Conntecting the Dots

The Adventure Begins — Wednesday, Mar. 21, 2007

What can I say? Two months have passed since I last blogged. Life has been busy…very busy. Besides meeting monthly writing deadlines, preparing and traveling for numerous speaking engagements, coordinating all the necessary details for our India missions trip, revamping my website, and saying farewell to my mother-in-law when Parkinson’s disease claimed her life, I haven’t had a chance to even open my blog. In fact, I even forgot my password and my daughter had to tell me what it was. Sigh.

So here I am, sitting in a hotel room in Gangtok, Sikkim, with some time to spare. And I can hardly wait to tell you about this amazing trip. I’ll add a few entries each day, depending on internet access. Happy reading!

The actual adventure began on March 21 when Gene and I boarded a 747 in Vancouver. B.C. Nine hours later we landed in London, changed flights, and took off for an eight hour flight to New Delhi. After claiming our suitcases and going through a security check, we boarded yet another flight, this time for Hyderabad. We landed two hours later, exhausted but excited to return to Asia after a 22-year absence.

First impressions? HOT. It must have been more than 100 degrees – twice as hot as back home. Sweat trickled down our legs and foreheads as we waited for nearly an hour for our car and driver to arrive. It was also very noisy – taxi horns blasted non-stop, police whistles blew, and Hindi music blared. But that was nothing compared to the cacophony while driving through the city enroute to Operation Mobilization headquarters. Add never-ending bus and motorcycle motors and horns to the symphony, and you can imagine the ruckus.

Our driver appeared a little over-anxious to reach our destination. Or maybe he was an Indy 500 driver in disguise. He dodged vehicles of every size and description, business men wearing suits and carrying briefcases, and women wearing bright-colored saris. At one point, he swerved into the oncoming lane to pass a diesel-spewing bus. Several motorcyclists moved out of his way, but then came a little red car that staked its turf and sped straight toward us with headlights flashing. I swear we avoided a head-on collision by a mere hair. Welcome to India!

A Parent's Influence

This week’s been busy with organizing my marketing materials for 10-Minute Time Outs for You and Your Kids. I’ve been writing press releases and such, spurred on by an astounding tidbit of info I came across in my research.

Get a load of this: According to Josh McDowell, a parent’s influence on his/her child’s spiritual development is 300 times greater than that of a youth pastor. Wow! If that’s true, we dare not leave our kids’ spiritual well-being to the church. Rather, spiritual training begins at home, and church programs are the supplement.

So how can we, as moms, be the best possible influence on our kids’ spiritual development? I believe it’s by formally and informally teaching them what it means to be a follower of Christ. Formally — by teaching them what God’s Word says about life. Informally — by modeling what we say we believe. Day by day, moment by moment, we can influence our children in the spiritual department by “walking the talk.” That doesn’t mean we have to be perfect. If that were the case, we’d all be outta luck.

Rather, we put into practice the things we know to be true. When we mess up, we admit it. When we need to ask for forgiveness, we do so. When it’s appropriate, we share honestly about our struggles, our hopes, our joys. We share the lessons we’re learning. We let them see us on our knees or reading the Bible on a regular basis, not just when we’re facing a big problem. Doing these things helps our kids see that following Christ is an ongoing process, not just a one-time decision. And hopefully (prayerfully!) it encourages them to embrace the faith and persevere in it.

Wanna Be an Influencer for My New Book?

Hey — my latest book, 10-Minute Time Outs for You and Your Kids was released by Harvest House earlier this month. If you want to be a woman of influence, now’s your chance to jump on board in a practical way.

If you go to my website, you can read a sample from the book, see the cover photo, and read the list of endorsements. If you like what you see, get a copy of the book and use it with your kids. Then tell everyone you know about it — children’s ministry directors, other parents, Christian school principals, homeschool families, and even camp program directors (it’s ideal for camp counselors to use for bedtime devotionals with your kids). Write a review for amazon.com or amazon.ca. I would love to have your help in spreading the word about this book as a valuable resource for our kids’ spiritual development.

As women, there are lots of ways to influence our families and society for good and for God. This is just one practical way to do so. Let’s go to battle for our kids’ spiritual growth and well-being!

