17 Aug

Eat! Pray! Love!

Published by Carol

Okay, I was curious.  I’m an author and when a book sells over seven million copies, and a film company produces a movie on the subject of the book and it stars Julia Roberts, I simply couldn’t resist exploring why there was so much buzz about this project.  

The subtitle reads:  One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia.  If you haven’t read the book, here’s a brief summary.  Elizabeth Gilbert leaves an unhappy marriage in search of meaning.  She spends four months in each of three different places.  The first third of her trip was fun and entertaining.  I found myself vicariously “tasting” the pizza, spaghetti, and other tantalizing Italian dishes.   

By the time Elizabeth gets to India, we see a woman who is learning to meditate and repeat prayers from a book as she sits cross-legged on a mat.  I sensed her desire to find her “center” and a purpose beyond mere existence.  However, her distractions were major and it didn’t take long for me to realize she was looking for meaning in the wrong place.  She finally makes it to Bali and learns to love again.  In the end we view Elizabeth on a boat, sailing off with her soul-mate, and that’s the end of the movie version of the story.

The theme of the movie brought me back to several years earlier.  I had come to faith in Christ as a child, but I remember as a teenager, getting on my knees and talking to God:  “I don’t want an ordinary life.  I want to live for you.  I want to spend my life investing in people and projects that will outlast me.  I want to lead people to personal faith in Jesus Christ.  I am available to you, for whatever you want me to do with my life.”  I had no idea that I would become a conference speaker and an author—I just knew that true purpose comes when we live our lives for God’s glory.

My life has taken an unexpected turn.  The path has been hard and sometimes I wonder why God allowed my son to make a devastating choice that has thrust our family “between a rock and a hard place.”  However, as Gene, Jason, and I continue to make ourselves “available” to Him, we are discovering the sweet spot of grace—and that makes life full of meaning, fulfillment, and purpose.

When was the last time you went in search of purpose and fulfillment?  Where did your journey take you and what was the result?

01 Aug

Becoming a Woman of Influence

Published by Carol

What would happen if you decided to influence lives on purpose? One of the reasons I wrote the book, Becoming a Woman of Influence, was to challenge women to become more intentional about how we influence others.  Not because we have to, but because we want to.  Not because it’s our Christian obligation, but because it brings great meaning and joy to our lives.  Not because of duty, but because of love. Let’s be like Jesus. Let’s be women of conviction and passion.  Let’s intentionally influence other women because it’s a high calling and a part of our pre-designed purpose.

 

The new DVD teaching series on the book, Becoming a Woman of Influence, has just been released by NavPress.  It’s a nine-week study for women who want to touch lives like Jesus did—women who want to pass on a lasting legacy to their families and to their culture.  Following the introductory chapters, you’ll be able to walk your small group through the seven ways Jesus impacted his disciples that reveal to us how we can make a difference that will have eternal impact.

The seven principles in the study are:

  1. The Principle of Time Alone with God
  2. The Principle of Walking and Talking
  3.  The Principle of Storytelling
  4. The Principle of Asking Questions
  5. The Principle of Compassion
  6. The Principle of Unconditional Love
  7. The Principle of Casting Vision

If you go through this study with a heart that listens to God, you may be at risk for becoming a Christ-follower who cannot go through a day without influencing someone else's life like he did.  This study is not for the chicken-hearted; it's for the courageous woman who is ready to risk a couple of set-backs, and perhaps a failure or two in order to set her course in the direction of helping others to square with biblical principles.

Whether you are longing for someone older and wiser to mentor you or you want to use your experience and wisdom to influence others, this study is for you. Click on the link on the home page to get ordering information on this series. The DVD series can be used with large and small groups—and the discussion questions will bring intimacy and spiritual growth to the participants.

07 Jul

Who Mentored You?

Published by Carol

Last month one of my mentors left his earth-shackles and went to heaven. Ray Clendenan was the first adult outside of my family who told me I had potential to do something great for God.  He was the state director of Youth for Christ.  My parents moved when I was in my first year of university studies out-of-state, and I was not looking forward to spending the summer in an unfamiliar place.

Within a week of returning home, Ray asked if I would join a Teen Team for the summer with five other university students, and I accepted. All of the other team members were skilled musicians, but I was out of their league musically and felt miserable.

Ray sensed my uneasiness and pulled me aside.  I told him I loved being on the team, but I didn’t want to hurt the group’s musical reputation. Ray looked me in the eyes, and said:  “Carol, our main purpose is introduce teenagers to personal faith in Christ, and your contribution to the group is outstanding.  You concisely introduce the songs and tell humorous stories that keep people laughing and listening.  And when you mingle in the crowd afterwards, it’s awesome to see how people relate to you.  They actually cluster around while you are telling them how to establish a meaningful relationship with Christ.  You have a remarkable gift of evangelism.  Young lady, you have personality!”

When Ray finished, my self-esteem was intact.  He made me believe I had something worthwhile to contribute to the team’s ministry, and that I was not only needed, but wanted.  When he established that my main function on the team was personality, the rest of the group applauded my gifts.  Each of us understood our individual purpose.

I recently wrote down how Ray’s visionary leadership influenced me:

He made me feel valuable.  By affirming my strength (personality) and my spiritual gift (evangelism), he made me realize I made an essential contribution to the team.

He painted a clear picture of our mission and my contribution.I finally understood that our goal was not to do professional concerts. Our goal was evangelism, and my place on the team was key if we were going to fulfill our purpose.

He set me up for success, not failure.  He freed me from having to do something I wasn’t good at, to do what I could do best—meeting people and telling them about Jesus.

 He inspired me.  I felt privileged to communicate truth to people who needed a fresh touch from God in their lives.  I knew there was nothing more important I could do with my time and energy.  This was KINGDOM WORK!

He gave enough training to feel prepared, but enough freedom to accomplish the mission in creative, contemporary ways.Community Bible Study Teaching Director, Margaret Frost says, “People are encouraged to become their best when you hold a crown just a little above their heads and ask them to grow into it."  That’s what Ray did and I salute this man and the great impact he had on my life!

Question:  Who mentored you and how did it make a difference in your life?

Quote contributed by Carol John from a Bible study lecture by Margaret Frost.

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