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live out

YOUR influence

Fall/Winter 2014

Exits


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editor’s letter

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To Begin Again {PUBLISHER} Elisa Morgan, M.Div. {MANAGING EDITOR} Mary Byers, B.A., CAE {ART DIRECTOR/DESIGNER} Cynthia Young

I’m much better at beginnings than I am at endings. Beginnings hold potential and promise. Ideas are unleashed. Momentum rolls. Energy and enthusiasm reign. Exits are harder for me. The idea of stopping something once started is counter-intuitive. And yet I know, as so eloquently written in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” And that’s why I’m at peace as I write, even though I know this is the last issue of FullFill. For many months we’ve known that online publishing is evolving, the team that brings you this publication has schedules pulling in different directions, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to say “yes” to everything. As a result, we made the decision for this to be the final issue, appropriately themed, “Exits.” We thought it fitting that as publisher, managing editor, art director, contributors, and readers together we could learn how to say goodbye with grace and style in all the endings we face, both personally and professionally. It’s been such a joy to work on this publication. I’ve grown spiritually and emotionally as I’ve worked with the team to create each issue. I’ve interviewed interesting people, wept at some of the stories we’ve shared, and gained courage and new insight from the words penned by our contributors. To this end, you’ll read about “the art of the graceful exit,” hear from others who have said

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goodbye, and pick up tips for your own endings. Dr. Henry Cloud outlines six questions to ask to gain clarity in the face of uncertainty and our Spiritual Formation article, titled, “Being Present to Your One Amazing, Unrepeatable Life” offers sage counsel in seeking God in the next. You’ll be challenged to honestly examine your current activities to see which, if any, should come to an end and encouraged to consider new beginnings in the areas that speak to your heart and serve the world. Every ending leads to a new beginning—bringing potential and promise to the forefront again. What new starts are in store for you? Though this is an issue about “exits,” it’s also a challenge to identify new directions, course corrections and neverbefore traversed paths. Though I prefer beginnings, I realize many can’t happen until an end has occurred. As I look ahead and hope and dream, I also ask, “What stage is over?” Often, it’s in answering that question that next becomes clear, moving me ahead with expectation, purpose and clarity. I wish the same for you. Sincerely,

Mary Byers

{BLOG MANAGER} Carla Foote, M.A. {WEB MANAGER} Gretchen Pfeifer {ALLIANCE MANAGER} Heather Shore {ADVISORS}

Tracey Bianchi, M.Div. SPEAKER AND AUTHOR

Jonalyn Fincher, M.A. AUTHOR, SPEAKER, APOLOGIST

Beth Flambures, C.P.A. CFO, ROCKY MOUNTAIN PBS

Carla Foote, M.A. FINE PRINT EDITORIAL

Phyllis H. Hendry PRESIDENT, LEAD LIKE JESUS

Bev Hislop, D.Min. ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, WESTERN SEMINARY

Carolyn Custis James, M.A. PRESIDENT, WHITBYFORUM

Laurie McIntyre, M.A.C.E. PASTOR OF WOMEN2DAY, ELMBROOK CHURCH

Patricia Raybon, M.A. RETIRED, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM

Constance Rhodes AUTHOR, SPEAKER, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF FINDINGBALANCE

Halee Gray Scott, M.A. Ph.D. FACULTY, A.W. TOZER THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY & WESLEY SEMINARY AT INDIANA WESLEY SEMINARY

Liz Selzer, M.A. M.Div., Ph.D. PRESIDENT, CEO, MENTOR LEADERSHIP TEAM

FullFill P.O. Box 461546, Aurora, CO 80046 Join FullFill at FullFill.org. Contact us at info@FullFill.org Faith position statement available at FullFill.org. FullFill is a ministry of Mission: Momentum. The purpose of FullFill magazine is to equip women to recognize, utilize and maximize their influence in all the spheres of their lives. All opinions expressed are those of the writers and are not necessarily those of FullFill™ magazine or Mission: Momentum. The magazine promotes thoughtful dialogue and appropriate action as women use their gifts and abilities for kingdom purposes.

MANAGING EDITOR, FullFill writer@FullFill.org

Copyright 2014 Mission: Momentum.

FRONT COVER © STOCKSY | EDUARD BONNIN FALL/WINTER 2014


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Fall/ Winter

2014 columns 30 34 36

by Mary Byers “… I think of transitions as ‘exits.’ I like the thought that there’s something on the other side of the door I’m walking through. A change of pace. New scenery. Something yet to experience and learn.”

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Graceful Exits

Think by Carolyn Custis James

MALESTROM

Worldly Women by Debbie Johnson

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Endings by Tracey Bianchi

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Wooings by Suanne Camfield

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Wayfinding by Cindy Young

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Listening by Carla Foote

contents 12 Spiritual Formation

A POCKETFUL OF SEEDS

BEING PRESENT TO YOUR ONE AMAZING, UNREPEATABLE LIFE

Male Box by Dr. Henry Cloud

by Adele Calhoun

WHEN TO MAKE AN EXIT My Fill by Elisa Morgan

FULLFILLED

regulars 26

Resting Place

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Overflow

16 Woman of Influence

LOSING SIGHT: AN INTERVIEW WITH LAURA LAWSON VISCONTI by Mary Byers

THE GLORY THAT’S UNSURPASSED by Oswald Chambers

HIS PERFECT PLAN by Helen Lee

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Quick Fill

33

Four-Letter Word HOPE

22 NEW CLOTHES by Nancy Janiga

FALL/WINTER 2014

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in focus

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graceful exits By Mary Byers

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Years ago I left a job I loved working with people I appreciated, respected and admired. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. Pregnant with my second child, I chose to give up a schedule that required travel and was beyond my control. I grieved. I worried about the future. I wrestled with my identity since I no longer had a business card. THE DECISION TO LEAVE enabled me to eventually launch

a writing career that I had only dreamed about but never had the courage to articulate. Seven books later, I’m still at it—but that doesn’t minimize the fear and confusion that accompanied closing one chapter and beginning another. As I wrestled with both the decision and the reality of making the transition from office to home, I read Ellen Goodman’s last syndicated column, closing out 46 years of deadlines. To this day her words soothe and encourage me: There’s a trick to the Graceful Exit. It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, a relationship is over—and to let go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance in our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving on rather than out…. It’s hard to recognize that life isn’t a holding action, but a process. It’s hard to learn that we don’t leave the best parts of ourselves behind, back in the dugout or the office. We own what we learned back there. The experiences and the growth are grafted onto our lives. And when we exit, we can take ourselves along—quite gracefully. My leave-taking years ago turned out to be a lesson in recognizing “when a job, a life stage, a relationship is over—and to let go.” I’ve had many endings since, some of which I initiated and some of which I didn’t: the end of a beloved cooking group that was together for nearly a decade, a women’s

