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Nice Girls Don’t

REMEMBER HEARING THE PHRASE “NICE GIRLS DON’T” while I was growing up. The phrase was an easy way for my parents to keep me on the straight and narrow and a way for me to keep from getting a “reputation.” Back then I was so focused on what nice girls didn’t do

{PUBLISHER} Elisa Morgan, M.Div. {MANAGING EDITOR} Mary Byers, B.A.

that I never pondered what nice girls do.

{ART DIRECTOR + GRAPHIC DESIGNER}

Cindy Young

Until we began working on this issue of FullFill™. The words “nice girls” have been bouncing around in my head for weeks now. What does it mean to be nice? What characteristics make someone nice? Who are the nice people I know? The questions have popped into my mind unexpectedly and at odd moments. Perhaps the most troubling was this one: As an adult, do I even want to be considered a “nice girl?” There is something in my adult self that rebels against the word “nice” in a way I never did as a youth. I wanted to be a “nice girl” as I was growing up. Now, I’d prefer that people use other words to describe me. Words like energetic, creative, fun, helpful, encouraging. Anything but “nice.” I think it’s because the word “nice” conjures up a polite person who keeps her feelings to herself, doesn’t believe in rocking the boat, and minds her own business. Though I know it’s an unfair description, that’s what I think of. But nice can also be someone who notices other people’s needs—and rolls up her sleeves to do something about it. This later definition is one I can more easily live with. That’s the kind of “nice” I’m comfortable with. Not a bland nice but a bold nice. Not a quiet nice but a courageous nice. You’ll be challenged to think about your own reaction to the words “nice girls” in our feature article by Hayley DiMarco. As the author of Mean Girls: Facing Your Beauty Turned Beast, we figured Hayley would have unique insight to offer us as we wrestle with what type of “girls” we really

want to be. And we were right. Hayley had many thought-provoking ideas to share, including the fact that “in order to be nice all the time, there has to be deceit.” I’d never considered this before and have personally been wrestling with the idea ever since reading Hayley’s article. You’ll also meet lots of “nice girls” in this issue. Like Shayne Moore, who’s choosing to make a difference in the world one person at a time and challenges us to do the same in our spiritual formation article. And Dee Clark, who uses horses to help her psychotherapy clients come to new understandings about themselves and the world they live in. And Carolyn Custis James who admits that her fear of being wrong was holding her back and shows us how focusing on what we know is right can help conquer this type of fear. More than anything, what I love about FullFill™ is that it provides a safe place to think about what it really means to live as a Christ follower in a world that’s both confused and confusing. Our prayer is that challenging your thoughts will lead to changes in your actions in every role you play as a woman of today.

Sincerely,

Mary Byers

ADVISORS

Tracey Bianchi, M.Div. SPEAKER AND WRITER ELMHURST, IL

Beth Flambures,

C.P.A.

BUSINESSWOMAN

Carla Foote,

M.A.

DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, MOPS INTERNATIONAL

Phyllis H. Hendry PRESIDENT, LEAD LIKE JESUS

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

Carolyn Custis James, M.A. PRESIDENT, WHITBY FORUM FOUNDER + PRESIDENT, SYNERGY FOR WOMEN

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

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

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 and writer’s guidelines available at FullFill.org. 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, writer@FullFill.org FullFill™ is a ministry of Mission: Momentum.

Copyright 2010 Mission: Momentum.

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in focus:

Nice

BEING ISN’T ALWAYS NICE Are we really loving people when we join in on the lies they are telling themselves? By Hayley DiMarco

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voices: VELVET-COVERED BRICKS By Dr. Sue Edwards WHAT’S IT MEAN TO BE NICE? By Kelly Cameron CODE LIPSTICK By Shannon Popkin TIPPING POINT By Susan Lawrence

This issue of FullFill™ is full of extras! Click on the rich media buttons to watch videos and dig up more treasure.

contents

Spring 2010

{ columns } 12 SPIRITUAL FORMATION: How I Learned I Could Change the World

16 COACHING COMMUNITY Millennial Mentoring: Coming Alongside By Liz Selzer

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by Shayne Moore

14 RESTING PLACE

20 THINK The Fear Factor

17 Healing Reins

By Carolyn Custis James

A conversation with Dee Clark by Mary Byers

25 FOUR-LETTER WORD Safe

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26 MALE BOX

22 OVERFLOW: DEVOTIONAL LIFE Classic Thought by Oswald Chambers Contemporary Reflection by Stacy Voss

Butterfly Man By Dr. Hugo Venegas

24 QUICK FILL 27 MY FILL Naughty or Nice? By Elisa Morgan

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”It’s okay that you’re mean, anyone would be in your situation.”

No, you don’t talk too much!

“ Are you kidding? You don’t look funny with that hair cut! ”

” “ You’re just too good for him, that’s why he dumped you. ”

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by Hayley DiMarco

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How many times do we lie in order to be nice? Someone says or does

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Are we really loving people when we join in on the lies they are telling themselves? The truth is that being nice isn’t nice when its inspiration is self-defense. “I don’t want to make her mad,” isn’t a reason to lie about sin. A lot of the times we practice nice by joining in, or commiserating with people in their emotional pain. We feel their pain and pile on a bit of our own to suffer alongside them. But wouldn’t we be much more valuable to their souls if we were to redirect their emotions to more heavenly ones? It is a kind of unspiritual misdirection to flatter or “co-miserate” with falsehood rather than to point it out. When a person who has a terrible singing voice goes on American Idol and believes they are the best singer in the country, do their family and friends not do them a disservice by telling them what a great voice they have? All of a sudden, nice doesn’t sound so great. That’s why the most un-nice judge is the most beloved (Simon) and the nicest judge was the most useless (Paula.) Loving others never has its foundation in self. Not selfdefense, self-protection or self-pity. Pretty much anything with “self ” in the word is as far from love as possible, unless of course it includes the words “dying to.” Biblical love has as its foundation death to all that is self, and so is able to love honestly and without self-protection. But most often women have learned a kind of love grounded deeply in self-protection. We all know that a good friend is a nice friend, and an honest friend can take a hike. Telling others the truth in areas that affect them spiritually is the requirement of faith. So maybe the new rule to live by can be this: if you can’t say something true, don’t say anything at all. In Galatians 6:1, Paul writes

