Setting Captives Free, A Review

This week I am in Texas preparing for the best day of my sister’s life! Chelle gets married on June 16!

But, the show must go on! So, this week I was planning to share some life-giving, truth-giving resources with you. With each of the links I provide, I am speaking from personal experience. I have either done the Bible study, sat through the tuition, faithfully read the blog, dialogued with the founder or participated in some other way.

This week we are looking at Setting Captives Free. I began the In His Image study  a couple months ago. I was in the middle of a couple other studies at the same time, so it took me a while to gain momentum. My generous mentor never rushed me, but she did encourage me that doing the study at a steady pace produces better results. She was right!

When I finished Breakaway at my church, I stepped up my progress at In His Image. Almost every morning, I find myself in tears in front of my computer. The lessons have been convicting – very. At the same time, my mentor balances the brunt of the truth with empathy and hope-sustaining Scripture. But I warn you these studies aren’t for the faint of heart, or just to make you feel good!

Here’s an additional devotional that my mentor shared with me today. We have actually developed a broader relationship, as she has experienced many similar pains to myself. This devotion was in response to another situation I shared with her. Enjoy!

WHICH ARE YOU?

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

A young woman went to her mother and told her how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see?” “Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter tasted its rich aroma.

The daughter then asked. “What does it mean, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity—boiling water—but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. After being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do you wilt and become soft and lose your strength? Or are you an egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Do you have a fluid spirit, but after a loved-one’s death, a relationship breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have you become hardened and stiff? Does your shell look the same, but on the inside you are bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart? Or are you like a coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If I am like the bean, when things are at their worst, I get better and change the situation around me through Christ-likeness.

When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity?

RESPONSE: Christians are like carrots, eggs or coffee beans. They don’t know how strong their response is until they get into hot water. Which are you?

PRAYER: Lord, help me realize that every experience You gives me, every person You put in my path, is the perfect preparation only You can see.

Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS)
A daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks

© 2011 Open Doors International.

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1 Chronicles Prayer for Kids

I wrote this prayer actually for someone that I am mentoring. She is a wonderful mother and her desire is to grow as a godly mother and wife. She told me that sometimes prayer seems stale and redundant. I confess, I don’t have any good words on my own. Give me a piece of paper and I’ll write a good poem, but put me at the feet of the most AWESOME, GLORIOUS, SOVEREIGN, HOLY, MERCIFUL GOD and I’m tongue tied. So I told her that my greatest resource is the Bible. This prayer is composed mostly from 1 Chronicles chapters 17, 22, 28 and 29. I put [child’s name] but you could easily put your own or a friend’s or spouses.

Father,

Here I am, all of me before you. I don’t deserve your mercy, your attention, your compassion, your rescue. Who am I that you have been so good to me? All that you have done for me staggers me, and yet you tell me that I can’t even imagine all that you have in store for me. You have promised me a good heritage, a hope and a future. Thank you. There is no one like you, no God besides you.

So Lord, let your word be honored and come to full effect in my life and the lives of my children. Establish this home forever, a standard to your name and glory. Do as you have spoken. You, Father, have been pleased to bless this house. I am your servant. You have blessed us forever in Jesus.

Now [child’s name] the Lord will be with you. Because of Him you will succeed in all that you do – in building a life to the glory of His name. May the Lord grant you discretion and understanding, that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will prosper when you are careful to obey Him.

[Child’s name] I pray that you will know my God and serve Him with your whole heart and a willing mind. He searches the hearts and minds of everyone and knows every plan and intention. If you seek Him you will find Him.

So Father God, I bless you. You are our God, our Lord, our Father forever and ever. Yours is the majesty and power and glory and victory and greatness, for all that is in heaven and earth is yours. Riches and honor come from you and you rule over everything. You make great and give strength. I thank you and praise your glorious name.

In Jesus Name, Amen

The Flip-side of Mentorship

I stumbled across two of my most precious mentors entirely by accident. In fact, I was supposed to assisting them.