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small group, friends who have moved out of state and out of easy reach, friendships that lasted past their prime, and mothering stages that have taken my children from infants to toddlers to pre-teens and now, a young adult capable of making her own decisions (and a teen almost able to do the same). The more I move through the ending process, the better I’m getting at it. I no longer think of things “coming to an end,” but, like Goodman, I think of transitions as “exits.” I like the thought that there’s something on the other side of the door I’m walking through. A change of pace. New scenery. Something yet to experience and learn. A fresh direction. Yet even the “new” doesn’t erase the angst of leaving the old. Perhaps you’re on the brink of a change or standing on the precipice of an ending. Or maybe you’re nowhere near the edge but know you need to be. Regardless of your situation, or whether the ending is now, months or years away, the following may help you make a graceful exit. Picture the promise. The more clearly you can articulate the “why” behind any significant change, the easier it will be to make it. Are you leaving for greater opportunity? To care for a newborn or ailing parent? Being called into a new area of ministry? Specificity on the front end of a move creates direction and determination that will help carry you through the transition. Think of moving toward rather than away from. While endings require moving away from something, visualize what you are moving toward. Though this requires the ability to look both forward and back at the same time,


in focus

it also balances any sadness and angst with hope and enthusiasm, both of which will create energy to help you begin to write a new chapter. Be willing to leave behind. One of the toughest aspects of an exit is that we may have to leave something behind, whether a habit, possessions, or people. That’s part of the discomfort. When we move into something new, others may choose not to follow. Some things may not be able to travel with us. And habits may have to be broken. Extreme courage is necessary in these times. Barbara Stanny says, “Courage is the memory of success.” Often, finding the courage to move forward means looking back and remembering that we’ve exited before and knowing we can do it again, however difficult. Realize it’s not forever. Decisions are harder when we think we can’t undo them. Think of things in terms of “what’s next” and “for now” rather than more permanently. Doing so more accurately reflects reality and embraces the concept of seasonal living. It also helps to let “not now” be an option so that we’re not burdened by the stress of juggling too much at any given time. Leaving tasks or projects for tomorrow or next year or next decade is acceptable. Pray for strength, confidence, and peace. The journey to “new” can be exhausting as we wrestle with fear, uncertainty, sadness, confusion and a host of unexpected emotions. Even desired changes raise uncomfortable feelings.

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By Mary Byers

Inviting God into your transition (and maybe even recognizing that he authored it) assures a co-pilot on the journey, lessening the feeling of floundering or being alone. Prayer requires articulation and the ability to verbalize is an essential step to understanding and processing what we experience as we move from one thing to the next. Change involves loss (of the familiar, the comfortable, the beloved). Being able to identify the loss enables us to move on. Notice the “now.” Once you’re through a transition, take the time to notice how “next” turned into “now”—and how the ending you experienced paved the way for new things. The job I left sixteen years ago opened the door not only to writing books but also to a consulting career I didn’t even know was a possibility. I’m challenged and grateful and I recognize that what I’m doing now would be highly unlikely had I not taken the off ramp. Without knowing it, I practiced the art of the “graceful exit” which eventually become a “grateful exit.” I’m more determined than ever to make navigating endings, both wanted and unwanted, an essential life skill, designed to carry me from the “now” to the “next,” both in this season and those that are to come. n Mary Byers is the managing editor of FullFill and the author of How to Say No…and Live to Tell About It. She’s a recovering yes-aholic who reports that asking this simple question has made no-saying easier for her: “What am I saying no to if I say yes to this?”

Click here to link to resources to help you think deeper and take the next step. For this article, you’ll find questions to help you THINK IT THRU. FALL/WINTER 2014

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voices )

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Finding, ­understanding and using your unique voice is a lifelong process. Read as these women share their voices and then consider your own.

Endings By Tracey Bianchi

I DREAD THE FINAL CHAPTER of an enthralling book. For me, a good read is synonymous with borderline sleepless nights. I’m awake at the wee hours crashing through chapters, heart racing, mind half wondering how much coffee I will need come morning to keep up. Part of me is elated when I near the final chapter for it means I will get some sleep. But alas, it also means the rush is over, the wondering has ceased, the characters I’ve come to love are now stagnant and still. This fictitious world no longer calls to me and I’m once again relegated to perusing the shelves at the library, wondering, “What’s next … what’s next … what to read next?” Will it be as good? What if the characters don’t grab me? What if the book drags? What if I made the wrong choice? We are creatures captivated by comfort. Whether warm blankets by a winter fire, mugs of hot cider come fall, or sticking to what we know personally or professionally. There is risk in getting out from under the blankets. What will happen? Will it be safe? Will I wish I’d never left? What if I want to get back under the covers and cannot find them again? Yet, to move forward in life we must wonder and slide off the couch to peer out into the unknown. We must end one stage or season to enter the next. If summer lasted forever we would be sunburned and exhausted. Fall must come to relieve us from the searing sun. And yet, when the last rays of summer slip into the first frost of November I wince. “Gosh it was so much easier to do life in my flip flops. Now I have to scrape ice off the car.” Endings are hard. Yet with the ending may you find that you are true to yourself where you are and in the adventures that lie ahead. n Tracey Bianchi is the Worship and Teaching Pastor at Christ Church of Oak Brook. She is also a freelance writer and speaker. Her forthcoming book, co-authored with Adele Calhoun, True You: Using Your Voice and Overcoming Self Doubt, will release in January 2015. You can find more about her at traceybianchi.com.

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Wooings By Suanne Camfield

A COWORKER OF MINE recently announced she was leaving our small, family-like nonprofit. The heaviness of her decision hung over our morning staff meeting. For the hundredth time in my life, I realized that change, even though it’s one of life’s most inevitable realities, always manages to catch me off guard. But in the “off guard,” I’m also always reminded of how wholly and completely God has us wrapped in his hands, guiding and leading us every step of the way. This time it was through the words of my coworker: “In the same way I’m certain God called me here,” she said, “I’m certain he’s asking me to leave.” With those words, a peace settled over me and I smiled at the goodness of our God. There’s no magic formula for saying goodbye; no “perfect” time to leave a job, exit a ministry, relinquish leadership or surrender responsibilities. STOCKSY | ROBERT KOHLHUBER

