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live out

YOUR influence

Winter 2011


letter from the editor


I don’t remember how we decided on “Stretch” as a theme

for this issue but I do remember I was excited about the possibility of encouraging you to stretch yourself personally, professionally, and/or in faith and ministry—wherever you perceive you’ve gotten stuck or stale. Encouraging you to think about where you need to stretch challenged me to do the same. But deciding on just where to do so wasn’t easy. I’m already taking tap-dancing lessons. I’ve tried three new fitness classes in the last month alone. I accepted a speaking engagement that was beyond my comfort level. I was already stretching, wasn’t I? Yes…and no. I haven’t stretched myself lately in my personal relationships. I’ve taken my family for granted and figured there’s always tomorrow to find a way to connect more closely with my teenager. But tomorrow quickly becomes today and in a few short years she’ll hopefully be in college. So there’s no time to waste there. If I’m truthful, staleness has also seeped into my faith. I go to church. I’m in a Bible study. But when was the last time I had a long, deep, gut-level conversation with God? Or volunteered for something outside my comfort level at church? Or stuck my neck out and shared my faith? Sadly, I can’t think of the last time. I need to stretch.

Cindy Young, B.A.

This issue is filled with examples of women, like you, who have stretched themselves and, importantly, are better for it. You’ll hear from a hiker, a rope course graduate, an author, an adoptive mother, and an editor. The diversity of voices and experiences are one of my favorite things about FullFill™. You might also find that our spiritual formation piece, Untamed Hospitality, stretches your understanding of what constitutes hospitality. The article might even encourage you to begin extending warmth and welcome in a new way—something Vaun Swanson, founder of Pomegranate Place (and our interview subject) does on a regular basis. Together, these articles teach us that life—and leadership for that matter—is less about what we do and more about who we are—for, with, and to other people. That’s a new idea for me—one that’s sharpened my understanding of how we can extend ourselves to others in Christian service. Stretching often has a negative connotation, as in “I feel stretched too thin.” But what if we looked at it more positively and equated stretching with growing? If we did, we might find it easier to move beyond our comfort zones—in our families, our communities, and in the surprising places God asks us to go on his behalf.



Tracey Bianchi, M.Div. SPEAKER AND AUTHOR












FullFill™ P.O. Box 461546, Aurora, CO 80046 Join FullFill™ at Contact us at For advertising contact Faith position statement and writer’s guidelines available at 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.

Copyright 2011 Mission: Momentum.

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Go now! Visit the

{ in focus }

6 Onwards

& Upwards by Heather Bradley

FullFill Store ™

Six days of hiking for thirty minutes at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

with products especially chosen for you!


{ voices } A New Mindset by Karen Ball Making Room in Our Hearts and Homes for Orphans by Barbara Gelinas Believing Beyond Your Memories by Susie Larson No Way! by Suanne Camfield



2011 { columns } 26 Think: Born to Lead By Carolyn Custis James

32 Worldly Women: Abolitionist Mama

15 Who’s She?


who’s she?

By Shayne Moore

36 Male Box: When You Have Nothing Left to Give

By Elisa Morgan


{ regulars } 28 Overflow The Light That Never Fails

Untamed Hospitality by Dr. Beth Newman

East Meets West Leadership by Esther Feng

20 Woman of Influence Grace Place: An Interview with Vaun Swanson by Mary Byers

30 God is Here

By Oswald Chambers

Inviting the Light By Donna Huisjen

35 Four-Letter Word: Sexy

24 Resting Place

34 Quick Fill

16 Spiritual Formation

18 Coaching Community

By Dr. Mark Young

37 My Fill: Stretchy Leadership

Halee Scott

by Carol Kehlmeier

31 Crumpled Dreams


by Jane Keller Winter 2011



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in focus


& UP wards Onwards

I lost all track of time.

Was it one o’clock in the morning? Was it four? I watched, detached, as one foot dragged itself past the  other. Both slipped half a step back in  black sand stretching up  farther than I cared to know; grains here and there flashed silver  under a moon so close I could nearly touch it. Slightly dazed from the hour and the altitude, I mentally pushed the numbness from my fingers, ignored the wheeze of frosted breath from my clearly annoyed lungs, and took another stumbling half-step. Slipping back again, my tired eyes caught the shadow of boulders looming in my rippled path and I remembered I paid money for this.

By Heather Bradley 6 |

Winter 2011

Jan Cobb Photography Ltd / Getty images + Ulf Amundsen / istockphoto

s Winter 2011



A few days earlier, my view had been

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Winter 2011

Atop Mt. Kilimanjaro

I realize now that my life tends to follow the same pattern. Days

are spent either straining toward a goal or looking back on goals met. My soul tires and my heart tightens as I struggle to make some sort of difference. Glimpses of glory when the difference is seen and a dream actually meets reality are few and far between. Afterwards there usually rises a chorus of one kind of complaint or another and I wonder what I am doing and why. I often find myself in the habit of thinking those before and after days don’t count, that I only have to be my best when my best is already shining through. I’m tempted to

Andrew Rich / Istockphoto + Heather Bradley

drastically different. The base of Mt. Kilimanjaro is like a rain forest. Green is generously splayed on every surface and a light mist sticks to your hair and clothes. The mountain itself rises gently out of storybook Africa and disappears behind cotton clouds slung low. Each day we welcomed a new ecosystem as we hiked upward, the landscape shifting from green to brown to dusty granite. When day was over, the stars were brilliant, leaving almost no room for night in its own sky. When day began, thick clouds spread beneath us, obscuring the worlds we had passed through before we slept. Four days we climbed, feet tiring, backs tightening, red blood cells straining to adjust to the change in atmosphere. On the eve of the fourth day, we abandoned our tents for rough wooden bunks at Kibo Hut, the last vestige of comfort before the summit climb. We were sent to bed at five and set our alarms for eleven, knowing the next day’s end would begin at midnight. And so began my stumbling half steps up moonlit mountain dunes. They say the red-eye climb has something to do with oxygen and sunlight, but I think it’s so the whole experience feels like a bad dream. There were promises of lovely views at the top, of the world and Africa bathed in sunrise, but every draining step made “lovely” less and less appealing. Teammates retched on the side of the mountain; one or two abandoned the enterprise all together. I asked myself more than once what I was doing and why, but the crisp night sky ignored my blue-lipped queries for meaning. I plodded through it anyway. I don’t remember much of that summit climb. I remember the shifting sand, the heavy steps, the overwhelming moon. I remember the cold and the shadows and friends turning back just several dozen strides from the top. The rest of it runs together into cold, dark, memory mush. Piercing through the mush of that struggle, however, is a vision of gold-dipped wisps of glory, of heaven melted and poured out. I remember vividly the gathering of morning from the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. “Lovely” had no meaning in the face of such splendor. It was a sunrise that left me breathless. What took four days and one long night to climb up, took only two days to climb down. The decline used

muscles in my legs I never knew were there. Each one emphatically introduced itself to me during the descent; by the time I had reached the rain forest a sharp tendon chorus of complaints accompanied every footfall. The following three days were spent biting back whimpers and shuffling from any wall surface with a handrail to a chair. Four days up, two days down, and recovery for at least a week was the price I paid for thirty minutes at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

