Author Archives: Family Christian
Posted on March 27, 2014 by Family Christian
God. Guys. And the Great Mix-Up.
This is a book about God…
…and how we get them mixed up.
Oh, do we ever.
It shows up in the little things: picking the short skirt, racing to update a relationship status on Facebook, filling a journal with guy-talk instead of God-talk, texting under the pillow at night, jumping from guy to guy, taking the “walk of shame”…again, or bailing on friends when a guy calls. As you think about similar choices in your own life and what they suggest about the priorities of your heart, you may have an intuition that I’m right. Your spirit gets it, if your mind does not.
I’m certain that a part of you desperately wants to get lost in God’s love. At least some small piece of us always seems to be aware that we are wired to seek God’s heart and to let Him touch our own. But it’s so difficult. After all, the love of a guy is so stinkin’ tangible. You can see a guy. Smell a guy. Touch a guy. Hug a guy. Text a guy. Get gifts from a guy. And they are everywhere! There are more than 139 million men in the United States alone. No wonder we get distracted from seeking God’s love! I certainly have been prone to reach for the tangible love of a guy rather than the ultimate love of God. As I look back on one particular scene from my sophomore year in college, I see it as a classic example of my own mixed-up thinking.
“I’ll meet you in the yearbook office in one hour,” I confirmed to Russ before I hung up the phone. Russ was my yearbook editor at Cedarville University, and after two years of hard work, I was in line for his position the following year. On top of being a great résumé builder, the job came with a hefty scholarship. If my boss needed me, I’d
Since I wouldn’t have time to hit the cafeteria, I turned on my electric kettle to boil water for some Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. It wasn’t fancy, but it was fast. I was pouring neon-orange powder over buttered macaroni noodles when my phone rang again. Before I could get out a hello I heard, “Dannah Barker, say you’ll marry me. But if you can’t, then at least break it to me gently by saying you’ll go to Wittenberg with me to study.”
This guy, whom I’d been dating for a while, always kept me laughing.
“Yes!” I giggled. “When?”
“I’ll be right over,” he said. It shouldn’t have surprised me. Bob was the definition of spontaneity.
“Umm,” I hesitated, thinking about the commitment I’d just made to go help Russ. And I really did want that job next year. Should I risk it?
“We’ll run through Lee’s on the way for some chicken,” he promised.
“Well…okay,” I said, dumping my noodles into the trash can. “Let’s go!”
For a brief moment, I considered calling Russ to cancel, but I wasn’t sure what to tell him. The truth: This great guy just proposed marriage or a date at the Wittenberg library, and I chose the latter when I’m really shamelessly going for the first option! Or the other truth: I’m a complete dolt, risking what I’ve worked two years to achieve in that
yearbook office all because I’m incapable of saying anything but “yes” or “oh, yes!” to this guy because I crave him night and day. Either way I’d sound like a complete loser.
So I didn’t call Russ. I needed to think of a good excuse first. (Read: I was planning to tell a really good lie.)
I gathered my books, met Bob in front of my dorm, and jumped into his white sports car, casting aside my integrity.
God in all His sovereignty made sure I’d run into Russ’s best friend at the Wittenberg library. Russ was forgiving, but I’d have given almost anything (except my boyfriend, of course) to have not seen the disappointment register in his eyes when the truth unfolded.
There was no denying the truth.
I was guy-crazy with no ambition to be God-crazy.
That impulsive decision—along with so many others—was driven by a deep-rooted reality: I had confused my longing for God’s love with my longing for a guy’s love. All because of the Craving.
The Violent Craving.
You have it. Your friends have it. Your mom had it. Your grandma had it. Your greatgrandma had it. It’s been around awhile.
Countless generations of woman have experienced it.
The Craving is a part of the Curse, which means it dates all the way back to Eve. After she and Adam sinned, God showed up to explain that things would never be the same. To Eve, He talked about the Craving. Genesis 3:16b reads, Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.
The word “desire” is critical here. Two respected theologians once said that the Hebrew language used in this verse evokes a “desire bordering upon disease.” They also said that the desire might best be called a “violent craving.” In the original language of the Bible, God used some pretty expressive wording to describe what women would experience in relation to men after the Fall. Simply put, we hunger for them. The Craving makes us all insatiably hungry for the attention of a guy, but each of us experiences this desire in a slightly different way.
I asked college-aged women who follow my blog to share how the Violent Craving has shown up in their lives. Here’s a sampling of their responses:
I have felt the Violent Craving expressed as jealousy toward my peers that have boyfriends. How foolish I felt, to feel jealous instead of happy, when a friend started dating a guy I DIDN’T EVEN WANT TO DATE.
