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in your heart that if the manufacturer wanted you to actually drive the car, he would also have filled the tank. Of course, the real you is too wise to fall for such a whopper. When your car needs fuel, you fill it up. It’s a simple as that.

the crabapple tree in my back yard is filled with fluffy, pink blossoms.

There are some Christians and churches who have never filled their tank with the powAfter a deep season of sorrow upon losing my er of God, His Holy Spirit. And some people and churches have never thought to refill precious daughter Laura, I am feeling a new sweetness in my spirit. I’m letting go of grudges their tank when it runs dry. That’s exactly how and pain, and joy is overtaking my fog of grief. I found the refreshing in my soul after a winter of pain. I called on God through the power of Can the human spirit really find this kind of the Holy Spirit to help me to forgive those who refreshing? Yes, but only when we refuel by the so wronged my child and to heal my emotional power of God. pain. And if God, through the Holy Spirit, will do Imagine if I gave you the keys to a beautiful this for me, He will also do this for you. new car loaded with the latest gadgets—back If you need to refuel with the power of God, up cameras, Bluetooth, anti-collision tech, and pray this simple prayer that South African Paseven a sunroof—though minus a tank of gas. tor William Murray taught the young students So, you accept my gift but think, I guess this car of the Moody Bible Institute to pray in the late isn’t meant to be driven, at least not anymore, 1800s. Through this prayer, the young peoright? Otherwise it would start. But never mind ple were empowered to change their world for that, it’s a beautiful car and I should be grateChrist. If you’re ready to pray this prayer, simply ful. To prove it, the kids and I will come out to pray “More Holy Spirit More!” the garage from time to time, use the Bluetooth, Pray this often and also pray it over your church open the sunroof and play our favorite tunes. as well. The power of God that you’ve always And that will have to be enough. dreamed about could be realized in your life And so, once a week, you religiously go and and the lives of those you love.S sit in your beautiful car. But you never go anyLove, where. Sometimes you dream of using the car as it was originally intended. You imagine driv- LINDA EVANS SHEPHERD ing to work, driving down the coast, or maybe PUBLISHER, LEADING HEARTS MAGAZINE even taking a trip to see friends. But you know

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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.....Li sa Bur ns, Penelope Carlevato, Kathy Collard Miller, Michelle S. Cox, Sharon Norris Elliott, Pam Farrel, DiAnn Mills, Laura Petherbridge, Karen Porter, Rhonda Rhea, Cynthia L. Simmons, Saundra Dalton Smith, Jennifer Taylor, Heather Van Allen and Karen H. Whiting.

RIGHT TO THE HEART BOARD MEMBERS Linda Evans Shepherd (President), Dianne Butts, Sharon Norris Elliott, Kathy Collard Miller, 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 leadinghearts.com. 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 leadinghearts.com. Leading Hearts | PO Box 6421, Longmont, CO 80501 phone: (303) 835-8473 | fax: (303)678-0260 email: lindareply@gmail.com MEMBER | 2015-2017 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: barefacedgirl.com, chondapiercemovie.com, PureFlix, Hoganson Media Relations, ICON, Kerry Kara Photography / KLS Photos & Imaging, Pixabay.com, sheilawalsh.com.

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this issue

every issue 12 IN THE LEAD





place you haven’t been has a million dollars you have yet to claim. How many of you have thought, upon receiving such a notice: “Yes! I’m ready to send my bank account information today!” I have to admit I’d be the first to flag that spam, because it is packaged in lies and deception. However, what if I were to tell you that you have an inheritance that’s been available to you for many years that you have yet to claim? What if I were to say it’s worth more than a million dollars? Would you be willing to accept it if a steady stream of cash just kept showing up in your mailbox, with a note from God? “I’m sending this because I love you and I wanted you to have it.” Would you still be a skeptic? I have a surprise for you: God shows up every day, in every situation, in the big and small miracles of life. So the questions: Are your eyes open to praise HIM? Are you trusting in His greatness? Are you bragging on His goodness? He Is pouring it OUT, even if someone takes your favorite parking space at Sunday morning at church. In fact, He is pouring out even in the midst of the anguish of tragedy; that’s when our eyes must be even more open to see it. That divine favor goes even further. In fact, every prayer that has ever been prayed for you over the years is STILL AFFECTING CHANGE in your life for HIS glory and in those whose lives intersect with yours. Why? Because He loves you. Because He

@barefacedgurl is a God Who leaves no prayer unanswered. Because answers come sometimes immediately and sometimes they continue to unfold along the way. Having faith in Him in all things is a daily declaration of His ability and presence with you in all things and through all things. We must come to the realization that this cash is in our pockets, and we must take it out so we can be an instrument of God’s glory and blessing to others. This is place where we can radiate the fullness of the God we serve—in HIGH DEFINITION. He is the God who saves. He is the God who loves unconditionally. He is the God who provides. He is the God Whose names have no ability to fit into this article’s word count. And He is faithful. We share in the inheritance of Christ. What belongs to Him belongs to us. Romans 8:17 says: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (NIV). I not only want to know Him; I want to reflect the greatness of the gift of His Salvation and sustaining grace. I want people to see me as His face, hands and feet. In gratitude for this great gift my heart longs to serve Him in moving that love to others in my path. He cares for me, and I’m committed to cashing in on my inheritance and paying that goodness forward for His glory. “So, Father, Thank you for every prayer that has been spoken over my life.” I’m so thankful that the richness of this payout is for today and spans all the generations to come. S Blessings,


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Because Life Requires Prescription Strength Laughs WITH LISA BURNS PROFILE CONTRIBUTOR ---------

A: It was such a patriotic moment for me. I’ve

been in countries where women are not allowed to vote, where women struggle greatly. So to be invited to attend and share during the ball....Of course I was going to go! I did have a few surreal moments. First, I got to go to the private prayer service. Only a couple hundred people were there. Many of the world’s evangelical leaders were in that little chapel service before the inauguration. And then later in the day I was able to attend the inauguration, and do my little thing at the ball.

Q: Tell me more about your newest project “Chonda Pierce: enough.” Is this a documentary type film? A: Yes, it is. “Laughing in the Dark” turned out

CHONDA PIERCE DISCUSSES HER RECENT PART IN CELEBRATING OUR NATION’S INAUGURAL PROCESS, TALKS ABOUT HER LATEST FILM, “CHONDA PIERCE: ENOUGH,” AND OPENS UP ABOUT HER ROLLER COASTER RIDE WITH GRIEF. Q: We have to talk about the opportunity you had to participate in the celebration of the presidential inauguration! I got to see a recording of you performing… A: Oh yes! I will NEVER wear those shoes again! What was I thinking?

Q: Being in DC during the inauguration itself, as well as the protests, had to be quite the experience. I understand not everyone was happy with your involvement in the inauguration. What was your take away from it all?

great! This is kind of the follow-up to that. We do a lot of interviews, a lot of traveling, following behind the scenes on the bus, with concert footage.

Q: We all love the Chonda method of bringing us truth packaged in laughter. Can you tell us what you hope people will walk away with when they experience the film? A: You know, my prayer is that they take away

exactly what I’m learning. The movie is about what I have been—and still am—learning. We women are so stressed these days. And then all of a sudden tragedy or empty nesting or menopause happens. Sometimes it isn’t even a bad thing that happens. But there comes a moment in many of our lives that we have to redefine ourselves. This happened to me. I became widowed. I have these girlfriends who--and you know, this is a long answer to a very great question--as a birthday present to me last year, they signed me up with an online dating service. It will either end up being the saddest thing I’ve ever been through or the funniest material in the world! The thing was, when I sat down at the computer to rewrite the dating profile they had written for me, it really hit me. The girls had put these things on the profile to make me look all cute. And the joke was that I’ve never done those things! I’ve never done yoga! But the truth of the matter is the seriousness I found in that joke. I sat down there and looked at that computer screen that was asking me for a paragraph on who I am, and I didn’t know.

