Butterfly Sparks Designs

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Two Years and Counting

On October 28th I will be celebrating two years of cancer remission! I am so grateful to be alive and so grateful to be well. In honor of my own survival, this year I've decided to embrace breast cancer awareness month and even that little pink ribbon that I've avoided.

The month of October has been a little overwhelming to me. It seemed everywhere I went I saw something related to the big BC - and even though that ribbon was supposed to encourage me, I found it a reminder of the mark of disease. Sometimes I just tried to ignore it and sometimes it made me mad. I never wore the ribbon because I didn't want to identify myself with cancer.

This year I've made a turn in my thinking. I'm not only embracing the month of October as an opportunity to share anywhere and everywhere I can about the importance of early detection as a life saving measure, but I'm wearing my pink ribbon with pride. I have decided that ribbon is a statement of my victory and not an indication of my weakness.

I am taking back some of the joy that I first experienced on the day I heard my scans were clear. Here's what I had to say on that day.

October 28, 2009:

So thrilled to update you on my doctor visit this morning. My PET scan is totally clear showing no evidence of disease! When my doctor shared, I simply jumped out of my chair and started leaping in the air. I think I almost hit him! He told me to stop it so I wouldn't break my hip. Big tears and big smiles all around. Mark was with me and I just sat down in his lap and gave him a big hug.

Relief is so sweet! How I wish each of you could experience the release that I experienced this morning. Waiting on the Lord and believing for a natural manifestation of what you know in your spirit has been a stretch of my faith as never before. I have had to believe more deeply, declare more loudly and stand more firmly. Even now I sense again that standing is still required! Each of us must take our spiritual position, lift our sword and shield and stand until the natural aligns with His Word and His promise.

Today I am saying "I am a cancer survivor and I am proud to be so very pink."

Monday, April 18, 2011

Beyond the Shock

I am a breast cancer survivor.

Wow! I still get a thrill in my spirit when I say it!

Throughout my journey from diagnosis to remission, I have freely shared my testimony and tried to encourage others to navigate with faith in difficult times. I believe that healing is an important part of the benefits of our salvation, and I long to minister truth, hope and healing to others.

I've recently been given an opportunity to do just a little of that.

In early 2011, I became a part of a project for the National Breast Cancer Foundation called Beyond The Shock. I (along with several other ladies) am featured as a documentary participant, sharing my insights and perspectives as a cancer survivor for the purpose of offering hope and encouragement to others who have been recently diagnosed. (Click here to view my testimony.)

The National Breast Cancer Foundation's mission is to save lives by increasing awareness of breast cancer through education and by providing mammograms for those in need. Beyond the Shock is a new initiative of the organization that is designed to provide a broad range of resources and encouragement for breast cancer patients and their families.

Would you help me spread the news about this helpful project? If you know someone who needs some encouragement in this area, please direct them to the web site. You can use the bar at the bottom of this post to tweet, facebook or email this post. We can learn more about the disease, ask questions and get answers, and hear real stories from real people.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Super Vitamin D

Recently my article entitled Super Vitamin D was published in the latest edition of Studio G - Gateway's magazine for women.

Here's an excerpt from the article:

More and more studies are revealing the benefits of having plenty of vitamin D and the dangers of having too little. For years, doctors have advocated the intake of vitamin D as a partner to calcium and magnesium, because it helps our bones absorb these essential elements and assists in the prevention of osteoporosis. But a recent flood of new research is revealing that vitamin D does much more.

A lot more, in fact.

Click here to read the rest of the article. I hope you'll take a moment to check out the entire new edition and if you haven't done so before, please subscribe.

Drink your milk. Get a little sunshine. Be healthy!


PS - Since you are already stopping by Studio G, why not take a moment and get to know my boss? The feature story is about Debbie Morris, Her Heart, Her Passion, Her Life. Click here for this article. Happy reading!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Thinking of You

I am so excited - still!

Pink Impact 2011 is finished! We did everything we planned to do and a few things we didn't plan. We praised, preached, prayed and prophesied. We ate, shared, danced, talked, laughed, and cried. We got saved, healed, set free, equipped, empowered, and yes - even released for service!

As I sit on my front porch this afternoon reflecting on my personal "Pink Impact Experience", I can't help but thank God for you. This verse says it all:

You need to know, friends, that thanking God over and over for you is not only a pleasure; it's a must. We have to do it. Your faith is growing phenomenally; your love for each other is developing wonderfully. Why, it's only right that we give thanks. We're so proud of you; you're so steady and determined in your faith despite all the hard times that have come down on you. We tell everyone we meet in the churches all about you. I Thes. 1:3-4 (The Message)

Your faith is growing phenomenally.

Your love is developing wonderfully.

You are so steady and determined in your faith.

Just like you, I'll be processing the personal things of Pink Impact for weeks to come. But today - right now - I'm just giving thanks for the beautiful, maturing, faithful gathering of women that make up Gateway Pink. It's not only a pleasure, it's a MUST! We are so proud of you! Telling everyone I meet about how amazing you are!


Did you hear the good news?

Beth Moore is joining us for Pink Impact 2012. We sold over 1500 tickets for next year at the 2011 conference, so don't wait! Registration is available right now. Click on the title of this link and reserve your spot today. Only 4,000 seats and we will not live broadcast! Can't wait to see you there!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hottest Before the Breakthrough

Sometimes the battle is the hottest right before the breakthrough.

I'm wondering this morning how Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego must have felt as they drew near to the furnace. Surely it was threatening and the heat on their face so scorching. Yet somehow they found the strength to trust and proceed.

I find myself at a bit of a furnace moment. It seems that Pink Impact always brings a certain purifying of my soul. Just as we are ready to launch, I find the warfare so intense. I feel the threats and I experience the heat.

