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REFRESHED | August 2014

August 2014 | REFRESHED


from the editor… SCOTT NOBLE

Download a digital version of Refreshed magazine for convenient viewing on your favorite digital device.

Unexpected challenges Ben Utecht had risen through the ranks to the highest level of his profession: Super Bowl champion with the Indianapolis Colts. He started to play football when he was young, received a scholarship from the University of Minnesota and caught on with what turned out to be a Super Bowl-winning team. It’s difficult to imagine things going better. Starting in college, however, Utecht began to suffer concussions on the football field. In the last five years, concussions have become a major focus of the NFL and college football, but the issue was just emerging as a major focus during Utecht’s career. It was after his fourth documented concussion that Utecht began to notice side effects, and the fifth documented concussion ultimately ended his career. While his playing days are over, the effects from his concussions are still with him. In this issue, you can read about Utecht’s storied football career and what life after the game looks like. You can also discover how he has channeled his energies into advocacy for brain injuries—and his music career. Usually when things don’t go as planned it’s because something unfortunate happened. When people say, “That didn’t turn out like I had hoped,” it usually means their expectations were not met in a positive way. For Andrea Polnaszek, it was the opposite. Moved to turn her feelings into a workbook for others going through the same life challenges, Polnaszek not only discovered an audience for her book; she also discovered that things can easily become so much larger than you could ever imagine. Read about “The Elijah Project” and how one woman’s “Meet My Maker” moment turned into something completely unexpected. Finally, Billy Brownlee had a strong foundation in life. He had good parents, a large family and his entire life set out before him. But the well-dressed man from the west side of Chicago also faced a challenge that he has only recently met head-on. Read about all these stories—and many others—in this issue of “Refreshed.”


PUBLISHERS Lamar & Theresa Keener GENERAL MANAGER Lana Branham EXECUTIVE EDITOR Scott Noble PROOFREADER Lis Trouten CONTRIBUTORS Joanne Brokaw, Sam Helgerson, Jim Jackson, Wendie Pett, Jason Sharp, Colette and Jonathan Stuart, Doug Trouten, Yia Vang Copyright © 2014 Selah Media Group Refreshed is an independent, faith-based magazine published monthly by Selah Media Group. It is distributed in bulk, free of charge, to hundreds of locations throughout the Twin Cities metro region. For a 1-year mail subscription, send $24.95 to the address below or visit Refreshed welcomes story ideas. All unsolicited material is subject to approval of the publishers and is not returned. Viewpoints expressed in Refreshed are those of their respective writers, and are not necessarily held by the publishers. Reasonable effort is made to screen advertisers, but no endorsement of the publishers is implied or should be inferred. The publishers can accept no responsibility for the products or services offered through advertisements. The publisher reserves the right to refuse any advertising. ADDRESS ALL CORRESPONDENCE TO: P. O. Box 131030 St. Paul, MN 55113 E - MAIL PHONE/FAX (763) 746-2468 ADVERTISING (651) 964-2750 FOUNDING CORPORATE SPONSOR

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REFRESHED | August 2014

contents FEATURES

6 Faith, football and brain injury Former NFL player Ben Utecht talks about concussions and life after football

10 Gangs, drugs, guns

Man finds hope after decades of drug addiction

14 The Elijah Project

Disappointment, frustration lead to book, movie deal


18 Just a biscuit and a blanket








Events calendar


Community news

COLUMNS 30 Doug Trouten | unplugged 31 Sam Helgerson | leadership sense 32 Yia Vang | at the table 33 Wendie Pett | here’s to good health 34 Colette & Jonathan Stuart | marriage matters

30 31


35 Jim Jackson | purposeful parenting 36 Jason Sharp | sharp focus 38 Joanne Brokaw | that’s life!

August 2014 | REFRESHED


Faith, football and Ben Utecht talks about life after football by SCOTT NOBLE


REFRESHED | August 2014


magine sitting at a table with your family, and they’re talking about something that happened five, 10 years ago that everybody there remembers. And you’re kind of scratching your head quietly, going, ”Wow, I really have no idea. I honestly can’t place myself there; I can’t think of it.” That memory loss is what ultimately convinced NFL player and Super Bowl champion Ben Utecht to retire from the game.

Over the course of his collegiate and professional careers, the tight end experienced five concussions, the last two being so serious that his cognitive and memory abilities were affected. Utecht describes himself as a “Minnesotan through and through.” He was born in the state, spent his college years at the University of Minnesota and returned here after his career in the NFL. As a minister’s kid, his family moved

around the state several times growing up, but it was in Hastings where his athletic talent—and music abilities—were on display. Utecht’s first inclination that he had some football ability happened in the fourth grade while the family lived in Lindstrom. It was the first time he had played football, but he soon discovered that he had a knack for the game. “I was playing defensive end, and I figured out at that young age that if I just lined up in the gap and ran right through it, they weren’t going to stop you,” he said. “I remember this one play where the quarterback took the handoff, and I was through so fast that he had no time to do anything.” The summer after his junior year, he enrolled at a football camp run by thencoach Glen Mason of the Gophers. After the camp, Mason invited Utecht and his father to his office, where Mason proceeded to ask Utecht for a verbal commitment to the Gophers and offered him a scholarship. “I always knew that I wanted to be a Gopher,” Utecht said. “I stayed pretty true to the things that I hold as a priority: family, faith and the idea of growing up in Minnesota and staying. No matter where the team was at, I thought it could be a really special thing. It really turned out to be. We turned the program around—went to four bowl games. My senior year was a 10-3 season.”

NFL prospects

Yet after four years of a successful career at the University of Minnesota, Utecht found his NFL prospects looking dim. He suffered a serious abdominal injury during his senior year of college, and his draft position went from a projected first round pick to not getting drafted at all. But Utecht describes a “miracle story” that took place at the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota

campus. He was a speaker at an event being held at the Center, as was Tony Dungy, former Gopher and coach of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts at the time. “I got up to share before [Dungy] did, and the first thing I said in front of all these people at the McNamara Center was, ‘Hey, Coach, us Gophers we stick together. So I expect you to draft me in the upcoming draft.’ Everybody got a kick out of it.” Apparently, so did Dungy. “He was gracious enough to acknowledge my joke when he gave his keynote,” Utecht recalled. “He said, ‘You know, Ben, we’d love to have you. Unfortunately, we drafted a tight end last year in the first round—Dallas Clark—so we’re not really going to be making tight ends a priority this year.’ “Then he paused as if he was being downloaded something—like he was thinking. Then he said, ‘But I’ll make a promise to you right now. If for some reason you slip through the cracks, which I don’t think you will, but if you do, I’ll be the first person to call.’” Months later, Utecht had slipped through the draft and was sitting in his agent’s office one day when the phone rang. “My agent picks it up and hands it to me,” Utecht remembered. “Who do you think it was? It was Tony Dungy. Are you kidding me? What he promised came back into my mind. I just kind of sat there in awe.” Dungy told Utecht that the team wanted to send him to doctors who specialized in the type of injury Utecht suffered. Dungy told him not to worry about playing that first year—just rest and recover. The team paid him as if he were a playing rookie and also offered Utecht a small signing bonus. “The miracle is that three years later, I am one of the starting tight ends on a Super Bowl championship team,” Utecht said.


Hastings High School and U of M football standout Ben Utecht was a tight end for the Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts. He retired after five years due to suffering multiple concussions.


Utecht went on to play several seasons in the NFL, first with the Colts and then briefly for the Cincinnati Bengals. However, his football career came to a crossroads after concussions began to take their toll. “The first documented concussion was as a Gopher,” Utecht recalled. It came against Baylor. “I got knocked out. I ran into an offensive lineman on a blocking play. I just remember coming to on the field, and [I] had a bloody nose. They removed me from the remainder of that game. But I was back on the practice field just a couple of days later.” Utecht began to experience noticeable side effects after his fourth documented concussion. “The first time that I really felt amnesia was after my fourth documented concussion,” he said. “It was an interesting concussion because a Denver Bronco defensive lineman was jumping over me. I only know this because I watched it on film. I had ended up on the ground trying to block somebody, and he tried to jump over me. As he jumped over me, the toe of his cleat just clipped the back of my helmet. It looked like nothing on camera. You kind of saw my head bob down a little bit, and then my entire body went limp and I just was out.” A few teammates walked over to Utecht and stood over him as he came back to consciousness. He then sprinted off the field and talked with trainers and coaches. “That happened halfway through the first quarter, and I remember nothing until going in at halftime,” he said. “I couldn’t even tell you what was happening at halftime right now. It’s a weird thing to watch 40-60 minutes of your life on tape that you’ll never (remember). It’s a scary thing.” After that concussion, things would never be the same again for Utecht. His wife, Karyn, began to notice changes in him. August 2014 | REFRESHED


“It’s a weird thing to watch 40-60 minutes of your life on tape that you’ll never (remember). It’s a scary thing.” Yet even in spite of the seeming seriousness of the concussions, Utecht said concussions were not yet becoming a major focus of the NFL—something that has drastically changed in the last five years. “I didn’t really realize that this was a brain injury,” Utecht said. “I know that that sounds really naïve, and it is. But that is the truth. You hear the word concussion and you know that you dinged your head but you don’t, at least I didn’t, actually realize that it can actually change your brain—have an effect on your brain.” Utecht would end up suffering one more concussion that would end his days in the NFL. It occurred during training camp, and Utecht had to be strapped to a board and brought to the hospital. “We just started a family,” Utecht said about the time frame of this last concussion. “When the career-ending concussion happened in training camp in 2009, my oldest daughter, Elleora, had just been born back in March. That

really changes everything. On top of that, I don’t really know how to describe what amnesia feels like or beyond that, when memories just kind of are gone.” By 2009, concussions were beginning to receive national attention, and the NFL began to feel pressure from its players and others to spotlight the injury and devote resources to its prevention and treatment. Since then, hundreds of current and former NFL players have talked about the impact of concussions on their lives and several lawsuits have been filed on behalf of players—seeking damages from the NFL. After this final concussion, Utecht underwent an eight-month rehabilitation process before being cleared to play again. In the meantime, the NFL had instituted a waiver for players with concussion histories to sign in order to protect teams from responsibility for further brain injuries. Utecht had one final tryout with the

New England Patriots. “I could tell in the tryout with the Patriots that their doctors … there was definitely concern over my concussion history and what went down,” he said. “It was kind of a combination of realizing it was going to be really difficult for me to find a team that would now take me with how this injury was being spotlighted, number one. And number two, if a team did want me and they asked me to sign this waiver, I wouldn’t do it.” With all these factors in mind, Utecht made the decision to retire from football.