believe that basking in the light of sunrise is all that matters, that the in-between days are inconsequential, and that moments at the top are what life is all about. As precious as those gold-dipped times are, though, we spend most of our lives in the “in-between” days. They are the days that we won’t ever look back on and remember, the days that melt into memory mush. It can be easy in the light of shifting circumstances, changing landscapes, and the general push of pressing on to think that our choices on those days don’t matter. That God is only interested in how we perform on special occasions and high holy days. God has no “in-between” days when it comes to loving me. He loves me on both the climb and the summit. He promises to be with me all the way up the mountain, all the way down, and in every breath-caught moment on top. His presence is closer than my own skin through every landscape of my life, even on days when there are no mountains in sight at all. Whether I feel green and good or black and cold, he is there. It’s those days on the climb—stretching toward the summit—that give more meaning to the climax at the top. Every day is a gift. Every day matters. And so, although each day may have a different function— working towards something, achieving a goal, recovering from a struggle—every day is equally important, equally filled with God’s presence, equally a building block of eternity. I am accountable for my steps, whether they lead up or down, or are stilled by rare breathless moments of beauty. In the midst of my struggles to climb, I am reminded that if I keep at it and don’t give up, I will be rewarded with a glimpse of glory. Those glimpses carry me through the in-between days and give me the courage to keep stretching. There’s always more than just “lovely” waiting at the top. There’s heaven, melted and poured out. That alone is worth the climb. n Heather Bradley has been involved in youth ministry for over thirteen years and is currently working with YouthCompass International, an outreach to TCKs (Third Culture Kids). She has previously lived with orphans in Albania, settled refugees in Chicago, worked as a nurse on a children’s oncology ward, and ministered to teens of international ex-pats in Germany. She currently resides outside of Washington, D.C. with her husband Scott.


Life in the in-between days can be plagued with weariness, apathy, and a desire to stay put. As leaders, we must look to our identity as followers of Christ to press on. How do we keep going when we want to stop? Remember that it’s important. God wouldn’t call us to do things he doesn’t really care about. The people and opportunities in our lives are for a purpose, for their good or ours, or both. It’s not my job to know why God is asking me to do something—it’s my job to do it. When I want to drop someone or something God has placed in my hands, I close my eyes and whisper, “It’s important,” then I have the strength to pick it up again.

RichMedia Look around you. Our lives may seem difficult to us, but looking from our own problems to those of others changes our perspective. Loneliness

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and weariness are not confined to our mountains alone. Turning to others and living out the tasks of love (giving, listening, serving, sharing) may not always be convenient, but people are always worth the effort. Look up. In the end, it’s not our strength that gets us anywhere—it’s God’s. If he is the vine and we are the branches, his strength flows through us (not from us) and accomplishes the tasks he has laid out for us. When I lift my foot to step, he makes me fly. I must only be willing to step.


Winter 2011




voices )

Finding, u­ nderstanding and using your unique voice is a lifelong process.

A New Mindset

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Winter 2011

had taken place and all God had blessed me with. That’s when it hit me. I was in a rut. At work. At home. In worship. I’d fallen into a too-familiar path of “Get ‘er done.” I accomplished whatever tasks were at hand, but did I enjoy the process? Feel excitement, anticipation, joy? Nope. None of it. The more I thought about it, the more discontent I grew. I needed to change. To regain … what? Youth? More than that. To regain the truth that living means more than just getting up in the mornings, going through the day, and falling into bed. Living is about savoring the journey. About seeing the myriad ways God leads, provides, blesses. It’s about making sure your heart and mind are wide open to all he has in store. One morning I decided. I would let go of the comfortable—and stretch. I began meeting the morning purposefully, asking God to make me aware of his presence and touch, open to

being used better by him. That’s when it happened. I didn’t grow any younger. What occurred was so much better. I found excitement flavored with wisdom, anticipation peppered with peace, and joy stemming from gratitude that God isn’t finished with me. He’s not finished with any of us. He’s constantly teaching us new and better ways to reflect him. And all those wonderful things—the joy and anticipation, the wonder and discovery—they’re still there. Every day. Regardless of my age. n Karen Ball, senior acquisitions editor for B&H Publishing Group’s Pure Enjoyment fiction line, has always been moved by the wonder of words. An awardwinning novelist herself (The Breaking Point, Shattered Justice), she finds her greatest delight in coming alongside novelists to bring out the deepest beauty in their writing.

Jan Will / istockphoto

It all started at a publishing trade show when a young editor came up to me—all wide eyes and smiles—and delivered a death blow: “I’ve heard about you for years. I want to be like you when I’m old.” Gee, thanks. It’s true I’d been around a while. I started in Christian publishing nearly 30 years ago. (Which, when I think about it, was probably before that editor was born. In comparison, I could be considered old. Fine.) But as I looked into her face, so full of excitement and promise, I remembered… Looking at each new day with anticipation, thrilled that I was in this amazing profession. The joy of brainstorming sessions with coworkers and authors, talking about what could be, what we could make happen. Being energized in the morning, engaged throughout the day, and content in the evenings as I looked back over all that

By Karen Ball

Read as these women share their voices and then consider your own.

Making Room

in Our Hearts and Homes for Orphans By Barbara Gelinas Sometimes when God touches our heart and calls us to something, our response to obey is easy—we experience a level of peace and comfort primarily because there seems to be a natural fit between what is being asked of us and our available resources. That is how it was with me and my husband as we responded to the call (James 1:27) to care for orphans. We found ourselves planning to adopt without having one ‘Pros Vs Cons’ discussion. Scripture said it and the need was obvious so we said, “Yes, Lord.” In fact, after we were blessed with one biological child, Selah, we were The Gelinas children.

unwavering in our commitment to build our family through adoption. We chose to adopt via our local social service agency—first was Kia, then Gabriel, followed by James. Recognizing that the answer to this global crisis was beyond us, my husband, Robert, started an adoption ministry called Project 1.27 ( Unfortunately, that didn’t thwart the questions regarding how many orphans we were personally responsible for. Choosing to say “Yes” became harder as the needed resources became less abundant. We would have to find ways to stretch ourselves financially; we needed to figure out how to stretch the number of hours in a day so each child got what they needed and that there was time left over for ourselves, our marriage, and of course, God. We’d have to stretch the practical areas of daily life: we would need a larger van, a bigger kitchen table … and would one babysitter continue to be enough?

Soon the opportunity to say, “Yes” to another orphan was presented to us—however, this time it was a precious 5 year old in Ethiopia (named Mihret). The process and cost of an International Adoption was beyond us. However, like always, God brought glory to himself by providing everything we needed. So much so that during the 14 month process, we chose to adopt a second child from Ethiopia (named Temesgen). I’d be less than honest if I left out one other reality. During our adoption journey, there were several times that we found ourselves stretched beyond our personal capacities. Unfortunately, we can’t know where our limits are until we’ve crossed them and we find ourselves sinking in our efforts and godly intentions—yet we frequently reflect on how much we would have missed out on had we stayed in our comfort zones and not tested our limits. Now as I consider both the stretching and the over-stretching experiences, I reflect on a God who never reaches a single limit in his ability to love and care for us. His personal capacities are endless and he catches us when we exceed ours. n Barbara Gelinas considers herself a lifelong student of growing in the knowledge and grace of Jesus while seeking to be the wife, mother and neighbor God has called her to be. She’s a graduate of Colorado University in Denver with a Master’s of Public Administration. Barb is a stay at home mom and co-parents her 6 kids with Robert, her husband of 17 years.

