Friday, February 25, 2011

LETS CHAT FRIDAY GET TOGETHER PART ONE

Hello friends, today I want to do something totally different. Each Friday I highlight one woman standing out and making a difference in this world. Today I am bringing many of them together for one chat. Each guest that has joined me here has made in imprint on my life. A lasting impression of a faith strong in the Lord no matter what life throws our way.


We each struggle and yes, we fall, but we have a gracious God who lifts us out of the pit and sets us on safe ground in His presence. Each guest has blessed me with their wisdom and stories of faith.

I am going to share a culmination of everyone today. I am going to choose a question and answer from each interview that has blessed me in my walk with Christ.
I can honestly say I never expected Fridays to be so amazing, but God had a plan. He opened a door to allow His light to shine brightly through the lives of all who have stopped in. I pray you are blessed by each and every guest who has given of their time to stop by and simply chat. Today is part one of Lets Chat. Stay tuned for part 2 so you can catch everyone who has joined me here thus far.

Grab yourself a great cup of coffee. Maybe even a few pieces of chocolate and get cozy. This is going to be awesome!! We will begin with the beautiful Lisa Buffaloe.





(Robin) Has there been an "aha" moment in your life that has changed your outlook? If so, I would love to hear.
(Lisa) When my best friend/sister-in-law, Kathy contracted leukemia she was a young mother. We all had faith in God and His healing power, and I couldn’t imagine God not answering our prayers for her healing. When I realized the answer could be (and was) “no” it rocked my world. Through that experience and others, God revealed different facets of who I am and who He is. I’ve learned regardless of life’s hardships, God’s goodness is never altered. I love this quote by St. Augustine, "In my deepest wound, I saw Your glory and it dazzled me." Lisa Buffaloe



(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you like to share?
(Shona) I’ve been blessed in that we haven’t faced any severe challenges as a family, but when my youngest was diagnosed with ADHD, that truly made me lean on the Lord. Long story short, Eric had a severe fear of shots. Each time he had to get dental work or vaccinations I prayed that God would allow him to receive them without having a panic attack. My prayers went unanswered for years, but in the back of my mind I thought there had to be a reason. It got to the point we HAD to address his fear and our pediatrician suggested we try counseling. During the course of addressing the shot issue, the counselor tumbled the fact that Eric had ADHD.That explained some of the other issues we were having with Eric in the area of behavior. Even with the diagnosis, things still weren’t easy, but I prayed the Psalms over Eric and realized that the ADHD diagnosis was the reason God allowed Eric to panic when he needed shots (it proved that God, in His infinite wisdom, had reason for not answering my prayers). If Eric had submitted easily to shots we would have never taken him to counseling. God knew we needed Eric’s fear of shots as a catalyst to get him to the place to help us deal with a bigger issue. My husband and I thought we didn’t have the skills Eric needed to be raised properly, but when the ADHD was discovered, we tweaked our parenting and, almost 6 years later, Eric is doing great and God helped keep our family together throughout it all. Shona Neff



(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you please share?
(Julie) Oh my goodness yes. I can’t think of anyone who has been a Christian for any length of time that hasn’t. For me my biggest disappointment and struggle happened when I went through a divorce. For me, divorce was never an option...but unfortunately became an unexpected reality. During the months that followed my divorce, my life spiraled down a long dark hole of depression. Not only did I experience the pain of separation …I also lost my ministerial credentialing with the denomination I had been affiliated with. At the time, that particular denomination didn’t allow someone who was divorced to be credentialed with them. I started making horrible decisions. One night while sitting at the end of a bar, the Spirit of God whispered to my heart, “Julie, there is no where you can go that my grace won’t find you still.” In the midst of my backsliding, God showed up in a bar and demonstrated His unconditional love. Needless to say, I left the bar and never went back. God reignited my passion for Him and actually uses the pain of my divorce to minister the beauty of God’s love and restoration. Those seasons of pain prepared my heart to not judge…there is only one Judge…and what He demonstrated to me was amazing mercy! Now I love to share on the hope found only in Him. Julie Miller Gorman