DANIELA JOVANOVSKA-HRISTOVSKA / SHANTELL / ISTOCK

something that we know is wrong but in order to make them happy we tell them a lie. All because we don’t want to be mean or make them mad, and that means that a lot of times the real reason for being nice, isn’t nice at all. It’s just pure self-defense. The age-old rule for relationships is this, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” For centuries mothers have drilled this concept into the minds of kids across the globe. And nice has become the yardstick by which we judge the goodness of people. But is nice always nice? When being nice is the rule we live by, we avoid making anyone unhappy even at the cost of honesty. That’s because telling the truth could make our relationships difficult and potentially impossible. The truth can hurt. And in many cases people don’t even want the truth, just encouragement and sympathy. So in order to be nice all the time, there has to be deceit. The truth doesn’t always feel good. So “do you like my dress?” is always answered in the affirmative. But what about important questions of life and faith? Should nice always be the rule of thumb? I once had a friend who loved God. She was active in ministry, but with one glaring problem. She over-talked. She would talk about anything… for hours. People would see her coming and go the other way. And so because of her propensity for too many words, she was the victim of numerous eye rolls after she walked away. One day we were talking about listening, and how people who talk a lot are generally selfish, focusing on their own desire to be heard rather than letting others speak. She asked me if I thought she talked too much, and I said, “Well, I like talking with you, but you do talk a lot, and that can make some people not want to be around you all the time.” As you can imagine she was

hurt. Over the next few days she asked people if they thought she talked too much. “No, you don’t talk too much,” was the standard, self-protecting reply. Even people who had complained to me about this woman could not say it to her when she asked. And so, since no one wanted to risk not being “mean” they said what wasn’t true and helped my friend stay completely oblivious and less effective in serving others because she was so focused on herself.


that, “if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly protection or desire to be liked. And a true friend isn’t angry when should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right someone points them away from themselves and towards God. A path.” We can’t help others grow in faith if our dishonesty true friend accepts criticism when it is constructive and biblical. feeds their spiritual self-deception. When we look at those A true friend makes truth more important than happiness around us through God’s eyes instead of our self-centered and will both accept the truth when friends give it and flesh, we become true and fearless in our speech. Even offer it back when it is needed in return. And a true if our truth telling should end the relationship, would friend stabs you in the front. we rather be deceitful and happy, or Being nice isn’t always nice. As honest and holy? women of God we ought to know the When we are willing to fearlessly tell difference and start practicing being true. the truth in love, we establish ourselves If you can’t say something true, don’t say as someone who can always be trusted in anything at all. We must always remember good times and bad. Each one of us that, “if someone among you wanders knows who will tell us the truth we need away from the truth and is brought back, to hear and who will just flatter us, and you can be sure that whoever brings the side with our sin. The wise person sinner back will save that person from believes the verse that “Wounds from a death and bring about the forgiveness of sincere friend are better than many kissmany sins.” (James 5:19-20) Are we willes from an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6) And ing to bring them back who have wanso as the wise woman promises to be dered away? And just as importantly, are truthful with her friends she also wants we willing to be brought back when we truth from them in return because she wander? Our answer says a lot about recognizes that blind niceness can what we value more: nicety or truth? The polar opposite of 24/7 niceness is become a weapon of the enemy. “keeping it real” a.k.a. 24/7 brutal honesty.

The Danger of Keeping it Real

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Nice friends only make you comfortable; they aren’t good for women who want to grow. Women who want to grow need honest friends who are fearless in the face of our sinful choices and emotional laziness. These are friends who make scripture the final say on their counsel to us, not their own self-

If 24/7 niceness is the passively destructive approach to relationships, “keeping it real” is the scorched Earth approach. It’s basically ignoring the command to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and just dumping whatever is on your mind or whatever you’re feeling without regard to your neighbor. Yes, the truth can hurt, but dentists carefully extract a tooth only after numbing the gums. Consider love to be your Novocain and resist the temptation to wildly wield pliers in the unsuspecting (and “unnumbed”) lives of your friends and family.

Hayley DiMarco is the best-selling author of more than thirty books, including Dateable, Mean Girls, God Girl, The Woman of Mystery, and Cupidity. You can find her online at hayleydimarco.com. ■

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How Nice Girls Fight Dr. Sue Edwards offers principles for conflict resolution.

FORWARD TO A FRIEND

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Nice Girls

By Dr. Sue Edwards

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OU ARE HOLDING WOMEN’S HANDS TO HELL,”

lifelong process. Listen to these women share their voices and then consider your own.

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Hayal as noble or virtuous. But the word is used 246 times in the Old Testament, most often referring to fighting men of valor. A better translation would be, “A wife of strength and courage, who can find? Her worth is far more than rubies.” Given the fallen nature of the heart and the complexities of personalities, conflict is an unavoidable aspect of ministry. We must learn to deal with our emotions when others are insensitive, unkind, or just plain mean. We must understand and practice strategies related to conflict, particularly with other women, who deal with conflict differently than men. We must be tough, eradicating indirect, passive aggressive, people-pleasing, manipulative tactics that have characterized women for centuries. Velvet covered bricks—strong on the outside but never allowing our hearts to harden. Only then can we be influential leaders for Jesus. Dr. Sue Edwards is Assistant Professor of Christian Education at Dallas Theological Seminary and the co-author of Leading Women Who Wound and Mixed Ministry, Working Together as Brothers and Sisters in an Oversexed Society.

SIMON HOWDEN / XTREMERX / ISTOCK

Finding, understanding and using your unique voice is a

snapped my rival, glaring at me over the conference table. We were respected Bible teachers and every week hundreds of women sat at our feet to learn about the joy, peace, and love of Jesus. But today we were embroiled in a conflict that threatened to destroy our reputations and ministries. She charged me with false teaching over a grey issue that most scholars with different views on the issue respectfully agree to disagree, but not my adversary. The conflict lasted almost a year. I was ultimately exonerated but emerged bruised and battle-weary. However, I learned priceless lessons that prepared me for future ministry. I was a peoplepleaser who needed to learn to perform for an audience of One. I was quick to run from conflict instead of facing it head-on. I was ignorant regarding peacemaking skills and strategies and sought to educate myself, resulting in a book to help others. I’m grateful. John Maxwell calls the best leaders “velvetcovered bricks”—strong on the inside but soft on the outside—not the typical “nice girl.” The Proverbs 31 woman models this strength for us. In verse 10, most Bibles translate the Hebrew word


As women, God gave us the beautiful gift of instinctively meeting the needs of others, but we are called to care

What’s it Mean to be Nice?

for ourselves as well.

