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What fear seems overwhelming to you right now?

A situation that your child is in? Something God is calling you to do? A diagnosis that you’re unprepared for? An uncertain future?

My friend Dawn Wilson says, “I’m naturally timid, but a Walt Disney Film about a young princess taught me an important lesson about courage.”

Dawn shares her heart in my guest blog today and offers five keys to fighting your fears and upgrading your courage:

In the release of Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries, young Princess Mia Thermopolis drew strength from a letter her father wisely wrote for her teenage years. The king wrote, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.”

At the time, I was terrified of beginning a speaking career. I had plenty of reasons why it wouldn’t work and why God must be making a mistake to call me into speaking. Yet when I heard the king’s words to Princess Mia—“courage is not the absence of fear”—I was motivated to discover the King’s perspective on courage in the Word of God.

Here are five courage-builders that have helped me, and they can help you too.

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Sally Nance, whose blog is The Healthy Happy Woman, is my guest blogger this week. Here are her thoughts on how to find and practice happiness:

Are you happy?  This question might catch you off guard, and yet, it’s one of the most profound questions you can ask yourself.  Perhaps happiness seems like a destination just beyond your reach.  Or maybe you tell yourself things like, “I’ll be happy when__________________ (fill in the blank with whatever you think is going to make you happy)!”

But what if I told you that happiness is a spiritual discipline, just as much as reading your Bible or praying, and that it is a direct result of pursuing a vibrant relationship with Christ through His Word?  Charles Spurgeon knew this to be so.  He said, “As there is the most heat nearest to the sun, so there is the most happiness nearest to Christ.”

Christian author, Donald Whitney, defines spiritual disciplines as “those practices found in Scripture that promote spiritual growth among believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are habits of devotion, habits of experiential Christianity that have been practiced by God’s people since biblical times.”

So, is it possible for happiness to be a “habit of devotion” that can be “practiced by God’s people”?  I absolutely think so!  Let’s look at 3 ways we can practice the spiritual discipline of happiness:

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I had the privilege of being interviewed by Marnie Swedberg on her radio show just recently. Spending an hour talking about Drama Free with this delightful woman made me want to hear more from her.

So I asked her to guest blog for me and talk about something we all know we should do, but sometimes wonder how.

Glean from Marnie as she talks about how you and I can pray continually (and leave a comment below and you could win a copy of one of my books.)

Here’s Marnie…

The Bible says, “Pray without ceasing.” If you’re like me, that seemed an impossible command.

I want to share with you the dolphin analogy that God used to help me adopt the habit of praying without ceasing. I hope it will be as helpful to you as it has been to me in unraveling this puzzle.

Simply stated, God created dolphins to be water dwellers, but air breathers. He created us to be earth dwellers, but prayer breathers.

Ephesians 2:6 uses the present tense when it describes our ability to be spiritually in the presence of God even while being stuck here on earth. “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.”

Dolphins can breathe air while living in the water. They can survive about five minutes before surfacing, but not much more. We can survive just about as long without going up to God for prayer.

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What would you say if your child told you that he or she was gay?

Maybe you haven’t experienced that but a friend of yours has.

In her new book, Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home, my friend, Author Lori Wildenberg, addresses this topic, among others that our children may present us with.

I asked her to share her wisdom on my blog for you or someone you know who may come face to face with a situation like this.

Here’s Lori’s wisdom (which can also be applied to other areas of a grown child’s behavior or choices):

“My young adult just told me he’s (or she’s) gay. Now what?”

This inquiry used to be a rare one. This past month I have spoken to three different moms seeking answers to this very question.

Broken-hearted, lonely, and confused, they are looking for camaraderie, comfort, and clarity.

Empathy and compassion I have in full supply. I can relate. My daughter is same-sex attracted.

Answers—God has those.

Each family, each child, each parent is different. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how this is played out in the family.

God is the one to trust with the answers.

