HOPE FOR ALL SEASONS

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.

Choosing a Mentor

Kara Tippetts 1_Jen Lints Photography

I was asked to review Kara Tippett’s book, And It Was Beautiful. I knew a little of Kara’s story that she was a young Christian mom of four and author who had lost her battle to breast cancer, but during her valiant fight she blogged her thoughts. Not just about the cancer but what was happening in her life, her thoughts, her struggles, her joys. Being a three-time breast cancer survivor myself, I wondered if it would be too painful for me to read Kara’s book, but it was just the opposite . . . I couldn’t put it down. Yes, it was sad, but her writing seldom made me sad. Instead, I got a chance to meet a very special woman who loved the Lord, her family, her church, and her friends and she left them and us a treasure in her blogs, which were more like having a chat with her.

When I came to the chapter titled “Choosing a Mentor,” I knew I had to share it with you. I received permission to share her words in this blog and in my new book releasing next year: Mentoring for All Seasons: Women Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Enjoy!

Choosing a Mentor

By Kara Tippett

Apart from the Holy Spirit, it has been the mentors in my life who have made the longest-lasting, deepest impact on who I am as a person. Some mentors were women I specifically asked to mentor me. Some were women who opened their lives wide open for me to watch. But both nurtured new strength in me. Here are a few things that have served me well in finding a mentor.

First, do they love their family well and speak with love and admiration of their husbands? Can these be areas of tension and struggle in a family? Yes, but I look to see if their overall desire is to move toward a spouse and children, and not away.

Second, do they speak vulnerably about weakness, or are they more concerned about appearances? I have found this area to be critical. I struggle to share openly with someone who wants to appear they have it all figured out. I look to see if they are willing to speak openly about where God is challenging them, and are open about themselves without bashing others.

Third, and most important, do they seek Jesus in their moments throughout the day, especially the mundane? Do they see their neediness and weakness, and are they able to be wrong and be corrected by Scripture?

When Jason [her husband] was a youth director, we had the privilege of seeing kids who truly loved Jesus. From that observation, we often sought out their parents. We wanted to sit at their feet, eat at their table, and watch how they did it. I love to watch someone discipline with kindness. I love to watch someone including their children in the events of the home. I love watching someone loving their spouse creatively. And I really love to see women involved in community building. You can receive a lot of mentoring just by watching.

Common interests help as well. I have had mamas show me a craft, women who love to write as well as read, ladies who love to garden, build a fire, and cook, and women who just cannot get enough of their Bibles. I often try to enter the life of a person who might be a good fit as a mentor in a place of common joy. I want my mentors to be my friends, as I want to befriend the women I mentor.

Things to be wary of? Be careful of people who like to gossip. Be willing to be flexible. Mentoring relationships take on so many different looks. Sitting down across from one another with Bibles open every week? That’s an awesome model, but it’s certainly not the only one. Look for someone who will promote freedom in Christ, not tie you up in a load of legalism.

Finally, as you search for a safe place, be a safe place in return. God loves seeing us seeking Him together.

An excerpt from And It Was Beautiful by Kara Tippetts bolding added.

© 2016 Kara Tippetts. And It Was Beautiful is published by David C Cook. All rights reserved. Shared with permission.

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

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Kara Tippetts’ life was dramatically changed in 2012 when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She shared her journey on her popular blog, www.mundanefaithfulness.com. She was the author of The Hardest Peace and the co-author of Just Show Up. Since her death in March 2015, her husband, Jason, is parenting their four children and leading the church they founded in Colorado Springs, CO.

And it was Beautiful

Burnout or Balance?

stress relaxToday’s guest blogger is a fiction author friend of mine, DiAnn Mills. She has some great tips for us today on how to live a balanced life without burning out. If you want to do a Bible study on this topic you might enjoy my Face to Face with Priscilla and Aquila: Balancing Life and Ministry. Be sure to check at the end of her post for her offer of a copy of her new release, Deadlock. Just leave a comment to enter the drawing. I couldn’t put it down!

Burnout or Balance? By DiAnn Mills

Recently I took an honest evaluation of myself, and I didn’t like what I discovered. Exhaustion pelted my mind and body. Did I mention cranky? Looked older? Felt worse? I rose earlier in the morning and hit the pillow later at night. I cancelled breakfast meetings with friends and attended a writer’s conference where I failed to make all the necessary connections. Still the work piled up, and I wasn’t enjoying what I’d previously loved.

In short, my professional life had spiraled downward into a pitiful heap, and I needed to find a solution.

Some of you may be feeling the same way. No matter how we spend our days, burnout is a painful disorder, but I have an antidote. I found twelve ways to help me be the woman God intended, and I’m sure they will help you too.

Twelve Ways to Fight Burnout!