Symptoms and advocacy

Now with the decision to retire behind him, Utecht faces another test—this one just as formidable as becoming a professional athlete. Along with his family, Utecht is praying that the concussion-related symptoms he experiences today have not damaged his brain permanently. In addition to memory loss, Utecht experiences several other effects.

Getting personal with Ben Utecht … What’s it like to play with Peyton Manning?

In my opinion, he’s the greatest quarterback of all time. Every once in a while you have these special men that come along that somehow are able to elevate themselves to a level of greatness that very few achieve. He’s got the unique mix. He truly loves this game more than anything and, on top of that, he has this amazing drive and professionalism to realize that this is his job. He’s the CEO of a company and that’s how he approaches his playing. You felt worse dropping a ball because of Peyton’s look than you did from your coaches.

What’s one thing you learned from Tony Dungy?

There are so many. I think living out your beliefs is probably the greatest thing that I learned from him. He truly is a pillar. The guy doesn’t veer off of what he believes. He’s consistent in everything. He’s consistent in how he loves his wife and his children and how he treats people. He’s an outspoken Christian. He loved you no matter what you believed in, and he did that for every single person.


REFRESHED | August 2014

Favorite food?

I love pizza. Steak and mashed potatoes with gravy is just so good.

What do you like to do in your downtime?

Play the guitar, and play with my girls. Big movie guy. Love going to movies. That’s kind of one way I fill my cup.

Favorite music group?

It’s hard for a music lover to actually give you an answer. Probably favorite singer is Josh Groban. Michael Bublé … just these guys who are really good singers. U2 is probably my favorite group.

Where are you doing 20 years from now?

Hopefully 20 years from now I don’t have a brain disease diagnosis. Twenty years from now, I’ve walked my last daughter down the aisle and given her into the hands of a man with integrity. If that happens, I’ll be a happy man.

“It’s difficult sometimes to get out what I’m trying to say,” he said. “Sometimes it kind of feels like I’m walking in mental quicksand. Sometimes you would notice it, sometimes you wouldn’t notice it. If you really know me … like my wife can notice it. In my mind, it feels like I know what I want to say, but it’s like I have to wait for it to come out. Sometimes it gets so frustrating for me that I just kind of lose my complete train of thought.” Utecht is encouraged, however, by the amount of attention and research currently being devoted to brain injuries. Research has demonstrated that the brain has the ability to heal on its own and “create new neuro-pathways to bring out information,” he said. In addition, Utecht said cognitive rehabilitation is demonstrating that through exercises, the brain can develop new ways to retrieve information and new ways to approach memorization. Utecht has also begun to speak out on brain injuries and concussions. In particular, he has spoken out about the need for more education and training in concussion prevention and care. “If I could wave a magic wand over the concussion crisis and change something, it would be that every parent is trained in the detection and prevention of concussions,” he said. “That not only the trainer but the mom and the dad can actually be there and because they have been trained, because they [have been educated] on what a concussion is and what to look for, they can be the ones to help assess. Then the most important part of that is connecting them to a neurologist, a brain expert.” Utecht recently received the 2014 Public Leadership in Neurology award from the American Academy of Neurology and American Brain Foundation. “The professional heartbreak and challenges he has overcome resonates with others and increases awareness


Former NFL tight end Ben Utecht is suffering memory loss as a result of concussions received during his college and professional football career. A talented singer, Utecht recently recorded his fourth album, which included a song to his wife and three young daughters called “You Will Always Be My Girls.” The song is about a possible time when Utecht won’t be able to recognize his wife and daughters. Utecht says he wrote it both for his family and to give hope to other families who may be facing similar situations. A music video of the song with his wife, Karyn, playing herself received more than 575,000 views on YouTube in the first 30 days after release.

From the NFL to recording artist

Ever since he was a kid, music has played a prominent role in Utecht’s life. His parents were musical and in high school, Utecht said he was involved in more choirs than sports. His desire to sing followed him to college and into the NFL, where he received mentoring that planted a seed in his heart that music could be something to pursue after the NFL. He recently finished his fourth album, which includes the single “You Will Always Be My Girls,” a song about what life might be like for him and his family if he loses his memory. The song, which essentially serves as a love letter to his wife and girls, already has more than 575,000 views on YouTube. Utecht’s producer and songwriting partner called him one day and said, “I think I know the song that we’re missing,” referencing the work on this latest CD. “You’re not going to like this. Have you ever written a letter to your of the need to support research to help patients living with brain disease, especially those with sports concussion,” said Catherine M. Rydell, CAE, executive director/CEO of the American Academy of Neurology and American Brain Foundation. “Ben was a natural choice to take on a national spokesperson role for the American Academy of Neurology and our foundation, the American Brain Foundation.” Going from retired NFL player to spokesman for leading brain injury orga-

wife and girls in case you begin to lose your memory of them?” Utecht had thought about this exact scenario but had yet to put words to paper. “Here I am on this plane 30,000 feet above the [ground] writing this love letter on my iPad to my wife and the girls from the perspective of the guy who has dementia and doesn’t recognize them anymore,” he said. It was an emotional experience for him to write the song—hoping and praying the man in the song and video isn’t actually him in five, 10 or 20 years. But the video also struck a chord with many others, and will hopefully provide a boost in efforts to fund research that will prevent people from serious effects from concussions. For Utecht, that means the man described in the song and shown on the video is not actually him several years from now. nizations has made Utecht wonder about God’s leading in this process. “Everything in the world of neurology and brain health for me has been something that has just really been brought to me,” he said. “From a providential standpoint, [it] always makes me stop and think, ‘OK, are you trying to tell me something here? Is this what I’m supposed to be doing?’” Apparently it is. ■ Learn more at August 2014 | REFRESHED


Man finds hope after decades of drug addiction by SCOTT NOBLE


illy Brownlee knew he was in trouble. He had a feeling something was wrong when his sister called and told him to contact their mother. The two—son and mother—had always been close, but Brownlee had been running the streets for the last several years. When the two connected by telephone, Brownlee’s mother said, “Have you seen the ‘Austin Voice?’” which was a community newspaper in Chicago. “You need to get it because you’re in trouble.” That was an understatement. When Brownlee got a copy of the free publication, which was widely distributed throughout the area, he couldn’t believe what he saw. “My picture is on the front page,” Brownlee recalled. Not only that, but the newspaper urged people who saw Brownlee to call a 1-800 number in order to aid in his arrest.

Tight-knit family

Things hadn’t always been this bad for Brownlee. He grew up on Chicago’s west side, one of six children. “My mom did everything she could

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for me,” Brownlee said. “My mom and my dad broke up early on, and I had a stepdad who played that role. He actually played that role well. He actually provided me with everything that a father would. I did have a two-parent home.” But when Brownlee got to high school, he was exposed to gangs and drugs. “That’s when I was introduced to socalled ‘hanging out’ and ‘hanging with the guys in the crowd,’” he said. “That was a huge mistake for me; even though my mom was strict on me, I still found a way to sneak out and do these things.” These “things” eventually led to running with the Vice Lords street gang. “I got involved with that type of activity because the area where I grew up— that was what they were doing,” Brownlee said. “Even though I was wearing a neck tie running around with these guys, claiming that I am a Vice Lord too, I was still going to school. I still had a job. Almost fooled my family. It kind of escalated from there.”

Gangs, drugs, guns

By escalation, Brownlee meant—

in addition to running with the Vice Lords—getting involved with drugs and eventually guns. “Once I graduated high school, that’s when the crack epidemic really just [took off],” he said. “I got caught up in that whirlwind. It became an epidemic for me and an epidemic for my community. I learned how to be—they called it the ‘street chemist.’ I learned how to do that very well.” Then came the guns. Since Brownlee always enjoyed dressing up—“neck tie and the nice sweater and penny loafers”—those around him didn’t think others would suspect him of running guns. They were right. “I became the major gun supplier of the Vice Lords,” he said. The day he discovered his photo on the cover of the local newspaper, Brownlee began to discover what had caused the police to look for him. Unknown to him at the time, Brownlee had been part of a major three-year criminal investigation involving guns in the Chicago area. He was one of 72 people indicted. His charge: conspiracy to commit of-

From a young age, Brownlee has enjoyed dressing up— ties and sweater vests—a characteristic that the gangs used to their advantage. fense against the United States. “I had no idea what that meant,” Brownlee said. He had sold guns to an undercover officer. “[The undercover officer] was introduced to me by a friend who was in trouble with the law,” Brownlee recalled. “I’d sell a gun for $70, $80 on the street; [the undercover officer] gave me $400. It didn’t ring to me because I had a drug habit that was blinding me about what was actually happening.” When all this sunk in, Brownlee knew he needed to turn himself in. So he had his friend, Ron, a local pastor, drive him to the Metropolitan Correction Center in Chicago. “This was my first experience with jail,” Brownlee said. “When I got there, the door slammed. When steel slams on steel and then the steel door slams behind the steel on steel, then you hear this thing going click, click, click, boom, it’s right there that fear came. I was afraid.” On July 19, 1992, Brownlee was sentenced to 24 months, a fortunate sentence for him since the prosecutor was asking for much more time. He had been charged with selling seven guns and one shotgun, but all the weapons were clean; they didn’t trace back to anything that Brownlee could be charged with further.