Along with my listening ear, I can provide some guidelines when it comes to living with this new reality. The most important thing I tell parents is to love their child. Once the young person has uncovered his secret, he is relieved his secret is out but fears his parents will not love him. Show him that is not true. Let him (or her) know you love him.

So what does love sound like?
Say these 12 vital statements to your child in order to build and maintain a relational bridge.

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Leave it to my friend, Arlene Pellicane, to find a positive example of drama.

I asked the popular author and speaker to be my guest blogger this week and she shares a fun, encouraging story about how resorting to dramatics actually HELPS your family, not hinders it.

Here’s her take on how to be a drama mama — in a good way.

Arlene writes…

I opened a kitchen cabinet overhead and a bowl crashed to the floor.  I screamed loudly – very loudly!  You would think a burglar had jumped through our window carrying a gun by the way I reacted.

The kids rushed into the room.

“What happened?” they asked frantically.

“Oh, this bowl fell and it really scared me.”

“Mom, you really shouldn’t scream so much.”

This moment wasn’t about having dramatic kids.  It was about being a dramatic mom!

The bowls had been stacked too high and when I opened the cabinet door, one bowl gave in to gravity and fell.  It really scared me, but I could certainly see how I totally overreacted.

I needed to dial down the drama.

Sometimes our dramatic outbursts are caused by silly things.  Sometimes they are caused by real difficulty.  In my book 31 Days to a Happy Husband, I write about Doug, one of my husband’s grad school buddies who spent 13 months in Baghdad as an Army Chaplain.  His wife Ally had their three young children to take care of.  You can imagine the challenge of parenting alone coupled with being concerned about your deployed spouse.

But she did something dramatic that strengthened – not weakened – their home.

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Are you tired of the hateful language on television and social media lately? It isn’t coming just from unbelievers. It’s coming from those who follow Christ, too.

My friend, Dawn Marie Wilson, has a heart to see women live more godly lives. As my guest blogger today, she offers simple ways we can stand out amidst the hostility and be a more compassionate, yet effective,  communicator.

Dawn says: “I believe every one of us can become a more compassionate communicator.”

Here are Dawn’s 8 ways we can learn to express ourselves in a more compassionate manner:

1. We can learn to be SENSITIVE.
We must be sensitive to differences. God designed a beautiful “garden” of people. Some are “roses,” some are “daisies,” and some are awesome medicinal “weeds”! Is a rose better than a weed just because we think it’s so?
God is the Potter and we are His clay (Isaiah 64:8). Every person is beautiful and valuable—created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Instead of trying to ignore our differences, we can develop deeper appreciation for them. We can love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31).
Being sensitive doesn’t mean we have to agree with everything; we can learn to disagree agreeably. Sensitivity is simply the capacity to be aware of differences and the needs of others. That’s something we all can cultivate.
2. We can show RESPECT.

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As I prepare to launch my new book Drama Free, I asked my friend, Shelley Hendrix to share what was on her heart when it comes to drama.

Shelley pointed to the Bible’s instructions in Romans 12:18:

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

“This biblical mandate doesn’t ask of us the impossible,” Shelley said. “It doesn’t ask us to play God or try to be god to anyone. It doesn’t ask us to be perfect. It reveals the ability we have to make powerful choices in our lives that increase our own peace so that we, in turn, can make a greater impact for good in our generation.”

Shelley shared from her book Why Can’t We Just Get Along? these helpful tips for confronting difficult people so we don’t fall into the trap of bitterness or regret:

Whenever we’re riddled with guilt or bitterness or regret, we remain shackled in chains that have already been unlocked for us. But it has always been and will always be our choice to remain in those shackles or to cast them off and run in the freedom purchased us by the forgiveness of the God who forgave us long before we could have even begun to wonder how we could make things right with Him. He set things right. He initiated the forgiveness of all of our wrongs toward Him. And He is the One who makes us able to offer that kind of forgiveness to others, whether they realize they need it or not.

