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THE LAST THOUGHTS @lindashepherd OF SUMMER AS YOU TICK OFF THE LAZY DAYS OF SUMMER ON YOUR CALENDAR, HOW MANY OF YOUR PROJECTS REMAIN UNFINISHED? That’s a question I’m asking myself as my eyes turn their focus to my fall calendar. It hardly seems fair that fall is already popping into my thoughts. But here I am with September on my mind as I scramble to finish my long to-do list, including writing the last pages of my latest prayer book.

But as this day stretches into shadows, I noticed another sign of the end of summer. On my last trip to the basement, I stopped at the closet beneath the staircase and pulled out my old suitcase to pack for the last writer’s conference of the summer. And now with my suitcase propped open in my bedroom, I have to ask myself, Where did my summer go, anyway? How well I remember summers when I was a girl. Summer vacation never started too soon, though it always ended too early. And I was never finished, never finished with my summer projects or just enjoying being a kid. I still feel that way because to tell you the truth, I have a few summer regrets. I regret not enjoying a root beer float in the cool of the evening with my family. I regret not taking my dog on

longer summer evening walks. Most of all, I regret not walking through the yellow Hamilton Roses when they were in full bloom. How did summers get so crazy anyway? Maybe as you eye the coming days of fall, you’re wondering the same thing. So, here’s my solution. Let’s relax and open up this copy of Leading Hearts Magazine. Here we can not only get the inspiration we need to finish this season well, but we can get the peace we need to enter the next season. You see, there is so much more to finishing well than successfully accomplishing all the tasks that keep you bound by busy-ness. In fact, there is freedom in Christ that gives us the space to know, even with all the loose ends of our lives, He has already claimed our victory at the finish. And let’s do this: let’s grant ourselves the freedom to enjoy these last days of summer, to walk with God and to have one last root beer float as we enjoy the cool of the evening with our families. Let’s focus on the love that holds us all together and the LOVE that has truly set us free. S Love,


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EDITORIAL STAFF PUBLISHER...................Linda Evans Shepherd EDITOR/ART DIRECTOR. ...Amber Weigand-Buckley LAYOUT EDITOR............Tom Young COPY EDITORS..............Julie Gillies & Tom Young ADVERTISING............ . ..Linda Evans Shepherd & Aisha Cox EDITORIAL SECRETARY....Aisha Cox CONTRIBUTORS..... Penelope Carlevato, Kathy Collard Miller, Michelle S. Cox, Sharon Norris Elliott, Pam Farrel, Becky Harling, Karen Porter, Rhonda Rhea, Cynthia L. Simmons, Saundra Dalton Smith, Jennifer Taylor, Heather Van Allen, Deborah Waterbury, Valerie Wieners and Karen H. Whiting.

RIGHT TO THE HEART BOARD MEMBERS Linda Evans Shepherd (President), Dianne Butts, Sharon Norris Elliott, Karen Porter, Rhonda Rhea, Carole Whang Schutter and Joy A. Schneider

INFORMATION Leading Hearts Magazine for Christian Women is published bimonthly by Right to the Heart Ministries 2017. ISSN 2380-5455 ADVERTISING | Display rates are available at By accepting an advertisement, Leading Hearts does not endorse any advertiser or product. We reserve the right to reject advertisements not consistent with the magazines objectives. MANUSCRIPTS | Writers guidelines are available at Leading Hearts | PO Box 6421, Longmont, CO 80501 phone: (303) 835-8473 | fax: (303)678-0260 email: MEMBER | 2015-2016-2017 Evangelical Press Association Award of Merit Winner—Christian Ministry Digital Publication Copyright ©2017 Right to the Heart Ministries. All rights reserved. Copyrighted material reprinted with permission Photos courtesy of:, Charisma House, PureFlix, Hoganson Media Relations, ICON, Kerry Kara Photography /KLS Photos & Imaging,,

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this issue

every issue 12 IN THE LEAD





the passenger seat navigating, while my daughters — two long-legged teens and one pretween — coped with being a bit too close for comfort for the 12-hour drive to the Rockies. It’s not hard to imagine how the tension builds while spending that much time invading each others’ personal space. The journey was hot and tiring, and the route looked same-o, same-o for what seemed like a week, but we knew at the end, we had the promise of a mountaintop experience. It was so exciting when that seemingly endless drive through the Kansas and Colorado flatlands finally collided with the place where the snow still caps the Rockies. Have you ever noticed that sometimes, even when you get to your destination, you find yourself in a car full people too cranky to care about the beautiful scenery around them? It hardly compares to the journey the Israelites took to reach the land of milk and honey, but at times we made wrong turns and moments where one person’s grumbling was genuinely ruining the experience for everyone. In fact, the first tourist destination I wanted to hit when I entered the land of Rocky Mountain highs was the guest bed in the home of my sweet friend Penelope. However, arriving at a higher elevation elevated our thinking. Is sticking to a strict travel itinerary worth the anger and tension that builds when one or more of us fail to keep up to the demanding pace or wants to do something else? Or, is it more important just to enjoy spending unscheduled time with each other?


Great joy can come in freeing yourself from your map and agenda and opening your eyes to see the beauty of the journey. Appreciate the detours even when they pull you off your intended time table.

James 4:13-15 says: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’” (NIV). There is freedom in releasing life’s journey to God’s will. There is peace in knowing that He is controlling the waves. One of the greatest detours we took led us to pull off the road, take off our shoes as a family and soak our feet in the stream of rapids cutting its way through the Colorado mountains. It was truly one of the most treasured moments of our trip.To share that moment with you, I included a little sound byte of the rushing water above. Let this issue of Leading Hearts invite you to take an unexpected detour. Slip your shoes off and lose track of time a bit as you dip your feet into that cool stream, knowing God is pulling the pace and direction of the current. S Blessings,


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What Every Women’s Leader Should Know . . .THE


“If God has called you to lead women or minister to women, I guarantee you that He has called you to some level of transparency.”



I WAS DOING AN INTERVIEW RECENTLY ABOUT MY BOOK, THE LIES THAT BIND: AND THE TRUTH THAT SETS YOU FREE, WHEN INTERVIEWER ASKED ME SOMETHING THAT TOOK ME BY SURPRISE. Up to that point, the interview had been going pretty much like all of the others. Then the interviewer asked something that, quite frankly, no one had asked me before, at least not so candidly or with such heart-felt sincerity.

“Deb, how were you able to share this part of your life? I mean, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do it. How could you do it?” I generally don’t skip much of a beat during interviews. I enjoy the opportunity, and I’m pretty quick on my feet. However, I have to admit, I paused for a quick breath. I hadn’t really thought about it in those terms.

Truthfully, not sharing either what has happened to me or what I have done had never occurred to me. It’s not that I’m transparent, as so many have accredited to me. It’s just that I’m so grateful. I’m so appreciative. How could I not share what I have done if it means not sharing what God has done for me? As a teacher and a minister, that truth takes on an entirely new level of importance. Once we take on that mantle of responsibility, we also step into a different arena when it comes to God’s accountability. He demands more of us, and He will call us to a greater reckoning. That is a sobering reality, and if it doesn’t make every leader who is reading this article quake just a little bit in her shoes, then you aren’t thinking straight.

