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You Never Walk Alone

Y FAMILY ENTERED A DEEP VALLEY the day my young niece was killed in a tragic accident. At the time, none of us knew how we would be able to walk through this valley — nor how many people would walk with us.

Word of the accident spread quickly among other family and friends and the support system we didn’t even know we had kicked in. Within hours neighbors offered to take my children for the evening so my husband and I could have the time and space to wrestle with our grief and disbelief. Other neighbors organized food delivery for a week so I didn’t have to think about such mundane tasks as cooking. My in-laws watched my young children so my husband and I could fly to the memorial service, which was attended by relatives from all over the country, all of whom interrupted their own lives to be with us in our darkest hour. Friends took turns watching my children weeks later when I returned to help my brother and sister-in-law with cooking, cleaning and caring for my infant nephew, who would never know his older sister. Other friends called and e-mailed in the weeks after the accident and listened as I questioned God, wondered why and worried about my brother and sister-in-law’s marriage. I walked through the days after the accident like a zombie. The world continued on as if nothing had happened but our world had changed both suddenly and horribly. It would never be the same. And yet, somehow we found the energy to move through this period. We did so simply by continuing to put one foot in front of the other each day and accepting the support and love that others shared with us. Sometimes, when you’re in a valley, that’s all you can do. Most of us will walk through a valley of some sort in our lives. Perhaps some not as tragic as this example, others more so. And many of us will

descend into more than one chasm, sometimes simultaneously. Valleys come in different shapes and sizes. Illness. Job loss. Infertility. Depression. Financial ruin. Betrayal. Divorce. The loss of a loved one. The list is endless. In this issue our authors tackle the tough topic of valleys. Nancie Carmichael offers wisdom for the ascent out of the abyss. Beverly Van Kampen shares the two words that strengthened her as she helped her daughter navigate breast cancer treatment. And Alison Strobel describes the anger that gripped her after a miscarriage. You’ll also read about Constance Rhodes and how her past influences her ministry today and learn about a focused way to read the Bible from study leader Beverly Van Kampen. There’s a theme running through this issue: even in the darkest night we are never alone. The God who created us and loves us will sustain us through the most unimaginable experiences. Even when we refuse to acknowledge his presence, he waits patiently and watches carefully. It is our hope you’ll find a nugget or two in this issue that will dramatically change how you approach the tough spots in your life regardless of where you are: entering a valley, walking through one, or leaving one behind. Whatever challenge you face, remember that you do not walk alone. Sincerely,

Mary Byers MANAGING EDITOR, writer@FullFill.org

{PUBLISHER} Elisa Morgan, M.Div. {MANAGING EDITOR} Mary Byers, B.A. {ART DIRECTOR + GRAPHIC DESIGNER}

Cindy Young 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.

DIRECTOR OF MINISTRY ENGAGEMENT MOPS INTERNATIONAL

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. FullFill™ is a ministry of Mission: Momentum.

Copyright 2010 Mission: Momentum.

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FRONT COVER © BRUCE & REBECCA MEISSNER / STOCKSY IMAGES BACK COVER © GEORGE BURBA / ISTOCK

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in focus:

through the valley

Things happen. One minute you’re cruising through life — then a bombshell hits, and life is never the same. By Nancie Carmichael

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voices: BLACK NIGHT OF MY SOUL By Michele Howe A DREAM DEFERRED By Alison Strobel

Don’t Miss Out! This issue of FullFill™ is full of extras! Click on the rich media buttons to watch videos and dig up more treasure. Getting Around: Learn how to navigate through the magazine by clicking here: Magazine Tutorial.

TWO WORDS By Beverly Van Kampen

contents

Winter 2010

10 SPIRITUAL FORMATION: How to Read a Love Letter by Sue Edwards

{ columns } 18 THINK The Giantess Awakes By Carolyn Custis James

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20 COACHING COMMUNITY

15 A WOMAN OF INFLUENCE: Approval Junkie No More

The People Bumps By Liz Selzer

A conversation with Constance Rhodes by Mary Byers

27 FOUR-LETTER WORD Best

21 THE BETWEEN 15

28 MALE BOX Partnership in Perspective

Classic Thought by Oswald Chambers Contemporary Reflection by Erin Bunting

29 MY FILL By Elisa Morgan

22 MY UNEXPECTED MISSION by Vicki Buchhold 24 OVERFLOW: DEVOTIONAL LIFE

By Jerry E. White

Valley Girl

12 RESTING PLACE: Valley of Vision from banneroftruth.org

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26 QUICK FILL WINTER 2010

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alley

Things happen. One minute you’re cruising through life — then a bombshell hits, and life is never the same. Or you may have a growing awareness that you have a big problem and if you’re like me, you try to fix it. But sometimes life’s challenges are too big to fix, and we find ourselves in a valley. My own grand canyon grew out of a series of less eventful valleys that we managed to navigate until one October day four years ago when I realized there was no getting through this one. Not without a lot of tears and pain, at least.

By Nancie Carmichael

LIAM GRANT / STOCKSY; TOPOGRAPHICAL MAP BY JUDY WATT / ISTOCK

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I thought I knew about adoption. That was before my own adopted daughter told me that she was pregnant, but couldn’t be a mother. Amy said, “My birth mother didn’t abort me; I won’t abort my baby and will place it for adoption.” The birth father was not ready for marriage or parenthood, either. My husband and I were stunned. Waves of anger, grief, and shock poured over us. Our four sons and daughters-in-law were having their own babies. While my husband and I loved being grandparents, we felt too old to parent. What should we do? During many sleepless nights, I asked myself, Where had I failed my daughter? Some nights, I would awaken, heartsick. How can we give this little one up? We love our babies. Life went on with work, birthdays, holidays. I played positive mind games: There will be a happy ending for someone else, as hard as it is for us. We must do what is right for this little one. My daughter and her boyfriend poured over résumés, eliminating some, keeping some. Finally, they chose a family. Amy wanted an open adoption so her child would know her birth mother. She did not waver on this. After a difficult labor and an emergency caesarean section, we welcomed Annabelle Joy into the world. She was exquisite, with dark curly hair. Since Amy was 31/2 when she

There is no permanent calamity for any child of God; Way stations all, at which we briefly stop Upon our homeward road. Our pain and grief are only travel stains which shall be wiped away, Within the blessed warmth and light of home, By God’s own hand some day. —author unknown 6

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came to us from an orphanage in Korea, now we knew what she looked like as a baby. The adoptive family was thrilled and we were too, yet we knew saying hello meant saying goodbye. For two days, our whole family laughed, cried, and snuggled Annabelle. The adoptive family was there, too, hearts open and ready. There were a lot of emotions flying around a tiny little girl with a mass of dark hair. Three days later, Amy placed her baby in the adoptive family’s arms in a sacred, terrible moment. Our hearts bled. They left with their new baby on one of the happiest days of their lives, and we took our daughter home on the saddest day of ours. I felt as if I had betrayed and abandoned one of my own. Valleys are different for everyone, and I’m aware as I write this of a couple whose young son just died. I can barely comprehend that loss. But as one friend told me, “Everyone carries a bag of rocks. Some are bigger; some smaller.” Loss is loss. Pain is pain. And after, when you try to get back to normal, the valley can seem so deep. Brad and Susan, friends of ours who are facing financial devastation due to the recession told us, “We just want to get to a place where this doesn’t define and consume our every waking moment.” In my new book, Surviving One Bad Year: Spiritual Strategies to Lead You to a New Beginning, I tell our own story and the stories of others who learned powerful lessons in the valley. Here are some strategies that helped us get through: Get a Word from God

How do you get a word from God? You read the Bible. And you pray — gut-level, honest, throwyourself-on-his-mercy prayers. Our family had a dilemma, and we knew we had to get a word from God as to how to proceed. For two months, all I could read was Psalm 23. I recited it on my walks, sometimes only a phrase or two at a time. One day I literally stopped at the word, through: “Though I walk through the valley ….” It seemed God was saying that although we go through the valley, we do not stay there. That gave me hope. Step by step, the Word of God sustained and directed us through confusing and difficult days.