Years of addiction

Brownlee’s story might have ended there. However, the power of addiction shadowed him for more than a decade. After he was released from prison, Brownlee had to serve five years on supervised release, meaning he could not get in trouble again, or he would have to return to prison. He remained sober during this time but as he completed the supervised release, he began to delve into

drugs again. The drugs led him back to jail—seven times. “Trying to feed that habit because I’m blinded by the addiction,” he said. “That was just a one-two punch. You use drugs, you go to jail. I didn’t realize that because my addiction kept saying, ‘You can do this. They’re not going to see you this time. That TV sitting right there … just snatch it and run.’” Years went by. By the end of 2011, Brownlee was looking for something new. His addiction and the constant need to feed his habit had left him wanting something else. So he decided to get out of Chicago. “I packed up everything I had, and I put it in the trunk of [my Cadillac], and I drove to Minnesota,” he said. He had been to the state before and since he hadn’t burned any bridges while he was here, Brownlee thought Minnesota would be a good place to start over. At first, it wasn’t. “I come back here, and the heroin here … it’s 97% pure,” he said. “It’s not the 34%/35% in Chicago, but it’s 96%/97% pure here. I had a few dollars in my pocket and my mind said, ‘Don’t do it.’” But he did. Soon he was nursing a $500 to $600 a week drug habit. He was also passing out after getting high, something he now can see was a sign of overdosing.

to be a problem. I don’t want to die. I never did want to die. I was brought up in church, baptized and saved and filled with the Holy Ghost.” During this new realization, Brownlee kept hearing a Scripture in his head: “You have to give up everything to follow me.” In the fall of 2012, Brownlee sat down at a computer and began to look up treatment facilities. After several attempts to narrow down the search field, he eventually settled on MetroHope Recovery Ministries and its New Hope Center. “I was looking for somewhere to go because I couldn’t stop on my own,” he said. “I tried, and it didn’t work well for me.” After his initial intake meeting, Brownlee was frustrated that he would have to give up cigarettes and his car before entering the program. “Then I said to myself, ‘I’m dying,’” he remembered. “‘They are not going to bury me in this Cadillac, and I’m not going to be buried with cigarettes. I’m tired.’ And then that Scripture came again: ‘You want to follow me? You’ve got to give up everything, and I mean everything.’” So he entered the program in November of 2012 and stayed until August of 2013, graduating in April of 2013. Over time, Brownlee became a senior resident at New Hope and someone others looked to for advice and counsel.

‘I don’t want to die’

A job and new goals

But Brownlee had a life-changing realization one day. “I really got to the point where I was tired,” he recalled. “This is really getting

Upon his graduation, someone at his church told Brownlee about a job opening at Jimmy John’s. After successfully completing the employment test, August A Aug Au ug u gust usst u st 2 20 2014 014 14 | REF REFRESHED RE R EF E F RESHED RE RES R E S HED HE ED ED

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Brownlee was hired as a sandwich maker. Then he became a supervisor and is now co-manager—in line to become manager of a store. He has achieved many of the goals he set out to conquer: getting clean, maintaining sobriety and finding employment. He has three more he wants to achieve: becoming a store manager, owning a franchise and giving young kids hope. “My other goal is to grab these young kids at 16 and give them a job, give them an opportunity not to be on the streets,” Brownlee said. “Because I think 16 is a time when they are vulnerable; they don’t know which way to go. If you can grab them at 16 and show them the way they should go when they get older, they won’t forget. “I want to mentor a lot of these young guys so they don’t have to have a story quite like mine. So they won’t have to go through treatment facilities and go to the penitentiary and go through these other heart-breaking things ….” From strong family beginnings to life on the streets to addiction and now to new opportunities, Brownlee has experienced numerous ups and downs. But one thing he knows he must always do: keep Jesus at the center. “I never took Jesus Christ out of anything that I did,” Brownlee said. “He was the beginning of me wanting to be clean. And right now, today, he’s the sole center of what I’m accomplishing. I keep Him first. Do I make all perfect decisions? No. I tell you what. I’m happy I can learn from these decisions. I understand that these things are a journey.” ■ Learn more at

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Jimmy John’s: Brownlee recently received additional training and is now prepared to manage his own Jimmy John’s store.

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At Bethel Seminary, we’re committed to equipping ministry leaders. But here, leadership means something more. It’s about living our beliefs and bringing theology to life. It’s about becoming thoughtful scholars and faithful servants. It’s about developing our God-given talents while gaining the biblical foundation we need to think critically, discern faithfully, and act wisely. It’s about using everything we’ve learned and everything we believe to make a real difference in our communities and our world. St. Paul | San Diego | Online August 2014 | REFRESHED



Elijah Project Disappointment, frustration lead to book, movie deal by SCOTT NOBLE


ndrea Polnaszek had hit a low point. Not an “I don’t know where to turn or what to do anymore” moment, but a time when she began to compare her expectations of life with reality. “It got to a certain point where not long after our third child was born where

I just felt sort of like, ‘Is this really it? This is not working out the way I expected,’” she recalled. “Financially, life was hard …. Definitely, doing ministry—at least the way we were doing ministry— was hard. Working with people that had

deep wounds and hurts and kind of walking through that cycle of taking steps toward Jesus and then jumping away and then stepping back. Just finding that whole cycle very exhausting.” One day she walked downstairs in her home and looked in the mirror, and she experienced what she later termed as her

Andrea Polnaszek developed ‘The ELijah Project’ after reaching a difficult time in her life. A movie, based on the workbook, is currently in post-production.


REFRESHED | August 2014

Based on the story of the Old Testament prophet, the Elijah Project is a tool that encourages individuals to realize something is amiss, reflect on what is going on, reconcile what is misplaced, rest and re-engage in life.

“Meet My Maker” moment. As she looked in the mirror, she said, “Oh my goodness, I don’t want to spend the next 10 or 20 or 30 years feeling like this: tired and old and angry too. Resentful that God wasn’t having things work out the way I thought He should.” At the time, Polnaszek would have no idea how this small moment in time— maybe only a few seconds or a minute or two at the most—would drastically impact the next several years of her life. As Polnaszek reflected on this moment, she began to realize the blessings in her life as well. “As long as I can remember, I walked with the Lord,” she said. “I actually accepted Jesus when I was four. I’m a pastor’s kid. I grew up in church and happily served in church. I went to Christian college, I went to seminary, and I ended up marrying a guy who was actually in the business world—because that was part of our agreement. And then a year after we got married, he was called into ministry. He went into full-time ministry, and so I became a pastor’s wife. I would say, overall, I have enjoyed that.” She had prayed for a husband and children, and God had blessed her with both. However, this undeniable thought kept poking through the surface: “There has to be a different way to do this thing called following Jesus as well as raising kids and being married and actually enjoying the life that God has given me.”

Inspired by Elijah

As a therapist, Polnaszek had spent a lot of time listening to other people talk about their struggles and then offer advice and suggest helpful tools. She thought, “What are the tools that we need? Not when you necessarily need to go to therapy but you definitely need some tips in your thinking?”

She began to recount some of the things she did in her counseling practice and over time, she developed what later became known as “The Elijah Project.” “I had heard the story of Elijah tons and tons of times,” Polnaszek said. “Usually the story you hear is the part where he is on Mt. Carmel. I hadn’t heard the part where after that amazing miracle happened, Jezebel threatens his life, and he runs and then tells God he’s had enough. ‘Just take me.’” That last thought—where Elijah told God that he had hit a roadblock—resonated with Polnaszek and her situation. She began to work through her thoughts and as the process developed, she wrote down what she was experiencing and then began to share this with others. Instead of just being a personal therapeutic exercise, Polnaszek soon discovered that what she wrote resonated with others—a lot. So she wrote “The Elijah Project,” a workbook that walks through the story of the biblical prophet. She was invited to a women’s group three years ago and shared the workbook and Elijah’s story with what she called “a contemporary spin.” After the meeting, Polnaszek told those gathered that they could pick up the workbook on the way out if they were interested. Every one of them was gone. Since then, the project has taken off. “We spend a little time talking about who are we, what are we bringing to the table, what are things that are going well, things that aren’t, how are we doing, how are we feeling,” she said. “The workbook has some artistic activities [as well].” Polnaszek hopes the workbook provides encouragement and validation for those struggling with the same life issues she experienced. “What we are feeling right now is not

new; this is something that people have struggled with for a long time, and God was still present then and He is just as present now,” she said. “You just have to be able to stop long enough to see where He is working and where He is moving.”

The movie

The story might have ended there. However, a fortuitous meeting, a phone call and a close relative turned this nice local story into something that has nationwide potential. In June 2013, Polnaszek’s sister and brother-in-law, who are both in the movie business, were in a meeting. One of their producers believed that 2014 would be a big year for faith-based movies and asked Polnaszek’s sister if she would be interested in working on such a project. Her sister said “Yes,” but she wanted to call Polnaszek because of her faithfulness and insight into the Christian community. After the phone call, Polnaszek agreed to serve as a consultant and give feedback as to whether she thought the Christian community would be interested in a certain project or not. She was to receive and evaluate scripts with that in mind. By the end of the first week, however, Polnaszek pitched the idea of “The Elijah Project.” She told them about the workbook and the classes she was teaching and how she was encountering many people who were approaching middle age and wondering if this is what life is all about—and where does God fit into the mix? “Could we write a story about someone who has been going through the motions?” Polnaszek said to the decision makers. She pitched the idea of telling that story through the perspective of someAugust 2014 | REFRESHED


“I also think you never know what God might do with some little tiny idea‌â€?

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one who, from the world’s perspective, has everything and yet doesn’t feel fulfilled. The Hollywood decision makers liked the idea and soon Polnaszek got to run with it. The writing team spent last fall and winter developing the script. “It’s a family drama,� Polnaszek said about the movie. “The big things that happen for the family in the movie [begin] once the mother begins to actually do ‘The Elijah Project’ with her small group and actually experience God in a new and different way. It means that her life has to be different. Some of the things that are happening in her family life need to change.� “The Elijah Project,� as the movie is tentatively titled, is the process of a family aligning things in their lives according to their faith and a look at how difficult that process can be. After researching several potential locations to film the “The Elijah Project,� producers eventually settled on the Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls areas. Filming took place in June, with several Minnesota actors and actresses taking leading roles. The film is currently in post-production.

They are hoping for an Easter 2015 release.

