Monthly Archives: January 2018

The Blessing of Mentoring: Be One or Find One by Dana Carpenter

We have seen the transformation that comes from women of different generations learning from one another and we hope for this experience for each one of us. Our mentoring program encourages women to bravely step out in willingness and say ‘yes’ to mentoring those younger than them and encourages younger women to allow someone who has gone before them to speak into their lives and walk alongside them. We hope this blog written by one of the mentors in our program encourages you right where you are at in your journey…

I remember when I first heard about her.  My friend and fellow mom was contemplating a return to school after spending the previous decade tending to her three children.  Her one dilemma was how to fill in the gaps between her potential class schedule and that of her kids.  Like me, she had no family in the area and their tight budget did not allow room for the expense of childcare.  Enter “Sally.”

After ending their teaching careers in Seattle to be near their daughter, “Sally” and her husband had recently retired to the area.  With time on her hands and a desire to serve, Sally offered to fill in those gaps for my friend. She covered carpool, made sure her kids weren’t home alone after school and helped with homework when needed.  Sally was my definition of a modern day “Mary Poppins”—and an angel.

As long as I’d known my friend, I had often heard Sally’s name.  She spoke so fondly of her and their times shared in the same church community, babysitting Sally’s kids as a teenager, and then reconnecting while living in the same town once again. I was intrigued (and envious) hearing all the stories of kindness, wisdom and advice my friend received from this sage I had yet to meet.  I remember wondering, “who is this Sally lady, and how do I get myself one?”

At Sally’s invitation, my friend coerced a group of us to attend a weekly class taught by a Christian counselor at a local church.  Not only was the course well beyond my hopes and expectations, it was there that I finally met Sally.  She was humble, unassuming and intentional about giving us “girls”(as she referred to us) our space as she sat at a different table with women in her season of life. While I understood why, I was thirsty for answers to how and why she had begun her healing journey at this stage of life.  I approached her after class one day with that question, and that is where our beautiful friendship took root.  Sally offered to reserve a room at the church after class the following week and suggested we bring sack lunches. It was there that she would be willing to share parts of her story.

Sally showed up armed with articles and books on every subject affecting a woman’s life that had been helpful to her in recent years. But it was her life experience I was most interested in.  After that meeting, we exchanged emails sporadically, but I longed for more.  As a young wife and mom, I knew I could benefit from a more seasoned woman in my life, but was too insecure and prideful to seek one out.  Now, in my forties, the struggles of life, marriage and motherhood had rendered me enough humility to recognize I was desperate for one.  I needed a mentor.  And I wanted her to be Sally.

Not knowing how she would respond, I sent Sally an email and asked if she would pray about meeting with me on a regular basis. I was afraid to use the word “mentor” for fear that it felt too formal. Plus,  there was the possibility we could each have very different definitions of the word (I suddenly had empathy for the online dating scene). The very next day, I received this reply:  “I was just telling my husband last night ‘I think I am far enough into my healing journey that I could probably mentor someone’ and here was your email.  I would LOVE to mentor you.”

That conversation was almost 7 years ago.  In the time since, Sally has filled many roles including, but not limited to, life coach, counselor and friend.  When I went back to school for my teaching certificate, Sally offered wisdom from her 36 years in education that helped me navigate the classroom. She was my most ardent supporter when I tried to balance school and family.  As I struggled with my teenagers becoming young adults and leaving the nest, Sally put into words the despair I was feeling and normalized it with her own parenting experiences.  Having lost her own mother, she encouraged me to release expectations, forgive and value my own mom.  

At the same time, being that I could technically be her daughter, I helped her understand the pressures and frustrations of her adult daughters from their perspective. Her commitment to continually learning and growing in her relationship with Christ encouraged me to do the same.  Sally obeyed the call to be a true “Titus Woman” (“Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge 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.” Titus 2:3-5)  and now so must I.  It was time to “pay it forward.”

When the words from the book of Titus refer to “older women”  I suspect Paul was speaking to those of us who are beyond childbearing age—or thereabouts. While I think anyone can fill the role of mentor to someone younger than herself, the onus is on the older generation of believers to pass down their spiritual wisdom to the next.  But what does this look like when the generation gap has never been wider than it is right now? I had been hearing in many Christian circles that there were more women looking to be mentored than there were women willing to mentor them. The main reason making it to the top of the list was the intimidation factor: the belief they have nothing to offer.  While it’s true that today’s young women have come of age in a world that doesn’t resemble the days of old, the need for relationship, wisdom and encouragement mentioned in God’s word has not changed.  

At Sally’s prompting, I began asking God to bring me alongside younger versions of myself, and He has been faithful, but it has looked different every time.  For one, none of them were anything like me– which is probably a good thing.  I had envisioned instant connections, no shortage of the same interests and a hunger for my sage advice.  When this wasn’t the reality, I began to believe the same myth as my peers: “I have nothing to offer them.”  

