Mentors Matter Monday

IS / Is NOT

I recently posted a simple definition of “mentor” from Dictionary.com

The definition paints a picture of the mentor being someone who has gone before, gained wisdom in a particular area, and has then shared with those who have yet to gain wisdom in a particular area.

  • Does the definition draw a clear picture for you?

 

  • What questions does this definition leave you asking?

 

For a bit more clarity, let me share my simple understanding of what a mentor IS and what a mentor is NOT.

 

I was talking with a friend recently and shared my heart on the matter. I shared with her from my perspective:

What a mentor is NOT:IMG_1148

Someone who has all the answers

Someone who stands over you waiting for you to fail again

Someone who agrees with the lies of the enemy

Someone who walks away when things get tough

 

What is mentor IS:napkin talk pic

A friend

Someone who has walked the road a little ahead of you

Someone who cares

Someone who speaks truth

Someone who sits with you in darkness and shines the light in

Someone who loves deeply because she has been loved deeply by God – it’s all she has

Someone who believes in you when you cannot see to believe in yourself

Someone who challenges you

 

A friend

 

That’s all…just a friend.

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Mentors Matter Monday ~ The Pointer

imageI am pleased to introduce you to Holly. I met her through a friend. We attended an event Holly planned. My friend and Holly were both speakers at this event. It became clear to me as I listened that her desire to mentor is lived out in everything she does.

Lean in as Holly shares her heart to invest in the generation that comes after her.

A few years ago my entire family decided to go on a family vacation. The destination? None other than Walt Disney World. There were 18 of us! Lots of chaos, laughter and a ton of bathroom stops but in the end it turned out to be an incredible trip.  A few weeks prior to the trip my daughter’s school held their book fair and I bough a pointer. I had no idea how much that purchase would benefit our trip. I literally would hold the pointer high in the sky and say in a loud voice “if you can’t see the pointer than you are lost”.

We would all laugh but it did keep everyone from getting lost and most importantly it kept us all together.

This is a beautiful picture of what mentoring looks like.

I spent many years in youth ministry without anyone pouring into me. That led me into a season of burnout and loneliness. Unlike the pointer that was leading my family through major theme parks full of people, rides and chaos, there was no one I could visibly see leading me through the ups and downs of ministry. I felt like I was lost in a season of ministry that should have been rewarding. Instead I was on complete empty.

The church is made up of all different types of people, each with different type of gifts, all for the purpose of growing the body and bringing hope to a world that has none.  The exchange of our gifts wrapped in encouragement, lifting one another up and cheering each other on is what strengthens the body. It’s so important to pour out the truth of God’s word and to share struggles in my life that have shaped me into I am. It’s that transparency that pushes those younger to live out their faith real and unmasked to the generation below them. I currently mentor 4 ladies and our time together consists of me listening, loving them no matter where they are spiritually, spending time with and pointing them to God’s truth as I walk beside them to the cross.

The pointer at Disney kept us together and without it we could have really been scattered. Mentoring keeps the body together locking arms and truly enjoying all that God has for us within ministry and just living life.  The ladies I pour into are all in their 20’s. They also pour into teen girls.  I love watching those girls bloom and grasp at such young ages the importance of discipleship and kingdom building.

I started pouring into Brittany when she was only 13 and I watched her go through some very hard seasons of her life.  A lot of adults talked about her clothing, who she was dating and how she conducted herself all the while never reaching out to her. I was drawn to her mess and her sweet hidden spirit. I couldn’t stay away. What started as me just loving her like Christ led to not only her clothing changing, but it led to her surrendering her life to Christ. She stands beside me today in ministry.

Mentoring leads to life change which leads to world change. A willingness to share our stories, pour ourselves out and point people back to the cross.  That’s what it’s all about. Psalm 107: 2 (NLT) says this… “Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.” What an incredible nugget of truth to lead you and I as we lead others.  Share your stories today. Reach out to those who surround you and pour truth into them, walk beside them and point them to the cross and leave the results to the Creator.

Are you leading someone toward the Creator?

