Today’s guest post is from Renee Fisher. Renee and I met when she submitted a story for Mentoring for All Seasons, which you’ll find on page 265. You’ll enjoy Renee’s reflection on . . .

Hope for All Seasons

By Renee Fisher

Seasons change. I never realized the spiritual significance of the changing of seasons until I learned how to cultivate a life of my dreams.

Jesus is quoted twice in the Gospels talking about spiritual seasons in Matthew 16:2-3 (NIV) and Luke 12:54-56 (NIV):

He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times”

He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?”

It doesn’t take much effort to walk outside and determine if it’s going to rain that day. It does, however, take time to learn how to pray and read the Word to determine which spiritual season you are in.

Your ability to praise the Lord despite your circumstances has the power to awaken your dreams, including the dreams of future generations.

Dreams, like seasons, change often.

If you are unsure how to cultivate a life of your dreams, ask yourself these four questions to determine how to move forward.

  1. Summer: My dreams are ripe. Even in the heat of summer, we can relax and take a much-needed vacation. We can taste and see that the Lord is good (see: Psalm 34:8).
  2. Fall: My dreams are harvested. We can mature and save up for the winter season knowing that we are rooted and grounded in love (see: Ephesians 3:17). We can choose not to be moved away from the hope of the gospel (see: Colossians 1:23).
  3. Winter: My dreams are not dead. Winter brings a much-needed break, although it might feel like coming to a screeching halt. We may feel uncomfortable with the process of solitude and silence, but it will help us uncover what’s in our hearts. To admit, like Elijah, the answer to the question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (see: 1 Kings 19:9, 13).
  4. Spring: My dreams are newly planted. We may not understand, at first, that the storms and rain are actually a blessing to drive that tiny seed deeper and further under the soil to die so that it can come back to life. We can plant in tears knowing we will harvest with shouts of joy in a future season (see: Psalm 126:5).

Spiritual seasons can be tricky. It took me almost an entire year to realize I was in a winter season last year, and to acknowledge that my dreams were not dead—just waiting for spring.

This spring, I thought that my dreams were coming back to life, only to have a mound of dirt piled on top of me so these baby dreams can grow for a later harvest in a future season. It’s so complicated that I sometimes feel like giving up. Will my desires ever be met? But, if I’m honestly asking myself that question—I already know the answer. Of course they will! God has been faithful before and He will again.

I don’t know what season you are in, but don’t quit! Don’t run away! You can bloom where you’re planted.

“There will always be flowers for those who want to see them.

There will always be dreams for those who want to live them!

QUESTION: How do you mentor a woman who’s in a different season than you?

*1 Quote from Henry Matisse

In Hope for All Seasons, Renee Fisher tells us not to give up whatever season you're in right now.


Renee Fisher is a spirited speaker, coach, consultant and author, who published her first nine books in under eight years. A self-proclaimed “Dream Defender,” Renee is passionate about calling dreams to life in others. A graduate of Biola University, she lives in Austin, Texas with her handsome husband and their fur child named “Star.” Connect with Renee Fisher on Facebook, Instagram, and her Website.

*Excerpt from Unloved: Finding Freedom by Embracing Your Inner Critic, a short but powerful eBook that empowers women to find freedom by embracing their inner critic. You can purchase on Amazon for $2.99 here: http://bit.ly/UnlovedBook

Hope for all Seasons is an excerpt from Renee Fisher's book Unloved.

Love Your Body–Try Something New

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

All my life I haven’t liked Brussels Sprouts! They’re one of the few foods I’ve never acquired a taste for….until a few years ago!

When we were receiving organic fruits and vegetables from Bountiful Baskets, it was always a surprise what I’d find inside the box, and was I surprised to see a bag of Brussels Sprouts! Ugh, I thought. Who can I give these away to? But instead of giving them away, I asked my Facebook friends if they had any great recipes, mentioning that I don’t care for cooked cabbage, but I’ll eat it raw in fish tacos or coleslaw.

One of my FB friends posted a recipe for Chopped Raw Brussels Sprouts Salad. What? You could eat Brussels Sprouts raw? That thought had never entered my mind, but I try to eat as much raw as possible since that’s the best way to get all the nutrients.

