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Entries in Janet Thompson (5)

Tuesday
Oct032017

When You Don't Like Your Life Season

Janet Thompson is a mentoring expert who deeply cares about women's spiritual growth. In this Mentoring UPGRADE, she encourages us to consider how God might use each of us in our current life seasons.

"We’ve all heard, 'You’re just in a season, it will pass,'” Janet says. "But what do you do until then . . . or worse . . . if it never passes?"

I (Dawn) felt "stuck" in a season a few years ago, and I heartily agree with Janet's prescription for how to move forward!

Janet continues . . .

Good and pleasant life seasons are wonderful and it’s easy to think God couldn’t possibly want what we perceive as a bad or unpleasant season for us. Right?

Yet, Ecclesiastes 4:1 says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”

We try so hard to hold onto those feel-good seasons, and there’s nothing wrong with that—we should have times of joy, dancing, laughing, loving, and peace.

But when the not-so-good times roll, we need to remember that God hasn’t left us. He’s walking right beside us through the mourning, weeping, uprooting, and war seasons.

God never abandons His children—a message we need to share with each other and with the culture, especially during today’s challenging times.

Reasons for Not Liking our Life Season

Usually we don’t like a life season because:

  • It’s painful or uncomfortable.
  • We’re jealous and like what someone else’s life looks like more than our own life.
  • We’re living with the consequences of our, or someone else’s, behavior or decisions.
  • We’re discontent or discouraged.
  • We’re not sure if God still cares about us.

What would you add to the list?

We all have difficult seasons we just want to end. Or maybe we’re in a wonderful season we never want to end.

Most seasons we have no control over, even though advertisers set us up to fail by assuring if we just drink, eat, use, own, the right products, or meet the right people, every season will be heavenly.

The aging clock will stop and somehow God made our life to be different from everyone else’s life.

But that’s a lie and those who buy into it will never be content because everything God lists in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is a season everyone will experience.

What to Do

1. The first thing to do when we don’t like our life season is ask God how He wants us to deal with it, and then listen carefully to how the Holy Spirit answers.

It’s that still small voice we hear guiding us when we cry out to God. We might not know how to get through the season, but God does. So often, He’s talking but we’re not listening.

Someone asked a Christian friend how he knew what God wanted. Did he have a direct line to God? I thought, Yes he does!

Every Christian has a direct line to God the world doesn’t understand, and one we don’t use nearly enough: praying to Jesus who hears every word and the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us even when all we can do is groan.

“For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).

2. Next, seek out a Christian woman who has experienced this season in her life and can mentor you in how she made it through like only someone can who has been-there-done-that.

Incredible comfort comes from spending time with a mentor who understands your painful season!

God doesn’t want us going through any season alone; but He also doesn’t want us listening to anyone who isn’t giving us biblical wisdom.

That’s why in Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, every season has Scripture for the mentor and menteeor for any two womento study together that applies to the various issues they might experience in any season.

Being a mentor doesn’t mean you have all the answers or the Bible memorized. It simply means you’re willing to share your experiences, search God’s Word, and pray together with another woman.

Then one day, she can reach out and help lift up someone else going through a similar season.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

Who are you mentoring and who is mentoring you?

Janet Thompson is a speaker and author of nineteen books, the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries. Her latest release is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Visit Janet at www.womantowomanmentoring.com where she writes a weekly blog and monthly newsletter. 

Graphic adapted, courtesy of geralt at Pixabay.

Thursday
Feb112016

Ways to Remember God's Goodness

In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, Janet Thompson says our forgetfulness of God needs to stop with this generation!

“If we don’t remember what God has already done, we won’t believe what he is capable of doing in the future.” Janet says. “Memory builds faith.”

I (Dawn) am excited with Janet’s new book on this topicForsaken God?—not only because I shared a story in the book*, but also because each story encourages us to remember our good and faithful Father God.  

Janet continues . . .  

Today’s culture is quickly forgetting the goodness and power of our Great God.

The Bible describes the potential destruction through all generations to people who forget God. The dangers are paramount. We read the Old Testament and lament at how forgetful the Israelites were of God’s goodness.

Every time He did something good for them, they started grumbling that they needed something else. They repeatedly rejected God, even though He:

  • freed them from bondage and slavery by miraculously parting the Red Sea for them to pass through on dry ground,
  • provided manna from heaven,
  • guided them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night,
  • never let their shoes wear out even after walking for 40 years,
  • and he offered them a land flowing with milk and honey.

God was only as good as the next miracle or provision. A forsaken God.

“But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren” (Deuteronomy 4:9 NLT).

We wonder at how the Israelites could be so blind and ungrateful. Why couldn’t they trust that a God who provided and protected them in the past, would do the same in the present and future?