Do you need someone to lead you?

What does Holly’s story speak to you?

photoHolly Myers is the Fields of Hope Site Manager for the Charlotte, North Carolina location. Fields of Hope is a program of  On Eagles Wings Ministries that provides paid educational fellowships to survivors of Domestic Sex Trafficking. Holly works directly with the girls in the program by teaching curriculum, mentoring, and giving oversite to the assembly of beautiful handmade products. Holly is also the president and founder of Unbound Ministry. Holly desires for girls and women of all ages to understand what true beauty really means. Connect with Holly at Unbound Ministry Revolution Church.

Mentors Matter Monday – Who ~ Me?

0064Who ~ Me?

She’s Asking Me to Mentor Her

I shared a conversation with a friend who has spent a lot of time pouring into high school girls. For her, the relationships come very naturally as she makes herself available to spend time with young people she believes in.

In this particular conversation, she shared that a young woman had specifically asked her to “mentor” her. As we thought through what a conversation between the two of them might sound like, here’s what we came up with:

Here are some questions that might be helpful in determining the direction to go:

1 – What does she feel she is wanting from a mentoring relationship?

This is a good place to start because it:

  • helps her to think the answer through
  • helps you to gain more information
  • helps in making a good decision

2 – As she answers listen well, pray through and think about it. It’s ok not to give a quick answer. She will hopefully respect that you are taking the decision seriously.

As you listen for to her answers it can help you determine some additional questions to ask along the way in natural conversation.

  • Are you seeking accountability?
  • If so – in what areas?
  • Do you want to do a book study? Study a topic? Or maybe a book of the bible?

Maybe she’s just wanting to spend time together and discuss things & that’s ok.

  • How often were you hoping to meet?
  • Are you willing to let me ask you hard questions in order to be intentional?
  • Are you willing to be upfront with me knowing I have your best interest at heart?

Just a thought as you decide if you can or want to do this. Sometimes you need to put a time frame on it (not always). Maybe we could meet for 3 months or 6 months and then reevaluate at that point.

3 – Ask yourself:

  • What time do I have to offer? What fits best in my schedule? Am willing to ask hard questions?
  • How often is best for me? Where is best for meMy home? A coffee shop or bookstore setting?

Be careful not to make meeting her needs more important than caring for yourself and your family.

I’ve done it both ways and the latter is much more rewarding and obedient. Give out of an overflow of your own relationship with the Lord and your time with Him. Otherwise it’s your own effort and it won’t hold up for long. And in the long run, will not be good for her.

John 15 – 4 & 5 – Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Has this been helpful?

You can find this and other helpful resources at Ruth’s Hope Resource Room

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Pouring In – Pouring Out

What does it look like in real life?

yellow pitcher

Pouring into the generations that come after you.

It has as many different looks as there are people on the face of the earth. Because it is about authentic relationship. And each one of us is uniquely different.

POURING IN 

Maryann sits across from me in our favorite breakfast booth. They know us when we walk through the door. If she beats me to the table, the hostess sees me come through the door and with a simple, “She’s already here”, asks me to follow her. We open our books to share our personal takeaway from our reading through the week. And we talk through what challenges I face. How I am wanting love well and fail. How I am wanting to be disciplined, yet struggle daily with follow through.

She has walked the road before me. She invites me to peek through her lens and invites me to see all she has learned along the journey.

POURING OUT

I remember my conversation with Jen like it was yesterday. We were  part of a prayer group together. It was a sweet time of coming together simply for the purpose of praying together once a week. The group could have a different number of people on any given week. But we all agreed the sweetness of coming before the Lord together was always beyond what we could have hoped for. Simple, sweet & real.

Jen and I also met one on one from time to time. The conversation would always lead to truth. Not a feel-good ruth that works for me kind of truth. No – an anchoring, challenging, sharpening kind of truth. And the sharpening – it was from a two-edged sword. It sharpened us both – never one sided.

I remember a day we sat face to face in our familiar towering booth at a local Panera. Tucked in behind those towering walls, we felt we were all alone.