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“I sat down there and looked at that computer screen that was asking me for a paragraph on who I am, and I didn’t know.” —Chonda Pierce

to Leading Hearts mag

-continued from p. 9I can write down whose mother I am. I was a wife for 31 years. I’m a comic. These are all things I do, but who am I? I think women, and I’m just as ordinary as any woman out there, begin to conclude who we are from all the wrong places. We hear that we’re supposed to be a size 2 and a CEO. We’re to love our families and stand up for a worthy cause. Many of us don’t know who we are anymore. I’m learning that until you realize who you are, you’re going to struggle. I’m not finished with the struggle, but I’ve finally got the right foundation. The foundation is to concentrate completely on the Lord. I’m to concentrate on Whose daughter I am. I am a child of the living God! When I concentrate on that and when I firm up that foundation inside of me, I really don’t need to squeeze into my Spanx® anymore! Ya know what I mean?

Q: “Laughing in the Dark” chronicled your personal battle with depression. How does “Enough” continue to move us along in our grief journey? Or does it? A: I think it definitely does. When tragedy or

trauma comes along, pain will either direct you into great place—a learning place where you will fall to the foot of the cross—or you will become embittered. That’s why that foundation of who you are has to be firm. If the foundation is not based on all the right stuff, your grief process gets stuck.

In our devastation, we can start medicating our pain in the wrong ways. That comes from not knowing who we are and how we feel about ourselves. When we don’t know who we are, the devil can use that against us. We must get our mindset stayed on Christ. Paul gave us a whole list of things to think on: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things” (Philippians 4:8, NIV). That tells me the fight is in our mind. “Enough” chronicles the next step in my grief process. I was married 31 years and I dated for 7, so for almost 40 years this man was in my life. For almost 40 years I was Mrs. David Pierce. So now who am I? When is it okay to date? When do you not grieve? Will you always grieve? Will there be a day that you hear your favorite song on the radio, and you don’t fall apart? You see, that all comes with time. What I’m trying to do now is redirect my mind. For instance, the other day I was in a hurry and had to go downtown. I pulled out and a red Jeep Wrangler® pulled out behind me. There was a time that every time I saw a red Jeep Wrangler® I would tear up because that’s what my husband drove. But on this day, instead of falling apart, I decided to do something different. Now when I see a red Jeep Wrangler® I choose to thank God that (1) I have that memory of my husband and his Wrangler, and (2) I’m just going to pretend that that’s a little angel following behind me to remind me not to drive so fast! You see, it’s redirecting my thought process. Now, I tell people all the time, if your husband

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died 5 weeks ago and you’re having a hard time laughing through this concert, your body is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do. But this is a good teaching too: if you’re here and your husband died 5 years ago and you still can’t hardly get out of the house, then you need to talk to somebody.

devil has been in the business to strain us to the max. His intention is to interfere in any healthy relationship we have, including our relationship with the Lord.

So, cut yourself some slack and grieve at the proper times. Allow yourself to grieve, but know there are moments you have to say, “I can’t afford to stop and fall apart on this today. I’m on the interstate!” You just have to reframe it.

A: Fishing! I have a farm called the Funny Farm

Q: How do you personally deal with your feelings about self-worth? A: Sometimes, what I do is so elementary! I

write words of positive reinforcement and Scripture on sticky notes and put them on my mirror. You know, it gets that practical. At times, it’s knowing where certain triggers are in my life and avoiding them. On occasion it might even be people. I saw a quote the other day that said, “Be careful who you put in your boat; they may be drilling holes behind you.” That is so true! I am the worst at that! You may have to set new healthy boundaries and stand up for yourself.

Q: Let’s say that you need to escape, totally unplug. Where will we find you, and what will you be doing? where we have little cabins all in the woods. We host missionaries who need a time of vacation. When I’m not doing what I do, I’m cleaning bathrooms and getting ready for the next pastor’s family. But I love to fish on that little lake out there. I stock it full of bass, and I sit on the little pier that my husband built years ago. I just love to fish! Isn’t it funny?! S

To find out more about “Chonda Pierce: Enough,”visit www.chondamovie.com. Below: Chonda receives the Advanced Writers and Speakers Lifetime Achievement Award (awsa.com).

Q: What is at the core of the battles we fight with self-worth and identity? A: The women I know with a healthy self-confi-

dence are healthy because their confidence is in the Lord. I’ll be 57 in a few weeks, and I hate to even talk about it. But it took 57 years for this damage to crop up in my life. It’s not going to unravel overnight! Since the Garden of Eden the

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s ’ r e d a e L



BY KAREN PORTER @KARENPORTER www.karenporter.com


YOU HAVE THE TITLE, WHICH ALLOWS YOU TO MAKE THE DECISIONS AND GUIDE YOUR ORGANIZATION IN THE DIRECTION THAT YOU’VE DREAMED. With power and strength, you have the opportunity to write the ultimate success story. But leadership is not all about power. Whether you lead a women’s ministry, a nonprofit, a group of professionals, a business, or some other team, becoming a great leader requires hard and soft skills.

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The hard skills such as planning, goal setting, scheduling, and organizing are leadership tools you learn from courses and experience. But you develop the soft skills privately and personally through changes that God makes in you—as He modifies your attitudes and mindsets.

Leadership Isn’t about Power Making demands and acting tough may sound like good leadership techniques and may even make you feel like a leader. Instead of leading, though, you become a tyrant. As a leader, you can force your volunteers or employees to follow your strict guidelines, but eventually the employees may resign and the volunteers may not offer to help again. As author and premier leadership expert Ken Blanchard said, “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” The better leadership technique is influence, not clout. Don’t demand; show the way and guide. Like a master conductor in front of an orchestra, set the pace and provide the enthusiasm.

Leader may be your title, but influence is your job. Develop the Soft Skills Listening. If there is one skill we should aim to master, it is listening. Listening underpins all positive human relationships. Listening isn’t the same as hearing because it requires focus mentally and physically. Pay attention to those you lead.1 Trustworthiness. According to success.com, the traits of a trustworthy person include authenticity, consistency, humility, and availability. Ask God to help you become a genuine, reliable, unpretentious, accessible leader. Tell the truth all the time, and make time for those you lead. Flexibility. Plans will go wrong. Changes both internal and external will affect your team. Your ability to adapt to those changes will determine success or failure.

leader more approachable. The light atmosphere that humor creates increases productivity and enjoyment. Compare the difference between a flight attendant who blandly gives the rules about flying to one who lightens the atmosphere with humorous lines about being on the wrong flight or picking the child you like best for the oxygen mask. Humor causes the passengers to listen and relaxes tensions for anxious passengers. My favorite leadership quote is from Lao Tzu. The quote sets the highest standard for leaders:

“When the best leader’s work is done, the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’” If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.2 S

let’s talk— 1. In a notebook or journal make a list of soft skills you would like to develop. 2. Consider how you can change your attitude (develop the soft skill) about the following: • Criticism • Conflict • Procrastination (1) https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/listening-skills.html

Sense of Humor. Humor is a way to break (2) John Quincy Adams through tensions and stress. Humor provides a fertile environment for creativity and innovation. Humor boosts morale and makes you as a -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -{13.}

g in m co er ov STEPMOM SHAME


the retreat center looked me in the eye and asked which event I was attending—I froze. I reviewed the list of women’s events. All of a sudden my heart sank and I was overcome with a sense of dread and shame. Avoiding eye contact I reluctantly responded, ‘The Stepmom Retreat’,” she lamented. “What happened to me? Within seconds I went from being my normal, outgoing, excited and happy self, to a humiliated and embarrassed mess.

“That woman’s simple question provoked such sadness in my heart. I wanted to be with the other group of women—ANY other group. I didn’t want to be attending something for stepmoms. Why was I mortified to announce I’m one of ‘those women?’ Why was I embarrassed to announce I am a stepmom?” Joselyn’s reaction is normal. There can be such a stigma—a menacing shame—that comes with being a stepmom. I’ve lost count of the times I’m meeting a woman for the first time and she asks, “How many kids do you have?” I respond with a smile, “My husband has two sons from his first marriage and now we have grandkids.” Unless she is familiar with stepfamily living, that reply normally shuts down the conversation. After 30 years as a stepmom I’m no longer embarrassed by the title. I believe becoming a smart stepmom, and loving someone else’s kids, is one of the hardest jobs on the planet. And I’ve got the emotional battle scars to prove it. If you know a woman who struggles with stepmom shame here are a few suggestions:

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Understand—It’s Normal Joselyn was ambushed by her emotions. But once I helped her to recognize that many stepmoms have the same reaction or sorrow, she felt relieved. Accepting and working through the unique emotions associated with being a stepmom is part of the journey. It’s OK. Don’t feel guilty.