(Robin) What encouraging words would you give to someone encountering loss?
(Julie) Wow Robin, more than words I would want to just hug them around the neck, offer a shoulder to cry on, and sit quietly with them. Sometimes loss is so great that words just don’t suffice…but with every ounce of sincerity I would muster the courage to say… “I know you feel strangely alone right now, I know there are no words I can offer to make your pain disappear, but I want to encourage you with this truth…God is near. His word declares He is close to the broken-hearted and He saves those who are crushed in spirit. So, though it feels He’s abandoned you…YOU ARE NOT ALONE…and some how…some day…God will take every part of your suffering and use it for good. Jeremiah 29:11 promises us, His plans are to bless us and not harm, his plans are to give us a hope and a future.” So when you’ve done all you know to do to stand…stand firm. (Eph. 6) Julie Miller Gorman (Interview 2)




(Robin) How do you define success?
(Melissa) That is a great, and hard, question! If you had asked me that a few years ago it would have everything to do with status, money, and influence…now that I am a little more seasoned with battle wounds/scars I would probably say something like…”Success is getting up every day doing the very thing that God created me to do.” Melissa Scarbrough Mashburn




(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you please share?
(Christa) If being angry with God is symptomatic of a struggle in my faith, then yes. My first grandchild died of SIDS when he was on this earth only 31 days. I experienced the profound sadness of mourning for my loss as a grandmother and experienced my daughter’s raw and heart-wrenching pain for the loss of her son. Moms are supposed to make all the bad things go away. Not this time. Since God and I have this understanding that my screaming doesn’t mean I don’t love Him, He allowed me the catharsis. He showed me how to be the mother my daughter needed and how to bring her through the tunnel. Christa Allen



(Robin) Has there been an "aha" moment in your life that has changed your perspective?
(Sarah) In 2005, I had been writing for five years, but all doors to publication seemed closed and padlocked. No one wanted to buy historical fiction, I was accumulating “good” rejection letters, and I wondered whether I had heard God correctly. Was I meant to write? Was I wasting my time when I could be doing something more productive?

That year at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, I went for a morning walk under the redwoods and stopped to admire a little white flower. I praised God for the flower and felt touched—had He made that flower just so I would praise Him? Then I looked around me. Hundreds of redwoods covered the hills, and thousands more out of my vision, all surrounded by white blossoms. How many of those flowers would ever cause someone to stop and praise God? Were they created in vain? Did the Lord waste His time creating them? Of course not. God is a creative Being, and He made us in His creative image. In His mercy, the Lord showed me that even if my writing was never seen by another human being and never caused anyone to praise Him, I did the right thing obeying His call to write. I was not wasting my time. Sarah Sundin



(Robin) What is one thing you look for in a close friend and what is one quality you hope others see in you?
(Shawna) There are different things about different people that make them special, and in that way I don't really look for anything in a close friend. Those friendships just sort of happen. I can say that wisdom is something that draws me to people.

The wisest people I've met in life don't worry. They seem to always grasp the bigger picture, and usually when I'm rattling off about some little thing they make a simple statement, much broader in perspective, and it's like, "Oh yeah... Never thought of it like that." It almost gives me a small sense of what it must have felt like when Christ calmed the waters. Everything just becomes so clear and peaceful. That's a real gift that God has blessed some individuals with, and coming from a wiry person like me, who feels the need to push and pull, twist, stretch, wad up and ram pretty much every situation in life, I appreciate you guys!