Maybe you feel the same way.

Let's choose to take it as a sign of encouragement. So much assault must be an indication that we are on the edge of a breakthrough - on the verge of taking the territory that God has assigned to us - about to be met by a fourth man who will walk with us in the fire.

King Nebuchadnezzar said: "Look!" he answered, "I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. (Daniel 3:25 NKJ)

If we remain steadfast, He will join us and we will come through not even smelling of smoke, for the fire of the enemy has no power.

"...the king's counselors gathered together, and they saw those men on whose bodies the fire had no power; the hair of their head was not singed nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them." (Daniel 3:28)

Not only that, but as soon as those three young men stepped forth from the furnace, they were promoted. They became the chief governors of the area reporting directly to Daniel and to the king. In a pagan kingdom, God's people ruled.

Will you join with me as I take my eyes off the furnace and put them firmly on His faithfulness? Let's believe the victory, breakthrough and promotion are right in front of us.

Stepping through!

PS - Click on the title of this blog to read the entire story of the three men in the furnace!

Friday, March 25, 2011

PI Workshop Speakers - Adana and Deana

And here they are...the final two workshop speakers for Pink Impact. They might be last but they are not least! Adana Wilson and Deana Morgan are two powerful teachers of the Word.

Upgrade Your Life—God Has an App for That Adana Wilson

How long could you go without your cell phone? We depend on them for everything from communication to direction, and whatever problem you have, there’s an “app for that”! While there’s nothing wrong with this, have you ever thought about “upgrading your life” to a Source where coverage is guaranteed, wisdom and direction are endless, the battery will never die and the upgrade is completely free? Through this workshop, you learn practical life applications from the Word of God to help you make the most of the number one network—God’s network!

Adana has a God-given passion and desire to see women of all ages walk in the fullness of God’s love, realize the unique individual God has created them to be and fulfill their God-given destiny. She was the Women’s Ministry Administrator at Lakewood Church, with Pastor Joel and Victoria Osteen. At Lakewood, she regularly taught over 350 women at their weekly women’s Bible study and led workshops as well as handled all administrative duties for the Women’s Ministry. Adana has been married for over 15 years and has three boys.




Empowered: Walk in the Authority and Power God Has Given You!

Deana Morgan

How do you feel when you hear the words empowered, favored and anointed? Do you always think they apply to someone else? How would it be if you knew how to live stronger and more confidently? This workshop will ignite and awaken a truth that will free you to walk in the full authority given to you as a daughter of the King.

Deana and her family currently reside in Grapevine, Texas. She has been married to Mitchell for 16 years and is the proud mother of two girls, Sabrina (9) and McKenzie (7). She spends her time homeschooling her girls and leading one women’s small group and two mother-daughter small groups. Her greatest joys, besides her family, are date nights with her husband, growing in her relationship with the Lord, seeing God’s greatness emerge in His people and seizing opportunities to “live it” empowered.



Now that you've met everyone, how in the world will you choose? It will definately be quite a challenge!

Love, Jan

PI Workshop Speakers - Michele and Marissa

I'm so excited to introduce you to two more of our workshop leaders for Pink Impact. Both Michele Cohen and Marissa Star are passionate about reaching women and encouraging them to be all that they are called to be. You don't want to miss these ladies! Remember to click on the link above to go directly to the conference site. Enjoy!

Building a Dream Team
Michele Cohen

Did you know that God has invited you to be a part of His dream team? In fact, not only has He invited you into relationship with Him, but He has also invited you into partnership! You and the Holy Spirit make a team that is undefeatable. Through this workshop, you’ll learn how to collaborate more effectively, joyfully and powerfully with your key partner—the Holy Spirit.

Michele Cohen was born and raised in London. After graduating from high school and retiring from the British National Gymnastics team as a teenager, she trained at a performing arts college for three years and went on to a highly successful career as an actress, dancer, director and choreographer in London’s prestigious West End theater district. Michele has directed and choreographed Gateway’s Christmas productions for the past three years.


The Devil’s Photoshoot
Marissa Star

The Devil loves to take photographs of us in our worst moments. Then, he likes to convince us that our worst moments define who we are. Come learn how our freedom to embrace our true identity is settled by what Christ has done for us and who He says we are. Through this workshop, you’ll develop a new snapshot of your true self that will help you to overcome condemnation and live in grace.

Marissa is passionate about prayer, freedom and seeing women step into their God-given destiny. She enjoys teaching, leading small groups and serving as the Executive Director of DestinyinBloom.com, an online women’s magazine. She desires for all women, young and old, to understand the royalty they walk in as daughters of the King—with a tiara in one hand and wielding a sword in the other. Marissa has been married to her Bible-college sweetheart for 12 years, and together they have four young sons (AKA world changers in training).


Love you,

PI Workshop Speakers - Rebecca and Nancy

Hi friends, Here are two more amazing ladies for you to meet! Rebecca Gates and Nancy Houston are both great communicators. Check out these topics! Click on the link to go straight to Pink Impact for more details.

Are You Ready for a Change?
Rebecca Gates

Have you ever felt like your life is on hold? Like you’re waiting around for something significant to happen while time is being wasted on unfulfilling season after season of life? This workshop will help you to make a change. Join us as we discover how to overcome our disappointment, make a life-change and begin to embrace each day with purpose by staying connected to Jesus.

Rebecca is a wife and mom who has recently been rediscovering herself after several years of being defined only as the mother of three boys. Besides being a diaper changer, deodorize and fast food chef, she also has a love for writing and relating to the needs of other women. Rebecca has been a featured writer in Studio G and on DestinyInBloom.com. Her deepest passion is to see Christ’s bride know Him intimately.