But their memories were short. As often as Moses and God tried to help them remember, still they forgot. And at great sacrifice. The original generation freed from Egypt never got to see the Promised Land because they doubted God’s goodness. Even Moses wasn’t able to enjoy its beauty because at a crucial moment, he took matters into his own hands and forgot that God was in control.

We shake our heads at how dense and blind they were. But wait . . . can’t we be guilty of the same forgetfulness?

God has done amazing things in our lives too, but when the next crisis arises, we panic that He might not show up for us this time. Or when prayers are answered, we take credit ourselves or offer praise to someone else instead of giving God the glory and recognition He deserves.

But forgetfulness needs to stop with our generation. We live in a world that is quickly trying to eliminate God from the public square and even in the private domain.

Christians need to help a lost world remember God, and that starts with remembering Him ourselves.

In Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, there are suggestions for ways to remember all that God has done in your life and then experience the power of sharing those memories in your sphere of influence and with the next generation.

One effective way is to share our testimony. As a Christian speaker, I give parts of my testimony every time I speak. “Feed my sheep” is my testimony of God clearly speaking those words to me. When I said an obedient “OK,” he revealed the "sheep" were women and "feeding" was mentoring.

That was 20 years ago, and today God has taken Woman to Woman Mentoring around the world as women enjoy the blessings of being in Titus 2 mentoring relationships. I still stand in awe as I write that story and every time I tell it from the stage. I will never forget how God used me to start a worldwide ministry and I give him the glory for the blessing it has been to so many.

But you don’t have to be a speaker to share your story.

Someone today needs to hear how Jesus changed your life. Our hurting world needs to hear from the Christian world the source of our joy and peace. Mentoring is a great way to share our testimony to encourage other women to know the Jesus of the Bible that we know.

In Forsaken God? there are over 50 ways to help us remember God.

Here are just a few:

  • Taking pictures
  • Journaling
  • Reading our Bibles
  • Receiving Communion
  • Making a thankful list
  • Joining a small group

What are some ways that help you remember God’s goodness?

Note: This article includes excerpts of Forsaken God: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, shared with permission. Dawn’s story appears on pages 121-122.

Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and an award-winning author of 18 books including Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer and Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. She is also the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries. Each chapter in her new book, Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, includes questions and conversation starters for discussion in small groups, Bible study groups, book clubs, mentors and mentees or with family and friends. It is available at Christian bookstores, Amazon, Christianbook.com, and signed at author’s website.

Graphic adapted, courtesy of pixabay.com.

Saturday
Aug082015

Help, Lord ... She Has Breast Cancer!

Janet Thompson is a three-time breast cancer survivor, but that’s not her complete identity. She is a godly woman with incredible wisdom for the body of Christ, and in this extended Ministry UPGRADE, she helps us with a sometimes-scary topic.

“It’s hard to know what to say or do when a friend or relative drops the bombshell news that she has breast cancer,” Janet said. “Often our natural response is to recoil and retreat.”

I (Dawn) don’t know about you, but sometimes my heart moves me to share with people who are hurting—people I dearly love—but fearful thoughts hold me back. Janet’s practical wisdom will help us minister with strength and compassion.

(Keep reading to see why the little lamb in that picture is so meaningful!)

Janet continues . . .

Maybe it’s the fear of facing our own mortality or the time and emotion required if we do get involved. We ease our conscience by thinking: she would rather be alone right now anyway. Or she needs her family at a time like this. Or she has so many friends; I know someone will help her.

We may send a card or make a call offering to help, closing with “I’ll be praying for you,” then on we go about our life while her life crumbles. Yet the Bible clearly tells us,

“Help each other in troubles and problems. This is the kind of law Christ asks us to obey” (Galatians 6:2 NLV).

How can we put that verse into practical terms? Here are some ways my friends and family came along side me during my initial breast cancer journey and two recurrences.

Helping with the Bad Days

1. Don’t Just Offer to Help—Do Something Tangible.

When asked the generic question, “How can I help you?” our common response is, “I’m fine, but thank you for asking.” Truthfully, we need everything but are afraid to ask.

Another well-meaning comment I received was, “Just call me if you need anything.” Now how many women are going to pick up the phone and ask for help, especially if they are not feeling well?

So instead of offering to help—just jump in and do something. 