The Title Comes with Baggage Yes, Disney does have some despicable stepmoms. But today’s kids are hearing more about how to “let it go” from the cartoon industry than anything else. It’s time for us to take back the word stepmom and make it a positive image. Some people just don’t understand the difficult job of being a stepparent. It’s time we lovingly educate them. And actions—or reactions—speak louder than words.

We Shoot Our Allies It’s important to acknowledge that some of the negative press about stepmoms comes from— wait for it—stepmoms!! Don’t believe me? Log on to some social media sites geared for stepmoms. You’ll read some of the vilest and profane comments regarding the horrible birth mom, the spineless husband and his overindulged stepkids. This entire repertoire, spewing hate, is on the internet for the entire world including the: stepfamily, ex-wife and her family and friends, in-laws, neighbors, and church friends to read. Don’t believe the lie that Internet groups are private. ANYTHING on the Internet can be shared. When stepmoms behave in this manner it affects all of us, and the image of today’s stepmom is tarnished—like it or not.

Acknowledge the Grief What Joselyn experienced at that registration desk was grief. No little girl grows up dreaming about becoming a stepmom, and raising kids that are not her own. There is a mourning which accompanies stepfamily living. She has to lay down the dream or fantasy of what she

imagined stepfamily life would entail. Reality is painful. It’s a letting go of what we wished for, and embracing the true stepmom journey—the good and the bad—that walks us toward victory. “As soon as the retreat started those uncomfortable and awkward feelings melted,” Joselyn explained. “The women bonded quickly because we could relate to each other. For many ladies it was the first time they felt safe enough to express how they truly feel. I met some of the most amazing women I’ve ever known at the retreat. I’m so glad I got over the initial embarrassment. Now I’m proud to share that I’m learning how to become a smart stepmom,” Kaitlyn concluded. Hold your head up, stepmom. This voyage isn’t for wimps! Are you ready to grow as a stepmom? Would you like to learn how to be victorious over the complex issues stepmoms face? Social media is great, but we need community. This is why stepmoms feel so lonely and isolated. We need a soft place to fall and receive real, live, woman-to-woman, eye-to-eye encouragement and insight. We need to laugh, cry, and obtain wisdom from stepmoms who have encountered the same struggles and survived. That’s why I created the stepmoms retreat. It’s JUST for the woman dating, engaged or married to a man with kids. A team of speakers address various aspects of a the challenge of stepparenting. Find out more details at my website and resources like 101 Tips for the Smart Stepmom at www.TheSmartStepmom.com S .



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marked the release of the new devotional 5 Minutes with Jesus—Quiet Time for Your Soul. It’s the fourth and final installment of a devotional series written by Sheila. As a well known evangelist, talk show host, singer/songwriter, inspirational speaker, and author, Sheila’s quiet time has been imperative to truly trusting the God who has brought her through an incredible healing process. Leading Hearts had the privilege of spending some downtime with Sheila to learn the benefits of simply spending 5 minutes alone with God.

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-continued from p. 17-

The Five Minute Difference

The first book in the series was based upon a conversation I had with a woman in a prison in Billings, Montana. When I would visit the prison the warden, who was so sweet, allowed me to come in and spend time with the female prisoners. There was one woman that I grew particularly fond of. She said to me one time, “Sheila I did cocaine for so many years my brain is shot; I wish that you could write something I could understand.” And honestly, I wrote the very first 5 Minutes with Jesus with her in mind. Then, after it published, I received a lot of feedback from women saying they would pull it out in the car pool line waiting for their kids. It’s a size that you can just stick it in a purse or in the side pocket of your car.

Do You Need To Stop Juggling? Don’t feel like you have to live up to everyone else’s expectations of you. Find peace and balance in your life because then your “yes” really means something. It’s absolutely okay to say no. It might just be no for a season, but no is okay! I think back to a season in my own life. When I started speaking with Women of Faith, my son was 6 weeks old. The first 8 years of his life he was on the road with me 30 weekends a year! It was crazy. I found out that sometimes the only time I had for myself came when I closed the bathroom door for 5 minutes. Sometimes you don’t have the luxury of finding some sweet celestial spot or have a closet under the stairs. But there are always moments when you can pause. Mothers who feel guilty need to understand where that guilt is coming from. That is never from the Lord. Romans is one of my favorite Books of the Bible. Romans 8 is the most liberating chapter because it begins with “no condemnation” and it ends with “no separation”. It

says, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ” (Romans 8:1, NIV). The Holy Spirit never condemns. He convicts, and that’s different. Conviction brings us closer to the heart of God. Condemnation pushes us farther away. So I would say to anyone who feels that condemnation, reject it. I was brought up in a good strong Scottish Baptist tradition, where you had your quiet time every day or you were going to hell! So, it became something that was on my to-do list. As I grew into adulthood I thought I’m moving this off my to-do list and onto my Who I Am list. I don’t always have the time to sit and dive into the Word of God. But, from the moment I get up in the morning, my first prayer is, “Good morning, Lord. I don’t know where You’re going today, but wherever You’re going, I’m coming with You.” I’ve learned to have an ongoing conversation with the Lord throughout the day.

I Don’t Fit the Proverbs 31 Profile I think sometimes we misinterpret that passage. It’s giving a picture of the life this woman has chosen to lead. We need to remember there was no Facebook. Back then she wasn’t drawn to social media that took up 50 percent of her time! I think it’s more of a pattern, a template. Part of our ongoing journey to become more like Christ is to understand who we are—what our strengths and weaknesses are. One of the greatest stumbling blocks for women is comparison. We compare ourselves to other people! I remember my very first weekend with Women of Faith. I sat in the arena listening to Barbara Johnson and Patsy Clairmont bring their messages. I had this moment of total panic when I went and locked myself in the bathroom! I said, “Lord I can’t do this. I’m not funny like that, and I don’t do that.” And the message I kept hearing from the Lord was, “Run in your own lane! Run in your own lane! I have given you a unique calling. Don’t look at who’s running on the left and the right. If you’re running in your own lane, then

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you’re all going to finish this race well.” I think life would be a lot easier if we could stop comparing ourselves to one another, if we could appreciate and cheer one another on more.

The Need for Realignment Thirty years ago, I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression. That’s something I have to pay attention to. Most of the time, I do really well. I’m on medication and I probably will be on medication for the rest of my life. But, every now and again I’ll feel myself sinking. At those moments it’s really important for me to do two or three things. I have to be honest with my husband. You know, it’s been helpful for me to be able to let him know I’m just not having a good day. I also have three girlfriends who are like my “safe place” sisters, and I’ll text them. It’s in moments like that I’m reminded that I’m not fixed, I’m redeemed. Until I see Jesus, I’m not going to be fixed. When I was first diagnosed and the psychiatrist wanted to put me on medication, I was like are you kidding? I don’t want to go around talking to some imaginary dog and being happy about it! And he said no, this medication isn’t street drugs. That’s a different thing! So I stopped beating myself up for that because part of the process is accepting the fact that we’re all broken in some way. And I’ve discovered that it’s a beautiful thing. God will do something beautiful with a broken life if you give him all the pieces. I find tremendous comfort in that.

The Journey that Awaits Ever since I was 20 I’ve had three things that really matter to me: evangelism, building up the body of Christ, and caring for the poor. With Life Today last year I was able to go to Angola and watch our feeding program. You know when you go from a malnutrition clinic in the morning and

see babies literally struggling to take one breath to a village where we’ve already got a feeding program in place, it’s amazing. Two months ago I was in Thailand, where we built this beautiful rescue center for girls and boys taken out of sex trafficking. We spent two nights in the worst of the red-light district and watched these young girls. I saw what happens to a child who is told she is not a name; she is a number. You’re number 52. But I also saw what happens when she understands she’s a daughter of the King. I love being part of that! Soon I’m off to Burundi where we’re going to build some water wells, in a place that has no clean water. Where a mother knows that she has two choices—she gives her child no water and she dies of thirst, or she gives her water that she knows might kill her. To see the joy on those mother’s faces when you give them a water well that will last for 70 years in their village...it’s amazing! Peter wrote his first letter because he could tell that persecution was on the horizon. He said always be ready to give the reason for the hope that is within you. As God’s daughters, we should be living in a way that makes people ask questions. You know life’s hard, so why are you at peace? Or, your kid is messed up; how are you handling it differently? I think this is a great opportunity for us to live as those who have a reason for the hope that’s within us. You can find more about Sheila, including information about her book 5 Minutes with Jesus—Quiet Time for Your Soul at www. sheilawalsh.com. S


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strong women

g n o r t S BY DiANN MILLS @CHOOSE2GROW www.diannmills.com


h t i a F


God who loved us enough to send His Son to die for us are not cripples, but powerful role models. They accept the living God who dwells inside them, a God who loves, directs, and guides their lives. No one wants to face tragedies, turbulence, and uncertainties. But God allows and uses those situations to mold us into better women and to glorify Him in the process. Those who are strongest in their faith may encounter the most difficult obstacles. For in the challenges of life, believing women show those with another worldview how Christfollowers are different. Remarkably different. How does a woman nurture her faith to become

recognized as a pillar of strength? To grow in Christ means to walk through pain, gather wisdom from experience, stand firm with new tools to overcome the next hurdle, and encourage others to do the same while keeping God as our number one priority. Let’s examine four steps to spiritual growth and a better understand of the saying, “God loves us enough to save us from our sins and too much to allow us to stay where we are.”

