Spiritual growth

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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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.


“The Body”

I have recently faced times of both trial and victory.  I have been blessed beyond words to have benefited from the “Body of Christ” in ways that I struggle greatly to even put to words. 

In the midst of this time I visited a friend who probably has no idea what she offered to me in terms of God’s love.  She allowed me to be right where I was in the moment and tenderly offered me the touch of God.  She required nothing of me…but gave without reserve.  How is it that she could know?  Not sure that she really did…but God did …and I believe that He used her for me to show me that He knew me and that He was not far from me.  I was not alone.

I am longing for the words to describe the impact that the love I have received from those who represent the “Body of Christ “ in my life has had in these past few weeks.

I choose to share this with you because this is what I feel so convinced that the Lord would have us to do with one another in order to see His glory!

Have you ever felt dry and lifeless in your relationship with the Living God? 

Have you wanted so much to touch HIS robe? 

To taste and see what you have tasted and seen before…yet you cannot seem to “get there”?

I have felt each of these and more.

For those of you who have know this desert…I feel so deeply for you at this very moment!!!  It is such a lonely place.

Not lonely in terms of wanting people around me – no – on the contrary.  Lonely in terms of knowing the intimacy of a relationship with Jesus Christ through the Father God and feeling far from Him.

As it came my turn after listening to the prayer requests of those I have been meeting with now for over a year for prayer ~ I suddenly felt all of the emotion come welling up in me without warning.  Before I knew it, I was laying it all out there to be heard in the raw emotion of it all.  Most of the women who were here for prayer that day were young ladies ~ “20 something women” who I have been blessed to be sharing prayer with for some time now. The prayer time may be different every week with who joins us, but this particular week it was the original ladies that have been a part of the group since the beginning.

There was a part of me that felt like I was crazy to not be censoring my emotions and my words as they flowed out ~ after all I am the older woman.  But it was the most real part of me that won out ~ the authentic part that asks and encourages the same from them each week.  I have come to know this place of prayer with them as a place where I am free to be part of the group ~ a participant with them ~ and not “the older woman” when it comes to sharing and lifting one another in prayer.  For this ~ I am grateful!  I think that it pleases the LORD:-)

What I found that day as I chose to continue to let them see me “struggles and all” was that I truly experienced the “Body of Christ”.  My friends gathered around me and began to speak words of truth and share scripture spontaneously as led by God.  How do I know it was led by God?  Because that day ~ in all my dryness and weariness ~ I was lifted before the throne of God with each word of encouragement ~ truth spoken ~ scripture read ~ and precious prayers breathed aloud for me.  I cannot tell you the life that it breathed into me.  I am thankful beyond words.

It has breathed life into me ~ this “Body of Christ” ~ letting me know that I am not alone in my pursuit ~ that there are those who care deeply to lift me before the throne of God.

Since this time ~ and letting a couple of other friends know just how much I was struggling, I have received so much from them.  They have no idea that the text messages and emails that they have sent have been at just the perfect moment and offer just what I need to hear from God.  He knows it, and He cares to use His Body to speak it!

I hope that if there is one person who comes across this who needs to hear it to know that they are not alone in thier desert place ~ that they will read this and be encouraged to be authentic with at least one other person about it.

Please share your desert experience with me so that I may pray with you.

Let me encourage you with the encouragement that has been given to me.

There is so much that I believe that God wants to do through His “Body”.  Will we be found willing?

Originally posted Monday September 15, 2008

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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 khazelwo@gmail.com.

KL Pic

What fills?

Will I ever measure up?

portion pic

In one way or another I have struggled with this question most of my life.

Because I couldn’t really answer the question, my natural response was to overcompensate.  It became a habit I enlisted often in order to survive.

Beginning this new year I’ve been challenged to let God be my portion.

My portion when I feel insufficient for a task before me.

My portion when I am consumed with how others perceive me.

My portion when I attempt to fill myself with all with all I think is right.

My portion when I am tempted to cover up my inadequacies.

Psalm 73:26 is my anchor.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

I’ve been trying to be own strength. It’s not as God intended it. He wants to be my strength.

I am excited about this journey. When I am tempted to use all the tools that seem right to me for measuring…I will choose to acknowledge – God is my PORTION.

And even when my flesh fails…He is my PORTION. And even when my heart is weary…He is my portion.

What is your anchor as you look toward the coming year?



Why Bother – Part 1

“Why Bother”- Part 1

In my recent post titled Top Ten Reasons To Pour Into the Generations That Come After Us, I shared with you a bit of what I’ve learned along the way as I’ve spent more than a decade pouring into young women.

Today I want introduce you to the woman who poured into me by leading me to a relationship with Christ.

Meet Linda, who opened her home to me so many years ago. In a recent interview, Linda answered some key questions that I think are helpful as we consider:

Why Bother to invest in that next generation?

Do you remember what made you consider opening your home to have the bible study I attended?
Linda: I felt like it was my calling to do bible studies. I had been taught to teach others. It was the obedient thing to do. I had learned my calling was to those who were outside the church. The gap people. This was my first bible study I led after moving to the south from Michigan. It was the most organized study I had offered at the time.

Do you remember how old you were?
Linda: I was 27 years old with 2 young children – not much older than the women attending the study.

Were you trained in leadership prior to opening your home for bible studies?
: I had come to know Christ at the age of thirteen through my uncle. I took advantage of opportunities to attend bible studies. In one particular study, at the age of seventeen, I gained the courage to pray aloud in a small group bible study setting. I would say it was in this study that I began to learn how to be a leader. The President of the freshman class led the study. He would call on me from time to time to carry out a leadership role. I learned a great deal from him. After my sophomore year in college I also attended Good News Bible Camp as a girls Camp Counselor.

Were you at all intimidated by the younger women?
Linda: No – probably because of being a teacher at heart. Looking back, I considered myself to be somewhat arrogant about it, although I didn’t realize it then. At the time I viewed myself as confident. I didn’t have any fear talking about the bible. Bible college was key to helping me determine that I was a gap person. Perhaps that helped me not to be intimidated.

How did you prepare when you led a bible study?
Linda: I have always used the King James Version of the Bible and a commentary to check myself when needed. I believe our story is the most important thing we have. How God intersects the details of our lives has more impact than we realize. When people don’t have confidence in their story it is much more difficult to share in a way that reaches others.

I am grateful to Linda for taking the time to share.

Please come back for part two of the interview.

I would love to hear what part of the interview spoke to you.