Whenever we see that a confrontation is necessary, it is vital that we take the time needed to examine our own hearts and motives first. The importance of this cannot be overstated, so please take the time to do this thoroughly by asking yourself and answering these questions:

1.      What is my motive in confronting this other person/group? If your answer reveals a desire for revenge, to put the other person in his/her place, or something of that flavor, please wait until your emotions have calmed down enough to handle the confrontation with respect for the other person.

2.      Am I ready to accept that the other person may not respond the way I would prefer? Take the time to release your expectations and desires to your heavenly Father. Going into the confrontation with an agenda can put both you and the other person on the defensive if/when things don’t go your way.

3.      Is this safe? Not to be melodramatic, but the truth is that some confrontations are unwise because the emotions involved can escalate in some situations putting one or both people at risk for harm—either verbally or physically. If it isn’t safe, don’t confront (or don’t go it alone). Common sense applies here.

4.      What do I hope to gain? If you recognize that the importance is that your voice be heard, and not that the other person respond the way you desire, then you are probably ready to confront.

Remember … “the truth may be painful, but it should never be hurtful” (James Eubanks). Check your motives, investigate your desires, evaluate your safety, and acknowledge your hopes before heading into a confrontation with another person or group. I believe these steps will help you get your thoughts together for a respectful confrontation with just about anyone. (Just about!)

Go in peace.

ShelleyHendrixShelley Hendrix is a wife, mother, Bible teacher, speaker, author,  television talk show host and the Founder of Church 4 Chicks. This blog post is an excerpt from her book, Why Can’t We Just Get Along? Six Effective Skills for Dealing with Difficult People, published by Harvest House Publishers. For more on this book, along with a sneak peek and online ordering options, visit: http://harvesthousepublishers.com/book/why-cant-we-just-get-along-2013/.

Have you found yourself wondering if God was ever going to answer your prayer?

My friend, Author and Speaker Donna Jones, shares from her book — Seek: A Woman’s Guide to Meeting God what happened when she and her family didn’t give up on a prayer request.

Donna writes…

Just over a year ago our family saw the answer to a prayer that took 40 years to answer. In case you skimmed right over that last sentence, let me repeat the time frame again—40 years. Not 40 minutes. Not 40 days. Not even 40 months.

40 years.

40 years ago my brother-in-law became the first Christian in his family. After several years and a few awkward conversations, my husband followed his brother’s footsteps and became a believer, too. Together they began to pray for their mom and step-dad.

When JP and I married, I joined in praying. Once our kids became old enough to question why Grandma and Grandpa didn’t believe in God, they prayed, too.

There were seasons of intense prayer and seasons of scattered prayer.

Was it discouraging at times?  You bet.

Did my husband and his brother ever give up hope?  They sure did, especially when they were told, “Please don’t talk to us about God anymore.”

Respectfully, they stopped talking about God, but they never stopped praying. Or loving. Or visiting, or calling, or caring.

For 40 years.

About this time last year, my mother-in-law shocked us by announcing she was considering going to church “just to see.” We held our breath and continued to pray. She went and liked it. Several women invited her to lunch. These women were warm, thoughtful, even downright normal, and my mother-in-law liked them immediately. They invited her to join their home Bible study. She went “just to see.” She liked that, too.

Then, seemingly out of the blue, she called my husband and asked, “How do I become a Christian, exactly? I’ve been waiting for someone at church to tell me, but they never do.”

Why did it take 40 years of prayer before my mother-in-law made a spiritual commitment?  Honestly, I have no idea. Sometimes we just don’t know why God works the way He does.

What I do know is this: we’re glad we didn’t stop praying, even if it took years to see the answer.

Maybe you’ve prayed for something—or someone— near and dear to your heart too, but have yet to see God answer. Perhaps you’re tempted to give up. You might even be toying with thoughts about how God doesn’t hear your prayers or care about your concerns. It’s easy to give up when we don’t see immediate results. And if people around us seem to have their prayers answered almost instantaneously? Well, it’s like adding salt to the wound.