Nanny was approaching 90, and she lived with her 70+ year-old daughter, Katherine. Make no mistake – Katherine was and is completely capable of absolutely anything. In her multi-facted role of grandma, sister, housekeeper, mother, caring daughter, community volunteer, active church member and widow, she never dropped a ball. Not a crumb landed on her polished floor. Not a dog hair lingered on her couch. Her lawn was never too long.

But Nanny was approaching 90 and her health was supposed to be failing. Hospice entered the picture and began to send a nurse out a couple times per week to help with bathing, medication, etc. And I was a hospice volunteer, assigned to Nanny for companionship and to stay with her occasionally for Katherine to have a few hours off. That never happened.

Once or twice, I “kidnapped” Nanny, and we would get a pedicure or go to the mall or drive around old-town Columbus and she would tell me stories of growing up in the old south. Then, we would come home, hoping that Katherine had taken a nap or read a book, only to find that every single time she put herself to another task. Katherine cooked for her whole extended family, managed her children’s finances, raised her granddaughter, spoke at church, volunteered in the community, and cared for her dying brother. Never, never, never did I see her relax. Never, never, never did I hear her complain.

On many occasions, Nanny and I simply sat outside on the back porch with her dachshund, Prissy, and thumbed through old photo albums. Sometimes, Katherine would pour a rich glass of southern-sweet tea and join us. Katherine was bold about her love for Jesus, and so was Nanny. In fact, the first time I met them, Nanny told me, “Don’t expect to visit me for too long, I hope Jesus calls me home soon!”

The love in Katherine and Nanny’s home met every visitor at the door. It swept me up and carried me inside. Katherine imparted wisdom to me incidentally. In her I saw diligence, commitment, sacrifice, service, boldness and hope. Katherine proof read some of my articles and offered godly criticism.

Nanny taught me about marriage in the stories of her deceased husband. She had married at the age of 15-16. A girl can hardly have determined her love interests by that age, but Nanny had determined her commitment before the Lord. She told me of discovering their differences and similarities.

During this time, I was slipping back into an old, destructive habit of compulsive, excessive exercise. No one I knew called me on it. None of my running buddies mentioned my obsession. None of my family lived close enough to see the decline. No one seemed concerned that I was losing weight. No one but Katherine and Nanny. Suddenly, my weekly visit to care for their needs flipped to a weekly accountability check-up.

I doubt that I was as good for Nanny and Katherine as they were for me. But God was good, and before I moved, hospice had to drop Nanny because she was no longer declining.

Sorry, Nanny. God continues to share you with us one day at a time! But I am confident, that when you do go home both you and Katherine will be rewarded as a “good and faithful servants.”

Mentored

Let me share with you some wonderful wisdom from two of my mentors. This is unadulterated, straight from their emails. The thoughts are a little scattered, but they are sincere and meaningful nonetheless.

Often we picture mentors as older and wiser. Don’t forget the people you are walking with. Usually our struggles come in surges and we are rarely caught under the same wave simultaneously, so we are able to lift each other to crest of the wave behind us. The Bible warns us against looking only to our peers and forsaking the counsel of those who are older and wiser, but we can learn and should treasure the companionship and empathy of our friends.

I love you Faithful Four!

 

 