BOOTS BY SCUDDY WAGGONER / ISTOCK


Reach Out to Others

It may be the last thing you want to do. You may want to crawl in a cave. But we need people. We learned to be shameless about asking for prayer, for advice, and we were carried by the prayers of others when we couldn’t pray. It helps to be in a place where healing can begin: a positive church environment; a small study group; a support system. Intentionally strengthen ties with positive, nourishing people. Care for YourSelf

How would you care for a friend who is going through unbelievable stress? You would most likely urge him or her to get rest and to take a break. Care for your own self as that friend. Make sure you get sleep, exercise, and good nutrition. Take restorative breaks. For me, taking hikes in our beautiful mountains with friends and family restores me. Choose to Walk in Praise and Joy

We tend to think we are what we feel. But we can decide to let God’s peace be in charge: “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts … and be thankful” (Colossians 3:5). Living with peace and joy is a discipline. We can even pray with worry instead of with faith. When we’re problemoriented in our thinking, it increases our worry. I had to make a conscious choice to be grateful and to see the blessings instead of the problem. Embrace Endurance

We get through the valley by doing the right thing, regardless of our feelings. Patient endurance changes us from being a victim to being a victor. The battle is won not so much in startling moments of truth as it is in hanging in there when the going gets tough. Don’t give up! Stay on the journey even though it is so un-glamorous and so daily. Let Go

Sometimes you let go, and sometimes things are taken from you. The death of your loved one. The marriage you did not want to end. A job that was more than a job to you. A health reversal. But after the grieving, we must let go.

Life is about moving forward, and somehow we must let go. For me, I needed to let go of expectations. I needed to let go by forgiving myself and others … repeatedly. We may need to keep applying the ointment of forgiveness until the stubborn wound is healed, and with time, we also will heal.

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Trust, No Matter What

What gets you through? It’s pretty simple: trust. There’s only one safe place to put our trust: in our faithful God, the Redeemer and the Restorer. Waiting refines us, teaches us to trust. Yes, it’s hard to wait! Wait for the economy to turn around. Wait for health to be restored. Wait for the awful, gut-wrenching feeling of loss to subside. Wait for good news. Maybe you are there now, asking, “How long, O Lord, how long?” New seasons come. But the faithfulness of our Creator dictates the seasons, and as sure as the earth turns, this season will be replaced by a new one. He will restore us, he will bring back the springtime. We see Annabelle and her family frequently when she and her brother run into our arms at coffee fellowship (yes, we go to the same church!). This year at grandkid camp, they mixed it up with the rest of our rowdy bunch. Amy is married now and seems to be healing. God’s provision is so much better than anything we could have ever dreamed. Admittedly, this reality is much easier to understand on this side of the valley — looking back. Life can be good again, my friend. Hold onto him with all that you have. God can make a way when there seems to be no way — even through the darkest valley.

PLAY IT OUT 1 “Valley Visuals”

PLAY IT OUT 2 “Valley Interviews”

■ Nancie Carmichael is the author of Surviving One Bad Year: Spiritual Strategies to Lead You To a New Beginning. She writes from her home in Oregon. She and her husband, Bill, have five married children and nine grandchildren. See nanciecarmichael.com to learn more about her writing and speaking.

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very person, I was able to heed that small, still-sane, voice in me that continued to resist these negative mind-speaks. It was a battle to be sure, one that I fought hour by hour, and often I found myself placing a desperate telephone call to a trusted friend for perspective. By Michele Howe Now I can see that some of the most helpful advice I received during those darkly tenuous post-op weeks, were the suggestions to care for my physical body, to treat myself with tender care, and to allow myself generosity of HY DID A SIMPLE ELECTIVE SHOULDER SURGERY forgiveness, and time …. lots of time to rest, recover, and send me into a period of emotional despair? I rejuvenate. My body needed a quiet period to heal and it wasn’t depressed before I opted to have my loose was up to me to see that I made the right choices to allow shoulder tightened. So what exactly was the trigger? Something this to happen. transpired within my psyche during those subsequent postWhile it’s true there is always an element of mystery to op days that sent me spiraling into a black, obscure night of the soul. The worst aspect of this terrifying, albeit temporary depression and its lingering aftereffects, frequently a careful look at one’s recent medical history provides enough clues experience, was that I felt powerless … utterly helpless … to solve the puzzle and offer small measures of consolation. and entirely alone on this companionless journey. Some bouts of depression are temporary, like mine. Others Although I never, ever, would have anticipated reacting last longer and may require help from a physician or in such dramatic fashion to an elective surgical procedure, I therapist, or both. have had to face up to what happened to me during those Understanding the possible causes of depression opens early post-surgery weeks. Yet I couldn’t, wouldn’t dare, the way to a knowledgeable evaluation of what’s working name it at the time. I was too ashamed, too humiliated by and what isn’t in your life. Evaluating then paves the way the debilitating label of depression. for appropriate changes, including those wise preventative Most significantly, most terrifyingly, it was as though ones. This process of evaluating and changing can strengthsomeone was pinning me against the wall … and no matter how mightily I struggled, I couldn’t break free. It was in this en the body and soul, providing a way out of the valley. skewed frame of mind that I unwisely, almost obsessively, ■ Michele Howe is a happily bleary-eyed book began contemplating life …. my faith, my marriage, my reviewer for Publishers Weekly, FaithfulReader.com work, my future …. for hours on end. Pondering the past, and Aspiring Retail as well as the author of nine present, and future through these murky, dimly lit lenses books for women. Michele’s newest title, Burdens was not a good thing. Do a Body Good: Meeting Life’s Challenges with Because my family and friends continued to speak posiStrength and Soul co-authored with Dr. Christopher tive words of truth, accurately assessing my life, indeed my Foetisch, is published by Hendrickson Publishers.