Sexual Healing: The Inside Scoop

Nancy Houston

Discover how to live free from the circumstances of your past and walk in a fulfilling relationship with the Holy Spirit. This workshop is for any woman who has experienced sexual hurts or regrets. It’s also for every woman who wants to know how to minister more effectively to another who has been hurt. During this workshop, we’ll discuss how to experience life-giving inspiration and healing as we learn how to walk in complete victory.

Nancy Houston is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Sex Therapist. She serves as an Associate Pastor of Unity (Gateway Marriage). She is married to Ron, her high school sweetheart, and together they have four sons, three daughter-in-laws and one grandson with a granddaughter on the way.

MORE ABOUT NANCY unity.gatewaypeople.com

PI Workshop Speakers - Michelle and Kassie

Still thinking about which Pink Impact workshop you would like to attend? Well here are two more excellent choices!

Your Personal Blueprint for 2011
Michelle Brogan

All too often, we peek at the lives of others and wish our lives were constructed differently. Find out why your destiny has the “best blueprint” and how you can have limitless results if you follow it correctly. In our search to identify our destiny, we will learn how to combat idolatry and how our own spiritual armor was tailor-made by God with our specific uniqueness in mind.

Michelle Brogan is a wife, mother, speaker, producer, mentor and pastor. She has been traveling the country for over 10 years using her testimony and unique illustrated sermons to awaken the hearts of all who desire change. Her powerful testimony and passionate delivery not only transforms but delivers a change that is permanent and life-changing. Michelle is the Founder of Revolution Ministries, which includes the ministries of the MOVEment, Dance Revolution and Ingredients Internship and Training program.


Finding Your Political Voice
Kassie Dulin

Do you love your country and want to take a stand for godly values, but don’t know where to start? Join presidential campaign-staffer Kassie Dulin as she talks about her exciting, unexpected adventures in politics and shares simple yet effective ways for busy women to get educated on the issues, identify excellent candidates and make a difference in America.

Kassie Dulin is a 24-year-old Starbucks lover with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications. In the 2008 election cycle, she served on the presidential campaign of Governor Mike Huckabee as the assistant to the press secretary. Kassie has served as the leader of a national political youth organization and is currently working with Wallbuilders, an organization dedicated to preserving America’s godly heritage.


If you would like to review all ten of the workshops being offered at Pink Impact, or to register, simply click on the link above and it will take you right to the site!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Coffee with Chris - A Conversation about Women

So excited to share one more podcast with our friend, Christine Caine. We recently shared a conversation about women that I think you will really enjoy. Please visit http://www.equipandempower.org/ or simply click on the title of this post!

Won't you weigh in on our discussion? Do you think women have a lot of glass ceilings?



PI Workshop Speakers - Lexa and Sandy

In case you haven't heard - we've added workshop speakers to this year's Pink Impact lineup. We are offering ten different workshops for you to choose from! These encouraging and challenging classes will be taught by Gateway women. It's my honor to introduce you to some of the best and brightest in the house! Over the next few blog post I'm going to be introducing you to these speakers and their workshop topics.

Today I'm featuring Lexa Brecheen and Sandy Jobe. (Click on title of this post to go ahead and see all ten workshop choices - and of course - to register for Pink Impact.)

Get Moving

Lexa Brecheen

Are you stuck? Do you feel powerless? Well there’s good news! We serve a big God who has given us authority to move out and move on. Are you ready to walk in the authority God has given you? If you are, this workshop will help you awaken your heart and soul to the power that’s within you. Learn how to spiritually move the mountains in your way and develop an overcoming anointing in your everyday life.

Lexa has served women through her leadership in churches for 16 years. Her passionate desire is for women to see the favored position the Lord has given to them. Lexa is a former Pink Impact speaker, retreat speaker and the founder of Velvet Hearts—a discipleship ministry that calls women to holiness and to the fullness of femininity. She is most proud of her husband, Marcus, and their five children.


Faith or Fear?
Sandy Jobe

For years, fear came knocking at Sandy’s door, threatening to engulf her life. Refusing to be a victim, she learned how to move from fear to faith. How did she do that? In this workshop, Sandy will share personal stories and insights about how she chose faith over fear and how you, too, can live free.

Sandy has a passion to empower women to live life with no regrets. She has served as a Titus 2 teacher and as a hostess for Pink Impact speakers. She enjoys spending time with her family, loves to laugh and uses baking as a form of stress release. Sandy has been married for 31 years to Mark, one of Gateway’s Global Ministries Pastors, and is the mother of three grown children: Kari, Kris and Caleb.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

One Woman Leader to Another - Part 4

Hi friends,

This is my final post in the series I’ve been sharing about being an effective leader. Today I’m going to share about "How to Lead your Oversight Well."

When we talk about leadership we automatically think of a top/down, corporate style leadership. But when you are serving in the kingdom, there is a different frame of reference that we have to consider. I want to talk about upside down leadership- the kind that is focused on serving those who lead you.

If you will view those in authority over you as your greatest kingdom assignment, it will change the way you think and respond to authority. I’m focusing on my assignment to women in this teaching, but the same principles I am about to share also apply to my relationship with Jesus, my husband and my boss.

A friend once said that I was learning to “pastor up.” I was learning something all right! Something I didn’t expect. I found that to “pastor up” isn't about leading or teaching or praying or planning or even waiting at the altar for someone to need my prayers. “Pastoring up” is pure and simple about being a servant to those who have authority over me.

Let us ask ourselves, "Can I put on the apron, wash the dish, fold the towel, type the letter, make the phone call, smile when I am annoyed, be silent when I have a better idea, forgive when I am overlooked, wait when I am tired, stay when I want to leave?"

When I first started working for my boss, I did not know her. I wanted to serve her but I really didn’t know how. So I began with prayer. I prayed for her responsibilities, her family, her health, her vision. Then I prayed for me. I asked God to show me her heart. I wanted to understand her values. I wanted to catch her vision.