We can fret over pros and cons, frantically gather scraps of advice, weigh our options until we break our scales, but nothing can replace the piece of the divine that rests deep in our souls, inexplicably releasing us from some things and calling us to others. Faith requires paying attention to the unique journey God has crafted for each one of us, trusting he’s been working his purposes in and through us all along—and will continue to do so regardless of our exact surroundings. In the process, he woos us into a deeper relationship with him, which is most often what change is really all about. n Suanne Camfield is a writer and speaker who lives in Chicago. She works for Caris, a nonprofit helping women and children thrive during and after unplanned pregnancy, and is currently writing her first book. Follow her @suannecamfield. FALL/WINTER 2014

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Wayfinding By Cindy Young IT TOOK BOUNCING ALONG an Alaskan dirt road in a green bus to make me think about how I usually journey through life on well-marked paths, mostly paved smooth with abundant signage. The bus was my only motorized option to get to Wonder Lake Campground in the center of Denali National Park’s six million acres. I would be dropped off at a campground, pitch my tent and hope for a view of Mt. McKinley. But most of the other passengers had different plans. They came to hike in back country. And, as the driver counseled those disembarking, there are very few trails in the park. This was wild land, where you must navigate by map, by compass, by wits. Most of my life, I’ve been way keeping. Even without exact directions, I’ve at least been working off a map that prescribed an ordering of things. But, today, despite being home from Alaska, I am unsure of my next steps, disoriented from a foggy year of cancer treatment. I find myself in unknown terrain. Mid-life, I’m told, is where I am. And here I find need for wayfinding. The same skills the hikers would use without trails. Keep the mountains to your right. Head southwest when you reach the ridge. I might possibly be the least qualified person to talk about when to change trails, when to make an exit. I can be

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slow to choose a trail, so once I’ve started on one, it seems most prudent to stick with it because I’ve come to realize how much time and toil it can take to refine skills and grow grace. And after a year of battling rogue cells with toxic drugs, I more fully understand that my life’s allotment of time and energy are finite. So, here I am in new territory, seemingly without the skills I need for wayfinding. But, I am wise to remember who is my ultimate destination, and to trust his guidance and light for my feet, whether on a trail or in wilderness. And, if Wendell Berry’s words are true, so long as I don’t stagnate, I might dare to even delight in my disoriented bafflement: “It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work, and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.” n

Cindy Young has been crafting the pages of FullFill since it launched. Find more of her work at youngdesign.biz. ISTOCK | PHILARTPHACE


Listening By Carla Foote

THE TWELVE SHEETS OF PAPER folded in half like a booklet looked more like a second grade project than a grownup magazine. A few weeks prior, three of us had gathered in a small office and dreamed about a magazine that would inspire and equip women to live out their influence—a magazine called FullFill. Now I was sharing a mockup of the concept with a friend who was a woman of influence, to listen to her reactions and to gather input. Because I am a tactile person, even though I felt silly with my paper booklet, it was the easiest way for me to page through the progression of ideas with my friend. I wanted to gather as much input as possible as we shaped the concept from scraps of paper taped together with dreams into real pages of inspiration for women. The listening posture has been key for all my work as an editor—as the industry has swirled and changed around me. Asking questions, listening, seeking expertise, admitting my deficits, asking more questions and moving forward. While seemingly everything changes in communications and in the way I work, what hasn’t changed is the human need to connect. To listen to those who are sharing their voices. Whether the ideas are on a piece of paper, or in the blogsphere, what doesn’t change is the desire to connect as humans and to be part of the big story God is writing. So as one story ends, others will begin. n

Carla Foote was the founding editor of FullFill. She helps others communicate well through FinePrintEdit.com.

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spiritual formation

Being Present

TO YOUR ONE AMAZING, UNREPEATABLE LIFE

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By Adele Calhoun


I ONCE LIVED IN A 100-YEAROLD VICTORIAN HOUSE. It had all the

charm, quirks and demands of an antique. One of the things I loved about the house was its creaky slanted floors and thick wooden thresholds. One particular threshold creaked on a whole octave of notes. Eventually my husband, Doug, wondered, “Why the creak?” He pulled up the threshold to see. Underneath was a perfectly folded, yellowed newspaper from 1925. The front page article was about the sinking of the Hesperus, a fictional ship from a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

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Doug noticed a noise, he stopped long enough to pay attention to it, and it led to a discovery. Practicing the presence of God is a bit like Doug’s practicing the presence of thresholds. Every day we cross dozens of unnoticed thresholds. But what would happen if we let the thresholds remind us that God is present in the place we just left and in the place we just stepped into? What if we said “thank you” for what is given before we stepped into what was to come? What if we realized that bidden or unbidden, God is present? When we rush from one thing to another, we skim over the surface of life and miss not just God but the beautiful people right in front of us. A mom I know was running late and hurriedly snapped at her five-year-old daughter for dawdling. The child turned a tear-stained face to her mom and said, “Why are we always in a hurry? We never go anywhere important!” The words of a five-year-old remind me of something Isaiah the prophet said thousands of years ago. “You have seen many things, but you pay no attention; your ears are open, but you do not listen.” (Isaiah 42:20) Multi-tasking and juggling a thousand balls is our norm. But these feats don’t necessarily make us present to anything or anyone. In fact, they may keep us too busy to “pay attention.” Paying attention is a practice. It takes practice to pay attention to a five-year-old and the presence of God in her voice. It takes practice to attend to her presence rather than our hurry. We may cross the garage threshold ten times a day—but finding God in these threshold transition moments takes practice. We practice the presence of God and others when we commit to the moment we are in. We lean into what is rather than rush ahead to what is next. I have found that to practice the presence of God or people (or anything else for that matter) I have to slow down and stop. And slowing down can seem inconvenient and annoying. But if I don’t slow down I won’t notice that between goals and outcomes there is a threshold: a between space. A space that can open my attention to Christ who is behind me and before me. Noticing a threshold may only take a second but it can be long enough to remember that the grass is not always greener over there, that my children aren’t always exasperating and dawdling. The world is charged with the presence

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of God. My husband and children and friends and even strangers are charged with the presence of God too. If only I practice being conscious of it. If I will be present rather than race mindlessly forward the threshold will open me up to the Presence of God within. When that happens I can practice gratitude. As I step over a threshold to what is next I can say, “Here I am, let me find you in what is next.” Crossing thresholds holds possibilities for connecting with God and others. They remind us to pause and honor God’s presence and others’ presence as I move from one thing to another. Threshold moments help us see through the eyes of God. They remind us God is here. One of my favorite prayers is attributed to St. Patrick who was very good at noticing how present Jesus was to him. The prayer includes these words. Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me. Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger. Each moment is an opportunity to wake up to the gift of God and the one beautiful unrepeatable life you have. Nothing is wasted. Christ is behind you and before you. Pay attention. Notice. Because the things you notice and don’t notice are the things that make your life. A long time ago a man named Jacob journeyed from one place to another. And when he paused for the night he was in the middle of nowhere. But in the place that was nowhere Jacob had a dream. And when he awoke in the morning he said, “Surely the Lord was in this place; and I was not aware of it.” (Gen 28:16) ■ Adele Calhoun is co-pastor, with her husband Doug, of Redeemer Community Church in Needham, MA. She is also a teacher, trained spiritual director, retreat leader and author. Her forthcoming book, co-authored with Tracey Bianchi, True You: Using Your Voice and Overcoming Self Doubt, will release in January 2015.