Winter 2011

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I tripped over my words as a teenager and felt constantly self-aware.

By Susie Larson

Someone once said that the way the enemy comes against you is the very way that God intends to use you. Years ago I spoke with a Bible scholar who told me that she had an insatiable desire to do drugs during her teen years. She said to me, “Do you suppose the enemy saw my intellectual potential and sought to destroy me before God had the chance to develop my gifts for his purposes?” Her question gave me pause. Two of the worst things that happened in my life as a young girl temporarily took away my voice. As a little girl, I was pinned down by a group of teenage boys who were eager to satisfy their curiosities. Night after night I had a recurring dream of being chased and

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Winter 2011

caught. But for the life of me, I could never scream. My other worst memory took place while walking home from school one day. I met up with a different group of teenage boys who decided to beat me up for sport. They punched, kicked, and pulled fistfuls of my hair out. This time I did scream and cry. I saw a neighbor boy standing in the distance watching the whole thing. Though I screamed, he didn’t move. Not only did my “No” mean little to nothing to others or to me, I saw no value in anything I had to say. I tripped over my words as a teenager and felt constantly self-aware. But eventually God, in his great love, rolled up his sleeves pulled me

out of the ashes of my pain, and set me in a spacious place. Over time—a lot of it—and with the help of patient souls in my life—many of them—he healed the wounds of my heart, refined and prepared me, and then he gave life and breath to my voice. What the enemy means for evil, God can turn for the good. Today, I write books, speak to thousands, and do live talk-radio—all of which require a voice, a connection to the Living Lord, and a divine instinct about what to say. I know this to be true: Anything is possible with God. n Susie Larson has spoken to thousands of women locally, nationally, and internationally. She is the author of six books, contributor to several, and is a freelance writer for Focus on the Family. She hosts the daily-live talk show, “Live the Promise” which airs on the Faith Radio Network. Susie is a national media voice for Moody Radio. She and her husband have three grown sons and one daughter-inlaw. They work alongside International Justice Mission as advocates for slaves and victims of human trafficking.

Digital Vision / Getty Images

Believing Beyond Your Memories

No Way!

Patrick A. Krost / istockphoto

By Suanne Suanne Camfield Camfield By

“No way.” I whispered it to the girl whose shoulder was pressed against mine, the one whose clunky helmet and cumbersome harness were a mirror reflection of my own. “I’ll do anything on this course,” I said, “but there is no way I’m crossing that beam.”

By “that beam,” I meant the one lonely log floating higher than any other contraption on that dreaded high ropes course. And I meant it. Seriously, truly, swear-on-my-life meant it. Imagine, then, my incredulous sigh when I found myself standing in the middle of that very beam—feeling like a tightrope walker with no net— and staring into the eyes of the very girl to whom I declared my absolute defiance. The irony of the moment was not lost on me. It’s one I believe we find ourselves in often. “No way, God. I will take on any challenge but that one. I will love any person but that one. I will tell any story, confess any sin, endure any hurt but that one. I will walk across any beam you want me to Lord, but not that one.”

And then somehow we find ourselves—terrified—inching across the very beam we said we’d never step foot on, shaking our heads as if maybe God hadn’t heard the conviction in our earlier declaration. Eventually, though, when we find ourselves on the other side, the true irony overtakes us. For we realize that God knew all along that that beam was the only one that would cause us to trust so completely, to love so selflessly, to abandon ourselves so wholly and to transform the pieces of us we were content to leave safely on the ground. n


Suanne Camfield is a writer, speaker and the editor of two blogs including FullFill’s™ Weekly ReFill. She lives with her family in the Chicago suburbs.

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She’s an influence in all areas of her life: home, work,

church, and the community at large. She leads by example. She leads by making courageous choices. She leads by having an opinion even when no one else does. She leads through a tender touch, a quiet smile, and a needed hug. She leads by holding people accountable, encouraging them to live up to their full potential and helping them go farther than they ever thought possible. Who’s she? She’s an every-day woman like you who’s leading in all the roles God has placed her. This month, she’s Halee Scott.

who’s she?

What is your passion regarding women and leadership? Ultimately, my passion is to help women (and others) live well (as Jesus taught), to love well (as Jesus demonstrated), and to lead well (as Jesus commanded). Who has been a positive influence on your leadership style and what did they teach you? Many people (including my husband, Grandmother, Dad, mentors, and friends) have had a positive effect on my leadership style, but the person that has influenced my leadership style the most is my daughter, Ellie. Being her mom has softened some of the rougher edges. What is the one thing you would do if you knew you would not fail? To be honest, there’s not much that prevents me from doing what I really want to do, especially fear. When I am afraid of something, I’m much more likely to run straight towards it, not from it. In my case, fear is a great motivator. What is one thing you know you’re good at? Climbing mountains; both literal ones and figurative ones.

Avesun / Istockphoto

What new skill would you like to learn over the upcoming year? Listening. What’s one leadership lesson or observation that’s helped changed you as a leader? The ultimate test of any leader is how well one leads themselves. Becoming the person you yourself would follow, day in and day out, is the toughest challenge of all. What three qualities do you believe are most important for leaders? The ability to motivate/inspire, kindness, and honesty/authenticity. Which of the above qualities do you possess most naturally? I would probably say honesty comes most naturally. I’m pretty transparent and usually have no qualms in “telling it like it is.”   In what areas would you personally like to grow as a leader? Without a doubt, I want to be more intentionally kind toward others—sensitive to their story and their needs.   What book is on your “want to read” list? Just one? I have to give at least two: Les Miserables and The Count

of Monte Cristo. Les Mis is a story of the human condition and the triumph of God’s grace; The Count of Monte Cristo is one man’s journey to understand God’s divine justice.        If you could redo any room in your house, which would it be, and what would you do? We currently live in a ultra-modern loft near downtown Holland, MI, and if I could do anything, I’d expand the living room to give it a more “Great Room” feel so as to welcome (comfortably) as many people possible into my home.   Potato chips or chocolate? Potato chips, hands down. My husband is the chocolate fanatic in our family. I have to hide chocolate from him!

RichMedia Click on the button below to watch the video interview: Who’s She? Halee Scott.

Where have you visited that you’d like to return to someday? St. Petersburg, Russia, in the middle of winter. n

Winter 2011

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spiritual formation

Once upon a time, I decided (for the umpteenth time)

that we really ought to put our house in order.

