I put a dollar in one of those change machines.  Nothing changed.  ~George Carlin
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One thing in life that can be depended upon is that things will change. I recently read that change is fast, but transition is slow. Can I get an amen?
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When my husband began the process of transitioning from the military we both read the classic book on the topic, Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes by William Bridges. Bridges defines transition as “the inner reorganization and self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate change into your life.”
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Bridges divides change into three stages:
1)   Endings
2)   The Neutral Zone
3)   The New Beginning
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It sounds like double speak, but Bridges points out that any change starts with an ending. Ending in this case does not consist of a final moment, but rather, signifies the beginning of a transition. This period will include emotions that are similar to the stages of grief: denial, shock, anger, frustration, stress, and ambivalence.
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The danger for any transition is getting stuck in the Neutral Zone. It’s easy to hold on to the past because it is familiar and feels safe.

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Consistently looking back at ‘the way it was’ doesn’t help in the process of moving toward a New Beginning; rather, this period needs to be a time of reorientation and letting go. Healthy navigation through the Neutral Zone will propel one toward steps in the New Beginning process. While it may begin with skepticism, the uncertainty can be followed by acceptance, importance, hope and enthusiasm.
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Obviously, the goal in any transition is a New Beginning which “requires an understanding of external signs and inner signals that point the way to the future.” Bridges presents a convincing premise for the necessity of learning how to end things well in order to learn how to have a positive and hopefully, successful beginning.
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True confession: Transitions have always been challenging for me. Thankfully, I have learned that in order to embrace the future, I must provide ample time to grieve the past. It’s been helpful to recognize the stages of the transition I have been experiencing. I am happy to say that it is encouraging to acknowledge a sense of hope and excitement for what is ahead. That is progress!
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Verdict: Recommend–especially if anticipating a major transition
©Brenda Pace, 2010

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The strength of Paul Miller’s book on prayer is the way he takes prayer from that of a separate activity to one that integrates it into all of life. Miller uses every day experiences from his own family life to illustrate this integration. I found it to be a practical, inspiring and interesting read.  Here are just a few of the lines from this book that I highlighted:
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A Reason We Struggle with a Praying Life

“Everywhere we go we hear background noise. If the noise isn’t provided for us, we can bring our own iPod. Even our church services can have that same restless energy. There is little space to be still before God.”
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The Need to Make Space for God

“You don’t create intimacy; you make room for it. This is true whether you are talking about your spouse, your friend, or God. You need space to be together. Efficiency, multitasking, and busyness all kill intimacy. In short, you can’t get to know God on the fly.”
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Make Anxiety a Springboard to Prayer

“Instead of fighting anxiety, we can use it as a springboard to bending our hearts to God. Instead of trying to suppress anxiety, manage it, or smother it with pleasure, we can turn our anxiety toward God. When we do that, we’ll discover that we’ve slipped into continuous prayer.”
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Come Messy

“The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness (Mt 11:28). Come overwhelmed with life. Come with our wandering mind. Come messy. Don’t try to get the prayer right; just tell God where you are and what’s on your mind. That’s what little children do. They come as they are, runny noses and all. Like the disciples, they just say what is on their minds.”
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A Childlike Spirit vs. a Cynical Spirit

“The opposite of a childlike spirit is a cynical spirit. Cynicism is, increasingly, the dominant spirit of our age.” The author confesses, “Personally, it is my greatest struggle in prayer. If I get an answer to prayer, sometimes I’ll think, it would have happened anyway. Other times I’ll try to pray but wonder if it makes any difference. Many Christians stand at the edge of cynicism, struggling with a defeated weariness. Their spirits have begun to deaden, but unlike the cynic, they’ve not lost hope.”
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I Can’t Cure Myself!

“Often we are too weary to figure out what the problem is. We just know that life–including ours–doesn’t work. So we pray, ‘Father, Father, Father’. This is the exact opposite of Eastern mysticism, which is a psycho-spiritual technique that disengages from relationship and escapes pain by dulling self. Eastern mystics are trying to empty their minds and become one with this nonpersonal  ‘all.’ But as Christians we realize we can’t cure ourselves, so we cry out to our Father, our primary relationship.” (Last week I wrote a review of the popular culture book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. When Ms. Gilbert spoke of prayer it was in the context of eastern mysticism. The lack of relationship with God the Father was something that saddened me deeply about her spiritual search.)
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Write God’s Story for You in a Prayer Journal