This recipe had cranberries, blue cheese, and toasted pecans. How could I go wrong? And it was Super Bowl Sunday, so why not make it and try it out at the party we were attending. So I put those cute little round cabbage balls in the food processor and walla, it looked just like shredded cabbage. I tasted it…and oh my! What a different taste than cooked. I knew right then I was going to LOVE this salad–as did everyone at the party!

For those of you who shop at COSTCO, they’ve got a delicious fresh salad with cabbage, kale, Brussel Sprouts, and other goodies you mix together with a delicious salad dressing. I have some in the refrigerator right now!

So what’s the moral of my raw Brussels Sprouts salad story? As I was enjoying the delicious salad, the Lord reminded me that there were probably many other things…not just food…that I thought I didn’t like because I had only looked at them from one perspective.

How about you? Is there a person you don’t get along with? A food you’re sure will never touch your lips? A place you think you could never live? (As a native Californian, I would have never in a million years expected I would be living in the rural mountains of Idaho).

A color you would never wear? What’s on your “never-ever” list that you’d be open to looking at from another angle? What might you be missing if you didn’t?

Many people avoid God and Christianity because they’ve had a bad experience, and like me with Brussels Sprouts, they’re positively, absolutely convinced it’s not for them. Could you help someone in your life see God from a different perspective?

Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!–Psalm 34:8 NLT

Love Your Body—Maintain Weight Loss

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

It’s Love Your Body Monday, and as promised, today I’m going to talk about how to maintain weight loss once you’ve achieved your desired weight. I’ve pointed out in past posts that weight loss isn’t the goal, maintaining a healthy weight for life is the goal.

In August, I wrote Love Your Body, Weight Loss Is Not the Goal. If you haven’t read that post yet, I would highly encourage you to go there now and read it. Thanksgiving week, I received an email from Cathy McIntosh who read that blog post and sent me the following email of how it changed her life. She also wrote a post you might want to read:

Hi, Janet. Your post “It’s Not About Weight Loss” really touched my life and I wanted to let you know I wrote about it on my own blog. Thanks so much for your post. I have new freedom. The Lord certainly used your words!

Blessings, Cathy McIntosh

Several other Love Your Body blog posts set the stage for a talk about maintenance: Love Your–Body Break the Food Strongholds and Love Your Body—Use Technology to Lose Weight.

In previous blogs, I’ve pointed out the reason weight loss is not the goal: if you haven’t learned how to change your eating habits, any weight loss is likely to be temporary. That’s why as a former Registered Dietitian, I don’t advocate shakes, shots, starvation diets, eliminating major food groups, packaged meals, quick gimmicks, or anything that deviates from simply eating a well-balanced, portion-controlled diet. Why? Because any of the other ways are temporary: you aren’t going to drink shakes, get shots, stay on drastically reduced calorie diets, go without a food group, afford packaged foods, or stay on any of the quick-fix “regimes” for life.

So you might reach a desired weight loss, but then what? If you haven’t learned how to replace destructive eating habits/patterns with constructive long-term eating habits, you’ll revert to the way you ate before. And with that, the weight quickly returns, often with extra pounds. Sound familiar?

Here is a fact you can count on: Once you achieve your desired weight, the minute you start eating more calories then you’re currently taking in … you’re going to start gaining weight back. Maybe you eliminated bread and now you’re so excited to have a sandwich … extra pound on the scales. You didn’t have sugar, but now you’re going to reward yourself with the ice cream you’ve been craving. Another pound. And so it goes. At first, it’s just a pound or two and you’re sure you can handle it. Well then, it’s only five pounds. Uh oh…it’s only been a few weeks and you’re watching the scales creep back up. You panic and try to go back on the shakes, shots, gimmick diets, or maybe just give up and bring out the next size up of clothes.

Achieving and Maintaining Long-term Weight Loss Means Making Wise Choices Daily.

I heard a commercial on TV for a hypnosis weight loss program and one of the things they said which is true, maintained weight loss requires a mind change. But you don’t need to be hypnotized to change your attitude and mind about eating. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13). And He wants to renew your mind.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

Ways to Maintain Weight Loss

  • Pray. The first thing in maintaining weight loss is to seek God’s help. He has a greater purpose for you, but you can’t achieve all that He has planned if your focus is on food or your eating is contributing to bad health. One of the things I love about First Place 4 Health, the ministry for which I wrote God’s Best for Your Life, is that they look at all aspects of maintaining a healthy eating lifestyle that includes the physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional aspects of our life.
  • Don’t Eliminate Food Groups. God made your body to function best by eating all the basic food groups. Eliminating any of them means you deprive your body of necessary minerals and vitamins. For example, your body needs some carbohydrates for energy. If it doesn’t receive what it needs, it starts storing other foods as fat. God designed your body to prevent you from starving to death, and it has no idea when you plan to feed it again. So just in case, it keeps a reserve in the form of fat.