By Kelly Cameron

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HENRIK SORENSEN / STONE / GETTY IMAGES

HERE IS A MYTH ABOUT “NICE GIRLS.” We’re sweet, smiley,

friendly, pleasing to all, uncontroversial, unselfish and modest. For me, being a nice girl meant the teacher always placed me next to the nerdy guy that nobody else was kind to, so I got drooled on while being a sacrifice for niceness. Being a nice girl meant I wasn’t with the “in” crowd, but I did get voted “Friendliest Senior” in our graduating class. Being nice meant not rocking the boat, so I just smiled and kept quiet even when something made me uncomfortable or scared. I am expecting my little girl to enter the world any day now and as much as I would love for others to describe her as a “nice girl,” perhaps the popular definition of “nice” is not what God intended for us to be. Instead of simply being nice we are called

to follow the character of Christ, and many would not call him “nice.” Jesus spoke the truth in love and in doing so he offended a lot of people. He wasn’t nice: he was courageous. God wants us to have the guts to speak truth, even if it ruffles some feathers. Nice girls are supposed to be kind to everyone, but where do we draw the line? While my mother was attending college she noticed a strange man hanging around campus during a holiday. He wore a camouflage jacket, kept his distance from everyone and lurked around. Later that day while walking by herself she notice the man following her. All of a sudden he ran up and tackled her to the ground! In her confusion she quickly got up, went over the man and asked, “Are you okay?!” He gave her a strange, scared look and ran away. It wasn’t until she was safely in her dorm room that she realized this man had meant to molest her. She was so brainwashed into being “nice” that it never occurred to her to protect herself. How do we balance niceness with firmness, protecting ourselves and those we are responsible for while standing up for what we believe? Nice girls are expected to care for others before themselves. As women, God gave us the beautiful gift of instinctively meeting the needs of others, but we are called to care for ourselves as well. Jesus routinely took time out for peace and refreshment during his ministry; he and the disciples would get away to a garden or mountaintop to spend time soaking in God’s presence. We cannot possibly give when we fail to replenish ourselves. If I take time for myself, does that mean I’m not nice? I want my little girl to be considered “nice”—but only if it means she is courageous, compassionate, knows her value in Christ and creates healthy boundaries. That is the nice girl I hope to raise, and the life example I hope to set for her. Kelly Cameron is the founder of Uncommon Women, a Christian non-profit encouraging women to live with passion and greater purpose. She lives with her wonderful husband and children in Georgetown, Texas where she is a professional actress and photographer.

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By Susan Lawrence

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’M AN OPTIMISTIC PERSON. In general, I’m encouraging,

Code Lipstick By Shannon Popkin

doesn’t wear any yet, but when she bosses her brothers or argues about instructions, I say, “Honey, do you need some lipstick?” And when I rant about my husband eating tonight’s chicken, or correct my kids with words that resemble chopping blades, Lindsay has permission to ask, “Mom, did you forget your lipstick?” “Lipstick” is our way of suggesting that maybe our lips should stick together rather than doing what they’re doing. But we’ve found that this is harder than you might think. Sometimes it feels like there’s a volcanic eruption trying to escape our lips! “Lipstick” has to be more than just a cosmetic solution. When a “Code Lipstick” is in order, we have to probe beneath the words and ask this question: What am I hoping these words will do? When I nag my husband, scream at my kids, gossip with a friend, snap at my mother… what is it that I want? What am I trying to secure? Most often it’s control. Women love control. We want it. We crave it. We can’t get enough of it. But a controlling woman is not a beautiful woman. There is a beauty secret of the ages —a way to keep my ugly control-seeking tongue behind closed lips. The secret is placing my hope in God, not myself. This is the only way to be beautiful. It’s the only way to make my ‘lipstick’ stick.

Writer and speaker Shannon Popkin is wearing more and more lipstick, by God’s grace. She and her family reside in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can visit her online at shannonpopkin.com. ■

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■ Susan Lawrence is a ministry consultant who strives to equip women in leadership to meet the needs of other women while balancing their own needs. Her first book, Pure Purpose, will be released this year.

SHARON DOMINICK / ISTOCK

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Y DAUGHTER AND I HAVE A NEW CODE WORD: LIPSTICK. She

equipping, and … nice. But there are times I don’t want to be nice. When my daughters have been hurt by mean words or unfair treatment, I’d like to go straight to the offender and tell her exactly what I think of her. When women are mean to each other, gossiping in the name of “concern,” judging in the name of “accountability,” and standing aside in the excuse of “busyness,” I want to shake them by their shoulders and set them on the right path (or the path out the door!). When church leaders don’t step up to do their jobs by confronting inadequate or inappropriate leadership, I want to take over, re-organize teams, and weed out the ineffectiveness until only productiveness remains. I struggle in the niceness of being a Christian woman. It’s not that I want to be mean, but I refuse to be a doormat or allow my friends and family to be doormats. Jesus took a stand for me, and I plan to take a stand in his name. That’s easier said than done, because we’re to confront sin and yet forgive. We’re to love our neighbors, but love balances compassion and justice. My tipping point of deciding how to respond to someone is rooted in the truth that God is love. (1 John 4:8) Nice isn’t the tipping point. Love is.

LAURENCE DUTTON / GETTY IMAGES

Tipping Point


Courageous Leadership in Challenging Times San Diego April 19–21, 2010 Town and Country Resort & Conference Center

Ken Blanchard Co-founder and Chairman Lead Like Jesus San Diego, CA

John Ortberg Senior Pastor Menlo Park Presbyterian Church Menlo Park, CA

Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil Founder and President Salter McNeil & Associates, LLC Wheaton, IL

Keynote Speakers Include:

Army Chaplain (Captain) Jeff Struecker, United States Army Reserves, Formerly an Army Ranger, prominently featured in “Black Hawk Down”

Dan Chun Senior Pastor First Presbyterian Church and Founder and President Hawaiian Islands Ministries Honolulu, HI

William Graham Tullian Tchividjian Senior Pastor Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church Fort Lauderdale, FL

National Conference www.claconference.org

Captain Gerald Coffee, U S Navy (Ret) Highly Decorated Naval Officer, Former Prisoner of War (7 years), Honolulu, HI

Miles McPherson, Senior Pastor, The Rock Church and Academy, and President, Miles Ahead Ministries, San Diego, CA


d e n r a e l How I

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very night they gather to sing.

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For an hour before bedtime, the orphans on the other side of the hedge sing praise songs to God. There are sixty-six children living in the orphanage next to our guest house in Litien, Kenya. Walking back to my room, I am stopped in my tracks by the hauntingly beautiful voices of children. I stand alone wishing the mesmerizing music would stop. What is this ache in my heart? It feels almost too much, as if it might crack something foundational in me, something I am quite sure I need intact. Yet I linger, unable to leave it and shut it out.