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

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DEAN SHWED / ISTOCKPHOTO

Finding, understanding and using your unique voice


A Dream Deferred

Two Words

By Alison Strobel

By Beverly Van Kampen

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Y HUSBAND AND I WENT FROM “Kids? Eh, someday,” to

XiXinXing/ISTOCK

“Kids? Now!” in the time it took for the pregnancy test to develop. When I saw those two pink lines, my life completely changed. None of this mother-to-be stuff—instantly, I was a mother. I signed up for weekly updates from pregnancy websites, bought prenatal vitamins, watched what I ate, and began walking daily to keep fit. It was after one of these walks that the spotting started. A few days later, after multiple blood tests and an ultrasound, we learned there was no baby, just an empty sac. I’ve never felt so deeply and utterly sad. And angry. I couldn’t understand the point of this loss. Why would God let this happen — what lesson was I learning other than sometimes life just stinks? I stayed in bed, ignoring the phone calls and visitors. I cried harder than I had in years. I grieved not just for this pregnancy, but for the loss of the joy that pregnancy is supposed to bring. Now there would always be worry, fear, and anxiety over whether or not this one would stick. A week later I tried journaling my anger and, for the first time, giving God space to answer me back. And he did. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. But I wasn’t buying it. Until our daughter was born, a part of me remained in my anger, unwilling to give God the praise he deserves regardless of my experience. Then I realized how my anger had isolated me from him, and I was ashamed for not trusting him more. That’s when I realized I had learned something: God could handle my anger. And though I chose not to be comforted, he didn’t withhold his blessing from me. Alison Strobel is mommy to Abigail and Penelope Jane and wife to Daniel. Her novel, Violette Between was a Rita Award finalist, and in 2010 she will release two more novels and a children’s book co-written with her husband. Learn more about her and her new releases at alisonstrobel.com. ■

HE MOST POWERFUL MESSAGE I ever received contained only

two words and it changed me forever. Here’s how it happened. First, the unthinkable: our daughter called from college to say the lump she found was, in fact, cancer. We were in shock. How could a healthy twenty-two year old have breast cancer? It wasn’t fair! As she prepared to come home for treatment, I began to descend into darkness and fear. One night, I lay awake talking to God about this mess. Then, as tears began to come, I said, “God, I am just so sad!” What happened next stunned me. I sensed a great heaving in the heart of God as he seemed to cry out, “Me, too!” And I knew he was weeping. As God and I cried together, I learned something: he hated the cancer as much as I did. He was as angry about it as I was. And he wasn’t expecting me to pretend everything was OK. It wasn’t OK with him either. For a moment I glimpsed what it might feel like to be a holy God who created a perfect world that has been ruined by sin — how it hurts him to see his beloved humans suffer because his world is broken. We still had a long valley to go through: surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Hair loss, pain, and sickness. But, after God’s, “Me too,” everything was different. He understood. Scriptures that had seemed like platitudes now became promises. Even Romans 8:28 made more sense. I could really believe, without seeing how, that all things would be worked together for good. Inevitably life in this world will have times of trouble and heartache and fear. But when those valleys come, I face them differently now because I know I am not alone. I am there with the God who weeps. Beverly Van Kampen is a freelance writer and Bible teacher as well as an associate editor for ChristianCourses.com. She has published two books, The GodSense Devotional and The Bible Study Teacher’s Guide. She and her husband, Warren, live in Spring Lake, Michigan, where they enjoy book clubs, music, grown-up kids, and grandchildren.

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H O W T O READ A

Love LETTER

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by Sue Edwards

arah’s father surprised her with a lifechanging graduation gift. He asked if she would forgive him for years of abuse.

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GENE CHUTKA / ISTOCK

“How rare and wonderful,” I thought as we sat together in my office, tears of joy streaming down her face. If only my mother had found the courage and kindness to initiate such a conversation with me before she died just four months earlier. Hundreds of wounded women have paraded through my office over my thirty-five years of ministry—hurt by dysfunctional parents. But I rejoice with Sarah, and for myself, and with many of these women because we are reframing our sadness into strength and purpose. We understand that we live in a fallen world where no one parents perfectly, not even us. We are processing our pain until we can bless our earthly parents. We are healing by grasping the hand of our Heavenly Father as his divine Love Letters nurture our relationship with him. Relationships thrive on intimate communication. Our Father speaks to us, his beloved daughters, through not just one, but sixty-six Love Letters in the Bible. I have read them over and over, seeking to understand my Father’s love for me, his truth about the way the world works, and how I can please him. I have not probed the depths of those Letters, but I continue to explore. In any relationship, misunderstandings prevent intimacy and growth. The same is true of our relationship with our Father. Guard against confusion as you read his Letters or you might assume he


means something he never meant at all. Careful pondering lessens the likelihood of miscommunication. I learned to meditate on these Love Letters from a dear professor at seminary, Dr. Howard Hendricks. But you don’t have to be a scholar to probe the depths of God’s word. Try the following approach:

Look: Before we attempt to understand what our Father is saying to us, we must look carefully at the Letter’s words. Too often I’ve heard women credit our Father with saying something he never said because they had not taken the time to look carefully at the words. When Sarah’s abusive father wrote her a letter asking forgiveness, she mulled over each word he chose. She read the letter over and over, asking questions. What did he mean by that statement? What was going on in his mind when he wrote that? Why did he use that word and not another? Why did he include that thought? Why did he repeat that word? Why did he end with that phrase? Refuse to water-ski over the words, but instead take time to savor, inspect, and mark up the pages with notes, thoughts, and questions. True words of love and life deserve a thorough chewing. Identify the kind of Love Letter you are reading. Our creative Father expresses his love through stories, poems, proverbs, and parables. He shares Letters he wrote to other believers two thousand years ago. And in some of his Letters, he includes predictions about our future together. Each of these genres of divine literature must be read a bit differently. For example, the Proverbs teach us principles about the way the world works in general but they are not individual promises. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Parents who love and discipline their children bless them and increase the likelihood that they will love God, but the proverb does not promise that every child who is well-loved and disciplined will automatically love God. This idea would negate God’s principle of free will that he endows on all people so that their love for him will mean something. Understanding the kind of literature we are reading helps us avoid painful misunderstandings.

Light: Once we have looked carefully at the words of the Love Letter, and we understand its genre, we need to ask, “What is this Love Letter about?” Because our Love Letters were written first to people from different countries, customs, and cultures, we need to know what truths our Father was expressing to them before we consider what they mean for us today. A Bible dictionary, atlas, and commentary shed light on what was going on for the original audience.

Learning about our historical roots connects us to our sisters and brothers who loved our Father too. Once we discover God’s truths for their lives, we are ready to ask, “What does this Love Letter mean for me today?” What lens do we use to light up the Letters? Sometimes, the authors use figurative language to express truth. For example, Psalm 91:4 paints a picture of our Father’s protective care when the author writes, “He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge …” Obviously, God does not have feathers or wings so we know the psalmist uses figurative language in this verse. Train your eye to discern when the language is figurative or literal. Our goal is to digest all of our Father’s Love Letters throughout our life because one Letter informs the others, reflecting the whole truth and God’s big story. Use a Bible with cross references in the margin or a concordance to find parallel passages with which to compare. If the meaning seems unclear, consult several commentaries or trusted websites. Think of this gathering as a discussion with seasoned sages. After you have heard from a variety of voices, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth.