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1, ESV) James wrote,

Now just in case you might argue that you don’t teach (you simply lead or counsel), I would argue that every time you move in some sort of leadership over another, you take up the mantle of teacher, and therefore this verse applies to all who lead in the church. So what does “transparency” or “candor” have to do with responsibility in leadership,

-continued on p. 11-

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If you are a Christian woman author, speaker or communicator get the professional and spiritual grounding you need for success by joining the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. The AWSAs are a group of more than 400 like-minded sisters in professional ministry who pray for, encourage, train and mentor one another. {10.} - -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

-continued from p. 9especially when it comes to leadership of women in the church? Women are relational. They are sensitive, and they are wary of judgment. Perhaps that’s why the interviewer asked me that question. Maybe she couldn’t imagine sharing what I’ve shared because of the judgment she feared would come. Conversely, when a woman feels a sense of security and peace, when she feels freedom and knows that she is in a place where there is no judgment, she will receive truth and love and knowledge without restriction. She will open herself in ways that otherwise she would not, but that requires at least one person in this equation to have the courage to risk the judgment that every other hurting woman is trying to avoid. That woman must be the leader. If God has called you to lead women or to minister to women, I guarantee you that He has called you to some level of transparency. I can also guarantee you that there are more rewards than you can count when you will allow the charred ashes of your past to be used as the beautiful balm that soothes the wounds of woman in pain. Let me end with a few ways you can be this candid. Let me stress that if you haven’t done anything like this before, it won’t come easy. However, as a leader, this attribute of vulnerability isn’t negotiable, not for the women’s leader. Some level of vulnerability is completely necessary, so even if you find it difficult, please give it at least some attention.

• Pray. Ask the Lord to show you areas of your life where He has shown His grace and mercy in supernatural and beautiful ways. Those are the things that He will use as you teach and minister to other women.

ment as they speak. Even if their situations aren’t exactly like something that has happened to you, often a heart situation is.

• Write out your testimony. Again, as leaders, many of us have heard this before. Take the time to do it. Something almost magical happens when you write. Connections are made on a physical, psychological, and yes, even a spiritual level that are simply not made unless we are writing things down. I know writing out my journey — from being gang-raped at 12 to being caught in an adulterous affair — helped me connect so many dots that I can now use to minister to women on a whole new level.

• Own your salvation. This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you think about it, this is the one thing that keeps us from being transparent or candid. It’s what brings us under condemnation from ourselves or makes us susceptible to receiving it from others. If we would really own in our heart of hearts that we are the bride of Jesus Christ, then sharing anything about our pasts would be very easy.

• Meditate on Scripture. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, ESV). • Share in peace.

• Listen.

When the time comes, whether in front of a crowd or with one woman, know that our Father is honored that you trust Him with your past and with your future. After all, what better way to give honor to our God than with a life that is wholly used to His glory? S

When women are talking, listen to them. Listen to their hearts, their hurts, and don’t sit in judg-

Find out more about Deborah’s testimony and ministry at

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and I noticed that the clothes men and women wear to work in corporate offices have become more and more casual. There was a time when the code for promotions and moving up the corporate ladder was a dress code. If you dressed like a professional, you were considered suitable for the next level up. Dress for success has changed from a suit and close toed heels to jeans and boots. I like it. No more worries about the outfit and more concentration on a job well done. But I wonder. Does a great leader need to put on some characteristics of leadership? Let’s try it.

Put on Patience. If you, like many leaders, have risen through the ranks, you probably know how to do the jobs that others are now doing. You know how you did the job, and you know you did it well! When I began my corporate job, I oversaw getting orders out the door. I was so committed to the job that I memorized order numbers, and the

status of each one was on the tip of my tongue. When I was promoted, I didn’t have the daily interaction with the orders, and someone else was in that position. They didn’t do it the way I did. When you turn a job over to someone else, you must let go. That employee or volunteer will never do the job in the same way you would’ve done it. And they may not do it as well or with the enthusiasm and commitment that you did. But you still must let it go. Be patient with the employee or volunteer until they get a grasp of the project and develop their personal style. No second guessing and no taking-the-project-back-because-you-can-do-itbetter interference. Your patience with someone else will reap great benefits to you as a leader.

Put on Goal Setting Another characteristic to put on and keep on is the skill of setting goals. Warren Buffet suggested that we write out 25 goals and then choose the top five. These top five goals are what you would like to accomplish above all else. Then he said to put the left-over goals (the 20) on a separate list and title that new list “Avoid at All Costs.” Buffet says that those 20 goals will act as dis-

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tractors and will keep you from accomplishing the top five. I tried this exercise, writing in my journal my top 25 best goals, wishes, and dreams. I admit it was hard to choose my top 5 and even harder to put those others on an “avoid” list. But, as I’ve focused on the top 5, I have experienced a new kind of freedom. Doing this activity reminds me of a saying I heard when I was a young mom, “We spend so much time on the urgent that we don’t do the important.” What would your leadership look like if you focused on the main goals and avoided the distractions? Or as another old saying puts it, “Make the main thing, the main thing.”

Put on Appreciation “A study by online career site revealed that more than 80 percent of employees say they’re motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work, compared to less than 40 percent who are inspired to work harder when their boss is demanding or because they fear losing their job.” I believe if such a study was done for volunteers, the percentage would skyrocket even higher. People respond to appreci-

ation—if it is authentic. If you are showing appreciation because you think people will work harder, it will come across as phony. But appreciation that is born in respect for the employee or volunteer and from placing value on that person will change your workplace and your team. Appreciation doesn’t always have to be for work done or for skills, talents and abilities; appreciation is more effective when it shows value for the person. Have you told anyone on your team that they bring joy to the group or that they brighten the room when they arrive or that their calm demeanor is important when panic sets in? Expressing these personal evaluations will make you a better leader. When you as a leader get dressed up in these qualities, your leadership style and success will make you remarkably effective. You will be “dressed for success.” Now that’s what I call a power suit! S Adapted from information in

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let go

Rebecca Faye Smith Galli’s memoir, Rethinking Possible, tells of her life built on the solid foundation of a 1960s pastor’s family. Her journey pens the resilience it took to pass through trials and devastation and find the strength to press through. The cycle began when her brother’s tragic death preceded her son’s degenerative disease diagnosis and subsequent death; her daughter’s autism diagnosis; her divorce; and finally, reverse myelitis that left Becky paralyzed from the waist down The story that follows is just the beginning of Rebecca’s journey through one of the darkest periods in her family. The water skiing accident that took 17-year-old brother away also took away the focused love her father who once soulfully invested in his family. JANUARY 14, 1979—It was four months after Forest’s funeral that Dad preached his first sermon in Huntington, North Carolina.

Snow prevented Mom and Rachel from traveling to Huntington. I was at UNC beginning my second semester. Once more, Dad was in the pulpit, sharing his message. But this time there was no family to be found. Dad mailed me a cassette tape of his sermon. I pressed play on my Sony Walkman and snuggled down into my bed covers one Sunday morning to listen. “Why stand I here?” he thundered to the congregation. “Because it feels right, yes, it feels right. Even with the obvious strains and drawbacks I’m going to be under, it still feels right.” He paused and I could hear the drama build in the silence. “With me in Huntington and my daughters and wife in North Carolina and our only son in heaven, it still feels right.” I winced and paused the recording, his words opening up fresh pain. We were so scattered, so different, so not who we used to be. I couldn’t bear to hear it. I took the headphones off and gently wrapped its cord around the player, tucking my father’s words and message into my nightstand drawer. Dad. How did he do it? That “feeling right” must