Being vulnerable

Polnaszek looks back on the last several years and is amazed at how being vulnerable has led to so many opportunities. “One thing that I have learned is that as hard as it is to be vulnerable with [what you’re] struggling with, it’s amazing the reception you get when you are, and you say, ‘This is what’s going on,’â€? she said. “I have found that even though it takes courage and guts—and yes, sometimes you can end up being hurt by being vulnerable, [people will be thankful for what you shared].â€? The past few years have also taught her that you can never know what God has in store. “I also think you never know what God might do with some little tiny idea,â€? she said. “I think that’s where I’m sitting now, a month after finishing the movie. I can’t even wrap my head around where I am at the moment because it’s like, ‘Oh my goodness ‌.’â€? â– Learn more at www.

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Just a and a by ANNA KELLER


biscuit blanket

rittney Hanvey says she doesn’t quite know what made her pull over to the side of the road back in January to offer a homeless man a biscuit. But that seemingly small act set off a chain of events that helped transform a life. Hanvey, a pharmaceutical sales representative, spends many days driving to and from various doctors’ offices. Every two weeks she visits the same doctor at Princeton Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham, Ala. During many of her trips to that office, Hanvey spotted the same homeless man on the street visit after visit.


REFRESHED | August 2014

“There was always this same man out there, wearing a raggedy T-shirt and pants,” Hanvey recalled. “I was always told not to stop for people by the side of the road, because you couldn’t tell if they just wanted drugs.” y But, Hanvey said, one frigid January morning she felt compelled to stop and help the man. “I was taking a doctor some breakfast, so I had some biscuits in my car, and I had a blanket for some reason too,” she said. “So I stopped and offered him a biscuit and the blanket, and he took both and asked me if I minded sitting and

talking for a minute.” Hanvey sat down and said the man asked her why she’d stopped. She told him it was because he’d looked so cold, and then he began to cry and asked if he could pray for her before she left. “Instead of praying for himself, he prayed for me: for my family, my

future ture husband,” nd,” Hanvey said. “I was so touched touched. He introduced himself as Benny before I left.” Hanvey said after that January day, she continued to drive past Benny from time to time but was always running late and didn’t have time to stop again. Then one day, she noticed he was missing from his usual spot. In late February, she visited Princeton Medical Center on her regular rounds and saw an older man in the doctor’s office who looked familiar. “The man caught me staring at him and said, ‘Oh, Miss Brittney, I’m so glad to see you.’” Hanvey said. “It was Benny. I didn’t recognize him because he was all cleaned up and everything.” Brittney learned the doctor saw her stop and talk with Benny that cold January day. Her kind gesture moved him to reach out to Benny. He offered Benny a job as his office housekeeper. He’s since said Benny has been the best housekeeper the office has ever had. “And the doctor told me, ‘Before you leave, just notice what he does when patients come in,’” Hanvey recalled. She watched Benny and noticed that before the doctor came in to visit patients, Benny would walk up to the examining room, put his hand on the door and pray for the person in the room. When Hanvey returned to the office in mid-March, the nurses were raving about Benny. They’d grown to love him and were helping him re-learn to write because they discovered he hadn’t made it past the sixth grade. Before Hanvey left during that visit, Benny gave her a note he’d written for her, which read: “Thank you for everything you have done for me. I will forever be grateful for you. You are a very special young lady. I pray for you every day.” When Hanvey came by the office for

her next visit, she found a yellow rose waiting for her he from Benny. The office nurses explained that they’d been talking about what different colors of roses meant and said Benny had insisted on getting a yellow rose for Hanvey. “I kept telling him, ‘Benny, I didn’t do anything. I just talked to you that one day,’” she said. “He said, ‘No, no — you and God and the doctor have opened so many doors for me.’” The day after Hanvey received the rose, Benny suffered a heart attack while

in the office. He survived, but the incident left him weak, and he had to reduce the number of hours working at the doctor’s office. He now lives in a guesthouse at the doctor’s home and works a couple of days a week. Hanvey said she never imagined that her stopping to offer a man a biscuit on a winter day would lead to this, but one thing is for sure: Benny’s life is forever changed thanks to Hanvey, and it may be safe to say her life has forever changed thanks to him. ■ Anna Keller writes for The Alabama Baptist, where this article first appeared.

August 2014 | REFRESHED



Is it OK to want? The tricky subject of ambition and longing by SCOTT NOBLE “Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith,” by Jen Pollock Michel. IVP Books, © 2014, $16, 221 pages For some, desire or wanting is seen as innately sinful—a carnal attitude that falls outside the life of faith. For others, desire is a common and acceptable attitude in our modern age. In Jen Pollock Michel’s new book, “Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith,” Michel tackles what she describes as a “real tension” between societal attitudes toward desire

and a biblical perspective. “Part of the motivation [for writing the book] was definitely just my own curiosity,” Michel said. “I feel like as a Christian I

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haven’t often heard a lot about desire, although as a human being I certainly feel it very acutely that desire is just part of the everyday life of being human. Part of it was just a misunderstanding or maybe a curiosity or just a lack of understanding and ignorance really. What does it mean to want in the life of faith? Is my wanting always hostile to God’s wanting for me?” Michel writes a very personal book, drawing on her own experiences and using them to look at Scripture and see the boundaries or biblical perspectives on want and desire. Is it OK to desire something? What does the Bible say about my desire for a certain job, or to be married, or for the direction of my vocation? These are the types of questions Michel explores in “Teach Us to Want.” Those desires, however, form in our hearts, which are described as deceitful. “I think there’s a real tension,” Michel said. “I hope the book maintains kind of a both/and perspective on desire. That something that’s really true that we know from Scripture—Jeremiah 17:9— that our hearts are deceitful, that we can’t rely necessarily on our desires at first glance. We should be suspicious because we’re fallen creatures, and sinfully we want the things that make our lives easy and convenient and comfortable.” At the same time, we shouldn’t completely disregard desire by believing it’s always rooted in something sinful. Michel looks at the Lord’s Prayer “as an invitation into holy desire.” “While we can’t trust our own hearts, we’re invited to pray and we’re invited to pray this bold prayer of desire and we’re invited to be shaped into the desires of God,” she said. One of the most important components of Michel’s book is its direction to examine our desires based on several things: prayer, Scripture, community,

worship and a willingness to listen. “God never says is it right or is it wrong to want to buy a house in Toronto, for example [where Michel lives],” she said. “Is it a right desire to want to stay in Toronto and to buy a house? Is it a wrong desire? I think it’s a really complicated thing. So we need spiritual practices. We need Scripture, first of all. We need community. We need to be in community with other people, examining our hearts’ desires, making concessions, letting other people reflect back to us what they see. Obviously we need prayer; we need corporate worship.” “Teach Us to Want” is an important book for those who struggle with the idea of want and desire and want to know the best ways to discover God’s leading in their lives. Michel doesn’t give pat answers; she writes personally and with a sense of vulnerability about the challenges she has faced and how those can help teach others. She is a strong writer, and many readers will be immediately drawn in by her personal stories. While not giving readers a roadmap when it comes to understanding desire, Michel wants readers to see that desires can be good as well. “I want [readers] to see the goodness of desire,” she said. “Culturally, we hear the message that ‘Whatever you want is right and good,’ and the church counteracts that by saying ‘Never trust your heart. If it feels good, don’t ever do it.’ I want people to wrestle with the tension that, ‘Wait, yes, I should be suspicious about my desires and about wanting, but why is it necessary?’ It’s necessary for praying, it’s necessary for mission. It’s just important to be transparent about desire because whether or not I admit it, there it is, simmering below the surface.” Learn more at or visit a local LifeWay Christian store.

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outtakes Caviezel stars in ‘When the Game Stands Tall’ Life and loss, victory and defeat take the field—and streets—Aug. 22 with the TriStar Pictures and Affirm Films release “When the Game Stands Tall.” Starring Jim Caviezel (“Passion of the Christ,” “Person of Interest”), Michael Chiklis (“The Shield,” “The Commish”), Alexander Ludwig (“The Hunger Games,” “Lone Survivor”) and Laura Dern (“Jurassic Park,” “Little Fockers”), the inspirational film is based on the true story of De La Salle High School’s storied football team, and its 151 consecutive victories spanning 12 years. Although football anchors the story, the movie centers on far more than the Concord, Calif. team’s winning streak—an unprecedented feat. The National Football League’s longest winning streak, for instance, is 21 games, held by the New England Patriots, and 47 games is the record at the collegiate level, achieved by the Oklahoma Sooners. The film, based on the Neil Hayes book, held one of its first screenings May 5 at the Evangelical Press Association Convention in Anaheim. Caviezel brings his trademark steely steadiness to the role of head coach Bob Ladouceur, the head coach and teacher who prepares his team as much for life as for the game. The veteran actor was aided by a quality screenplay crafted by Scott Marshall Smith and David Zelon. “Winning a lot of football games is do-able,” Ladouceur says at one point in the film. “Teaching kids there’s more to life? That’s hard.” Throughout the film, Ladouceur reinforces his mantra that the De La Salle football program would not be defined by its legendary winning streak or the pursuit of perfection. The purpose, he maintained, was the perfect effort. That effort is not limited to the confines of the stadium, either,as the players must test their grit off of the turf. In addition to the strategy and hype swirling around the team, their coach helps his teens to also navigate commitment, accountability, brotherhood, teamwork, decision-making and dedication. Family is also a critical theme as Ladouceur, processing his own issues, coaches his own son and serves as a surrogate father to his players. “Great, inspiring, real movie about the platform and power a coach has to instill character into young men,” said Les Steckel, president of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Disappointment and fear, tempered by honest faith, also have starring roles. With big league cinematography, dialogue and drama, “When the Game Stands Tall” is sure to stand big among other classic football greats such as “Remember the Titans” and “We are Marshall.” Learn more at


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tunes Holly Starr highlights autism awareness with music video

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Known for her powerful, personal music videos, singer/songwriter Holly Starr recently debuted the official video for her latest single, “God Is.” Directed and produced by Jonathan Ward for JonnyGrand Films and Media, the highly-anticipated video has already exceed 50,000 YouTube views as of July 25. Shining a light on autism, the clip traces a family’s poignant journey through love and loss, depicting defining moments in the life of a fictional autistic character. Portions of the video were filmed at the Autism Foundation of Tennessee, and the final frame encourages viewers to visit for more information on the disorder. “I have a very big heart for those who are misunderstood, overlooked... picked last,” says Starr of the video’s theme. “I believe that no matter who you are, you have significant impact in this world. I hope the video shows that your life doesn’t have to be ‘less than.’ We all have struggles; we all face adversity at one point or another. But the people who have taught me the power of never quitting haven’t been the ones who made it; they’ve been the ones who have been beaten up and tossed around, but stood back up with forgiveness on their tongue.” Penned by Phillip LaRue and Christopher Stevens, “God Is” was produced by Stevens (TobyMac, Jamie Grace) and Chuck Butler (Mandisa, Royal Tailor). Starr is slated to travel to Costa Rica with Never The Same Missions next month, where she will work with teams ministering in schools, orphanages and poverty-stricken neighborhoods. Later this year, Starr will join Christian young adult fiction author Laura L. Smith for a multi-city fall tour sponsored by Sisterhood magazine.