I try to remind myself I am having a typical response to being confronted by the outrageous poverty of this place. Yet my heart is causing me trouble. I am in Africa with my church on a short-term mission trip but this is not the first time I have seen firsthand the staggering reality of extreme poverty and the wildly disparate gap between America and the developing world, but it is something I never get used to. Yesterday I visited the orphanage. My mother’s heart began to ache the moment I stepped foot in the compound. I saw my own three children in the eyes of these orphans— my three-year-old holding someone’s hand, my six-year-old daughter giggling, and my ten-year-old son running like a madman as he heads toward the multipurpose room where the children are gathering. In the meeting hall, the children sit in rows on benches, their ill-fitting uniforms stained and ripped. I want to scrub them all down head to toe, get them some decent clothes, and a good meal. My heart and mind are trying to deal with the impossible longing to give a mother’s care to every needy child in the world. The children sing. It is a gospel song in English, “In paradise, everything is gonna be alright. In paradise everything is gonna be okay, okay, okay.” As they sing they sway back and forth in perfect unison. Back and forth. Back and forth. Everything is going to be okay, left, okay, right, okay, left. Disconcertingly, the swaying speaks to me of self-comfort, self-soothing. How a mother might gather her baby in her arms, rocking and cooing, “It’ll be okay, sweetie. It’ll be okay.” This is an entire room of motherless children soothing themselves.

I

have often reflected on the orphan’s song and thought this kind of theology doesn’t cut it for me. As a Christian woman, I believe there is hope in this world. Here and now. I do not believe we have to wait for paradise for everything to be alright. The Bible teaches it is in heaven where everything will be made right once and for all. The Bible also teaches when God created the world he said, “It is good.” This creation, this world, is good and everything good in creation; the beauty of nature, every act of kindness,

every gesture of humility and gratitude, every act of service and giving—all these will somehow mysteriously be continued into the next age. One of my favorite theologians, N.T. Wright, teaches that human beings reflect the image of God and God intends this reflection of himself to be present in our world, here and now. He has enlisted us to act on his behalf in the project of healing creation and building his Kingdom. Because Jesus brought the reality of this healed world through his resurrection, acting on behalf of the poor with compassion is a way in which we seek God. It is also how we reflect God to a suffering world and build for the Kingdom. He explains, “You are not planting roses in a garden that’s about to be dug up for a building site. You are—strange though it may seem, almost as hard to believe as the resurrection itself— accomplishing something that will become in due course part of God’s new world.” The reality of these orphan’s lives, and so many other children like them, can feel hopeless and overwhelming. I am comforted with this belief that I must do what is placed in front of me, and I can work toward real and meaningful change. I can change the world. In fact, God says I’m supposed to. My action can become an act of worship and love toward God. As an “ordinary” mom and woman in Middle America I can act in my sphere of influence, in my life, and in my generation to make a difference for real people. Not everyone is going to feel called to travel to a foreign country like I did, but I believe women today are thoughtful and deeply concerned about suffering in the world. I believe women can work toward real change right where we are, no matter where that is. Here are some things I have done from my own hometown to make a difference for those living with extreme poverty and preventable disease: Become a member of ONE (one.org). Learn about the global needs and how you can get involved.

Join Facebook “causes” pages and follow your favorite organizations on Twitter. Stay

informed and act. Meet monthly with a group of friends and take turns educating one other on the issues facing our world and on organizations you wish to support. ■ ■ Shayne Moore is an author, blogger, speaker, mom of three, and outspoken advocate in the fight against extreme poverty and Global AIDS. Shayne is one of the original members of ONE and sits on the executive board of directors for Upendo Village, an HIV/AIDS clinic in Kenya. She writes for her personal blog Theology Mama (theologymama.blogspot.com) and has a book coming out with Zondervan titled Global Soccer Mom: How I Learned I Can Change the World.

Dig Deeper with FullFill™ Rich Media: “It was a strongly held belief of most firstcentury Jews, and virtually all early Christians, that history was going somewhere under the guidance of God and that where it was going was toward God’s new world of justice, healing, and hope. The transition from the present world to the new one would be a matter not of the destruction of the present space-time universe but of its radical healing.” —N. T. Wright, Surprised by Hope

WATCH A VIDEO:

Be a Global Thinker with Shayne Moore 

Get involved with World Vision and their Women of Vision (worldvision.org). Sponsor a

girl so she can receive an education, stay healthy and have a life. Support what your church is already doing in the world. Buy (RED) products (joinred.com). Proceeds

go to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

Do you believe you can change the world? Do you think, like N.T. Wright, that history is going somewhere? 

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Unlike any other situation we encounter, difficulty strips away the pretense so that our heart condition can be exposed … to us! It tends to bring out the best and worst of who we are, and both of these unmaskings are a gift. —JEROME DALEY, WHEN GOD WAITS: MAKING SENSE OF DIVINE DELAY

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coaching

Liz Selzer, Ph.D., is President and CEO of Mentor Leadership Team and adjunct professor at Denver Seminary and Colorado Christian University. Liz enjoys teaching women to gain perspective on the ways they can be used in the kingdom.

community

DEFINITION:

Millennials are women and men born between the years of 1980 and 1995, totalling around 80 million Americans.

Millennial

Mentoring:

Coming Alongside

By Liz Selzer

“It drives me nuts… He sits around like he is entitled to have people take care of him.” “There seems to be a basic lack of respect for rules and structure … how will anything ever get done?”

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a disconnect between the “millennial” generation and earlier generations. And yet, the sheer numbers of Millennials demand our attention as these young people may offer either great hope or despondency for shaping the future of us all. Millennials seem to pose challenges for insight and understanding to those standing outside this encapsulated group. In fact, based on his research, Christian Smith bemoans that Millennials are “structurally disconnected from older adults who could be their mentors” due to a number of sociological factors. What do we need to know about Millennials? People: Mobilized society, the break-up of the family, and disillusionment in long regarded institutions has made this generation uncomfortable in committing to institutions or programs, but they will commit to people they trust. Relationship precedes action, and belief in the authenticity of a person is critical. Information: Millennials have grown up assuming there are options for everything, from what and where to eat, to where to work and live. They have grown up in an environment where they access information easily thus reducing the power that knowledge held in the past. They think globally in a way no other generation has because of access to real time information from across continents. Relevance: While they may get bored quickly (they are used to having everything in immediate electronic speed and in small sound bytes), they also are not entrenched in one way to do things so they adapt quickly. And while

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RICARDO REITMEYER / ISTOCK

“I mean really… She seems to not even care or have any direction.”