Live: As we savor our Father’s Love Letters, he expects us to change. He grieves when our heads puff up with knowledge and our hearts and hands shrivel from inaction. He wrote to us so that joy might permeate our relationship with him and our lives might be a beacon of hope, love, and light to others. In this ever-changing, quick-paced, quicksand world we inhabit, we are blessed with a perfect Father who loves to communicate with us through his Love Letters. May His Love Letters fill you with joy, assure you of His tender love, and anchor you in His truth. ■ Dig Deeper with FullFill™ Rich Media: Watch the video: PLAY IT OUT 3 “Two Bites”



Read More: Additional aides to help you unearth the treasure in God’s Love Letters: Living by the Book by Howard Hendricks and William Hendricks The Sue Edwards Inductive Bible Study series (newdoors.info) How to Read the Bible For All It’s Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart The Bible Knowledge Commentary by John Walvoord and Roy Zuck

■ Dr. Sue Edwards specializes in ministry to women as Assistant Professor of Christian Education at Dallas Theological Seminary. Her books include Leading Women Who Wound; Mixed Ministry, Working Together as Brothers and Sisters in an Oversexed Society; New Doors in Ministry to Women; Women’s Retreats: A Creative Planning Guide, and the Sue Edwards Inductive Bible Study series. See newdoors.info for more information.

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Valley of

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou has brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory. Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine; Let me find thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, that every good work or thought found in me thy joy in my sorrow, thy grace in my sin, thy riches in my poverty thy glory in my valley. 12

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no more

Approval Junkie

Constance Rhodes understands body image issues. Her mother was bulimic and she struggled with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating in college. Her experience led her to create FINDINGbalance, an online resource for those with eating disorders which reaches DAVID LAURENS / PHOTOALTO / CORBIS

over 200,000 visitors per year. In addition, Constance speaks and writes on wellness issues. As she does, God is challenging her to speak the truth of the Gospel, even to those who may not want to hear it.

A Conversation with Constance Rhodes by Mary Byers >>

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Who have you been and who is God making you to be?

I am a recovering approval junkie. I know it’s not the sexiest or most impressive title. But it’s the truth. For the first thirty years of my life this meant I was constantly seeking the attention of others, mostly men, by having the “right” physique — an effort that led me to abuse food and my body in a dogged pursuit of thinness. Today I no longer struggle with disordered eating but I still find it all too tempting to gauge my value on whether others seem to approve of me. Somewhere in the midst of this I know that God is leading me to the ultimate question: what will it take for me to believe I am 100% loved and approved by him? What’s the story behind FINDINGbalance? And how do you work with the other experts on the site?

My mother struggled with bulimia for much of her life. When I went to college in 1988, I, too, fell into disordered eating. I document much of this struggle in my book, Life Inside the Thin Cage, but suffice to say, it completely took over my life. During one of the most volatile seasons, while I was still at Bible college, God woke me up in the middle of the night with a vision of myself standing on a platform sharing with others about the issue. I excitedly wrote it all down in my journal and thought I’d jump right into the work. Then time passed, I got married, got a job in the music business and forgot about the vision. Ten years later, as God was nudging me toward recovery, he once again refreshed this vision in my heart. A few years later the first version of the FINDINGbalance website was birthed, a publisher had accepted my book proposal, and I was hitting the road speaking. Looking back, so many great things have happened in a relatively short period of time. But it’s been almost twenty years since the original vision, so there’s been quite a time of seasoning as well. While I have nearly thirty years of personal experience with eating disorders, I have always felt it would be important to surround myself with those who work on these issues from a clinical perspective. Eating issues are complex and recovery often requires a team approach. We try to model this by having a variety of experts on our website, answering questions on video and in written form. Many of these experts have become personal friends, and I am honored to be able to work so closely with them. What thing — or things — helped you break the eating disorder cycle? Or do you still struggle with it? For me, the first step was admitting there was a problem. While my eating issues were more obvious in college, such as all-night binges or months of restricting, for many years I was simply on a very controlled diet. During that time, I didn’t meet technical criteria for an eating disorder — I wasn’t a low enough weight, and I wasn’t binging or purging — so it was easy to tell myself I didn’t have an eating disorder. Then I discovered there was a category called EDNOS, which stands for “Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified.” This nebulous category is sort of a catch-all for disordered eating patterns that don’t meet technical criteria for anorexia or bulimia. As I began to recognize the many ways my obsession with weight and food was stealing from me, I had to admit it had become a lifecontrolling issue. And I wanted to break free! Today I no longer worry about what’s in the food I eat. I’ve learned over the past ten years that my body is fully capable of metabolizing what I eat if I do so reasonably. And I’ve embraced a clothing size that is a few sizes larger than I used to be. In fact, the weird part now is that since I work in the field of eating disorders, I worry more about looking too thin than weighing too much. Which goes back to my constant struggle with

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approval addiction. My husband has to remind me that whether I’m worried about being too big or too small, it’s the same thing. I need to just be who I am and not worry about what everyone else might think. You are concerned about healthy balance in every area of a woman’s life. Why do we struggle with balance? With health?

As I continue to wrestle with pursuing balance in my own life, I would have to say that the number one hindrance to living a balanced life is fear. For example, my biggest battle these days is balancing my efforts at FINDINGbalance with being a wife, mother, and friend. Generally speaking, the temptation is for me to sink my best self into my work, because this is where I am most likely to feel productive and appreciated. I am afraid that things will fall apart if I’m not working, and this fear can lead me to work way too many hours, placing an unfair strain on my family and personal life. Recently God had to remind me (again) that he, not me, is in control of this ministry. I took an intentional step back from the crazy hours I was working and started making some deliberate changes, such as taking a break when I needed it, staying home to rest when I was sick, and allowing things to fall through the cracks. This is very hard for me because I want things to be done excellently and I frequently fear for the future of this ministry. If God IS in control, and I am giving him my best according to what is healthy for me, then I have to trust that he will take care of the rest. Why is it so hard for us to overcome certain challenges to health and wholeness? There are a lot of mixed messages about health, particularly when it comes to diet. Unfortunately, the church hasn’t really helped much. On one hand you’ve got tons of “Christian Diet Books” and on the other hand many churches avoid the issue altogether. If the church is to be a place of healing, which I believe it is, then we’ve got to arm it to reach out to the three out of four women (yes, you read that right) and many men who struggle with food and their bodies. For this reason, I am very excited to have just released our first curriculum specially designed for churches. What is God teaching you right now?

One of my favorite scriptures is Proverbs 29:25, which states, “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that” (MSG). I know firsthand what it means to be “disabled.” In 2001 my mother became a quadriplegic as the result of a car accident. With no movement below her upper chest, simple tasks like brushing her teeth, feeding herself, or putting on makeup were nearly impossible. Today my mom is no longer chained to her wheelchair. God mercifully brought her to heaven in June of 2005. But I continue to be impacted by that experience, and can’t avoid the parallels when it comes to recognizing my own willingness to accept being even partially paralyzed by my fear. God has been working this truth into my soul for a while now, both personally and in regard to my role in ministry.

Constance Rhodes


As I head into this next season I anticipate God is leading me to be more bold about his truth — all of it, not just the popular parts.

I feel particularly challenged right now to be braver when it comes to the work I do here in our FINDINGbalance Gathering support group. While the content of these groups is certainly Christ-centered, over the past couple years I’ve felt some apprehension about including scriptures that aren’t warm and fuzzy because I know there are some attendees who don’t even really believe in God and I haven’t wanted to scare them off with stories and scriptures about God’s judgment. So I’ve been staying safe with the parts of scripture that read like good advice (much of Paul’s writings) all the while feeling that a good balance of scripture must include parts that are not so easily received. As I head into this next season I anticipate God is leading me to be more bold about his truth — all of it, not just the popular parts. This scares the approval junkie side of me, and yet I believe that we, as Christians, must not allow ourselves to get sucked into the crazy relativism that seems to have overtaken so many in our country. If we can’t equip ourselves and others with tools for waging what most certainly is a spiritual battle at its root, then what good are we really doing? How do you believe God wants you to use your personal influence?

