Tag Archives: Christian life

God Leads Us Along

Music, namely worship songs and especially hymns, have a supernatural way of soothing and lifting my soul in the midst of life’s challenging seasons – such as our family, and I personally, have recently experienced.

Below are the lyrics I love of an old hymn by G.A.Young, which, after having shared it on a Facebook page last week, proved a healing balm to several others as well.

May the truth and power in these words touch your life today.

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©I.K.Hadinger

In shady green pastures so rich and so sweet, where the Water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet, God leads us along.

Sometimes on the mount where the sun shines so bright, sometimes in the valley in darkest of night, God leads his children along.

©I.K.Hadinger
©I.K.Hadinger

Though sorrows befall us and Satan oppose, through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes, God leads his children along.

Some thro’ the waters, some thro’ the flood, some thro’ the fire, but all thro’ the blood; some thro’ great sorrow, but God gives a song, in the night season and all the day long.

God leads His children along!

©I.K.Hadinger
©I.K.Hadinger

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Divine Makeover- Author Interview and Book Giveaway

 

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Into a teen girl’s world ruled by selfies, and the illusive self-worth tied to them, comes Sharla Fritz’s Divine Makeover.

This is not a stuffy book that ignores or condemns the desire for acceptance through physical appearance and fashion, but rather puts that into perspective with the source of real beauty: a faith in Jesus Christ that makes us holy.

DiVineblogtour_2This fun and reflective Bible study can be read alone, with a best friend, or with a group of friends.

Would you like to win a copy? Read the  Q&A with author Sharla Fritz and leave a comment below by midnight Thursday, April 24 (2014).

Everyone who comments will be added to the drawing. (Winner will be announced Friday, April 25th!)

 

Why did God prompt you to write this book?

After my first Bible study, Divine Design, came out, I heard about some groups of mothers and daughters doing the book together. It was so exciting that women of all ages could come together and discover their true beauty in Christ. But I thought young women would enjoy having a book that taught the same principles while using examples of their own struggles. So I wrote Divine Makeover—essentially Divine Design for a younger generation.

What struggles do you see the younger generation having?

I remember as a teen thinking that no one would ever think I was beautiful, no one would ever love me. Almost all of us go through an awkward stage where we doubt our beauty and worth. (Some of us never outgrow that stage!)

Plus, in this age, the emphasis on physical beauty is greater than ever before. Celebrities are scrutinized for their hair styles, makeup, and clothing choices. Ordinary girls are slammed when they don’t wear the coolest brands. Every year hundreds of thousands of teens are so dissatisfied with their looks that they resort to plastic surgery.

I’m hoping that Divine Makeover will help young women discover their worth not in what clothes they are wearing on the outside, but on the clothing of their character.

How did you get the young women’s point of view for this book?

Admittedly, I am a long way from the teen years! So I met with some amazing teens at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lisle, Illinois every week. They candidly shared their views and struggles. I was truly impressed with this group of young women who clearly loved the Lord. Their faith and commitment to serve was very inspiring. Some of their words and stories are included in the book.

You talk about some myths of modesty? What are they?

I think three modern myths of modesty are: Modesty is old-fashioned, modesty means wearing a burlap bag, and modesty means following a strict set of clothing rules.

Modesty is an enduring principle because the Bible tells us that “Women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control” (1Timothy 2:9). Because God’s Word never goes out of style, this advice is not just for women of Timothy’s day, but for us too.

We might think that if we dress modestly we can’t be stylish, but that isn’t necessarily true. It may mean that we have to adapt styles: wearing a camisole under a too-low top, adding leggings to a dress that’s a bit too short, or wearing a cute jacket or sweater over a top that’s too form-fitting.

I have seen sites and books that give strict rules for lengths of skirts and depths of necklines. But I think rules sometimes beg to be broken, so I think a better way to view modesty is as a way to dress with respect: respect for the beauty God gave you, respect for God’s Word, and respect for the gift of sexuality—which God has reserved for marriage.

What are some of the other topics discussed?

Divine Makeover is a “What Not to Wear” for the soul. It talks about hanging up the uniform and letting go of your inner control freak. It encourages young women to get rid of the handbag of worry and live with an attitude of trust. It tosses out the prom dress of pride, the boots of selfishness, the bitterness sweater, and anything the color of envy green. Instead, in Christ we can wear humility, love, forgiveness, and contentment.