Maybe you were eating more carbs than you needed, or eating the wrong kind, but eventually you’re going to want some carbs. If you’ve been denying yourself, there’s a good chance you’re going to eat the wrong kind when you add them back into your diet. You need grains. I’ve recommended before Choose My Plate to help you understand the foods your body needs every day. BTW sugar and alcohol are not food groups; they’re wasted calories.

  • Portion Control. Again, Choose My Plate can help you determine appropriate portion size. Eat on a small plate and only eat what fits on that plate . . . one time. Don’t put food on the table to make it too easy to take second helpings or nibble. Weigh out 3 ounces of meat to see what that looks like. Measure out a ½ cup of rice or oatmeal or a teaspoon of butter. Remember what you eat while cooking or cleaning up after meals…or off your kids’ plates… are all calories. If possible, have someone else put away leftovers.
  • Eat Out Wisely. In another blog post, Love Your Body–On Vacation, I talk about how to eat out. You can still enjoy eating out, but choose wisely off the menu. Only read descriptions of foods you know are healthy. Don’t let yourself be tempted by fried chicken and mashed potatoes and gravy, “Just this once because you’re celebrating.” Portions are always too large in restaurants. Ask for a to-go box when your food arrives and put half of it in the box. You won’t feel like you’re wasting money if you can enjoy it at another meal.
  • Celebrate But Don’t Deviate. We just finished Thanksgiving and now we’re headed into one of the most challenging times of the year to eat wisely, but you can do it. I talk about how to do that in Love Your Body–During the Holidays.
  • Weigh Daily. Purchase a good set of scales that also measures body fat. Weigh at the same time every morning without clothes, before you eat or drink anything. Then you can’t blame any gain on your slippers or the glass of water you just drank. If the scale goes up a pound, don’t panic, but don’t ignore it. You either ate too much the day before or didn’t exercise enough. We all vacillate a pound or two naturally, but you’ll learn what that range is for you, and let it be a red flag the minute you go over it. Don’t wait until it’s five pounds; cut back on calories right away and add to your exercise regime. You’ll soon learn the caloric intake and exercise output that keeps you at your ideal weight.
  • Keep a Food Journal. In Love Your Body—Use Technology to Lose Weight, my daughter Kim talked about how she lost weight by keeping track of her calories on her phone. You can do the same to maintain your weight. It’s easy to fool yourself that you haven’t been eating much, or “I never eat _____.” But if you’re gaining weight, there’s no fooling your body. Yes, you are eating more and recording every bite will show you where you’ve added extra food intake.

Back on diet tipsLove Your Body Series

As you read this blog, you should be noticing that if you’ve been following the Love Your Body series the past couple of years, I’ve been giving you tools all along to maintain your weight loss and stay at a healthy weight for your individual body. The key that everyone needs to learn, understand, and accept is that healthy eating is for a lifetime! Your body is always going to operate on a balance of calories in, calories out. That’s never going to change no matter how you try to circumvent it. But what can change is your mindset toward food and your body.

When you became a Christian, you put away the sinful way of thinking and the old self to become a new creation in Christ, so you can do this with food too.

When you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:21-24

Don’t let Satan fool you that it’s impossible for you. You can put on the new way of thinking about food and a healthy lifestyle and put off all the chains that have bound you over the years and have stopped you from enjoying the body that God created you to take care of and cherish—His temple.

I would love to hear what’s helped you to maintain your weight loss.

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When Is Being “Responsible” Not Righteous?

Responsible or Righteous take 2jpg

Recently, as I’ve been taking a vocal stand against immorality and championing morality, I’ve experienced some pushback and been called names like “legalistic,” “righteous,” and “self-righteous.” I’ve also read many arguments justifying unrighteous behavior as being “responsible.”

So the Holy Spirit started stirring thoughts in my heart about why being righteous is a good thing, actually a gift from God, but responsibly doing an unrighteous act is a wrong thing. There’s no right way to “responsibly” do the wrong thing…I’m just sayin’ it doesn’t compute.

