I can’t think of a single time in history when someone accomplished something great by themselves. That’s because no one operates in a vacuum. Our support systems and those we partner with contribute to our success. They help us build the foundation we need to succeed! DOWN TIME is PREP TIME We all hit rough patches. Have you ever experienced one of these situations? The company downsized and your job was one of those they cut. The loss of a loved one sent you in an emotional tailspin. You made a mistake that led to the failure of whatever project you were working on. Your business venture failed, even though you made sure you had all of the details worked out. Any of these situations, and many more, can leave us feeling out of control, like failure and loss are taking over our lives. So what do you do? Let me tell you what I think. Those DOWN TIMES are actually our PREP TIMES. All of the disciples suffered setbacks in their lives and ministries. When they met with failure or hardship, the first thing every single one of them did was pray. This was a lesson Jesus taught by example over and over again....

To the incredible women in my world: YOU are Amazing! I have been thinking a lot about the role of women lately. I look around me at the amazing women in my life, and I am in awe. They are businesswomen, mothers, wives, sisters, preachers, counselors, nurses, doctors, philanthropists, prayer warriors, bankers, administrative professionals, artists, and so much more. And every woman I know functions in multiple roles in her life – all at the same time! That takes an incredible amount of energy and passion, and it can wear us down. Especially when we sometimes have to work against established ideas about our gender roles. It's Time to Celebrate! This year already, more than 5 million women have gathered worldwide to march, speak, and make their voices heard about the importance of equal rights and recognition for women. March 8 was International Women's Day, set aside to honor the value and leadership women bring to every aspect of our world—the marketplace, our homes, our churches, our government, our whole communities. Plus, I always look forward to honoring that especially treasured, permanent role of motherhood by honoring our moms every year on Mother's Day. Yes, the world appears eager now to celebrate our womanhood, and I agree! It's...

The world needs you and I to be fully alive and growing in love, character, and the lifestyle of Jesus! To do that we need the power of the Holy Spirit. Connecting to that power requires practicing spiritual disciplines, which allow the Holy Spirit to work through and empower us. By themselves, these actions are nothing but busy work. When we approach them as spiritual disciplines, when we utilize them as part of our spiritual walk, they become a direct action to help us connect with the the blessings and will of God. God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2. Cor. 12:9) and becomes visible through our growth. This means our path to leadership must always be directed by a humble dependence on God. Let me say it this way. You HEART needs to be fully involved in this process of spiritual growth. Open your heart as you come to encounter. Open your heart in each of the sessions, and during the times of prayer and solitude. Approach your spiritual growth plan and Bible study after the Encounter weekend with an open heart. When you open your heart, you invite God in to do AMAZING things in your life! Disciplines of...

Solitude “For God alone, my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from Him.” Psalm 62 Solitude is a discipline of stepping away from dependency on others, to enter into intimacy with God alone. It is like fasting, only from relationships. Silence Have you ever noticed how noisy the world is? We are constantly listening to music, hearing the television, being distracted by the conversations around us, and just filling our lives with distractions. Those noises keep us distracted enough to ignore pain, or tension, or imbalance in our life. Times of silence and solitude give us room to hear better—both our own thoughts and feelings, and the voice of God. Outside Silence To experience silence, first eliminate outside noises. You need to turn off your cell-phone, music player, and any other electronic device. Natural sounds, such as the ocean, can actually enhance a silence and solitude experience. Inside Silence The second, and harder silence is to quiet the voices in your heart and head. Silence and solitude can bring a peaceful, refreshing, restful time in God’s presence. You may also find you are doing battle against tempting or disturbing thoughts, feelings, or desires. You may feel anxious about the list of things you need to do...

Celebrate your womanhood! God loves women and men equally: He does not love males more! God is not biased for men over women. Throughout history, women have been denied the equal rights and freedoms of men. This viewpoint of unequal status has often rested on misinterpretations of the Bible. While the Old Testament does indeed appear in some places to sanction the unequal treatment of women, analysts have repeatedly misinterpreted and misrepresented the implications of the Old Testament provisions for Christians who, through Christ’s grace, are freed from the old law. Furthermore, although early Christians initially embraced the cause of gender equality and reunification through Christ, this cause was abandoned as the growing Christian church confronted the political challenges associated with its own expanding power. Even today, the Christian churches almost all fail to return to the God-ordained principle of gender neutrality through spiritual unity in Christ. Misinterpretations of the Garden of Eden It has been observed, “For two millennia now the Judeo-Christian tradition has placed man a little lower than the angels and woman a little higher than the demons.”1 From early in Christian history, misinterpretations and misrepresentations of the Garden of Eden story in particular have played prominent roles in...

Big Beginnings Have you ever started something and then you didn’t finish it well? I recently cleaned out a big storage box in my garage. There, in a shoebox, I found the embroidery project I had started years ago. I remember wanting to embroider my pillow cases with custom designs. It seemed so easy and fun. I had seen gorgeous samples and I thought it was a good idea. So I purchased the supplies, got the instructions, and started. It was a big beginning, but as the work continued and obstacles started to appear, my progress got slower and slower. The thread was knotted. The design was not right. The needles hurt by fingers. Eventually, I just give up and put that whole embroidery project into a shoebox and stuck in on the shelf. Building a Strong Foundation That’s exactly what Jesus is teaching us with the parable in Luke 14:28-30 (The Message): “Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish. Everyone passing by will poke fun...

I’ve heard it from every woman I’ve gone shopping with. When we get in the dressing room and try on that bathing suit or dress, we stare in the mirror, groan, and say, “I DON’T LIKE HOW I LOOK IN THAT MIRROR.” Mirrors are a part of EVERY woman’s life! We start looking in reflective surfaces as babies, fascinated by what we see looking back. We look in them as little girls playing dress-up, imagining what our lives will be like. We look in them as teenagers, comparing ourselves to the other girls in our class. We come to terms with what we see, some of us loving the woman in the mirror, others lamenting their perceived flaws. Women even used mirrors in the Bible! Exodus 38:8 says, “Moreover, he made the laver of bronze with its base of bronze, from the mirrors of the serving women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.” Now these weren’t clear, glass mirrors like those we are use today. The polished stone or brass worked like our modern mirrors, reflecting slightly distorted features, giving an inexact representation of the face. But thousands of years ago, we know one thing for certain, even...

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (LUKE 2:10) PEACE ...

You are wonderful! Your unique ‘one of a kind’ life is important to those around you and to God.  No one can replace you. No one has lived your experiences or seen the world as you do. But “… the only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.  In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body” (Rom. 12:3-5). Simply put – as women we identify with each other. We see ourselves in other’s stories, struggles, sacrifices, and solutions. Life is not meant to be lived alone. Being part of a community connects our strengths, resources, and callings by combining them into a sisterhood of encouragement, which elevates all of us to our highest personal potential! When a sisterhood of women from all walks of life gathers together, we create a new identity for women of faith. Each...