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have sustained him, even energized him. He jumped into the new congregational life, preaching, teaching, and dining out often three times a day to meet his new parishioners. Then, shockingly, he accepted a new role as the chaplain of the football team at Marshall University, whose program was still rebuilding after the horrific airplane crash of 1970 that killed all seventy-five people on board. “I was honored to be asked,” Dad told me. But it was so unlike him. Not only did he make this decision with little if any family discussion, he violated his own “rules.” The games were on Saturday, a day he’d always dedicated to relaxation, family, sermon rehearsals, and in the last two years, weekly phone chats with me at college. Now he even traveled with the team some weekends, against what I thought was his hard-and-fast rule about no out-of-town Saturday weddings, since those “wore him out,” leaving him less prepared for the rigors of his Sunday schedule. Plus, he regularly found time to meet with the players and coaching staff during the week. His supply of energy and availability seemed endless for others. True to form, he coined a term for it, “reinvesting your love,” one of his strategies for getting through grief that he talked about, preached about, and later included in his book about Forest’s death. But, as his daughter still in deep grief, I didn’t see it that way at all. In fact, his reinvestment deepened my loss. His laser focus on others distanced us even more. Gone were the frequent phone calls and playful betting on football games. Who cared if Wake Forest was playing UNC when he was on the sidelines of the Thundering Herd? He seemed distracted, almost obsessed with his new role and his new “sons” he’d discovered on the football field. Despite the distance and changes, we stayed connected. Dad sent me the weekly bulletin that included his “Pastor’s Perspective,” a foodfor-thought column that kept me current on his latest ponderings — when I read them. Once a month, he made sure I received cassettes tapes of his sermons. And after

moving our weekly phone calls to Sunday afternoon, we began to chat regularly again. Sometimes the conversations were still awkward. He’d tell me about his “motivational talks,” the pregame stories he shared with the football team. “BB, I told them the one about how we are all small pebbles who have the potential for making big ripples. I gave them each a small pebble and the quarterback put it in his uniform pocket! Plays with it in his pocket every game,” he boomed. “My stories seem to get them fired up, BB,” he’d say after each story. And I’d want to remind him that I could use some of that “firing up” myself. And that not all ripples, especially those of his beloved team, are positive. Some ripples push others away. But I didn’t say anything. I was just a college kid with a busted family trying to keep moving forward despite all the changes. I didn’t need to pick any fights; we were fragile enough. So I kept quiet and turned to my college friends and studied hard, but began to party harder. S Article excerpted with permission from Rethinking Possible: A Memoir of Resilience by Rebecca Faye Smith Galli @chairwriter (She Writes Press, June 13, 2017). Read the more about Rebecca’s testimony and her work as an Autism advocate at her website




alcoholic, and my mom was trying to hold our fragile and broken family together the best she could. I would revert to art when things got crazy. I would wake up when it was still dark, watch a curious man paint “happy trees,” and try to recreate them. When the show was over, I would move into our kitchen, open up my pint-size watercolor box, and begin painting the early morning sunrise. Around age ten I started to overeat and was overweight by the time high school rolled around. Everyone made fun of me.

-continued on p. 19-

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-continued from p. 17I started restricting my eating and dropped nearly one hundred pounds in a year. At first, I had never felt better. But slowly my hair started to fall out. I was fainting, my nails were blue, and I had hair growing all over my body. When I was eighteen, I moved out of my house and into my apartment. I started working at a strip club. I met a guy one night and went out with a group of his friends. That’s the night I was raped. Raped and beaten, and the police didn’t believe me when I told them. I felt alone. I turned to alcohol just like my dad. It worked until it didn’t, and that’s when I found cocaine. Cocaine was my cure. It helped keep my appetite down and gave me the rush I needed. There were days when I wouldn’t sleep or eat and just do drugs to get through it. I was spending all of my paycheck on drugs, and when I ran out of money, I would steal. When that stopped working, I was having sex with drug dealers for free drugs. Eventually that lifestyle caught up with me, and I overdosed on January 3, 2009 — the day before my twenty-first birthday. I was admitted into a rehab facility in Arizona. It was there that I rediscovered my love of art and would use that to help cope instead of turning to food or drugs. We also had chapel every day. I didn’t stand or sing the songs. I hated God and hated that I was in a Christian facility. I didn’t understand how if there was a God, why that God would let me go through everything I did. As the days went by, though, I started to stand sometimes and then I started to sing a little bit of the words. Eventually I met with a spiritual counselor. He explained Jesus to me, that I could be forgiven of everything I had done before and be made new again. I said OK to that. I said OK to grace. I wanted to be new.

I returned home after a few months and did well for a while. Then I relapsed. That was the last night I ever did drugs. I knew that wasn’t who I was or who I wanted to be. I was made new and the daughter of the King. I started going to church and volunteering in the children’s area. I learned the Bible stories along with the toddlers. Then I was asked to work with high school kids as a group leader. Still to this day I mentor some of the girls I had those first years. They are now grown and out of college. I started a Celebrate Recovery Group in our church, and now more than 50 people come each week. The more a person tells their story and shares their hurts, the less power it has over them. I want to help others and be the light. I have been an advocate for encouraging people to share where they are and to be vulnerable. Being honest about who I was, where I was, and what I have become is what changed me. I picked up my paintbrush and haven’t stopped creating since. I started a website, and now that’s my full-time job. I love creating. It takes you out of your head for a while. Anytime I feel overwhelmed, I grab whatever I can and doodle, paint, draw — whatever — and just escape and calm down. I found something special when I started to paint letters and Scriptures. I would write them and remember them. Since starting my website, I have lettered thousands of verses and prayed about them and learned them. Now I have a book coming out that teaches creative lettering. It’s amazing what happens when you pause and really read and focus on Scripture. The church changed me. Jesus changed me. I’m not perfect, but I’m not where I was before. I still struggle with knowing who I am in Christ and what my true identity is, but I’m getting better at it every day. He truly does change, redeem, restore, free, heal, forgive and transform even the hardest of hearts. I’m living proof of that, and I thank Him every day. S

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time to ponder the process to bring those beautiful aromas to your world?

Fragrance of Hope God says WE ARE that PERFUME of life!

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?” (2 Corinthians 2:14–16, NIV) When we are crushed, afterward our lives are a fragrance of hope, life, redemption — we are the scent of freedom! The apostle Paul, who calls himself a “chief of sinners,” got this truth! “But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:16, NIV).

The Crushing Process To become perfume, we must submit to the crushing process. We start by owning our utter imperfect humanity. In 7 Simple Skills for Every

Woman, I help women see all the grandeur of God and our relationship to Him. As we grasp God as our Creator, Sustainer and King, we should instinctively adopt a humble stance. Two words can help us capture how to live in humility: Humble. To be humble, according to Bible scholar Swanson, is worship with “an attitude of a proper low status in relationship to an authority, and so not being wrongly proud or pretentious.” This action is related to repentance and a right relationship to God.

“Humble yourself in the Lord’s presence, and he will honor you” (James 4:10, NCV). Contrite. The word contrite implies a crushing. This crushing is an army dominating; a sports team victoriously trouncing; grain thrashing with nutrients rescued and chaff swept away. Crushing is also the process flowers go through to make fragrant perfume. Crushing is what produces that wonderful aroma because we empty our heart of all that is unhealthy and prideful. We give up our way, for God’s better way. Broken becomes beautiful.

“The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” (Psalm 34:18, NKJV) “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). So the challenge is out: Will each of us also be willing to be crushed? Bended Knees, Ego in Hand, Pride Swallowed.

Acknowledge God as the giver of mercy. “And the Lord said, ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I

-continued on p. 24-

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-continued from p. 25-

will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion’ ” (Exodus 33:19).

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

Step back and review God’s traits and see if you have had a blurry or non–existent view of one or more of God’s attributes. (A list is found in Becoming a Brave New Woman.)

Don’t make excuses or rationalize — just confess.

The trait of God I need to camp out in is: _______________________________________

Ascertain your identity in Christ:

Acknowledge your sin (the mistake, the wrong choice, rebellious act or attitude). When our lives feel like they are coming unhooked, unraveled, unhinged, and undone, chances are it is time to take an honest assessment. If we are honest with ourselves, it can be traced back to a breakdown in one of these two loves: God’s Love Toward Me: What character trait of the God who loves me am I forgetting? My Love Toward God: What distortion of God’s loving view of me have I forgotten? Even deep in the heart of the most rebellious is usually a lie about God or ourselves that Satan planted to lure us off track. Admit your mistake. Identify the lie. Then replace it with the truth about God and yourself. Never be afraid or hesitant to admit and own up to a failure. Failure can be a footstep into your future—if you learn something new about God or yourself.