Elementary school to high school, I didn’t get the attention I wanted. I was the chunky monkey that everyone went to for a good laugh. It wasn’t until I got to be around 16 I got the attention from guys, and it got the best of me and took one of the most valuable things from me—my virginity. I lost it to a friend who liked my sister and respected her, but thought I would be the easier choice. And he was right.
My main regret would be that I haven’t spent my time enjoying my singleness.
There used to be a boy that I cared for very much. He was godly Christian, extremely polite, and we communicated through e-mail almost daily. My deep longing to be desired and pursued blinded my eyes from the warning signs that he wasn’t everything he claimed to be. A year or two after I met him, he ended up having sex with my younger sister on the couch in our living room.
I went to a secular university and was involved in a campus ministry. One of the most popular sayings among the girls was “ring by spring.” To say there was a Violent Craving toward the idea of having a husband is an understatement.… I was the only single girl in the apartment. I allowed myself to be ruled by a Violent Craving for a husband.
My Craving started at the age of twelve when my dad passed away. I longed for a man to notice me. I wanted that attention. I dressed to attract men and wanted a man’s approval.
They shared countless such stories, each expressing a sense of “eureka” at finally having a diagnosis for their symptoms! Of all the voices who offered examples of how they express, deny, loathe, live in, and ache from the Craving, it was a sweet seventeenyear-old girl whose experience mostly clearly described the effects of the Genesis 3:16 curse. She wrote,
I’m seventeen, raised by a very liberal mother and an extremely conservative father. That marriage didn’t work out. It ended when I was seven. Since then, I’ve always been very angry about marriage and cynical of love, due to its causing much pain, loneliness, and anxiety in my life. I swore I’d never marry. But even with all that confusion and anger, I still desperately wanted to be noticed and passionately loved by a man. I wanted someone to see and know me. The first guy I had any real relationship with, I clung to for four years, desperate for his attention and love. During those four years, I made many mistakes. I gave him everything I could physically and emotionally just to keep him around (except the actual act of sex). He was a need. A necessity. But why? I hated marriage yet wanted a man.
She “hated marriage yet wanted a man.” I believe that’s the modern-day aftermath of the Fall. The consequence of original sin—and all the ways women have rebelled since then against God’s design—results in both a hatred of God-designed marriage and an insatiable longing for the presence of a guy. (The Craving may not cause you to actually hate marriage, but you may hate God’s specific design and purpose for it. A lot of us struggle with that!) I believe that every daughter of Eve is burdened by both a Craving for a husband and a rebellion against God’s design for marriage. What a mess!
Excerpted from Get Lost by Dannah Gresh Copyright © 2013 by Dannah Gresh. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Posted on March 26, 2014 by Family ChristianAn Extraordinary Mystery
Sometimes, when an idea just won’t go away, you need to pay attention to how God is nudging you. That’s what happened with this book.
Tricia and I have been friends for almost two decades, and both of us are writers. But our life stories as well as our love stories are radically different. Beyond writing, we do have one interesting commonality: both of us prayed for our future husbands when we were teens. But how did that add up to our writing a book together? Three incidents convinced us we should…
The first moment of inspiration fell on me with a weighty sense of urgency one bright November afternoon. I was in Brazil, standing in front of three hundred teen girls in a school cafeteria. My Christy Miller and Sierra Jensen novels for teens have been translated into Portuguese, and the teachers at this school use the books as part of their curriculum. That meant all the girls had read the books. When my husband and I entered the cafeteria, the girls greeted us with a wave of screams as if we were the real Christy and Todd all grown up and visiting them in Brazil.
To quiet down the screaming girls, I asked the translator to invite them to ask questions. One of the girls raised her hand and popped up from her seat. In Portuguese she asked me what she and her friends should do since the boys in Brazil weren’t reading my books.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
She spoke passionately as the translator beside me explained.
“She says that, after reading your books, she and her friends are making good decisions. They’ve given their lives to Christ and now want to stay pure and save themselves for their future husbands. But, you see, the boys of Brazil are not reading these books. They are not making these same decisions. She wants to know what can be done about that.”
My heart pounded. Every face in that cafeteria was fixed on me, waiting for an answer. The young woman had just identified a global problem for our present generation of Christian women. I had heard this frustration voiced many times in letters and e-mails I had received from readers over the years. But no one had ever asked me what could be done to change this dilemma of an unbalanced ratio between God-honoring young women and their male contemporaries who were slow to seek God. What could I tell her?