Totally goes along with what I did in my bible study today. In the book of Matthew when Peter gets out of the boat and ten begins to doubt, Jesus rebuked him, but put HIS hand out and grabbed Peter! Matthew 14:31 “Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?'” The latter part of this verse is often quoted but the first part is even more powerful. “Immediately Jesus reached out his hand” What you shared Chrissy was a very nice supplement to our lesson today and I passed it along! 🙂 Praise the Lord that even though we doubt, He first grabs us, then rebukes us!!!!
I thought you would like this verse: In the book of Jeremiah, God called him to serve as His prophet. He spoke these five words which I know work in my temp situation as a single mom and I think can help you. I have them taped to my fridge. “Now, get ready. Stand up” Jeremiah 1:17. In other words…we are where we should be and it’s make it or break it time. I choose to bring it and I know you do as well!
Love to you all! Deployment sucks big time, but amazingly enough, despite flooded garages, canceled insurance, electric company mess-ups, Preston’s wanting his daddy, neither one of my kiddos sleeping, and full-time school…I can honestly say that I am happy!!!
Deuteronomy 33:27  Underneath are the everlasting arms.God–the eternal God–is himself our support at all times, and especially when we are sinking in deep trouble. There are seasons when the Christian sinks very low in humiliation. Under a deep sense of his great sinfulness, he is humbled before God till he scarcely knows how to pray, because he appears, in his own sight, so worthless. Well, child of God, remember that when thou art at thy worst and lowest, yet “underneath” thee “are everlasting arms.” Sin may drag thee ever so low, but Christ’s great atonement is still under all. You may have descended into the deeps, but you cannot have fallen so low as “the uttermost;” and to the uttermost he saves. Again, the Christian sometimes sinks very deeply in sore trial from without. Every earthly prop is cut away. What then? Still underneath him are “the everlasting arms.” He cannot fall so deep in distress and affliction but what the covenant grace of an ever-faithful God will still encircle him. The Christian may be sinking under trouble from within through fierce conflict, but even then he cannot be brought so low as to be beyond the reach of the “everlasting arms”–they are underneath him; and, while thus sustained, all Satan’s efforts to harm him avail nothing.

This assurance of support is a comfort to any weary but earnest worker in the service of God. It implies a promise of strength for each day, grace for each need, and power for each duty. And, further, when death comes, the promise shall still hold good. When we stand in the midst of Jordan, we shall be able to say with David, “I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.” We shall descend into the grave, but we shall go no lower, for the eternal arms prevent our further fall. All through life, and at its close, we shall be upheld by the “everlasting arms”–arms that neither flag nor lose their strength, for “the everlasting God fainteth not, neither is weary.”

Free Starbucks!

I’m writing this as I sit at home (where I never write well) with a cardboard cup of instant coffee. Don’t ask. It did remind me however, that tomorrow, I get to give you a FREE $5 gift card to Starbucks. As we’re discussing mentorship this month, my hope is that you will take someone under your wing or duck underneath theirs and share a cup of coffee. Pray together, love on each other, share Jesus.

Just make sure you show up here tomorrow and make a comment. I’d love it if you put a link to Predatory Lies on your blog or in an email to a friend. Tomorrow I will pray with you here too. Know that you are daily prayed for.

Sharing Jesus, who is our joy. abby

Unlikely Mentor

Did you ever consider the characters in your books as mentors? Of course, they don’t fit our stereo-typical image of a mentor, but if we’re using the definition of advisor…

I am participating in a blog-book-club about The Muir House, by Mary DeMuth. The first blog-host wrote a very compelling post. I’ll link to it here, as well as give you a teaser…

“You have a choice. Chaos or wholeness. I know it sounds wacko, but your comfort zone is chaos. Take a risk for wholeness.”

Obviously

I tried really hard to make this post about anyone other than my mom. I was afraid it would sound repetitious. There are other women who have advised me and guided me over the years, but if I don’t start with my mom, all my other stories will have no foundation. Mom taught me to listen, seek counsel and respect experience.

 

I looked up “mentor” in the dictionary. That’s the first time Google Dictionary, that verbose king of words, answered my question with one word: Advisor. In search of something deeper, easier to expound upon, I hit up the thesaurus: trusted advisor, coach, tutor, trainer, counselor, consultant.

 

From first grade, Mom was my teacher. Any teacher’s aim is to see her students learn to read, write, add and subtract. Mom’s impact went much deeper. She taught me sacrifice – while her peers were flaunting established careers or community recognition, she was lesson planning for three restless pupils. While her peers lunched for a brief hour over crisp, restaurant salads and ice tea, she spent nearly an hour simply getting baloney sandwiches made while listening to recitations, explaining math problems and conducting oral spelling tests.

 

Mom advised me to “Study to show [myself] approved unto God, a workman who need not be ashamed (2 Tim. 2:15). That verse was stitched into the cover of the Bible she opened every morning. My sisters and I understood that God’s word was the single most important thing for all of life. And Mom made it clear that it honored God for us to devote ourselves to scholastic learning.