Click here to link to resources to help you think deeper or take the next step. For this article, you’ll find questions to help THINK IT THRU. And a PLAY IT OUT video with Adele Calhoun discussing her book, Invitations from God. FALL/WINTER 2014


Find hope by facing the messiness of family life.

“The Beauty of Broken defies categories and breaks new ground as a raw account of a family that has been through everything—and in the process learned just how amazing grace is.” Philip Yancey, Best-selling author, What’s So Amazing About Grace?

In The Beauty of Broken, Elisa Morgan, one of today’s most respected female Christian leaders, shares for the the first time her very personal story of brokenness—from her first family of origin to her second family made up of her husband and two grown children. Over the years, Elisa’s family struggled privately with issues many parents must face, including alcoholism and drug addiction, infertility and adoption, teen pregnancy and abortion, divorce, homosexuality, and death. Each story layers onto the next to reveal the brokenness that comes into our lives without invitation. Elisa learns it is only by owning our brokenness that we are shaped into God’s best idea for us and enabled to discover the beauty in ourselves and each member of our family. Available wherever books are sold


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Sight

woman

of influence

Imagine you learn that you’re losing your eyesight. How would you respond? Laura Lawson Visconti heard that message from her doctor five years ago, just as she was leaving for art school.

An Interview with

Laura Lawson Visconti by Mary Byers, Managing Editor

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CONTINUED FROM PAGE 17

Laura describes the journey— and her decision to be defined by things other than a disease. What do you remember about the day you learned you were losing your vision? It’s been over five years. From the initial visit to my optometrist to the official diagnosis seven months later, I lived in a state of shock and grief. Coincidentally, the news came at the exact time I was leaving my home to attend art school in Southern California. I learned I was losing my vision, subsequently gave up driving (and to this day haven’t once sat behind the wheel), and began college all in the same two weeks. Needless to say, it was a tumultuous time in my life— but isn’t that what your 20’s is all about? Finding yourself … learning who you are apart from your family … facing challenges and getting yourself through them … in short, growing up. I grew up during that period of my life. I was deeply affected, but I survived. What doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger. In your book, Believing is Seeing, you write, “I am an artist going blind. The devastation that has unfurled from this diagnosis has wrecked me physically, spiritually, and emotionally. It has taken years for me to pick up the pieces.” Please tell us a little bit about what the devastation looked like for you and how you picked up the pieces. Nobody can prepare you for experiences like this in life—but that’s what life is about: learning who you are when faced with unexpected adversity. I was very young when I received my diagnosis. … It’s tough to trade in your driver’s license

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for a bus pass when you’re only 22, and even tougher to face potential blindness when you’re an art student. I didn’t know how to ask for help nor how to help myself. The good news is that my faith grew exponentially during this period of my life. As I say in my book, all of a sudden I needed Jesus for more than just my salvation; I needed his comfort and strength on a day-to-day basis. My life really changed when I made the decision to move to the Pacific Northwest a few years back. I had been living in a bit of a stagnant place emotionally, and I knew something had to change. After moving to Seattle I began hiking in the Cascades, learned how to get myself around on a road bike, started snowboarding and traveled extensively. I began living and eating as healthy as possible. It has largely been this change of lifestyle that’s shifted my perspective from a “me” focus to an “others” focus. Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) has defined so much of my life. Pain and grief shouldn’t define you; it should sculpt you. At this point, the healthy and rather bohemian lifestyle I’ve fallen in love with—as a direct result of internalizing and processing my disease—has now fueled a completely new career path: personal training. I love helping people discover their potential and conquer depression and obesity by choosing to take care of themselves. You also wrote, “I stared at my drawing homework every night and tried not to think about the fact that I was investing time and money into a career I would not be able to pursue someday.” Were there people who didn’t understand your

decision to finish and if so, how did this affect you? I will always be an artist, regardless of how much vision I have or whether or not I completed art school. Like RP doesn’t define me, my career doesn’t define me. Ultimately, it is the fact that I am a child of God that defines me … everything else is just details. At this point in my life, art is more of a hobby that sustains me. It’s what I do when I need time to myself or want to express myself. It’s allowed me to fall back in love with it—it’s not something that I’m avoiding because of an emotional distress due to my vision. Loss results in grief. How are you grieving the loss of your eyesight? They say there are varying stages of grief. In my experience this is true, although my situation is a little different—because my vision loss continues to expand, the grieving continues. Initially I grieved the fact that I had retinitis pigmentosa; later I grieved my loss of independence and impending blindness; still later I grieved the way I handled the first few years. In many ways I allowed my grief to consume me. Today, although my vision continues to worsen, my heart and faith have never been stronger. I trust God more than I ever have. I live more fearlessly. I have learned to take nothing for granted. Tomorrow is never guaranteed for any of us. What I am battling is no different from any other hardship others encounter—you get through it, and eventually it doesn’t define you anymore. There are so many more interesting things going on in my life than my vision! Things like my


marriage, my new home, my career, my heart for people, my heart for Jesus. I would rather be defined by those things than a disease. There are admittedly hard moments: when I walk into someone at the grocery store or trip and fall in front of a crowd of people. I laugh these moments off as best I can. I don’t feel sad anymore, which is a relief. My heart and mind are at peace. I have truly accepted what’s happened to me, and I’ve moved on.

Laura’s loss of peripheral vision required she give up driving, but she’s embraced biking as a way to maintain independence.