One of my favorite books is TrueFaced, by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol and John Lynch. In the beginning of this book, the authors make the statement that God’s dreams for us are never about us. They’re about drawing others to him. I believe that God will increase my circle of influence — and yours — as we willingly get out of the way. If we’re building his kingdom, not ours, then it cannot fail. And I believe it will exceed even our greatest dreams, if not exactly the way we might have imagined. What do you see on the horizon for women today? How can we best be ready to join God — no matter what?

Women have an incredible opportunity to impact others through relationship. That is how God wired us. Which is precisely why our enemy, Satan, loves to keep us distracted in any way he can. When we allow his negative voice to circulate in our minds, we can’t help but reflect some of that negativity, and in turn, our ability to reflect Christ is diminished. As Romans 8:7 says, “Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God” (MSG). As we press into what God says about who we are, rather than listening to Satan’s voice in our head, or the voices of those around us, he will fill us with light and truth that can’t help but spill out to those around us. And what could be more beautiful than that? ■

Dig Deeper with FullFill™ Rich Media: Watch the video:



PLAY IT OUT 4 “A Conversation with Constance”

Want more? Click on these live links: GET MORE Find links and other helpful information THINK IT THRU Questions to help you reflect

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

The Giantess Awakes “We don’t have to have daughters any more!”

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earth. Together they are his chief agents for establishing his kingdom on earth. Half the Sky documents in graphic detail just how far the world has strayed from God’s original vision for humanity. Instead of working together to advance God’s gracious kingdom on earth, the world is self-destructing by disposing of, trafficking, oppressing, disabling, and killing millions of women and girls. This good news for the kingdom of darkness should horrify and enrage God’s image bearers and summon us to action. Kristof and WuDunn assert, “Women aren’t the problem, but the solution.” Facts they present demonstrate in startling ways how women, when educated and empowered to contribute, are good for communities, children, education, health, and economies. They provide names, faces and stories of Heroic (with a capital “H”) women who rise up from the ashen ruins of their own lives to combat the evil that has ravaged them and to fight to make a different world for others. Women do hold up half the sky. I have successfully finished reading the book — mostly at an altitude of 37,000 feet en route to speaking engagements and stopping repeatedly to pull myself together in order to keep reading. Having finished, however, I’m finding the book isn’t finished with me. As I write, the numbers mount. Another life snuffed out or thrown out to die. Another little girl sold off and bludgeoned or drugged into serving brothel clients with a smile and almost certainly contracting AIDS. Another woman dying in childbirth for lack of basic medical care. This crisis isn’t old history. It is happening now! I can’t shake the conviction that God is calling His daughters to engage this wider, global conflict. We are half the church (at least). If women hold up half the sky, what can half the church do? Conflict is where God does some of his deepest work in us. It is also where advocates are born. God uses our private, localized struggles to make us strong, to sensitize us to the sufferings of others and to move us beyond ourselves to do something about the sufferings of others, taking the Gospel with us. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto is alleged to have said the Japanese assault on America had “awakened a sleeping giant.” It was a frightening prospect. There was reason to fear what that giant — angered and outraged — would do. I have a friend who believes when she puts her feet on the floor in the morning, the Devil shudders and says, “Oh no. She’s awake.” I’m praying that the message of Half the Sky will awaken a sleeping giantess — half the church, angered and outraged — so that the Enemy will tremble and the darkness will be forced to recede because God prizes his daughters. GO EXPLORE: CLICK HERE



■ 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).

PEARL / LIGHTSTOCK

WAS APPALLED. The book I was reading, Half the Sky, is a grim account of the plight of women in our 21st Century world. Barely into the introduction, I was already shaken by what I was learning. Those disturbing words came from a Chinese man who was exulting over the availability of ultrasound and the “happy” prospect it presents for the systematic termination of the pregnancies of baby girls. China is one of many cultures worldwide where boys are held at a premium and the birth of a daughter is a disappointment (at best). Under China’s one-child policy, technology has delivered the perfect solution. The selective abortion of females is barely the tip of the iceberg of what authors Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn believe is “the paramount moral challenge” of the 21st Century — “the struggle for gender equality in the developing world.” That struggle takes on new meaning when you read accounts of the female genocide, the trafficking of young girls, of honor killings, bride burnings, female genital mutilation, gang rapes, and forced exposure to AIDS. The list goes on. Equality here boils down to freedoms and opportunities that we in the West simply take for granted — education, basic healthcare, legal protection against assaults, the right to make decisions for ourselves and to lead productive lives. The Chinese Proverb, “Women hold up half the sky,” is a fitting reminder that women are one of the world’s most precious and vital natural resources. The biblical account of creation corroborates this assessment, but takes it further. Page one of the Bible shatters the “we don’t have to have daughters any more” mentality by identifying women as God’s image bearers. God commissions his daughters, along with their brothers, to speak and act on his behalf throughout the

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synergytoday.org/conferences.html


coaching community

Liz Selzer, Ph.D., is Director of Ministry Engagement for MOPS International and adjunct professor at Denver Seminary and Colorado Christian University and trainer for The Mentoring Group. Liz enjoys teaching women to gain perspective on the ways they can be used in the kingdom.

By Liz Selzer

The People Bumps seem to apply to certain groups of people and not others? What about that moment where difficult people get —ANCIENT PROVERB the best of us, and our forward progress comes to a screeching halt? Paul gives us practical advice in Ephesians on how to promote the unity and cohesiveness needed to further God’s mission, even with the bumps that inevitably come when a group of unique individuals join together for a common purpose. He writes, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3). As much as we may not like it, dealing with difficult people requires us to intentionally manage our emotions and expectations. This is the only aspect of team building and working with others we can control. Let’s take a closer look at Paul’s advice. Humble (right estimate, respectful): Working with people and dealing with discord works best if we begin by looking accurately at ourselves. If we have an accurate view of our abilities and talents based on God’s right estimate (not too low, not too high) we can also see others through God’s lens

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Keeping Unity through Peace (united, notice differences but guarding harmony): While many of us may shy away

from conflict, it is important to realize that growth rarely occurs without it. Understanding that healthy conflict management increases trust, closeness, learning, and promotes an increased variety of perspectives and solutions is critical to team growth. With reasonable people, find points of agreement that unite. Remember that opinions are not necessarily right or wrong, and that listening with respect to differing opinions goes a long way to smoothing out the potential bumps that can emerge. Working with people inevitably involves navigating a few bumps along the way. The above guidelines help transform irritation to appreciation for the variety that God gives us in our people situations, making it easier to work with those who are not like us. People bumps should not be enough to keep us from venturing forward together as we pursue God and his challenges to us to work in community. ■

GREGORY OLSEN / ISTOCK

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

and respect his creation of them. By accepting responsibility for our shortcomings first, we may be less irritated with others. Appreciating rather than resenting differences also helps. Gentle (un-selfishness, mildness): Gentleness refers to that unique, unselfish disposition which makes us unwilling to provoke others, and encourages us to not easily be provoked or offended even when warranted. It is clearly making sure others know they are heard and respected even if we disagree with them. Taking on a gentle stance helps us smooth out the people bumps before they become hazards for our teams. Patient (disciplined): It takes discipline to address problems early before they take on a life of their own. When we do, we avoid the bumps that arise when we assume everyone thinks and feels the way we do. Communicating clearly, setting boundaries, and managing expectations makes it easier to work together despite our God-created differences. Bearing in Love (make allowances): Beginning with ourselves, we can tap into the love that God has for those we might struggle appreciating. This does not mean we allow them to continue draining us or that we lower our standards to theirs. It does mean we make a conscious effort to make allowances when necessary, to show respect, and to encourage mutual understanding.