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  1. Everything begins with prayer. Every dream. Every decision. Every dilemma.
  2. Read Ephesians 4:1-7 and write down your purpose. This is your ministry, God’s calling on your life. It’s rich and beautiful and uniquely you.
  3. Thank God for everything placed in your path: the good, the bad, the victories, and the challenges. Repeat these events aloud every morning. I use a “Thankful” journal. If you doubt the value of this practice, check out Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts. You can also follow her marvelous wisdom on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AnnVoskamp. [Note from Janet: I suggest a Thankful Journal and quote Ann Voskamp in my new book coming out in March, Forsaken God: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten.]
  4. Record what you enjoy about being you. Be passionate! Living every moment for God should fill us with unspeakable joy and allow us to worship Him in a personal way. If our lives are empty, then we are on the road to burnout. Examine what does bring joy and pray for God to open a window of hope for you.
  5. Take time to rest. A woman can’t focus if she’s in sleep-deficit mode. If possible, take a few naps and crawl into bed earlier.
  6. Listen to soothing music.
  7. Follow a healthy diet and commit to exercise. Remember the temple we’re supposed to take care of? Satisfaction does its best job when our bodies are being fed the right stuff and it’s in good shape. If this is a problem area, ask God for help and to lead you to an accountability partner. [Note from Janet: Read my Love Your Body blogs the last Monday of the Month.]
  8. Dont forget loved onesfamily and friends. When we’re too busy, we forget about people. Our role on earth is not about how much work we’ve done or a completed check list. We’re to touch lives with the love of Christ.
  9. Discern what is stopping you from being productive in your ministry. A wise woman told me there are many wonderful God-projects in the world, but that didn’t mean God intended for me to get involved with all of them. Practice saying no and feeling good about it. Guilt doesn’t come from God.
  10. Eradicate all those negative influences stopping you from smiling. These can be unhealthy habits or relationships.
  11. Do you need cooperation and support from your family? Call a meeting and pour out your heart. So what if you shed a few tears? We earn our title of drama queen honestly.
  12. Establish a schedule that works for you and stick to it. An accountability partner ensures you’re working toward your goals and accomplishing the purpose for which you were created.

Add Balance with Prayer and Study of Gods Word

sparrowThis list wont stop the down days or the mistakes made when we dont take care of ourselves. But it will help when burnout overwhelms us. When a woman achieves body and soul balance, love and creativity flow like a winding river.

peaceHow are you balancing the purpose God gave you?

Leave a comment for a random drawing of a personalized copy of my new romantic suspense novel Deadlock, released by Tyndale Publishing.

If you receive this post be email, leave a comment.

Deadlock - largeDiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firew and she speaks and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at my website.

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Mentoring: It’s a Beautiful Thing!

I am thrilled to introduce my guest today on the Monday Morning Blog. Stephanie Shott is the founder of  The M.O.M. Initiative, and I am on the Mentor Mom’s Team. Stephanie and I share the same heart and passion for mentoring, and we have walked many of the same journeys. When we met last March at the Mentor Moms Team Retreat, it was as if I was hearing myself speak and looking in the mirror 18 years ago when God first gave me the call to “Feed My sheep”.

Stephanie is the age I was when I started Woman to Woman Mentoring and I’ve often asked God who was going to carry on my legacy of helping women understand Titus 2:3-5 and apply it to their lives. I know it was a God-thing that put Stephanie and me together across the miles. Stephanie lives in Florida and I’m in Idaho…miles apart in distance…but oh so close in Spirit and love for Jesus! Here’s Stephanie…..

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As the sun began to sneak a peek through the horizontal lines of my mini blinds, I was reminded that another hectic day awaited me. It wasn’t easy being an early bird and a night owl in the same skin, but as a single mom who was struggling to be all and do all, I didn’t have a choice.

Each day held its own basket full of burdens for a girl who wore too many hats and didn’t realize the significance of her role as a mother. I was a single mom without Christ, without a clue, and without a mentor.

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

That was twenty-five years ago and as I reflect back on the seasons of my life, I can’t help but wonder where all the mentors were when I was raising my children. I remember looking up to several women in the church but was somehow unable to wiggle my way under their wing.

Occasionally, I noticed older women walking through a season of life with a younger woman and couldn’t help but think, “What a beautiful thing!”

Perhaps I wasn’t trying hard enough. Maybe they just didn’t notice my need – but I was definitely in need of their words of wisdom as I walked through those important days of motherhood.

But times have changed and while many women still struggle with the whole mentoring thing, there seems to be a resurgence of women who understand the Titus 2 mandate is not only a calling to fulfill but it’s packed with the purpose of leaving a legacy of faith.

The tide is turning and Titus 2 seems to be gaining ground in the hearts of women on both sides of the mentor equation. Women are not only noticing their own need for a mentor, but those who are older are rising up to make a mark on the next generation.

  • It’s a beautiful thing to see women mentor other women through various seasons of life.
  • It’s a beautiful thing to hear how one woman has helped a young college student successfully sort through the decisions that lie before her.
  • It’s a beautiful thing to see a woman be a shoulder to cry on and a heart to listen while a younger woman walks through a painful place in her life.
  • It’s a beautiful thing to hear how a single mom who was struggling to be all and do all found a friend who was older and a bit wiser, and who was willing to step in and help her through those trying times.
  • It’s a beautiful thing to see a sea of women who understand that mentors matter and are now ready and willing to take on that very important role.

When I started The M.O.M. Initiative, I wasn’t sure how women were going to respond. My experience in the 80’s left me wondering if our culture has somehow become so isolated that women wouldn’t even consider mentoring. But what I have found is the opposite is true.

Women are not only longing to be mentored, but mentors are longing to step into their God-given Titus 2 roles and make a difference for such a time as this. Seeing women mentoring others to leave a legacy of faith and change the world one life at a time…well, that truly is a beautiful thing!

Stephanie Shott is the founder of The M.O.M. Initiative

Leading Women to Live Full, Fearless and Faithful Lives
Founder of The M.O.M. Initiative
Author of: Ecclesiastes: Understanding What Matters Most