Untamed Hospitality By Dr. Beth Newman

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That afternoon my son got off the school bus and walked into the midst of this process. He immediately asked who was coming to visit based on his very pragmatic observation that we did the housework only when we were expecting guests. You probably know what I’m talking about. We know that the practice of hospitality requires effort on our part. But this kind of “get the house ready” effort distorts the practice of Christian hospitality. It’s more akin to the puritanical “cleanliness is godliness.” We mistake “entertaining” for “hospitality” and because of that, we miss the opportunity to love and connect and encourage—all traits modeled so beautifully by Jesus. We must forget Martha Stewart and the cable channel “Fine Living Network.” A spotless house with a perfect meal served on Emily Post place settings constitutes hospitality only if we believe that the portrait on the TV set wall really is someone’s grandmother. The central Biblical story of hospitality is that of Jesus at home with Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-41). As Jesus noted, the one thing that any of us has to offer is ourselves. In this sense, hospitality isn’t so much what we do, but who we are. Most of us realize this, at least if we reflect a bit. No one really imagines that the waiter in the three star restaurant—however skillful and attentive he or she may be—actually cares about us as persons. We are, after all, conducting a business transaction. In addition to being who we truly are, we must accept that we live in a world of abundance, not scarcity. Here the Biblical story is the multiplication of the loaves and fish (Matthew 14:16-21). The worried disciples report to Jesus that they have practically nothing with which to satisfy the hunger of thousands. Jesus takes what they do have, blesses, breaks and shares and there is enough to feed everyone with plenty left over. Nice story, we might think, but are there such moments in our lives? Christians worship a God who refuses to be reduced to human measure. The writer Annie Dillard captures this wildness when she writes: “Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats

and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews.” To be in the presence of God is to be transformed in ways that none of us can fully imagine. It is to enter a new world, a world of abundance where God provides what we need to be faithful. Untamed hospitality requires embracing an abundance mindset so that we’re comfortable sharing who we are and what we have. Guests are not for our consumption. Before you dismiss this as obvious (or just nuts), let me remind you of a non-Biblical story. In Homer’s epic The Odyssey, Odysseus and his crew are washed ashore on the island of the Cyclops and they seek shelter in the cave of the monster, Polyphemus. What makes this creature a monster is not his gigantic size nor the eye in the center of his forehead. He is a monster because he violates the most basic law of god and men: when strangers come to him, he does not shelter or comfort them. He devours them. How do we view others? Are they interruptions, threats, irritations? Do we see others in our lives as opportunities for our advancement? Are they to be used or to be served? A truly Christian hospitality sees those who come to us as blessings. What exactly does this kind of hospitality look like? It looks like taking time to sit with a lonely widow or befriend a troubled child. It looks like sitting with a grieving neighbor or carrying a meal to a shut-in. None of these gestures seem particularly radical and they certainly don’t require a clean house or nicely set table. But in a fast-paced world of anonymity and competition, these small gestures become radical embodiments of the grace of Christ. Most of all, Christian hospitality looks like allowing God to gather us as the body of Christ so that we might witness to the host of all creation. Only then do we begin to learn the new “habits of being” necessary to live hospitality that takes us beyond our wildest imagination. n

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some have unwittingly entertained angels. —Hebrews 13:2, (NKJV)

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Dr. Beth Newman is Professor of Theology and Ethics at Baptist Theological Seminary. She’s also the author of Untamed Hospitality, Welcoming God and Other Strangers.


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coaching community In contrast, a traditional Asian leadership style values a strong work ethic, loyalty, and harmony.

East meets West Leadership

American (or Western) culture is individualistic and progress oriented, drawn to charisma and passion.

By Esther Feng

The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps. —Proverbs 14:15

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A daughter of immigrants, I am both strongly Asian and fully American. God’s given me the opportunity to carefully choose the areas of each culture to adopt as my own. I have found this to be particularly helpful in the area of leadership and influence. If we can learn to utilize the sometimes overlooked contrasting eastern and western traits appropriately, we can have greater influence as we point others to Christ.

Work Ethic All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. —Proverbs 14:23 (NIV) Traditional Asian cultures love hard work. Dedication to hard work can carry a team to great heights. We’ve all been in brainstorming meetings where cutting edge ideas are generated, only to find they’ve all fizzled after a few months. Often we start working on a project with fervor, but once things become too difficult, we give up and decide we’ve missed the will of God. Let’s not become mere talkers, but rather diligent workers, who are profiting the Kingdom of God.

Loyalty and Obligation Viewstock / Photodisc / Getty Images

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work. —Titus 3:1 (ESV) In traditional Asian cultures, loyalty is most clearly displayed in the assumption that the family’s needs are more important than that of the individual. As influencers, we want bring that intense allegiance and group-orientation into our teams, families, and ministries.

One Asian woman stated, “I work to make my entire group look good. Our [American] company, however, only rewards ‘hotshots,’ people who stand out and make themselves noticed.” How can we build a sense of loyalty in our teams? Titus reminds us to prioritize the needs and desires of our authorities above our own. In doing so, we honor God and receive his reward in heaven. As leaders, we can look for humility and reward the meek.

Harmony Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. —Psalm 34:14 (NIV) Saving face—preserving the appearance (and thus dignity) of an individual or group—is woven into the fabric of Asian culture. As Christ followers, we can do more than merely preserve appearances. We can actually protect the sense of worth in those around us. Instead of confronting or accusing someone, we can bolster someone’s dignity by leading her to the conclusion we’ve discovered. Perhaps a life story that speaks to the same issue or a series of questions suggesting a solution can help resolve conflict without causing irreparable damage. When recruiting for a particular position, giving someone an “out” can save her from the difficult situation of having to refuse or disappoint you. Particularly when recruiting volunteers, this can reduce the feeling of obligation or being pressured into doing something. When someone says “yes,” we can know it’s genuine, resulting in loyal team members. As we lead, let’s be prudent, sifting and weighing our cultural norms. There is much to be gleaned from other cultures. n Esther Feng is a field leader for MOPS International as well as coordinator for a Chinese MOPS group. Her passion is to encourage others to live fully for Christ. A former science teacher, she has rediscovered her love of words and blogs at Her two daughters love giggling, dressing up and wishing they were princesses.

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Pomegranate by Floortje/Istockphoto; house by Vaun Swanson; inset photos by Constance Smith

woman of influence

Grace Place

An Interview wit h Vaun Swanson By Mary Byers

It was a simple ministry idea: a safe, comfortable place for women to have meaningful conversations. Since then, Pomegranate Place in Denver, Colorado has become so much more.

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What challenges you as the founder and leader of Pomegranate Place? One of the most unexpected challenges has been a handful of neighbors and the city’s zoning and building codes. I know that sounds crazy, but it has consumed a tremendous amount of time and energy and the issues are still not resolved. What we are doing here does not fit neatly into any of the categories the city has on its books. We also don’t fit neatly into “faith-based” or “secular” categories. All women are welcome at Pomegranate Place and while Christian faith is not a prerequisite for teaching classes or leading, we hold to a Judeo-Christian spirituality in our holistic approach to empowering women and helping them find their purpose in life. Fleshing this out from day to day can be challenging and requires a lot of conversations that go to the heart of women’s worldviews. When did you first realize you were a leader—and how did the realization come about? I never really thought about being a leader when I was young, although I often found myself in that position in my youth group, the cheerleading squad, student council, band, etc. I was about 15 when I sensed God calling me into leadership in the church. I was just drawn to that. My dad was a church leader and I loved listening in on those conversations. I thought I would be a pastor’s wife as that was the model I saw for women.

What’s the story behind Pomegranate Place?

I mentored women in Denver for about 10 years and realized there was a need for a safe, comfortable place for women to have meaningful conversations. I began casting the vision with various women I knew and hosted focus groups in my home to see if others thought there was a need. I sensed I was, indeed, moving in a direction of need and desire. I have also enjoyed restoring older homes in the past, so when I saw this one for sale, I knew it was right. It is located in an area that has the highest concentration of young single women in the entire metro region.