Excerpted from “The Between” by Elisa Morgan. Watch Elisa’s reading and get the full text by clicking on the Bonus button: PLAY IT OUT 5 “The Between”

Most of the time we don’t like

The Between. Hovering, falling, stepping, launching from this to that has a great feel to it in our imaginations.

But in the doing, as we leave one and move toward the other, discomfort surfaces. We hesitate.

We consider clinging. Sometimes we do. We notice the span before reaching the next. It looks bigger than we’d thought. We second guess. We worry. We wonder. We recalculate, reassess, reexamine, rethink,

BRIAN MCENTIRE / ISTOCKPHOTO

re-everything.

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I’d planned on being home in time to watch Desperate Housewives. So, how did I end up buying grits for a tattooed Laotian Buddhist at ten o’clock on a Sunday night? By Vicki Buchhold

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CLINT SPENCER / ISTOCK

That night, the service at church was turned over to our youth group. They’d just returned from a trip to Brazil. We watched the slide show — a slice of their adventure set to some hip music. Then Jim, our minister of missions, told us about life in that far-away place. He’d asked the missionaries who live full-time in Rio what they would like to see accomplished by our youths’ short visit. In a place where Christianity is no longer considered viable, their request was simple: don’t try to change the teens you meet here, just love them. Jim called on each of them to tell us their most memorable moment. The short ramblings focused on how someone they’d met during the stint surprisingly clung to their love. They had accepted and befriended those who were different in so many ways. The love shared by our youth was, in truth, the love of Christ. And his love didn’t leave on a plane headed for America. When the service ended, I went out to the parking lot to enjoy the sunset and reflect on the profound nature of the evening’s message while my husband, Randy, had band practice. I opened the sunroof and turned up a CD in the car. After nearly an hour of comfortable solitude, I heard someone yelling. I looked to the open field to my left and saw a young Asian woman walking toward me. A man followed her. “Get in the car!” The man was insistent. “No! Go away! We’re through!” She held a cell phone to her ear. “What about the kids?” he yelled. “They need you!” She paused, but only for a moment. “I love my kids,” she said as she kept walking. Talk about desperate housewives. She looked at me, turned away and walked toward the road. The man kept yelling until she convinced him to leave. He stormed back to his car and drove off. As darkness fell, the woman stood under a tree in front of my church, frantically punching buttons on her phone. I just sat there. I’d turned off the music when the shouting started. Now I waited in silence. I started asking the obvious of God: What do I do? I knew what God wanted. But what if this was a trick? I was alone. What if these people were just trying to get me to help so they could rob me, or worse? What if that guy circled the block and was on his way back? After a while, I couldn’t see beyond the well-lit parking lot. Maybe she was gone. Maybe she’d walked down the road to the bus stop. I felt relieved. And guilty. I should’ve done something. Then I caught sight of her walking toward the church. I didn’t hesitate. “Can I give you a ride?” I asked.

“I don’t know.” She was so small. Her tank top and short shorts were not protecting her from the sudden assault of mosquitoes. Her dark hair was pulled back in a messy knot. Slanted eyes were moist above her high cheekbones. “I couldn’t ask you to do that.” “Did you call someone?” “My phone is dead. I was trying to call my sister.” I held my phone out the car window. “Try mine.” “I don’t know her number. I have it on speed dial. I can’t remember it.” “Is she nearby?” “She lives in Crescent City.” Crescent City was a good hour and a half away. “Where do you live?” I asked. “St. Pete.” That was two and half hours away. “What are you doing in Sanford?” “I was at the temple. It’s the Buddhist New Year.” I felt my eyebrows rise. “Get in the car. The bugs are eating you up.” “No, I can’t do that.” She scratched both legs. “I … had a fight with my husband.” “Yes, I know. I heard you.” She dropped her head. “I’m so sorry.” “Come on, get in the car. We’ll figure out something.” She got in and called information for her sister’s number. No one answered, but she left a message. Then she started to cry. “Don’t you know anyone else who might help you?” I asked. “If you took me back to the temple, someone might still be there.” “Where is the temple?” “In a neighborhood, I think.” That didn’t tell me much. “Okay, but I have to wait for my husband. I can’t get in the building. The doors are locked after dark and no one would hear me knock.” “What is this place? A church?” I smiled. “Yes. This is my church.” She nodded. “I’m Thea.” I introduced myself. She told me about the fight, and frequently apologized that she’d gotten me involved. “Look,” I said. “I ended up sitting in my car tonight, and you ended up getting left here. You need help, and I’m going to help you. God put us together.” Finally, my husband came outside. He was surprised to see a young foreign woman in the passenger’s seat. But I knew how he’d react. He got in the backseat, greeted Thea in his usual warm manner, and asked what he could do. Thea really wanted to find that temple. So we were on our way, in the dark, looking for a building we had never seen with a woman who had no idea where she was.

I assured her that we only wanted to help. “We are going to get you home to your family. And we are not going to leave you until we’re sure you’re safe.” “I can’t let you do this. I’m so sorry.” She got teary again. Another attempt with the phone got someone on the other end, and Thea’s perfect English suddenly turned to frantic Laotian. She ranted, cried, recited my phone number, and hung up. Randy decided it would be best if we took Thea to Crescent City. I made a U-turn and headed for I-4. We hadn’t even gotten out of town before my phone rang. At the sound of her sister’s voice, Thea began to weep. She spoke in English. “I don’t know! I don’t know where I am!” Randy took the phone and explained that we were bringing Thea to Crescent City. But someone had already pointed Thea’s sister in our direction, and she was on the road, family members in tow. Obviously, that angry husband had called his sisterin-law right away and told her where he’d left Thea. Randy decided we should meet up at Cracker Barrel, a place Thea’s sister could easily spot. Thea smiled for the first time that night. “Are you hungry?” I asked her. “I could eat some cheese grits,” she said. It was nearly closing time, but we ordered Thea’s grits. Before the food arrived, a pick-up pulled right up to the porch. A young woman got out, followed by a man holding a baby. Then a woman smaller than Thea stepped out of the truck. “That’s my mother,” Thea said. They came inside. Mom and sister cried, hugged both Randy and me, and thanked us with fear-laden sincerity. “God bless you,” they said. “God bless you.” Randy refused to let Thea leave without her grits, and he asked the waitress for an order to go. We walked with Thea as far as the gift shop. I put my arm around her and told her I’d be praying. Randy and I went back to our table and watched as more family members stepped out of the truck. They celebrated finding Thea, and looked in on us with waves and smiles. We bowed our heads and prayed for Thea right then, while her family piled into the pick-up on the other side of the big porch window. I think of Thea whenever I look to the open land beside my church. And I remember that the mission field is not so far away. Vicki Buchhold is an award-winning poet and writer currently working on a creative non-fiction book. She lives in Florida where she and her husband operate a small business and she runs the preschool department at her church. ■

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CONTEMPORARY REFLECTION By Erin Bunting

CLASSIC THOUGHT By Oswald Chambers

Our Careful Unbelief

With or Without Him?