The mistake, sin or integrity lapse I had was: ______________________________________ How is your view of yourself not matching up to God’s view of you?

In 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman, I give a list of words describing your identity in Christ. God calls you things like: a daughter, salt of earth, light of the world, heirs, bride, strong, honored, and loved. Spend time looking up verses on the topic that breathes new life into your soul, string them together and personalize by placing your name right into the verses. Read it aloud twice a day until it is memorized and a part of who you are. Identify which definition of yourself needs strengthened or improved, then stand in front of a real mirror and complete this sentence out loud: God says [insert your name] is ______________________________ (insert one title God called you). Amend your mistakes as much as possible. If you hurt another, apologize. If you can correct the mistake, then do so. If you can make amends, try

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to restore the relationship. You may find new allies as you seek to make amends. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). To make things right, the people I need to talk to are _____________________________.

Actively pursue accountability.

You will need people around you to build a new life. Look at your schedules and create a weekly time for this fine-tuning friendship — a space for a walk, lunch, coffee, or prayer. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person [ or woman] sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). My iron sharpening iron friends are: ______________________________________

Advance in a forward plan.

Pray and ask God whether you should stay put or restart somewhere else. Pray about how to keep your commitments to those you love, yet find a new way to relate to those who know your history. Bring those you love with you onto to the redeemed path God will create.

“I am doing a new thing … I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19, NIV). “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart” (Ezekiel 36:26, NLT).

There may be ramifications and consequences. Don’t expect others to just forgive and forget. You will have to earn trust. Be patient with people as they learn to have confidence in you again. I will set aside time to pray, reading God’s Word and listening for His next step in my life. I will give this time: _______________________________ In this place: _______________________________

Alter Your Heart.

We all have the potential to blow our lives apart. We need to hate the darkness and love the light. Living in the light brings freedom to choose well. Living in the light makes us a light for God’s love and a fragrance of hope!

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship“ (Romans 12:1). Picture yourself as the oil, the fragrant perfume, poured out in humble praise to the One who freed you—you will become a scent of life because God will use your redemption story to blow sin away, break the shackles and free others held captive by their past, their shame, their guilt, their dysfunctions and their imperfect human nature. Be broken and poured out, a perfume of hope. S

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Ma “When I was at my lowest of lows during my battle of depression, there was a point where I believe the enemy was trying to take me out.�






Now, she has returned to the stage with new songs of hope. She is also sharing her journey to give others the assurance that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Audiences across the country have received her return with a warm welcome that has promoted her single, “Unfinished,” to the top 10 in Christian radio airplay and opened the doors for her sharing inspiring story with Good Morning America, People Magazine, Fox News and many more. “I called my album Out of the Dark because that is exactly where God pulled me out of,”

she says. Mandisa suffered from depression and the question of her beliefs after the loss of her best friend, Kisha, whose battle with breast cancer inspired the hit “Overcomer.” Mandisa felt angered and disappointed because she believed that God would heal Kisha. But Kisha’s death shook the foundation of her faith. She turned everyone away and began to question, doubt and wonder about God’s goodness. She even began to question His existence, and if He did exist, then why did He allow things like this to happen? “When I was at my lowest of lows during my battle of depression, there was a point where I believe the enemy was trying to take me out,” Mandisa says. “There was a point where if I continued on that journey, I probably would not be here today. I felt utterly helpless. I felt like there was no way that I could see my way out.” During this time, she secluded herself at home, keeping her headphones in to tune out the world. The enemy fed her a lie by twisting Scripture, saying that she could immediately be free to spend eternity with Jesus if she would just end her own life.

-continued on p. 28-

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-continued from p. 27She started to believe that Jesus would not want her to suffer this way. Then came a holy intervention, of sorts. “I went into the movie theatre. I saw two movies. One was War Room, and I can’t even remember what the second one was. So, I was there for four hours,” she says. “When I came out I saw that my car had a whole bunch of sticky notes on it with messages like ‘we love you,’ ‘we miss you,’ and ‘come back to us.’ Then, when I walked around to my car door, there stood eight of my friends. They had waited outside of the theatre four hours for me, and they had an intervention. “Essentially their message was, ‘We love you just as you are, but we love you too much to leave you there.’ So, they forced me to get counseling, and that finally helped me to deal with the grief that I had been shoving down.” That intervention and the consistent, intentional displays of affection and prayers from her family, friends and complete strangers eventually led Mandisa to the realization that she needed to seek additional guidance to get out of the pit. When she was overwhelmed with darkness, it took only one little flicker of light to dispel the gloom. “Once I let the light of Jesus shine down on me, that was when God began to lift me out of that pit, out of the darkness. That is what I wanted to base the album on, the story of how good my

God is and how He is able to bring anybody, including you and me, Out of the Dark.” Today, Mandisa refers to Psalm 40:2-3 as her life verse,

“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord” (NLT). Like her current hit single, “Unfinished,” she knows that her heart is still beating because God is not done with her yet. “My story is still being written, and I am still here.” Mandisa encourages others to be aware and respond courageously to the Holy Spirit’s promptings to pray for another because she knows it was those prayers that helped her out of the pit. “You never know what your prayers or your little act of obedience can do. You could be saving a life, just like you did for me.” “When I was in the deepest pit of depression and despair, that’s all I could see. I felt hopeless. I felt ashamed. I felt like there was no way that I could get myself out of it. However, the great thing about our God is that He can lift somebody out of the deepest pit of despair; that is exactly what He did for me. Now I feel like I have new eyes to see the greatness and glory of our God.” S


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Find out more about Mandisa’s album, news and tour dates at

— t h g u o h t r o f food LIFE BYTES





It was an advertisement for an orchard and it just kind of stuck with me. I mulled over it for a while and saw some real biblical truth to that little saying.

I asked myself, how fruitful for God am I? Do I have my purpose and priorities in line with His? Are my efforts producing spiritual fruit? Every summer the fruit trees in Palisade, Colorado, produce delicious Palisade peaches. They are the best because they are ripe, sweet and loaded with chin-dripping juice. They are picked ripe and don’t have to travel far, as most of the peaches are sold in Colorado.

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We on the other side of the mountains wait expectantly for these fabulous peaches. They grow so well because they are grown in welldrained and moderately fertile soil with full sun. They are fed with a nitrogen fertilizer a couple times a year as they are growing, and they are pruned to produce stronger branches which will produce better fruit. The analogy is very clear, If we feed our souls on the things of God and His Word and allow some pruning, we should be producing fruit. I am always blessed when I realize these simple truths … let God’s word soak into me and I will be more productive and grow fruit. I can’t eat a Palisade peach without thinking about the simple metaphor … we need to stay connected to the vine. If we are spiritually dead, we will be cut off, but if we abide in the vine, we will be fruitful and bear much fruit. I lump being fruitful for the kingdom with my gift of hospitality and practice it often.

“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality” (Romans 12:13, ESV). Well, guess what? Palisade peach season is here once again in Colorado and I just had to share its sweetness with our guests on their first visit to our home last month. Since one of our visitors was British, I completed our tea with English trifle showcasing this tasty peach.

• Cut the pound cake into small cubes and place into the bottom of each small stemed glassware. • Pour the English custard evenly over each glass of the cubed cake. • Add peaches on top of the custard. • Top each glass with whipped cream, then garnish with a cherry and a mint leaf. S

Including chocolate pound cake in the recipe enhanced the flavorful dessert. And it was received by our guests with rave reviews. Individual Peach and Chocolate Trifle Six stemmed glassware. ½ chocolate pound bundt cake 1 pint of Bird’s English Custard, cooked and cooled 4 ripe peaches, pealed and cubed. 1 cup of heavy whipping cream 6 maraschino cherries 6 small mint leaves

Find great recipes like this in Penelope’s book: The Art of Afternoon Tea: From the Era of Downton Abbey and the Titanic. Available autographed from

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— e m i t t abou




LIVING out FREEDOM and knowledge.