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RRITATION, FRUSTRATION, DISMISSAL. There is often

Overheard:

they may be painted as self-focused, in reality a life of relevance and making a difference intrigues and motivates them. Knowing this, what can other generations do to come alongside and work with them? David Wraight, author of The Next Wave, believes that the best response to this generation is an “Empowerment Response,” to “invite them to share their dreams, affirm them in their desire to bring about change for good, validate them as leaders for today, and equip, resource and free them to lead.” Coming alongside them instead of a “top down” approach will build connection and allow them to trust first, and then hear what earlier generations have to say, promoting a mutual learning stance that benefits both people. So what might be appropriate next steps in closing the gap between earlier generations and Millennials? People: Find the hope in mutually beneficial mentoring because engagement and relationships are a critical strategy. If a Millennial can see the authenticity and genuine interest of a potential mentor, mutual growth and learning can flourish. Staying with them and showing reliability will build the trust needed. Lead them through example, authenticity, passion, and strong connections. Information: Assist with filtering information, processing information, putting value to it, and prioritizing it. They have access to much, but need to use information in a meaningful way. Relevance: Help them tap into creativity and passion, and spread their unique potential for influence through communicating and living it. Paint a picture for them of what their future can be like and the impact their unique influence can have. Millennials will make a difference. The question is whether this is only with their peers or whether we decide to come alongside to help inspire them in a more integrated direction to make a difference in God’s work here on earth. If we can stop complaining and start championing this influential generation, an important alliance can begin to move forward. The potential for the future-shaping abilities of this generation is to be celebrated! ■


Healing Reins Dee Clark spent her summers around horses. Now she’s spending her life helping to lead others toward healing—with horses. Her mom was a high school teacher who cooked at a children’s dude ranch so that Dee and her sister could experience the outdoors. Dee purchased her

a woman of influence

first horse—a buckskin gelding named Yankee—at age 13. She’s been on horseback ever since and now uses horses to supplement her psychotherapy practice in a unique ministry called Healing Reins.

A Conversation with Dee Clark by Mary Byers >> SPRING 2010

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How did your equine ministry start?

I learned at a young age that horses offer a safe relationship of unconditional love. They are available to receive your tears of pain and somehow communicate that they understand. I believe the intuitive nature of the horse coupled with its size and power connects with a little girl’s (and big girl’s) need to be swept off her feet and taken away from things that feel unpleasant and out of control. The journey through my adolescent years was rocky as I tried to make sense of the void I felt in my soul as a result of not having an earthly father. (Editor’s Note: Dee’s parents divorced when she was 5 due to her father’s alcoholism.) God knew what he was doing when he brought my horse into my life at the age of 13. That same year I fell prey to incestual molestation. In an attempt to escape the pain and confusion I spent hours upon hours lost in the woods upon my trusted steed. To ride with the wind and be one with my horse seemed to calm me. It also opened my soul to the Lord and allowed me to hear the whisper of his Spirit reminding me that he was alive, that he loved me and that he desired to bring me into relationship with him and heal me. Throughout the next several years I learned more of what it meant to live as a follower of Christ and over time God’s transforming love began to heal me and diminish the pain of abandonment I felt and the sexual violations I had experienced. In 2002 a flyer came across my desk announcing a new cutting-edge accredited model of experiential therapy that utilized horses in the process of helping people. I couldn’t sign up fast enough! I knew firsthand how healing horses had been in my own life and was ecstatic to explore how I could integrate the presence of horses into my counseling practice. It was the perfect blending of my two passions in life and ultimately led to the conception of the ministry of Healing Reins. What’s unique about equine therapy?

Young Life staff engages in a day of Leadership Development using Equine Interactive Learning and receives a lesson in Cooperative Leadership. ABOVE:

RIGHT: Horses mirror human behavior and allow us to see ourselves in new ways, all within the context of a safe relationship.

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Everything! Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) is dynamic in that it is experiential, in the moment, hands on growth and learning. Instead of simply sitting in an office talking about an issue from a cognitive perspective, EAP is a holistic model that engages a person — cognitively, physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. Horses are highly intuitive and capable of reading the emotions and intentions a person brings into the arena. Horses will reflect back or “mirror” for us the things they are receive from humans. The horse is honest, unbiased and without an agenda. Because of this people often find it easier to receive feedback from the horse then from another person. In EAP work we are able to get at the heart of issues much more quickly. The “ah-ha” moments in the arena are profound and they allow people the ability to more readily discover the solutions they are looking for and apply them to their lives.


Was it clear that God was leading you in this direction or did you recognize his leading after the fact?

The opportunity to blend my two worlds of psychotherapy and horses was definitely one that I felt led by God to pursue. I trust that the passions of my life are there because they are the unique expressions of who God has made me to be. I think sometimes as Christians we are skeptical of passion and desire. We wonder if we can trust our desires and act on them. As long as our desires and passions do not contradict our priorities as followers of Christ and we are seeking daily to belong to God, it is my belief that we can trust the desires of our hearts as evidence of God’s leading. How does your view of God influence your work?

I view every day as a gift from God and every client as a sacred life that God is in the process of healing. I bring my education, training and professional preparation to the equation and then look to the Lord to direct and lead my thoughts. It is a partnership really. I privately pray before, during and after my sessions, seeking direction and insight from the Spirit. Animals are unpredictable — as are people. How do you use this to your advantage in your ministry?

We all are more comfortable with things we can control aren’t we? And yet I wonder if deep down what we really desire is to be able to let go of control and experience the freedom that comes with not having to manage our lives and others so intensely. It can be exhausting to feel as though you need to be in control all the time. The experience of interacting with unpredictable horses brings welcomed change and at times, frustrating challenge. When we are forced outside of our comfort zone we have an opportunity to see ourselves in new ways. This is the recipe for new growth and learning! The client certainly experiences this reality when they are engaged in a learning activity with the horse. A horse can’t be forced to do anything they don’t want to do. They will respond and cooperate with humans when they are shown respect and fair treatment. The more one tries to force and rush a horse the more the horse will resist. All people who work with horses are forced to slow down, see life outside of themselves, interact cooperatively and respectfully and be honest with themselves—qualities that also contribute successful human relationships. Burnout is always big for those in the helping ministries. How do you keep yourself connected to Jesus, and fresh for your work?

As a person who has been in ministry service for thirty years I have learned that boundaries and self- care are essential to my health, balance and ability to persevere. I need to have a realistic assessment

of who I am, what I am able to provide and what my limitations are in order to pursue God’s calling. In 1992 my husband and I had the blessing of living in community for a week with Henri Nouwen and the members of the L’ Arche community in Toronto, Canada. The retreat was life changing for me. Through the lives of the severely disabled God revealed to me some of my own “disabilities.” I was able to see how much fear I had regarding my weaknesses and how that fear had influenced my inability to be honest with my limitations. Since that time I have worked hard to be transparent before Christ and within my Dee Clark circle of close committed friends. Nothing helps keep me honest like living in community where I am known, warts and all, and still loved. What advice would you have for readers who might, like you, find themselves called to a very unique ministry?