Let’s Look at Righteous Versus Self-Righteous

But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. 10 Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. 11 Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged. John 16:7 NLT

No one is able to earn a righteous standing in God’s sight, so in His grace and mercy God gave us righteousness as a gift through Jesus Christ. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin (Romans 3:20).

For if, by the trespass of the one man [Adam], death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Romans 5:17

So when someone calls me “righteous” when I’m speaking against sin or unrighteous behavior, I say, “Thank you! As a Christian, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I strive to follow in the righteous footsteps of Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. So you’ve just confirmed I’m making progress. And BTW isn’t it interesting that the root word of righteous is right.”

If they call me self-righteous or legalistic, I correct them: “No, because I’m speaking from God’s Word and not my words or feelings, I’m God-righteous. Do you have a problem with God’s righteousness? No one can be righteous on his or her own, we’re all unrighteous sinners, but we’re made righteous through our relationship with Jesus Christ. Would you like to know more about how to live in righteous peace? The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever (Isaiah 32:17).” And

10 For,

“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep their tongue from evil
and their lips from deceitful speech.
11 They must turn from evil and do good;
they must seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. 1 Peter 3:10-12

What’s Wrong with Being Responsible?

Responsible is usually a good thing, but it can also justify bad or sinful behavior. Let me give you examples:

Scenario One

A young girl goes to Planned Parenthood to get birth control pills because she wants to have “responsible” sex with her boyfriend. An oxymoron: Having sex with her boyfriend is irresponsible, but she’s justifying her immoral behavior by “responsibly” getting birth control pills! Naught. The responsible and righteous thing to do would be to tell her irresponsible boyfriend that she’s not having sex until she’s married, and if he’s not OK with that, she’ll find a boyfriend who responsibly respects her. That would be responsible. Instead of teaching young people to be righteous and moral, our culture is teaching them how to be “responsible” sinners!

Scenario Two

In my book, Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, I tell the story of how my daughter left for college to live with her boyfriend. But while she was still in high school, she told me she wanted to go live with him at his parent’s house because that would be the “responsible thing to do to determine if they were compatible.” I was able to talk her out of doing such an irresponsible thing, but I couldn’t talk her out of living with her boyfriend in college … but I did pray her out of that relationship … and eventually prayed her into wanting to live a responsible righteous life as a follower of Jesus. Praise God!

Scenario Three

A pregnant woman goes to Planned Parenthood to get an abortion as the “responsible thing to do considering her circumstances.” Our culture tells her that instead of doing the righteous thing and giving her child life and then perhaps finding a good home for the baby, she should “responsibly” kill it.

Then there’s the ensuing aborted baby “tissue” and baby parts, so our culture says the responsible thing to do is to sell them for research. So abortionists have become “responsible” barbarians.

Scenario Four

The topic of drinking always brings up the word responsible. And you know what? Everyone has a different definition of what “responsible drinking” looks like. Some will say only wine, others only beer. Some will say one drink … maybe two. Others say it’s OK to drive after one or two drinks, while others say it’s only responsible to drink at home, even though it’s in front of your kids. So really everyone makes up their own definition of “responsible drinking” to justify the way they want to drink.

There’s always the argument that you can reach the world better if you fit in more with them. Jesus definitely went to Zacchaeus’ and Matthew’s house, but His sole purpose was to help them and their friends change their ways and become His followers … not to responsibly join in their sinful behavior.

Pastor Greg

Scenario Five

There’s the argument that letting gays get married will make them more responsible about not transmitting AIDS and other diseases characteristic of homosexuality. Really? Legalizing a practice that goes against everything God created man and woman to be and defiling His design for marriage, is simply, “responsible” sinning.

Holy and Set Apart

In God’s Best for Your Life, a Bible study I wrote for First Place 4 Health, I discuss that as Christians, the Bible clearly instructs us to live holy, righteous, and set apart lives: in the world but not of the world. The world today isn’t going to like us because our Christian lives convict them and make us look “holier than them.” Hmmm … maybe that’s because through Christ we are sanctified. What’s wrong with living holy lives as God calls us to live? Why would we be offended or try to fit in more with culture than with God’s kingdom here on earth?

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17

We’re responsible as Christians to live righteous, holy lives as best we can, and not try to find loopholes in the Bible to “responsibly” justify our unrighteousness. So sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, abortion, abusing our bodies with drugs and alcohol, and any immoral behavior isn’t responsible or righteous.