As to the second part of that question, I guess I hope my friends see someone who is genuine, and caring. That's what I want to be. Shawna K. Williams




(Robin) In the legacy you leave, what is one thing you hope out shines before all others?
(Me) I often tell others, "Jesus looks good on you." I pray at the end of my life others will be able to look back and see Him clearly through my struggles and imperfections. I pray they see His beauty shine in the gifts that He has given me. At the end of my life it is my prayer that everything He gave me is used up for His glory and honor. It is my hope that others see life can be different. You don't have to hang on to your past, but you can have a future in Jesus. Robin Prater



(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you please share?
(Marybeth) Most recently I had struggles when my husband was laid off from his job in December. We were without regular income (I am a stay at home mom) for 6 months. For the most part it was a faith-building experience but I would be lying if I said that there weren't moments of wondering why this happened and how we were going to make it. God showed Himself to be the powerful shield and provider He claims to be in His Word. And we learned to take things one day at a time and trust Him even when things seem hopeless and the news all around us is bad. Marybeth Whalen




(Robin) What is the best advice ever given to you?
(Kathi) I was 26 and a brand new Christian. A wise old pastor took me aside and said, “Kathi, devote yourself to reading God’s Word and using that as your guideline for developing your list of what you’re willing to die for. Never compromise on anything on that list—but keep it short.” He was indeed a wise man! I have learned in the 36 years since that there really are only a few things that need to be on that list, and that they should not be compromised at any cost. However, all else is negotiable. Kathi Macias



(Robin) When life seems to go crazy, what is one thing you do to bring comfort and peace?
(Carlena) I truly get alone with The One who has loved me from the beginning and seek His face. He is the only one who really does stick closer than a brother and can be counted on to be faithful. Almost everyone in our lives will let us down at some point, but in my opinion God never will. Even when I don’t understand Him, I know He is perfect, and it’s my lack of faith, wisdom, trust, obedience, or whatever it is, that keeps me from having the joy He says will be our strength, even in hard times. So, there is always a lesson to be learned. And, I am the only one I can change, so I have to be open to hear and willing to make the change. Carlena Matthews



(Robin) Do you have a favorite bible story, verse, song or hymn that gives encouragement when struggles come?
(Alisa) God usually encourages me in specific ways to match the struggle I find myself in. However, when I feel extremely pressed down and burdened, I tell God how much I love Him over and over again. Somehow expressing my love for Him supernaturally fills me with complete peace. Alisa Hope Wagner




(Robin) What are a few of your favorite books you have in your collection you would share with a friend?
(Mary) The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan. Wow. Great book on Sabbath. Gilead by Marilynn Robinson. Breathtaking (although it’s a slow read). A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. Life changing. Mary DeMuth



(Robin) Has there been an "aha" moment in your life that has changed your perspective?
(Sheila) Yes, my "aha moment" has been to understand that "His ways and thoughts" are HIGHER than ours. I believe that finally TRUSTING HIM to bring about good in all situations and to watch Him move and exceed our human minds (in its limited expectancy) is a great peace that "surpasses all understanding" PLUS it makes me smile every time I watch Him MOVE mightily and BE GOD. I had my thoughts of how He should answer my prayers and He showed me different. Sheila Mangum



(Robin) When life seems to go crazy, what is one thing you do to bring comfort and peace?
(Tricia) I go to my bed, cuddle under the comforter and pray. I ask God to come and be with me. I try to focus on Him on His throne and remember He has everything in control. Tricia Goyer



(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you please share?
(Haelie) Absolutely. Off and on throughout my life in various ways, though the time that was the most distinct was in my mid to late twenties as I was going through nursing school then as I was beginning my professional career and "big girl" life. (Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that I am a Registered Nurse.) Anyway, I guess I came to a point in life in which I had been the good girl and Sunday School teacher for so long that I became burnt out on church and even God. Nursing school and nursing in general can also make a person become very cynical and jagged in their thinking as well, especially trauma intensive care nursing. I basically just decided it was my time to do "whatever I wanted to do" and did. Additionally, I began to really question all I had grown up believing about God, having grown up in the church. I began to convince myself that He may not really exist after all, so why pretend like He does? Well, after a few years of this, there came a place in my life where God allowed me to be flat on my back feeling utterly hopeless and helpless. At that time, I was face-to-face with the One True God. I must point out that, having been saved in high school, I know that all along this path I took running from God I never outran Him. In other words, I never became "unsaved" because I was not living right nor fully believing in Him. However, when I was at one of the toughest places in my life, I found myself crying out to Him to BE my Strength and BE my Hope because I alone had nothing left in me. At this point, I came to know my God on a very new, very real level. A raw, honest real relationship I had never truly experienced before began to develop from that time forward. True, I still have days when my faith is weak, but my God is never weak. He is always right there with me. He is my all in all. Haelie Heard