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Jennifer Davidson /

How did you develop yourself as a leader? In my early 20s, while my husband and I were in graduate school, I worked part-time for the staff council at the University of Colorado for several years. I had the opportunity to sit in on many meetings of university and state level leaders where I could observe them in action. I don’t think I realized at the time how valuable this would be to me later. The bulk of my leadership skills have been developed through volunteer work. Serving on committees and teams in my church, neighborhood schools, and non-profit organizations has been the best education. I have also had some wonderful mentors and coaches through the years. I went back to school—several times—and have attended many workshops on leadership development. I love reading about leaders and organizational development. I find

Old Testament leaders fascinating. Nehemiah is one of my favorites. How do you continue to grow yourself as a leader today? I am fortunate to be surrounded by some fabulous women leaders at Pomegranate Place and I am always learning new things from them. I also attend a monthly gathering of female non-profit and ministry leaders. I recently asked an experienced businesswoman to mentor me and am trying to learn from my mistakes as well as my successes. The thing I find most important now is setting aside time to be alone with God. It is his voice I most want to hear when it comes to clarifying a vision or making a leadership decision. How does your current investment of your leadership skills compare with what you expected to be doing in this season of your life? As mentioned, I thought I would live out my days as a pastor’s wife. My husband is a patent attorney! Later, while in seminary, I sensed God calling me to train as a pastor. I had short stints of working in both a church and a mission organization. Neither of them suited me well. I think where I am now is so much better than I could ever have imagined. I have more freedom to use my gifts and pastoral training than I would ever have had in a church setting, and more financial freedom to explore new means of ministry than I likely would have had as a pastor’s wife.

actually commit. Then look for a group or organization that is moving in the same direction. If you don’t see one, perhaps you will need to start one. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission.

I understand that you expected your influence to be in the church—and it isn’t. How did you make peace with that? The American culture and the American Church are following divergent paths when it comes to the leadership of women. The American culture is liberating women at the same time the Church is systematically holding them back. I believe that God wants us, as women, to use the gifts he has given us and if we can’t use them in the Church, we need to look outside the Church. I’ve come to realize that the Kingdom of God is much bigger than the Church and I am thriving out here. I still get angry every time a woman tells me how she has been shut down by her church or by other Christians. This is a social justice issue that we need to keep addressing at every opportunity. Pomegranates are beautiful and juicy and messy … kind of like women! And they carry rich symbolism in world cultures and history. In Judaism it is a symbol of righteousness and there are said to be the same number of seeds in a pomegranate as there are laws in the Torah (613). In religious paintings of Mary and the Christ-child, such as those by Botticcelli and Leonardo da

What advice would you give to women who desperately want to invest their leadership ability but don’t know where to begin—or what to do next? The world needs what you have to offer. Think about what brings you joy. What are the things or people you are naturally drawn to? Is there anything tugging at your heart so strongly that you can’t NOT do it? Think about what season of life you are in and how much time you can

Vinci, one of them will often be holding a pomegranate—a symbol of the suffering and resurrection of Christ. In Eastern Orthodox communities, special dishes prepared with pomegranates are served at weddings and funerals, and Greeks take the fruit as housewarming gifts, symbolizing abundance, good luck and fertility.

How do you see God at work in the building known as Pomegranate Place? There is a warm, calming, welcoming feeling that people get RichMedia when they walk in the front door. Click on the buttons to Almost everyone mentions it. I watch the believe it is the Spirit of God in this Interview with Vaun Swanson place. The conversations here are and find extras! incredible. There are no taboo topics and women readily open up to share their lives and their struggles. I see Christian women laughing with neo-pagan women. Young lesbian women partner with older married women to raise funds for women in the Congo. A 78-yearold woman reads her own poetry out loud for the first time. Hearts are softened, hope is renewed, understanding is fostered, hurts are healed and God is definitely at work here! n Winter 2011

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Foodcollection / Getty Images + Hoffmann Judit / Istockphoto

Loaves & Fishes

Thank you for teaching me one more time that nothing I can grasp, nothing I can describe or articulate, is the Holy, the whole. I can’t see you face to face. But you provide symbols in lore and in life. Off those sacred satellites I catch sideways glimpses, reflected flashes of your grace: laughter, the offered joy of intimacy, good enough work to do, my grown children carving out their lives, quiet morning moments by dawn’s apricot shimmer on the lake, the Sunday morning miracle where all the faces are transfigured, your body, the church where each of us brings our small gifts— like the boy’s barley loaves and fishes— none of them the whole, only fragments like pieces of broken bread. But it is enough, and I can move on— small, vulnerable, not very sure but sufficiently sturdy to walk into every moment you provide.   —Celia A. Hahn, author of Uncovering Your Church’s Hidden Spirit

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

Enlarging Our Vision

occurs when objects nearby are in focus, but distant objects appear blurred. According to the Optometric Association of America, myopia affects nearly 30% of the U.S. population. Those among the 30% are quick to bring their blurry world into focus with the help of glasses or contact lenses. Other forms of myopia go unnoticed, however, until something major triggers an awareness that we’re viewing the world through blurry eyes—seeing only part, not the whole. For America, the rest of the world came into jarring focus the day two planes crashed into the Twin Towers. As author/activist Jim Wallis observed, “On September 11 American joined the world.”

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Never will I forget those first few images of Afghan women floating across the television screen in their sky-blue burkas like aliens from another planet. Never did I imagine how much those faceless figures would change for me. Overnight my hunger to know more about women in South Western Asia and the Middle East surged. Suddenly my reading list included such titles as Nine Parts of Desire, Reading Lolita in Tehran, Kite Runner, Three Cups of Tea, and lately, Half the Sky. Eye-opening conversations followed with individuals from cultures completely foreign to mine. And somewhere in the process of reading and learning I crossed a Rubicon of sorts. No longer was my white, middle-class, suburban American

world the only reference point. No longer could I close my eyes to these unfamiliar (and sometimes disturbing) realities and convince myself that life as I know it here is, or even ought to be, considered the norm. No longer could I continue my quest to unearth the Bible’s message for women in a Western bubble. I had reached a point of no return that unleashed a flood of changes. Two stand out. First, I began to see the Bible differently. Glimpses of life in the Middle East and in other patriarchal societies breathed life into Bible characters (women and men) who since my early childhood had been trapped inside a two dimensional flannel-graph world. The stories of women suddenly leaped off the pages of my Bible with an earthshaking potency, depth, and relevance that turned my world upside down. I realized that in the West we study Scripture at a significant disadvantage since our culture is as far removed from the biblical world as you can get. By studying life in other cultures, I have been able, in some degree, to step out of my world and into theirs. Second, I realized that not only have we been studying God’s word in isolation—our discussion of the Bible’s message for women is isolated too. The prosperity we enjoy shapes both the questions we ask and the answers we embrace. Despite our best efforts, we are raising questions and settling for answers that depend on our prosperity


Myopia (nearsightedness)

{ think }

When survival is the only item on a woman’s to-do list, options are limited.

and are unworkable and irrelevant in many regions globally. Do I plan to use my college degree or set it aside? Should I be a stay-at-home mom or work outside the home? Am I captivating? Women battling poverty do not have the luxury of such questions. Hard work and education are gateways to a better future for themselves, their children, and their communities as well as a safeguard against traffickers. When survival is the only item on a woman’s to-do list, options are limited. As leaders, overcoming this kind of myopia isn’t easy for any of us, for we are

daughters of our culture. But just like purchasing contact lenses, we need to do whatever it takes to keep the whole world in focus as we study God’s Word. We must listen to those who understand the biblical culture so alien to us and test our theological conclusions—on every subject, including women—with harsh realities arising from other cultures and from the most marginalized, shattered female life. Only then can we begin to make progress in understanding God’s message for us. n

Carolyn Custis James is involved in mobilizing women through WhitbyForum and Synergy. This article was adapted from Carolyn’s new book, Half the Church: Recapturing God’s RichMedia Global Vision for Women (Zondervan, March 2011). Carolyn will be keynoting at the CLA Conference in Dallas in April 2011.