Face Pain We neither welcome nor invite pain. We much prefer laughter, healthy marriages, well-behaved children, finances in order, and excellent medical reports. Running from pain accomplishes nothing, especially when it’s a part of the sinful world we live in. The dichotomy of desiring to be more like Jesus, but knowing we must endure hardships, separates the strong women from the weak. Sooner or later we face physical, mental, or spiritual anguish. It’s how we handle those moments that shape us into godly women. While our hearts are seared with burning moments and memories, our only source of comfort is God.

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He’s there when we feel alone. He’s there to guide us into His Word. He’s there when we call out to Him in desperate prayer. He’s there before, during, and after the pain. When others abandon us and fail to see our misery, God holds us in the palm of His hand. Forever.

Romans 5:3-5 (ESV): Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Without pain, we cannot mature into strong women of faith. Gather Wisdom Wise women seek understanding when challenges threaten to topple their faith. “Why, Lord? Why must I go through this?” Here are three ways to find wisdom in the midst of suffering. • Read Scripture and pray. God knows what we’re thinking and feeling, so why disguise our emotions? • Journal while enduring one painful moment after another, and later examine these heartfelt expressions for insight. The reflections add definition to not only help us see meaning, but also to praise God for His infinite wisdom that far surpasses anything we can hope to attain. • Share our thoughts with godly women we trust. Sometimes healing comes through tears, and a wise woman expresses sympathy and empathy. We may never understand why things happen, but we can always learn from the trial. James

1:5-8 (ESV): If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith,

with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. Stand Firm When we’ve risen from the difficulty that attempted to enslave us and shatter our faith, it’s time to show others we are Survivors-in-Christ. We’re stronger and wiser, and we know God holds us tightly. We may have been outraged at the unfairness, but our God is big enough to handle our complaints.

2 Chronicles 20:17 (ESV): “‘You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.” Encourage Others Transparency is essential in telling our story to others. But it also partners with discernment when we share our past. Our lives are precious to God, and His hand sweeping across every breath moves us to encourage others. Nothing is ever wasted in our lives, and everything we experience that causes us to grow closer in our relationship to God can be used to help someone else.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV) Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. Dear woman of God, face your pain, gather wisdom, stand firm, encourage others, and stay strong. What advice can you share about how to become a strong woman of indestructible faith? S

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n e d r ga

IT WAS GOD’S PLAN TO MAKE US DIFFERENT FROM EACH OTHER FROM THE MOMENT HE IMAGINED US. He designed estrogen and testosterone and God knew just how that would play out in a relationship. Those differences were by design and for a good reason, to complement each other. But sometimes those differences are a quandary to our mate.



When we moved to San Diego, we wanted to be a light of love to our community. Because both of us were athletes, volunteering in youth sports was a natural place to begin. Bill served as the president of the youth basketball league for eight years and one day at the gym one the dads walked up to him and said:

“Let us make man in our image, in our likeness….So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27, NIV 1984) “I think something is wrong with my wife. I think she might be broken. Can we come in and see you?”

Bill was the compartment police. Anytime the wife wanted to hop to a different box, he would bring her back to the original topic. That day they finally solved the issue.

When they arrived, the husband turned to his wife and said, “Go ahead,” which seemed to be a green light to begin talking. She began jumping from topic to topic to topic and the husband looked at Bill with a panicked gaze and he said, “She does this all the time.”

Bill came home and said, “Pam, today I used an illustration in a counseling appointment, and it really seemed to help a couple.” Then Bill detailed to me how men are like waffles, and women are like spaghetti. I replied, “It is a little corny, but if it worked, then I trust you, and I trust God. Yes, let’s use it at the conference we are teaching.”

Bill, knowing social scientists explain the way women interact with life as “integration” (meaning everything connects to everything else), said, “Just think of her mind like a plate of spaghetti. If you look at a plate of spaghetti and follow one noodle around that plate, it looks like it touches every other noodle. She is traveling through her life connecting it to you. Because of this, women are natural multi-taskers.” Bill taught the husband some listening skills, and his wife talked for 55 straight minutes. Then she sat back and sighed. With a smile she said, “That was great! If I am like spaghetti, then what is he like?” “Oh, that will be next week.” Bill replied, because he wasn’t quite sure how he was going to explain how men compartmentalize in a way her husband could easily grasp and integrate into his life. Bill began to pray for a food illustration that would depict compartmentalizing. One day our sons were making toaster waffles and up popped a waffle. Bill thought, “Compartments!” When the couple returned, Bill explained that men are like waffles because they think of one thing at a time. Each issue goes into its own box or compartment. Because of this, men by nature are problem solvers. They like to go into a box, figure out the problem, apply a solution, then move on. The husband had an issue that he had tried to solve with his wife for years, and that day

At that conference was a young newlywed couple we had never met. Afterward he introduced himself as the weekend program director of the largest talk radio station in San Diego. The young man said, “Have you ever thought about radio?” That opportunity turned into a call-in radio program we hosted for several years and then a book, Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti, which has been translated into numerous languages and has consistently been a best seller in English. We are sure the main reason so many people connect to the word picture is that it takes couples back to the Garden. As we go back to the way God designed us, male and female, and we value and appreciate the differences, we can learn to use those differences in all our relationships. Today, walk yourselves back into the Garden of Eden, back to the way we were created, and seek to express thanks, appreciation, and value to your mate for the way God created him or her. chances of success in your marriage.

Lord, help each of us show visible expressions of appreciation for the way you wired us. Amen. S

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moving mountains

JACI VELASQUEZ JUGGLES THE ROLES OF WIFE, MOTHER, RECORDING ARTIST, AUTHOR, ACTRESS, AND AUTISM ADVOCATE. The “On My Knees” singer, who has ministered through song since she was in her preteens, is quick to affirm her main ministry revolves around her husband and two boys. It was her boys, she says, who inspired her new worship album. Younger son, Soren, was 7-years-old when Jaci began working on the album, and experienced unusual nightmares. Rushing to his aid, Jaci reminded Soren that God was in control. “I told him, ‘You don’t ever have to worry or be scared because you know the God Who can move mountains, and He can move that mountain when you’re scared. Your fear is nothing to God. If He can move a mountain, then He can take care of this,’” Jaci said. Then she let him listen to “God Who Moves Mountains” and there in the dark, they were moved to worship. “I couldn’t help but raise my arms and close my eyes. God heard His baby and his little heart that was scared of Satan trying to take over. God just came into his room,” she said. “You could just sense the presence of God, the physical presence, because His baby needed him. Much like we need Him so much, but because we are so grown up all our worries and stuff get in the way of Him. We get in the way of Him.” Since that night, Jaci happily reports that Soren has not had one nightmare, and he has the faith of a mustard seed. “He just trusts and believes in a way that only a child can; it’s that faith of a mustard seed. If only we could do that.”