RP seems like a forced exit from your chosen path or use of your giftings. How have you had to adjust career-wise and what has been the impact on you? What are you doing now? RP didn’t force me out of becoming a professional artist—it allowed me a few years to pause, to reflect, to pursue other things I was passionate about. I’ve learned that there are a zillion ways I want to express myself, a zillion passions and giftings that God delights in. At the end of the day, I simply want to help others explore their own potential and live as much life as possible each and every day. Whether that’s someone like me who has an hourglass ticking down the days where vision remains or someone who’s health is affected due to poor eating habits, healthy eating and living has become what I live and breathe. At this point, as a personal trainer, nothing brings me greater joy than helping to extend the quality of life in those around me. What lessons have you learned about loss that would be helpful to others who have or are experiencing a loss of some sort whether it be of a loved one, a dream, a job, etc.? We all experience loss to varying degrees. My first piece of advice would be to not

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compare your particular situation as “better” or “worse” than what someone else is going through. Pain teaches you compassion. I have learned how to empathize with people who have gone through divorce or death, even though I’ve experienced neither. Don’t allow your pain to overcome you—but don’t deny that it exists either. Embrace community and allow others to be there for you. Don’t be surprised if you need to tell them how to be there for you, too! Many of my friends had no idea what to say to me. That’s okay. Be kind. Rely on God’s strength. It’s cliché, but true: focus on being truly thankful for what you do have, instead of dwelling on what you don’t. Also, therapy is quite helpful. What has been added to your life as a result of the loss? Understanding. Empathy. A deep appreciation for God’s grace. A complete lifestyle change: I eat and live as healthfully as possible. While I would never choose to be visually impaired, I am grateful for the many good things it has brought about in my life. Give us some insight into meeting your visual challenge alongside your husband, Nick. What’s been the hardest part? Initially, the hardest part of dealing with my impairment in my marriage was ensuring that he knew what he was getting himself into. I can’t drive, which means there is a lot of added responsibility placed on his shoulders. He’s incredibly

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Laura with husband Nick.

selfless. Nick oftentimes picks me up from work, or runs errands for me. Mostly we just do things together. We spend a lot of time together. We are incredibly close. Interestingly, after we got married I witnessed my husband grieve my vision loss like I had done years before. I think it finally hit him, and he felt deeply for me. I finally understood what it was like for my friends and family to watch me suffer, not being able to help. Nick and I are a team. We will get through this, and everything else life dishes our way, together. As a professional snowboarder and bona fide adrenaline junkie, Nick has dramatically helped my outlook and attitude in confronting life as visually impaired. He is fearless (literally) and has helped me to be fearless as well. It’s a much better way to live—jumping off proverbial cliffs and trusting God will be there and life will work itself out—instead of waiting and worrying. When we got married I was in a deep state of depression, largely due to a stagnant period in life that was indirectly

Click here to link to resources to help you think deeper or take the next step. For this article, you’ll find a PLAY IT OUT video, “Notes on Blindness.” FALL/WINTER 2014

related to RP. His zest to soak up as much life out of each day was contagious. Today, I am pursuing an entirely new career in the health and fitness industry, largely due to how good a healthy lifestyle makes me feel. I want to help others conquer their own battles through making their bodies healthy. I think our minds, bodies and spirits are all very tightly connected. How has retinitis pigmentosa challenged your faith and how is God showing up for you? I have been a Christian all my life, but when I was diagnosed with RP, for the first time I really needed God on a practical, day-to-day level. Intimacy only comes when you’ve truly walked alongside someone; when you’ve done life with them. I’ve now “done life” with God. I believe God will heal me someday, and that is a hope I cling to daily. I don’t think I will ever be blind, by God’s grace. I don’t fear the future—I know that no matter what happens, sighted or not, I will be okay. n


Grow your faith as you grow your family. The NIV Mom’s Devotional Bible is a year-long devotional journey through the blessings and challenges of motherhood. Find purpose and perspective from the notes of Elisa Morgan, President Emerita of MOPS International, as you discover the mother God intended you to be. For more information please visit zondervan.com or everywhere books are sold.


New

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Clothes by Nancy Janiga

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M

y husband Bob and I unfolded our chairs and placed them on the lawn with the performance stage in view. There’s something blissful and carefree about an open air concert in a park on a warm summer night. In shorts and sandals we relaxed under the stars with the mingling scents of pine and sage wafting by us while fireflies danced to the sound of crickets through the night air. The music began. Happy people stood swaying to the beat, clapping and dancing. As Bob watched the concert, my eyes became fixed on a little girl in front of me. She couldn’t have been over the age of 5. Her mother was pushing a younger sibling in a stroller toward a nearby picnic table. The little girl that caught my attention was wearing a fancy pink dress, a pink bow in her hair and shiny metallic sandals. You could tell by her demeanor that she felt special. She often looked down to straighten her pretty dress and then she’d shake her head to allow her long curly brown hair to fall back into place. Her mother took a seat at the picnic table pushing the stroller back and forth to the beat of the music. The girl dressed in pink remained standing and began to move in sync with the stroller. She was like a princess who dressed up to go to the ball. Her mother glanced over at me with an expression indicating that she knew that I understood. Once you’re a mom or grandmother to granddaughters, you get it. I could imagine the mother telling the child that they were going to a concert and the young girl running to her bedroom to get dressed. In my mind’s eye I see her strolling out of her room and her mother telling her that the concert was in a park and wearing shorts and a tee shirt might be a better choice. Of course, little girls that age often resist the suggestion of choosing another outfit when their heart is set on what they picked out to wear. And there she was, in the park on a hot summer night, twirling in her best clothes and feeling like a princess. She didn’t care what others thought. She just danced. Once in a while she’d take a seat next to her mother with her feet propped up on the side of the picnic table, sip a cool beverage and then return to her green tufted dance floor. She wore her joy well. Since that night, I’ve thought about whether or not I was wearing my joy well. When I think of joy, I think of an overwhelming sense of gratefulness in the moment that I find myself in. Whether at a park in the midst of nature and music or washing dishes at my kitchen sink noticing a hummingbird outside my window, it can happen anywhere. Even at the hospital bedside of a seriously ill family member as I give thanks for the medical staff and medical advancements that are helping mend my loved one. Even at a funeral in the midst of

my grief there can be joy as memories are recalled and life celebrated. Joy is funny like that. We can be unhappy with circumstances but still be joyful in them. It rises up from a grateful heart proclaiming, “Not my will but yours be done, oh Lord.” When we give God full reign in our hearts and lives, it leaves room for joy to spring up. I want to wear my joy well too. Just like the little girl in the park dancing in her best clothes. Speaking of clothes, I’m also reminded of the scripture in Colossians 3:1-14. Read the passage. It makes it clear what we are to put off and what we are to put on. Why wear filthy rags when we have been cleaned up and made new? Why not put on our new clothes of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and securing all of them with the final layer of love? Wouldn’t we look good if every day we chose to wear our royal clothes? I think so—and what a reflection of our gracious God that would be. Wherever we go, whether to a park or a palace, we should be dressed in our spiritual best. It’s easy to forget that we are heirs of the King and when we forget about that we tend to get sloppy about what we’re wearing. Take off the old; put on the new. Sometimes when we have our new clothes on, living in joy, dancing to the beat of our Savior’s voice, others will take notice just as I took notice of the little girl in the park. That’s a good thing. Be ready to answer them if they ask where your joy comes from. On the other hand, here’s a little warning, sometimes when we have our new clothes on, living in joy, looking past circumstances into the face of Jesus, others may question us, balk or even try to steal our joy with negativism. The self-righteous may question our salvation and the self-indulgent may ridicule us and tempt us to return to our old clothes of immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language and all the rest of the old stuff listed in Colossians 3:5-11. When things seem bleak here’s a little good news: No one can ever rob us of our JOY! Some people may not share our joy but they can never steal it. Resting in the sovereign goodness of God (who does all things well) is essential … your heart will rejoice and no one can take that joy from you. (John 16:22) n

Nancy Janiga served as the Director of Women’s Ministries at her church for 7 years, and led women’s Bible studies for over 20 years. She enjoys nature walks and photography. Read more from her at pensandjournals.com. FALL/WINTER 2014

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Malestrom

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ISTOCK | IVAN-96 (ENGRAVING BY JULIUS SCHNORR VON CAROLSFELD) + JAMIE FARRANT


A feature inviting you to think through your theology. By Carolyn Custis James

A

s I write these words, the media is ablaze with reports of appalling levels of violence around the world.