If we prayerfully make righteous choices, they’ll be responsible choices!

Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. Romans 14:16-18 NKJ

Charles Spurgeon

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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.

Lower Expectations for the Holidays and Enjoy Them More

Kathy Carlton Willis Enjoying a Stress-Free Christmas

Kathy Carlton Willis Enjoying a Stress-Free Christmas

When Dave and I became a blended family six days before Christmas 1992, I quickly learned that the best gift we could all give each other was grace and flexibility–especially during the holidays. Then when our four children married and started having their own children–grace and flexibility took on a whole new meaning! Our guest blogger today, Kathy Carlton Willis gives some excellent pointers on how to lower our expectations and enjoy the stress-free holidays like she did as a child in the picture above. Isn’t that how Jesus tells us to come unto Him–as little children.

How to Grin with Grace through the Holidays
by Kathy Carlton Willis –

What causes you to grit your teeth during the holidays? Perhaps it’s a certain expectation you have in yourself or unreasonable expectations others have in you. Or maybe you’re stressed by unmet expectations you have in others. If there’s one thing you could take a pass on this year to alleviate tension, what would it be? Perhaps your irritant made the list:

I’m stressed because someone else expects me to:

  1. Give more money toward a gift than I have budgeted, or to give a gift to someone not on my list.
  2. Go to a function that conflicts with another event I really want to attend.
  3. Enjoy a family gathering with drunk Uncle Troy there.
  4. Stop what I’m doing to help bail them out of an emergency caused by their poor planning, which will put me behind on my own schedule.

I’m stressed because I expect myself to:

  1. Decorate my house as festive as Martha’s.
  2. Plan and cook a meal that will rival Julia’s.
  3. Be as creative during the holidays as all those amazing women on Pinterest.
  4. Look as svelte as Heidi in my special outfit at the big Christmas shindig.

What if you could learn to grin with grace rather than grit your teeth through the holidays?

Expectations. Don’t worry. We all have them—especially this time of year. Unmet expectations, unrealistic expectations, unhealthy expectations. These lead to disappointment—in others, in ourselves, even in God.

Sometimes expectations are based on what we want to see happen—no matter how unrealistic. Other times our expectations are based on what another person has promised. But not everyone carries out his or her promises.

What to Do:

  1. Pre-plan a healthy way to handle your expectations. It’s impossible to have a godly response in the heat of the moment without having a predetermined course of action.
  2. Focus on the difference between reactions and responses. Reactions are based on emotional reflexes and are governed by the heart.Responses are based on disciplined actions and are led by the Spirit.
  3. Disengage your feelings from the response so you’re not allowing others to push your buttons. (And we all have buttons—usually a mix-matched set!) Take it out of the realm of feelings and put it in the realm of godly thoughts and actions.
  4. Pray for God’s wisdom and discernment.
  5. When a situation arises, be intentional rather than irrational. Remove yourself for a timeout if you need to disconnect from your feelings. Refocus on what Christ’s response would be. Being intentional means you have a strategy in place ahead of time, and you act on that strategy. This is called reframing your thoughts.


Bible Remedies for Expectations:

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Philippians 4:6-7 (The Message)

  • How can your expectations be a cause of anxiety?
  • What is to accompany your prayers and supplications?
  • What do you need to let God know about?
  • What does God promise that His peace will do for you?

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

  • What can you expect God to give you when you truly trust in Him?
  • When you focus on the unmet expectations, you overlook all the amazing stuff that God is doing in your life and in the world

Prayer Points:

  • When you have unmet expectations, take them to Jesus.
  • Allow your unmet expectations to draw you closer to the One who can do “abundantly more than all you can ask or imagine.”
  • Focus on the ways Jesus exceeds our expectations. He has eternity in mind, not just today.

What’s Grace Got to do With It?

God is teaching me to give grace through the benefit of the doubt. I’m also praying a little differently. I’m learning to reframe my expectations by infusing these prayers with God’s grace.

What I’m learning from expectations:

  • Everyone has unplanned “stuff” that keeps them from fulfilling their commitments, and I need to be as flexible with others as I hope they will be with me.
  • When others respond in ways that rub me the wrong way, it’s because I had in my mind a more acceptable response and they missed the mark. I expected them to respond in a situation like I would. They are not me (obviously).
  • My timetable is not the same as others. My priorities aren’t the same as others. I need to extend grace regarding timing and priorities, and be okay with the differences, even thanking God that we are all different.


Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, focus on the relationships of the season rather than the expectations. When you let love motivate your prayers, you will discover a new grace-infused way to interact with others—even when they make you want to grit your teeth. And there will be enough grace to go around. Use some of it on yourself.


Kathy Carlton Willis writes and speaks with a balance of funny and faith—whimsy and wisdom. She shines the light on issues that hold women back and inspires their own lightbulb moments. Almost a thousand of Kathy’s articles have been published and she has several books releasing over the next three years, including Grin with Grace with AMG Publishers. She and her husband/pastor, Russ, live in Texas. Learn more at: www.kathycarltonwillis.com/

 kathy carlton willis-64


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:


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.


Love Song Couples Getaway–Trip Two

Anna and Jason Huff Jerome


“We met so many great couples, created a closer bond with two couples – adding to several from last year. For us… It’s renewing, rejuvenating, rewarding, re-energizing in all levels. We love these trips.”—Rachelle Souza, after attending several Love Song Couples Getaways

If you follow me through my newsletters, Facebook, and blogs, you know that my husband Dave and I went on our first Love Song Couples Getaway last year in Maui. You might enjoy reading the blog I wrote about what led us to go on this amazing trip and the blessing it was to us as a Christian couple. I also wrote blog posts describing “The Wonders of Prayerful Handholding” describing how our holding hands to pray while on the trip led to making new friends, “God We Need Friends,” many of which we’ve kept in contact with even though they live in different states!

Trip Two–2014

The last night of the Maui getaway 2013, they announced the Bahamas as an addition to their 2014 trips. Dave was out of his seat signing us up, and we’ve been budgeting and saving all year.

Well, we just returned from yet another amazing Love Song Couples Getaway encounter with each other and with God in the Bahamas! Again, we made new friends from all over the USA, even met couples from Idaho, and renewed friendships from last year.

Dr. Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages, was our keynote speaker, and if you ever get a chance to hear him in person, he’s an awesome communicator  . . . and funny. His messages were biblical and practical. He shared with us how his early years of marriage were not as blissful as he had anticipated and how their differences almost split them apart until he learned three key questions:
1. Honey, what can I do to help you?

2. How can I make your life easier?

3. How could I be a better husband (wife)?

When Dr. and Mrs. Chapman learned how to serve each other, their marriage soared. We had the pleasure of also meeting the delightful Mrs. Chapman, who accompanied her husband on the trip.

Dr. Chapman talked about the 5 Love Languages, but he also told us about the 5 Apology Languages, Dealing Effectively with Our Failures, Learning to Forgive, and The Grace of Anger. Every topic was applicable to your marriage or any relationship.

Me with Dr. Gary Chapman

Magnificent Worship

Mac Powell of Third Day, Brandon Heath, and John Micah led our worship time and performed concerts that had us on our feet singing and pleading for more, while they also shared parts of their lives with us. They sang to us on the beaches of Paradise Island as the sun rose over the ocean, during a Blue Lagoon beach outing, under the stars during sunset, in a restaurant after a sunset catamaran cruise, and in the ballrooms of the Atlantis Hotel. Their powerful messages, voices, and instruments flooded the heavenlies above Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

Brandon HeathMorning Worship with Brandon Heath

Just Kids Again

The Atlantis has the most elaborate array of water slides and adventures in the world. Hubby Dave and I relaxed on the Lazy River floats; and yes, we ventured onto a double tube scary slide that switch backed quickly through a dark tunnel and spit us out under a shark tank! Once was enough for that one!

Hubby and me on the ferry to a beach day at the Blue Lagoon

We renewed our friendships with Calvin and Lisa from Ohio, Karen and Jim from North Carolina, and Ron and Janelle from Illinois—couples we met last year in Maui—and had a great time meeting and making new friends from all over. The Atlantis is such a huge property, if we encountered a couple more than once, we knew it was a divine appointment. We’ll keep in touch with many of the couples we met.

Lisa and Calvin

Ron and Janelle from Illinois

Return to Maui…

Last year in Maui, we made some dear Southern California friends who opted to go back to Maui this year. We’ve been seeing pictures all week on Facebook from that Hawaiian paradise where they also enjoyed Gary Chapman, along with Pastor Greg Laurie, Bart Miller of Mercy Me, Matt Hammitt of Sanctus Real, and Leeland. Here they are having fun and fellowship in Maui . . .