Pray, pray, pray. Trust the Lord and the calling you have received. Surround yourself with a team of people that encourage you in the Lord and believe in the vision God has given you. And lastly, persevere! All good things take time to grow well, including us. What do you know now that you wish you knew 20 years ago?

I wish that 20 years ago I had more fully understood that I need to risk failure if I am to grow. That there is freedom in letting go of control. That I am never done growing. That women bring a unique offering of leadership wisdom to the world. Most of all, I wish I had recognized that I am loved by God and that is enough. ■

Dig Deeper with FullFill™ Rich Media WATCH A VIDEO:

Horse Lessons— Devotional Thoughts

WATCH A VIDEO:

A Word from Dee Clark

FORWARD TO A FRIEND

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

The Fear Factor

F

RANK AND I WERE REPAINTING our

dining room. We had narrowed our options down to two shades of paint, and it was up to me to choose which one. With two large swatches of paint on the wall— mossy green and sage—and the painter patiently waiting for my final decision, I was wavering and couldn’t make up my mind. He stunned me with his words. “You’re afraid to be wrong.” With the insight of a psychoanalyst, the painter diagnosed my dilemma, never realizing how fear was seeping into other areas of my life. Fear of being wrong can surface when choosing sides in the debate over women’s roles in ministry or simply navigating our personal choices within that debate. So many volumes written on the subject. So many scholarly experts who can’t agree. It can be dizzying to think of wading through everything or to imagine figuring out the right answer yourself. After all, if experts can’t

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1

think

}

settle the question once and for all, what hope is there for us? And always lurking somewhere in the background is the nagging fear of being wrong. If you’re serious about sorting through the issues, the disputed scripture passages, and the theology (an unavoidable task for women deciding a ministry vocation), the best place to start is with the classic works for the respective sides: Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood 1 and Rediscovering Biblical Equality.2 Both works will introduce you to other authors and resources. What has helped me as I’ve searched for answers is to study the big picture of Scripture—God’s vision for us in the beginning that Jesus came to restore. Rather than build my understanding of God’s calling for women on disputed Scripture passages, I’ve focused first on the lives of women in Scripture to see what God actually calls women to do and how they join their believing brothers in recovering God’s kingdom vision for the world. These biblical texts are as authoritative as the disputed texts. Then, regardless of which camp you’re in, the world becomes much bigger. I learned from Eve that I am God’s image bearer—an identity that comes with heavy responsibility to speak and act as God’s representative. This is indisputable. Naomi taught me that no matter what happens in my life, God never counts me out. I am a kingdom builder. This is indisputable. Through Ruth I heard God’s call to take responsibility for the needs around me, to live boldly, take risks, and fearlessly advocate for others. This is indisputable. Hannah teaches me the importance of my theology, for her theology shaped a nation and guides believers today. This is indisputable. Jesus sobers me with his parable of the talents. It’s a serious matter to Jesus when we bury our talents in the ground. This is indisputable. And Paul reveals that I am a vital member of the Body of Christ, and the whole Body needs my gifts and ministries. This is indisputable. A friend once told me with a sigh, “This old debate will be with us until Jesus comes.” That may be so, but in the meantime, I will seek with all my heart to follow these indisputable texts and I will not be afraid. ■

Complementarian perspective edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem.

■ Carolyn Custis James is involved in equipping women through the Whitby Forum and Synergy. She is the author of several books, including The Gospel of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules (Zondervan, 2008).

GO EXPLORE: CLICK HERE

2



Egalitarian perspective edited by Ronald W. Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothius.

DIGITAL VISION / GETTY IMAGES

“You’re afraid to be wrong.”

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CLASSIC THOUGHT By Oswald Chambers

One of God’s Great “Don’ts” “Do not fret — it only causes harm.” ( Psalm 37:8)

FREE FREE Thousands of women have joined the FullFill™ community since the digital launch in the Summer of 2009. We are grateful that we have been able to provide this resource FREE to anyone with a heart for recognizing, utilizing, and maximizing her influence for God’s kingdom purposes. Would you consider underwriting some of the cost so we can provide FullFill™ to even more women? Click on the Donate button below to give a tax-deductible gift of any amount.



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F

retting means getting ourselves “out of joint” mentally or

spiritually. It is one thing to say, “Do not fret,” but something very different to have such a nature that you find yourself unable to fret. It’s easy to say, “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (37:7) until our own little world is turned upside down and we are forced to live in confusion and agony like so many other people. Is it possible to “rest in the Lord” then? If this “Do not” doesn’t work there, then it will not work anywhere. This “Do not” must work during our days of difficulty and uncertainty, as well as our peaceful days, or it will never work. And if it will not work in your particular case, it will not work for anyone else. Resting in the Lord is not dependent on your external circumstances at all, but on your relationship with God himself. Worrying always results in sin. We tend to think that a little anxiety and worry are simply an indication of how wise we really are, yet it is actually a much better indication of just how wicked we are. Fretting rises from our determination to have our own way. Our Lord never worried and was never anxious, because his purpose was never to accomplish his own plans but to fulfill God’s plans. Fretting is wickedness for a child of God. Have you been propping up that foolish soul of yours with the idea that your circumstances are too much for God to handle? Set all your opinions and speculations aside and “abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). Deliberately tell God that you will not fret about whatever concerns you. All our fretting and worrying is caused by planning without God. ■ Note: The works of Oswald Chambers were compiled by his wife, Biddy, after his death in 1917. Taken from My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, edited by James Reimann, © 1992 by Oswald Chambers Publications Assn., Ltd. Used by permission Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids MI. All rights reserved. Order My Utmost for His Highest at 800-653-8333 or dhp.org.