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events calendar THRU AUG 26 “Fiber Friends” knitting group, opportunity to create knit blankets, booties & hats for ‘Operation: Top Knot’ through Soldier’s Angels Organization. (Junior High+), 6-7:30pm. St. Peter’s Lutheran Church & School, 5421 France Ave. S, Edina •

THRU AUG 27 Backyard Bible Club: Mission Possible (K-6th grade), Wednesdays, 6:30-8pm. Elmwood EV Free Church, 3615 Chelmsford Rd., St. Anthony. Free • (612) 788-9408,

AUG 1 • FRIDAY Minnesota Country Gospel Opry, 7pm. Crowne Pointe Church, Richfield • (612) 961-8812

AUG 2 • SATURDAY “ART for ART,” Redeemer Health & Rehab Center celebrates the artists among us (our artists in-residence), 9am-4pm. Redeemer Health & Rehab Center, 625 West 31st St., Mpls. Money raised will fund future art projects here at Redeemer & Grandma’s House • (612) 4554150, HazelFest Outdoor Community Festival, 11am. Celebrating life & recovery. 40+ exhibitors, family activities, food trucks, fellowship & more. Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, 15251

Pleasant Valley Rd., Center City. $20-30 •

AUG 2-3 • SAT-SUN “Restore” concert event to express God’s heart for Israel & the nations with Jonathan Cahn, Paul Wilbur, Barry & Batya Segal & For His Name’s Sake, 1:30pm. Grace Church, 9301 Eden Prairie Road., Eden Prairie. $25-35. By Key of David International • (612) 564-9893,

AUG 8 • FRIDAY The Single Parent Christian Fellowship monthly social, 6:30pm. Veterans Memorial Park, Richfield. Includes potluck meal, volleyball & more • (612) 866-8970, (651) 649-4525

AUG 9-10 • SAT-SUN Marriage Encounter. Mount Olivet Conference Center, Farmington • (651) 454-3238,

AUG 10 • SUNDAY Block Party with Sara Groves in concert. Wayzata EV Free Church, 705 County Road 101 N, Plymouth • (763) 473-9463

AUG 14 • THURSDAY “Contours of Global Christianity: Challenges & Opportunities for CBMC & Marketplace

Ministry” with CBMC Int’l President Jim Firnstahl speaking, 3:30pm. $20 • event/firnstahl

Restore, Exhort, Build-up & Strengthen the body of Christ. North Regional Library, Meeting Room, 1315 Lowry Ave. N, Mpls. Free

“The Life & Legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer” with Rev. John Matthews speaking, 1pm. Covenant Village of Golden Valley, 5800 St. Croix Ave. N, Golden Valley. Free • 1-877-8047017,

“Psalms,” a Christian Art Exhibit & Creative Arts Celebration, 10am-3pm, Hopkins Center for the Arts. By Great Commission Artists •


Twin Cities Creation Science Assoc. Seminar “Lise Meitner: The Woman Who Unleashed the Power of the Atom” with Russ McGlenn speaking, University of Northwestern, 3003 North Snelling, Roseville, MN Totino Fine Arts Center, Room F2128 •

Women Encouraging Each Other presents “Returning Back to Your First Love” Women’s Conference with Theola Campbell, Susan Booker, Dorothea Counce, The Westbrook Singers & the Covenant D’Vine Theatrical Performers, 9:30am. Brooklyn Performing Arts Center, 5801 John Martin Drive, Brooklyn Center. $59 • 1-800-230-2943, Summer Festival with Joe Sir “Elvis” and his band, 1pm. Low cost family fun: inflatables, music, games & food. North Haven Church, 2240 15th Ave. E, N. St. Paul. Free admission, tickets for activities • (651) 777-1384,

AUG 20 • WEDNESDAY Salem Communications Twin Cities & AM 1280 The Patriot host “Prager & Hewitt Live on a Stick.” Mpls Marriott Northwest, Brooklyn Center •

AUG 22-23 • FRI-SAT

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Mission Possible, Friday 7-9pm, Worship Time/ Preaching & Saturday 12noon-3pm, Teaching/ Service/Community Outreach). Amazing Grace Assembly of God, 1237 Earl St., St. Paul • (651) 408-5124, (704) 493-4171

AUG 23 • SATURDAY “Charge” a conference designed for volunteers & student leaders of youth & children’s ministry, 9am. Speakers include Tiger McLuen, Ben Richter, Nicole Lindsay, James Rock & more. Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Brooklyn Park. $19 •

AUG 28 • THURSDAY WordAlone/Lutheran Core Open Meeting with Professor Mark Granquist, 7pm. Calvary Lutheran Church, 7520 Golden Valley Rd., Golden Valley. Free • (612) 889-5709,

SEP 5 • FRIDAY Christian Recording Studio & Band presents Artists, Rising Stars & Sing Along at Minnesota Country Gospel Opry, 7pm. Crowne Pointe Church, Richfield • (612) 961-8812,


We think the results would be as if the Light was turned back on in Minnesota! (John 1:5) #LightsOnMN

Midwest Hebrew Ministries’ 36th Annual Bible Prophecy Conference with Rob Lindsted & Tom McMahon speaking, 8:30am-4pm. North Heights Lutheran Church, 1700 Highway 96 W, Arden Hills • (763) 427-7162,

SEP 13 • SATURDAY Be Inspired 2014 Fall Conference with Coach Faith Johnson Patterson speaking, 10am.


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SEP 20 • SATURDAY MN Hope & Hearts 5K Run , proceeds benefit Missing GRACE Foundation, which provides resources & support to bereaved, infertile and adoptive families, 7am. Bunker Hills Regional Park. $8 kids, $25 adults • Girls of Grace Conference that teaches teen girls & their moms “how to live freely, love fiercely & lead fearlessly as a girl of grace” with Point of Grace, Annie Downs, Amanda Noel & more speaking. Grace Church, 9301 Eden Prairie Rd., Eden Prairie. $69-129 • 1-888-483-0018,

SEP 22 • MONDAY MissionShift Institute, 20th Anniversary class. Educates Christian on how to reach urban centers with the gospel. St. Paul Lutheran Church, Mpls •

SEP 26-27 • FRI-SAT Mission Possible, Friday 7-9pm, Worship Time/ Preaching & Saturday 12noon-3pm, Teaching/ Service/Community Outreach). Amazing Grace Assembly of God, 1237 Earl St., St. Paul • (651) 408-5124, (704) 493-4171

OCT 3 • FRIDAY Christian Recording Studio & Band presents Artists, Rising Stars & Sing Along at Minnesota Country Gospel Opry, 7pm. Crowne Pointe Church, Richfield • (612) 961-8812,

OCT 4 • SATURDAY Understanding the Times 2014 Conference with Dr. Ed Hindson, Pastor Jack Hibbs, Pastor Steven Khoury & Jan Markell speaking, 9am5pm. Grace Church, 9301 Eden Prairie Rd., Eden Prairie. $8 lunch ticket. Presented by Jan Markell & Olive Tree Ministries • (763) 5594444,

OCT 4-5 • SAT-SUN Marriage Encounter. Mount Olivet Conference Center, Farmington • (651) 454-3238,

EVENTS ONLINE For more events and community news, please visit www.

community news Church to host summer festival

NORTH SAINT PAUL — North Haven Church will host its summer festival on Saturday, Aug. 16 at 1:00 p.m. The free event will include music, a giant slide, petting zoo, a Spider-Man Bounce House, karaoke and food. Tickets are required for activities. Joe Sir “Elvis” and his band will perform. For additional information, visit or call (651) 777-1384.

CBMC International president to speak in Roseville

ROSEVILLE — CBMC International (CBMCI) President Jim Firnstahl will be the keynote speaker at “Contours of Global Christianity: Challenges and Opportunities for CBMC and Marketplace Ministry” on Thursday, Aug. 14 at Mid-

land Hills Country Club in Roseville. The event begins at 3:30 p.m with networking and Hors d’oeuvres and is followed by the keynote address at 5:00 p.m. CBMCI is a “global association of Christian business and professional leaders devoted to sharing and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the marketplace where most people spend much of their lives,” according to the group’s website. The event is hosted by CBMC Northland; registration is $20. For more information including tickets, visit

invited to participate, including painting, drawing, photography/digital, ceramics/sculpture, printmaking, glass and mixed media. Competition levels range from novice to professional. Seven cash awards will be given, including for Best in Show, technical excellence, spiritual significance and application of Scripture. Early bird registration of $5 per entry expires Saturday, Aug. 16, while general registration of $10 per entry is open until September 6. The event is free and open to the public. For additional information and to register, visit

Group announces art exhibit, competition

Conference aimed at volunteers, student leaders

HOPKINS — Great Commission Artists announces “Psalms: A Christian Art Exhibit and Creative Arts Celebration” on Saturday, Sept. 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The event will take place at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. All media and levels of experience are

BROOKLYN PARK — “Charge,” a conference designed for volunteers and student leaders of youth and children’s ministry, will take place on Saturday, Aug. 23 at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in

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Grace Seventh Day Baptist Church

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Services every Saturday 10 AM to about 11:15 AM We meet at Emmaus Lutheran Church, 8443 2nd Ave. South, Bloomington, MN Call 952-432-7490 or visit our website for more information:

Come celebrate Christ on Sabbath Grace is a branch church of Dodge Center 7th Day Baptist and the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference, Janesville, WI

August 2014 | REFRESHED


community news Brooklyn Park. The conference will begin at 9:00 a.m. and include a keynote session and two workshops. Youth ministry topics include starting small groups, counseling through difficult conversations, using the Bible, and others. Children’s ministry topics include making the Bible “pop, jump and stick” and developing faith in children. Speakers include Tiger McLuen, Ben Richter, Nicole Lindsay, James Rock and others. Prices for the conference start at $19. For additional information or to register, visit

Girls of Grace coming to Eden Prairie

EDEN PRAIRIE — “Girls of Grace,” a conference that teaches teen girls and their moms “how to live freely, love fiercely and lead fearlessly as a girl of grace,” is coming to Grace Church in Eden Prairie on Saturday, Sept. 20. The

event was founded in 2002 by the singing group Point of Grace to equip teen girls, their moms and leaders how to become Christ followers with a lasting impact. Artists and speakers include Amanda Noelle, Annie Downs, Britt Nicole, Chris Wheeler, Jamie Grace and Point of Grace. Gold Circle tickets are $69, and the VIP Premium Experience is $129. Group tickets are also available. For additional information and to register, visit

MetroHope launches online retail store

TWIN CITIES — MetroHope Recovery Ministries, which has served those with addictions for nearly a century, recently launched FOUND: Virtual Thrift Store on Amazon and eBay. The ministry had been searching for a brick-and-mortar location to start a thrift store but ultimately felt led to begin an online thrift store. The name “FOUND” reflects “the re-

deemed items for sale as well as the residents in our programs who ‘once were lost but now are found,’” according to organizers. The online store will include “new and used clothing, household items, small antiques and vintage goods.” They are also accepting donations of items to fill the store, including smartphones, gift cards, tools, toys, DVDs/CDs, sporting goods and automobiles, among other items. For more information, visit

MissionShift Institute celebrates 20 years

MINNEAPOLIS — The MissionShift Institute will celebrate its 20th anniversary this fall as it educates another class of Christians on how to reach urban centers with the gospel. The class, which meets on Monday nights, begins Sept. 22 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. In addition to its class, the Mission-


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community news Shift Institute has also created the MissionShift Video Series, which includes curricula for congregations, small groups, nonprofits and others on how to spread the gospel in a cross-cultural context. St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and MissionShift also helped develop U4C—the Urban Cross-Cultural Consortium— which is used by the University of Northwestern – St. Paul and Concordia University – St. Paul as their urban studies programs. For additional information about MissionShift and its classes beginning in September, visit

Potluck to highlight single parent group gathering

RICHFIELD — The Single Parent Christian Fellowship will hold its monthly social on Friday, Aug. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park in Richfield. The event will include a potluck meal as well as volleyball and other games.

Those who attend are encouraged to bring a dish to share, paper products for the meal and a beverage. The group also hosts a weekly volleyball time from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Locations vary, so for more information on the group, the monthly potluck or its volleyball locations, call (612) 866-8970 or its hotline at (651) 649-4525.

Salem Communications to host Prager and Hewitt

BROOKLYN PARK — Salem Communications Twin Cities and AM 1280 The Patriot will host “Prager and Hewitt Live on a Stick” on Wednesday, Aug. 20 at the Minneapolis Marriott Northwest in Brooklyn Center. The event will feature national radio hosts Dennis Prager and Hugh Hewitt. The event will take place on the eve of the Minnesota State Fair For more information including registration, visit

Bonhoeffer scholar to give presentation

GOLDEN VALLEY — The Rev. John Matthews, senior pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Apple Valley will present, “The Life and Legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer” on Thursday, Aug. 14 at 1:00 p.m. The event will take place at Covenant Village of Golden Valley. Matthews is past president of the International Bonhoeffer Society English Language Section and author of two books on Bonhoeffer, including “Bonhoeffer: A Brief Overview of the Life and Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.” Matthews will address Bonhoeffer’s martyrdom and the importance of faith in his life. The lecture is free. To register, visit or call (877) 8047017. August 2014 | REFRESHED


plugged in DOUG TROUTEN

Debunking those Internet rumors Have you heard that new patrioticthemed Pepsi cans omit the words “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance? That President Obama has proclaimed this month to be “International Muslim Awareness Month?” That a study found that Fox News viewers have lower IQs than nonviewers? That a Hobby Lobby store manager killed an employee by stoning? None of these things actually happened. And yet all of them are being passed around as truth by email and on Facebook. Preacher Charles Spurgeon once said, “A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on”—and he lived in the 19th century, long before our modern social media was available to help speed lies along. People were falling for hoaxes long before the Internet was invented. During my years as a working journalist, I wrote stories debunking myths that circulated for years in the Christian community, kept alive by photocopiers and mimeograph machines. Here are three of the most persistent rumors from that time: • The organization founded by former atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair is petitioning the federal government to ban all religious broadcasting. • The head of Procter & Gamble is appearing on talk shows to admit his company’s ties with the Church of Satan. • An Illinois company is making a movie about the “sex life of Christ.” None of those stories were true, but that didn’t stop earnest, well-meaning people from circulating them. At one point, the FCC had received more than 30 million pieces of mail regarding the non-existent effort to ban religious radio and TV programs, and was answering hundreds of related calls each month.


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Why do we fall for such stories? Sometimes it’s because we want it to be true. A person with a vague sense of indignation will welcome the arrival of something specific to which they can attach their outrage. We hear a story that’s so bizarre that we’re sure nobody would have made it up, and we believe it because it reinforces our ideas about how the world works. Some may believe hoaxes are true because they’ve lost track of the real meaning of “truth.” During my grad school years, I studied under professors who were certain that there was no such thing as “truth with a capital T.” Everything was relative (except, strangely, for their absolute belief in the idea that there are no absolutes). Sadly, sometimes people don’t even care if the things they are saying are true. I once heard a friend say, “It doesn’t matter if it’s true, as long as it hurts Obama.” (For those of you playing along at home, “Thou shalt not bear false witness” is in the Bible; “Hurt Obama” is not.) I do my part to stop Internet falsehoods in their tracks by responding to fraudulent Facebook posts with a link to the relevant debunking articles on Snopes. com, a website that provides a fast and easy way to check the truth of rumors before passing them on. For one friend who has been taken in by a false claim that is funded by liberal activists, I instead post links from TruthOrFiction. com, an equally useful site.

Of course, I don’t mind being “that guy,” the snarky know-it-all who acts like he’s a member of the truth police. But if you have better social skills than I do and therefore don’t want to risk offending others by correcting them, try the classic “feel, felt, found” approach to opinion change in your response, like this: • I can see why you feel that our government should be doing more to protect us from Bigfoot. • I too felt that Bigfoot would break into my home to steal my Wheat Thins. • But then I found this website explaining that it was just a television commercial. So the next time your sister-in-law’s neighbor’s hairdresser posts something on Facebook claiming that our president is a secret Kenyan Muslim who will be personally coming to our homes to take our guns and use them to kill our grandmothers, don’t just believe it. Take a deep breath, check or, then do your part to make the world a better place. (Or at least a less gullible place.) Doug Trouten, Ph.D., is a professor of communications at the University of Northwestern – St. Paul.

leadership sense SAM HELGERSON

Doing life well: Finishing well This is the last of a three-part series on leading, learning and serving across a lifetime. This installment looks at how we can be equipped to finish well. These concepts do not apply just to retirement but to any significant career transition.

We live in a time when young people want the wisdom of the older generation so that they can learn how to live in a rapidly changing world. An older friend—a mentor—can speak truth into a young life in a non-threatening way.

Reach out and mentor

Be humble and be mentored

I like to point out that we are the only available missionaries to the future. If anything is to survive into tomorrow—our values, our passions, our vision of a brighter future, our faith—it must be intentionally passed along to the next generation. There is a tendency among us to want to finish on top, and sometimes we couch this in lofty sounding terms and call it leaving a legacy. That kind of thinking is dangerous, because it can keep us from passing the baton to the next generation. This can be the result of a high personal commitment and a well-meaning belief that it is either unfair or unwise to entrust an activity to someone else. The problem is that by holding things tightly, we not only reduce our own value, we damage the future. Look back over the past 40 years and consider how many companies, organizations and church congregations have disappeared. In many cases, the leaders who were part of the glory days never developed the next generation of leaders.

When we have a good deal of experience to draw from, it is easy to think of mentorship as a one-way street. It’s not. There is great benefit in cross-generational mentoring, through the energy and enthusiasm that the younger person brings to the equation. We need an attitude of humility because even though we have some wisdom and experience to offer, we all have a lot to learn. There is great virtue in keeping an open, teachable attitude and in being able to adapt to changing situations. Humility allows us to benefit from the strengths of others and helps us to continue to mature.