Photo: Davis isn't too old to ride on the handle bars!  But it does take the rest of us to hold him up there!

What’s My Message?

Yes, we had great fun and relaxation, but both years our vacation with The Love Song Couples Getaway has also been a time of refreshment for our own ministry and marriage, as well as an opportunity to share a little glimpse of heaven with other believing couples.

If you’re married, I would encourage you to getaway to a couple’s retreat that fits your budget and schedule…well you might have to stretch both…but your marriage is the earthly replica of Christ’s relationship with the church. Dave and I are now on a fixed income and we sacrificed to make an investment in our marriage and spiritual walk to go on these trips. The sacrifice was nothing in comparison with the blessings we received.

If you’re single, find a spiritual retreat or conference to getaway from the franticness of life and spend time with fellow believers and the Lord. Is your church having a retreat or conference or is one coming to your town? Go!

Pastor Jim Wright of Mountain Church Medford, Oregon, was another speaker at our Bahamas and Maui Getaways, and he challenged us to ask ourselves:

 “Do you live with a sense of divine destiny?”

Next to his following comment, I wrote the word Mentoring:

“Learn from the experience of others. You don’t have to learn everything the hard way. Only God can give victory! Choose to remind each other that we are totally dependent on Jesus to live life to its fullest, not just exist.”

Go for it! Live life to the fullest in Christ and help others learn to do the same.

“The trip may end, but the friendships we made with you all continues! That’s the biggest blessing of these trips!” —Vanessa Garcia speaking of friendships we all made on our first Love Song Couples Getaway to Maui

If you missed last Monday’s Love Your Body blog, I wrote about how to eat healthy while on vacation. Next Monday, I’ll share more Love Song Couples Getaway pictures of beach baptisms and the story of my granddaughter’s baptism.

Love Your Body–On Vacation

Love your BodyHave you ever said . . .?

 “I travel so much I can’t eat healthy.”

“We’re on vacation, so we’ll worry about healthy eating when we get home.”

“I eat out a lot and it’s impossible to eat healthy.”

Today is the last Monday of the month so it’s time for another Love Your Body message. Since I just returned from 10 glorious days in the Bahamas with the Love Song Couples Getaway, weighing less than when I got on the plane to leave, I thought this would be an appropriate topic today. Check in next Monday for more about this wonderful vacation with 250 other Christian couples!

On The Road Again

Many of you have heard me speak in your area and know that I travel a great deal, which means I’m often not eating my “normal” food. If I were to adopt the philosophy that we can’t eat healthy while traveling, I would be doing my body a huge disservice. Remember, that your body doesn’t take a break from the effects of unhealthy eating while you’re on vacation or away from home. Your body still expects you to cherish and love it enough to fuel yourself with nutritious food.

When you come home and step on the scales, you don’t want all the memories of that wonderful trip to fade with the guilt and depression that often accompanies gaining weight or the scolding from your doctor because your cholesterol, blood sugar, or blood pressure are off the charts.

Yes, No!

We often associate eating out as a special occasion, especially when we’re on vacation. Since we’re indulging or splurging on the trip, we can carry over that same “special occasion” mentality to eating.

I never feel like I’m denying myself anything, but I do use the same guidelines when traveling that I do when I’m eating out anywhere. Here are a few of my healthy eating habits and I’d love to hear some of yours.

The Menu—Choose Wisely

1. The first choice starts when they hand you the menu or you’re perusing the menu board. This is the restaurants marketing tool. Most restaurants don’t worry about feeding you healthy; they just want food to taste good (which can mean lots of butter, salt, or sugar) and you to spend a lot of money. Knowing this, don’t be enticed to eat something you normally would avoid.

2. Don’t stop to read any item with the description: fried, breaded, gravy, rich sauce, rich, buttered, or any ingredient you typically wouldn’t eat. That eliminates about ¾ of the menu items.

3. I don’t eat red meat so that usually reduces the menu to one or two choices. Then I choose between those based on what I feel like eating.

4. Drink water! It’s free and you should always drink a lot of water when traveling.

5. If they offer half portions, choose that or ask if you can get a small salad or half a sandwich. Or split something with whomever you’re eating with, as long as they are choosing something you should eat.