(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you please share?
(Jennifer) Oh, wow. I think the better question would be, have there been times when you haven’t struggled with your faith. I’ve got the indecision and insecurities of Moses, the impetuous nature of Peter, the inner demons of Paul, and the doubts of Thomas. My constant battle is with my mind. It’s quick to go on a rampage, focusing on the bumps in front of me, forgetting the power of the God standing beside me. But to answer your question, the greatest, yet most liberating, struggle I had was when we went through a period of unemployment. This was a very dark time for me and it took a while for God to break through the darkness in my heart. It started with a move from Southern California to Louisiana motivated by my husband’s job change. I didn’t want to move. I was happy where we were at. We were part of a close-knit church and were surrounded by wonderful Christians. And what made it worse was the fact that God wasn’t sharing His plans with me. Every time I’d turn to Him in prayer, all I heard was “submit.” No, “Everything’s going to be okay.” or “I’ll watch over you and keep you.” No words of encouragement to give me that nice, fuzzy feeling that makes obedience easy.But I submitted anyway then waited for my red carpet experience. You know, like God was going to reward me with a blessed life on a golden platter. So when things didn’t turn out as I had expected, my world was shattered. A year after our move, my husband quit his job. Quit. We’d weathered a lot of storms together, but this one hit really hard because it wasn’t one that “happened” to us, it was one he brought on. And it just wasn’t fair. I was consumed with bitterness for a while, fueled by all the “well-intentioned” advice my friends threw my way. My favorite? “You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.” Basically, my friends were calling my husband lazy, and that cut deep. It isolated me. I found myself guarding my words, afraid that people were going to judge my husband. I may not have been happy with his choice, but I still loved him. And by this point, God was starting to show me His plan, and my husband’s unemployment definitely was a part of His plan. Unfortunately, I don’t have the space to go into too many details except to say that the healing and growth that resulted in both of our hearts and in our marriage during this time was life-changing and well worth every tear.

(Robin) Has there been an "aha" moment in your life that has changed your perspective?
(Jennifer) That whole job-change, unemployment, shattered expectations changed how I see life and God. So much good, so much deep emotional healing, came from that very painful experience, I’ve learned to trust God even more. It’s easy to trust Him when everything’s rosy and He’s moving mountains and breaking down bars of iron. It’s much harder to trust Him when everything appears to be falling apart. But I’ve come to learn that He has a plan for everything. And He is still on the throne, whether we see His hand or not. Jennifer Slattery



(Robin) What is the best advice ever given to you?
(Krista) "Trust in the Lord with all of you heart ... lean not on your own understanding ... but in all your ways acknowledge Him & He shall direct your paths." Krista Klassen



(Robin) What is the best advice ever given to you?
(Diane) From my mom: Stand up straight. (I was always taller than most other girls and she helped me realize that slouching didn’t make me shorter, or fit it better, it just made me look slouchy!) This gave me confidence.

From my dad: Learn the hard way first. (I had to learn to ride bareback before I was allowed to use a saddle and had to learn to drive using a manual stick shift before I could drive an automatic.)

From my father-in-law: There are no bad days (only challenging moments.)

From my mother-in-law: Love people without conditions or expectations.