Her greatest desire this particular day? To  love well. She shared the words that described how she wanted to love. She asked me to hold her accountable to love this way.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with a genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. {Romans 12:9-10 NLT}

Her words, the words from the pages of Romans, are words I carry with me daily. They remind me to love well. To love deeply. They remind me I cannot do it if left to myself. It is impossible. But, when I choose to open the book that sharpens – when I choose to live a life pouring in & pouring out with genuine affection, a legacy is being written day by day.

What is left when I am gone, you see, is really not at all about me.

It is about loving well.

When Jen left our towering booth she would go and meet with a youth she invested in. She would pour herself out.

Real relationship.

Lifeway Women’s Leadership Forum this year is all about Pouring In – Pouring Out. Copy and paste this link to see more. http://www.lifeway.com/Event/Womens-Event-Womens-Leadership-Forum-2013-Nashville-TNTell us about your Pouring In & Pouring Out.

Tell us your story of Pouring In & Pouring Out! We want to hear.

HIS,

karen

 

Coast to Coast for 40 Years – Mentors Matter Monday

I am pleased to introduce the woman whose sofa I sat on as I first acknowledged my need for a Savior so many years ago. Lean in as Linda shares about the woman who has influenced her life for forty years.  The same woman who would, through Linda, impact my life as well. Even now.

pitchers1.jpg

As I try to introduce myself to you, it is hard to imagine who I would be without the woman that faithfully mentored me from age 13 until she lost her battle to breast cancer 3 years ago.

I came from a family tree that was loaded with alcoholism, with a dad who worked 3 jobs and was gone all of the time, and a mother who worked because she did not want to be poor and she did not enjoy parenting.

My Uncle who was only 7 years older than me, decided to become a Christian at a young age and shared his experience with me as a young teen.  When he married,

I am guessing he told his young bride that I could really use her help and guidance.  Fortunately, she agreed to be a mentor and share her life journey with me.

Because they were missionaries to the rural areas of the northern part of this country, I never lived near them.  And in those early days, there were very few phone calls because of the expense making it necessary to use the old fashioned kind of communication through hand written, sometimes type written, letters.

My first visit when I was 15  took me to Maine and my last visit 6 weeks before she died took me to Wyoming.  I traveled from coast to coast  for 40 years seeking her attention and soaking in every word that she so generously shared with me.

I think her job was pretty challenging.

I did not come from a Christian home and yet I wanted to live a Christ-like life.  I would say that she influenced all of my decisions and encouraged me  from high school to college, in marriage, in having children, through divorce and  returning to college to get  degrees in special education and family counseling, to experiencing my children getting married and having their own children. She did all of this while raising her own 3 children, struggling with her own challenges as a wife and a missionary.  I know I was hard.  I was sad, lonely, lacking in a strong sense of self, yet wanting so desperately to do what Jesus would do.  I had millions of questions and I wanted her to have millions of answers.  And she did with huge amounts of grace and patience and I am guessing with great sacrifice.

So, today, I am a gramma, still struggling with many of the same issues I had when I was 13 and certainly missing my mentor each and every day.  But, I am so blessed that I can hide in my heart and recall , her words of wisdom.

At the same time, I can cherish this image that she gave me; I can see what  happens to a woman who takes what she has, the weak and the strong of it, and shares it out of obedience to her Heavenly Father with a younger struggling and often broken heart to see what God can do.

The gift is life-changing for the one that is mentored.

It seems that being obedient to God’s assignments and experiencing what He does when we “share” holds blessings that cannot be measured in any earthly way.  I am eternally grateful that she was willing to share and I was willing to receive.

 

photoLinda Pulver is a Health Coach. She has received a Master’s in Agency Counseling. She has 20 years experience in educational consulting, teaching, tutoring and helping families heal. In addition to her business as a personal and family counselor, she currently volunteers at Walnut Grove Christian School with the responsibilities of assisting in initial student evaluation, classroom character building lessons, teacher support and classroom discipline issues.