Embrace free space • Take time outdoors to enjoy creation. Let the wind caress your cheeks.

WE ARE BLESSED WITH FREEDOM. But, God reminds us to use

our time wisely and to make the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:15-16).

Use free time wisely • Refresh yourself. • Pray. • Connect with loved ones. • Network for new connections.

Trust the One Who Set You Free I dreamed of going to China since age ten. I trusted in one Scripture: “Take delight in

the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). While waiting on God’s timing, I got an education, married, raised a family and wrote books. This year, I received an all-expense paid trip to China to work with children, parents and educators to inspire creativity. It turned out better than my dreams, and I used my experience as I spoke to various groups. Keep dreaming and prepare for the dream by following God and enriching your life with experience

• Walk and praise God for all the freedoms available in this country. • Pray for military personnel who serve to protect your freedom. • Pray for missionaries serving in countries that don’t have the same freedoms. • Know the truth sets you free, so follow the truth of Christ.

Create freely! I spend a lot of time writing and reading and rejoice in the freedom of the press. As I let my creativity flow, I know some will get published. Only loved ones or the Lord may read other words that I write. We are free to indie publish, and that’s a growing trend you might choose to explore. However, with the freedom to write anything, we should question what words are beneficial (1 Corinthians 10:23) and God’s timing there too. Pray for the Lord to direct your writing, and continue working as long as you believe it’s God’s will. I believed God wanted me to write my new release, Gift of Bread: Recipes for the Heart and the Table, but it took 22 years to get a contract. In that time, I continued to study bread in the Bible and experiment with bread baking. The book is better because of the years behind it.

Defend your freedom Be prepared to guard your right to free speech and religion. Speak with love when others disagree, and remind them you also have religious freedom. Trust that God will give you the words needed to stand firm with truth. S

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I LOVE THIS QUESTION BECAUSE SO MANY STRUGGLE WITH THIS TOPIC while others use evolution as an excuse to embrace atheism. Actually many biologists recognize and discuss problems with the theory but seldom speak of that in public. First, let’s start with basics. For years, scientists imagined a primordial soup with all the basic ingredients life would need. One professor had a theory that certain amino acids present there would have an affinity for linking up with others to form life. Further research made them toss out that idea. Scientists now understand only DNA can assemble amino acids and fold the proteins correctly. Michael Behe and other intelligent design researchers explain DNA presents a huge barrier to evolution since DNA is a language. If you have ever tried to learn a second language, you know how difficult that can be. For instance, if you studied Russian, you would have to put letters and words in the proper order as well as conjugate the verbs correctly. That’s unlikely to happen by chance.

Imagine a monkey tossing plastic letters into the air. How long would it take to for him to contrive a German dictionary? Random processes cannot form language regardless of the millions of years scientists allow. Second, Darwin predicted the fossil record laid down in the earth’s layers would contain fossils of one-celled animals, transitionary fossils and then complex animals. Lower layers do contain onecelled life forms, however, paleontologists witness an explosion of complicated animals in the Cambrian layer without any transitionary forms. Evolutionists offer no plausible explanation for the lack of fossils demonstrating life forms changing to another. Third, evolution offers no explanation for morality. We all have an inner belief that some actions are good and others bad. Raping a child is evil while caring for an injured person is good. When I was very young, I recall getting glimpses of a TV program on the holocaust. I was horrified. No one had to tell me mass murder was wrong. Yet if mankind evolved, we are accidents of nature and have no intrinsic value. In fact, Hitler and his fellow politicians used the idea of survival of the fittest to excuse their actions. They proclaimed the Jews a lower form of life to be swept away by the superior Aryan race. On the other hand, the Bible teaches a holy God, and His character establishes morals.

Imagine seeing the words, “Betty loves Johnny” IIn summary, the theory of evolution can’t explain etched on a tree. You would not assume insects the origin of DNA, the Cambrian explosion, or our carved that by accident. The letters and words are inborn sense of morality. Visit Intelligent Design ordered in such a way to convey a specific meswebsites to learn more. S sage only an intelligent person could complete. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -{35} .}

Get off the Gossip


5 BREAKTHROUGHS THAT WILL TRANSFORM YOUR LOVE WALK IT STARTED OFF HARMLESSLY ENOUGH. FIVE FRIENDS GATHERED FOR COFFEE AND FELLOWSHIP. The kids played in the yard. Sounds of their carefree youthful laughter filled the warm summer morning air. We settled around the patio table, needing the female companionship we had come together to experience. Then it happened. I’m sure she didn’t intend to change the emotional atmosphere of the room, but with five little words she did just that. “Did you hear about Shelly?” Yes, I had heard about Shelly. I knew what others were saying. I had heard the rumors. The internal battle began between my love for the low-hanging fruit of juicy personal details and my desire to reach into the heavens and love like Christ. The words poked into my consciousness and forced me to confront my relationship with gossip. I’ve never considered myself to be one with a gossip problem. I never maliciously seek to harm others with my words. Sometimes I’ve even prefaced my sharing of private information with a call to

prayer. Information that was never mine to share without the express consent of the one it directly affects would lead to a prayer light on grace and in need of mercy. How do you define gossip? What does it look like? Where is the line drawn between acceptable and inacceptable sharing? From prayer groups to office breakrooms, whenever people gather there is potential for gossip to arise. We all love a good drama, a quality the movies and television have capitalized on. But unlike the sitcoms on our screens, these are real people with real feelings and real emotions. Negative stories, even true ones, told about a person who is not there to defend herself begins to slide down the slippery slope of gossiping. Gossip grieves God’s spirit and can leave you feeling uncomfortable. It is the opposite of love. Gossip divides; love unifies. Gossip inherently holds a judgment on the one being discussed. It calls us to judge the actions, decisions and events in another’s life. It leads to unhealthy comparisons which elevate ourselves while putting another down. This is not love. Love shows us how we are similar in our pain, our misunderstanding and our failings.

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HEALTHTRACKS Gossip happens in the darkness. It is behind closed doors, whispered under breath and surrounded by secrecy. Gossip is indirect communication about someone; love is direct communication. Love is openly shared without fear, shame or regret. Attempting to justify gossip by overlaying some aspects of truth does not make it any better. Sharing truth that is not yours to share is a violation of another’s rights to disclosure. Gossip damages our relationships and destroys trust.

you from inflicting it upon others.

Gossip is not only about the telling; it’s also about the listening and the pondering. These words shared in secret not only affect others, but also do something inside of you. God’s Word states the words of a gossiper are “as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly” (Proverbs 18:8 KJV).

3. Breakthrough With Kindness

These wounds go both ways. They hurt the one being gossiped about and they harden the heart of the gossiper, scarring your love muscle and decreasing your sensitivity. Can you recognize gossip when you hear it? Recognize how conversations about people who are not present make you feel. Any information shared which includes backbiting, rumors, slander, undocumented facts, damaging details or that plants seeds of doubt is gossip. Whether true or false, this information is best discussed during times when the person of interest is present to speak for themselves. If there is a desire to pray about their situation, you can do so as an unspoken request. God knows the details without any further information shared with others.

2. Breakthrough With Gentleness Gentleness is strength prompted by love. It preserves relationships by upholding them during difficult seasons. It is when you care enough to choose a loving reply over a harsh one. Gentleness is power with a tender touch. It tends to the lives of others without doing any harm.