As I prayed, the Holy Spirit would reveal little treasures along the way. I would watch her make a decision and the Holy Spirit would highlight a value behind the decision. I would need help with a situation. When I took that to her, I’d watch her problem solve. I learned what was most important to her and how she would like me to respond in various situations. When I couldn’t reach her for some important decision, I’d ask God to give me some insight into how she would respond. The more I prayed for her, the more she became a revelation to me. The more revelation I had, the better equipped I was to serve.

"Pastoring up” is really all about love. Can I serve out of no other motivation than that I am called to love? The more I “pastor up” the more I find that if I serve with a selfish heart, seeking my own agenda, the harder and harder the assignment becomes. But if my focus is truly to love, then service becomes simple.

Jesus Christ set before us the lifestyle of “pastoring up.” I am reminded that He came not to do His own will, but the will of the one who sent Him. He came to serve…to wash feet…to drink the cup…to offer His body to be broken and His blood to be poured out. He came to serve the Father with perfect love.

I believe that you have a heart to serve – or you wouldn’t be still reading this article. A servant’s heart is highly valued and greatly favored in the kingdom. Keep pouring yourself into those who have authority over you and you will find that your work will bring its own rewards.

Here are some very practical tips for how to serve your oversight well.

* Ask Questions and listen. Work hard to let them set the pace and the agenda. Talk less. Listen more.

* Nail down and learn core values. Find out why they make the decisions they make. Let their vision become your vision. Be careful not to build a ministry separate from theirs.

* Good, open and honest communication is essential. Keep them abreast of all major issues – especially staffing, obstacles or conflicts. Try to never let them be surprised or left out of key decisions.

* Learn to communicate what is going on with clarity and consistency – don’t make a leader track you down for oversight or have to drag a report from you.

* Don’t betray a confidence. When close to the leader you will know things early. Learn to be quiet and wait on public information.

* Ponder on how to maximize their strengths and how to cover their weaknesses. Consider how you can help them have the most influence among those you serve with the least amount of time commitment.

* They have more responsibilities than managing you. If something has to give, it might just be you.

* Let them help you problem solve and allow them to be your advocate.

* To get a project off the ground, make sure you understand their purpose for the project. Then strategize some ideas. Then come back and say, “This is what I’m thinking? What are you thinking?” Don’t proceed until you are confident you are on the same track. Once in agreement, then youare free to move forward with great authority and confidence.

Here's a prayer I wrote years ago that has helped me along the way. I hope it blesses you.

Lord, I long to fellowship with the servant of servants. Help me to lay waste to all ambition, glory and self-service, So that I may lay my life low to “pastor up” for those who are placed in authority over me. I choose to sow in service, in order that you may receive glory and honor. May my headship be blessed with no fear of retribution. May those who “pastor up” for me receive grace, mercy and compassion at my hand. And God, would you create in me a true, sacrificial, servant heart of love?

Blessings and honor to you!


Monday, March 14, 2011

Destiny In Bloom Contest

I'm so excited to invite you to enter a contest where the grand prize is two free registrations to Pink Impact. The contest is sponsored by Destiny in Bloom, a women's on-line magazine that aims to inspire, uplift and challenge their readers through articles written from the heart,yet in different perspectives. This week, Pink Impact is their feature article under "Reviews and Favorites". There are several easy ways to enter the contest and many other prizes you could win as well. Simply visit www.destinyinbloom.com or click on the title of this blog - which will take you right to the Pink Impact Article.

When you visit DIB, be sure to leave a comment and share something about your perspective on Pink Impact. While you are there don't forget to
Subscribe and Socialize
Just click the icons right on their page and you will soon be getting an update on the latest articles, guest writer's and special features. I hope you will "like" them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and in general let them know how much you like the magazine.

I'm headed over myself right now to leave a little comment of my own! Hope to see you there.

Be Pink!


Sunday, March 13, 2011

It's Almost Time

Hi Friends,

It's only 23 days and counting!

Are you coming?

It won't be the same if you aren't there.

Pink Impact, the annual women's conference at Gateway Church, is coming up in just three short weeks. As all the details finally come together, I am getting so excited! In just a few days you will begin to stream through the doors of the new campus. There will be chatter and laughter and lots of hugs. We will celebrate one another and enter into His presence together.

I am humbled by the privilege it is to dream about a gathering of this nature. Not only to dream - but to see my dreams come true. I am confident that many God encounters are appointed for this year. The Father is giving us divine confidence so that we can overcome every hurdle that strives to keep us from moving out in faith.

Our theme is Live It! If I could give you a Nike swoosh, I would. Wherever you are, whatever life stage you are in, whatever obstacles you face, whatever dreams you are dreaming...just go ahead and believe God! He will help you to expand your expectations, increase your faith, and give you the courage to obey. Don't hold back any longer. Live your faith out loud!

You will hear from our own Pastor Debbie Morris. (To hear more about Pastor Debbie's heart for the conference, please visit her personal blog at www.debbiemorris.gatewaypeople.com.) She'll be leading us throughout the weekend where we will also hear from Chris Caine, Priscilla Shirer, Charlotte Gambill and TD Jakes, who are some of the most inspiring and influential leaders in the church today.

As an extra bonus, we are offering workshops that feature some of Gateway's best teachers. Thursday morning we will have two rounds of workshops where you can hear some new voices and some new topics. Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be introducing you to these women and their workshop topics, so check back often for updates.

Our congregation has grown by almost 4,000 members since last November. That's a lot of new ladies who have no idea what Pink Impact is about. Would you help me spread the word? Would you be sure that the women in your sphere of influence have received a personal invitation?

