Pouring In – Pouring Out

What does it look like in real life?

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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.


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.


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. us about your Pouring In & Pouring Out.

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




Mentors Matter Monday – Love, Sticky Floors, Cobwebs & Jesus

Have you ever spent time curled up in your favorite chair after loosing your temper and saying things you wish you could take back? Wondered what might be different if you had another woman who has been here before to talk with? What it might be like to ask her just how she made it through? Tired of feeling like a failure, wishing you could talk with someone who understood?image

Lean in and listen as you meet my new friend, Christi. Her transparency encourages me as I hope it will encourage you.

It was one of those Sundays. The janitor walked in on me disrobing to breastfeed my son. My baby spit up all down my back. Then a little girl peed her pants—while sitting on my lap! I was a mess.

I balanced my purse, Bible, diaper bag, and sour-milk smelling son. Then I held out a finger for my shoeless daughter to hold on to. (I didn’t notice until we arrived at church that she left the house without shoes.) As I struggled to the car, I saw a young man kiss his mother’s cheek. They were going home so she could fix her typical huge Sunday meal for her husband and 7 children. I got in my car and planned the Sunday dinner I would fix. Would we have leftovers or frozen pizza? I felt defeated. I would never be the mom my friend was.

As I recounted my day to my husband, he snickered then gave great advice. “Why don’t you ask her to mentor you?” Brilliant idea! I would love to know how she manages to create a family atmosphere so warm and loving teenagers WANT to spend time with their parents.

I caught up with my friend at church and invited her to lunch. We set a date, and I lined up a babysitter.

We met at an adorable little sandwich shop. I listened intently as she shared her secrets to a happy home.

She explained how she quickly plans meals. She gave tips for prepping food in advance. I listened as she talked about how they simplify their schedule. She told me how they save money on food by growing their own garden. It was all so fascinating-and all so far beyond what I could imagine accomplishing at my house.

And then she said the words that gave me hope. “But right now your job is just to love on those two sweet kids,” she smiled. “Laundry will wait. Dishes can be dirty. Don’t worry about planning gourmet meals. Your kids just need to know you love them. Spend time reading to them, hugging them, tickling them, racing them, and blowing bubbles together. Tell them about Jesus and how He loves them. That is your job in this season. And you are already doing that job well.”

I cried right there in the café. I wasn’t hopeless. I may have a sticky kitchen floor and a living room filled with cobwebs, but my children are happy. My daughter can sing songs, tell Bible stories, and knows all her letters. I may smell like spit-up, but they still want to snuggle in the rocking chair and listen as I sing them to sleep.

My days are easier now that my kids are 9 and 7. The spit-up is gone. My kids almost always wear shoes to church. Dishes still pile up and laundry still waits, but last week my son kissed my cheek and told me I was the best mommy ever. Thanks for the advice, Kim.



Christi Brooks is wife to a wonderful man and mother to two sweet children. She owns Chaplain Publishing, a small Christian publishing company. When she is not getting other people’s books ready to sell, she is writing one of her own about how to use your Christmas decorations to tell the story of your family and of Christ. Teaching Sunday school, going to ballgames, and helping her husband with his business takes up the rest of her time. Christi can be reached at

Do you have a story you would like to share?

Has this story spoken to you?

i would love to hear from you.




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.




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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.

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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.


Mentors Matter Monday – Immediate Connection

pitchers.jpgMentors Matter Monday is a post that means the world to me. It tells the stories of women whose lives have been changed because someone saw them worthy to be loved. To be invested in. To walk alongside.

Lean in today as Kerry Lyn shares her heart.

I met my mentor approximately ten years ago through a mutual friend at a ministry where we were both involved. The connection between us was immediate. She was able to break through a barrier with me from the beginning. Struggling with depression since the age of seventeen, I had let very few people in to my life. I found trusting others was a difficult task, at best; however, she understood the inner-battle I was fighting and challenged me to go deeper in my relationship with Christ to find comfort.

As my mentor and friend, she has always made it a point to ask the hard questions. Never being forceful or intrusive when asking questions, she has always kept my relationship with God at the forefront of any and all discussions between the two of us. By her intentional leading our conversations are always committed to the Lord. In this way, her influence has taught me how to truly be aware of things I say and think about whether they are pleasing to God.

In the recent past, I have had the opportunity to take a lot of the lessons I have learned in this relationship and utilize them in my relationships with others. Because of The influence of my mentor, I have learned what it means to pour into the lives of other women who are struggling with some of the same issues I have dealt with in my life. I know what authenticity she brings to her ministry because she has lived what she speaks. She is an example to me, and many others, of what living the life of Christ is all about.

Throughout our relationship, I have grown closer not only to this woman, but to her family as well. They have opened not only their home to me, but also their hearts. This relationship has influenced me as I have shared life with her the last ten years, but equally important, the relationship has prepared me for my future as a wife and mother.  Putting God above all else and her family next, she encourages many women around her to live much the same way.

I thank God that He brought an older woman into my life. He has used her to draw me closer to Him and to know what a real and genuine relationship with Him looks like. Through her mentoring, she has made a huge impact on me and the Kingdom.

Two Questions

1 – Are you seeking to find a mentor?

2 – Are you open to investing in another?

Please share with us how Kerry Lyn’s story has spoken to you!

Kerry Lyn resides in Galax, Virginia. She is in her final semester of school at Radford University where she is earning her second undergraduate degree in Elementary Education. She also has a degree in Theatre from RU. She has a passion for helping women who struggle with depression and who are processing through traumatic relationships. She wants God to use every situation in her life to teach her valuable lessons. Her heart’s desire is that He will use her to help others see those very things in their lives as well. Kerry Lyn is helplessly addicted to Diet Coke. Feel free to contact her at

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Mentors Matter Monday – Peggy – A Sweet Fragrance

pitchers1.jpgMonday Mentor’s Matter will be a weekly opportunity to share how a more seasoned woman who is further down the road of life has influenced you. How she has poured into you.

~ Has there been a woman in your life who has made an impact worth writing about?

~ Has she gone before you on the road called life?

~ Has she knowingly, or perhaps without any knowledge, influenced the way you think,  the words you speak or the choices you make ?

Too often we think we have nothing to offer another woman in terms of encouragement. We think anyone else could do it better. As we see the stories unfold on this page we will glean insight from real women living real life day to day. We will see how hope is poured from one generation to another. A lifeline of sorts to a generation looking on and hoping to learn from those who have gone before them. To benefit from the lessons learned.

Please use the Contact Tab on the Website to indicate an interest in sharing your story.

Lean  in now to hear MaryAnn’s story

 Peggy – A Sweet Fragrance

Titus 2:3,5

Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, . . .  

so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

It never occurred to me, as I read Titus, that it would be good to have an older woman in my life like Paul talked about in Chapter 2.  Paul knew he would not be forever in the position that God had given him.  So he set out to equip and make ready for the transition that surely would come.  He wrote to tell Timothy how the church should be structured for leaders and older men and older women; thus the whole church.

Paul’s teaching can be called discipleship, passing the baton, mentoring … how about mothering or fathering.

“Mothering” is such an endearing term.  My mom was just the best.  So it is so interesting to me that about the time that I became a caregiver for my mom, I was also Nursery Coordinator at church and entering empty nest.  Just as my mom was going “absent,” God put in my life some “mothers” who were older women and some who were younger women, but spiritual giants in their season of life.  They held my hand, they put my face in their hands and dried my tears, they prayed with me and for me.  They spoke Truth into my life and circumstances as they demonstrated the love and compassion of Christ.  They sent timely and beautiful cards.  We did not have coffee meetings nor structured studies; these encouragements often came in brief moments in the hall at church.

One particular lady stands out these days.  Maybe it’s because I find myself standing beside women who too are needy in this season of their life.  Peggy was the one who would take my face in her hand and then the one who would co-lead a spiritual mothering class in our church with me.  As I read Susan Hunt’s book, “Spiritual Mothering,” I sorta wanted to experience spiritual mothering with this dear saint.  As it turned out, the class was so big that we each had younger women that we would get to know and love and encourage during the class.  I gleaned from her as she stood before the class.  I watched her interact with the younger women.

I was privileged to share tea with her in her home after the classes were over.  I’ll never forget.  She had a teacup shelf her guests would stand before and pick the perfect cup for the day or event.  Then she would pick a cup as well.  Another sweet memory was to learn of her love for lilacs.  She didn’t have a lilac bush and I did.  Springs after that, I was delighted to bless her with a fresh bouquet of lilacs.  It’s hard to look at my bush as it blooms every year and not think of Peggy, who has moved away.  Lilacs have a house permeating fragrance.  Peggy has a lingering heartwarming fragrance of Christ.

I, like Paul, will not forever be in this position, maybe not this geographical location that God has given me today.  As I give thanks to God for Peggy and those many others who have “mothered” and still “mother” me, may I be as a fragrance of Christ to young women.

~ MaryAnn has been married to her high school sweetheart for 47 years! Their two sons and their brides have gifted them six grandchildren. Brought up in church, she came to know Jesus as Savior at age 48. Those first few years as a new believer she calls times of feeding. Through the years, through tears, and through continuing to search the Scripture, she has found God to be Faithful and True. One of her favorite things to do is to journal to her grand babies.

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Top 10 Reasons To Pour Into The Generations That Come After Us

I’ve been asking myself lately – why bother? Not because I ponder whether or not it’s a question worth considering. Rather, in all honesty, I believe it’s a question we ask ourselves when we don’t understand the need.

I started with the same thought over a decade ago, only it looked and sounded different. Mine sounded like this: I don’t have anything to offer. Anyone else could do it better. Why me?

In a world where causes are championed every day with further reach than ever before due to increased social media, I want to hoist the biggest megaphone over my shoulder, climb every single rung on the tallest ladder, and share what I’ve learned along the way as I’ve been blessed to do life with those generations that come after me.

Instead, I’ll just whisper it from here and invite you to listen in, to hear what has helped me to see why I should bother pouring my time into them.

1 – They are asking.
It would be one thing I were to walk up to a younger person and tell them, hey, I have something
you need. Do you want to come and spend time with me? Instead, have witnessed an
increase in the younger generations seeking out those who have gone before them. They are
speaking up and advocating for themselves, asking for what they know they need.

2 – They need to see life modeled.
Part of what is needed is to see the more seasoned generations (seasoned with life experience)
model a life lived with values, integrity and authenticity. Lived out in real life situations and

3 – They need hope to see they can make it to the other side of hard stuff.
In todays culture the norm is anything goes, and when the going gets hard the committment is
thrown out the window. Today’s younger generations need help to see there is another way.
They can make it through hard stuff life deals in their direction. We can help to meet that need
as we live through what life has dealt us and we learn from it.

4 – They want to be heard yet not judged.
These relationships are the perfect place for us to sharpen our listening skills.
They long to be accepted in order to open up and share life with us. We can create a safe space
for them to share in a transparent way that helps them to grow as we decide to not judge their
current circumstances.

5 – They want to be seen for who they are, yet challenged to be more.
When we offer a safe space and accept them, we somehow earn the right to speak
truth. In fact – I have found – they ask for it.

6 – They need us to believe in them.
We have all needed someone to believe in us when we don’t quite have it in us to believe
in ourselves. As we believe in another we offer hope.

7 – They trust us to help them see all they can be when they cannot.
Do you remember a time someone who cared for you saw further than you? Saw more in you
than you saw in yourself? Those who come after us want to know they can trust us to help
them see.

8 – They want us to walk with them. Plain and simple.
They want us to ‘do life’ with them. They don’t want programs, but they DO want relationships.

9 – They want to have fun with us in our homes, kitchens and families.
They want to see how the generations that came before them navigate home life. Families
around dinner tables. Playing board games or cards together. Cooking. Baking. Organizing.
Life on life.

10 – We are challenged by them and learn with them in a way that grows us too!
Perhaps the most surprising thing of all is to find, as we do life with the generations that come
after us, we too, learn and grow and even find great reward in the relationship!

We cannot go back to yesterday where maybe we wished we had invested more into the younger generations, but we can take these Top Ten Reasons To Pour Into the Generations That Come After Us and move forward paying attention to what they need.

What need did YOU identify with that you have not considered before today?