  • Schedule her friends, family, and church to bring meals. Use your lunch break to take her lunch and eat with her.
  • Offer to drive her to doctor’s appointments or treatments and take notes for her.
  • Shuttle her kids to and from school or find someone who can.
  • Sit with her during chemo treatments or accompany her to radiation. Talk, read a book to her, or just hold her hand.
  • Take her children on a play date or to your house.
  • Do her laundry.
  • Do her grocery shopping. If she is too sick to dictate a list, take an inventory of her refrigerator and cupboards and make your own list.
  • Answer her email.
  • Bring her a gift that makes her feel feminine.
  • If she feels like talking, sit and chat with her. When she doesn’t feel like talking, just be a presence in her home so she doesn’t feel alone.
  • Babysit her kids so she and her husband can have some private time.
  • Clean her house or pay someone to do it.
  • Go with her to pick out a wig or prosthesis.
  • Pick up prescriptions.
  • Run errands.

 2. Don’t Say, “I’ll Pray For You,” Unless You Mean It.

A promise to pray isn’t just a feel good phrase. We are telling someone that we will petition God on her behalf, and we are living falsely if we don’t. I find it’s best to stop in the moment and pray right then. It keeps me honest and blesses the other person.

Helping Her Enjoy the Good Days

1. Be Happy with Her When She’s Happy.

Cancer is a grim word. Overnight life becomes serious, tense, and laden with fear. Capitalize on the moments when there is an opportunity to laugh or smile. Be ready, because it may only last a moment, but the break from pain and fear is immeasurable.

Avoid topics that you know will bring her down. You aren’t minimizing or making light of the seriousness of the situation, but you are giving her a recess from the intensity. Don't fake happiness, but take advantage of humorous or lighter moments. Don’t let the serious eclipse the humorous.

2. Nurture the Little Girl Inside Her.

The nurse in charge of the breast-care unit gave me a white stuffed toy sheep named “Fleece.” Taking Fleece with me everywhere, I held him as a shield in front of my sore breast, tucked him under my arm as an armrest, and snuggled next to him in bed.

I indulged my childish need for security and no one chastised me for it. They acted like it was normal.

3. Shower Her with Love.

Love is the best gift you can give to your friend suffering with breast cancer. Don’t desert her when she needs you most. Right now, she requires extravagant love, and God will help you when your heart is breaking or it just seems too sad or too hard. John 13:34 tells us to love one another just as God has loved us.

God is the author of love and He knows just what your friend needs. He will show you how to love her when she is feeling unlovable.

Surprise her. What woman doesn’t love an unexpected gift or demonstration of how valuable she is to us?

The Bible assures us in Proverbs 17:17,“A friend loves at all times.” As a three-time breast cancer survivor, I assure you there are three things that will endure through the good and bad times—faith, hope and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Did Janet's "bad days ... good days" counsel help? Or are you still struggling with what to say to someone with breast cancer? If so ...

Check out Janet’s helpful suggestions in The Top Thirteen Things to Do or Say and NOT to Do or Say to Someone with Breast Cancer.”

Janet Thompson is a three-time breast cancer survivor, speaker, and author of the “Dear God” book series including, Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey. Janet found purpose in her breast cancer journey by writing for her breast cancer sisters the book she wished she had going through her surgeries and treatment. Visit Janet on her website.

This article includes excerpts from Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey.

Graphic: stuffed Hansa sheep is available on Amazon.

Thursday
Jan232014

Dear God, We Need Friends

Janet Thompson, founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, shared a conversation she had about friendship. When I read it, I asked her to help us Upgrade our Friendships. She shares four ways she expanded her own friendship circles.

Janet wrote:

‘You sure do have a lot of friends!’ a friend exclaimed laughingly.

That’s what we prayed for,’ my husband, Dave, and I answered in unison.”

Have you ever prayed for friends? I prayed that same prayer about 10 years ago, and God has answered with an abundance of women I now cherish—valued companions in life and ministry.

Janet continues …

As newlyweds, we asked God to bless us with Christian “couple” friends. God answered that prayer beyond our expectations.

We knew it would be important for us to have a social life comprised of couples who shared our values and beliefs, so we intentionally prayed asking God to bring friends into our married life.

1. Looking For Friends Outside the Box!

Dave and I met in a small-group Bible study, so we had a head start on our quest for friends.

We were also willing to look outside our church home of Saddleback Church, so when I heard about a Marriage Builders class offered at another church, we decided this was perfect preparation for our upcoming marriage. We made more friends, and the pastor who taught Marriage Builders officiated at our wedding.

Then I heard a radio advertisement for a Caribbean cruise with Calvary Church. What a great way to spend our honeymoon—on a cruise with Christian couples. Again, it didn’t matter what church they attended. We were all in the family of God. We had fun being the “newlyweds” on the cruise and came home with a new group of friends.

Dave and I were also intentional about inviting other couples—people we met at the gym, at church, in the grocery store, friends of friends— to join our small-group Bible study. As the group expanded, so did our circle of friends.

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).

2. Moving, an Opportunity for New Friends

We bought a mountain cabin, and even though we were “weekenders,” we attended the local church, had couples over for dinner and hosted game nights. Soon people were saying I should run for mayor, because I knew so many people in town.

Then two years ago, we made the major move from Southern California to the mountains of Idaho. I wondered how we would make new friends, but I didn’t wonder for long. Again, we joined the local community church where the members embraced and welcomed us. Soon we had invitations to potlucks, football parties, game nights and social events.

3. Vacation with the Family of God

We decided to celebrate our 20th anniversary like our honeymoon, with Christian couples on the “Love Song Couples Getaway.” In one week, we made friends from all over the country who have become near and dear to us.

4. Friendships Are Our Witness

As Christians, someone is always watching us and we never know what aspect of our lives is influencing them. In Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter, I tell the story of my daughter, Kim, who was contemplating becoming a Christian and worrying that she might not have any friends.

“Well, you and Dave have so many friends,” she said, “and you’re always having a good time. I guess I don’t need those [unbelieving] friends who won’t accept me.”

Friends enjoying wholesome activities together is a testimony that Christians have fun and fellowship.

It’s important to also befriend nonbelievers, but those we share our lives with should share our morals and our values.

There are potential friends everywhere, so go out and make a new friend!

Where have you found your most cherished friend? Did Janet give you any ideas for where you might cultivate new friendships?

Janet Thompson is an international speaker and an award-winning author of  17 books, including: Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer and Dear God, He’s Home!-A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man. Janet is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries. Visit Janet at womantowomanmentoring.com and connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

Photo in text, adapted. Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thursday
Jun202013

How to Pray for Your Prodigal Child

Meet Janet Thompson: Janet's “Dear God” series of books are helpful and encouraging to women with many issues, but I asked her to write on the Prodigal today because I know it is dear to her heart and she can encourage others to UPGRADE their prayers.

“Are you wondering if you have a prodigal?,” Janet said. “Here’s my definition: ‘A child who is breaking the heart of his or her parents and the heart of God.’”  

Janet’s testimony and tips are positive and helpful:

I was a prodigal who raised a prodigal. I modeled worldly ways to my daughter, Kim, and she wanted to be just like me. When she was eighteen, I rededicated my life to Christ—I thought my daughter would follow after me. But she wanted nothing to do with this new “weird” mom.

When she announced she was going to live with her boyfriend when she left for college, I was heartbroken. I tried every way I could think of to dissuade her, but no amount of talking, pleading, or cajoling convinced her to change her mind.

Sobbing and sinking to my knees as I watched the taillights of my beloved only daughter’s little blue car disappear down the street as she headed off to college, I cried out to God: “Where did I go wrong?” “What can I do?” “Is it too late?”

Answers came in a devotional book which contained prayers in the form of paraphrased Scripture and a place to journal. Here are examples of verses I prayed for Kim, but you can take any verse in the Bible and personalize it because the Bible is your Guide for life. Make it personal and applicable:

Evening and morning and at noon I commit to pray and cry aloud for my daughter Kim. And You, Lord, shall hear my voice. (Psalm 55:17 NKJV)

I pray that my daughter Kim will know the truth and the truth will set him/her free. (John 8:32 NIV)

I started praying Scriptures for Kim:

Daily—I didn’t miss a day praying for her because I couldn’t stand the thought of her not being with me in heaven.

Biblically—Praying God’s Word back to Him kept me praying His will and not just my own will. I journaled my will.

Expectantly—with confidence that God would answer and act and in anticipation of how He would bring her back.

Persistently—I didn’t let myself become discouraged, even when I didn’t see any change in her and it seemed she moved further into the sinful lifestyle. I heard God’s still small voice that He wanted her back more than I did. So I kept on praying.

Sacrificially—I often fasted while praying.

Unceasingly—I never gave up, knowing my job as a praying parent was never finished.

Thankfully—always praising God for His answers to prayer even when they were different than I expected.

After five years of praying biblically, expectantly, persistently, sacrificially, unceasingly, and thankfully, my daughter started the long journey back to God and to me.

This past Mother’s Day, my "former prodigal" daughter Kim and I shared our story and our testimony of God’s faithfulness and grace at the Journey Churches Mother's Day Tea. (See photo, above).

Do you have a prodigal child?

Leave a comment if you'd like Janet and I (Dawn) to pray for you and your child.

Janet Thompson is a speaker and author of 17 books including “Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help, & Encouragement for Hurting Parents” and her latest in a “Dear God series, Dear God, He’s Home! A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man. Visit Janet at www.womantowomanmentoring.com.