Fabulous Friday Find – Rahab’s Rope

Todays’s Fabulous Friday Find is Rahab’s Rope – a ministry that exists to STOP HUMAN TRAFFICKING.


I recently attended a women’s church retreat where a representative from this ministry shared with us her involvement and her heart for these women to know Christ.

Rahab’s Rope exists to give hope and opportunity to women and girls that are at risk or have been forced into the commercial sex trade of India. By creating a safe and loving environment, they are enabled to grow and develop physically, mentally, and spiritually. Their work provides basic education and vocational training for each girl and woman who come through their centers; ultimately, allowing them to integrate into their communities in a positive and constructive manner.

View their Mission & Vision

I purchased some of the beautiful jewelry these beautiful women make.

Today – I want to share my FIND with YOU!

Enter a comment both here and on my Ruth’s Hope Facebook Page to be entered to win this bracelet.

Be sure to stop by their website to look at other pieces they have made.

by // 0 comment

Sofa Simplicity

IMG_0144I’ve been thinking a lot about the Simplicity of the sofa this week.

What does furniture have to do with anything?

Real relationship happens here. Barriers blown to bits. Social media silenced. Ringers renounced. HOLD.

Life happens here.

Walls come tumbling down, brick by brick, with the help of a friend – no  longer alone.

In our home, this is where isolation and busyness fade to the background. , struggle and tension ease a bit. It’s a safe place to bring all. No matter the weight of it. This sofa has a sturdy frame. It has held the weight of heavy hearts for years. Oh, it’s provided the place to stretch out in laughter as well. Some legs stretch all the way the ground – others dangle off the edge of the cushion wishing for a place to land.

Aged, well worn leather offers the warmth, the invitation to come and be real. Come and let’s grow together.

Don’t we all long for a place to lift our feet, take a deep breath, to risk? Risk letting the walls down to let someone in. Risk leaving busyness behind for a bit. Risk feeling safe. Maybe, like me, risk learning the healing properties in laughter.

So much life has happened in our home on this sofa. Not one minute of which we would take back. Lessons learned. Tears cried. Hugs given and received.

And then we step back into life as it is…until we come together again on the leather. We say…”oh…I need some time on the leather”.

Sofa Simplicity. Not complicated. We just have to be intentional.

Dear Heart to Heart Reader,

Do you have a place like this in YOUR home?

Have you been offered a place like this in the home of another?


by // 0 comment

Mentors Matter Monday – Exponential Effects

The impact of mentoring reaches far beyond what we can ever know.

When we offer our lives in relationship to another who desires to grow with us, we offer, offer,

perhaps unknowingly on our  part,

a safe haven that might not be found any other way.

Lean in as Amanda shares her heart for mentoring.

I love the subject of mentors. I love everything about it… the definition alone simply screams positivity!pitchers.jpg

mentor |ˈmenˌtôr, -təәr|
an experienced and trusted adviser

Isn’t that fabulous? The idea of someone that is experienced AND trusted? Yet I wonder if most people today realize the power that is really behind a mentor.

I’m speaking from my own experience when I say that a true mentor can absolutely determine the trajectory of someones life. Let me try to explain (while hoping that I keep this short & sweet)… as a young girl I experienced what one would possibly consider a traumatic upbringing. (Parental divorces, adoptions, giving up of kids… throw in some abuse and that’s what I classify as traumatic.) I often think about what it would have been like to have had a mentor. What if, during one of the divorce periods of childhood, someone would’ve taken notice that I had gone from an all A’s & B’s student to a loner that received multiple failing grades? Or, suppose someone would’ve pulled me aside when my family fell apart and my siblings ended up living somewhere other than home, thus leaving me all alone at home for the first time ever? What if someone would have taken notice?

I know myself well enough now to know that it wouldn’t have taken much positive affirmation to have directed me towards a healthier path. I know this because I was hungry for ANY kind of attention. When I think about my regrets, I usually always follow those thoughts with this one sentence “I wish someone would have told me.” Fast forward to my adulthood, and God was gracious enough to allow me to have people that actually did care about my life and the outcome of it.

THANK GOD. As an adult, I have a circle of friends that will ask me the hard questions, that know when something seems ‘off’ with me and they are willing to say ‘Ok, what gives?’ I have amazing women, like my friend Karen, who will open up and share so freely of their own experiences… good and bad… and they are so willing to lay down their pride in the hopes of offering some sense of restoration and healing. I’m not even sure if these women realize that they are ‘mentoring’ me… but I am listening, and I am learning from them. I am clinging to every word of advice and every ounce of compassion they pour into me… and then I am compelled to make my choices based on their integrity and experiences. It has saved me from untold amounts of regrets. And I am grateful.