Classic Thought By Oswald Chambers

The Light that Never Fails

Free Help us keep FullFill™ free! Click on the Donate button below to give a tax-deductible gift of any amount.


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“We all, with unveiled face, beholding… the glory of the Lord…” (2 Corinthians 3:18) A servant of God must stand so very much alone that he never realizes he is alone. In the early stages of the Christian life, disappointments will come—people who used to be lights will flicker out, and those who used to stand with us will turn away. We have to get so used to it that we will not even realize we are standing alone. Paul said, “…no one stood with me, but all forsook me…. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me…” (2 Timothy 4:16-17). We must build our faith not on fading lights but on the Light that never fails. When “important” individuals go away we are sad, until we see that they are meant to go, so that only one thing is left for us to do—to look into the face of God for ourselves. Allow nothing to keep you from looking with strong determination into the face of God regarding yourself and your doctrine. And every time you preach make sure you look God in the face about the message first, then the glory will remain through all of it. A Christian servant is one who perpetually looks into the face of God and then goes forth to talk to others. The ministry of Christ is characterized by an abiding glory of which the servant is totally unaware—”… Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him” (Exodus 34:29). We are never called on to display our doubts openly or to express the hidden joys—and delights of our life with God. The secret of the servant’s life is A Christian servant is one that he stays in tune with who perpetually looks into God all the time. n

the face of God and then goes forth to talk to others.

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


Contemporary Reflection By Donna Huisjen

Jesus’ coming occurred in the dark—of night and of sin. Has it ever occurred to you that we in the northern hemisphere celebrate the arrival of God’s Son only days after the year’s deepest darkness has settled in? In early traces of coming grace, God punctuated that darkness by an angel choir and an unusually bright star. Easter morning, on the other hand, arrives on the heels of spring, during the time when dawn arrives earlier each day and the natural world is beginning to respond to the nudges of warmth and light. And Easter Sunday dawns in the effulgent glory of sunrise—the full light of salvation. The holiday distracts us from darkness. Yet with deliberate attention and the Spirit’s assistance, the aura of Christmas can stay with us through that seemingly interminable stretch culminating in Easter. Invite the Light to penetrate and permeate your winter months. His presence is most evident in the dark. n

Inviting the Light Konstantin Yuganov / istockphoto

The first day of winter, arriving as it does on December 21, is much more likely to pass unnoticed than the first day of spring. We’re immersed in planning for, or are already enjoying, Christmas festivities. We may consider the beginning of winter to be palatable because of nostalgic holiday associations. The snow of December is less likely to be yellowed or dirt-tinged, more apt (so we think) to be fluffy and picturesque and conducive to celebration. Yet the darkness of winter is hard on people. For many in cold, bleak climates, depression settles in during those long months with their dearth of light. It isn’t uncommon to move through weeks seeing the barest fraction of “possible sunlight.” Spirits are noticeably lifted on those rare crisp and cloudless days.

Donna Huisjen, the single adoptive mother of three grown daughters, makes her home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. A fulltime freelance Christian writer and editor, she has four books and numerous articles and devotions to her credit.

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God is Here Standing on the path gazing up through the

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at the retreat. They were all one-of-a-kind, special and spiritually beautiful; the kind of beauty that begins within and seeps out for all the world to witness. Looking high above to the tops of the trees scraping the sky, I felt very insignificant and small. I was only one speck in the endless forest. And yet, God knew me and loved me and every one of my sisters who would later gather and share their experiences in finding God. God breathed on the trees and the leaves whispered softly. God was on the path with me, sending me a gift of peace. I answered with a soft prayer of thanksgiving. The sense of peace washed down over me. I was swallowed up by the surrounding beauty. No one could ever create such beauty or peace other than our Creator. Observing the forest encircling me, I realized all the lovely single trees together created one beautiful forest. I considered the many women gathered to shape the beautiful sisterhood I was experiencing. God creates so much beauty for us to enjoy in nature and in people. God created all my sisters in the Faith; all different with different talents, but One in the Spirit. Looking through the forest of tall lush trees placed by God, I felt welcomed by the beauty and knew God was there. Alone in the midst of the forest, beneath the patches of blue sky, God was there. n Carol Kehlmeier is a former newspaperwoman and columnist. Her freelance work has been published in both Christian and secular publications and she has several e-books online.

René Mansi / Istockphoto

tall lush trees to a patch of blue sky, I closed my eyes and breathed in the sweet scent of the countryside. Feeling the soft earth beneath my feet I strolled across the leaf-strewn path, aware of how each tree was unique in its beauty. Even the naked black trees that had fallen and no longer produced life added to the graceful splendor of the forest. The air was still. Deep into the woods, the quietness embraced me and I willingly absorbed it. Having become accustom to the blasting and blaring of our world and learning to tolerate it, being alone in the quiet woods made me realize what a chaotic society we live in. Alone in the stillness was refreshing, relaxing, and fulfilling. “Try to experience God,” the retreat leader told us. “In your own way.” Then she sent us off in different directions. I decided to take a path through the woods. Alone in the quiet, breathing in the clean dampness of the earth, I wondered if I would recognize the Creator if we were to meet on the path. What would God say? What would I say? Should I ask about the topic of sisterhood we were examining the weekend? Should I ask about being connected to one another and experiencing compassion with my Faith sisters? Studying the trees, each different, but beautiful, I thought of the other women seeking spiritual recovery

By Carol Kehlmeier

By Jane Keller

Selahattin BAYRAM / istockphoto

As I sat at the table with a blank poster board in

front of me, scissors in hand, and a stack of magazines beside me, a feeling of dread began to build. I had no idea where to begin. I looked up at my friend, Missy, sitting across from me, a mother of five, and as she stared back at me, a mother of six, one look said it all.  I was afraid to  It was a Monday night, and I, start dreaming along with several other women, again, telling mywere meeting with a life coach.  She had just given us an assign- self that I shouldn’t have dreams ment: look through magazines and and that I should cut out pictures, words, or phrases that reflect our dreams. We weren’t just let my life turn out the way it’s supposed to process our thoughts going to turn out. too much—just let our hearts respond to what appealed to us.  Missy and I laughed and joked as we flipped through our magazines, but underneath the laughter, I sensed a growing frustration, and the flipping of the pages began to sound like a desperate search for ourselves. Another friend at our table, an empty-nester, asked me, “Jane, what do you see yourself doing when your kids are gone?” As I stared at her with the same glazed-over look I had given Missy, I realized I had no answer. That night a truth that had been gnawing at the edges of my heart broke through in full clarity. Sometime in the last 20 years, I’d given up on my dreams.   When I was first married, I was full of them. I wanted to have all my children while I was young and be a stay-athome mom. After our kids were grown and gone, Steve and I would travel, collect antiques, and live on the beach. All of this while I owned my own business and he was a pastor.   As the years went by, some of these dreams came to life. Steve is a pastor. We had three children while we were young … but then five years later, along came two more … and four years after that number six. We weren’t so young anymore.    I’ve yet to open my own business, travel has pretty much been limited to family vacations, and so far, not a single antique (unless you count the washer and dryer). 