 

Mom counseled me through more than a decade of anorexia. She sat with me through therapy sessions, modeled compassion and learned when to let go.

 

Perhaps the most unique aspect of this mentor/mentee relationship, is that although I learned much as I sat at her feet, on her lap and in my desk; Mom’s words and actions reverberate in my life today. I often call Mom for encouragement. But I don’t need to. Usually, I know exactly what she’s going to say. Her influence became a part of me – the most beautiful part of me.

FREE STARBUCKS

Don’t forget that tomorrow is the first, free Starbucks gift card giveaway! Let’s get chatty! All you have to do for a chance to win is talk with me here this week. Tell me about a mentor or someone you have mentored.

Tell me about your prayer life – how do you intercede? do you pray the scriptures? with music? do you kneel? do you pray intentionally?

I’m anxious to hear from you and I wish we could share a cup of coffee personally!

Doubly Adopted

I was adopted at the age of 24. Oddly enough, that’s the same time that I adopted my little sister. Confused yet?

The Brewers were a kind family of three that I met at church. I had married about six months earlier and my husband had immediately deployed to Iraq, leaving me family-less on the east coast. I snuggled in at church, feeling loved by the crowd of people. I joined the choir, I helped with kids’ classes and attended every service. But being a part of a church family isn’t the same as having a sister or a mother.

Kaitlin Brewer was 15, about the age of my sister living in Kansas. She was bubbly and talkative. When the congregation stood to shake hands or mingled in the foyer I spoke briefly to Kaitlin and discovered small things we had in common. I knew she loved to read. She was growing up in a conservative Christian home; she had a crush on a guy in the youth group. I knew how much I missed my sisters.

One Sunday after the service, I stopped her, “Kaitlin, would you go to Barnes and Noble with me this afternoon? I just want to browse, flip though magazines and get a coffee. It’s something my sister and I love to do together, but she’s not here and I really miss her and… I’d love to ‘adopt’ you.”

Kaitlin’s eyes glittered with enthusiasm. “I’d love to! I’ve never had a sister. That sounds like so much fun!” A few hours later, I drove up the Brewer’s driveway and Kaitlin climbed into my passenger seat.

I didn’t spend a profound afternoon advising Kaitlin in the ways of a godly woman. Instead, we sang at the top of our lungs with the radio. We shared our favorite books. I felt sheepish at her detailed memory of every book she had ever read – many more that me. It was a priceless afternoon that filled a growing void in my heart.

The holidays were fast approaching and Kaitlin went Christmas shopping with me. She helped me lug them into Quik Pack’n’Ship as I tearfully mailed all the gifts to my family. I refused to go home for Christmas while my husband was “celebrating” in the desert.

On Christmas Eve, I got a phone call from Mrs. Brewer. “Abby, Kaitlin has really enjoyed having a sister. Would you be my ‘daughter,’ and spend Christmas with our family?”

The next morning, I joined the Brewers for coffee cake, French roast and the reading of The Christmas Story. Mr. Brewer intoned Luke 2, just like my own daddy. I sat on their living room floor and took a nap in the study as the joyful day wore on.

The Brewers entered my life in an informal way, but they became my family. I adopted Kaitlin and their whole family adopted me. With no effort at all, I mentored, encouraged and came alongside Kaitlin, and benefited enormously at the same time. Mrs. Brewer began to email me about once a week, teaching me in an unconscious way to honor my parents, respect and submit to my husband, love unconditionally and rejoice in my role as a godly woman.

It’s been almost seven years since I’ve seen the Brewers. Kaitlin’s has gotten married. We’ve moved about three times and they’ve probably moved just as many. Once in a while, I’ll open my email to find a well-crafted devotional titled “As God Pleases, Dispose the Day.” Mrs. Brewer continues to teach me.

My relationships with Kaitlin and Mrs. Brewer were never sanctioned “mentorships.” We slowly started to do life together. As we each personally continued to submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s leading, He led us in obedience to Titus 2:3-4.

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”