My point is this, if you are willing to be real, to be honest and to share what you have learned through the good and the bad, then you must know that girls are watching. And listening. And making decisions based on what you pour into their lives. It’s exponential, the effects mentoring has. In the few short years that I’ve actually been mentored, I’ve made the wisest choices of my life with little regrets. Mentoring is that powerful. Be willing to receive it. And then be willing to give it away.

amandaAmanda Bracken is a wife and mother of 3 (so far). She lives in East Tennessee where her and her husband enjoy working together on training and developing leaders, both locally and globally. She is passionate about relationships, madly in love with her family and desperate for God to use her for His greater purpose. Aside from making sure her children get to their dance and taekwondo classes on time every day, her goal is to bring a greater awareness to the needs of orphans and to help families willing to bring orphans into their homes so that they can experience the unconditional love of a ‘forever family’.  She is also proud to say that she has just completed her first book! (Although it still has no title, or chapters for that matter, and is completely unedited). You can find out more about her heart for orphans at Hope 221. 2 continents. 2 histories. 1 future.

“James 1:27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Dear Heart to Heart Reader,
I would love to hear  your thoughts on Amanda’s heart for mentoring.
Has she encouraged or challenged you in any way to be involved in a mentoring relationship?

by // 0 comment

Fabulous Friday Find – “Safest Place on Earth”

Today’s find is Larry Crabb’s Safest Place On Earth.


This is one of my favorite books. In his book, Larry shares how to develop a spiritual community.  A community where people walk with one another and support each other through life’s journey.

I think the key we need to see is that spiritual community is not ready-made, rather it is developed over time and with commitment to the process of cultivating community.

Larry’s book encourages me to stay with the process even though it gets tough.

I would love to hear your thoughts after you read it.

A excerpt that sets the stage for the one who holds the book in their hands, speaks to the reader:

“We need each other, never more than when we are most broken. But our brokenness is not a disease, like cancer, that may or may not develop. Brokenness is a condition, one that is always there, inside, beneath the surface, carefully hidden for as long as we can keep a facade in place. We live in brokenness. We just don’t always see it I ourselves or others.”

A central task of community is to create a place safe enough for the walls to be torn down, safe enough for each of us to own and reveal our brokenness. Only then can the power of connecting do its job. Only then can community be used to restore our souls.”

my booksFor other resources you might find helpful or interesting, come on over to Ruth’s Hope Resource Room and browse around a bit.



Love Deeply

love deeplyRomans 12:9-10

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. The Message (MSG)

As a ten year old girl I remember saying goodbye to my father. At age ten there was no real understanding just what that goodbye meant. The aftermath would weave itself into every relationship for years to come. For me, it was a simple goodbye as we headed south toward the fantasy of a new life. It didn’t take long before I began to feel the pressing weight of rejection closing in on every corner of my heart.

A teenage girl with a longing to know her father loves her. It’s not a pretty picture. Every little girl seeks the love of her daddy. We are wired that way. Maybe it’s because our Heavenly Father created us for His love and affections. Something went wrong in me as I sought the love and approval of others in the absence of my father’s love. Each rejection I experienced as I gave piece after jagged piece of my heart away in hopes of getting love in return – just cut me deeper.

Deep cuts cause us to grasp at any straw to keep from exposing the wound, don’t they?

I wonder if you have experienced deep cuts that leave exposed wounds?

For me, the wounds can cause me to cover up what I feel. Just under the layers of coverings though, if you dare to peek, you will see I feel like I am just too much. My love, my emotions, my depth of thinking – unsolicited – unwanted. My shortcomings – too much for others to handle. The fight is sometimes too much for me. I just want to run and hide. From others. From myself. Wouldn’t it be easier?

Ironic. As I write this post I am listening to Pandora Radio. Ginny Owens lyrics find their way to a soft place in my heart. Not a hard task, I love music. She sings “I will walk through the valley if you want me to.” The pathway is unclear and I’m not sure why you brought me here. If all of these trials bring me closer to you…it may not be the way I would have chosen…you said I’d never go alone…you never let me down…”

I would have chosen a different route. A different pathway. But the path my life has taken has led me to know the deepest love any human can know. The love of a Father who will never reject me. Never leave me. Never turn His back on me and walk away. He is near when I doubt. He knows what’s under those layers. He dared to peek. He loves me just as I am. And what He has shown me is the love that took Jesus to the cross for me on my Father’s behalf is a deep deep love. The more I walk closely with Him, the more I too learn to love deeply. It is a safe place for me. Close to my Father – drawing my approval and affection from Him.