Dear Heart to Heart Reader,

Have you had someone who has given you this life-changing gift?

Oaks of Righteousness – Mentors Matter Monday

Each Monday women share their hearts with me concerning the mentor/discipleship relationship. Today Tracy shares a letter written to the “older woman”. You will NOT want to miss drinking in each word as she speaks.

Lean in…

IMG_0800“They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

~Isaiah 61:3b, NIV

Dear Older woman:

I remember when you came and stood next to me during the Sunday worship service, leaving the pew you had occupied for years…

Perhaps you were scared to venture across the sanctuary, but the Holy Spirit prompted you, and you obeyed. You knew I was single,and could tell that it hurt to attend another church service all by myself.

You are an oak.

I noticed your tears as you prayed for me. Yes, I know my head was supposed to be bowed like yours, but I wanted to see the expression on your face as you poured out your heart and petitions before the Lord on my behalf…

As you know, some of our requests were answered with a “Yes”, and some with a “No.” If you were disappointed in God’s “No” to me, you didn’t show it. You praised Him regardless and kept on praying.

You are an oak.

I will never understand the courage it took to admit your mistakes to me. I am sure you wrestled with the desire to be perfect in my eyes, but know that the examples of God’s forgiveness in your life will stick with me forever…

Thank you for trying NOT to be all things to me. I have everything I need in Jesus. (You were faithful to remind me of this.) You patiently invested in me, because you rightly understood that our relationship was never about you, but about you showing me Jesus.

You are an oak.

I remember when we discussed God’s calling on my life. You affirmed my spiritual gifts. You helped me to write my first Bible Study, and purchased one of the first copies. You pushed me out of my comfort zone, because you knew it would be for my good, and ultimately for God’s glory…

I know that you probably thought I was crazy for leaving the corporate world for youth ministry, since women did not attend seminary when you were my age. Yet, you realize things are different. You trust that God will open the right doors in my life to accomplish His perfect will for me.

You are an oak.

I remember how excited you were about my first date with an Air Force pilot. Over the years, you lovingly listened to my anxieties about spending the rest of my life alone. You held me as I cried through countless failed relationships. You held me accountable for my purity, and for the way I conducted myself around my Christian brothers.

Thankfully, you counseled me not to break up with the Air Force pilot when I started to doubt, because you just had this feeling. And, you were one of the first people I called after my Air Force pilot got down on one knee and proposed.

You then hand tied hundreds of white bows around chairs for my wedding reception, and you watched me say my wedding vows before a God who gives good things in His perfect timing.

You kept on believing that my Chad would come. I know you were sad when I moved away to be with him. But when you still call now,4 ½ years later, I still hear your love for me through the phone.

You are an oak.

As you may have heard, my mother recently entered Heaven. Can you believe it has been 11 years since her breast cancer first reared its ugly head? What the field of medicine said was impossible, God easily made possible. You and I celebrated when she was at my wedding, and because she was there holding my hand as I gave birth to Jackson and Katie. How good and merciful God has been!

So thank you for walking through her final weeks with me. I want you to know that my mother was grateful for you. She knows that God placed you in my life to help me go forward without her now…

I appreciate you letting me process and grieve with you as I have watched my mother suffer. We both know you will never replace her, but I hope you know how thankful I am that God placed you in my life so I will never feel alone now, as a wife and a mother.

You are an oak.

Older woman, I am writing this letter to you because young women need an oak. My prayer is that you will heed what is written in Psalm 78:1-8 and Titus 2:3-5. Do not allow fear, busyness, or inferiority to stop you from letting me, a younger woman, learn from you. Nourish us simply with your presence and prayers.

You are not here to warm a pew, precious oak, but to warm our hearts towards Jesus. The future of the church needs you.

All my love,

Tracy

This post was previously posted by Tracy. I am grateful she would share with us today.