As a matter of fact, please consider this a personal invitation to you. I'm inviting you to join us. I'm inviting you to invest in yourself and in your spiritual relationships. I'm inviting you to invite someone!

But if you don't come, you won't experience it.

So go ahead and check it out for yourself. Click on the title of this blog and it will take you directly to the conference site at www.pinkimpact.com. If you have questions about things like schedules, childcare or scholarships, please email your questions to info@pinkimpact.com.

Please join me in praying for every woman who will join us - including you! We're asking God to stir your expectation for more of Him.

Much love,

Through the Eyes of a Lens

Hi sweet friends -

I recently met a young woman named Katie who has a knack for capturing people at their best through the eyes of a camera lens. She is smart, passionate, action oriented and very gentle. She has a gift to pastor people and a prophetic edge to her work. It was only natural that when I needed some new photographs for an upcoming project, that I thought of Katie.

She met me and Ashley at the local park on a Sunday afternoon. We had a lot of fun just finding the right spots and the right outfits. As Katie snapped away, I was reminded again how beautifully God has made each person. Her gift for "gab" and her heart to do more than just take my picture - to really help me capture a feeling of transparency and trust - made me feel loved...safe...at ease.

Katie is an avid blogger - posting often about her shoots. Recently Katie posted a blog on her website about our time together. I'm so honored by her post, that I want to invite you to stop by for a visit. You will see several awesome posts and if you keep scanning down, you will see my new photos, hear her story of learning to hear God again, and catch a glimpse of a new ministry call on her life. Click on the title above and it will take you right to Katie's site or you can go to www.katiecoinerblog.com.

Just like Katie, you too are beautiful. A work of art from the master's hand. I pray that you would see yourself through the eyes of His lens and that you would know you are appointed to good works and great love.

Thanks Katie!


One Woman Leader to Another - Part 3

Hi friends,

Today I’m excited to share some ideas about how to lead women well.

Over the years I have discovered a very important key that will really help you to be a great leader of women. You must love them. Whenever I am interviewing a woman for a role on our staff, or even in a volunteer leadership position, I consider these four questions:

 Does she like women?
 Can she see the potential in other women?
 Does she enjoy their company?
 Does she have a mother’s heart?

If I can answer yes to these questions, I’ve found myself a leader and a team player. When you love women, you will be able to serve them with great compassion, lots of joy and a sense of great purpose.

Now here are some tips for building a great ministry to women:

Help Them Overcome Isolation. Everyone wants to belong to something that is bigger than themselves. This is the core foundation of what it means to be a part of a family. There are three institutions of authority in the world: family, church, and government. We gain identity and a sense of belonging as we place ourselves within the authority structures that God has ordained. Make your gatherings inviting, relational and safe so that they will want to participate. Talk openly and often about the bigger picture and let them take ownership as a part of your family.

Consider What Makes You/Your Church Unique - And Talk About It! What has God called you to do? Who has he called you to reach? What are the hallmarks of your ministry? Now communicate that. Sometimes it will take awhile for you to identify your core values. Just pick one or two and begin to share them often and consistently. Here are a few values of Pink- Gateway Women for you to consider as an example.

o We are for one another. We are going to cheer each other on. We are committed to demonstrating love and developing people in a grace filled environment.

o We believe women are valuable and an important part of the total picture.

o We are always reaching for the younger woman and inviting her to be a part. (Titus 2 mandate.)

These core values (and several others) shape every gathering and communication we have with women. When you know what you are about, it will help you to build on your unique values.

Build Momentum. A sense of momentum will create energy, interest and enthusiasm for the work. Maximize what is working and keep your focus on where you are going. Better to do one or two things well than to do many things average. Be merciless with yourself and with your programs. Eliminate what is tired or wasteful and embrace something new.

Raise Up Leaders. There is a pressure on us to raise up and equip leaders quickly and effectively for service – in and out of the house. You can’t be in all places at all times. You will have to raise up others who you trust to carry vision. Make room for other’s gifts. Develop a tolerance for some measure of chaos. People must practice and have room for improvement in order to really mature. Remember how you became a leader - someone saw potential in you and dared to let you try. Speak to your people from the position of how God sees them. Often we talk down to people, rather than calling them up to higher ways of thinking. If they are leaders, talk to them like leaders. Give away as much responsibility as you can and don’t forget to release the appropriate authority to get the job done.

Be Flexible. In ministry, you will often have to change your leadership responsibilities. I don’t mean that you change your character or your personality. I simply mean that you have to be willing to change your own role in leadership in order to lead more people. Consider the following scenarios and how they might impact the choices you are making as you lead.

Sometimes you are among the people. In this environment, you model ministry. This is a follow me style. You attend functions and events that are important to your followers. You are the one who is ministering. You lay hands on the sick. You preach. You teach. You serve. You work. You are about the work of the ministry. This is a very similar model that Jesus used with his apostles. He said come follow me.

Sometimes you are in front of the people. When more people are being influenced and when you want to develop additional leaders, you will have to appoint others full of the Holy Spirit to help. Now you lead more by delegation and influence. You raise up and appoint other leaders to serve the people. You move from teacher to coach. You lead the ministry, verses always doing the ministry. You can see an example of this in Acts when the apostles raised up other believers to serve the people so that they could focus on the preaching of the word.

Sometimes you are above the people. I don’t mean that you are better than the people, I simply mean you have to see farther than the people. You have to have a bird’s eye view of where you are going. You focus on the vision, destination and calling of the ministry. You stand guard over the people, praying for them, sending directional vision, setting the broad boundaries and plans. In this environment, you release responsibility to key leaders who are engaged in building other leaders for the work. An example of this style of leadership can be seen when Moses climbed to the top of the mountain to see the battle below. As he held his arms high, the enemy was defeated. If his arms slacked, the enemy would gain momentum. Being able to see the bigger picture gives you a distinct advantage over the enemy and an opportunity to release more people into their own gifts and callings.