The Middle East is a cauldron of warfare with Hamas and Israel acting on the Ancient Near Eastern ethic of Lex Talionis (eye-for-an-eye) with rocket fire and guided missiles. City after city in Iraq has fallen to the relentless march of ISIS militants, accompanied by brutal executions of Iraqi citizens—not only Shia Muslims, but also Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities—that shock the sensibilities of the civilized world. The Ukraine is embroiled in a bloody civil war with rebels fueled by Russian military support. Here at home, U.S. cities are smoldering with racial unrest and angry protests after police shot and killed an unarmed black male youth. These tragic events have one thing in common: male violence. (Yes women are involved in this bloodshed, but they represent a tiny fraction of this insanity.) Dare I say it? This is the history of the planet in microcosm—men killing men. In the beginning, the first sin after the fall was Cain killing Abel. Why? What drives such violence? Researchers probing the root causes of male violence now have ISIS to consider—one of the most insidious and large scale manifestations of male violence ever. Why are so many young men (including some from the United States and Europe) drawn to this violent movement? While there are lots of contributing factors, one explanation is profound and echoes issues I’ve been addressing about women in this column. Men have lost sight of who God created them to be as human beings and as men. A key factor according to Huffington Post Religion Editor, Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, is “a lack of meaning and purpose in life.” John L. Esposito, Professor of Religion and International Affairs, Georgetown University, believes men are drawn to ISIS in search of “a new identity, and for a sense of meaning, purpose and belonging.”

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Questions we’ve been asking about ourselves—about purpose, meaning, and God’s vision for our lives as women—are festering for men beneath today’s tragic headlines. Those same questions surface in the ordinary lives of men who one day seem “to have it all” and the next are losing their identity as men through unemployment, foreclosures, health issues, divorce, personal failure, or some other bend in the road they didn’t see coming. As I write my final post for “Think,” I am more convinced than ever of the urgency of expanding our discussion of God’s vision for his daughters to encompass God’s vision for his sons. This is no mere academic debate and never has been. It is a matter of life and death as these horrible events demonstrate. Casting a vision for women is not enough without an equally robust biblical vision for men. Today’s world presents a plethora of challenges. We must dare to ask twenty-first century questions of the Bible, no matter how tough, taboo, or unsettling they may be. The gospel is equal to these challenges—not a triumphalist American gospel that relies on prosperity—but a gospel of indestructible identity, hope, and purpose that will preach in the smoking ruins of Iraqi cities, in the slums of Nairobi, on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, and to the utterly lost men of ISIS. Recapturing God’s global vision for men is the urgent task to which I have now turned my attention. Both men and women need God’s whole vision. ■ Carolyn Custis James is involved in mobilizing women through WhitbyForum. Carolyn is the author of Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women. Her forthcoming book is Malestrom: Manhood Swept into the Currents of a Changing World (Zondervan, 2015).

Click here to link to Carolyn’s website or preview her book at the FullFill Shop.

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{

resting place

}

“ There

is a beehive there in your heart,

and the golden bees are dying to make white combs and the sweet honey of ecstasy and fulfillment for you. But those bees need nectar to make their soul honey. They need your old failures, something to work with. They need tears and regret, grief and bitter loss. Anger is great for this honey. So is the special shame and humiliation that comes when our failures go public. Depression, for these golden bees, is the finest nectar.” — David Robert Anderson, Losing Your Faith, Finding Your Soul

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CLASSIC THOUGHT By Oswald Chambers

Book Elisa Morgan for your event: elisamorgan.com

The Glory That’s Unsurpassed “… the Lord Jesus … has sent me that you may receive your sight …” (Acts 9:17)

You’re surrounded by needs. Where do you start?

She Did What She Could

— Jesus said these

words about Mary after she anointed him with oil. Not everything, not more than most, just, simply, what she could. What if we lived our faith that way, responding to the need before us—in the moment—with an everyday action? Elisa Morgan guides you to ways to begin serving right where you are.

When Paul received his sight, he also received spiritual insight into the Person of Jesus Christ. His entire life and preaching from that point on were totally consumed with nothing but Jesus Christ—For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). Paul never again allowed anything to attract and hold the attention of his mind and soul except the face of Jesus Christ. We must learn to maintain a strong degree of character in our lives, even to the level that has been revealed in our vision of Jesus Christ. The lasting characteristic of a spiritual man is the ability to understand correctly the meaning of the Lord Jesus Christ in his life, and the ability to explain the purposes of God to others. The overruling passion of his life is Jesus Christ. Whenever you see this quality in a person, you get the feeling that he is truly a man after God’s own heart (see Acts 13:22). Never allow anything to divert you from your insight into Jesus Christ. It is the true test of whether you are spiritual or not. To be unspiritual means that other things have a growing fascination for you. Since mine eyes have looked on Jesus, I’ve lost sight of all beside, So enchained my spirit’s vision, Gazing on the Crucified. n

Available at elisamorgan.com

Taken from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, edited by James Reimann, © 1992 by Oswald Chambers Publications Assn., Ltd., and used by permission of Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids MI 49501. All rights reserved. Order My Utmost for His Highest at 800-653-8333 or dhp.org.