Tracy Bio PictureTracy is proudly married to Chad, a pilot in the United States Air Force.  Whenever they are not being relocated, she loves to drink green tea and watch re-runs of LOST. She also enjoys chasing their two children, Jackson (4) and Katherine (2), throughout their toy-infested home.  Tracy graduated from Phoenix Seminary in 2005, and served as the Director of Student Women at Scottsdale Bible Church from 2005-2007. She is also the author of Images of His Beauty, a newly released Bible Study, for young women who struggle with self-image issues and eating disorders. You can find out more information about the study and follow her blog at http://www.onedegreeministries.com.

Stories – Mentors Matter

photoI wonder if we realize just how much they matter.

Stories paint pictures for us. They draw us in to see through the eyes of the teller.

Each story unique, like the teller.

Each voice unique, resounding the heart and personality of the one telling.

Details inviting us to memories built, impact deep.

YOUR LEGACY MATTERS

What you leave behind when you are gone…it matters.

Do you know who has sown seeds of a legacy into your life?

Can you see it in story form? Do you have chapters yet to be written?

Have you told the story before?

Do you know that others may be inspired, encouraged and possibly even moved to action because your story has been put to words?

I would love to hear your story. The story of how someone has poured into your life. And how it made a difference for you.

Will you share with me? Will you share with others? I would be honored.

Send me an email to indicate your interest and I will contact you.

Your story matters to those looking on. It really does.

With gratitude…

HIS,

karen

Rise & Shine – Mentors Matter Monday

Every  day I long to hear stories of women whose lives have been changed or are being changed because someone takes the time to invest in them.pitchers.jpg

I look for these stories because I want to share them with you in hopes that you will see the very real impact mentoring and discipleship can make in the lives of those hungering and thirsting for more of Jesus.

Lean in today and give God the glory as you hear from Laurel.

Mentor.

The word might conjure up images of an elderly woman sharing all of her wisdom with a member of a younger generation.

As for me, I have had mentors of all ages. (Hey, I am even learning a lot from the Godly, hip teen who lives down the road from me!) But, today, I want to share about a mentor that has been in my life since I was 13 years old.

“Rise and Shine and Give God the Glory, Glory!”

This is the first line to the song she would sing bright and early as she awakened the gang of girls every time we had a sleep-over event as a youth group.

Boy, was it obnoxious.

Yet, this morning, as I was getting ready for church at the age of 31…I started singing this song. Writing about it brings tears to my eyes. Why? Because I learned and continue to learn so much about being a Christian from this awesome, Christ-centered woman.

I am reminded of Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your hear, as working for the Lord.” That is my mentor. Whether it’s preparing to lead a choir, finding furniture for the elderly in need, or mentoring an assertive (ahem) young woman. It was and is all for the Lord. Always with a smile on her face. Even in moments of frustration, she does not complain. She does not grow weary. She just. keeps. going.

Yeah, I have learned a lot from her. Grace. Humility. Patience.  At least, I see those things in her and want to emulate her because I know that her fruit overflows because of her focus on the Lord. She does nothing out of vanity, and she always puts the needs of others ahead of her own (Phil 2:3-4).

Over our 18 year relationship, I can only recall one time where we slightly disagreed. The gist of it was that she wanted to be more loving towards someone than I wanted to be. Wow. What a lesson in all those awesome qualities I’ve already mentioned.

Yeah, I want to be her when I grow up. I want others to see in me just a fraction of what I see in her.

I have been blessed with a number of awesome mentors. Without their guidance and discipleship, I don’t believe I would be who I am today. A sinner saved by grace trying to live a life pleasing to my Savior.

Dear Heart to Heart Reader,

What have you learned from someone who has taken the time to walk through life with you?

Who do YOU want to be when YOU grow up?

Laurel_Shaler_pro

 

Laurel Shaler is a licensed social worker and counseling faculty member. Additionally, Laurel strives to help women anchor their emotions to God, improve their relationships, and develop an abundant life in Christ. Laurel can be found blogging at http://www.drlaurelshaler.com. You can also follow her on Twitter  or on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/drlaurelshaler. 