The words that came out of my heart were, “You can start praying for your future husband now.”
The translator gave her my answer, and a reverent hush fell over the room. Before me was a troop of willing but untrained young women ready to enter the warzone to fight for the young men. But how?
I wished then that I had something more to offer those girls. It’s one thing to tell them to pray and another thing to come alongside and show them what that looks like. If only, I thought, a book existed. I wished one of my nonfiction writer friends would hurry up and write it. None of them seemed to have a passion for such a book.
The second defining moment came two years later. Tricia and I were at a writers’ retreat in California. During the afternoon break, we headed out to the pool. I settled in a lounge chair and wrote notes in my journal for a novel I was working on. Tricia succumbed to the luxurious autumn sunshine and floated off into a deep sleep.
Suddenly she woke up, turned to me, and said, “What?” as if I’d been talking to her while she slept.
I looked at her and spoke an unpremeditated thought. “Tricia, we need to write a book together.”
“Okay.” She didn’t even blink before sinking back into her afternoon lull. A moment later her head rose again. “What are we supposed to write about?”
“I have no idea.”
The gentle notion flitted past me as softly as it had fallen on Tricia. We caught the little inspiration the way an artist would reach for a floating feather or a child would bend to pick up a pale blue pebble and tuck it in a pocket.
Over the next year or so we periodically pulled the small inspiration out of our pockets and talked about what we should write. We had lots of ideas, as all creative people do. But the affirmation and direction wasn’t there. So we waited, and we prayed…
The third moment of inspiration came with such defining clarity we knew what the book was to be about.
Tricia and I were in Montana, preparing to speak at a women’s retreat. The night before the retreat we sneaked off to a lodge for some last-minute planning. I entered the lodge first while Tricia parked the car in the snow. A darling little strawberry blond toddler trotted over to me, put up his arms, and allowed me to scoop him up. His surprised young mom told me his name was Toby, he was eighteen months old, and he was usually not that friendly with strangers. Toby patted my face.
Tricia entered, and Toby’s mother froze. She stared at Tricia and in a shaking voice said, “It’s you! You’re the one who spoke at the luncheon two years ago.”
Tricia spoke often at events for teenage girls and women in Montana, so I doubted she would remember this particular young woman from a luncheon two years ago. The mom said, “Do you remember that you talked about being a teen mom and that you prayed God would send you a Christian husband?”
“I did the same thing. I prayed and…” She leaned in closer. “I don’t know if you remember my telling you this after the luncheon, but I had just found out I was pregnant.”
I remember,” Tricia said.
“I was scheduled for an abortion just a few days later.” The young woman gazed at Toby cuddled up in my arms. “But after I heard your story and what you said about how God answered your prayers, I cancelled the appointment for the abortion, and I prayed for a husband, just like you did.”
Her smile widened, and tears formed in her eyes as she told Tricia, “I always wanted to see you again so I could tell you that God answered my prayers. He brought an amazing Christian guy into my life. He loves me, and he loves my son. We’ve been married for almost a year. When I think about what my life would be like right now if I hadn’t heard your story and did what you said…”
By then we were all hugging and crying and hugging some more. Toby climbed into Tricia’s arms and received her cuddles and kisses. We couldn’t stop crying. It was such a beautiful moment. The room seemed full of light and hope.
After Toby and his mama went their way, Tricia and I sat together in stunned silence. We both knew this was it—this
was the theme of the book we needed to write together: praying for your future husband. We also knew we were the two unlikely novelists being invited to pour our hearts into this project. And so we did.
As we wrote, what tumbled from our hearts surprised us. We didn’t compose a handbook on techniques or formula for
effective prayer. Through the ages many wonderful such books have been written. Instead, what we saw forming, as we met together to pray and write, was a book anchored with true stories about what happens when women pray for their future husbands and the ways God answers those prayers.
Both of us agreed to tell our own stories on these pages. This took some courage. Dozens of other women gave us permission to tell portions of their stories as well—how they prayed, how God chose to answer, and how their lives changed in the process. This took courage for them as well. We pulled from our Bibles and journals favorite scriptures and excerpts. These quotes worked perfectly to lace the chapters together.
As the book took shape, we discovered that prayer is an extraordinary mystery.
This sacred privilege of communicating with our Heavenly Father is more than a cozy, open invitation to come to Him
anytime, anywhere. Even though His ears are open to the cries of His children 24/7, prayer is more than that. Prayer is also an act of obedience. We are exhorted to pray for others and to pray without ceasing.