I hope these thoughts help you as you go about the privilege of leading women. I've made the title of this blog link directly to the Pink (Gateway Women) department. I'd be honored if you checked out some of the opportunities available.

Next week I'll post my final blog in this series. We'll talk about how to lead your oversight well. I hope you'll join me again.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

One Woman Leader to Another - Part 2

Hi friends,

I’m doing a series of blogs based on a recent teaching I shared at the Connect Conference. I’ve already talked about the importance of leading yourself well. Today I want to share on some thoughts about leading your family well.

No matter the responsibilities you may carry in ministry, the workplace, volunteer roles or even at home, we need to keep first things first. And family comes first. (I already shared in blog #1 of this series the importance of your personal relationship with Christ.) I want you to think more broadly about prioritizing your family. You must let them know in both word and deed that they are the most important relationships you have. Here are a couple of practical tips to help you:

Know your season. Sometimes we become impatient with our season. We know we are called and we desire to be about the “work of the kingdom”. Sometimes we get so excited about the call on our life that we aren’t willing to wait for a season change to take on more responsibility. If you choose to place your family first, it is not a disqualification from ministry. It is instead a pre-requisite. Even when it is your season to step out more aggressively in your calling, if you have practiced prioritizing your family and waiting on God, you will be able to walk out your destiny without harming your personal relationships.

Say No – and Say it a lot. You are going to have to say no more often than you say yes. You are going to say no to some really good things - to some things you really want to do. If you focus on what is really important and on what you are called to do, you will be able to determine if something falls within the scope of your responsibility. Consider asking yourself the following questions:

What is that only I can do? For example, only you can be the wife to your husband, mother to your children, daughter to your parents. Only you can keep your relationship with Christ fresh. Only you can take care of your own body. If you don’t do these things, no one will. You are the key player. (Hint: There are very few things that only you can do!)

What is that I can delegate? There are all kinds of things that you can delegate from housecleaning, errands and cooking to appointments, teachings and leadership assignments. These are things that are critical to your home and life, but can be overseen rather than done by you. (Hint: Think of yourself as the coach and not as the quarterback.)

What is that someone else can do? This is challenging because sometimes you are going to have to let go of some things you really want to do. Maybe you want to be the PTA representative or the home room mom, but you need to let it go. Maybe you’ve always the first one to sign up to help with a project, but this time you don’t have the time. Maybe you are being given new areas of responsibility, but you are attached to some programs or projects that you love. You simply cannot do everything you used to do. Learning to prune your activities takes self control and a brave heart. (Hint: There are tons of things in your life that someone else can do. Let go of your responsibility and give others a chance to arise as leaders and volunteers.)

Once you’ve said no, then focus on the yes’s. The yes’s are full of potential, influence, breakthrough and effectiveness. The yes’s will give you energy and momentum, enabling you to run the race for a lifetime. The yes’s will lean toward your strengths and your callings and will produce greater fruit with less effort. The yes’s will give you great joy!

Include your family in the call to ministry. When you include your family in your call, you are equipping and empowering the next generation of leaders that are right under your own roof. What you model and how you model it is impacting your family. So consider adding some elements to your model that will allow your family to develop a positive attitude about ministry life. You want them to feel that they are a part of the church. You want them to mature and develop a sense of ownership. If they only see your work as a personal sacrifice and as a cost to them they will run a high risk of growing up to become either ministry junkies (workaholics) or to despise the church. Introduce them to the people you are working with. Give them a seat at the table next to you. Let them assist you with some of your responsibilities. Ask their opinion. Take them on your next ministry trip. After all, the most important leaders you are raising up live in your own home.

Build reward and privilege into your family life. Your family will pay a price for your sacrificial service, so don’t be afraid to build some special rewards and privileges into theirs. Sometimes we think that if we openly reward our children, the people we serve will view it as favoritism and make the road harder. You can’t let your fear of what others think keep you from blessing your children. There ought to be some perks along the way. So take some time off and do something fun. Make them glad to be the leaders kids!

Determine to be fully present in every moment. When with your family – be with your family. Don’t waste your time or energy feeling guilty. Guilt is a terrible ministry partner. As I have matured, I have learned to take a deep breath and work hard to just be in the moment. When I’m working, I’m giving it my all. When I’m with my kids, I’m happy about it and fully invested. When I’m sitting across the table from a friend – I’m really listening. This has brought me more peace and joy than almost any other revelation of my life. You really can only be in one place at a time, so trust that God is able to take the little you have to offer in each moment and transform it into a lifetime of joy.

Hope you find these thoughts helpful. Got some ideas of your own? Please share!


Sunday, February 27, 2011

One Woman Leader to Another

Hi friends,

Last week I taught a workshop on leadership challenges and opportunities for women in ministry at the pastor’s conference at my local church. I’ve had a lot of requests for my notes, so I thought I would break my talk into four parts and share with you.

Whether you are a woman in full time vocational ministry, or simply a woman in love with Jesus, you are called to leadership. His Holy Spirit puts a mark on you that attracts others, gives you supernatural authority, and demands your life become a witness to His love for you and others. Whether your role is one of position or relationship, you must learn to maximize your influence, help others overcome isolation and create momentum that will impart your core principles to those you lead.

Women have always had relational leadership roles, both in and out of the church. You might have heard the saying “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” One of our primary assignments (as a gender) is to raise the next generation of leaders. (I will share some more on this responsibility in the next post.)

Today, many women also have positional leadership roles. We can now be both mom and CEO. Wife and Pastor. Our call and impact are broader and greater than ever before. Some have vocational responsibilities within the church and many others have significant volunteer leadership responsibilities. This has placed us in a unique season with special challenges and opportunities. There aren’t a lot of examples of how to do this, nor a lot of role models who have gone before us.