You include some dramatic stories of teens who struggled with their self-image. Tell us about them.

Yes. Some young women graciously shared their stories with me. One young woman battled anorexia for a time in her life. When she looked in the mirror, she saw herself as fat, even though she definitely wasn’t. She bravely shared her story of how she eventually discovered that she had become obsessed with food and a totally skewed view of her body. Eventually she learned to choose to see herself as God saw her—His much-loved daughter.

Another young woman discovered she had alopecia. She lost all of her hair. In this society that worships thick, long manes of hair, she struggled to see herself as beautiful. She doubted that any man would ever love her. She has never regained her hair, but she has regained a healthy self-image because of her trust in God.

Both of these women are now in their twenties and happily married.

What practical tips do you share with readers?

The book concentrates on our inner beauty, but does have some fashion fun. Every chapter ends with some Fashion Finesse: a few words about finding the right clothes, building a wardrobe, and looking your best. Some of the practical tips include choosing a cute yet useful purse, finding your best colors, and discovering the best style of sweater for your shape. After the chapter on the prom dress of pride, I included seven tips for a fabulous formal.

What one thing should potential readers know about this book?

I pray that every girl who reads this book will take away one important truth: that in Christ she is beautiful. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, we always look lovely in God’s looking glass. Our heavenly Father sees us not as we are, with our mammoth mistakes, our messy sins, our major bedhead. He sees us as we will be—perfect. The Bible tells us, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Tell everyone a little more about yourself.

I’m a Christian speaker and author who loves to communicate the truth of God’s transforming grace. I love meeting women around the country at retreats and conferences.

I live in the Chicago suburbs with my husband, who is the pastor of Hope Lutheran Church. Together we shared the adventure of homeschooling for 15 years with our two children. They are all grown up now and moved away from home. My daughter moved far from home—she now lives in China!

In my other life I am a church musician and piano teacher. I love traveling (especially to China!), going out to lunch with friends, and reading. If I’m not sitting at the piano or my computer you might find me at the thrift store stalking fabulous fashion finds.

Anything else you’d like to share about this book?

Divine Makeover has eight chapters with each chapter having five days of devotions and Bible study questions. A girl could read it on her own, with or without doing the questions. But it would be even more fun to do with a group of gabby girlfriends!

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Don’t forget to leave a comment before midnight Thursday, April 24 (2014) for a chance to win a FREE copy of Divine Makeover. Winner to be announced Friday, April 25th.

Also, for a chance to win a Divine Makeover basket, visit the Sharla Fritz Divine Makeover Blog Tour page on Facebook and share your makeover story. Winners of that basket will be announced there on Facebook on May 2.

Our Time, with God (Managing Our Time the Smart Way)

One of these days...

When it comes to time, there are those who would say they don’t have enough of it. How absurd!

I’m one of them.

It’s an absurdly ambivalent truth, for we all have the same time given us although it seems to run short differently for each of us. Some may not have enough time for exercise, study, or sleep, while others may not have enough for their kids, their spouses, or their aging parents.

Have you ever made a list of everything you wish you had time for but don’t? Oh, of course, you probably don’t have time to make a list like that. Neither do I. Which is why I started to make one, and you should too. The incredible irony in it is seeing what’s worth our time and what isn’t.

Managing your time, not making it.

Why do we say, “I need to make more time for ________?”

We do not, nor can we, make time. We make dinner. We make babies. We make decisions. We make a mess of things. We make vows. We make friends. But making time? No, it’s not in our power. No action of ours can produce more hours in the day, or create time, for it already is.

Eph 515,16

The best we can do is manage it– and that, wisely, introspectively, and most importantly: prayerfully, with God’s help.

The worst we can do is manage it like we think others want us to, like our friends and neighbors do, or like we believe society pushes us to do.

The list I began making reflected in part what I wished I had time for based on what I saw (or perceived) others to have time for. Comparison mentality will always trip us. Admiration for others will not. May we learn to draw that fine line between the two.

God created us uniquely with differing personalities and talents, and we live with varying circumstances, yet he has given each of us the same amount of time. How we manage all that together is our individual challenge– and it is a challenge! Are you a solo-tasker or a multi-tasker? Are you married or single? Do you work full-time or part-time? At home or outside the home? Are you healthy or perhaps dealing with physical or mental illness? Are you sanguine or melancholy? Are you a leader or a follower?