So I will continue to risk learning to love deeply.

Dear Heart to Heart Reader,

Will you dare, with me, to draw near to the Father who teaches us to risk deep love?

I would love to hear from you.



CONGRATULATIONS to the winners of the Jesus Calling by Sarah Young – Pink copy – Patti Crovotta, Yvonne Ortega & Terrie McKee! Click here to send your snail mail address so we can get those out to you.

by // 0 comment

Mentors Matter Monday – God does want to hear my voice

pitchers1.jpgMy life has been impacted by many women. These mentors are interwoven into the fabric of my testimony. I am thankful to God that He placed these women in my life in the specific times that He did. He knew who I needed and when I needed them.

I was never raised in church. I knew God existed but never understood or had any idea the importance of what real relationship was. I was not the type to tell anyone that I loved them and to hug anyone was uncomfortable for me. I got saved 15 years ago. As God started placing some of the most amazing women I know into my life, I started to understand what real relationship with my Savior looked like. I also learned what relationship looked like with other people.

The walls that I placed around my existence started to crumble as I learned what intimacy with my Father was. I learned that in order to have any real relationships with anyone that I had to have a deep intimate relationship with my Savior. I had to keep that connection with Him or I would die, not physically but spiritually die.

There is an important thing I have learned over the past 15 years and that is this: It is important who you surround yourself with! There is an AMAZING, SPECTACULAR thing that occurs when you pour into someone else’s life and show them what LOVE is. LOVE changes everything! Today because someone loved me enough to pour into my life, I am able to do the same for others! Below are a few of my mentors!

One person that I think of first, I have known about 17 years. She has impacted me so much! I have learned more about relationship through her than anyone. I have watched her over the years persevere through some tough situations. Her life has not always been easy. She never gave up. When she believes in something she goes after it. She believed in me and found worth in me when I didn’t. She helped draw me towards God by talking about him everyday to me after she got saved. This went on for a year. I never tired of her enthusiasm and wanted to know God more because of what He did in her life! She has truly helped me to believe in myself. She helped get me out of the box I was living in. I am living my dream today because of her presence in my life. I can’t imagine living this life without her! She just gets me.

There is also the lady that taught me to pray. She taught me to not be intimidated to open my mouth and pray out loud. She really helped me to see that God does want to hear my voice! Praying the scriptures is one of those key things I learned from her. Its not always our wants or needs as much as it is praying scripture!

The last 2 people I am discussing were like a tag team partnership that God sent my way! I am telling you it was like a wrestling match! It was myself against these two women and the Holy Spirit! Who won you ask? The Holy Spirit of course because he used these two special weapons. They were like fiery darts and I was their TARGET! I really understood who the Holy Spirit was after they got a hold of me! It was like a big KABOOM in my spirit!

Debbie Swaner resides in Northeast Tennessee. Her personal mission statement is to be a person who gives, nurtures, and supports others in a loyal way. She is a Licensed Massage Therapist. She has worked in youth ministry for the past ten years. She also plays bass guitar on the worship team!


Is there part of Debbie’s story YOU can relate to?

Has someone impacted your life this way?

Do you long to have someone impact your life this way?

Please comment below. We would love to hear from you.




by // 0 comment

Fabulous Friday Find – Pink Jesus Calling

1400320119We have been encouraged by the words on these pages. We have inhaled Sarah’s prayers from her devotional and allowed them to carry us before our One True Hope.

Enter now TO WIN your free PINK copy of Jesus Calling to be given away on VALENTINES DAY. LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW and you will be entered.

Sarah Young is quietly leading millions of men and women worldwide on a journey of intimacy with Christ. Her devotional books include the #1 bestseller Jesus Calling and the top sellers Jesus Calling for Kids, Dear Jesus, and Jesus Lives. Sarah and her husband have traveled extensively around the world planting churches and counseling.  They are currently ministering to Japanese people and helping establish an international church in Australia.YoungSarah

Hide and Seek – 6 Steps to Finding a Mentor

Open Door ImageWhere are you?

We need you to be available to do life with us.

Where are the mentors? The women willing to expose bits and pieces of what they have learned along the way.

For years I have heard this question from countless young women hungry to grow with women of generations other than their own.

Not leaving behind their own generation – forsaking them for the purpose of spending time with older women, rather, hoping to glean from the life experience of these women and take what they learn back into their most treasured relationships.

As I have asked the question for myself, here is what I have found helpful:

1 -Ask God to lead the search. He cares about the details of our lives.