The album, aptly titled Trust, is inspired by Soren and his older brother, Zealand, who has autism. Jaci shared that Zealand hit all his milestones until about 19 months old, so they started seeing medical specialists. “We started doing that at almost 2 years old; initially, it was called developmental delay. In his kindergarten year, the school system said the word but could not officially diagnose, meaning that it must come from the doctor. But they said that it could possibly be autism,” she said. “After that day, I had to go through a mourning period. It was very scary and difficult. When a baby is in your belly you have all these dreams, ideas, and hopes for him. I had to go through a period of mourning those. Sometimes I still pout, even with trust and knowing that God is in control; I am human. I am no perfect human being by any means. There are still days I need to mourn.” Since then Jaci has developed new dreams for Zealand and is now an advocate for her son and his peers with autism. She’s a room mom, on the school board, regularly meets with school leaders, and designs a clothing line that raises support for autism. “I want him to succeed and have a fulfilling life. I want him to get married. I want him to have kids. I want to know my grandkids from Zealand. I want to be able to hold them and tell them stories, like how their daddy pulled the fire alarm at preschool two days in a row. (After Zealand, school officials decided to enclose the alarm in a glass case.) There are so many stories that I want his kids to know,” she said. “I pray that for him and his life. I pray for that because it’s so incredible. The world needs to know how cool Zealand is.” So Jaci recorded “Trust You” and “Trust” because she loves Zealand but knows God loves him so much more. “As a mom, it’s much easier in my human ways to worry and think that I’ve got to control it. No, sometimes I just have to let

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-continued from p. 27go--let go of my control--and trust that God is in control. Logically, of course, we know that. But that’s not easy to do mentally and in your heart. It’s necessary but not easy.” Jaci said it’s an ongoing journey and adventure to trust in every situation. “I always thank God that Zealand came first. He was an easy baby. Had Soren been born first, I would have only had one child. He was not easy, no way,” she said. “But God in His grace gave them each other. Soren has a huge heart for his big brother. Sometimes I don’t know what Zealand is saying. I don’t understand, but Soren understands.” She added it’s a balancing act to take Zealand to all his appointments and allow Soren to be in all the activities he wants to be in. So how does she balance it all? Jaci credits her husband, her mom, and the school year. During the school year, she accomplishes everything between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. The album was recorded in December when the when the boys were in school; her in-laws also came into town to help. She knows she’s blessed to be surrounded by a supportive family but is sure to keep them only second and third to God. “My prayer and my hope is that this record, these stories—these moments—will not be just mine but will speak to the journey that we are going through, that God’s people are going through. This is not just mine. It kind of tells the story that we are all facing something.” “I feel honored that God entrusted me with Zealand, that He thought I was strong enough and tough enough to make it happen for His boy. But this means more trust. Trusting that God is in control,” she said. “It’s trusting that we are going to do our part and God is going to do the rest.” S

Find out more about Jaci’s album, news and tour dates at www.jacivelasquez.com


— t h g u o h t r o f food LIFE BYTES



WHEN the shoes CHANGE feet DURING A RECENT RECUPERATION PERIOD AFTER SURGERY, I WAS UNABLE TO DO VERY MUCH FOR MYSELF. I was always the one to be in charge of taking care of myself, so this was very disturbing and depressing. I wasn’t sure how I would be able to cope or how my husband was going to be able to do so many things for me The aftereffects of anesthesia during a long operation and the pain medications left me feeling very down. And as you can imagine, I am not one to ask for help. No, not independent me! As soon as my next-door neighbor heard what was happening, she jumped in and organized Meal-Train, a website that organizes meals for friends after a life-changing event. This was the beginning of an avalance of being on the other side of hospitality. I have been amazed at the amount of love and concern our neighbors and friends are pouring out on me. I don’t like not being able to be the one taking food to others or sending a cards,

etc., but I have seen the results of what a gift of any size can mean to one who is incapacitated. I have been praying that during this time of recupertation I will be quiet and listen to what the Lord is teaching me. I pray to be “teachable” and learn from this opportunity. My biggest lesson so far is being able to receive! To be so loved by a neighbor bringing over a pot of soup or enchiladas, or the offer of a freind to talk me on my daily prescribed walk so I can gain my strenth back, has been amazing. I can’t do much more now than say “Thank you.” I hope to encourage all of you reading this to do whatever you can to help a friend in need. Maybe you don’t have time to make a meal, but even a litttle bowl of fruit is a gem to one who can’t get out. Take time out of your busy schedule (which we all have) to share a note or a phone call to encourage and let your friend know someone is thinking of them. It means so much and can change the course of recovery for the one who is alone and maybe in pain. And of course, the most you can do is pray. I hate to think what I would have experienced if others were not praying for me. As horrible and painful as this surgery has been, it would have been so much worse without everyone’s prayers. There is nothing that you can do to help that will not be appreciated. I have been so grateful for every card, phone call, text, cake, meal…it has all been absolutely amazing. I hope you won’t have to wear the other shoe anytime soon, but remember to listen to the small voice of the Holy Spirit when he says “Do” or “Go!” It does make a huge diffence! This soup was so satisfying, healing, and comforting when my dear friend brought it over after I came home from the hospital. It’s easy and quick and can be made in a slow cooker. Make a double batch and you will have your own supper ready when you get home in the evening.

Turkey Vegetable Soup 2 quarts bone broth 1 lb of ground turkey crumbled or cooked shredded turkey 1 medium onion, chopped 3 to 4 carrots, sliced 4 celery stalks, chopped, leaves too 4 small red potatoes, chopped 1 cup green beans, chopped 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced salt, pepper, tumeric to taste Combine broth, vegetables, turkey and spices in large pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and gently cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until vegetables are cooked. Taste and adjust seasons if needed.


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 PenelopesTeaTime.com

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— e m i t t u abo




GOD TIME WILL LIGHT THE WAY Listen—I listened to a friend share about her marriage falling apart due to her husband’s drinking. I tried to witness, but I knew she didn’t hear me. God told me to keep listening. I did. She moved away and cut off communication. God told me to keep praying. About five years later I ran into her. She was a teacher for a youth program and had accepted the Lord. She recalled I was a Christian but didn’t remember my sharing my faith; she was too hurt at the time to listen.


We are called to evangelize and disciple others. Sometimes that seems overwhelming or we feel inadequate. We need to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and start by being good listeners and building relationships to open doors to mentor. Be ready anytime—At a party where many people were drinking and telling coarse jokes, one young man approached me and asked why my husband was so different. I told him his faith made the difference. We talked for two hours as I listened and responded to his questions. Follow the Spirit’s leading—I welcomed a young man to a Christian social event and asked how he was doing. He mumbled fine, but the Holy Spirit nudged me to ask, “How are you really doing?” He sat for an hour pouring out his heart. He had told God that he would commit suicide that night unless someone asked how he was really doing.

Pray as Led—I prayed for years for a friend. God guided me to share a little of my faith, but mostly to be a friend. One day she said she wanted to have lunch. I knew from her voice that she had accepted Christ. Yes, that’s what she wanted to tell me. Someone had led her to the Lord. Respond to Questions—Recently a woman who believes in Jesus but doesn’t live her faith started asking me questions. She felt you shouldn’t talk about your faith and certain things shouldn’t be questioned. I said I was open to responding to any questions and if I didn’t know the answers, I could help her search. She jumped right in to probe and ask what has been on her heart. I don’t know where it will lead but we have set up times to meet and continue talking. Point to Christ--A group I’m in at church includes someone who has read little of the Bible. She came to me because she said I don’t simply answer questions in the group, but I also share a related Scripture or passage to point to God’s words about the topic. She wanted to know how to read through the Bible and has been trying to figure that out for a long time. I suggested some resources with plans and she liked one I mentioned that explains the readings. Each day, ask God to open the doors or to put someone’s name on your heart to pray for. Ask God to draw that person to Him. Leave the timing and place to God. S

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I LOVE THIS HONEST QUESTION. When he was young, C. S.

