spiritually younger woman, it enriches our own lives, the sense of connectedness and shepherding in our church families deepens, society benefits, and we honor God’s Word.

Jesus said:  “I tell you the truth, anyone who gives a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ, will certainly not lose his reward” (Mark 9:41).

You can’t out-give God. As we share our lives with another sister-in-Christ, our own life and our church will receive immeasurable blessings.

If you’ve experienced the miracles and blessings of being in a Titus 2 mentoring relationship, please share your testimony with others who may have questions or may be hesitant to mentor. If you’ve been a mentor, please pray about making Titus 2:3-5 a permanent and ongoing part of your Christian walk.

If you’ve grown spiritually as a mentee, God will put someone in your life who is right where you once were and could use your encouragement and mentoring.

One generation commends your works to another;
they tell of your mighty acts.
Psalm 145:4

clip_image002_005-245x250To start a Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry in your  church:

Woman to Woman Mentoring How To Start, Grow, and Maintain a Mentoring Ministry

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