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CONTEMPORARY REFLECTION By Helen Lee

overflow

His Perfect Plan IF YOU HAD ASKED ME to describe what my life would look

like this fall, I would have had it all planned out. I was going to continue being a homeschooling mom to my three boys, ages 12 and under. When I had snatches of time, I’d work occasionally on my own writing projects. When I couldn’t avoid the piles any longer I’d do massive amounts of laundry. That was my perfect plan. But God has a way of intervening when we least expect it. I was given a rare opportunity to work full-time as an editor at a Christian publishing house, an opportunity I was not looking for but that God provided me nonetheless. My husband and I felt the call was clear, and we accepted the offer. But then my anxiety started to rise. What would happen to my kids? What of the easygoing rhythm we had established as homeschoolers, filled with unstressed hours of playtime and school time intermingled, in which sitting outside and learning bird calls was just as much a part of our education as working on math drills and handwriting? Although I was excited at the prospect of the job, I was fearful of the costs my kids would bear. Could this be some kind of mistake? ISTOCK | ANSONLU

When God calls you into unfamiliar territory, nothing about those unknowns are a surprise to him. I was amazed at how God showed himself in one faithful way after another. Placing my eldest son in classes with his best friend. Ensuring that my second son would have a teacher we already knew and loved from years past. Giving my apprehensive youngest son a wonderful first week of school which helped him come home with excitement to go back the next day. In the end, as anxious as I was about all the changes we would experience, I came to realize that when God calls you into a new experience, he is fully aware of all the pieces of your life and is working for your good to pull those pieces together as only he can. We just have to take that first step of faith to trust and obey, and as we do, God shows us that there are no plans more perfect than his. n

Helen Lee is an associate editor at InterVarsity Press and author of The Missional Mom. You can find out more about Helen at helenleeauthor.com.

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(worldly) women

An invitation to find your place in this world. By Debbie Johnson

A Pocketful of Seeds IT WAS A SATURDAY. I had stopped by my favorite coffee

shop for that perfect cappuccino. Those moments are a touch of heaven, but wouldn’t you know it, I sat down in the middle of a hornet’s nest. A couple was arguing nearby. A guy at the next table was spewing out some pretty foul words. An older man was staring out the window through tears. So I gave up the peaceful cappuccino dream, took in the scene … and had the craziest notion. I envisioned Jesus walking through, touching each of those folks on the arm, and the fighting, cussing, and sadness just melted away. Wouldn’t that be the most amazing power to have? To touch people and sow peace? That trumps a peaceful cappuccino any day. And then I wondered if maybe we do have that power. Maybe that’s what it means to walk in the Spirit. Maybe that’s what it means to reach into our pocketful of seeds. Our pocketful of seeds? Let me explain. After Jesus died and rose again, he told his apostles to wait in Jerusalem for what the Father had promised. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Then he ascended into heaven. And later, the promise of the Holy Spirit came. Power arrived. And if we are Christ-followers, we have that same power. I think of that power as my pocketful of seeds. And seeds are big deals. None are insignificant, even when you or I think we have nothing to offer. The Kingdom of God “is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.” (Mark 31-32) And Jesus said this about faith. “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20) See what I mean? The smallest seed is a big deal.

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A seed might be a word, an action, a note, a trip, a prayer, a touch on the arm, a donation, an outcry. It might be an exchange between two people or something more global. Such seeds can bring forth peace for a troubled soul…or electricity for Africa … or literacy training for refugees … or the cure for Ebola … or non-violent answers for young Islamist men … or something simple like making someone’s day. Remember, these are power seeds that can reach to the remotest parts of the earth. My friend, Julie, invested $50 in a micro-loan a few years ago. That one loan has enabled eight people to take the leap out of poverty (by starting a small business, for example). It’s been paid back eight times. This could go on forever! My friends at the Dalit Freedom Network petitioned Congress relentlessly which resulted in the passing of HCR139 in 2007. This Resolution expressed the sense that the US should address the practice of untouchability with the government of India. A congressional resolution? On behalf of people considered to be of less value than insects in India? Groundbreaking. The point is, whether we’re in a restaurant or tapping the “donate” button on our computers or advocating for an oppressed people group, we can make a profound difference daily. We can sow that pocketful of seeds into the soil of the world. You might say we can become “seedy,” not in the disreputable sense, but in the planting sense. Seeds were God’s idea. He embedded the spark of life into them. He brings the increase. What seediness does God have in mind for you? Israelmore Ayivor said this: “God calls big trees out of small seeds, so he prepares great monuments out of small minds. He will definitely call those wonderful things he put in you out of you. When he begins, do not resist.” n Debbie Johnson has led local and global ministries, from an urban jobs program called DenverWorks to service among the Dalits (“Untouchables”) of India. She now lives the farm life with her husband in Colorado. STOCKSY | MARTA LOCKLEAR


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Recommended

number of steps per day for adults.

400, 000, 000

That’s more than 2.5 times the population of the United States. Learn how you can help change this by visiting bloodwater.org.

Number of snaps sent per day on SNAPCHAT.

quick

fill 90 to 95% of the

Bananas

release a mood regulating substance called tryptophan

which is converted to serotonin in the brain and thus elevates mood.

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processed pumpkins in the United States are grown in Illinois.

POLLUTED WATER ISTOCK | MARCUS LINDSTRÖM // PIE ISTOCK | DEBBISMIRNOFF // BANANA ISTOCK | AJT

780 million people lack access to clean water.

10, 000


FOUR-LETTER WORDS are words constructed of four letters. They are perfectly good, usually innocent words. Some four-letter words come with baggage that weighs down their meaning. Often there is negativity, discomfort or stigma assigned to such otherwise interesting and usable words. As we reconsider these words and address them openly, perhaps we can reclaim these words for their contribution to our lives.

“I “I “I “I “I “I

four-letter word

hope it doesn’t rain.” hope I get the job!” hope he calls.” hope we get approval.” hope we win the game!” hope. You hope. We all …

H PE

we hope for better days. A clean bill of health. Forgiveness. We hope loved ones won’t suffer, that kids grow up to be responsible adults, and that we’ve saved enough for retirement. We hope it’s not cancer, that it won’t be expensive to fix, and that we can figure it out. Hope is future-focused. We’re looking ahead, wondering aloud and articulating what we want. It takes a brave soul to hope. After all, what we hope for might not happen, and then what? We’ve shared our dreams and because we did, we may have to share our disappointments. But hope is about more than the list of things we’re hoping ISTOCK | HUEPHOTOGRAPHY

for. In the end, hope is about the source of hope—the Person behind the hope. For when this, that and the other things we wish for don’t occur, we face the truest test of hope. Will we ultimately place our hope in our desires, or in the Person who comforts our lack when our need is not met, making it possible to hope again tomorrow? Where does your hope lie? Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Confidence in what we hope for. That’s not hopeless. That’s hopeful. Where is your hope? n FALL/WINTER 2014

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male box

Dr. Henry Cloud has written or co-written over twenty books, including the bestseller Boundaries. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters.