But, in spite of the lack of my expectations being met, I did see one common thread in these relationships whether spoken or not:  Each of these young women loved being pursued.  They responded to someone caring about them and showing interest in their lives. And isn’t this what Paul’s words to Titus are advising me to do as an “older woman”?  

Perhaps you are just beginning your journey into adulthood, marriage or parenting and longing for someone other than Google or an anonymous blogger to answer some of your big life questions.  Or maybe you’re on the other end of those early seasons, with a little more time and a lot more wisdom.  Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, step out and take that chance. Whether these connections thrive long term like mine and Sally’s or are just for a season, it’s a call you won’t regret answering.

Are you interested in being in a mentoring relationship? Email us at info@wecollide.net for more information about the Collide Mentoring Program.

Will this be your year of big things or small? By Willow Weston

It’s that time. New Year’s. Every last week of December I take time, as you might, to reflect on the year behind me and the year ahead. I try to close out one year with gratitude and lessons learned as I approach the next with great hopes and big dreams. I usually try and refrain from vanity and the things I can easily long for that I no longer want to get caught up in- because that’s what they do- those things trap me. Instead my new years goals stretch their hands out into a loftiness I may never grasp and yet I write their words.

In my journal I wrote just 4 words, each representing big goals I would like to see accomplished in the year to come. Maybe you do this too. Maybe you call them goals or resolutions, dreams or prayers. This year I called them “mountains”. In my journal I literally wrote the word, “mountains” and drew a line under that word and then wrote the four mountains I would personally like to summit.

My bet is that you have mountains you’d like to summit too. You have big hairy audacious goals you would like to crest. And I bet, you too, can find yourself writing them down as you look ahead to 2018 and then while writing them, maybe like me, you hear a voice saying “Yeah right. Good luck making that happen.” Or maybe you hear a cheeky “In your dreeeeeams. ” Maybe you write your goals and echoed in return is “You have said you would do that for years, why would this year be any different?”

We are a funny people. We are the grandest dreamers and the greatest discouragers, at the very same time. Here I was journaling about the dreams I have for myself and yet in that very same moment, I was telling myself I would not accomplish those dreams. I heard these statements as if a bully dream killer lives in my head calling me names saying “Don’t even bother. You have had that as a goal before. You failed to accomplish it. You might as well set less lofty goals.”

Does that bully dream killer reside in your head too?

By the time we are done writing out our goals and hopes for the new year, we are already convincing ourselves we should give up and be satisfied with something more attainable, like going to the grocery store every week or doing laundry and actually folding it. Clearly this way of thinking won’t help us summit any mountains. And it won’t help us like folding the laundry either.

Our disbelief in our own capability to accomplish big things keeps us from doing such, but I also wonder what else is at play with our yearly dreams and goals failing to become realities? Why is it that every stinkin’ year has us starting out our January with big summit dreams and by March we have already given up and are settling into mediocrity and our own self fulfilling prophecies?

I love how Zechariah 10 encourages God’s people. The Israelites had a huge project before them- to rebuild the temple that had been destroyed. It seemed like an impossible goal. Their critics prodded them with just how far they had to go. And it is right there that God shows up to exhilarate them in what some commentators call the “Eight Visions of Encouragement.”

God assures the people and this guy, Z, that he will lead this goal to completion. (His real name was Zerubbabel, but who even knows how to pronounce that? Let’s face it, if he was our friend, we would give him a nickname and it would be Z.) Imagine being this Z dude, who had a big mountain he was hoping to summit. He had already started the hike. Most likely, he was probably like us- he had big dreams and ideas but he also felt full of discouragement, self mockery and a long list of the reasons he would fail.

And it is here that God speaks through a prophet to encourage him:

“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. “What are you, mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of ‘God bless it! God bless it!” Then the word of the Lord came to me: “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. “Who dares despise the day of small things…” Zechariah 10: 6-10

I love that God spoke into Z’s big lofty goal and call by reminding him of the truth. It was like God showed up as Z looked at this giant mountain he had to climb and said “It won’t be by your power or your might Z, but by My Spirit.” As I read this scripture and stared at my 2018 goals, I was actually relieved. It won’t be by my might or by my power nor by my weaknesses or by my easily discouraged spirit that I will accomplish or not accomplish what I feel called to. Me summiting impossible to climb mountains will be by God’s Spirit partaking in the hike. And the same is true for you.

God knows us so well. God knew that Z needed an inspirational speech. God throws some trash talk at this lofty goal, “What are you mighty mountain?….you will become level ground.” I stared at my 4 mountainous goals and said the same thing with a sass and a swagger like I was getting in the ring with a fighter who thought he had me beat… I looked at those 4 goals and said, “What are you? You aren’t mountains. You aren’t too lofty. You aren’t unattainable. You aren’t big dreams that will never come true. You will be level ground. I will summit you and stand at your top.”