“ … do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.”

“When have you been disappointed with God?” the group leader pressed.

( Matthew 6:25)

J

esus summed up commonsense carefulness in the life of

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PATIENCE PENNINGTON/LIGHTSTOCK

■ 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.

ANDREW FINDEN / LIGHTSTOCK

a disciple as unbelief. If we have received the Spirit of God, he will squeeze right through our lives, as if to ask, “Now where do I come into this relationship, this vacation you have planned, or these new books you want to read?” And he always presses the point until we learn to make him our first consideration. Whenever we put other things first, there is confusion. “… do not worry about your life….” Don’t take the pressure of your provision upon yourself. It is not only wrong to worry, it is unbelief; worrying means we do not believe that God can look after the practical details of our lives, and it is never anything but those details that worry us. Have you ever noticed what Jesus said would choke the Word he puts in us? Is it the devil? No — “the cares of this world” (Matthew 13:22). It is always our little worries. We say, “I will not trust when I cannot see” — and that is where unbelief begins. The only cure for unbelief is obedience to the Spirit. The great word of Jesus to His disciples is abandon.

The question hung in the silence as 15 chatty women were suddenly struck dumb. They exchanged uneasy glances, tension building until Padge — a feisty 80-year-old — spoke up. “I had a very hard time with this question,” Padge confessed. “I couldn’t think of any times when I’ve ever been disappointed with God. He’s just always been so good to me.” Her comment was a pressure valve releasing a rush of relieved sighs. “Me too!” “I felt exactly the same way!” “I’m so glad you said that!” I was visiting a friend’s weekly Bible study, and knew many of these women had faced life-sized disappointments — cancer, divorce, deaths of spouses and children, abuse. One survived a stroke. One’s grandson nearly lost his leg in an accident just days earlier, seven weeks before his wedding. Padge’s 5-year-old grandson died of brain cancer, an event she refers to as “our most horrendous tragedy.” If anyone should be disappointed with God, it was these women. Instead, they talked about God’s comfort, love, provision, constancy, tenderness, forgiveness, grace and care. But the leader persisted, instructing us to write down times we’d been disappointed with God. I heard the murmurs: “I can’t think of anything.” “I don’t really know what to write.” “I’m still having a very hard time with this question.” Tentatively I raised my hand. What if, I suggested, instead of viewing “disappointment with God” as disappointment at him, we thought in terms of opposites, “disappointment with God” vs. “disappointment without God.”


{ overflow } “We’re all going to be disappointed,” I said. “And personally I’d much rather be disappointed with him than without him.” God never promised life without disappointment. He guaranteed the opposite: “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). He also never meant us to navigate disappointment alone. He wants to guide us through it. Ask Daniel. Surely he was disappointed at being pitched into the lions’ den. But Daniel wasn’t alone. “My God sent his angel” (Daniel 6:22). Daniel was disappointed with God, and in the morning, he emerged alive and grateful. Ask Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Surely they were disappointed when they were tossed into the furnace. But they weren’t alone. There was another man in the fire, who looked “like a son of the Gods” (Daniel 3:25, 28). The three friends were disappointed with God, and they came out of the furnace unharmed — victorious. Ask David. In the valley of death, pursued by enemies, David praised the Lord. “I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4). Ask the Samaritan woman (John 4). When no one dared to, Jesus came near and she tasted the refreshing difference between disappointment with God and disappointment without him. Ask Joseph. Angels promised Joseph his pregnant bride would give birth to a son called “Immanuel,” which means, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). Immanuel is the essence of disappointment with God. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will be with him in trouble” (Psalm 91:14, 15). When we invite Jesus into our pain, loneliness, sadness, confusion, sin and grief, Immanuel stays with us. Disappointment is guaranteed. Who you share it with is up to you. To Padge and the others, God was a fellow traveler through disappointing terrain. For that they praised him. Me, too. And now, if anyone asks “When have you been disappointed with God?” I smile and say, “Always. It sure beats being disappointed without him.”

Erin Bunting is a writer, speaker, actor, athlete and artist with degrees in journalism, theater arts and English. Her writing has appeared in P31 Woman and Kyria. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two sons.

Dear Subscriber, 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.

Let’s keep living full-filled!

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Perseverance Pays! • Mary Higgins Clark was rejected more than 40 times. • 15 publishers and 30 agents turned down John Grisham’s first novel, A Time to Kill. • Jack London received 600 rejections slips before he sold his first story.

quick Fill {

Community Builder

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Everything works out in the end. If it isn’t working out … it just isn’t the end.

—PATTY BRIGUGLIO, MMS ASSOCIATES, INC.

Diagnosis:You

Are you a people pleaser? Check out these seven identifiers:

Host Soup Night This is an especially easy way for busy families to connect with one another. Put crock pot cooking to good use by assembling soup ingredients in the morning. Ask friends who are joining you to bring a loaf of bread or corn muffins. Set a beginning and ending time and invite people to come as their schedule allows.

❑ Duty as a driving motivator ❑ Legitimate needs quickly set aside ❑ Equating decisiveness with hurting others ❑ Difficulty living within limits ❑ Sensitivity to judgments ❑ The need to keep life controlled ❑ Dishonest about who you really are — Les Carter, PhD, author of People Pleasers: Helping Others without Hurting Yourself

Heavy Load Americans carry, on average, $5,800 in credit card debt from month to month. If one were to make only the minimum payment on that debt every month, it would take 30 years to pay off — and include an additional $15,000 in interest.

I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can. —ANNE MORROW LINDBERGH, writing in A Gift from the Sea, p . 1 7

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PAPER BY ZSOLT FARKAS/ISTOCK; HANDBAG BY FOTOIE/ISTOCK; CLIPBOARD BY CHRISTOPH WEIHS/ ISTOCK; SOUP BY JACKJELLY/ISTOCK

Some of our most loved authors experienced multiple rejections before their books made it into print: • Dr. Seuss’ first children’s book, And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street was rejected by 27 publishers. • Gone with the Wind was turned down by more than 25 publishers.


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.