From my husband: You can go as far as you want to. Diane Markins



(Robin) What are your deepest passions?
(Angela) Seeing the body of Christ united. There is so much quarrelling in the church it grieves me to the point of tears. I want to see unity like Christ desires for His bride. I want to walk along those hurt and broken because of it. Also teaching the truth of God's word. Being a part of making that light go off in someones head when the understand something for the first time. Angela Biehn Parsley



(Robin) How do you define success?
(Suzanne) That’s such a great question! I ask that of my students in writing classes—because it is important to have a realistic idea of what success will be for you as a writer. If you think you have to be a NY Times bestseller to be a success….you might have a very long, sad wait. But if you consider your readers—and hope to connect to them, to bring some inspiration in to their life, to encourage them to seek God,…well, that, to me, is success. Book by book! Suzanne Woods Fisher



(Robin) Has there been an "aha" moment in your life that has changed your perspective?
(Vannetta) Hmm. Of course my attitude has changed as I've grown older. I worry less about trivial things, and I don't hold on to anger at all -- there's simply not enough time left. I turn 48 next year, so I must be close to middle-aged! One "aha" moment in particular I recall was when my son was young and I was a nervous mother. My mom asked me if I trusted God or not, and I thought that was a bit harsh, but she pushed me even more. She said either I believed the things I professed or I didn't, and if I did, then I should rest easy at night knowing my child was safe ALWAYS. That was a real turning point in my adult life. Vanetta Chapman



(Robin) Do you have a favorite bible story, verse, song or hymn that gives encouragement when struggles come?
(Lynn) Ephesians 6:12: For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the power of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

***and***

James 1:2-3: Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Lynn Rush



(Robin) When life seems to go crazy, what is one thing you do to bring comfort and peace?
(Patty) Eat the Word. I would like to say for the sake of vulnerability, though, that there are seasons where your mind is swarming under the weight of crisis, loss, anything that turns your world on its ear, that even Bible reading seems to do nothing. And that’s fine, because we’re all human and sometimes the neurons are so fried that nothing goes in. Those are times when we have to rely on the power of God’s Word to sustain us due to prior deposits. Secondly, I took quite a few sabbaticals about every six months following the loss of our daughter Jessica. I learned about whole facets of faith that were missing from my disciplines such as meditation and solitude. I found great reflective strength in journaling, waking and going to bed with the sun, living by candlelight, no electronics, cell phone off, eating simply, and taking long walks. God allowed me to ask anything I wanted and never judged me. Those times deposited within me a deeper canyon of grace that I had not known until I suffered. Patty Hickman


(Robin) How do you define success?
(Lisa) Readers sometimes write and tell me that my books and the characters were a blessing, but the truth is that, through the books, I’ve been blessed in a thousand different ways. So many people have shared their own life experiences and their experiences with the books. When I hear from readers, it’s one of those full-circle moments—the fulfillment of a dream that began when an amazing first-grade teacher told me I’d be a writer someday. If there’s one thing I take away from being an author, it’s that sense of wonder at being able to do something I think I was meant to do all along. That's success, I think. Success is in finding a way to use your gifts and talents to uplift and encourage others, and to leave the world, and other people, better off than you found them. Lisa Wingate

Well friends, what do you think? This is quite a blessing to have all these ladies gathered in one place. Is there something here that gave you hope today? Maybe a new insight? Share with us. I know the ladies would love to hear your comments. These ladies share so much of their lives with us and we can only bring glory and honor to God by opening up and sharing how He touches our lives daily. So many ladies with such wonderful insight on life, love and faith. God is at work through each of these ladies and He too is at work in you. I pray you have found a nugget of wisdom to carry you through a tough day and a treasure of hope to remind you just how much you are loved by a God who gave His life for you. Blessings sweet friends. As you can see there are many struggles and "aha" moments in life where they learned God's grace is enough. For me, that is what is so amazing. This group of ladies not only speak of Christ and faith, they live it. They share in an honest way that is inviting you too to share. The more we share the more we grow. The more we grow the more we shine for Jesus Christ.



Ladies, I say thank you with all my heart. You have blessed this girl beyond words. You have encouraged me in my writing and in my walk with Christ. You have challenged me to be more. To strive to live a life of thanksgiving and praise to a God who gives so graciously. Blessings to you all.

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