Lewis chose atheism, however, sometimes he doubted his conclusions. Later, when he became a believer, he had the same experience again. Our moods fluctuate, plus Satan loves to plant skepticism. Lewis advised Christians to review their reasons for faith. Let’s cover a few topics that will help. First, there are two reasons you might believe something: you witness it yourself, or you believe someone else who saw it. We often believe what others wrote. We can grant the same faith to the Bible. It’s so accurate archeologists use Scripture to decide where to dig. Dr. J.O. Kinnaman, who researched in Palestine for 40 years, wrote “not one thing has ever been discovered which contradicts any word in the Bible.” Critics used to say Abraham and Ur of the Chaldees never existed. However, further excavation revealed Ur and the civilization Genesis 11 described. That happens repeatedly because the Bible named true events and real cities. Second, we are born with an inner sense of right and wrong. I heard a story of a two-year-old-girl who went in the hospital for minor surgery. When

she was asleep after surgery, her parents went to have lunch. In their absence, a strange man raped the girl. She was a toddler, but she knew she was violated. The Bible teaches the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, righteousness, and judgment. God is the best reason for our belief in morals. Third, contemplate the fine-tuning of our universe. A tiny variation in the physical world would mean life couldn’t survive. Ponder gravity. If earth had too much, we would be crushed. If earth had too little, objects would drift away. That narrow range of variables can’t be explained by chance. Our world needs an all-powerful God to make the intricacies of life. Fourth, G.K. Chesterton noted that Christianity didn’t end with the Roman Empire. He said most religions die when culture shifts or disappears. For instance, many Roman soldiers believed in a god named Mithras, who was the Persian god of the sun. In 394, Emperor Theodosius banned all paganism, and the religion died out. A Persian named Mani founded Manichaeism. This religion focused on the differences in good and bad. However, persecution in the Middle Ages eradicated it. Whenever the church becomes apostate, God brings renewal. The Reformation, the Great Awakening, and the Methodist movement are examples from history. God also raises up missionaries to evangelize unreached tribes. Because God exists, Christianity won’t disappear. When you doubt, remember the Bible’s accuracy, the earth’s fine tuning, our inborn ethics, and the longevity of Christianity. Embrace your faith. S

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Radiate good


WE ARE SURROUNDED BY CHEMICALS PROMISING TO GIVE US A RADIANT GLOW OF HEALTH. SHAMPOOS AND CONDITIONERS PROMISE TO MAKE OUR HAIR GROW LONGER, BOUNCE HIGHER AND SHINE FOREVER.When all else fails, we can always brush, powder, outline, and paint on the healthy glow we desire. Unfortunately, this fake glow is only skin deep when what we really want is an inner glow that flows from the deepest part of us.

Radiating good health is not about vanity, it’s about stewardship. Our bodies are the vessels we use to experience life, enjoy God’s blessings, and share the treasures He’s placed inside of us. By making intentional life-giving choices, we can have the promised abundant life Jesus promises.

HEALTHTRACKS Accentuating your natural beauty and optimizing your wellbeing are good investments with benefits that go far beyond what the eye can see. Here are some simple tips to help you radiate good health daily. —Radiate from a calm clear mind. It’s difficult to let your light shine when it’s hiding under the lamp shade of a cluttered mind. Every life needs a little breathing room. This is the space needed for God to breath upon the embers of your heart and start a wildfire of revival. Move aside something on your to-do list to make room to do relationship with God. Stop reading, and for the next five minutes write down everything weighing on your mind. Now spend the next five minutes listening to your favorite worship song. Allow the words to wash over your mind, erasing any lingering worry. Conclude with five minutes sitting quietly in the presence of God. —Radiate from a positive upbeat outlook. Proverbs 23:7 reminds us that as a man thinks in his heart, so he is. When your mind thinks healthy thoughts, your body responds. Positive thoughts produce life-giving hormones which leave you feeling happy. Toxic thoughts produce depleting stress hormones that strip you of your energy and joy. Thinking negative thoughts often leads to a negative outcome. Thinking positive thoughts often leads to a positive outcome. Try using Scriptures as positive affirmations. • When I am weak and weary, God gives me strength and increases my power. (Isaiah 40:29) • Because I trust God I choose to fix my thoughts on Him, and have His perfect peace. (Isaiah 26:3) • I am a new person, complete in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17) ­ Radiate from a stable emotional foundation. — We each have an emotional style. It is how we typically respond to situations. You may consider yourself to be a highly sensitive person whose emotions are easily wounded by the words and deeds of others. Or you may feel you are highly resilient, a woman whose emotions are unmoved by others. Regardless of your personal emotional style, everyone can enjoy a stable emotional foundation when that foundation is based on the Word of God. —Radiate from a colorful diet. A healthy glow begins with healthy nutritional habits. Decorating your mealtimes with a variety of colors will help

you glow from the inside out. Blueberries, raspberries, spinach, and strawberries are loaded with antioxidants to fight back against free radicals and disease producing cells. Dark chocolate has a high flavanol content and will help keep your skin hydrated. Salmon is rich in omega-3 which helps decrease inflammation. Avocado is high in vitamin A, D, and E. It is great for preventing blemishes and promotes skin elasticity. And don’t neglect a healthy amount of citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit to help keep wrinkles away and can improve your skin’s texture. Feed your body what it needs and it will reward you with the radiance you seek. —Radiate from active playtime. Many of us lament over how we hate to exercise, but I don’t know anyone who didn’t enjoy playing as a child. Who said we had to stop playing? Don’t wait until you have grandkids to remember how much fun it was to glide high on the swings or kick a ball around the yard. Enjoy your body in ways you once used to and remember the fun of freely moving. You are never too old to play. —Radiate from loving relationships. A woman in love is sometimes referred to as glowing. Love has the ability to transform us. It casts away fears and ushers us into a safe place of belonging. This type of love can flow from anyone who has accepted you into their life as you are, no changes required. Who makes you smile on the inside when you hear their voice? Send them a quick text, call, or e-mail right now to thank them for loving you just as you are. —Radiate from a Christ-centered life. Jesus was about people and relationships. A life centered on His teachings is one focused on serving others passionately. Isaiah 60:1 encourages us to arise and shine for our light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon us. It is the light and glory of Christ we radiate to others. When given an opportunity to glow, go for it! As you shine from the inside, others will be drawn to your glow and inquire. Don’t point them to a product on a shelf, but to a lifestyle of making intentional choices to radiate good health. S BY SAUNDRA DALTON SMITH @DRDALTONSMITH www.drdaltonsmith.com


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Speaking kind words to them and by telling them about what an amazing God we serve

Neighbors and brighten their days. Many of them are lonely.

Your children can share an Infectious joy. That’s contagious. They can reach out to someone who Needs help—whether it’s carrying someone’s groceries in for them or helping to fix a meal for a sick friend. They can Go the extra mile without being asked. Teach them to look for ways to serve the Lord and to find joy in living for Him..

It’s easy to influence others for God when we become intentional about doing that. Sit down They can Have a good attitude—even when with your children and make a list of ways that {38.} - -they’re - - - - - having - - - - - -a-bad - - -day. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -your family can be a reflection of Jesus this summer. They can Inspire others by their examMake a chart and include all their suggestions. ple. Whether we realize it or not, people are Put stickers by their names whenever you find watching us. your children shining for Jesus. Help them disYour children can visit your elderly

cover the joy and satisfaction that can be found in serving Him. S

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PRAYER CIRCLE I’d scold him in morning’s light. “Dog’s aren’t supposed to eat chicken bones!” He’d reply by licking his pink tongue across his black, furry face.

Pray for your pet?


MAX, MY EIGHT-YEAR-OLD MINIATURE LABRADOODLE WAS DYING. He’d lost a lot of fur and almost half of his body weight. Now, he lay listless on the floor beside me.

I reached down to pet him, “Sorry you’re feeling so bad,” I said before sending up another prayer, “Lord, please help my dog to get better.” I have to admit, I felt a little guilty spending one of my prayers on my dog. Shouldn’t I be praying for world peace, or at least that the Lord would help a hurting friend? But I just couldn’t help myself. My beautiful dog had shrunk from forty to twenty-four pounds. And it was his own fault. He had a thing for chicken bones stolen from our bear-proof trashcan. He’d wait till we went to bed, pad his way down the stairs and sneak up on his shiny silver prey. He step on the peddle at the base of the can and when the lid popped open, he’d tug the garbage bag filled with bones onto the floor then gobble them as fast as he could.