Kindness is an act of mercy. It creates a safe place for truth to flow and hope to rise. It originates from a heart of service with a desire to serve others with love. Kindness chooses to celebrate instead of envy and comfort instead of condemn. 4. Breakthrough With Patience Patience understands that we are all works in progress. No one is perfect, and we each fall short of being our best at times. Patience is forgiving because it knows we all need grace. 5. Breakthrough With Honor Honor places value on others and upholds their worth. Jesus understood the great value of every soul. We would all be more loving toward others if we understood the same.

You can get off the gossip cycle by breaking through with love.

The next time you hear a conversation lean towards gossip, you don’t have to participate. Listening and talking are both choices. Choose to stop gossip in its tracks through loving, direct communication.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NIV).

Gossip always requires talkers and listeners; refuse to be on either gossip team. You can choose to love others well by using your words to uplift, comfort and inspire. S

1. Breakthrough With Empathy Empathy understands the pain of another. If you have ever had embarrassing or negative details shared about your life, you understand the pain of gossip. Remembering that pain will help prevent

Instead of talking about other people, focus on talk with people about their personal life experiences. Encourage those who lean toward gossip to cease talking about the problem and pray directly to God about a resolution.



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I TOOK MY GRANDDAUGHTERS (7, 6, AND 5) FOR PRINCESS PEDICURES THIS WEEK. They were adorable picking out polish colors, sitting in the salon’s panda chairs, and then enjoying the massage from the chairs for the grownups. We stopped for chicken nuggets when we left the salon and then visited a cupcake shop for dessert. They were yummy.

They always want me to tell stories about when their daddies were growing up. So this week, I shared the stories about the days I prayed with each of their dads when they asked Jesus into their hearts. They taught me the songs they were learning at Vacation Bible School — precious spiritual truths that were taking root in their hearts and minds. When we saw a firetruck pull out with the siren blaring, I said, “Girls, do you know what we should do when we see an ambulance or firetruck?” They replied that we should get out of the way. Good answer, but then we talked about how we can pray for the people they’re going to help.

How could you find opportunities to squeeze a little Jesus into each day with your children and The day was filled with giggles, sweet smiles grandchildren? If we’ll weave those faith and hugs. We all loved it, and it was worth every moments into everyday life, they’ll think that -- -- -- -- --to-- --share -- -- -- -- those -- -- -- -- --precious -- -- -- -- -- -- -moments -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --learning -- -- -- -- -- --about -- -- -- -- --God -- -- --is -- --fun. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -{38.} - --penny - -- -- -- -- -- -- --making memories with them. Just as a real-life princess is groomed for the We had a wonderful day. But that’s not the only position she’ll hold someday, we have the purpose of these fun times together. Interspersed opportunity to help groom God’s little throughout the afternoon, there were opportuniprincesses to become women who will love ties to talk about God. and serve Him. S

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are you free to pray?


women have skipped out on talking to God today. See which reasons you identify with, and then read our myth busters for a better perspective on what spending time with God is really about. 1. I’m not my best self today. • Myth Buster — Good news, God is a comeas-you-are God. He loves your messy hair, and He doesn’t care if you forgot to put on deodorant or even if you’re feeling out of sorts. 2. I feel guilty about Fill in the Blank. • Myth Buster — Time to ask God to forgive you. He’s willing and loves you more than you could ever imagine. Besides, Jesus already paid the price for your sin. Give your guilt to God and don’t let it come between you and Him. 3. I don’t have time to get holy today. • Myth Buster — Slip into Jesus with a simple prayer: Jesus, thank You for letting me wear Your righteousness when I come before the Father. It fits me perfectly and never makes me look fat. 4. God doesn’t want to talk to me. • Myth Buster — This is a lie. God simply adores you. He loves it when you come to Him.

5. God’s too busy to talk to me. • Myth Buster — The idea that God is too busy for you is not found anywhere in the entire Bible. Could this be another lie of the enemy? Remember this: God created time, and when you come to Him, He has all the time in the world just for you. 6. He has more important matters to attend to than my concerns. • Myth Buster — Because God is not limited by time; He has time for the big problems in the world as well as any problem in your life, no matter how small. Perhaps you need to expand your view of God. He’s a lot bigger than you can imagine, and He cares for you and the details of your life more than you can understand. 7. He could care less about my puny life. • Myth Buster — God is your creator and He loves you. He does not see your life as puny, but as precious. 8. I’m too busy running late! • Myth Buster — God will help you make time to talk to Him if you ask for His help. 9. I make the same old mistakes, which means He’s pretty sick of me by now. • Myth Buster — God is not sick of you. He is ready to forgive you of every sin, no matter how many times you fail. When you ask for His help, He will give you the strength to overcome. 10. I’m too distracted by all my problems. • Myth Buster — When you keep your focus on God instead of your problems, your problems will resolve in miraculous ways. S ­— LINDA EVANS SHEPHERD—GOTTOPRAY.COM

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BOOKS TO READ THE GIFT OF BREAD by Karen Whiting In The Gift of Bread: Recipes for the Heart and the Table, Karen Whiting shares the legacy she received from her mother and grandmothers and offers it to her readers. This is not merely a book about bread. It’s not a cookbook, a history book, a devotional or a Christian living book. The Gift of Bread is all those things bound in one volume. It is comfort food for both body and soul. With the practiced skill of an experienced chef, Whiting whisks together recollections, biblical devotional thoughts, practical tips and recipes. Each chapter is sprinkled with “Food for Thought” and “A Morsel of Bread” to encourage readers to apply what they’ve read long after they’ve turned the pages or baked the bread. The Gift of Bread will easily become a go-to resource for bread baking, whether you’re an accomplished baker or a novice in the kitchen. Early in the book, Whiting expresses her desire for the reader: “as we taste and share bread together, your soul will be filled and you will feel satisfied.” She got her wish. — Ava Pennington, Author, Bible Teacher, and Speaker

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FROM HOT MESS TO BLESSED by Julie Gillies If you’ve ever thought you were too messed up to do anything important for God, read From Hot Mess to Blessed. Julie Gillies writes with vulnerability, honesty, and with a deep commitment to helping women find answers in God’s Word. If life has thrown you a few curves and you’ve wondered how to move forward with confident faith and renewed joy, this is the book for you. Read it for yourself and then take a group of friends through it. The study questions for each chapter will take you deeper into God’s truth and the list of Scriptures at the end will give you solid footing for a life of blessing! I highly recommend this book! — Carol Kent, Speaker and Author, When I Lay My Isaac Down (NavPress)

HOW TO LISTEN SO PEOPLE WILL TALK by Becky Harling The secret to great relationships isn’t to become more charming or funny or to solve the world’s problems or to just try harder. The secret is to listen — and listen well. “We all desire to be heard. In fact, being loved and being heard feel the same. As a spouse, parent, co-worker, sibling or friend, the greatest gift we can give is our full attention. Becky Harling’s new book, How To Listen So People Will Talk, masterfully weaves stories, hands-on tools and brilliant devotional moments to teach us how to listen,” says Rick Whitted, author of Outgrow Your Space at Work; How To Thrive at Work and Build a Successful Career.” You can read an excerpt of this book on page 47.

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MUSIC REVIEWS NATASHA OWENS We Will Rise Singer/songwriter Natasha Owens has released her second album, We Will Rise (July 7, 2017), following her 2016 debut, No One But You. Growing from leading the music ministry at her church, Natasha’s music career has brought the needed focus and peace to heal following the tragic loss of her father.

get out of bed,” Natasha says.

“I was so focused on songs, it stopped the spiral. It took time, but the music held me. The songs gave me strength enough to

The songs on We Will Rise do have that healing factor, bringing a calming hope forth through Natasha’s soothing vocals. Her style, which blends mellow pop background, worshipful tones and slow to medium paced vocal melodies, plays like a mix between traditional and contemporary. The 10-track album will appeal to listeners who may enjoy a mix of styles but lean more toward the mature and comforting sounds of traditional Christian music.