Not only did I say it when I was reading this passage and journaling, but I have been pretty saucy ever since talking to these big dreams. God invites us by faith to look square in the eyes at our lofty goals, dreams, resolutions, and callings and declare they will no longer be mountains, but attainable ground that we will zenith. I dare you to write your mountains down like I was led to and claim this verse out of Zechariah over them. We sure as heck don’t stand a chance to make it past sea level if we don’t first claim these mountains WILL see our footsteps.

God showed up to Z who had big goals and assured him that God will also participate. God gave Z a pep rally and words to claim when he stands in front of mountains that look too hard to elevate. But even more, God left Z with what I believe might be what sees us, in one year from now, standing on top of the peaks we hope to.

The Lord said “Who dares despise the day of small things?”

God is exhorting Z and the voices of doubt around him, that it will be the small things that complete this big goal. It will be one brick after another brick. It will be saying yes to the alarm waking you up Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and so on. It will be showing up day after day after day. It will be the small things, January 1st, January 2nd, January 3rd… God assures Z that this big accomplishment that everyone doubts can be done, it will be completed….but not by  the big, but instead by the small.

This daily small that the Lord is talking about is quite simply, faithfulness, day after day after day. Each one of us can summit any mountain God calls us to, but it starts with faithfulness to the small things every day. Every mountain ever apexed started with the first step. And the next and the next and the next. That thing you and I dream to do, it will come to fruition with work, with showing up, with presence, with punching the clock, with practice, with the brick, the mortar and the sweat.

But we don’t want to have to work for it. We don’t want to have to do the small, we just want the big. We want our name in lights without the struggle getting there. We want to have strength without working out. We want impactful ministry without sacrifice. We want meaningful lives without pain and entering it. We want to be rockstars without picking up the guitar. We want to be teachers without studying. We want to give sermons without first living them. We want friends without first being a friend. We want to be leaders without first being followers. We want to be at the top having never been at entry level.

We are a people only impressed with the big and rarely impressed with the little. And yet our big God reassures us, it will be the small things that He will, by His Spirit, turn into beautiful views on top of mountains, we never thought possible. Little by little, by little, by little, our God makes the big.

It makes sense that God would challenge us to not think our big dreams and big goals will be made possible by big action, big moves, big breaks, big money, big this and big that. He is the God who told stories and in those stories, Jesus often said things like this: Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much… (Luke 16:10) This is a God who promises to bless those of us who are faithful with the little. And when we are faithful with the little we have, God will give us more. So, maybe our dreams are born the day we commit to, not the big, but the small. Maybe God will reward our daily faithfulness and its sum will not just add up, but God will multiply it into something beyond what we can imagine.

As I read this word of the Lord, I sensed Him strengthening my plan and my spirit. My goals and dreams will not be accomplished by thinking I can start at the top. I will not get there by assuming I will float up to higher elevations, somehow, by opportunity. I will only complete what I have started by the small things. All of our dreams require a daily faithfulness that we can easily give up on because.. it feels too small.

So I wrote down my mountains and I told them what’s up. They aren’t mountains. They will be level ground. And I told that voice that threatens to discourage and trip me up, to sit back and watch what God’s Spirit can do. And then I committed myself to faithfulness in the small. Instead of focusing on the big mountains I hope to summit, my reflection moved from the big rather to the small. My goals and resolutions changed from lofty to little. I moved my pen and wrote the words “small beginnings.” And it was there that I made a list of the things I need to be faithful to.

In one year from today I will be sitting somewhere, most likely with a new journal, looking for a new start. I will be looking back on 2018 and ahead to 2019. And most likely if I have crested any challenging mountain ranges and stood on their peaks victoriously, it will be because I was faithful in the daily, small things.

Me getting to the top of that mountain will be me lacing up those hiking boots every single day even if its rainy and even if I don’t feel like it. It will be me putting one foot in front of the other day after day. It will be me packing the right gear every day I head out. It will be me putting the work in to plan around the conditions. It will be me being willing to set aside all the other things I could do and want to do, to do the thing I feel called to. It will be me being willing to sacrifice what I can see, for what I cannot yet see. It will be me setting aside the already level ground to march up and up and up.

This is true for you too. I know you have big dreams. I know there are things you think of doing every single year. I know you blow out your birthday candles and wish for it. I know you talk about doing it with the people you can trust. It won’t just come, friend. You’re gonna have to lace up your daily faithfulness, get sassy with the discouragement and tell it who’s boss and then invite God to bless it. That’s what He does. He participates in our modest acts of faithfulness by taking what is small and He makes it very, very big.

Will this be your year of big things or small?  Your small leads to your big. God promises it to be so.

Bless you this New year. May you summit mountains you never thought possible and may I look over from the neighboring peak and yell with you out into the Universe “What are you mighty mountains, but level ground!”