Neither Tricia nor I pretend to have prayer all figured out. What we do know is that God hears. He sees. He knows us. He cares more than we can ever comprehend. And most important of all, God answers prayer.
Perhaps you’ve noticed that oftentimes the way God answers prayers isn’t what we expect. We look back years later and see that what God did was oh so much better than what we first envisioned when we sent our heartfelt requests heavenward. He created us, and He desires the best for us. God always gives His best to those who leave the outcomes with Him.
Another, even more amazing mystery is that when we pray for someone else, we change. All of us were made both to give love and to receive love. When your heart connects through prayer to the One who is the source of true love, you’ll find that praying for your future husband will wondrously result in your heart being changed. And when your heart is changed, your life is transformed.
What sort of changes will God bring about in the life of your future husband as a result of your praying for him now?
We don’t know.
As you pray for him, what sort of changes will God initiate in your heart? We don’t know that either.
But we do know there’s only one way to find out…
Excerpted from Praying for Your Future Husband by Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer Copyright © 2011 by Robin Jones Gunn and Tricia Goyer. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Posted on March 25, 2014 by Family Christian
Adam Brown’s civilian and military life has been recounted to me by his family, friends, and teammates—all eyewitnesses to each event portrayed in this book, including what Adam told them directly about his history and spiritual testimony. I also used official documents, statements, military records and reports, criminal records, family archives, letters, e-mails, and journal and diary entries. Some dates, locations, times, distances, and names (including those of some civilians) have been changed; faces in photographs obscured; and military tactics, techniques, and procedures altered in order to maintain operational security for the safety of the U.S. Navy SEALs
and those who work alongside them.
All information about the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, the SEALs, and individuals (including the use of real names) has already been published widely by the media and is deemed common knowledge. Nearly a dozen active-duty SEAL operators—including those in leadership roles—have unofficially, but no less meticulously, reviewed this manuscript for factuality and to point out any issues that might endanger lives in future operations. I have removed or rewritten sections to their approval, and in the few cases of discrepancy among the operators, I went with
the majority. Any vagueness in the manuscript is intentional, to protect these men and their allies.
All quotes, slang, inner thoughts, dialogue, and descriptions have been conveyed to me by those intimately involved in the story to the best of their ability and individual memories. Nothing has been contrived, dramatized, or fabricated.
What you are about to read is the account of an American hero who bravely gave permission in his final written requests to share his journey, from small-town America to the gutter to jail to Jesus to war to the top tier of the U.S. military: SEAL Team SIX.
Excerpted from Fearless by Eric Blehm Copyright © 2012 by Eric Blehm. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Posted on March 24, 2014 by Family Christian
Late September 1904—Lincoln, Nebraska
Caroline Lang slapped the thick packet of meticulously handwritten notes onto the center of Noble’s leather desk blotter and then flopped into the nearest chair. The spindled legs slid on the glossy oak floor, raising a high-pitched complaint. Instead of apologizing for the scratches her carelessness had surely created—Noble was the most persnickety perfectionist she’d ever known—she said, “There you are. A completed report on accommodations for the sugar beet harvesters. I earned my week’s leave with that one.” She grimaced at her purple-stained fingertips. “If I never see another beet, it will be too soon.”
Noble had the gall to chuckle. “Oh, now, Caroline, you didn’t like beets before I sent you to Omaha. You’ve always said they stink when they’re cooking.”
“They do.” She nodded emphatically, causing several escaping tendrils from her simple bun to bounce on her shoulders. “And they don’t have to be cooked to stink. You ought to smell them when they’re just sitting in a bin in
the sun.” Wearily she pushed to her feet. “I intend to spend my week of leave sleeping. You know where to find me if you have any questions about the report, but I’m sure you’ll find it concise. I was trained by the best, after all.” She
aimed a fond grin at her friend and mentor.
Noble set the leather-bound packet aside without peeking in it. “You know I trust you, Caroline.”
His simple comment warmed her, and she gave him another smile as she turned toward the door.
“And since I trust you…”
Something in his tone stilled her hand, which hovered midway to the polished brass doorknob. She glanced over her shoulder and caught him stroking his beard, his familiar sign of worry. She returned to the chair, seating herself
carefully this time. “What is it?” Fear struck, making her mouth go dry. “Has something happened to Annamarie?” She prayed Noble’s sweet, frail wife hadn’t met with harm while she’d been away on an assignment. She loved Annamarie almost as much as Noble did.
“Annamarie is fine.”
Relief slumped Caroline’s shoulders. “Oh, thank heaven…”
“But, unfortunately, I lost an investigator.” Noble’s face pinched into creases of sorrow. “A fine man—Harmon Bratcher. He leaves behind a wife and two sons.”