A Joyful Heart

On my desk sits a perpetual calendar filled with wonderful quotes. Today’s quote is from composer Joseph Haydn. He said, “When I think upon my God, my heart is so full of joy that the notes dance and leap from my pen; and since God has given me a cheerful heart, it will be pardoned me that I serve Him with a cheerful spirit.”

Sometimes we allow real-life problems to weigh us down and steal our joy. But Joseph’s words remind us that thinking upon God gives us a cheerful heart. I’ve found that to be true. When I focus on circumstances that are less than desirable, my joy fizzles. My spirit is left feeling like a withered balloon. And what does my countenance reflect? Let’s just say it ain’t a pretty sight. A woman with a positive influence? Forget it.

But when I think upon my God and His control over my circumstances, my heart is once again filled with joy. It’s never a bubbly, giddy feeling. Rather, it’s a deep-settled sense that everything’s under His control and I can rest. I can know that He’s at work in my situation, and I’m at peace. My countenance reflects my heart condition, and a smile is a natural overflow.

The next time we feel empty or discouraged, let’s think upon our God. Guaranteed, those thoughts will fill our hearts with cheer and enable us to serve Him with a cheerful heart. Therein lies the secret to being women of influence.

(Maybe this God-talk sounds foreign to you. Perhaps the only reference to God you’ve known is negative. Let me assure you, that’s not the case. If you want to know more about who God is, drop me a note!)

Know you are loved,
Grace

The Power of a Smile

I recently heard a woman tell about her encounter with a grocery store checkout clerk. As the woman — Judi — unloaded her groceries onto the conveyor belt, she noticed the clerk’s facial expression and body language. Everything about her screamed “Stress!” When the time came to pay, Judi handed her check to the clerk, smiled, and said, “Thank you for serving me so well this morning.”

The clerk stopped short and stared into Judi’s face.

Judi’s smile broadened and she seized the moment. “I really appreciate how you rang my groceries through your scanner accurately, and how you’ve taken the time to bag them.”

Consternation crossed the clerk’s face, and then her expression softened. “No one’s ever said that to me,” she said. “Thank you — you just made my day.”

We know nothing about the clerk’s background or home life. We know nothing about the personal struggles she may have been facing that day. But we know she found encouragement in Judi’s smile and comments.

Judi is a woman of influence. That morning she was sensitive to another person’s body language and by responding with kindness, she made a difference in the clerk’s day. How can we make a difference in someone’s life today? Maybe it’s by smiling and expressing appreciation to our husbands when they come home from work. Or by speaking positive words to the coworker who doesn’t say much and always looks sad. Or by encouraging the widow whose kids and grandkids live far away. Or by telling our kids that we love them. Or by telling the pastor and his wife that we appreciate their ministry. The list is endless.

Smiles and kind words are free. Let’s practice giving them away!

Welcome!

We’re a week into the New Year, and I’m determined to fulfill at least one of my resolutions. So here I am, nosediving into the world of blogging. This is yet another learning curve for me, but that’s okay. Learning curves make life interesting, right?

As I’ve thought about my blogging topic, one theme comes to mind. I want this to be a project that encourages women worldwide to discover their giftedness and develop their God-given potential so they can impact the generations to come. I envision including thought-provoking quotes, short interviews, and stories about women whose lives have made/are making a difference. I want to explore the character qualities their lives possess and learn how to emulate them. I want readers to share life lessons that others will find valuable, and for all to be challenged to a deeper faith walk.

Join me in this venture! I’ll kick off with a quote from Mother Teresa: “Let’s be willing to smile at one another, because a smile is the beginning of love. And once we begin to love one another, the desire to do something for one another more naturally follows.”

Imagine that! Sometimes we think we have to do something noteworthy and grand before we’re considered a woman of influence. But Mother Teresa’s words indicate otherwise. We simply need start with a smile. Sheesh — that’s easy. And it can be life-changing for a child whose home is filled with anger, an isolated senior, a frustrated teenager, or a lonely neighbor.

Whatever our schedule holds, let’s be sure to include a smile for those around us. The simple gesture might just lift someone’s fallen spirit, and it will fan the flame of love in our hearts.