The Bible says to be careful how we walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of our time, understanding what the will of the Lord is and finding out what pleases him. (Ephesians 5) That’s good advice in discovering what’s worth our time and what isn’t. The one who created us certainly can help us uniquely and wisely fulfill our time here on earth– most importantly in pleasing him and understanding his will for us. Because we are each wonderfully and fearfully made and because we each have a unique life path on which we walk, our time management should mirror that.

When it comes to time, there are those who’ll seek God’s help with it and thrive. Not absurd!

I’m one of them.

How about you?

 

Q&A with Elisabeth Corcoran, author of Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage

Like most people, I hate divorce; I hate what it does to every individual directly involved in it and to everyone else indirectly touched by it. Yet that hasn’t changed the fact that people in my life – relatives, friends, even fellow ministers and missionaries – have experienced the painful, unexpected, sometimes unwanted but always ugly, process of divorce.

It is especially difficult when divorce occurs within the Christian faith context that teaches that marriage is to be “as long as they both shall live.”  (This is the Biblical position I believe and advocate.) The hurdle for me and other women who share this same conviction is learning  how to respond and minister to our broken and hurting sisters in Christ whose marriages have been torn apart or are currently unraveling – especially when abuse is a factor.

To help us jump that hurdle, I’ve invited author Elisabeth Corcoran for a Q&A based on her latest title releasing today:  Unraveling: Hanging on to Faith Through the End of A Christian Marriage.

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IKH: What counsel would you give women living in an abusive or addiction-filled marriage?

EC: I would tell her that she’s not alone.  Because being a Christian woman in this kind of marriage can be very isolating.  I would advise her to do one if not all of the following:

  • If she or her children are physically or sexually unsafe, to leave and find a safe place to stay.
  • Find a Christian counselor.
  • If not attending a Bible-believing church, find one.
  • If not in a small group Bible study, get in one.
  • Try AlAnon or Celebrate Recovery.
  • Pray for a mentor.
  • If there is someone on your church leadership team that you trust and that you believe understands the dynamics of your kind of difficult marriage, prayerfully share your story and ask for help.
  • Be willing to do what they ask you to do.  But also, test their counsel against Scripture and listen to the Holy Spirit.  Getting varied wise counsel is a hugely smart thing to do, especially when you’re in the vulnerable place of being in a hard marriage,  but remember that you have been given a spirit of a sound mind and you are allowed to make decisions for yourself.
  • Make no decisions quickly or out of fear or anger.
  • Stay close to God.  Ask him to walk you through this.  Ask him to bring people, groups and resources into your life that can help you.  Ask him to give you a teachable spirit and a brave heart.

IKH: How can churches become a safer place for troubled marriages/divorcees?

EC: This is such an important issue to me.  I believe there are two ideas that the Church must understand and embrace.  One, that domestic abuse is not just a black eye, but that it includes emotional abuse, manipulation, control, etc.  Abuse is not just physical.  And secondly, that there is a huge difference between a regular kind of blah marriage or a normal marriage with everyday problems and a marriage that is abusive or fraught with addiction; and these kinds of marriages should not be treated with the same advice across the board.

Also, women need to be believed.  For the most part, I believe that by the time a woman has come to her church for help, she’s tried everything else to fix her marriage, and that usually, it’s not that she’s exaggerating…she might not even be telling you the full picture because she’s afraid of what you’ll think of her or her husband.  So if she tells you she thinks she’s being mistreated or her husband might have an addiction, take her seriously.

IKH: What is your view of marriage, and has it changed because of your experience?

EC: Ironically, I think my view of marriage has gotten stronger and sharper.  I’m not just a proponent of Christian marriages staying together forever no matter what.  I’m an advocate for Christian marriages to thrive and be beautiful because they are supposed to be examples of the relationship between Christ and the Church. I think we’re selling Christian marriage short, and we shouldn’t be settling for just slogging through it until we die.

IKH: What is the purpose of the book (why did you write it)?

EC: I wrote this book for every woman who finds herself going through a divorce, either one she initiated or one that has taken her completely by surprise.  I want these women to know that they’re not alone, that there is grace, that they will make it to the other side, that beauty will come from their pain, and that God’s love for them hasn’t stopped.