In the corner – like a wallflower – Mentors Matter Monday

pitchers.jpgWhat does it take to pour into the life of another? The mention of it overwhelms us. We think we have to have it all figured out before we dare to think we have anything to offer. All the while, there are women who hunger  for the mentor/discipleship friendships that offer a safe space to grow.

Lean in as Tina shares her thoughts about mentoring.

At first mention of “finding a mentor”, the thought left me feeling like I was in middle school again without a date to the dance.

How would I FIND someone who could help me in all areas of my life? I started paying more attention to who I was hanging out with.

Maybe I would just ask one someone who was already close to me…seemed like a good safe plan that required little to no vulnerability on my part.

The only issue was, everyone around me was at the same place in life I was.

I started looking outside of my circles and found myself so incredibly fearful of asking someone to “mentor me / aka..go to the middle school dance”

because…hello!….. the thoughts of rejection were crippling. Seriously, the people who I would have loved to ask to mentor me were so busy in life already,

why would they make time for me? And that horrible what if, what if, what if….game always locked me down.

So I sat. I watched.

waited in the corner like a wallflower, hoping someone would come

my way and ask me to dance. Surely the look on my face read “hungry for more”. Yeah. No.

Just as I was ready to move on in life and just “be happy with the card I was dealt” and “do the best I could with what information I had”, I heard a message about mentoring…(wish I could remember who the speaker was) what they spoke opened my eyes and exponential possibilities. They said (paraphrased), “to assume one person is smart enough to mentor you in all areas of your life is to say that he is next to Jesus in perfection..there is no ONE person who could possibly speak into every area of your life.

Look for people who are at the place you want to be in EACH area of life and ask them questions about that one place.

Okay. That’s how to take a bite, I thought.

So I did. I got myself in the room with people who were stronger in a few areas of life and just listened to them talk to one another. It awakened my spirit to new possibilities and allowed me to see new things and experience one ah-ha moment after another…for example…This group of ladies seemed to have strong marriages and the more I listened to them…wow…they are actually speaking highly of their spouse when he’s not even in the room! Who does that!?

It set a standard of respect for me that had never been modeled to me before.

The more I learned, the more I craved. I started noticing changes in my attitude. The way I viewed my marriage, my kids, my career, my choices. The greatest thing about all of this? Every time I felt a need to change, it caused me to lean in to the Lord and get in His word to search for my why. That made my relationship stronger with Him and now in life I see THAT = my relationship with the Lord…is the root from which everything grows. It’s expanding.

He constantly leads people in and out of my life to teach, speak into and “mentor” me.

Gratefully, He has sent me tremendous women of God who have turned into the best friends I could ever ask for.

  • I have a few ladies who model true submission in their marriage without feeling like they are being railroaded.
  • I have a a few ladies who model Christ-like business practices and can help me understand why it’s okay not to always win or come out on top.
  • I have a few ladies that model what being a model parent looks like and that sometimes means denying myself and my own desires.
  • I have ladies who model what it looks like to be a servant of the Lord, because giving sacrificially is not how I naturally respond to giving up time and resources I feel like I’ve earned.
  • I have women who model discipline in their eating and exercise habits because as I was growing up, a healthy lifestyle was not ingrained in me.

Nothing replaces a great example. I’m so simple minded, I need someone to show me HOW to walk it out and even better, someone who is willing to walk with me until I figure it out. I wouldn’t call these people mentors necessarily…I much prefer to call them friends. I believe we become like who we surround ourselves with.

Growing up, I’ve always heard the expression, “you can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?”. The people who I allow to influence my life, walk their talk…their actions speak so much more loudly than their words. Those are the people I want to be on the dance floor with.

They really know how to boogie!

Dear Heart to Heart Reader,

Who has influenced your life? Who has God sent into your life to model that HE is the root from which everything grows? Please share with us.

tina 2

Tina Wilson is a wife to one man, mom to a boy and a girl, photographer for people who believe that images allow them to taste life twice. She describes herself as a wife, believer, children’s photographer, go-getter, cry baby and interior designer wanna-be. You can enjoy her breathtaking work at TinaWilsonPhotoBlog.com or follow her on Twitter @tinawilsonphoto.