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TAUREN WELLS Hills and Valleys One of the best aspects of Tauren Wells’ debut album, Hills and Valleys, is how upbeat it is. It’s also faith-filled, an even bigger plus. Drawing from multiple musical genres, including R&B, pop, gospel and more, Tauren’s 15-track (with bonus tracks) recording attests to God’s faithfulness in the highs and lows of life. As its hit-radio-single title track boldly declares, He is the “God of the hills and valleys.” “These songs have been inspired by God and my relationships with people. My hope was to write songs people needed to hear with lyrics we can all carry into every moment of life,” Tauren says. Two other favorites on the album might be “God’s Not Done With You,” a beautiful and encouraging truth, and “September,” a 1970s hit cover, which is nothing short of feel-good and fun. Already in a good mood, or want to get into one? Crank up the volume on Tauren Wells’ Hills and Valleys.

THE CITY HARMONIC Benediction (Live) For award-winning worship band The City Harmonic, their fourth album, Benediction Live: Worship from Churches Working Together in Canada, is also their final album, recorded live in Hamilton, Ontario, the town where the band first formed in 2010. The album features the first live recording of “Manifesto,” the hit song that played a part in expanding the band’s reach.

Speaking of “Manifesto,” lead vocalist and keyboardist Elias Dummer says, “It was nothing but humbling to sing this song along with the same crowd of people that literally inspired and blessed this whole thing that became The City Harmonic.” In addition to “Manifesto,” this encouraging live worship recording also includes familiar songs “Praise the Lord,” “City on a Hill,” “I Am” and more.

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e s r u p y m h t e w


w o l f r e v o

real heart — was the Bible I kept tucked inside. Okay, it’s not exactly like I found Jesus in my purse. But His Word was there. Granted, it smelled a little like those Lifesavers, but still. It was a little reminder of the preciousness of God’s presence. Moses got that. As he was leading the people of Israel toward the Promised Land, he asked the Lord to show him His way. God answered,



A WOMAN’S PURSE. IT’S THE BASIC ESSENTIALS OF LIFE … ON A SHOULDER STRAP. Personally, I never know what surprises mine might hold. Not long ago I was searching for a receipt and—surprise, surprise—I found a candy bar. Well, sort of a candy bar. It had dwelt deep in the depths of that purse so long that even though it was still inside its wrapper, it was completely smooshed. And by “smooshed,” I actually mean something closer to “liquefied.” I was still looking for the receipt when it occurred to me that not all the surprises in there are pleasant. I found five fuzzy Lifesavers, some solidified sunscreen, one mitten and three keys of unknown origin. But no receipt. There were 12 tissues (though none I would actually use), last year’s Christmas list, the backs from a handful of adhesive name tags and a dead cricket. Still no receipt. Something green and squishy-looking caught my eye. And it frightened me. I gathered my courage as best I could, tossed the cricket, then drank the candy bar for a little extra resolve. Then I realized the heart of my purse — the

“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest,” (Exodus 33:14, HCSB). Moses said in the next verse, “If Your presence does not go … don’t make us go up from here.” He was saying that if God’s presence wasn’t promised, even a land flowing with milk and honey would have no sweetness. If God wasn’t in it very personally, Moses just plain didn’t want to go. David got it too. Because in the grand sense, there’s no place where God isn’t. In Psalm 139:7-10 he says,

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me” (ESV). Nope, no place without His presence. Not the heavens, not the depths of the sea — not the depths of my purse. I could climb all the way inside that purse, and He would still find me there. He knows the contents of every purse and every heart. And still He loves us and, according to that psalm, He is faithful to lead us by the hand. That’s a blessed, cup-running-over kind of reason to rejoice — even though I never found the receipt. Maybe the cricket ate it? And for the record, I think the green squishy thing used to be a jelly bean. I guess we’ll never know. My kids were all home and I’m pretty sure one of them ate it. S

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becky harling dares you to ask



And even though we want personal growth, it can sure feel painful, right? I was committed to personal growth. I just hadn’t anticipated the pain when I asked my teen daughter one crucial question: “Do you think I listen well?” I expected the conversation to go much differently. Honestly, I was expecting rave reviews, but that’s not exactly the way the conversation went. Mental note to self: Don’t ask your kids their opinion unless you’re prepared for what they really think! But, I had asked and she had answered.

Now, I needed to process. In response to my question, Bethany had answered, “Well . . . (long pause). Sometimes you listen well. But you seem distracted a lot. Often you dive in with your own story or interrupt. Sometimes you give advice and I just want you to listen. I want to feel validated.” Later that night, I lay in bed processing my questions internally. What did she mean? Was I really that self-focused that I dove in with my own stories, taking away from hers? And then there was the whole question of advice. Aren’t

mothers supposed to give advice? I mean, we have so much wisdom. How do I validate if I don’t agree with what she’s feeling? And was I really that distracted? She was right. I did sometimes interrupt, but doesn’t everybody interrupt at times? I felt pretty sure I was better than most moms. Then it dawned on me. An a-ha moment: I’m being defensive! Arrghhh. Help, God! That conversation prompted me to come to a startling realization: I have a listening problem. And I’m guessing you might as well. It could be that someone’s told you that you don’t listen well. Or you’ve simply noticed that those closest to you aren’t talking as much. They seem to confide in others rather than you. I don’t know about you, but whenever I process a difficult conversation, I pray. It helps me to talk through all my feelings with the Lord. The moment I realized how defensive I felt, I knew I needed to pray. Lord, this is hard. But Bethany’s right, isn’t she? I want to feel like I’m being a great listener, but I also want to receive truth. I long to be selfaware, not self-focused. But, honestly, I love to talk! You know, God. You created me to be an extrovert. Could this be Your fault? Uhoh. Defensive again. Lord, I confess to You that I have been self-focused. Forgive me. Search my heart and uproot selfishness. I love

-continued on p. 48-

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-continued from p. 47Bethany and I want her to feel heard. Show me how to listen. That little prayer was the beginning of my journey to becoming a more attentive and loving listener by watching what I say when I’m talking with someone who is confiding in me. And since I’m committed to authenticity, I’ll tell you honestly that I’m still growing and it’s not always easy. Some days I’m a much better listener than others. Aren’t we all?! But I’m improving and growing in this area because my relationships are important to me. I want people in my life to feel heard and loved, don’t you? I’ve seen that the effort I’ve put into listening is paying off, and I know that’s possible for you as well.

Enough About Me, Let’s Talk About You! As I’ve shared from my life, something’s probably come up in your mind, reminding you of a conversation you’ve had where you blew it in the listening department. Maybe you realized you didn’t really listen to your co-worker or neighbor the other day when they opened up about a problem they’re facing. Or maybe you were spacing out while your friend was telling you about a new dream she has. Or maybe when your kids were talking to you, you were scanning Facebook posts. So let’s talk about you. How are you doing in the listening realm? How would others rate you as a listener? Would you dare to ask those closest to you how well they think you listen? It’s scary, I know, to invite that kind of feedback. But can you imagine how much you might grow if you were willing to take that risk? How would your spouse, friend, boss, or co-worker react if you asked that question? Powerful stuff!