Then one day, his stomach became upset. It stayed upset for the next 18 months and nothing seemed to help. As a matter of last resort, I tried an organic kibble recommended to me by a friend. But three days later, Max was sicker than ever! I knew it would only be a matter of days before we’d lose him. But I suddenly had an idea. I could try feeding him a Crock-Pot® of chicken soup; a special recipe for dogs where you add two cups of rice and three chicken breasts to a large Crock-Pot® filled with water. I followed the recipe, and five hours later, I flaked the chicken and stirred the mash together. Max ate my chicken soup and miraculously kept his dinner down! I continued to feed Max this dish until his naked tail sprouted fur and his coat begin to fill-in with black velvet. One day, he even felt like playing fetch again. A month later, I took Max back to the vet. When the doctor saw him, she was stunned. She sat down on the floor with him. “Look at you, Bud, you’re well!” she said, as Max wagged his furry tail. So, is it okay to pray for pets? Yes, it’s okay to pray for anything that is on your heart. After all, God not only created animals; He’s interested in the things you’re interested in. So when you pray, pray for the provisions you need--your family members, your church, nation, hurting friends and world peace, only don’t forget to pray for your pet. God’s grace is big enough to cover your prayers for even the little paws in your life.—LINDA EVANS SHEPHERD S

Linda is publisher of Leading Hearts magazine. Her latest book is Winning Your Daily Spiritual Battles from Revel of Baker Publishing Group. GotToPray.com.

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BOOKS TO READ DEEP EXTRACTION by DiAnn Mills A pacemaker should have saved oil and gas magnate Nathan Moore’s life. Instead, it provided his killer with a seemingly perfect means of execution. A bombing at one of Nathan’s oil rigs days earlier indicates his death could be part of a bigger conspiracy, a web Special Agent Tori Templeton must untangle. But her first order of business is separating the personal from the professional—the victim’s wife, her best friend, is one of the FBI’s prime suspects. Clearing Sally’s name may be the biggest challenge of her career, but Tori finds an unexpected ally in the newest member of the task force, recently reinstated Deputy US Marshal Cole Jeffers. As Tori and Cole dig deeper into Nathan’s personal and business affairs, they uncover more than they bargained for. And the closer they get to finding the real killer—and to each other—the more intent someone is on silencing them for good.

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REUNION AT CRANE LAKE by Robin Bayne I don’t have a lot of time to read these days, so when I read, I really want that time to count. I want to find a story that pulls me in and takes me into a new world. When I finish the book, I want to keep thinking about those characters and I want to be left with a warm feeling, knowing that everything will work out just fine for these people. Robin Bayne doesn’t disappoint with her new book Reunion at Crane Lake. I love that she used the inn her husband took her to as inspiration for the setting of the book. This book’s characters, Colt and Tia, are vibrant and make the story come to life. The inn is Colt’s legacy and he has every intention of bringing it back to its former glory now that he has his memories back. From the first pages, the reader starts to get the hint of something a bit sinister and mysterious about Crane Lake. The past relationship between Colt and Tia creates an underlying tension that keeps the reader turning pages late into the night.—LORI SOARD, AUTHOR AND EDITOR

PURSUING GOLD by Cynthia L. Simmons With his father dead and his business partner incapacitated, Peter Chandler inherits the leadership of a bank in economic crisis. He joins his partner’s daughter, Mary Beth Roper, in a struggle to keep C&R Bank afloat while the Civil War rages around Chattanooga. Political pressure for unsecured loans of gold to the government stirs up trouble as tempers and prices rise. Their problems multiply when Mary Beth discovers counterfeit money with Peter’s forged signature. Exceptionally well written by an author with a genuine flair for deftly created memorable characters, Pursuing Gold is a riveting and original Civil War era story. Very highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction & Historical Fiction collections.

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MUSIC REVIEWS KIM WALKER-SMITH On My Side Worship leader Kim Walker-Smith has released On My Side, a new solo album, through Jesus Culture Music and Capitol CMG. “The last four years have been a life-changing journey for me,” Kim said, recounting some of the ups and downs God has brought her through. “The one resounding message He kept assuring me of is that He is on my side,” she continued. “This album tells the story of that journey. This collection of songs is the message He kept whispering through it all.” Gifted with powerhouse vocals, Kim shares God’s love and her passion to worship Him, to experience His presence, and to see others experience Him, with a message wrapped in her mature and beautifully edgy tone. Additionally, the frequently upbeat and energetic track set weaves some positive pop melodies (some a bit nostalgic of 80s-style—whether intended or not) into the mix. On My Side is a blend of worship to God and encouragement for others, and worth adding to your playlist.

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RICK PINO Rend the Heavens Rick Pino, a worship leader based in Austin, Texas, and founder of worship- and ministry-oriented ministry Heart of David has released a live recording, Rend the Heavens. Known as muicianary—or a music missionary—it is evident through his music that Rick has a deep love for God and a desire to see the hearts of people, and the city of Austin, turn for Christ. On Rend the Heavens, music is the vehicle for an exuberant passion to worship God that surpasses the significance of style. Many of the lyrics are deeply intimate, some even drawing from Song of Solomon in capturing the love between Christ and His bride. A spontaneity characterizes the flow of the album, with the worship time extended in several tracks that last seven minutes or longer. Rick gives a spoken testimony of faith in God’s promises in the middle of the album and a full message on worship as the final track, further allowing the realness of God’s presence to come through.

DANIEL BASHTA My Resurrection (Live) Critically acclaimed music artist Daniel Bashta has released a new album, My Resurrection (Live), recorded live at RiverStone Church (Atlanta). Woven through what has been called the “paint-outside-the-lines worship” style of the album is inspiration from some old hymns. This element gives the album a classic feel that, when mixed with the new, results in songs listeners will likely love singing and worshiping along with. “Our songs are a little more progressive, but there’s something so powerful and timeless about singing these hymns,” said Daniel. “They take you on a journey; and the chorus gets everybody singing together and proclaiming the works and glory of God.” The album also gives voice to a few lesser known artists, Matt Jackson, on “Thank You, Jesus,” and EB Cole, on “Praise The Lord - Rejoice”—and Daniel’s sister, Harvest Parker, on the particularly moving shorter track, “Costly.” Perhaps My Resurrection (Live) will get you singing along too.

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all that THRILLS

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THRILLS. DIFFERENT PEOPLE FIND THEM IN DIFFERENT WAYS, FROM DIFFERENT PLACES, ACCORDING TO DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES AND VARIOUS LIKES, DISLIKES, AND INDIVIDUAL PAIN TOLERANCES. Personally, I get a real charge from an all-day trip to the mall. I get a real “charge.” --Get it? … Never mind. Anyway, if you offered my husband a choice between going to the mall and being covered in poison ivy, you might as well go ahead and pass him the calamine. He said the other day— in a perfectly serious voice, “I think every time I go shopping, it actually takes years off my life.” Honestly, I think the man would choose a kidney stone over the mall. On the other hand, he actually enjoys a long bike trip on a nature trail. That would be my kidney stone. I’m sorry, but the thought gives me chills. Not the good kind. I have such a hard time getting past the snakes, heat, bugs, and the probability of straining all the muscles I’ve so carefully hidden under all these layers of cellulite. Ah well. To each his own. Or his kidney stone. Thrills may vary from person to person and from stone to stone, but there is only One who should thrill us to the very soul. Jesus should ever and always be the absolute thrill of our lives. I love the hymn that includes the phrase:

“All that thrills my soul is Jesus; He is more than life to me” Several times a day I have to ask myself if He really is more than life to me. From the clearance sale at the mall to the scenic nature trail, is

there anything that threatens to take the attention that He deserves? He is the Maker of all we see, the One who holds it all together, the absolute reason for it all. He is all of life. No, He’s more than life. How easily life can become more to me than my Savior. I wish I didn’t have to admit that. I wish I didn’t have to admit what a spiritual wimp I can become at even the slightest distraction. But Colossians 1:17 reminds me that, whether I recognize it or not, He truly is and has always been more than life: “And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (NKJV). Life. More than life. Every breath we breathe is at His discretion and under His direction.

“It is God who directs the lives of his creatures; everyone’s life is in his power” (Job 12:10, GNT). Know what’s funny? As it turns out, life in His power is the place of ultimate thrills. To-the-soul thrills. There are people in this world who leave no stone unturned when it comes to thrill-seeking. Maybe even no kidney stone unturned. Oh how I want them to know that as He becomes all that thrills a restless soul, that soul is transformed—and so thoroughly and eternally satisfied. Incidentally, I was itching to say that allowing the Lord to satisfy a soul is sort of like “heart calamine.” But then I thought you might think I was being rash. S



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If you missed The Resurrection of Gavin Stone at the box office last year, you now have the opportunity to own it. Film director Dallas Jenkins (son of author Jerry Jenkins), along with actress Anjelah Johnson, discuss the influence of the church in today’s film industry, and the role of women in today’s entertainment industry. Q. Movie making is quite an undertaking, Dallas. Why feature length film? A: With a feature film I can have an ultimate

message that I want to drive, while making the storyline entertaining. In the case of Gavin Stone there’s humor involved. It’s not purely a comedy, but there are lots of laughs. We’ve done that to make it enjoyable. As the storyline unfolds, humor helps the audience to receive the message.