My grandmother was a faithful woman called to serve in her local church. For 40 years, she and a few of her close girlfriends, taught kindergarten Sunday school every week at the Second Baptist Church. 40 years! Can you imagine? The last time I attended with her, I was in high school. She was still getting out the play dough and singing “This Little Light of Mine.”

I have a heritage of faithful service in the church. But my grandmother never would have dreamed of the role I hold now, nor would she have been given the opportunities that lay before me. If my potential influence in the kingdom is so greatly expanded, imagine what might lie ahead for our daughters? What is happening is not limited to the church. Your women are embracing new levels of responsibility and vision in ministry, in the marketplace, in their homes and in their relationships. We are partnering with other leaders (men included) to reach more people than ever before.

If you add vocational ministry as a part of your life, the complications are dramatically intensified. You can so easily fall into the trap of focusing on what you can’t do or what you don’t do well, rather than focusing on what you can do. Don’t allow what you can’t do, to steal the potential of what you can do. Focus on your privileges and authority. Embrace the places of influence that are before you. Commit yourself to become the best leader you can be. And begin by learning to lead yourself well.

How you lead yourself will in large part determine how you lead your family and then the women under your influence. Here are a few tips to ponder:

Go In and Come Out. You must prioritize a personal relationship with Jesus. When you are in ministry, it is so tempting to think that our service is the same thing as relationship. Your personal and your work life become very intertwined and the boundaries are blurred. Let’s face it – the work of the Kingdom is never done, so it’s unrealistic to think you are going to be able to do it all. You can’t give away or impart what you don’t have, so if you want your people to be full of grace and love, you are going to have to spend some time with the King. Your work can not replace the power of a personal, vital, fresh encounter with Jesus. Make an appointment with yourself and show up!

Rest. You are responsible for managing your private life in a way that brings refreshment. Don’t expect your work or ministry to provide you rest. We live in a time when there is great momentum on the work of God. Your vocational life is probably not going to become less demanding, but more. All of us are learning how to accomplish more with less – less resources, less time, less energy. When you step away from the vocational work, build your private life in such a way that you will be refreshed.

Just Say No.Next time we’ll really focus on the value of no and how it will help us, especially as we consider how to lead our families well!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Thoughts on Molly

My very precious mother-in-love, Beth "Molly" Greenwood, went to her heavenly home on January 9Th of this year. You might remember that she has been ill for a couple of years. A rare and difficult to diagnose disease of the liver slowly stole her strength, her body, her plans for an active retirement, and her days of attending her grand children's most important events - but it never stole her faith. Its been almost a month since she quietly slipped away from us. I've been thinking about her a lot and every time I do, I am grateful for the incredible legacy she has deposited in each of us. (Click on the title of this post to see the slide show from her recent memorial service.)

I have this theory that when a person dies their "mantles" or "gifts" or maybe "special graces" fall to the ground, like when Elijah was swept up to heaven, but his mantle fell to the ground. Elisha picked it up and immediately activated it's power, thereby receiving a double anointing of Elijah's power.

Molly left a few mantles behind - ones that I believe her children and grand children are picking up. Here are a few that I can name...

1) Faithful to the end - Mark commented that his mom had an incredible ability to accept the difficulty of her circumstances and move on. Her faith kept growing to the end. The worse her physical condition the more her faith arose. She loved to listen to good worship and great preaching. She kept feasting on the Word. She used to have a beautiful voice. I can remember she and her sister singing hymns in perfect harmony. Although she could not sing in the end, her whole spirit was singing his praises all the time.

2) Grace in suffering - Surely Molly suffered - physically, emotionally and maybe even spiritually. She began experiencing neuropathy several years ago. As the pain progressed and the strength of her body deteriorated, she suffered much. For over a year, she has been completely bed ridden. Despite the mental wear of daily pain, she didn't complain and only seldom had a special request. Somehow she allowed the pain to tenderize her heart rather than harden it.

3) Pray without ceasing - I remember having a conversation with her about having a purpose in this life until her very last breath. She seemed to embrace this, daily lifting our family and others in prayer. Not just us - but everyone she met. The staff of the Carlyle were always on her heart too. She knew every single persons name, their history, their secret dreams and pains, and she loved them. When her body limited her capacity - she allowed her prayer life to take her places she'd never been.

4) Refuse bitterness - Molly never got bitter. She had a lot of reasons to be mad, angry and disappointed. She was barren as a young woman, lost her husband at a young age, had to work hard (sometimes two jobs) to support herself, and just when she was ready to enjoy the fruit of her work and enter retirement, her body began to fail. Dreams of volunteer service, long days of working in the yard, and time to follow after her grand kids quickly slipped away. In very typical Molly style, she choose to see the good rather than the bad.

5) Believe in adoption - Everything about Molly's life reflects a simple willingness to adopt another. She demonstrated this in lots of relationships - from the adoption of her own two children to her years of hard work at an adoption agency to how she adopted me into her family. She continued this same kind of love until the very end, even "adopting" some of those who served her - always being a mom to those in need.

6) Family is important -
"Born to be a Grammy", she said of herself one day. It's true! Her grandchildren were very important to her. They have lots of fun memories of outings with Grammy. She loved to make every visit an "event". They can tell you about the zoo, the pizza parlor, or the ball park. Bottom line - somehow she communicated they were special.

I'm contending for Molly's mantles, asking God for the favor of a double portion of each of her special graces for our family. I feel the weight of her "job well done" on each of us.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Overcoming Fear

Hello friends,

Thanks to the many sweet friends who gave me positive feedback about the piece I wrote for Gateway's annual devotional called 20/20. This week the focus has been on healing. Sunday's message was so powerful and really helps to clarify how willing, able and ready God is to heal our bodies, soul and spirit. I am encouraged all over again. (If you missed it or don't attend Gateway, please click the title of this blog and it will take you directly to the web site. The sermon, all the devotionals and the video testimony from this week are all right there for easy access. You can watch or listen - it will bless you.)