Unanswered prayer can make us feel invisible.

If we begin to believe we’re invisible to God we’ll likely throw up our hands in despair and ask, “Why bother?”

The enemy would like nothing more than to sideline you and your prayers by tempting you to believe God doesn’t see you or hear you, and therefore, doesn’t care for you.

But God does see. He does hear. You are not invisible. The cries of your heart do not go unnoticed. The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him (1 Chronicles 16:9).

The fact that you are reading these words right now is proof.  It’s God’s way of bending low to say “I see. I know.”

May I tenderly whisper something the devil doesn’t want you to hear? Keep on praying and don’t stop. Don’t let the enemy win.

Personally, I find great comfort in Jesus’ words,

Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

It’s easy to think of prayer as a one-stop deal. But Jesus so clearly indicates that prayer is an ongoing pursuit. Prayer is pressing in and pressing on, even when the pressure’s up.

If you’ve been tempted to stop praying, don’t. If you’ve been tempted to stop caring, don’t do that either. When you are tempted to give up, look up. And pray.

Even if it takes 40 years to see the answer.

 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time

we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).

For your chance to win a free copy of Donna’s book, leave a comment below about what you are waiting on God for, and share this post on your social media page. (U.S. residents only for book giveaway, please.)

DonnaJonesDonna Jones is the author of Seek: A Woman’s Guide to Meeting God, Raising Kids with Good Manners, and Taming Your Family Zoo. A national and international speaker, Donna has spoken from coast to coast and on four continents helping women find and follow God in real, everyday life. Her favorite role is wife to her pastor/hubby, JP, and mom to their three wildly funny, young adult kids who frequently sit on her kitchen counter just to chat. For more encouragement and free resources connect with Donna at www.donnajones.org.

 

 

Slavery is not something of the past.

It still happens in this country and even in our local communities.

This week I asked my friend, Peggy Sue Wells, to share on my blog what is on her heart. And she is concerned with what is on God’s heart — the injustice of young girls who are being sold into slavery and human trafficking. As you read her shocking and heartbreaking story, be asking yourself what YOU can do to stomp out slavery in your corner of the world.

And keep in mind these words from our God who hates injustice:

Rescue those being led away to death;
    hold back those staggering toward slaughter.
If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,”
    does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who guards your life know it? (Proverbs 24:11-12).

PeggySue writes:

“Twelve-year-old Carrie was a smart girl taking classes for gifted and talented students. One day as she walked home from middle school, a man in a fancy car drove up beside her and told her she was pretty. Though she didn’t tell her parents about him, every day for six months he met her after school and they talked. He bought her small gifts and made her feel special. After six months she finally agreed to get into his car.

When the door shut, Carrie’s life changed forever. Her boyfriend drove her far from home and took away her identity. For the next five years, he prostituted Carrie to more than 100 men each month. Taken from state to state, there was no place for her to run, and she was without hope for rescue. Though Carrie was a United States citizen, in the land of liberty she was no longer free. This all-American pre-teen was a slave.

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Got stress? It seems to be our constant companion in this life.

In fact, stress is trying to be a companion of mine as I write my next book, Drama Free. So, I asked my friend Sally Nance — who writes a wonderful blog called The Healthy Happy Woman —  to share some practical ways that you and I can stress less. I’m already trying a few of these as I struggle with deadline pressure and they are really helping.

So, as I get back to my book-writing deadline, here are some words from Sally that just might change YOUR life, too:

Stress has become a 21st century epidemic, and women are especially vulnerable to its effects, particularly when it comes to our day-to-day outlook on life.

Whether it’s the big stressors, like a health crisis, divorce, or a major move, or the little stressors, like traffic jams and full schedules, there is always something threatening to steal our joy and leave us frazzled, exhausted, and discouraged.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way!  We can experience joy and peace in the midst of a stressful world.  I have discovered 5 proactive ways to deal with stress, protect your joy, and live a happy life.read more

Is Our Culture Forsaking God?