“Oh no…” As an investigator for the Labor Commission, Caroline knew they could meet danger. Sometimes entering workplaces to openly explore, other times posing as workers to observe the business practices on the sly, their presence was rarely welcomed and occasionally threatened. Even the required travel held various hazards. Each time she set out, Noble prayed over her for her safety. She depended on him and Annamarie praying her through the investigations. So far she’d always come back unscathed. Tired, yes, but unscathed.
Her heart ached for poor Mr. Bratcher, for his family, and for Noble, who felt accountable for his agents.
Caroline rounded the desk and bent down to wrap her arms around Noble’s shoulders and press her cheek to his. His thick white beard tickled her jaw, but she didn’t pull away. He needed the comfort, and she needed to offer it. He patted her wrists in a silent thank-you. “It has been difficult, I confess. I considered him a good friend.”
Although Caroline couldn’t claim Bratcher as a friend, she’d met him and admired his strong stance on changing the laws concerning the age of workers in the United States. The coalition to end child labor had lost a strong proponent
with his untimely passing. She shifted to perch on the edge of Noble’s desk, leaving one hand on his broad shoulder in a gesture of comfort. “What happened?”
“According to the ruling from law enforcement officials, he broke his neck when he fell into an elevator shaft.”
Such a horrific way to end one’s life. But mixed with the horror, she experienced a niggle of wariness. “You don’t believe the ruling, do you?”
Noble pinned her with a steady look. “I suppose it could be true. Accidents happen, especially in factories. But the week before he fell, I received a telegram from Harmon saying he intended to sneak into the factory on Sunday—the
only day no workers were on duty—to retrieve questionable bookkeeping records he’d glimpsed the week before. But he died before he could submit any other information. There were no documents on his body. So I can only surmise
he fell into the shaft before he laid claim to the records, or—”
“Or someone took them from him,” she finished.
Noble nodded somberly. He caught her hand. “Caroline, I know you just returned from an investigation. You’re tired and have rightfully earned your week of rest. But there’s an opening at the factory where Harmon died.”
Caroline stiffened, anticipating his next request.
“The opening is for a toter, a job generally given to women.” His fingers tightened on her hand. “You’re my only female agent. Would you go to Sinclair, apply for the position, and use it to look into Harmon’s death? I’d need to
send you out on this evening’s train.”
The entire journey home she’d anticipated a lengthy soak in a hot bath followed by days of lying on her comfortable feather mattress in a state of languor. The thought of departing that evening without even a few hours of rest made her want to groan. But how could she deny Noble when he’d done so much for her? Noble went on. “Of course, we can’t make investigating Harmon’s death your official reason for being there. We’d be overstepping our bounds with the
local authorities. So, as far as the commission is concerned, you’d be there to finish Harmon’s report on the factory’s safety features…or the lack thereof. Harmon sent several messages about his findings. He was especially concerned
about the number of underage workers at the factory, but he died before submitting a full report.”
Caroline gave a start, her pulse speeding into a gallop. “Underage workers?”
Noble’s lips formed a grim line. “According to Harmon, this factory seems to have a disproportionate number of child workers.”
Her tiredness melted in light of this new information. The opportunity to further her personal battle to end child labor and to put Noble’s worries to rest concerning Bratcher’s death proved too tempting to resist. “I’ll go.”
The relief in Noble’s face compensated for the loss of her hot bath and days of lazy recuperation. “Bless you, Caroline. There’s no one else I would trust with this mission.”
His confidence in her both touched and terrified her. After all, one investigator had already died in the factory. Go with me, dear Lord. She drew in a deep breath and vowed, “I won’t let you down, Noble. I promise.”
Excerpted from Echoes of Mercy by Kim Vogel Sawyer Copyright © 2014 by Kim Vogel Sawyer. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Posted on March 24, 2014 by Family Christian
Posted on March 24, 2014 by Family Christian
Francesca Battistelli returns with her fourth album, If We’re Honest. Featuring her radio hit debut song “Write Your Story,” this CD perfects the soulful, pop sound that began with her gold-certified debut, My Paper Heart, and its best-selling follow-up, Hundred More Years. If We’re Honest is full of bright, upbeat songs and personal, thought-provoking ballads that will inspire, encourage and challenge you in your daily walk with God, and ultimately point you toward the hope that is only found in Him.
In the video below, Franny talks about her new song He Knows My Name.
What do you think of it? Are you excited about her new album?
Posted on March 24, 2014 by Family Christian