IKH: How is God restoring you?

EC: There have been sort of two ways that I’ve seen God restore me.  I think he has restored my heart in the ways that you would expect: time alone to cry or watch movies or reading the Bible or journaling or when friends would send me notes or bring me chocolate or whatever.

And I think that God has been restoring my life though by allowing me the seriously great privilege of reaching out to other women who are hurting.  I led a small group of separated and divorced women in my home this summer, going through a book together.  I meet with women one-on-one when they ask me to.  I write on my blog.  I moderate two private Facebook groups for women who are in difficult Christian marriages and who are separated or divorced.  I just went with a friend today who got divorced…prayed with her before, sat with her during, cried with her and hugged her after.  I still can’t believe that he lets me do these things…that he allows me the honor of coming alongside women who have been where I was (where I sometimes still totally am) and says, “Okay, I comforted you…now go pass some of that along…”  It’s been a really beautiful season of my life, in the midst of the hard.  Which is pretty much how God works, when we let him.

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1370436_10201930041914958_927578410_nElisabeth Klein Corcoran is the author of Unraveling: Hanging Onto Faith Through the End of a Christian Marriage, along with several other books, who speaks several times a month to women’s groups, and is a member of Redbud Writers’ Guild.

During her time at Christ Community Church’s Blackberry Creek Campus in Aurora, Illinois she began and led their women’s ministry for ten years prior to moving to the city’s Orchard Community Church. She lives with her children in Illinois.

Visit her online at http://www.elisabethcorcoran.com/difficult-marriage-divorce/ or https://www.facebook.com/ElisabethKleinCorcoran.

She is the moderator of two private Facebook groups: one for women in difficult Christian marriages, and one for Christian women who are separated or divorced.

Email her at elisabethkcorcoran@gmail.com if interested in joining.

Unraveling can be purchased at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/po3ek2w.

Leaves and Changes

©I.K.Hadinger

How I admire the changes of autumn, the loveliness of leaves.

How I dislike the changes of my life, the lostness of leaving.

Leaves and changes are seasonal. For the trees and for my life.

©I.K.Hadinger

I’ve left a home and changed location eighteen times since I’ve been married. And I struggle to find the strength and beauty in each transition…for I feel weak and ugly, tattered and worn, inside and out.

Then I look at the leaves so graceful, adorning their branch through the warmth of sunshine and the onslaught of storm. Their season is short, and the time draws near. The change is seen; from the outer edge it’s color transforms. Because something is taking place on the inside.

Their full change is imminent. Then, one final wind, a soft spiral down, and their life is over.

©I.K.Hadinger

 

But there is next year. Trees will bud and blossom, leaves will appear, and their purpose and beauty will again be appreciated.

In looking and admiring, an analogy concocts. With every change, my self must die. Beauty in process.

To be awe-inspiring, and simply inspiring. Breathtaking, and inviting.

Begin, it must, from the inside out.

Till I can admire the loveliness of change in every leaving – a purpose, an appreciation, blossoming in every season.

©I.K.Hadinger

 

 

On The Path

photo ©I.K.Hadinger

My legs walked

My ears heard

My heart beat to

Creation’s chorus.

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© I.K.Hadinger

My eyes beheld

My hands photographed

My spirit smiled at

Creation’s magnificence.

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My head turned

My soul sang

My mind awed at

Creation’s perfection.

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© I.K. Hadinger

My thoughts pondered

My voice whispered

My faith recommitted to

Creation’s Creator.

I.K. Hadinger

Remember, then Hope

Sunrise.

Remember today that God’s mercies go on and on.  They are in constant motion.

Available to the weak, the hurting, the strong, the overcomer, the humble, the proud, the one who suffers and wonders.  His mercies never stop.  Yesterday’s may be gone, but this morning new ones entered with the first light that shone through your window.

Remember, and have hope.

Remember today that God’s compassions always succeed.  They are not outdated or stuffy or fall like dead rose petals.  Yesterday’s were needed and carry over to today, but even so new ones became available with the breaking of the dawn.

Remember, and have hope.

Remember today that God’s faithfulness is huge.  It is nothing like anything or anybody here on earth.  It never changes, because He never changes.

Remember, and have hope.

I did, and I do.

I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope;  Your mercies, O LORD, never cease, for Your compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”

Lamentations 3:21-23