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“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.”  ~ Bernice Reagon          When faced with a challenge in life, whether self-inflicted or unexpected, how do you see it? Does it begin to define you, diminish you, or help you develop into the person you were created to be? I (Lisa) have had the privilege of sitting with people, especially women, from various cultures and backgrounds, listening to stories of trials and injustices I cannot begin to comprehend. In recent months, I’ve sat in the homes of refugees and in homes of people who have been marginalized. They shared stories of rape, murder of a family member, and fleeing for their lives to unknown places. A group of us sat in the living room with one family, listening to the mother share how they were helping others in their community while she nurtured a recent bullet wound in her leg. What is amazing to me is that most often, I don’t experience hatred or defeat from these people; I see glimmers of hope and a willingness to stand up for the injustices and help others in the process. I see strength and courage and tenacity. I see the best in a human heart and spirit. I always walk away humbled and challenged to change my own attitudes and perspectives when it comes to certain challenges I face in my own life. How do you see life’s challenges and obstacles?
  • Do you accept challenges as opportunities for growth and discovery?
  • Do you lean in to them to learn and discover more about yourself?
  • Do your challenges from the past define you?
  • Do you deny what it is in front of you without embracing moments for God to reveal Himself in personal ways to you?
  • Do you quit too soon, before a miracle is about to break through?
  • Do you see yourself as someone, who with God’s strength, can overcome?
Our first guest on Girlfriendit Radio this week is from our partner ministry, Bloom, which inspires and connects church planting wives. Bloom is under the umbrella of Stadia, which plants churches that intentionally care for children. “They won’t stop…until every child has a church.” Tracie Raitz, and her husband, Jason, planted Thrive Church in Mt Pleasant, MI almost two years ago. Tracie is in charge of Thrive Kidz Operations and Jason is the lead pastor. Two of their four kids are living with a genetic disorder, but they are thriving as a family! Our second guest is Becky Wade, the Carol Award-and Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award-winning author of My Stubborn Heart, Undeniably Yours, Meant to Be Mine and her latest, A Love Like Ours. Becky and her husband lived overseas in the Caribbean and Australia before settling in Dallas, Texas. It was during her years abroad when Becky’s passion for reading turned into a passion for writing. She published three historical romances for the general market then put her career on hold to care for her kids. When God called her back to writing, she knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction.
I (Lisa) was asked this question a while back and it took me on a personal journey of    discovery that gave me better clarity in my life. On my list were things such as: feeling not enough, inadequacy, disappointment, etc. (I don’t have to air out all my dirty laundry, do I?) You see, we all “carry” stuff. We carry a lot of good stuff like love for family, ambition, good memories and much more. But, there is the not so fun stuff that piles on us, like the emotional baggage that comes with life and life experiences. Many of us are unaware of certain emotional “collections” we have accumulated over the years. I was. The unfortunate thing is, negative baggage that is not dealt with or unloaded morphs into more destructive emotions, attitudes or behaviors. It is easy to get so accustomed to the weight we carry that it becomes a new normal and we adjust and move on. However, it is heavy and it causes pain. It robs us of the peace and presence of God. We settle. We miss out on what life was meant to be. Here’s a few questions for personal reflection (please take the time to do this – it might make life lighter?)
  • What do you carry that is having a negative affect on your life?
  • What are you carrying that makes you smile and gives you joy?
  • What steps can you take to make your baggage lighter?
One thing you can do is join us on Girlfriendit Radio with our two very inspiring guests who will challenge our thinking and give us vision for hope and healing. We will talk about some practical steps in your journey of unpacking to ease the load of life. Author, speaker and board certified clinical neuropsychologist, Dr. Michelle Bengtson. She knows pain and despair firsthand and combines her professional expertise and personal experience with her faith to address issues surrounding medical and mental disorders, both for those who suffer and for those who care for them. She offers sound practical tools, affirms worth, and encourages faith. Dr. Michelle Bengtson offers hope as a key to unlock joy and relief—even in the middle of the storm. She blogs regularly on her own site: Dr. Bengtson’s first solo project comes out in 2016 entitled “Hope Prevails: Insights From a Doctor’s Personal Journey Through Depression." Suzanne Woods Fisher is a bestselling author of Amish fiction and non-fiction. We will be discussing her recent book, The Heart of the Amish. Suzanne says, you don’t have to “go Amish” to incorporate many of their principles into your life: simplicity, living with less, appreciating nature, forgiving others more readily, trusting in God. We will start out with, “What is the number-one lesson the Amish can teach us about forgiveness?” Ready to unpack for your next great adventure?

Research shows that 80-85% of people who become Christians do so by the age of 18.  Another statistic says 80% of our youth are leaving the church by the time they enter college. Ugh.  Like me (Patty), these stats may leave you feeling quite discouraged or down right depressed. So what do we do? Research and experience point to three things that can influence our youth and help them to grow their faith in Jesus.

  • Having faith based traditions in the home (praying together, serving together, etc.)
  • Sending your child to church camp or retreats
  • The father attends church

For the past 25 years, my 6 siblings and I, along with all of our spouses and children, have created our own Fourth-of-July tradition at an area resort.  With 25-30 of us, it’s an incredible night of “multi-generational-Kumbaya-just-can’t-miss-it” worship, pizza, slushies, and fireworks!  At one point in the evening, we divide into groups of three to pray together, young and old alike.  The stories that have unfolded during this intimate time of prayer have been amazing.

As I’ve had the pleasure to watch my kids and their 12 cousins grow in their faith and become sold out for Christ, I can’t help but wonder... how?  What is the formula that keeps them in church and following God?  I believe it’s through tons of prayer and through experiences where they are truly encountering Christ and His love through the accountability and “God stories” of their brothers and sisters (or cousins) in Christ. Life is not made of hours, weeks, months or years, but of moments. Seize those moments with your kids! Joining us this week, we are excited to welcome back Ann Dunagan.  Ann is the author of The Mission-Minded Child, and has much to share with us about pointing our children and youth to Jesus. Also joining us is Anne Milam, a girlfriend from Bloom.  It’s going to be a great show! Pass it on,

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