“Many of us rush around without much conscious knowledge of the pilgrimage God is carving out for us. When tragedy strikes, we’ve not learned the ways of God, so we have no frame of reference from which to respond. So, we slog through life, missing the divine touches. Writing in a prayer journal helps us take stock of our location on the journey. We can become poets, artists with our soul. When we keep a prayer journal, we can reflect on what God is doing on the patterns of our Father’s care instead of reacting to life. If we see our lives as a pilgrimage, then it becomes an integrated whole. If we understand the story, it quiets our souls. It’s okay to have a busy life. It’s crazy to have a busy soul.”
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Verdict: Highly recommend this book!
©Brenda Pace, 2010
A Woman on a Spiritual Quest
I confess that I didn’t know the hype surrounded by Elizabeth Gilbert’s, Eat Pray Love when I picked it up months ago. Not sure how I missed it, but I did. The story sounded like the innocent quest of a spiritual seeker. I’m all over that type of quest. So, I ventured into Ms. Gilbert’s memoir of a year of her life devoted to finding God.
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First, let me state that I believe Ms. Gilbert had a sincere encounter with God wooing her during a difficult season of her life. (Difficult season is a relative term here. In this instance she was unhappy in a marriage with a husband who from all appearances seemed to love her and be a fine person. It seems the bottom line was, she was just unhappy and unfulfilled.) What ensues following her ‘cry to God’ on the bathroom floor however, appears to me to be a self-centered, narcissistic approach to finding god within, (no, the lower case g is not a typo).
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Eat, Pray, Love and Shop on QVC
Let me just say state bluntly that  I’m disturbed by the interest and enthusiasm over this book and the movie that was introduced this summer. (Not to mention being a little taken back by the feel good products that have followed as shown here.) I don’t know, this consumer touch coupled with the hefty advance the author was given to bankroll the year of ’searching’ takes away from the authenticity of the search. Am I wrong?
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We must Eat, Pray, Love TRUTH!
I will admit that Elizabeth Gilbert is a talented and engaging author. Her description of Italy and its culinary delights made me want to pull out those FF points immediately and book a flight!  I got off the train after Italy though. Her encounter with Eastern mysticism in India and free love in Bali left me cold…and sad. It also left me concerned that others who are seeking would follow this same self-gratifying path. But then, I had another really sad thought: how often do we package Christianity as a ‘feel good,’  self-gratifying quest? Oh…and then there’s consumerism–have you seen some of the crazy stuff sold at Chrisitan bookstores?
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Reading this book and being made aware of its wide acceptance among women has convinced me more than ever of the need for women to become theologically grounded in the Truth of God’s Word. I am challenged as never before to live a life that displays this Truth and teach it with fervor!
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A Response
After reading EAT, PRAY, LOVE this is my prayer:
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May I EAT God’s Word and be filled with an overflow to share with spiritual seekers!
Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts. Jeremiah 15:16 NAS
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May I PRAY God’s Kingdom come!
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:9-10 NIV
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May I LOVE with His Love!
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7 NAS
Verdict: Don’t waste your time. Pray for spiritual seekers to find Truth!
Is anyone else disturbed by this ‘me’ approach to spirituality? Do you see the same thing happening with Christianity?
©Brenda Pace, 2010
I read a couple of books recently that were recommended by my friend Becky.  Thanks Becky for pointing me to these books that will become resources for me to share with others—beginning today!

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Leading Women Who Wound by Sue Edwards and Kelley Matthews is a book I will heartily recommend to those involved in women’s ministry. Both Edwards and Matthews teach at Dallas Theological Seminary, but in the writing of this book they draw greatly from their personal experience of leading women’s ministry in the local church. The result is a practical book that addresses conflict from experience, research and solid biblical teaching.
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The author’s state that conflict is a fact of life.  “We can’t avoid it—but instead of openly discussing the disagreement, women tend to go underground with their conflict.” One statement from the book that I cannot forget and succinctly states the need for such a book is: “hurt women hurt women.”

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In vernacular that any woman can understand Edwards and Matthews provide a tool that challenges women to respond to conflict in an emotionally healthy and biblical manner. The discussion questions that follow each chapter make this not only a helpful resource for individuals, but also for leadership teams to work through together. There is even a chapter written to men who are involved in overseeing or working with women in leadership.
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Verdict: Recommend this book highly!
Today I welcome my friend Victoria Robinson as a guest blogger. Victoria is an outstanding speaker, Bible teacher and mentor to many young women. Victoria is also an avid reader and I am honored to share a book review on a recent book she has found meaningful. Thanks for sharing your insight and wisdom Victoria!

Over the years I have enjoyed many aspects of being involved in women’s ministry, and one of these is mentoring. The desire for discipleship and spiritual mothering seems to be the heart’s cry of many young women. With intentionality and lots of prayer effective intergenerational ministry can happen. It can even happen in military communities amidst all the moves and changes.  What a blessing to share with the next generation the truths of scripture and the biblical principles that compose a walk of faith!

W.O.W.!

In this season of being a seasoned woman I have enjoyed many enriching relationships with younger women.  There is an amazing work of God in the lives of seasoned women and younger women alike when they are committed to a mentoring relationship. Some of the young women in the women’s ministry in which I am involved  have called the older women “W.O.Ws.” W.O.W. is an acronym for Women of Wisdom!  The concept is that every woman needs a “W.O.W” in her life!
In the book Spiritual Mothering, author Susan Hunt explains the mandate, the model and the method for a mentoring relationship. Using scripture and personal testimonies, Susan encourages both the mature woman to step out in faith to mentor and the younger woman to be teachable. In Susan’s words, spiritual mothering happens when, “a woman possessing faith and spiritual maturity enters into a nurturing relationship with a younger woman in order to encourage and equip her to live for God’s glory.”
The Mandate
The central scripture for God’s mandate to mentor is from Titus 2:3-5: Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live…to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
The Model
The model Susan cites for mentoring is the relationship between Elizabeth and Mary, the mother of Jesus. She describes Mary’s visit to Elizabeth while pregnant with Jesus and says, “When women do for other women what Elizabeth did for Mary, I believe we will see young women burst forth in lives of praise to God.”
The Method
The method for mentoring is found in Hebrews 10:24-25:  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Considering one another, spurring one another on, meeting together, and encouraging one another all describe the spiritual mothering process.
Every time I receive an email or a phone call that starts with,” Momma Victoria” my heart jumps with joy and expectation for how God is going to bless both of us with more of God’s plan and God’s purpose for women!
©Victoria Robinson, 2010