Drawing Water – Mentors Matter Monday

pitchers1.jpgI was MIA last week. It happens every now and again. My humanness gets the best of me sometimes.

Today I am refreshed and excited to offer to you the heart of a beautiful young women so that you might glimpse just a portion of her heart. I have known Lana since she was two years old, clinging sweetly to her mother’s leg – her safe place. She has grown into such a beautiful Daughter of the King. She encourages me on many levels as I watch her walk out her love for God with actions that  leave a fragrance of Christ Himself.

Lean in…

Since my earliest memories, I remember longing for Jesus.  I don’t know why or how, but somehow I just knew that I was for Him and He was for me.

It is one thing to long for Jesus, and another thing entirely to live for Jesus.  That was going to take more than just a feeling.  I knew I needed help in this journey to really flesh out the desires in my heart to live and breathe for Him.

For much of my life that help has come from books.  Authors, ranging from the first century to modern day, have become my in-house mentors, always there for me at a moment’s notice.  That sweet gift that has helped me through many seasons, and is one I still utilize and cherish today; however in my reading I began to long for a face-to-face person to talk to about the specific issues and questions I was facing in life.

So, somewhere in my college years, I began praying for a mentor.

For months I prayed, “Send me someone in the flesh to talk to who can help me in my walk with You.  Send me an Eli.”  Later that same year, He not only sent me one, He sent me four!  Each was sent to me for a different reason, and they all had different personalities and strengths, but they offered the same thing:  their time, their heart and their treasures of wisdom picked up along the way.  These women were further along in their walks than I; I knew they had water in their wells I could drink from.  And drink I did!

In Proverbs 20:5 it says “Counsel in a man’s heart is deep water; but a man of understanding draws it out.”

The first step to drinking that water was to recognize others had treasure to offer, even those I least suspected.  I’m not saying we should open our lives to just anybody, but we should pray and ask God to lead us to the mentors He chooses for us, then be ready for anything He brings!  In my case, He brought a medley of characters, and their input in my life in that season was invaluable.

One woman walked me through how to receive deep inner healing of past hurts through Jesus, and led me into the crucial forgiveness of those I’d been hurt by.  She taught me how to find Jesus in those places and memories that were most painful, where I had felt most abandoned.  And to my glorious delight, I discovered He really was there in all of them.  Always there.

Another woman talked and laughed with me weekly over lunch as we swapped stories of trials and triumphs.  We didn’t go into deep healing by any means, but just her presence and listening ears were so beneficial as we talked about everyday life.

Through these spiritual mothers I was encouraged, counseled, comforted, corrected and greatly helped.  The enemy wanted to isolate me, and at times I wanted to isolate myself, but these relationships protected me from that harmful temptation and kept me out of pits of despair.  Their prayers and wisdom were birthing seeds of life in me that continue to bear fruit today.

Now, a decade later, I still have these types of relationships in my life.  They are vital.  I pray when I’m 90 I will still be drawing water from others wells and drinking deeply, and in the meantime I want to readily pour out the water from my own as the Lord brings the opportunity.

LanaSUtshirtLana Shaw is co-founder of homeless ministry Speak Up Magazine of Charlotte, NC, and serves in many capacities within the organization.  With a degree in Print Media she has worked as a freelance writer, editor and researcher for organizations such as the American Association of Christian Counselors and the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.  Speak Up combines her love of the written word with her passion for the disenfranchised.  While not in the office, a coffee shop or on the street, Lana can be found at home with her husband Matt and two children, Isaac (age 6) and Isabel (age 3).  Lana loves diversity, the stillness of very early morning (when she gets up for it), music, books, new food, bonfires, the outdoors, unabashed worship, and supporting local and organic efforts. She is especially excited about loving on the orphans, the trafficked, the outcast, and those who have lost hope… and she dreams of one day going to Africa.  Follow her personal blog at http://www.stepsandbits.com or Speak Up at http://www.speakupmag.org.