Develop child-like faith

As we grow older, we tend to have less and less control over the daily details of our lives. Jobs can be in transition, careers come to a close, our circle of friends changes. Things don’t always go as we want them to. In John 21:18, Jesus gives Peter a glimpse of what to expect from his later years: “When you were young, you used

to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” My first glimpse of the truth here was when a friend shared the difficulty his parents were having in moving out of their home and into assisted living. He shared this verse with me and said, “I realized that my day would come, and I would be in the same situation.” Trusting God, holding firmly to His Word and recognizing that we can honor Him no matter our life circumstances are the factors that must shape us. We must learn that there is more to life than simply productivity—that our lives are enriched by faithfulness and by the relationships we nurture. We can learn to live a life that is defined by the person we are rather than the work we do. That is a small snapshot of the grace of God. People often say that the idea of retirement does not show up in the Bible. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it does (Numbers 8:25-26). The priests who served in the Tabernacle and Temple could do so until they turned 50 years of age. At that point, the character of their service changed, and they became the intentional mentors, elders and role models for the people of God. At every point of our lives, God is faithful, and He equips us so that every phase of life is centered on glorifying God and showing love to others. Sam Helgerson, PhD, is the program director for the Master’s program in Organizational Leadership and the assistant dean of Business and Leadership Programs at Bethel University. August 2014 | REFRESHED


at the table YIA VANG

Biscuits and gravy and the Gospel I’ve always said that food is the great equalizer. It brings everyone to the table. At the table is where we sit and have conversations. Food gives us a common cause to literally gather around. One day, I was at the Colossal Café in St. Paul. There was a man standing next to me waiting in line to order his food, wondering what to get. Overhearing his conversation, I just had to interject. I explained to him that if he liked biscuits and gravy (B&G), this place makes the best in town. I quickly pleaded my case for why these were the best. He looked a little hesitant, but my food order came so we said our goodbyes and I sat down to enjoy my meal. As I was making my way out the door, I noticed the man and his daughter on the right side. We quickly made eye contact, and I asked him what he ordered. He responded by telling me he ordered biscuits and gravy, and then went on to thank me for the suggestion. He couldn’t stop praising the B&G. I didn’t know this man’s name. I didn’t know where he was from or his background. All we had to connect on was the best biscuits and gravy in the Twin Cities area. Just as food is a common theme we can rally around, the common chord between all of us is the Gospel. The Gospel isn’t something we can get away from. It doesn’t matter our socioeconomic background, financial status, what side of the tracks we come from or who our parents are. The Gospel tells us


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one simple message: We’re all sinners in need of God’s grace. The Gospel reveals to us that we are failures and need a savior. The only one who can save us is Jesus with His death upon the cross. The Gospel makes us all equals and reveals our true nature, but it doesn’t stop there; it offers us hope, and that hope is Jesus.

Gospel simply means “good news.” It is the good news of Jesus taking our sin and putting it on the cross. When I spoke to the man at Colossal Café, we were strangers; I began to “preach” to him about B&G. I don’t know if he’s had bad experiences with B&G in the past or if this was his first time trying them. However, in this case, it piqued his interest. He ordered it and was blown away by it. I’ve been in many restaurants where the people next to us recommend what to order before the waiter even gets to our table. In those cases, there is no sense of intrusion into personal space or a feeling of interruption. When speaking about the food we love, there is a sense of boldness and daring conversation.

We’re not afraid of offending anyone over our passionate thoughts of what the best foods are. But why is it so hard to express our passion for the Gospel to others? Because at the core of us “evangelizing” about our favorite food, we remind ourselves that it’s only food. Yes, food is great, and it’s nutritious to our bodies but it doesn’t give us eternal life. When it comes to speaking about the Gospel to others, our impulse is to shy away. Why do we find every excuse possible to avoid the topic of the Gospel? We know this is the only truth that matters, and the Gospel is the hope that will save all. Have we not tasted and savored its goodness? Sometimes the overwhelming weight of “trying to evangelize” others will bear down on you. The simplest thing to do is to ask someone out to lunch. Think of one of your favorite places to grab a sandwich or a pizza. Ask this person, whom God has been pressing on your heart, questions about his or her life. As you enjoy a delicious meal, pray that God would provide opportunities to share about His life-changing truth. Yia Vang graduated from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a BS in Communication Studies. Shortly after, he went on staff with Cru. He is currently the Lead Kitchen Ministry Coordinator for Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis.

here’s to good health WENDIE PETT

You’ve reached your fitness goal … now what? Whether you have a goal to lose 20, 30 or 50-plus pounds, what do you expect will happen once you reach that goal? Will you consider your work finished? Should you go back to living the way you did in the past, eating anything that crosses your path? Can you plop on the couch and go back to “couch potato” mode? Absolutely not! Obviously, I’m a big proponent of wellness programs because of the vitality it offers to mind, body and spirit, but I’m also in the business of offering truth. If you can look at overall wellness— including your fitness and nutritional programs—as a way of life instead of simply a goal to reach, you’re less likely to fall back into your old habits and unhealthy routines. I believe you will actually start enjoying a lifestyle that offers vitality each and every day. Think of practicing your wellness habits just like any other positive habit you perform daily, such as brushing your teeth, taking a shower or even prayer and meditation. Practice—on a daily basis—creating the proper routine that fits your goals and lifestyle, and eventually healthy choices will shift your routine into auto-pilot mode. When habits shift and become hardwired in the heart and mind, you may notice changes in the type of people you hang out with, the books you read, articles that strike your interest, the music you enjoy, food cravings that tilt toward healthy options instead of what “sounds good,” a heightened

level of accomplishment and new feelings of self-worth. The new message your brain is receiving is important, so whatever you do, don’t blow it off. Your initial weight loss has become a journey that encompasses so much more than what you intended to set out to do: lose weight. Now … you have released it! Releasing the emotions attached to the weight is one of the key ingredients to losing weight. Oftentimes, releasing weight is about forgiveness, love, courage and letting go of what others think of you or what you think of yourself. The transformation all starts internally. It’s a heart issue. The message is bigger than you could’ve imagined, one that offers a new understanding in areas where you either lack willpower or where you prevail. It’s important to journal your findings at this juncture, as this positive, empowering feedback is not only something you deserve, but it offers a foundational motivation tool whenever you feel the urge to go back to your old ways. Trust me … the urge will always be there. What matters is whether or not you acknowledge the urge. Acknowledging the urge will make a difference in your continued wellness success as well as allowing the Holy Spirit to direct and guide your actions. Even the Apostle Paul talked about desires and urges. He says in Galatians 5:17, “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed

to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” So, allow the Spirit to lead, and you’ll be in great shape … literally and figuratively. Another great tool for keeping weight off is to regularly recall why you wanted to lose weight in the first place. Often, that trigger point enables you not

…look at overall wellness… as a way of life instead of simply a goal to reach… only to keep the weight off, but keep it off for good. After all, extra fat didn’t serve you then, and it certainly won’t serve you now. And the best tool of all for success is to stay in God’s Word. He will remind you daily to rest in Him. He’s your strength. He heals and restores. He forgives and delivers. He’s your all-in-all … if you allow Him to be. When we release our baggage of cares and worries at the foot of the cross, then there’s an opportunity to release the baggage of excess weight as well. Don’t ever go back for the baggage for it will literally weigh you down. God’s got it now! A helpful verse to pray and meditate on is Philippians 4:8: “Begin to think on the Word or begin to sing a praise song to God. Make a conscious effort to fill your mind with good, pure, wholesome, and lovely thoughts.” Wendie Pett is a nationally-renowned fitness expert and coach, mother, TV host, speaker, author and creator of the Visibly Fit™ exercise program. Learn more at August 2014 | REFRESHED


marriage matters COLETTE & JONATHAN STUART

So many choices We have been to a number of “open house” celebrations these past few summer months. Graduates made the choice to endure and now are faced with new choices about what to do next. Our extended family had a collective party honoring five members—all of whom are married—who finished various programs. It was noted that their spouses deserved honorary degrees acknowledging their support during the various educational journeys. In marriage, behind every choice are implications that directly affect those closest to us. Choice is often layered. Particularly with marriage and family relationships, you are no longer making choices for just you alone. Sometimes one person might

God has given us all the gift of choice. Not many decisions are bigger than choosing to commit to another person. In marriage, we decide on a life partner: for better or worse, for richer or poorer, forsaking all others, until death do us part. We have journeyed with people who have endured all types of marriage experiences, even infidelity. The choice to forgive, to stay and work on the relationship is not always simple or made at one moment in time. Sometimes we have to choose our level of marriage commitment on an ongoing basis. Through this process, marriage becomes one of the most impactful ongoing decisions of commitment in life, one that can either transform us or rip us apart emotionally and mentally. Every day we are faced with choices. Sometimes we can become unconscious of the negative choices we are making, not in major decisions but in terms of our general outlook. Our attitude is a general selection that can lead to healthy or unhealthy outcomes. And this is where the value of having gratitude comes in. Under the same circumstances, any two people can have completely different views based on how they choose to see things. Our relationship, like many, includes one person who is more wired than the other to see the positive. This is just another example where marriage differences can be a joint strength. In a recent year of trying circumstances, we started a tradition of going around the dinner table and having each person in the family identify something they were thankful for. This has been both an individual gift and a mutual encouragement in hearing from each person. What a blessing it is to have another person—our spouse—help give us a sounding board in decision making and a

…behind every choice are implications that directly affect those closest to us. be more decisive, while the other needs to gather and process more information. It may be difficult but helpful to wait for the slower decision maker so that you can be unified. Financial implications might be involved, which further complicates things. Ultimately, we must consider how our conscious or unconscious choices and the processes we use to decide impact the other spouse. It is valuable to remember that not all decisions have a perfect or best alternative. Years ago when we lived in South Korea and were deciding to move to back to North America, we had several options. We could move to the Toronto area where Colette is from, move to Minnesota where Jonathan is from or live somewhere between the two, such as Michigan. All the options had positives, and none would have necessarily been wrong. But we had to decide, and then trustingly move forward.


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different perspective when we get fixated on the negative. In our marriage, we have found taking the time to talk about what is being processed up in our heads helps us best identify next steps. In addition, communicating also makes us aware of our general outlook—either pessimistic or hopeful—and alternative ideas we may not have considered. Our big family graduation party was full of gratitude because of the recognition that none of us finished on our own. Each choice had a collective impact and though the journey wasn’t always easy, it had a positive result. By acknowledging God’s faithfulness to us, regardless of the outcome of our choices, we remember that though we must choose, He is ultimately in control.

Discussion points

What are some major decisions that have been made in your marriage? How did you process these, and what could be improved next time? What has been your experience along the continuum of joint decision making and individualized choice? How can you bring one another into your decisions in a more meaningful way? Make separate lists of what you are grateful for in your current stage of life: with your marriage and about your spouse. Share your lists in a quiet moment together.