When to Make An Exit By Dr. Henry Cloud

Endings are difficult, even when we know we should make them. Whether it is ending a job, a relationship, membership at a church, working with an organization, or a connection to extended family and friends, it is hardly ever without some kind of pain. Even in the best scenarios, there is loss. And in the harder ones, there is usually hurt. It can be even more difficult when we don’t know whether or not an exit is warranted. Often, we stay stuck, hoping something good can happen. But is there more we can do than just “hope and pray?” Yes, there is. In my book Necessary Endings, I talk about two important aspects of getting to clarity. The first is the resolve that you must do something. This takes motivation. I have found that these questions help

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people get in touch with the motivation they need and project today’s reality into the future: 1. Do I want this same reality, frustration, or problem six months from now? 2. Do I want this same level of performance a year from now? 3. Do I want to be having these same conversations two years from now? If your answer is that you are not OK with things staying the same, then something has to change. At that point, move to level two: Give up hope. Sound depressing? It can be, but you have to figure out if there is any reason to wait, to hang on to hope that something is going to change. At this point, make a distinction between real “hope” and “wishing.” Hope is always rooted in something objective. Wishing is just the fact that we want something to come to pass. Wishing does not mean that any hope for it occurring is actually warranted. You need a reason to have real hope. So, if you know that something has to change, is your hope for it to get better real hope or just a wish? Do you hold on for change? Here are two words to focus on when trying to figure out whether to keep hope alive: new and different. Try this progression to get to an answer: 1. What real reason, other than my wish, is there to have hope that tomorrow is going to be different? 2. What in the picture is going to be new that I can believe in? 3. What is being added that is not present now?

Hopeful answers would include: • A person has decided to get counseling, or coaching, or help on some proven method. • Someone is truly really owning the problem, and their need for help, and have become selfmotivated to pursue it. • You see real action that is different than before. • There is new management, or a consultant or a new partner brought to the business. • There are other outside forces that are new that can bring change. If you get good answers to questions about new and different, then hope may be warranted. But, if you get an answer that nothing new or different is being brought into the picture, then you have to face the reality that apart from God doing a miracle, there is not a lot of objective reason to hope. When that happens, you have to say: something different or new must occur, or it is going to stay the same. This does not mean that you always exit or create an ending to the relationship, but it does mean that you create an exit or an ending to the particular way you have been dealing with it. Sometimes consequences, an intervention, or other new methods can bring hope. Many times those boundaries can turn a situation around. Exits, or endings, are painful. But God tells us they are sometimes necessary for life to be fruitful, and there are real blueprints for how to do them. I hope all of yours go well, and that you find the wisdom needed to decide what has to end, and the courage and faith to take those steps. n

Click here to link to resources to help you think deeper and take the next step. For this article, you’ll find Dr. Cloud talking about “a time to uproot” in a PLAY IT OUT video or read an excerpt from his book Necessary Endings (purchase at the FullFill STORE to support this ministry). FALL/WINTER 2014

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The year was 2005. Three of us were wedged in a tiny office at MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers), staring at a white board, markers in hand, waiting for the Spirit to lead us. MOPS, a ministry to bring hope and help to moms in the trenches of the preschool years, had grown to a zenith mass of some 100,000 moms annually, led by a swell of 30,000 local volunteer leaders. Leaders who were also moms of preschoolers and themselves needing refreshment and resources. We three on the executive committee in MOPS’ home office were tasked to deliver just such hope and help. This time not just for moms, but for moms who were tapped for volunteer leadership. For months we’d researched, round-tabled, interviewed, surveyed and combed through results. Clearly women were hungry for a resource that was a) accessible on their schedule, b) presented in their “first language” which was female and therefore not needing to be translated from traditional male leadership offerings and c) freshly biblical. But what to call it? How could we capture the essence of the offering? At last one of us rose to the whiteboard and wrote in green, two words, pushing them together: FullFill. Yep. It expressed exactly what we were trying to provide: we need to be filled first as women, mothers and leaders before we can then fill others as women, mothers and leaders. FullFill—and its tag line: Live out your influence— was born. Nearly ten years later, after a metamorphosis out of MOPS International and into a nonprofit called Mission: Momentum, FullFill has reached around 10,000 women every year—some 90,000-100,000 cumulatively.

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FRONT COVER © STOCKSY | EDUARD BONNIN


my fill

}

FullFilled

How do you know when … … an offering is finished? … you’ve achieved the purpose to which God has called you? … you’re uncalled from one thing and called to another? I’ve faced these questions over and over in life and leadership. I served three years as the dean of women of a Bible college, clearly called for that season, and then resigned in order to become a full-time mom. Uncalled from one thing, called to another. I served five years in my local neighborhood, mom-ing and leading a neighborhood Bible Study and then was called to lead MOPS International. While I of course kept my “mom call,” I laid down the neighborhood call for a few decades. After twenty years, I sensed an uncalling from MOPS and a call to a “next,” documenting much of it here in this column. Looking back at each transition, I still ask the “how” questions. Recently, in working on FullFill, I’ve come to some realizations regarding exits. May I share them with you? You’re called until you’re uncalled. This was my mantra at MOPS forever and it remains true. It’s best to not waste thinking on whether or not you’re supposed to continue in ministry efforts unless a niggling nudge directs you to question. When that happens, pay attention and ask for God to clarify. You’re not “done” until you’re dead. If you’re not dead, you’re not done. Expect for God to be working in you and through you forever. God cares just as much about what he’s doing in you as he does about what he’s doing through you. Resist the urge to only count the “big” results in ministry. Internal spiritual transformation may be even more relevant than the shiny sparkle of external success. Consider what might need to be released in order to respond to what might need to be invented. As you read about in this issue, Dr. Henry Cloud refers to this process as “necessary endings.” Peter Drucker calls it “purposeful abandonment.” Jesus referred to it as “pruning.” As we wrap up the fourteenth issue of FullFill, our team has sensed, both individually and together, a transition. Our call remains: to help women live out their influence. We’re not uncalled to living lives that invest our influence in women. However, we do sense an ending—a finishing—a time to exit this particular platform. We’re actually calling it a completion—or to be clever: a FullFillment. We have completed the offering of FullFill. Your presence on this journey has been pivotal and will continue to be vital. Lift your eyes. Open your mouth. Use your voice. Live out your influence! Elisa Morgan PUBLISHER

With this final issue on “Exits,” we will complete the digizine library. With our final webinar, “Women as Ministry Entrepreneurs,” we will complete our webinar library. FullFill’s digizine and webinar libraries will continue to be available online at elisamorgan.com. If you would like to share these resources with your audiences, you are free to do so. The Weekly ReFill will transition to a new name and landing place also at elisamorgan.com. It will continue to include the diverse voices of women, offering a platform for new and seasoned writers to live out their influence. Be sure to approve your email for its new title so that you continue to receive weekly encouragement and empowerment.

FALL/WINTER 2014

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