God desires for us to share life with those who have gone before us.

One generation shall commend your works to another. (Psalm 145:4-7). He draws hearts together. It sounds simple but it’s true.

2 – Be aware of women around you.

Stretch out of your normal comfort zone. Be willing to attend gatherings where you have opportunity to meet women of all generations. Begin to notice women around you in your every day life situations who are a bit older than you. It is sometimes easier for us to be most comfortable with our own age group and forget to notice others around us.

3 – Look for in others – characteristics you hope to develop in yourself.

Do you see these strengths in another woman? We grow in the safety of real relationship. I want to spend time with women who possess strengths I may not have developed yet – or perhaps areas where I am weak or could stand to grow. We learn from one another. Not that I want to become like them, but I want to be the best me I can be.

4 – Be interested in the lives of those around you.

Often we are intimidated by women of other generations. We think they have it all together. We assume they don’t have time for us. So we don’t even engage them. All it really takes is sincere interest in another to break the ice. When we take the time to be interested in someone else, chances are we find we have something we can relate to in that person.

5 – Be real.

A mentoring relationship at its best, offers the gift of bringing our real self, all walls down, all masks off and open to allowing another to see where God is at work in our lives. It’s here the most rewarding growth takes place.

6. Allow the relationship to grow organically.

Healthy relationship builds over time. There is no magic formula for the perfect mentoring relationship. The best hope we have is to offer the relationship to God and allow Him to direct our thoughts and plans. You may choose to go through a study together, meet to pray together, share dinner together, cook meals together, meet for coffee or many other choices. What ever works best for the two of you is what will allow the relationship to grow naturally.

ENJOY the seeking. ENJOY finding and getting to now one another!

How has this been helpful to you?

What step do you need to take? 




Mentors Matter Monday – As If In a Mirror

Taking time to invest in the generations that come after us…it’s what really matters. Can you remember a time in your life you needed encouragement and perhaps even accountability as you stretched and grew? Maybe you still do. Whether we are 18 or 88 or somewhere in between, there is another woman who has gone before us who can speak truth into our lives.pitchers.jpg

Lean in as Courtney shares about the impact it has had on her as a few of those women have realized that sharing what they have learned in life sows seeds of hope into another.

Reflecting on the impact mentoring has in my life, at the very least, it gives  me the opportunity to evaluate how I am doing life. The mentoring relationship offers me the opportunity to evaluate, by voicing to another, how I have been living life.

The mentoring relationship has done many things to encourage my growth, but the most valuable has been having someone with whom to share my thoughts and actions.  Being intentional in doing this with another person provides the safety to think through those actions and thoughts. It’s also helpful to be able to receive feedback; to hear what my thoughts sound like to another person. I see, as if in a mirror another perspective, and that is invaluable.

I have had several women invest in me at one time or another. One shared with me about ten date nights she had done with her husband, and she told me which ones failed and which strengthened the relationship. Another told me about how her mentors helped her grow to be who she was.  Another gave me an established consistent time to leave my kids with my husband and “vent” while working through challenging situations.

Over the years, I have asked women to mentor me and I have been turned down. It took me awhile to ask again after hearing “no”. The shock and shame cut deep.

During this “mentor-less” time I experienced desperately slow growth as a woman. I had young kids and I knew I was not the mother I wanted to be but could not single-handedly pull out of my unhealthy patterns.

Perspective can only be found outside of ourselves.

The beauty of the mentoring relationship is that we work with another person to form unfinished ideas, identify patterns and evaluate what is best moving forward. I would not have experienced the same growth had I not been involved with mentors during the last thirteen years.


It has been well worth the journey.

Court & Juan Carlos Pic

Courtney is a daughter, wife, missionary, mother, teacher and artist. Daughter of two parents and a Father, wife of one husband, missionary to Latin America, mother of three children. Courtney is a teacher of many and artist to herself. She loves to sit with a cup of tea and listen to others stories as they grow and stretch. Sometimes she choses to sit and listen to herself as she grows and stretches and is thankful for those who have poured into her life.


Please share what part of Courtney’s story YOU can relate to.

Have you been mentor-less?

Have you been on a journey that you would say is “well worth it”?

I would love to hear.


Book Giveaway – Fabulous Friday Find

Enter now to win a copy of

Max Lucado’s book Grace Happens HereGHH Heart













Who doesn’t need to experience the grace of God? Come and get in line with me!

I’ll be giving away 4 copies of the book.

1. Comment on the this blog post.

2. Sign up to follow Heart to Heart Journey.

Don’t miss your chance to win!