Q: What made you want to bring this particular story to life? A: The idea of a church outsider pretending

to be a Christian so that he can play Jesus in a church play…well, I immediately saw the humor of putting Gavin into the church world where he would have to learn “Christian-ese”! Then of course I saw the emotional and spiritual meaning we could bring to light. If Gavin plays Jesus, he will learn more about Him, and potentially want to know Him personally.

Through Gavin’s experience I knew that I could share more about the church and what it really is and does. There was an opportunity for this outsider to bring a fresh perspective to the person of Jesus. All of these things appealed to me as I was first introduced to the story.

Q: Anjelah, can you tell us a bit about your character, and are there ways that you can relate to her? A: I play the Pastor’s daughter, Kelly. She is

the kind of person who follows every rule to the tee. Being in the public eye she feels she has to perform for love. She has her way of doing things and is a bit uptight and guarded, but has her reasons. There is a part of me that relates to her in the fact that I don’t like to disappoint people. When my plans get thrown a curve ball I have a hard time adjusting.

Q: Anjelah, are there particular challenges that women face in this industry? What can we do to change the industry? A: Yes, I feel the film industry, as well as the

stand-up comedy industry, is generally a man’s world that we women are infiltrating. As a woman I’ve been in the position where I have had to prove my value more-so than my male co-stars or fellow comedians. We can change things by saying no to roles that we are uncomfortable with. We can fight for better roles that highlight our strengths. If they don’t come, we can try to create them ourselves.

Q: Dallas, how do you feel about the challenges women face in the industry? A: Using The Resurrection of Gavin Stone

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-continued from p. 47as an example, there were a couple of things that I wanted to portray in the film from the perspective of a female. The women in my life—my mother, my wife, the women I work with in the church—aren’t accurately portrayed in a film very often. When mainstream movies portray women they take a different route. Sometimes they are objectifying them; sometimes, portraying this powerful woman who can do and be it all. Kelly’s character in the film as a pastor’s daughter feels the need to live up to everyone else’s expectations. I’m not expecting to change the world with this one character, but I do want to show a woman who may be flawed, yet also gives important contributions to her church. She has just as many lessons to learn as Gavin, even about grace. It was important that the character Anjelah portrayed had a definite arc of development and growth.

Q: Storytelling is obviously important to you. What has been your inspiration? A: Story telling was influenced by my dad. I

was also an avid reader. But when I was in the eighth grade I saw the television version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. As soon as I saw that movie I decided that I wanted to do that. Whatever emotion that movie brought up for me, I wanted to do that for other people from a spiritual perspective. Movies became my obsession, so Dad

started introducing me to classic films like The Godfather. The desire to make films grew in me through high school. When I graduated I went to work for a small production company that was making Dad’s “Left Behind” books into movies. After that I kind of broke out, making films with Dad, on our own.

Q: Why is it important that the church be involved in film making? A: When I first started making movies I thought that faith-based movies were really bad. It wasn’t that the faith part of movies was bad; it was just that I felt the movies weren’t being done well.

First, most of the best movies ever made are from a personal perspective. Church, faith, and prayer are a large part of the population’s lives, but they aren’t being reflected in film and television. I wanted to tell stories that reflected my life and the lives of the people I knew. Secondly, I wanted to make movies that would impact people. In The Resurrection of Gavin Stone people can identify with the lead character as an outsider, and see the church through his eyes. It also helps us to see his life-changing journey. I truly hope viewers will choose to go on that journey as well. S


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BY KATHY COLLARD MILLER @KATHYCMILLER www.kathycollardmiller.com

AS THE RETREAT CHAIRWOMAN MENTIONED TO ME THAT A BLIND WOMAN WOULD BE IN THE AUDIENCE, I started feeling nervous. I wondered, Should I shake hands? Should I tell her about my book which she can’t read? Should I even talk to her? What about my power point presentation? Some time ago when I faced these issues, I remembered some advice my blind speaker friend Clark Roberts gave me. Here’s the wisdom he passed along to me.

1. Introduce yourself and ask for feedback on anything you’re not certain about. There’s no problem say-

ing, “May I shake your hand?” Or “Do you give hugs?” Most blind persons will extend their hand when they sense you are near and about to meet them.

2. Don’t prejudge what they are interested in. Offer them your promotional

materials like anyone else. They have technology available to “read” independently. When you exchange business cards, let her know what you are doing and place the information in her hand.

3. Have handouts? Make sure she re-

ceives them just like anyone else. It’s up to her what she decides to do with anything given her.

4. Using visual aids? Ask the meeting planner to arrange someone to sit next to her and explain the power point or what you are manually handling.

5. If you aren’t told of a blind person’s attendance, make sure by the first break she is being cared for.

For all these ideas, it might be easy to assume the retreat chairman is taking care of it, but she might be as startled as you are. You’re the expert and professional, so care for her needs and go out of your way to take the initiative. S

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GOfor the

! d l o G


ADVERTISEMENTS ABOUND FOR LIFE COACHES. THIS WHOLE FIELD IS RELATIVELY NEW. NOT LONG AGO, ANY COACH WAS ASSOCIATED WITH A SPORT. For many young people, their football, basketball, swim, track, or tennis coach gave them not only instruction about the game, but also lessons on life. We get wise words and metaphors from the sports world. Sayings like “it’s not over until it’s over,” “go the last mile,” “get your second wind,” “teamwork doesn’t have an ‘I’ in it,” and “no pain no gain” come to us as a result of great coaches using sports to teach about living well. Perhaps society has wised up to the fact that we all need someone who can encourage us, set a spark under us, and be the wind beneath our wings. So, folks who never graced a field or court are now employing life coaches who can do for them as sports coaches have done for years for their players. Society’s trend toward the use of life coaches is nothing new to the Church. Women’s groups have known for years that it’s profitable to have someone we can turn to who can bolster us when we’re down or in need of a little push. Women’s fellowships have formed strong sisterhood bonds through Bible studies,

retreats, shut-ins, and conferences for years. The speaker at the event is often looked to for that uplift or that needed push to keep on keeping on. We inevitably return from these great women’s events feeling refreshed, encouraged, and ready to face life again. Why does this all work? It’s because we’re reminded that God is our ultimate life coach. He says,

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye” (Psalm 32:8, NKJV). The words of 2 Peter 1:3 comfort us as well. “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (NKJV). Getting to know God is like hiring a life coach. His number is Jeremiah 33:3:

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (NKJV). Make an appointment.


For more devotionals from Sharon go to from www.lifethatmatters.net.


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LISA BURNS is a profile contributor for Leading Hearts magazine. 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 www.LoveWise.com DiANN MILLS, an award-winning author of action-packed novels has more than 50 books in print. Her books have sold more than a million and a half copies and appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists. DiAnn also won back-to-back Christy Awards in 2010 and 2011. Her online home is www.diannmills.com.

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. www.Sheppro.com

LAURA PETHERBRIDGE serves couples and single adults with topics on spiritual growth, relationships, stepfamilies, coparenting, single parenting, divorce prevention, and divorce recovery. She is the author of four books including When “I Do” Becomes “I Don’t”—Practical Steps for Healing During Separation and Divorce and The Smart Stepmom. 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. www.karenporter.com 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. www.rhondarhea.com

meet amber

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 21 years in the magazine industry. When not working on Leading Hearts, she 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. www.barefacedgirl.com

Text LEADING H E A RTS (no space) to 9 5 5 7 7 now to get free instant ac cess to new iss ues, resources, enc ouragement & goodies deliver ed directly to your cell.



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. www.PenelopesTeaTime.com MICHELLE S. COX is an author, speaker, and the creator of the Just 18 Summers parenting resources and products. Visit her parenting blog www.just18summers.com and on Facebook www.facebook.com/just18summers. 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. www.lifethatmatters.net 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 www.KathyCollardMiller.com 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. www.clsimmons.com 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. www.ichoosemybestlife.com 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 22 books. She’s led and worked in ministries for many years. www KarenWhiting.com.








Profile for Leading Hearts Magazine

Leading Hearts May/June 2017 Issue  


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