BLACKRED / ISTOCKPHOTO

Good. Best.

four

letter word

Best

The dictionary defines best as “surpassing all others in excellence, achievement, or quality.” It means superlative. Quality. The finest. No pressure there… We grow up hearing the words, “do your best.” But what does “do your best” mean? When we are young, “best” seems simple. It means try. It means explore. It means be open-minded. It means accepting there is a lot to learn that we don’t know. As we age, however, “not knowing” becomes a weakness — one we are afraid to admit to others. Rather than an invitation to continue to learn, “not knowing” is suddenly synonymous with “dumb.” Instead of encouraging us to approach the world with wonder and a seeking heart, “not knowing” causes us to close ourselves off. We’re no longer flexible, we’re no longer open-minded. Instead of realizing that seeking is a part of doing our best, we swallow the myth that if we have to search we have somehow failed. But the reality is that those who do their best are lifelong seekers. They admit when they don’t know something and begin the journey to find the answer. Being able to admit you

don’t know is not a weakness. It’s a strength. It’s part of doing your best. Best is easy when life is sweet and your environment supports you. When your boss likes you. When you’re healthy. When your relationships are harmonious. When you have the resources you need to do the job. Best is murkier when you’re working in a situation

that’s less than perfect. In the midst of illness. Or marital difficulties. Or a child’s rebellion. When life is less than agreeable it’s difficult to do your best. But does that mean you shouldn’t try? Then there’s the comparison game. What if your best isn’t as good as someone else’s? Should you only participate when you can be, or do, “your best?” Can best ever be just adequate? Satisfactory? Or maybe even mediocre? What if we circled back around to what “best” meant when we were kids? To try. To explore. To be open-minded. It would be easier to do our best as adults then, wouldn’t it? No longer would we be hampered by any perfectionist tendencies. Instead we’d simply be open to doing our best. No more, no less. We’d again become seekers, on an expedition to discover what’s new, different and unknown. We’d willingly voyage through uncharted waters, unfettered, feeling the wind in our hair. We’d be alive. Excited journeyers once more, challenged by the prospect of doing our best and not weighed down by the fear it may not be good enough. Good. Better. Best. ■

WINTER 2010

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male

box

Jerry E. White is International President Emeritus and Chairman, US Navigator Board. His most recent book is The Joseph Road: Choices that Determine your Destiny.

Partnership in Perspective By Jerry White

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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MLENNY PHOTOGRAPHY / ISTOCKPHOTO

I

n the beginning, God created….” These familiar words from Genesis are followed by, “let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule ….” so God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them (Genesis 1). The creation process signified a total unity between a man and a woman. Of course, Adam and Eve messed it up, forever creating a tension we still feel today. So what happened to this incredible partnership? Sin. The great divider. The great enemy. After the cross and the impact of grace, God gave men and women gifting, equally and without restraint. Different gifts and a complex mix of both gifting and natural abilities separate us all in the expression of God’s work in His Kingdom. For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (1 Cor 4:7). The truth of I Corinthians 4:7 is that God sovereignly gives everything — race, ability, national origin, physical beauty and ability, appearance and yes, gender. Like many organizations, we in the Navigators have struggled with the truth and application of partnership. We have a history of focus on men. But we have always been blessed with gifted women — single and married. Yet only in the last two decades has the focus on partnership of men and women begun to influence the whole of our movement. Paul always surrounded himself with men and women, often seeing women as the open door to a city or community.

Are there injustices? Of course there are. As I travel internationally in the major world cultures, I find great disparities of gender, race, status and wealth. In each circumstance, I find godly women who are surrendered to God to do all they can for the Kingdom as they labor inside their respective cultures. The history of missions is filled with influential women who carried the torch of the Gospel. The key is partnership, not pre-eminence. During a recent trip, I met with a wife who now is pursuing her dream of reaching orphans in a distant country. In another city, I met with a missionary woman and a “national” wife colaboring together to lead an outreach to students in a highly secularized culture. Partnership does not automatically happen. It must be intentionally developed. I have found these key elements in developing partnership. • A recognition that everyone is gifted — equally as well as differently. Equally, since gifts are for everyone. Differently, because we each have different gifts, different capacities and extent of those gifts. • Employing gifting depends on circumstances, opportunity and culture. • Partnership is best expressed in teams, not individual superiority. • Gifted women must be encouraged and included in ministry. Most will not aggressively demand inclusion. • Entering into debate on the theological issues does not enhance true application of partnership. I don’t mean to ignore the reality of theological differences, but it seldom leads to unity and effective partnership. • Leaders must be living examples of partnership. • When attitudes of superiority and inferiority remain, partnership becomes impossible. Don’t limit the concept of partnership to gender, but include race, nationality, age and gifting as well. • The foundation for working together successfully includes honor, respect and dignity of persons. • Build teams around gifting and need, not politically correct appearance. When we take actions to make our pictures “look” good, everyone feels used. Above all, remember that we are human, “… jars of clay to show that this all surpassing power is from God and not from us” (I Corinthians 4:7). Therefore, none of us will be perfect. We will sin, make mistakes and struggle with our own humanity as we work together. Paul pleads, “… make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but in humility consider others better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:2,3). That is true partnership. With that attitude, no one is put down because of gender. No one is elevated because of gender. This is true equality. ■


{

my Fill

}

Valley Girl

I

’m standing on the tip of a valley — looking in. I could walk around it to the other side — but that choice of direction seems wrong, as if I would miss some important lessons and experiences, and eventually end up at the wrong spot.

I’ve been in valleys before. Lots of them. But they’ve mainly been the valleys I’ve been pushed into — and then carried through. A financial crisis at work. An unexpected staff change. A dear friend’s health crisis. A child’s mess that must be addressed. Oh yes, I’ve been moved down and through valleys. This one is a self-selected valley. It’s about me and it’s my choice to be here. It’s about stopping what I used to do and preparing for what I will do next. I saw a similar one about thirty years ago as I waited for a child through adoption. I know that valleys are within God’s reach — that he goes with me into them and guides me through them. But that knowledge doesn’t fix my discomfort. I squirm under the mantle of “Valley Girl.” I prefer the peaks with their large vistas, open plains, the sky, the possibilities. The valley is a place of parameters I don’t enjoy but ones I must embrace. Limits. Of trajectory. Of space. Of control. I take a step and realize my feet are already on a downward slope. I look to the other side of the valley — up to the ridge above it where the sun beams on the high edges. I can’t see much more than this lip of hope but it appears to be a pleasant place. A place of call again. I sense God may take me there. I want to ask him to do it: call — or recall — me. But I can’t speak. There is a silence in me. A resignation to stillness occurring. Sort of like the paralyzed cry in a dream that simply won’t emerge into noise. But not as panicky. There is within this inertia a knowing. A reluctant acceptance.

Valleys have a way of revealing us to ourselves.

While the reluctance is strong, and the grief too tangible, I sense too, that there are happy places to discover within this valley. Unfamiliar, yet longed for resting spots. The refreshment that comes simply from not climbing. Green shoots searching for the uneven sunlight in the deep. Surprises to discover. Daydreaming moments to imagine shapes in the clouds. Freedom to wonder. Good things meant to wrap me up and make me better. I teeter here, on the edge of need. Valleys have a way of revealing us to ourselves. And in the revelation comes the choice of what to do with the need we see. Deny. Reject. Embrace. Surrender. Spiritual formation guides write of the power of descent. We prefer ascent. But in the downward pull comes the yielding of our great need to God’s great provision. On a mid-day walk, I steer off the path to a bench where I slow and sit. I stare at the pond before me, taking in the ducks, the air, the water, the barebranched foliage that is still life. In Colorado there are not many valleys. Just peaks and plains. But I sit in this flat place well below the mountain heights and hear God whisper in my restless thoughts: “You asked for this, Elisa. This stopping. This next. (This valley.) Don’t miss it.” I raise my eyes to the far-off peaks, their snowytips covered in blue-tinged light. I realize such colors are only visible from below. I scan the sky with its cottony balls of clouds and feel my neck straining up from where I sit down. I rise from my sitting place and descend. One step and then the next. Further. Farther.

Elisa Morgan, PUBLISHER

WINTER 2010

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Valleys — FullFill Magazine  

Winter 2010

Valleys — FullFill Magazine  

Winter 2010

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