That Monday evening I came home with a poster covered with magazine clippings and a heavy heart. I began to see that it wasn’t just the big dreams I’d let go of, but even smaller dreams had been put on the shelf because, well, because of life. Like the dream of running the Boston marathon, going to Napa Valley, or taking a road trip with my sisters.  The next morning, my 5-year-old daughter walked into the living room holding my poster. “Mom, is this important? Because Noah just ripped it.” Behind her trailed my 22-month-old son with magazine paper crumpled tightly in his little fist. As I tried to salvage my dreams from his grip, tears sprang to my eyes, but I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony of it. This one action by my son summed up all that I had been feeling.  As I tried to sort through all my emotions in the days that followed, one seemed truer than the rest. Fear. I was afraid to start dreaming again, telling myself that I shouldn’t have dreams and that I should just let my life turn out the way it’s going to turn out. God is sovereign, right? I can trust him.    As I looked at my tattered poster I felt something beneath the fear begin to stir. A hunger. A hunger for more, a hunger for God. Wasn’t God the first dreamer? The One who saw the world for what it would be and created it? Hasn’t he placed that same creativity in me? I believe he has. I also believe perfect Love destroys fear.    Like a toddler learning to walk,  I’ve started dreaming again. I’ve realized with joy that some of my dreams are the same. I still would love to own my own business and buy that beach house.  I still want to run Boston, travel, and take that road trip with my sisters. I have some new dreams, too. But they are still young and need caring for and tending to in order to grow. I’ve promised myself I will not feel shame for wanting more, that having dreams is not an indication that I am unfulfilled or unhappy. Dreaming big means having hope, and hope does not disappoint.   I think I’ll give my sisters a call and see if they’ve got plans for next spring. n  Jane Keller lives in Charlotte, North Carolina and is happily married to Steve. She stays busy with their 6 children, who range from a toddler to college age. She loves running, cooking and squeezing the juice out of life.  

An invitation to find your place in this world. By Shayne Moore

(worldly) women

Abolitionist Mama Did you know there are more slaves today than ever before in human history?

A friend asked me why I am doing this? Why I am blogging

about modern day slavery? My response was because this is what I can do. I am not famous. I am not a politician. I am not an attorney or a movie producer or a journalist. I am a wife, a mother, a sister, neighbor, and friend. I work part time when my kids are in school to make extra money for my family. I am a soccer mom.

–Kimberly Yim

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My friend, Kimberly Yim knows this and this is why she blogs. In fact, she does more than blog. Kim is an example of other inspiring soccer moms I have met who are changing the world. She and her friends in Orange County California call themselves “Abolitionist Mamas” and actively work in their communities and areas of influence to educate and raise awareness about modern day slavery—the sex trade—or as we more commonly hear it called today: human trafficking. Kim’s journey began when she saw the Documentary film, Call + Response. This film goes deep undercover and exposes the dirty secret of modern slavery where slave traders in 2009 made more money than Google, Nike and Starbucks combined. The Abolitionist Mamas had to act. They did not wait to be told what to do or how to do it. Kim and her friends formed a loose knit committee and got to work. Going far outside their comfort zone they took a risk. They invited community leaders, church leaders, and people of influence in their community to a screening of the film Call + Response. Upon entering attendees were given six inch rope bracelets wrapped in duct tape; the amount of tape needed to silence a person. I am another soccer mom who stands with Kim and the Abolitionist Mamas. I am a mother of three. I live in a

comfortable suburb and I cannot imagine the horror of a mother knowing her child has been kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery. And yet, this is the reality for millions of mothers and families worldwide. It is estimated there are over 27 million people in slavery today. So what are we to do? The problem can seem so far away. Can I really make a difference in Cambodia or Thailand where the crisis is blatant and where local authorities turn a blind eye and Western men take advantage of this and order young girls off a menu as they would order a meal? Can I travel to downtown Chicago, the largest city closest to me, and storm warehouses and back alleys to find rooms of locked up slaves? The reality of modern-day slavery creates an unpleasant and helpless reaction deep within me. I have come to believe we must move past our reactions to the horrific realities of global need and

respond. As women of faith we are tender-hearted. We have God’s heart for the world but do we too often let our reactions overwhelm and paralyze us keeping us from responding? I believe we should be “Worldly Women.” We need to move outside our comfort zones and get thick skin while keeping our tender hearts. When we do this, when we respond, however that might look, and take risks on behalf of others, good things happen. We can change the world. n 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.


2.9 Billion The approximate

quick Fill “

Discipline yourself to do the scariest, hardest thing first each day. Then the rest of the day is a breeze. —Rosemary O’Neill


Typical portion sizes have increased over the years. Fountain sodas during the 1950s were about seven ounces, compared with 12-64 ounces these days. A typical bag of popcorn at the movies was one about five to six cups. Now a large bucket with butter flavor contains up to 20 cups and 1,640 calories. —Bottomline Secrets

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Nobody sees a flower —really— it is so small it takes time. We haven’t time— and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time. —Georgia O’Keeffe, painter

5 According to the book The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner, the five traits people look for most in a leader are:

Honesty Forward-Looking Competence Inspiring Intelligent

Shoes by mark wragg/Istockphoto; flower by Jon Larson/istockphoto; cup by Alexander Shirokov/istockphoto

number of shoes American women have in their closets. You can donate your gently worn footwear to, a charity that distributes shoes worldwide to the more than 300 million children and 1.5 billion adults without shoes. To date, the organization has donated over 11 million pairs—currently one pair every seven seconds.


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.


Models. Movie stars. Lingerie. Bikinis. Makeup. Stilettos. Six-pack abs. Eeww. Nice! Confusing.