Jonathan Stuart, Ph.D., is a faculty member in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system. He specializes in training and mediation services. Colette Campbell, M.A., is an adjunct faculty member, speaker/consultant and coach. She offers workshops on connecting to your calling, working with differences, and workingbetter2gether.

purposeful parenting JIM JACKSON

The big problem with Christian parenting We meet or talk nearly every day with parents. Most of them contact us because they need help. They are Christian parents who struggle with their kids’ behavior and often are unable to see God at work in their kids. After hearing bits of their story, we usually ask, “What are your goals as parents?” They want kids who listen and obey. They want kids who do their chores without complaining or are content in a store without a meltdown over the candy or toy they want. In extreme cases, they want teens that don’t do drugs, have sex and live sinful lives. We understand the intensity of behavior problems parents face. While every story and response is unique, a common theme shows up in the answers. It can be summed up this way: “Our goal is well-behaved kids.” Based on our 25 years of working with families, we’ve found that this focus on right behavior is the big problem with Christian parenting. There is nothing wrong with wanting well-behaved kids. But as a first priority, it pits parents against kids in power struggles of all sorts. We see two extremes emerge: In some cases, it produces compliant kids who do right things but have empty hearts. In other cases, it produces defiant children who are angry in their hearts and outwardly disobedient. Both the defiant kids and the compliant kids usually end up exasperated because kids are not created to be the source of their parents’ emotional well-being. These kids frequently end up dismissing the God and the religion their parents claim to follow. The Bible is clear: “Parents, don’t exasperate your kids! Instead, raise them in the training and instruction of the Lord” (ref. Ephesians 6:4). But more and more parents, in the

name of getting well-behaved kids, are exasperating their children. As parent coaches, our first step in helping parents is to help them switch their primary parenting goals from wanting right behavior to opening their kids’ hearts to right belief: the training and instruction of the Lord. If parents can change their primary goals, we can usually help them. If they can’t, they usually stay pretty stuck. So try this for a few days: Stop focusing primarily on right behavior. Instead, focus primarily on right belief. For example, if a child screams meanly at his sibling, instead of just punishing him in hopes the behavior will stop, say a prayer to calm your spirit. Then tell him he’s loved and created for a different purpose. Gracefully invite him to tell you how his behavior affected his sibling. With a curious, non-judging tone, ask him how it feels when people treat him meanly. Create an opportunity for him to use

his powerful words more constructively. Help him to have an experience that reinforces the belief that he was created to be a blessing. Or if a child leaves yet another mess, affirm her creativity. Tell her you love her no matter how big a mess she makes. Have fun with her in making a plan about how to clean it up. Get in the mess with her and enjoy cleaning together. Help her to know that Jesus is with us in the messes of life. Help her see that learning to clean responsibly will strengthen her use of God’s gift of creativity. It can be hard work to move from a quick and demanding sort of parenting to a thoughtful approach with the goal of fostering changed hearts and right belief in our children. It takes more time. More prayer. More creativity. More patience. More commitment to be a parent characterized by the fruit of God’s spirit. Those parents who commit to doing this hard work repeatedly tell us it is well worth it. So give it a week or two. Focusing on belief instead of behavior doesn’t ensure instant behavior change, but it does ensure that you will be parenting from a more graceful heart. Your children will more easily “hear” the underlying message that you are for them, not against them. When kids know you are for them, they are far more open to absorbing the “training and instruction of the Lord.” You’ll impact not only their behavior but their beliefs as well. Jim Jackson is the cofounder of Connected Families, author, speaker and parent mentor. Learn more at www. August 2014 | REFRESHED


sharp focus JASON SHARP

Lessons from the road My family and I recently returned from our summer road trip through the Midwest and, along the way, I was reminded of some things about my faith, my family and myself. I was reminded that some friends are in it for life. It had been 20 years since I had seen Chase and Melany. We attended college together in Illinois and, other than catching a glimpse of pictures on Facebook, we haven’t seen each other since they tied the knot in 1994. I asked my wife, Julie, who had never met them, “What do you say to friends you haven’t seen in 20 years?” I found out that you just pick up where you left off. It’s neat how that happens. While a lot has changed in 20 years, with God at the center of our lives, it was effortless to reminisce, catch up and share the joys and sorrows life has brought our way. It was Chuck Swindoll who said, “I cannot even imagine where I would be today were it not for that handful of friends who have given me a heart full of joy. Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun.” I was reminded that if the Bible says it, I believe it! The reviews we heard about the Creation Museum, m, just west of Cincinnati in Petersburg, burg, Kentucky, were glowing. If you’ve ve not heard of it, the Creation Museum m is a ministry of Ken Ham’s Answers wers in Genesis. (You might rememberr Ken from his recent public debate with th Bill Nye the Science Guy.) This state-of-the-art, -the-art, 70,000 square-foot museum eum brings the pages of the Bible to life. fe. While we are a


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work in progress, when it comes to forming our opinions about history and even today’s headlines, the Sharps do our best to start with the Bible. Seeing Bible characters and animals in dynamic form and in familiar settings, like Adam and Eve live in the Garden of Eden and the serpent coiling cunningly in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, strengthened our faith. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). I was reminded to have great resolve for what I believe God is calling me to do. Growing up in Illinois and having a late grandfather who was an officially licensed Abraham Lincoln impersonator, I was anxious to learn more about our nation’s 16th president at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. You’ll remember that Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War—its bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional and co political crisis. politica In so doing, he preserved the pr Union, abolished sla slavery, strengthened the federal gov government and modernized the economy. But, it econ wasn’t easy. “Honest Abe” knew the right thing to do and didn’t stop until it was accomplished. accomplished The Emancipation Proclamation re reads, in part: “And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesai aforesaid, I do order and declare that all pers persons held as slaves

within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free.” I was reminded about the circle of life. My parents are in their mid-to-late

In a world of turmoil and uncertainty, it is more important than ever to, after God, make our families the center of our lives and the top of our priorities. 60s. No, it’s not that time yet, but I noticed that things are affecting them today that didn’t bother them in the past. Perhaps you know what I mean. Both retired, they continue to do well in my hometown of Sterling, Illinois, but things just aren’t as easy for them as they used to be. I have great parents who raised me in a godly home, and I’m forever grateful. I am reminded that I am blessed. In a world of turmoil and uncertainty, it is more important than ever to, after God, make our families the center of our lives and the top of our priorities. Families lie at the center of our Heavenly Father’s plan, and the family is the most important unit of society. I am grateful that God has entrusted me with mine. “But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children” (Psalm 103:17). Jason Sharp is station manager of 98.5 KTIS in the Twin Cities. Follow him on Twitter @ jasonrsharp.

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that’s life! JOANNE BROKAW

Dear diary… I recently found my childhood diary, hidden away in the attic with a bunch of old photos and papers, preserved for posterity like an historical document. My grade school and junior high musings are not as valuable as, say, the original draft of the Constitution. But they are pretty darned amusing. It appears that growing up I was under the illusion that every boy who paid attention to me might like me, probably because I had been told by adults that if a boy teased, mocked or otherwise was mean to me it meant he liked me. Johnny pulls your hair, so obviously he has a crush on you. According to my journals, I was clearly more popular than I remember. For several days, for example, I mused about whether a boy named Timmy liked me, a notion based solely, from what I wrote, on “a feeling he might like me.” If memory serves me right, Timmy spent quite a bit of time at recess throwing things at me, calling me names, and pretending like I smelled, which is probably why day after day I told my diary, “I think he likes me” and “I really want to know if he likes me.” I was determined to find the truth, so I hatched a plan to become his secret admirer. I apparently aborted the scheme, because my journal shows that I was soon on to another admirer. Here are a few diary excerpts: September 5, 1975 - I like school. John (someone said) likes me. I like him sort of. He’s a year younger than me, but he’s really nice. He’s not really cute. At least my priorities were in order, I suppose. Nice personality trumped “cute.”


REFRESHED | August 2014

May 20, 1976 - Mike took the pepperoni off my pizza in lunch today. Then he ate them...He is going out with Stacy. I wonder if he likes me. Looking back, I’m not sure what would have caused me to think a boy with a girlfriend would have been interested in me, especially considering that as I aged I found that my own boyfriends generally weren’t interested in me. Seventh grade seems to have solidified the notion that a boy who does mean things to you is worthy of your attention: February 14, 1977 - Dave kind of needs a haircut. I still think he’s cute. I think he likes me for a friend. He’s OK. He tried to dump salad on my head. I wrote about going for a walk around a lake with a boy named Rick, who kissed me and promised to write to me (“!!”). I’m not sure who Rick was but I can only assume he was nice, because I have no recollection of Rick, being kissed by Rick, or waiting for the mailman to deliver a letter from Rick. It appears I only remember the rascals. The journal makes for entertaining reading, but it’s also interesting to see the budding writer/editor in me already blossoming. Throughout the meager entries, I wrote things like “fix!” and “dumb” or “this is really dumb,” the preteen equivalents of “revise” or “make this stronger.” And it wasn’t all about boys. At the end of 5th grade, our class went on a camping trip. June 10, 1975 - 2nd day. Went canoe-

ing, took water safety, and first aid, too. Took photography. There’s a lot of action up here. And in the event that I might forget that I was the one who wrote about being super jazzed over first aid and water safety, I signed it, me, Joanne. I read the journal to my husband, who thought it was not only funny but said it also offered insight into my adult personality. For one birthday, for example, I raved about getting books and Cracker Jacks. He said it sounds like I was a happy kid who was easily amused and easily pleased. That honestly surprises me. I mean, I’m still easily amused and fairly easily pleased. (I still get excited over gifts of books and snacks.) But happy? When I think back to my childhood, I remember being painfully dorky, outcast, and insecure. Of course, a lot of that came after elementary school, when the boys got meaner and I got weirder and it was finally clear that negative attention from the opposite sex wasn’t some indication of undying love. That’s when I fell in love with Scott Baio. But that’s a story for another day. Award-winning freelance writer Joanne Brokaw spends her days dreaming of things she’d like to do but probably never will— like swimming with dolphins, cleaning the attic and someday overcoming the trauma of elementary school picture day. She lives with two dogs, a cat, six chickens and one very patient husband. Learn more at

August 2014 | REFRESHED



REFRESHED | August 2014

Refreshed San Diego • Aug. 2014  

Refreshed magazine—is a monthly life-style magazine that is about faith, inspiration, culture and intentional living. Subscribe to the print...

Refreshed San Diego • Aug. 2014  

Refreshed magazine—is a monthly life-style magazine that is about faith, inspiration, culture and intentional living. Subscribe to the print...