just an excuse for not wanting to put the effort into growth. Reflect for a moment or two and ask yourself honestly: • Do my loved ones feel safe enough to express their hearts or are they afraid I’ll dive in with unwanted and unsolicited advice? • When I’m with a friend at lunch, do I text or check social media while she’s talking? • How would my co-workers rate me as a listener? I’m not trying to lay a guilt trip on you. I’m just trying to encourage you to examine your listenership and be willing to grow. Because here’s the deal: People feel more loved and valued if we are actively and attentively listening to them. So why don’t we take listening more seriously? We may know that listening is important, but without even being aware we interrupt, dive in with our own stories, give unwanted advice or simply space out. It makes sense because we’ve got stimulation bombarding us all day long. We’re more distracted than ever. It’s become our normal. As a result, we’re losing our ability to be fully present and attentive to others because we’ve bought into the myth of multitasking. It’s hard to listen when you know you have one minute to send an email before you leave, or dinner needs to be ready in five. I know. I’m as guilty as you. My theory is that often we’re not aware of our own shortcomings and weaknesses. But our relationships are important to us. That’s why I want to dare you to ask honestly: “Do you think I listen well?” S

Maybe you’re like a lady I met a few years ago who said to me, “I can’t help it. I’m only good to listen for about fifteen seconds.” Really? That’s

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IN THE SPRING OF 1978, I WAS SHOCKED THAT I WAS ACTUALLY STANDING IN FRONT OF 120 WOMEN AT MY CHURCH’S MOMS GROUP, sharing for the first time how God had delivered me from being a child abuser and had healed our dysfunctional family. How could I tell them I had choked my daughter in fury and had knelt by my bed, pleading for God to cause the plane Larry piloted to crash? And yet, as my knees trembled and my voice quaked, I was obeying God. 1. God knows His plan, although He may not use you as you thought. God used my vulnerable sharing. Young moms came up to me afterwards in tears sharing, “I thought I was the only one feeling those kinds of feelings.” 2. God may not use you as quickly as you want. I drove home praising God and expecting

my phone to ring off the hook with other opportunities. Nothing happened. It was inconceivable to me God didn’t have me flying across the country to speak. 3. God cares about your children and family. If your children are young, as mine were, we can realize we are replaceable in ministry; we are not for our families. God has many workers; our children only have one mother; and our husband, only one wife. 4. Be assured God knows His timing and can do all He wants. Psalm 138:8 assures us, “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me.” 5. We are always in ministry; it just takes different forms. The nice thing about a writing and speaking ministry is writing can be done without going anywhere and reaches more people. If God isn’t in a hurry to expand your ministry, take heart. He knows exactly what He’s doing. In time God did expand my outreach, yet I still make my two grandchildren my priority. S

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TRUTH trees were there as well: the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

LOTS OF PEOPLE BEGIN A NEW YEAR DETERMINED TO LOSE WEIGHT. That’s a good idea, even a healthy one that many of us should probably adopt. Also, sometimes church congregations are urged (as mine is this year) to start the year on a fast.

However, at the risk of tempting us to blow either our diets or our commitment to our fast, I’d like us also to think about a time when God said to “freely eat.” In Genesis, chapter 2, we read:

The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil .… And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” Genesis 2:8-9, 16-17 (NKJV). God planted a garden in Eden and put every beautiful and beneficial tree imaginable in it for man’s enjoyment and nourishment. Two special

God said man could eat from every tree except the one that would hurt him. Just as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil supplied death and all negative moral and physical consequences, the tree of life supplied abundant life and all positive moral and physical consequences. There were an abundance of good trees in the garden. God gave His one prohibition—the bad tree—and then He said, “Freely eat.” Adam and Eve could have enjoyed all the wonderful fruits and herbs for their physical bodies from the food sources and eternal blessedness in relationship with God from the tree of life. Instead, they elected to combine the food for their physical bodies with the curse of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Bad choice. Nothing has changed. Second Peter 1:3 says,

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (NIV 1984).

God has given us everything we need in our situation. We can choose to combine our daily walk with the blessedness of a relationship of obedience to God, or we can pass through this life under the curse of separation from God. First Timothy 6:17 tells us that “the living

God … gives us richly all things to enjoy” (NKJV).

There’s still only one prohibition: avoid sin. Choose life, and when it comes to the things of God, freely eat. S For more devotionals from Sharon go to from

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PAM FARREL and her husband, Bill, are speakers and authors of 40 books including their newest: 7 Simple Skills for Success for Men. For more information visit BECKY HARLING is a certified speaker, leadership coach and trainer with The John Maxwell Team. she is also the founder of Moms Unleashed and the author of The 30 Day Praise Challenge. Becky and here husband, Steve, are their home in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

meet linda

LINDA EVANS SHEPHERD @LINDASHEPHERD is publisher of Leading Hearts magazine. She is also a best-selling author, an in-demand speaker, and president of Right to the Heart ministries. She is founder of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA). She lives in Colorado with husband, Paul, and son, Jimmy.

KAREN PORTER is an international speaker, the author of six books, and a successful business woman. She is president of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, serves on several boards, and coaches aspiring writers and speakers. She and her husband, George, own Bold Vision Books, a Christian publishing company. RHONDA RHEA is an author, humor columnist, and radio personality. She lives in the St. Louis area with her pastor-hubs and has five grown children. DEBORAH WATERBURY is the founder of Love Everlasting Ministries. She has authored nine books, including her latest, “The Lies that Bind: And the Truth that Sets You Free.� Dr. Waterbury acquired her Doctorate of Ministry in Biblical Expository Studies from Pillsbury Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. She currently resides in Tucson, Arizona, with her husband, Jeff.

meet amber

VALERIE WIENERS is an artist who offers many different products, including notepads and Bible journaling scrap packs. Her book The Art of Words (Passio, 2017) teaches creative lettering for designing gift tags, Bible pages, and much more. She offers Bible Journaling video tutorials and hosts workshops at her house in Amarillo, Texas. Wieners is married to her best friend, Brad, and they have one son, Oliver.

AMBER WEIGAND-BUCKLEY @BAREFACEDGIRL is managing editor and art director for Leading Hearts magazine. She is a writer, speaker, and multi-awardwinning editor, having spent 23 years in the magazine industry. In her full-time Amber provides communications and social media support for nonprofits and missionaries. She and her Brit-native husband, Philip, live in Missouri with their three daughters: Saffron, Imogen, and Penelope.

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PENELOPE CARLEVATO is the author of The Art of Afternoon Tea: from the Era of Downton Abbey and the Titanic as well as Tea on the Titanic and First Class Etiquette. She speaks on hospitality, historical entertaining, and etiquette and manners for all ages and all occasions. Penelope lives in the Denver area and is the grandmother of 11. MICHELLE S. COX is an author, speaker, and the creator of the Just 18 Summers parenting resources and products. Visit her parenting blog and on Facebook SHARON NORRIS ELLIOTT’S engaging yet challenging messages touch hearts and tickle the funny bones of her audiences, making her a popular, sought-after speaker. She and husband, James, enjoy their empty nest in Southern California. KATHY COLLARD MILLER is an author and speaker whose newest book Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today, released in January. Find her at CYNTHIA L. SIMMONS is an author and speaker as well as radio host and producer of Heart of the Matter Radio. During each broadcast, Cynthia takes an in-depth look at issues women face in our complex culture. She and husband, Ray, have five grown children. SAUNDRA DALTON SMITH is an internal medicine physician, author, and speaker. She shares with audiences nationwide on the topics of eliminating limiting emotions, breaking free from mental bondage, and helps others see God’s plan for them to live free in Christ. She is the founder of I Choose My Best Life, a movement to renew hope in a generation where depression, stress, and fear are peaking. JENNIFER TAYLOR is a music reviewer and profile contributor for Leading Hearts magazine. HEATHER VAN ALLEN is a music reviewer and profile contributor for Leading Hearts magazine. KAREN WHITING is an international speaker, former television host, and author of more than 20 books. She’s led and worked in ministries for many years. www







Leading Hearts August 2017 Issue  
Leading Hearts August 2017 Issue  

Isn't it time you'd embraced all the freedom available to you in Christ Jesus?! This issue of Leading Hearts is a celebration of breaking th...