Do the words “sexy” and “Christian” fit together in the same sentence? Would it be sacrilegious to put them together? And if not sacrilegious, would it be mutually exclusive? In other words, is there such a thing as a “sexy Christian”? Is sexy always about sex? One definition of “sexy” is “excitingly appealing.” When examined in that context it seems that there is such a thing as sexy Christians. After all, isn’t that what we want our faith to be: excitingly appealing? We want others to hear that Jesus saves and that the

four-letter word

Holy Spirit provides guidance and counsel to those who invite him in. We want to share the Word with our neighbors and give hope to a dying world. We want to appeal to the lost, the lonely and the downtrodden. And we want to attract the on-their-own successful as well—to help them realize they can be better people and live better lives when God’s power is working through them. We want to share the excitement of the recovery of a lost sheep or the return of a prodigal. In fact, some of us were those sheep or “wayward” children. And now we want our faith to be “excitingly appealing” to others who are lost. What is the appeal of faith? The certainty of eternal life in heaven? The knowledge that you’re walking with the Creator of the Universe? The serenity and contentment that comes even in the midst of life’s toughest challenges? The beauty of forgiveness—both given and received? When we know the appeal it’s easier to share our faith in appealing ways—sexy or not. What’s not appealing? Fake or superficial is not appealing. But isn’t that what the world is selling when it sells “sexy” sometimes? Air-brushed faces, impossibly thin women, wealth beyond compare. Beverly Hills housewives. Bachelorettes. Reality stars who strive to keep their names in the headlines. Part of the struggle may be that God made us sexual beings. Sexy is part of who we are but not always part of what we do. Separating the who from the what isn’t always easy, especially in a hypersexualized world. As Christians, we have a choice to make. Are we going to be sexy (excitingly appealing) or not? How we answer affects who we’ll touch—and how we reach them. n


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Dr. Mark Young is a theological educator and pastoral leader with nearly thirty years of global ministry experience. On July 1, 2009, he became the seventh president of Denver Seminary in Littleton, Colorado.

When You Have Nothing Left to Give By Dr. Mark Young

“You give them something to eat.”

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Winter 2011

Suzanne Tucker / Istockphoto

That’s the last thing the disciples wanted to hear from Jesus that day. They’d just returned from their first short-term missions trip. They’d preached that the Kingdom of God was at hand, cast out demons, and healed many, many people. When they returned to tell Jesus about all that had happened, a throng of folks had gathered in that village. The first-century internet—good old gossip—was ablaze with stories about Jesus and his followers. On that day, the one that Mark tells us about in 6:30-43 of his Gospel, expectant and impatient miracle-seekers pressed in upon them and intruded into their private lives to such an extent that they couldn’t even eat. They’d put out to sea a short distance to sail away from the crowds and find a deserted place where they could be alone. But the escape RichMedia never materialized. The crowds simply followed them on shore trampling through the underbrush with a resolve

that would not be denied. The disciples couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw a huge throng waiting for them in the “isolated” place Jesus had chosen for their quiet retreat. Their resentment grew as the boat came closer to the turgid crowd. I suspect that you often feel much like the disciples did on that day. Most days it seems like the needs are overwhelming and the demands never-ending, doesn’t it? Whether children or bosses or husbands or parents or friends—those who need just a little more of your time, just a little more of your attention, just a little more of your energy—seem to step through the door as if on cue with a steady stream of requests. Jesus didn’t see intruders ruining his much-needed rest by demanding more of his energy and time. He saw men and women and children with needs they could not meet on their own and no one else to go to. He called them “sheep without a shepherd,” vulnerable and abandoned. So, rather than sail on to another deserted place to find the rest that they

sought, Jesus had compassion on the crowds and stayed to minister to them. That’s when they heard that fateful command from the lips of Jesus, “You give them something to eat.” And that’s when they lost their patience with him. What did he expect of them? They’d just finished an intense and exhausting time of ministry. They had given until there wasn’t anything left to give! Jesus didn’t even acknowledge their cries of protest. Begrudgingly they’d gone to their packs and found five loaves of bread and two dried fish. Convinced that Jesus would see the sense of their plan to send everyone away to buy their own sustenance, they’d reported the paltry amount of food they had with them. You know the rest of the story, don’t you? After Jesus gave thanks to his Father, he broke the five loaves of bread and divided the two fish, giving the pieces to the disciples to distribute to a crowd that likely numbered more than ten thousand people. With skeptical minds and resentful hearts these followers of Christ gave the first group something to eat. Then the second and the third. They gave and gave until everyone had enjoyed all that they wanted and there was plenty left over. Jesus’ provision never ran out. “You give them something to eat.” That’s likely the last thing we want to hear at the end of another busy day. Yet that’s exactly what we’re called to do. Even when we think we’ve nothing left to give, Jesus gives us what we need to meet others’ needs. n

Stretchy Leadership Answers: Elastic, rubber bands, and spandex. A circus high wire safety net. Christmas shoppers approaching a Salvation Army kettle. Grandparents. Philanthropists. Leaders. Category: Things with “give.” A certain line caught my attention in Denzel’s film “Unstoppable.” (Denzel Washington—what other Denzel is there?) He and his newbie coworker (played by a very handsome Chris Pine) form a self-selected team to stop a runaway train by chasing it down with a separate engine, hooking up and pulling it in the opposite direction. When Chris Pine’s character objects to Denzel’s strategy saying the coupling will snap, Denzel replies, “It won’t snap. It’ll stretch.” Effective leaders don’t snap—they stretch. They offer what’s necessary in the moment. They custom-care and tailor-make their efforts to the challenges before them. Effective leaders are stretchy leaders. They have “give.” I haven’t always believed this to be true. In my earlier days I mistook resolve for leadership. The kind of decision-making that moves full-steam ahead without wavering. No doubts. No second-guessing. Identify the goal and go! Then I embraced pace as leadership—the faster the pace, the better the leader. Dawdling about with paper plans and flow charts, worrying about the details of implementation—oh bother! Just move—now—and get finished by the end of the week. Later came my belief in the combination of both resolve with pace: know where you’re going and go there fast. Yeah, that’s the ticket! It’s funny how most leadership lessons are learned through our mistakes. One of my very first fundraising efforts took the form of a Christmas Open House at our office. I carefully cut out red construction paper hearts penned with wish-list items for our ministry and hung them as ornaments on Christmas trees in the three rooms of our space. Stirring the punch,

{ my Fill } assembling the chocolates and sending out the invitations, what more was needed? Well…donors? In those days we had twelve on our books and my “come one come all” blast to local businesses and churches didn’t net any more warm bodies. Three people showed: the board chair and his wife and my best friend. Make that four—my husband faithfully attended. Identifying my goal and holding to it resolvedly didn’t raise any money. Neither did my full-speed ahead gallop. Early on in my tenure I met up with our office manager on an errand to examine some “gently used” desk chairs to complete our hand-me-down suite of office furniture. Coming from different directions, we drove separately and when we were finished with our task, I sped to my car to make my next meeting. She hollered after me, “Hey Elisa, would you mind waiting for me to step into the Ladies Room? I’m not sure how to get back to the office and I’d like to follow you.” What would this take, five extra minutes? But for “Fast Elisa” a five-minute delay was unacceptable. I said no. Then I felt awful as I watched her strained face in my rearview mirror all the way back to the office as she’d chosen following me over her own bladder. Effective leaders are stretchy leaders. They are leaders with “give.” They give a break when forgiveness is called for (even for themselves). They give way to allow others to lead as well. They give in when they are wrong. They give credit where credit’s due rather than hogging it for themselves. They give back when they have benefited and give up and give away when it’s time for them to move on. “Stretchy” leadership is about ninety-nine parts God and one part me. But when I do my part—when I lead with “give”—I give God permission to do his part—in me, in my leadership, and in my life. Elisa Morgan Publisher Winter 2011

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Stretch — FullFill Magazine  
Stretch — FullFill Magazine  

Winter 2011