Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Not a Blind Faith

As a young person, say 11 or 12, I began reading my Bible voraciously. But I had no idea how to understand it. Thankfully, the Lord put people in my life who would and could guide me into a right perspective of His Word. One of those people is the father of my childhood friend Amy. Frank Bains, and his wife Mary Margaret, led independent adult Bible studies for a group of interested neighborhood friends. They invited me to sit in on their studies if I wished. I wished. Those three or four years of soaking in the Word stoked my faith and drove me, eventually, to seminary and the ministry I enjoy today.

A few years ago, in the midst of a new ministry endeavor, Frank began experiencing vision problems. I kept up with him from afar through Amy's updates. He has since lost most of his vision and endured a drastic lifestyle change. Yet he continues to minister.

Read for yourself how Frank lived out Romans 5:3-4.

...we also rejoice in sufferings,
knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance, character,
and character, hope.

Thanks, Mr. Frank!
Offering Hope

I recently learned of a place that offers a particular kind of hope to women who want out of the pit of life. The Water Street Rescue Mission in Lancaster, PA, recently opened a home for women called the Lydia Center. Through a long-term process of rehabilitation, counseling, Bible study and community, women move from addiction to freedom, from hopeless to hopeful, from wandering to purposeful, from death to life. They learn what it means to live as a daughter of God, with sisters in Christ, while gaining valuable life lessons and guidance for their future.

Read an excerpt from one woman's testimony:

...when I arrived at the Lydia Center, I was homeless, a drug addict, labeled with a mental illness, and nowhere to go but up. I had heard about Jesus in jail, but it wasn’t until I got to the Lydia Center that I started to realize that I could have a relationship with him. The Lydia Center staff and volunteers have taken a broken, and desperate woman and showed Who could change me, Who could offer me rest, Who will always love me, never leave me and best of all give me freedom and hope and a new life with him. I choose life today… life in Christ.

These women have made the choice to turn around their lives in the context of a Christian worldview. Not every one of them is a committed believer when she arrives, nor necessarily when she leaves, but each agrees to sit under teaching and guidance that adheres to biblical principles. I hear that it is a fairly rigorous program. They are at the beginning of life on the other side, and many do not have outside support, loving relationships to which they will return. They could use a little encouragement, a lot of laughter, a few giggles, and loads of love.

Enter Spark Ministry. For one weekend in April, Spark will bring a group of women from North Texas and beyond to the beautiful hills of Pennsylvania to provide a retreat for the Lydia Center ladies. Bible teaching, small group discussions, skits, treats, laughter and hugs...it all comes together to share Christ's love in a uniquely female way. True to the ministry's name, this sort of retreat will provide a spark, a highlight, an awakening of hope for the women--that they will understand that they are lovable, they are accepted, they have value. If you've ever been on a retreat (women), maybe you can understand the way those experiences fill an indefinable gap in your spirit. We hope the Lydia ladies gain the same sort of encouragement from our weekend together.

Our? Did I say "our"? Why yes! I get to be a part of this retreat in April. The team is still being gathered, so if any of you readers are interested in joining, or just want more information, there is still time. Go to the Spark Ministry web site for more details and/or email me for details. This trip, as are all Spark retreats, is open to women from any church.

Whether you join physically or not, please take a moment to pray for the Lydia ladies and for the success of the retreat.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

She Has a Sense of Humor

I confess. I'm a political junkie. Daily, the political blogs and updates entertain and inform me, some entries more entertaining than informational. See this ABC News blog update, which had me hooting with appreciation. An excerpt below shares an amusing episode on Hillary Clinton's plane en route to a campaign stop. She impersonates a flight attendant over the intercom:

"Welcome to Hill-Force One," Clinton said . "FAA regulations prohibit the use of any cell phones, blackberries and/or wireless devices that may be used to transmit a negative story about me."

"Now in a few minutes," she continued, "I am going to switch off the fasten your seatbelt sign, however, I've learned lately that things can get oftly bumpy when you least expect it, so you might want to keep those seatbelts fastened."

"In the event of an unexpected drop in poll numbers, this plane will be diverted to New Hampshire."

"Once we have reached cruising altitude we will be offering in-flight entertainment, my stump speech, in its many variations."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Check it out!

Trumpets...confetti...congratulations...announcing the rebirth of the NewDoors web site! After five long years of stagnation, this site has been redeveloped, redesigned, rewritten, and renewed. About time!

What's it all about? Well, I'd prefer that you take a look for yourselves. But basically, NewDoors is the internet home to myself and my coauthor Sue Edwards. We highlight our books, which are resources for those leading and serving in women's ministries, as well as for churchwide leadership. We also highlight Sue's speaking ministry (and mine, I suppose, though that part takes 2 seconds to read), Sue's new bible study series--which is fantastic--and follow up articles and connections with our readers.

The newest addition to the site is a newsletter signup. Sue and I will offer monthly or bi-monthly, depending on the demand, women's ministry insights, helps, thoughts, and resources. Don't miss the sign up link on the left sidebar when you visit the site.

Our thanks to C3D Studios for their excellent work on the design and implementation of newdoors.info. They went above and beyond for us!

Please take a look at the new NewDoors home, then let me know what you think. If you have a web site or blog of your own, and you feel our subject matter would interest your readers, consider adding a link to our site to your page and help spread the word. Thanks!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Back to Reality
Cleaning your house while your children are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.

Phyllis Diller

It's been "snowing" in my house since school let out three weeks ago...

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

National Champions!
LSU 38 OSU 24

Monday, January 07, 2008

Tiger Fans, Unite!


Tonight is the big game--LSU vs. Ohio St. for the BCS National Championship. I spent last week catching a few of the other bowl games, very few with any real interest, though I did camp out in front of my TV on New Year's Day to watch about four of them back to back, but mostly I was waiting for tonight! THE game of the season (again). And I'm praying that the real Tigers will show up--the ones who obliterated Virginia Tech in the second game of the season--not the "cardiac Tigers" who gave every fan panic attacks at the end of, oh, at least five games.

My mom's friend is actually attending the game, just a few piddly miles down the River Road from Baton Rouge. Jealous, yeah. But I know I couldn't afford a nose-bleed ticket, so I'm not seriously envious.

My neighbors, post-Katrina transplants from Covington, LA, and I are supporting each other's Tiger loyalty. We have LSU flags flying in our yards (daily), and I'm sure we'll be sporting championship shirts, hoodies, and sundry gear within a couple of weeks (assuming we win, of course).

And tomorrow, my son will be thrilled that Mommy won't be able to watch any more college football. With that attitude, Superbowl Sunday should be the highlight of his year.