I was invited to share a little of my own story of healing in this week's devotional. (I am week 2, day 2 - in case you have to search for it.) I choose to write about overcoming the fear of death. This is certainly the root fear that I must overcome. I also believe that the fear of death is the root of all fear - everything else that makes me anxious, afraid or terrified - can be traced back to this one threat.

I'm copying the piece here for those who are interested. I hope you will read all five devotionals this week on healing as they each are so powerful and bring such hope and truth.

I am healed, in Jesus name!

Much love,

The nurse came flying into the chemo room and handed me my weekly slip of paper that documented my blood test results. “This looks fine,” she said. I responded with the same exact words I used every time she would hand me the paper: “That’s because I’m well.” As I glanced down to confirm that my blood work was good, I read the results. In that moment, a fiery dart of fear pierced my heart.

Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.
Psalm 27:3
According to 1 John 4:18, fear is a tormenting spirit that threatens us with punishment. It comes in various forms—from intimidation to threat to torture. Fear loves to breed confusion and preys upon doubt. It presents itself as powerful and all-consuming, and it never shows mercy.

It was June of 2009 when cancer first called my name. Since then, I’ve had many fights with fear. I’ve had to learn how to align my thoughts, my actions and my body with God’s promises and character in order to keep my peace, walk in faith and receive my healing. I’ve learned firsthand that the Word of God is the only thing that can speak more loudly to me than the fear of death.

When you’re diagnosed with a serious illness, there is an instantaneous moment of disbelief, quickly followed by the first onslaught of fear. You face critical decisions and many invasions of privacy. You must discern your plan of action based upon the input of strangers who may or may not have your best interests at heart. Every decision feels life-threatening, and each day brings a new realization of the seriousness of the situation.

The story of Joshua shows us that God understands how afraid and intimidated we are when the threat of dying is near. The first chapter of Joshua picks up immediately after the death of Moses. Joshua, who had been Moses’ right-hand man, was faced with the challenge of leading the people of Israel into the Promised Land. I’m sure he was wrestling with fear, and I can completely relate. When I first heard the word “malignant,” it felt like a punch in the gut. But God opens His dialogue with Joshua by looking death straight in the face and removing its sting: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready” (Joshua 1:2). God doesn’t linger over the loss of Moses. Instead, He reminds Joshua of His promises and gives Joshua an instruction list for overcoming fear that applies to each of us as well.

First, God tells Joshua twice in a row to be brave and very courageous (Joshua 1:6–7). God required a faith response—an action—from Joshua. He does not make him brave. He commands him to be brave. Joshua had to choose to obey and take courage.

Next, God instructs Joshua to remember His Word (Joshua 1:8). The Word of God has every answer for our questions about healing and how to overcome the fear of death. He clearly states His plan (for long life and health), His heart (He desires for us to live) and His provision for us to obtain our personal promise of healing (by His stripes we are healed).

God wraps up His talk by exhorting Joshua one final time to be strong and courageous; only this time He also tells him not to be terrified or discouraged because He promises to be with Joshua and the people of Israel wherever they go (Joshua 1:9). In order to agree and cooperate with God, we have to disagree with our fear and trust that God is always with us.

Much like Joshua, when we face a serious situation—whether it’s a life-threatening illness, a relationship loss, grief or suffering—God calls us to believe His promises. We are to take courage and resist fear in order to cross over into our individual promised lands of health and restoration.

Despite the evidence of God’s Word, many of us are often afraid to believe for healing. We don’t trust that God is good or that He is willing to heal. Some of us are so terrified of being disappointed that we fail to stretch our faith and exercise obedience. Others of us begin the battle strong but lose our momentum, because fear wears at the corners of our minds and day by day steals a piece of our faith. Sometimes, we listen to our symptoms more than we listen to the voice of God. A hurting body, grueling treatments and many tests simply scream sickness so loudly that we believe the lie. Many of us can’t get past our experiences. We’ve seen a friend or family member suffer and die, and the disappointment stands like a mountain in the way of our hope and faith. Leaping across what is “bad” to believe that God is “good” becomes a seemingly insurmountable obstacle for us. However, if we don’t learn to overcome fear, we will walk in constant anxiety and thwart God’s plan to bring healing and victory to us.

I understand that believing God and choosing to be brave isn’t easy, and it doesn’t mean that we won’t ever have doubt or fear. It simply means that we obey in the face of great obstacles, symptoms and intimidation. Eventually, there comes a season in our battle when we can fully rest in the hope we’ve placed in God, surrender the outcome to Him and trust in His faithfulness rather than in the manifestation of our healing. We know that whether we are healed in this life or not, God is faithful. When we diligently guard our hearts against fear and steadfastly hold to God’s promises, we experience the rewards of peace and hope.

That day in the chemo room led to a week or two of massive instability. I had to reach out to my husband and my friends, confessing my thoughts and asking for prayer again and again. I’ve had many skirmishes like this, and each time, I have to choose to follow God’s prescription to Joshua for overcoming fear: I take courage. I stand on God’s Word. And I use His promises to diligently guard and restore my heart against fear. As I persevere, I am filled with God’s peace. Even though I may leave the engagement bruised and battered, I am not defeated.

I love what David says in Psalm 27:3, “When besieged, I’m calm as a baby. When all hell breaks loose, I’m collected and cool.” No matter how many times fear comes against us, we can maintain our confidence and peace by believing His promise to Joshua and to us: “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you or forsake you.”

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt