Mimosa: A Commentary

Some books leave me in awe, like Mimosa by Amy Carmichael. The poetic language is peaceful, worshipful, and her story inspires patience. None of us can really imagine living the life Mimosa lived with a husband who didn’t love her nearly as much as she deserved, hardships that we won’t ever experience, and a caste that was unbending and cold.

As I flew back from Denver and reflected on Mimosa, I thought of my lack of funding. Mimosa reminded me to turn my focus on obedience. The way she put out her blanket when she lacked food and money, expecting, anticipating the Lord to provide (which He did) made me want to be more like her. Mimosa persevered though she couldn’t read. Because she couldn’t read, the Bible came to her only through verbal messages, and she drank it in, borrowing strength for another day.

The powerful words at the end of the chapter say, “For God has other Mimosas.” The other Mimosas are people of all beliefs and languages that God is pursuing. He doesn’t require our help, but eagerly, He invites us to join Him.

Other quotes hit me powerfully throughout the book like,

“Are there those for whom we have long prayed for, who seem beyond our reach now? Love will find a way. Are we discouraged because we do not see our expected signs, and the solid rocks seem to be sinking under shifting sands? It is not so. Love is mighty and must prevail. Terrible in judgments, marvelous in loving kindness, love will find a way.”

“And now she is back in her bigoted Hindu world, and she writes that some wonder, some scoff, and some are listening a little. Her husband, whom she has set her heart on winning, feels her a disgrace, but the amazing thing is that he still owns as his wife one who has so shamed his caste (which is not one of the more tolerant which allow a woman to remain within the fold even after baptism). Her life cannot be easy. But then, she has not asked for ease; she has asked for the shield of patience so that she may overcome.”

“Then with a warm glow of joy she knew what He had been to her all through the bitter years. ‘You know Him by learning,’ she later said to Star, ‘but I know Him by suffering.'”

“And gradually it returned, and his eyes became less darkened. ‘We had no help. No medicine did I know of, nor had I money to buy it. It was only our God’s healing.’ And she sent a thank offering to the Christian church which knew nothing of her.”

The second quote down, “…and now she is back in her bigoted Hindu world,” reminded me how we aren’t to flee our difficult situations. Examples like Paul remind us to walk towards difficulty, not away. It’s easier to hold a job, Monday through Friday, go to church twice a week or twice a month and not do the emotional labor of reaching out, but I am reminded of another quote from another book,

“We need to remind ourselves that the primary purpose of the church is evangelization, or in the broad sense, missions. Every other activity in the church–worship, preaching, education, music, fellowship–should result in making us better witnesses, better missionaries…The Great Commission is for all Christians, not just a few.” (Living Stones of the Himalayas by Thomas Hale).

Each day I am reminded of why God has me doing what I do for WorldVenture. So, you settle in, pray it out, and wait for God’s next move. Like Mimosa, I am putting out my blanket each day and praying, “God, you asked me to go this way. Please tell me how to get there.”

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Thoughts on Ralph Winter and His Life

“Of the three faculty members and those who would join them, Winter was the person most involved in new initiatives during his time at SWM. His ideas rarely sparked interest in or involvement from the greater Fuller community. There were just too many of them (ideas)!” (The Ralph Winter Story; location 1322; by Harold Fickett)

I still recall when Andy Andrews said, “Read as many biographies as possible.” What he meant, or what I interpreted from that, was how much you learn from history. In reading, The Ralph Winter Story, I am encouraged as a ministry leader with WorldVenture.

Ralph Winter used his creativity to make massive changes to global missions. He didn’t find his calling until late in life (like me!). While I don’t compare myself with someone of his stature, I do find encouragement in reading his life story. He is quoted a lot in the Perspectives course.

In trying to carve new roads to missions, I felt I needed to understand Ralph Winter’s life story.

A quote from his friend, Trotman is now on my Facebook profile:

“Don’t do what others can do or will do if there are things to be done that other can’t do or won’t do.” 

Winter’s struggles to establish new thought processes in missionary work wasn’t always welcome. In one situation, his wife, Roberta clashed with a fellow nurse, Ruth, in Guatamala. Ruth insisted that medically trained missionaries, “…should decide what medical work should include.” Winter and Roberta studied the culture and noticed how the tribal people went to Shaman’s for medical and spiritual advice. To this people group it was strange to separate medical advice from spiritual advice, and Winter or Roberta had observed how often they came to the medical clinic to get marriage advice. However, the author states that Ruth was more traditional and fought them. The book asserts Winter found a way around that obstacle.

Winter had so many ideas and this meant that his creativity had him serving in many different kinds of projects at the same time. In fact, the book suggests his parents may have worried about his constant so-called “lack of focus.”

Tony, my husband, worried for a time about this. Since becoming a believer in 2002, I wrote skits for Solid Rock Christian Fellowship, directed dramas from the stage, ran a women’s tea and coffee for four years (randomly inviting people from the directory to my house which oftentimes meant women meeting other women they didn’t know attended SRCF), a prayer ministry, and helping in set up and take downs of SRCF’s third service. I also had author aspirations and wrote two novels during this time. One received a partial manuscript request from an agent and the other wasn’t fully ready before it was submitted by request to a small publisher. All of this was training for where I am now. Winter had a weakness, too.

With so many ideas, he didn’t fully commit to learning the language the mission board asked him to learn. The downside to having so much creativity is spreading yourself too thin. Winter didn’t really have a job. He got his education through the GI Bill, lived at home, got married, served as a missionary, and had odd jobs. Again, I am not finished reading it yet so I have not learned his whole story. Steady employment may have come later. 

With a full time day job and working active online ministries, I am always careful not to do so much that the ministries I have worked hard to build fail due to lack of attention. This is why I read books about people from the past so I can learn from their mistakes and find encouragement in their struggles.

Would you consider financially partnering with me as I serve to empower the church to do more than market their programs, but reach their communities, even on a global scale? Click here to learn more. 


Finding Love in a Book Shop

How to Find Love in a Book Shop by Veronica Henry is an interesting menagerie of stories written in third person from various points of view. The main story threaded throughout is from the point of view of Emelia, the daughter of a deceased bookstore owner, who loved his daughter, the books, and the town of Peasebrook.

Emilia’s mom died during her birth leaving Julius to raise her on his own. He wasn’t a savvy businessman as Emilia would discover following her father’s death. He gave away as much as he made in books that the debt left behind hung on Emilia’s heart like a millstone. The tension in the story comes from Ian Mendelip who sends his employee to seduce Emilia to sell the bookstore because the property would allow expansion. The charm of Emilia and the bookstore work its magic on Jackson. The books cause him to re-think his life.

How to Find Love in a Book Shop is You Got Mail meets Sleepless in Seattle. Love writes its own stories as the town of Peasebrook faces the past and the future, embraces change, and mends relationships. You can’t help, but smile in the end.

*Book given by publisher to review.

Why I Review Stephen King

In a series of short videos, I review Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. I review this because Stephen King is a successful horror writer and people, especially unbelievers, read him. A Christian horror writer once said that horror is really a philosophy. My goal with this three part series is to engage people in conversation about the issues I bring up. You can go here to view all of the series.

Today’s Video:

Book Discussion: “Craving Connection”

Join me here at 6 PM MST. We will discuss this book and end in prayer time.

You don’t have to have read the book prior to joining the book discussion. As someone with WorldVenture, it is exciting to find books that play a part in what I do with them. I haven’t finished the book yet, but chose to share my thoughts on it based on the first impression and chapter. Will you join me? I know there are many of you who crave connection, but have a hard time connecting, especially in church.


Book Review: Shaken #TimTebow


Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms by Tim Tebow is a book for a seeker, and can be a great book for a seeker not into football.

Yes, (gasp), I am not into football, and it is frustrating to me not to be able to delete the NFL app off of my phone. I had heard about Tim Tebow even as a non-football person. He trended on social media all the way from John 3:16 to taking a knee and causing people to either love or hate him. So I agreed to review this book to see if Tim Tebow was more than just social media hype and was blown away.

Here are some highlights:

  • His parents were missionaries.
  • John 3:16 written in blacking on Tim Tebow during a play caused 90 million searches on Google to find out about John 3:16.
  • His book focused on the kids in his organization and how their faith impacted him.
  • Scripture is peppered throughout.
  • He always brings it back to God.
  • It’s a pep talk with delightful pockets of deep thought.

He’s a very positive person. It was difficult for me to comprehend though what it is like to go through losing a job in the NFL when most of us are struggling paycheck to paycheck and don’t have anything to fall back on if we lost our jobs. His perspective on the press and how difficult it was for him to deal with the negative and the sometimes confining aspect of being a public figure made me appreciate him more. We need more positive role models in the NFL. The way he uses his resources and time to reinvest in the people in our communities is refreshing. Tebow reminded me that something as well-known as John 3:16 in the Christian world is not as well-known in the secular world.

Shaken tells the story of Tim Tebow’s faith, his work, and his story on a level that is easy to digest and non-judgmental. The struggle to make the team and run his career is real. Tebow talked about having a Circle of Trust which inspired me, as a mentor on social media, to also have one. My group was re-named to remind me of the responsibility entrusted to me. Every person should consider a “Circle of Trust.” We all aspire to greater things, but without someone who has permission to speak truth in our lives, we will fail because of temptation. Busyness would keep us from digging into the Bible to refresh ourselves and keep the foundation of our faith strong without an accountability partner.

So, for someone new to the faith or inquiring, Shaken is a great read.

*Early copy of this book given by the publisher to review*


3 Ways to Really Listen

15039714_10208878571213823_5551806829554199270_oA new book arrived in the mail from a publicist company. I had been looking forward to it. Listen Love Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World by Karen Ehman. Part way through chapter one I am both ecstatic and defensive.  How do we really listen online and serve in this other world?

Listen Love Repeat talks about heart drops:

“A heart drop is a concept my husband and I learned from our small group leader, Michael. It’s when a person, either directly or indirectly or in a cryptic way, gives you a peek into his or her heart.” (page 15)

This is what I’ve been trying to practice way before this book was published. Heart drops happen online, too. If you want to know what to get someone for Christmas, a birthday, or even a wedding, friend them or follow them on social media. You can discover a whole world about your  new friend by closely following their likes, dislikes, photos, and statuses. The book made me defensive, too. Shortly into it, I am already slapping my forehead in exasperation. On page 17, the book says:

“Our culture is obsessed with self,” it says, and this is true. All one has to do is see the countless amounts of bathroom photos of ourselves. It continues, “We post pictures of ourselves online. What we’re eating. What we’re doing. We’re focused on our schedules, our relationships. At every turn we seem to care about only one thing: ‘What’s in it for me?'” 

Sure, I’m only a bit into this book. The book may point out what I am going to point out now: Those pictures of ourselves, what we eat, what we’re doing, our schedule, and our relationships are bridges to conversation, especially with others who don’t believe in Isa. In our face-to-face world, we are constantly talking about this: our books, our life, what we’re eating, what we’re quilting, etc. Online community is the same way. However, we can get self-absorbed just as we can offline. Technology is just the mirror reflecting how we are in private. So how do we do other-centered living in our new culture since the online world is here to stay and constantly evolving?

There are three ways you can listen to those “heart drops” online:

  • Let them know you are praying for them in private message, text, or comment when you see a status online that is a cry for help, a prayer request, or someone struggling with something. Silently lurking online and praying for them is like someone asking you a question on the phone and you nod in answer. They can’t see that nod. If you want to build relationships with people online and be other-centered, let them know you are praying for them. It shows you care.
  • Live Out Loud. If you spend anytime in the Bible, you know that we aren’t to live in a bubble, ever fearful of letting people into our social media. On the other hand, we should still be discerning. There are real dangers online especially for teenagers. Let your social media reflect who you are in private. Let people see how you live to illustrate what you believe. Go ahead and post what you eat, about your relationships, your favorite books or movies, etc. I would suggest every other status be a question to ask of others on your social media, like what are you having for dinner? If we didn’t talk about our favorite books, books like this one would not sell. Our messages in ministry would not circulate. Show, and sometimes tell, how you are living out your faith.
  • Pay Attention. Pay attention to what people post about what they like or don’t like, what they read, favorite places to go, bucket lists, and favorite restaurants, etc. Gift them with something they would like from listening to their online “heart drops.”

My final review will be posted on another website.

Serving is Messy #Voiceless

Voiceless: A Movie Review


“Voiceless was made to engage the church,” said producer, Stuart Migdon. He goes on to say, “We believe our film artfully presents the issue in a way that pro-life supporters can rally behind without alienating pro-choice viewers before they’ve had a chance to contemplate our story.” This description is spot-on.

A war veteran and his wife move to the inner city of Philadelphia. He’s the new outreach pastor, but the church he serves under is more concerned about filling seats than about serving the community. The opening scenes where Voiceless introduces the church shows a typical dying church—big, opulent, and filled with empty seats. A few parishioners fill a couple of pews and they look bored.

Notably, one of the biggest contributors to the church’s general fund runs several car washes and expects the church to be run his way because he’s the biggest (and only?) tither. As you’ll discover towards the end of the movie as the story builds, this brings the executive pastor into the crosshairs where he has to make a choice, too.  It’s truly a living-on-faith movie that encourages the church to serve Jesus in meaningful and risky ways.

What we consider politically as activism should be considered as serving the Lord. There were clumsy starts to the outreach pastor’s attempts to reach the women going into the “Family Planning” center, and the Senior Adult who lives next door to the church provides humorous and poignant touches throughout the build of the story. An unexpected twist between the outreach pastor and his wife suddenly makes his crusade personal.

The movie highlights the problems with underfunded pregnancy centers and church congregation members that are pro-life, but unwilling to give of themselves to the community. The conversation with the outreach pastor and the head of the abortion clinic (a.k.a. Family Planning Center) was also interesting as it expressed the pro-choice viewpoint. The challenge of the older neighbor having to take in a family convicts me.

The question I asked myself then, “How far am I willing to go out of my comfort zone to help another in a difficult situation?” How far am I willing to go to serve the Lord? Am I willing to make waves or do I really want my church programs, my comfortable seats, or am I willing to go beyond this? Taking biblical risks come with consequences as the outreach pastor and his wife soon learns.

As a church, are we willing to offend to stand for something even if that means losing half of your congregation? The questions this movie forces us to think about are these:

  1. How can we provide alternate medical help for those stuck in situations of unplanned pregnancies?
  2. How can we learn to listen to those who have had abortions and who are seeking abortions?
  3. How can we move the congregations to provide the means of escaping what abortion seekers think is the only way out of a horrible situation?

While only one minor problem exists with the movie, I choose to not discuss it in the blog. I’ll be happy to discuss it privately, but it’s more to do with storyline than the quality of the movie. I promise that there are no cheesy actors or actresses or pat answers in this movie. I gave it five stars.

Book Review: The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living

51Whg08igcL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Olivia Rawlings’ life could be summed up by how many different colors she dyes her hair: restless, rootless, and ready to run when life gets complicated. The only thing constant in her life is her baking, Salty (her dog), and Hannah, her friend. Even her relationships are complex.

The scene opens up with Olivia setting fire to the restaurant because the restaurant owner is the man she is having an affair with and he won’t leave his wife. She’s not an arsonist. It was the combination of a wobbly food tray, vertigo, and 150-proof rum on sweet desserts set on fire. She finds her way to Guthrie, Vermont after quitting the Emmerson Club and in the employment of Margaret–a troubled and cranky Bed and Breakfast owner who doesn’t keep bakers around for too long.

While two different colored threads seem unrelated, the book begins to bring the fibers together at long last and we learn more about Guthrie, its gossip, its people, and why Margaret is cranky. We learn about Olivia’s friendship with Alfred. It is my sincere hope that Alfred gets his own story in the next book. He was too nice a man not to find his own, “happily ever after.” The only blemish was something that clashed with my own worldview as a Christian, but that part appeared and passed; almost felt preachy. Almost. 

The whole book doesn’t align with Christian beliefs, but it does reflect the rough areas and choices of life. Having worked as a hostess, the people I worked with were like Olivia–jaded and foul-mouthed at times. Olivia’s character is perfectly outlined. She starts out rough, runs as per her character from a perceived situation, and in the end, makes the right choice. We grieve when she grieves and cheers when she finds her way out of the entanglements of her choices and own prejudgments of a town that had come to love this fiery, outspoken, and unusual baker.

I closed the book with a contented sigh. Never prejudge one chapter. I wish Christian fiction would write realistically like this, because we all began broken and God made us whole. We make mistakes, but when we repent, wonderful blessings abound. I love how Olivia became whole again. It’s amazing what happens when you stop running.

Now when does Alfred get his own story? I would love to see him find happiness. 

*Book given by publisher to review. Reviewed from a Christian perspective. 

What About Christian Basics?

51aPh-rr-0L._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Part of my requirements as an appointee was to read each chapter of Wayne Grudem’s, Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know and relate it back to someone else.

Many thanks to Pastor Dave Droste of Solid Rock Christian Fellowship for volunteering to talk over each chapter with me. I enjoyed the back and forth conversations, and even got a course correction in my own theology. It’s so easy to think you understand something in the Bible and realize you’ve misunderstood its meaning for years.

Maybe that’s why, besides free or affordable education, I have started a database of logging full scholarship opportunities I find as I seek to find affordable options to getting a degree in Biblical Studies. Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know simplified the Christian belief system for me.

I bought the paper version so I can mark it up and dog-ear it for future reference. In conversations online, you have the generosity of time. Online conversations don’t have to be replied to right away like face-to-face conversations. I can have a browser open to research questions I lack answers to, and even this book next to me to refer to my highlights and notes. Because online is about community, what Christian Beliefs said on page 91 resonated with me:

“Not all gospel calls are effective. The job of believers is to explain the gospel message; it is God’s job to make that message call effective.”

Grudem uses Acts 16:14 to explain:

“The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.”

Acts 16:14 was talking about Lydia, the seller of purple:

“A seller of purple – Purple was a most valuable color, obtained usually from shellfish. It was chiefly worn by princes and by the rich, and the traffic in it might be very profitable. Compare the Isaiah 1:18 note; Luke 16:19 note. (from here)

This section was a reminder to me to make prayer a priority in my life. Without prayer, I discovered the gospel call is empty. It can so easily become about us as the savior instead of Jesus as the Savior. In Perspectives, I learned God prepares the people’s hearts for the missionaries to come and harvest by putting into place bridges in that people’s culture and history for God’s people to point out and draw them to Himself. It reminds me daily I have no power, but Jesus.

In this ministry of online work, I get to disciple people, and for me to do so effectively, I must continually educate myself in the Bible, make prayer a priority, and honor a “flexible Sabbath.”

My vision is to mobilize the church to get online for discipleship and prayer and to bring the community online into a fellowship of faith through community and service. I believe social media is a positive force if used well, and a balance between the online world and the face-to-face world is important for our development as humans.