6. Ask for any sauces or salad dressings on the side.

7. Restaurants usually give chips or French fries as a side with sandwiches. Ask for fresh fruit, a small salad, or sliced tomatoes instead. If they don’t substitute, then hold the fries or chips. Then you won’t be tempted to munch on them.

8. Avoid “value meals” that include fries and a drink. You don’t need the fries and water is free, so just order the sandwich/taco/burrito or salad by itself.

9. Choose flame-grilled, baked, broiled, or poached meat or fish. Pan-fried means lots of butter. Be sure to clarify if “grilled” is on a grate or on a grill. The grill is usually very greasy and you wouldn’t want to know what they use for “grease” on those grills.

Be Prepared

1. I take my own breakfast. A package of instant oatmeal reconstituted with hot water from the coffee machine in every hotel room works great. I always have a couple of packages and plastic spoons in my suitcase. I usually don’t eat “instant” foods, but in this case it’s better than the alternatives.

Or I might take a breakfast bar—but be careful to read-labels as we talked about in the March Love Your Body—Read Labels blog. So called “nutrition bars’ can be lethal. I like Trader Joes’ “A Fruit Stepped into a Bar.” If the room has a refrigerator, I’ll stock it with orange juice and fresh fruit.

Breakfast can be a huge diet buster with all the fattening, high cholesterol, high sodium choices. If you do eat breakfast out, or it comes with the room, use the menu guidelines above.

2. I bring my own snacks. My daughter Kim once said, “My mother takes her nuts everywhere with her.” That’s a true statement. I always have a baggie of mixed nuts I’ve created from raw, organic, unsalted nuts. I mix walnuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews, sunflower seeds, macadamias, and whatever other nuts I have on hand. You’ll never find me on a trip without my homemade “trail mix.” If you don’t like the taste of raw nuts, toast very lightly at 275 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Most nuts are roasted at such a high temperature it destroys the nutrients.

Dried fruit can also be added to the mix or eaten on it’s own. Be sure there’s no sodium sulfite added as a preservative.

3. If we’re staying for a while, we stop by a local grocery store and get a flat of water and fresh fruit and juice for breakfast.

4. When starting out on a trip, I always pack a lunch for the first meal whether on a plane or by car. I usually make almond butter or peanut butter and sugar-free jelly sandwiches. They don’t need refrigeration and are a welcome break from airport food.

Better To Go To Waste then Waist!

1. Stop eating when you’re full. If you have a refrigerator in your room, ask for a to-go box and save for another meal. Otherwise, let it go.

2. Again, offer to split something with another diner, unless they’re eating something you shouldn’t. My husband and I often split—well I actually eat about a third—but sometimes he orders something I don’t want to eat so then I don’t split with him.

3. Sometimes eating from the children’s menu is good for smaller portions, but beware—often time’s it’s fried and breaded food like chicken nuggets and fries or grilled cheese, which might be bad for you even though it’s cheaper and a smaller portion.

Above All Enjoy Yourself

1. Treat yourself to an occasional dessert or favorite food. The last night of our Bahamas vacation, we ate at Johnny Rockets and there was nothing on the menu that appealed to me. So, I enjoyed a chocolate, peanut butter real milkshake and sweet potato fries for dinner, without guilt, because I had been very careful the rest of the time!

2. We also ate at the famous Twin Brothers Fish Fry in Nassau. Just by the name, I knew I would love the fish but not fried. And walla, they offered a foil steamed package of grouper with all the veggies and plantains inside. Two Guys Fish Fry

Steamed grouper @ Two Guys Fish Fry

We also saw everyone drinking these amazing looking strawberry smoothies—well they were actually daiquiris but we don’t drink so we asked for them nonalcoholic! Delicious and cheaper!

Yummy smootiesYummy strawberry smoothies

Go The Extra Mile

1. Walk whenever possible.

2. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Since we were on the 24th floor in Nassau that didn’t work for us, but it was a huge property and we intermingled walking around with lounging at the pool.

3. Take a stroll around the area after or before a meal.

Enjoy your vacation and love your body by eating well, using sunscreen, and fitting in some exercise!

Moderation is better than muscle,
self-control better than political power.—Proverbs 16:32, The Message

Please share what you do to eat healthy when away from home….

Next week, more about the Love Song Couples Getaway—Take Two

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