CONTEMPORARY REFLECTION By Stacy Voss

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Just Ask Someone moved onto my street a year ago. I baked a plate of cookies and tried delivering them once, but no one was home. I considered going again, but felt foolish and instead ate them myself. ROBERT LOPSHIRE / ISTOCK

BRAND X PHOTOGRAPHY / VEER

Many months later, my “new” neighbor came outside while I was out front and we talked briefly. All of his words and actions were seeped in a craving and desperation so fervent that it left me speechless. What could he be so hungry for? A few weeks later, I got the answer to my question when he came outside. We introduced ourselves, with the sheer look of longing still covering Ian’s face. His unspoken plea was so great that Allen, my husband, asked what we could do for him. Those innocent words racked Ian’s face as he turned to the side in an attempt to hide his tears. “It’s too much to ask of you,” he finally replied, shaking his head. “Come on, we’re neighbors. That’s what we’re here for,” Allen said, putting his arm around Ian’s shoulders. Drawing a long breath, Ian spoke the most earnest words I’ve ever heard. “Just bang on my door sometimes.” In the months since we’ve known Ian, we’ve learned about the two types of cancer that plague his body. Especially in light of his medical conditions, I am amazed by Ian’s request. I would have agreed to make meals for him indefinitely or drive him to the hospital for chemotherapy. While those are real needs for him, Ian’s longing for companionship caused him to do the one thing many of us might find unthinkable: he asked.

I used to think asking for help was a sign of weakness. Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Ian’s humility in asking for help proved his wisdom in knowing exactly what he needed, while giving us the wisdom of knowing how to best minister to him. I’ve also learned that the rewards of asking are immense; both for the person looking for assistance, but even more so for the individual honored enough to be trusted with such a request. The most important lesson Ian taught me can be summed up in two short words: just ask.

■ Stacy Voss is a writer and speaker who encourages women on their faith walks, stimulating them to a more intimate, authentic relationship with their Creator. She lives in Highlands Ranch, Colorado with her husband, Allen and their children Micayla (7) and Gabe (2). Stacy writes about faith in daily life at meetmeattheintersection.com.

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The Waiting Game

—Margaret Thatcher

quick Fill “

Courage is the most important of all the virtues,

because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.

—MAYA ANGELOU

There are only two ways to wait. We either choose to wait well or we wait poorly.

Waiting poorly: as our mind thinks, our emotions flare, and from head to toe our bodies respond to the stress. What and how we process our thoughts and experiences does matter.

Raises blood pressure;

we fret, worry, and stew … and completely forfeit the inner peace for which we so long.

Produces anxiety;

Inhibits productivity; when we focus exclusively on what we can’t have, we become completely immobilized and paralyzed, unable to be of any good to anyone or anything else in our lives. Increases chances of reacting

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Community Builder

}

Double + Freeze Double recipes occasionally and freeze the second portion to share with friends and neighbors in need. You can extend the hand of hospitality this way without much extra work or stress and respond to unexpected events on short notice.

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stand back, don’t react. The more frequently a person acts or speaks before thinking, the greater the potential for negative and long-lasting fallout.

impulsively;

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Shrinks one’s sense of proportion;

when we only see our side of a situation, we’re not really viewing life as it really is. Whenever there are two people, there are two sides to every story, always. Robs one’s ability to grow by enduring difficulties; when we respond self-protectively or solely with self-interest, we are the ones who are short-changed most. Excerpted with permission from Burdens Do a Body Good: Meeting Life’s Challenges with Strength and Soul by Dr. Christopher Foetisch and Michele Howe

MEASURING CUPS BY SUSAN ASHUKIAN/ISTOCK; CHOCOLATE BY FLOORTJE/ISTOCK; WAITING BY JAYMAST/ISTOCK; PDA BY DSGPRO/ STOCK

Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.

Based on sales, Snickers is the most popular candy bar in the world, with the Kit Kat bar following close behind in second place. Other popular American candy bars include Twix, Hershey’s, 100 Grand, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, Baby Ruth, and Almond Joy.


four

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

letter word

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.

JAMES OLIVER / THE IMAGE BANK / GETTY IMAGES

Safe Protected behind locked doors. Uncensored in our speech and feelings. Free to express our gifts in valued settings. Known, understood. Comfortable. Safe is a good thing. Safe is a place where we can breathe in and breathe out and trust that we can breathe again, unhindered. Safe is a relationship where we can test and find that boundaries hold, that values are honored, and that mistakes can be forgiven. Safe is a cocoon of comfort where we can rest, warm and secure. Safe is a good thing. Except for when safe becomes not so good. Like when safe

becomes easy. Then we don’t have to stretch or try or risk. Or when safe becomes lazy. Cemented on the couch, glass of wine on the coffee table, bowl of ice cream at the ready, gossip magazine in our lap, remote control at our side—we’re stuck in an undeveloped self. Or when safe becomes insulated and we turn narrow, shallow and even narcissistic. Or when safe imprisons, cutting us off from new, different, colorful, creative, adventuresome, successful and even humble. Or when safe becomes an end-goal, sought above and beyond all else. A right. A god. Safe is necessary for survival. On Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, safe is foundational to the achievement of any further need. The needs of love, belonging, esteem and actualization build on the ground-level acquisition of safe. Safe is a must-have for the rest of life. Grabbing our car keys in a stabbing gesture, we dart through the parking lot toward our car, checking the backseat first, tucking into the driver’s seat and locking the door quickly. Safe. Running behind our child as he tilts unsteadily on his bicycle, we swerve and catch him just at the last second—leveraging him upright and away from disaster. Safe.

Pacing and praying and worrying and wondering, we wait for word on our loved one in surgery. We check the clock, the phone and email for messages when finally we hear they have made it through. Safe. Safe is vital, necessary, essential for life. And yet…safe is also a myth. 9/11 revealed the false expectation behind this American essential for our current generation. Like a balloon merrily floating overhead, dancing in the breeze that suddenly pops, our understanding of safety exploded that day. We are not safe because we live in America. We are not safe because we work in tall buildings. We are not safe because we can turn off the TV and stop watching what is happening in the world around us. We are not safe. And we can’t make ourselves safe—completely. Someone once said that the safest place on earth is the center of the will of God. It wasn’t God who said that. There is little safe about God. While forgiving, he is fearsome. While gracious, he is just. While our friend, he is also our judge. Aligning with him in relationship promises safety— as we understand it—in the hereafter—a policy of fire insurance, but not today. Today God’s “will” may allow planes to tear into buildings, children to be abused and evil to lurk in parking lots. The center of God’s will is not safe. It is dangerous. That’s a safe bet. Safe is necessary only to the extent that we are freed to live in relationship with a dangerous God. ■ CLICK HERE



Share your thoughts!

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male

Dr. Hugo Venegas is Senior Pastor of Colorado Community Church - Englewood in the Denver area, where he also leads a Bilingual service. Originally from Costa Rica, Hugo graduated from Southwestern College in Phoenix, received his Master of Divinity at Denver Seminary and earned Doctor of Ministry from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Holly, are the parents of two daughters, Megan and Madison.

box

By Dr. Hugo Venegas

Butterfly Man

MALE BOX is a regular feature in FullFill™ where we invite the opinion, perspective and insight of male leaders as they comment on women and their participation in the kingdom.