Sadly, the answer to that question is “Yes.” That’s what my friend, Janet Thompson, says. She is the author of the newly-released book,  Forsaken God? Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten.

Janet says we, too, can forsake God without realizing it by forgetting the good things He has done for us.

I asked Janet to share her insights on my blog this week. Here is what she had to say:

Today’s culture is quickly forsaking and forgetting the goodness and power of our Great God. The Bible describes the potential destruction through all generations to people who forget God. The dangers are paramount.

If we don’t remember what God has already done, we won’t believe what He is capable of doing in the future. Memory builds faith.

We read the Old Testament and lament at how forgetful the Israelites were of God’s goodness. Every time He did something good for them, they started grumbling that they needed something else. And are we any different today?

The Israelites repeatedly rejected God, even though He:

  • freed them from bondage and slavery by miraculously parting the Red Sea for them to pass through on dry ground,
  • provided manna from heaven,
  • guided them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night,
  • never let their shoes wear out even after walking for 40 years,
  • and He offered them a land flowing with milk and honey.

God was only as good as the next miracle or provision. A forsaken God.

Yet they were warned:

“But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren. Deuteronomy 4:9 NLT

We wonder at how the Israelites could be so blind and ungrateful. Why couldn’t they trust that a God who provided and protected them in the past, would do the same in the present and future? But their memories were short. As often as Moses and God tried to help them remember, still they forgot. And at great sacrifice. The original generation freed from Egypt never got to see the Promised Land because they doubted God’s goodness. Even Moses wasn’t able to enjoy its beauty because at a crucial moment, he took matters into his own hands and forgot that God was in control.

We would never forsake God! But wait . . . don’t we forget too? God has done amazing things in our lives, but when the next crisis arises, we panic that He might not show up for us this time. Or when prayers are answered, we might take credit ourselves or offer praise to someone else instead of giving God the glory and recognition He deserves.

We never intentionally forsake God, but if we’re honest, we do unintentionally forget him. So let’s agree that forgetfulness will stop with our generation. We live in a world today that is quickly trying to eliminate God from the public square and even in the private domain. Christians need to help a lost world remember God and that starts with remembering Him ourselves.

In my new book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, there are suggestions for ways to remember all that God has done in your life and, then share that memory in your sphere of influence. One effective way is to share our testimony. As a Christian speaker, I give parts of my testimony every time I speak. “Feed my sheep” is my testimony of a time when God clearly spoke those words to me. When I said an obedient “OK,” He went on to reveal that the sheep were women and feeding was mentoring.

That was 20 years ago, and today God has taken Woman to Woman Mentoring around the world as women enjoy the blessings of being in Titus 2 mentoring relationships. I still stand in awe as I write that story, and every time I tell it from the stage. I will never forget how God used me to start a worldwide ministry, and I give Him all the glory for the blessing it has been to so many.

But you don’t have to be a speaker to share your story. Someone today needs to hear how Jesus changed your life. A hurting world needs the Christian world to tell them the source of our joy and hope. Mentoring is a great place to share our testimony to encourage others to know the Jesus of the Bible.

There are over 50 ways described in Forsaken God? to help remember God. Here are just a few:

  • Taking pictures
  • Journaling
  • Reading our Bibles
  • Receiving Communion
  • Making a thankful list
  • Joining a small group
  • Sharing with children

What are some ways that help you remember God’s goodness?

(You can order Janet’s book at Amazon, Christianbook.com, and signed at her website.)

Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and an award-winning author of 18 books including Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer and Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. She is also the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries. Visit Janet at: womantowomanmentoring.com.   www.facebook.com/Janetthompson.authorspeaker,   http://www.linkedin.com/in/womantowomanmentoring/ www.pinterest.com/thompsonjanet  and https://twitter.com/AHWministries

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