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SEAN_WARREN / PROXYMINDER / ISTOCK

T

here are vipers hidden along the path that can attack us at the most unexpected times in life. One struck me about six months ago… I was on a trip with my older brother, Benson, in the village of Yorkin, on the Costa Rican—Panama border. A flood had devastated the area, and I brought volunteers from Colorado to aid in the rebuilding efforts. At the end of the trip Benson became ill. Within two weeks he was diagnosed with stage IV liver cancer, and two months later my healthy, strong brother with his gigantic smile—was gone. My life went into an emotional tailspin. I was in deep shock and the loss shook me to the core. Benson dedicated most of his life as a biologist to help eradicate poverty through self-sustaining, communitybuilding initiatives. He was a true idealist whose reputation preceded him in many of the poorest communities in the country. The women of Yorkin were facing challenges posed by husbands struggling with alcoholism, lack of education, unemployment, and a hopeless future for their children. They contacted my brother to ask for help. Benson taught the women how to create a better future for everyone in the village. He helped them organize themselves, build a network of partnerships and create an

infrastructure to meet educational, economic and health needs. Within a few years, due to the women’s hard work, the men had sobered up and the teenagers were attending a new, local high school. After Benson’s sudden death, I felt paralyzed by my grief. I had lost a friend, coworker, playmate, encourager, and beloved brother. A health clinic was left unfinished and the villagers were still waiting to receive critical treatments. I wanted to help, but I felt stuck. You may be in a similar position of grieving—perhaps a health crisis, a messy divorce, the death of a child, a job loss, or a dream turned into a nightmare. You may also have other demands on your time and energy. You cry out to God in prayer seeking relief, answers, or strength to face each day. You may ask, “How can I keep going?” I found my answer to this question in a most unusual place. Early Christmas Day, my wife, Holly, and our two daughters were reading the Christmas story. Holly had recently lost her grandmother, so we shared favorite memories of loved ones who had passed. Holly recounted her favorite story about Benson. He was trying to explain to the women of Yorkin the most important trait to create a better future for themselves. However, he faced a problem. There was no equivalent word for that trait in the indigenous language. Benson got a brilliant idea for illustrating this concept, so with a box in hand, he ran off into the jungle. When he returned, he opened the box, and the whole village saw the ascent of a myriad of colorful, dancing butterflies. Benson explained that each butterfly was representative of their dreams, aspirations, gifts, imagination, and human potential. God had given them everything they needed for a productive life. All they needed was to take initiative and release what was already deep within. From that day forward, the women of Yorkin felt empowered to act on behalf of their dreams, their children and their futures. As Holly shared the story, my eyes welled up with tears. I realized my need to release the pain and grief. I understood the gift my brother had given me in his example of serving others and motivating them to take initiative and release their potential. I am headed back to the village to continue an arduous work in challenging conditions. But truth be told, I’m just going back to the jungle among the mighty women of Yorkin to be a simple butterfly man. ■


{

my Fill

}

Naughty or Nice?

I

just Googled “Naughty or Nice” and—oh dear—just let me say, DON’T! No telling what new lovely

pop-up ads I’ll be facing now.

I was doing research on the origination of the phrase. You know, where it came from and how it got so assigned to girls. While I didn’t unearth the answer, I sure did discover the point I was suspecting: if a girl isn’t nice, she goes straight to naughty. Don’t pass Go. Don’t collect $200. And naughty is not a nice thing for women. It seems that those of us of the female gender who opt out of a nicey-nice posture are pretty much evil women of the night. There’s no in between. How did “nice” become equated with “godly” for women? And how did naughty become our only other option? I was pretty nice all the way up through high school. Then I became a Christian and I had to figure out what godly would look like next to nice. It was so confusing! Was Esther “nice” when she walked before Xerxes for “such a time as this?” Was Ruth “nice” when she lay at the feet of Boaz? Was Abigail “nice” when she told her donkey-like husband about David’s anger? What about Mary of Bethany anointing Jesus with oil worth a year’s wages? I Peter 3 talks about having a “gentle, quiet spirit.” Is that nice? Oh dear again. Would that mean that women who advocate for injustice aren’t godly? Or those who fall off the introvert score on a Myers Briggs personality test—are they less than Jesus-like? I drew nice around me Eventually I settled on a version of nice that I thought might be godly: a like a great Christian good-girl politeness with a mix of bubble that would keep prayerful compassion. Next came young adulthood with all the bad away. supposedly grown-up friendships and then most challenging of all to me: marriage and motherhood. That’s when nice became codependence. And godly marriage and motherhood became a weird version of control and avoiding conflict and its resulting pain.

Only in recent history have I admitted my tendency to define nice as the absence of conflict. A Stepford-Wife-like zone where my behavior produced no one disliking me, being mad at me, correcting me. Oh, and nice also resulted in others mirroring back the same version of nice. My husband. My kids. Even my co-workers. I drew nice around me like a great Christian bubble that would keep all the bad away. At what cost? To be nice, I’ve chosen to be silent rather than speak up about troubling realities around me. To be nice, I’ve overlooked blatantly sinful choices in the lives of those I love. To be nice, I’ve actually denied that reality is reality—as if my refusal to admit it would mean it didn’t exist. At other times nice has meant being polite to strangers, socially appropriate, taking my turn and avoiding sarcasm. While such a posture likely doesn’t hurt the feelings of those around me, I come away feeling stretched to a “not-me-ness” like Glad Wrap that almostbut-not-quite covers a dish of leftover fruit salad. I know in just a bit, the soul in me will shrivel and be unpresentable. And I will have somehow held back the me that might have made a difference in a moment in all my attempts to be nice. Life is messy. People step off the edge of right and fall sometimes gradually and sometimes bombastically into wrong. Opinions differ inside and outside of the walls of the church. We will be disappointed and hurt and frustrated and grieved at the actions of those we love and at our own missteps. In the process of living life, we can make it our goal to be nice—or we can choose instead the goal of being real. Polite as possible and graciously honest—yes— but real. Naughty or nice? Nice or naughty? Caught between these options we women have a choice between varying less-thans. That’s it. Neither option calls us up to all we were created to be—in the image of our Maker. I want to be like Jesus. There. Perhaps that settles the matter. Naughty or nice? Or nothing short than all I was made to be.

Elisa Morgan, PUBLISHER

SPRING 2010

FullFill ™

27


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Nice Girls- Spring 2010  

Spring issue of FullFill Magazine

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