Thursday, April 30, 2009

Look before you leap!

There was a question on the minds of four adult polar bears at Zoo Berlin over Easter weekend: “Where’s lunch?” The zookeepers at feeding time had to be surprised when a 32-year-old woman climbed over a fence, pushed through a hedge of thorns, and even scaled a concrete wall before swan diving into the murky moat where the polar bears swim. Keepers distracted three of the bears, but one bear focused on the woman as she swam right up to him. He slipped into the water for this unexpected food opportunity, biting her arms, legs, and back, before keepers rescued her with a life ring. At one point, as she was being hoisted up the wall, the woman actually slipped out of the ring and back into the water, where a bear dove under for another bite. Perhaps you saw the horrific video footage of this unbelievable story. The woman was severely injured, underwent surgery and, amazingly, has survived the attack. Those zookeepers saved her life.

You, like I, might be thinking, “What would make a person do that? Why would someone make such a foolish choice?” Few details were given, except that the woman was distraught about certain life circumstances over which she felt she had no control.

Although, I wouldn’t dive into a polar bear enclosure, I can identify with making a leap from the proverbial frying pan into the fire. Can’t you? It’s like the moth drawn to the flame. We all know it firsthand, to one extreme or another.

It’s one reason I love to hang out with you on Woman to Woman®. We meet others who have taken ineffective -- sometimes desperate -- measures to try to fix what’s wrong in their lives. Whether it’s a marriage dilemma, parenting issue, or health challenge -- these people have found a way out. Their “life ring” has been Jesus Christ, who restores their faith, always in personal and creative ways, so they realize they’re not in this alone.

Back to the bears. The zoo isn’t planning any updates to security after the attack. God doesn’t plan to change His security measures either; He doesn’t need to. He put in place the life ring that will not drop us back into the jaws of our enemy. Even when we can’t hold on, Jesus holds on to us. That’s what faith is all about. Even if you “look before you leap” into what you consider being the only way out, God is there to rescue you. We’ve just celebrated Easter, when God fully reveals His plan to save us from the mess in which we find ourselves, which He calls “sin.”

No matter how dark it gets in our situations, instead of jumping into more darkness, let's go for the Light of the world, which is how Jesus describes Himself. There's no darkness that can put that light out. To shed more light on our daily challenges, I invite you to listen to any one of the numerous Woman to Woman shows in our program archive. Any questions, please contact me.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The New Arms Race!

No, not that one -- it’s not the one where we stockpile our defenses to mount an offense. And it’s not one where we disarm -- where we lay our arms down. No, this is one where we each use the two arms God has given us to help lighten the loads of others. This week we salute volunteers. I’m totally inspired by the men and women in our Woman to Woman® “Volunteer Passion and Payoff” show currently running here and around the country on 290 stations. It has me thinking about creative ways to reach out with help where it’s needed. Plenty of needs are obvious -- from supporting friends and family laid off from work to visiting elderly shut-ins with little or no contact with the outside world to picking up litter in the parks where our kids play. You just need to pick a need and decide to address it.

Once it’s in your mind that you can do something without getting paid for it, you’re ready to go! You don’t have to train for it -- just go with your natural inclinations and abilities. Give up a few minutes and get back a few good feelings. Even when I'm busy, I set aside time to use my gifts in ways no one else notices but the receiver. Last week it was simply doubling the recipe for my “Eggs Baked In Casserole” and delivering it to someone who needed a boost. It's another way of hugging you when I put my arms to work on your behalf. I fight the tendency to play “poor me” and whine about all I have to do when I think of what someone else needs done. I serve a God who's doing for me all day and night. It's the least I can do to pass it on. Plus, I love the way volunteering boomerangs back to me. It always enhances my life, every single time, whether anyone knows about it or not!

I love the story Dana Anzalone tells about how she discovered her love for volunteering. As you read where her boundless enthusiasm took her, you’ll probably think how you can encourage that energy in yourself and your kids. Right now, someone is waiting, hoping, and praying for a “reach out,” not a handout, but someone to help carry some of their burdens, even for a few minutes of much longed-for relief. Now that’s an arms race we can all win!

Monday, April 27, 2009

What you always wanted to ask your physician!

Here’s a fabulous opportunity! I’m inviting two physicians to share what we need to know about their specialties. Please send me your questions right here by May 5, so I can include them in the Woman to Woman® show or on the Web. Dr. Barbara Jost is a board-certified doctor of internal medicine who specializes in allergy and immunology. She loves figuring out immune systems, so ask her about penicillin, how to guard your immune system, or whatever else puzzles you. Dr. Valerie Ratts is associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “Dr. Val” was just voted “Top Doc” in a recent St. Louis Magazine poll of area physicians.

You can see why I’m so excited to pass on your questions. You may, but don’t have to, include your name. And remember -- there’s no such thing as a stupid question, especially when you’re talking about your health!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Timing

Sometimes I have a hard time getting God’s timing. I get it when things go my way. Then it’s easy for me to totally buy into His Holy Spirit revealing as much truth to me as I can handle. I know God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. That means God is awesome, has the whole world in His hands, and can do anything He wants to. Unlike me, He is not confined by time or space. But nevertheless, I still wonder about it. And sometimes I even try to challenge God’s timing.

The near misses and complete misses mystify me. I read God saying, “I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a hope and a future.” Thank you very much, God! But why, then, didn’t You somehow nudge me back in college toward majoring in broadcast journalism so I could turn out polished, poised, confident, and amazing like Diane Sawyer? I mean seriously, God, in high school I prayed for the confidence to speak to more than two people at a time. I was shy and felt like I had nothing to say.

It took God a long time to bring me to the point where I would have something important to say when the courage finally arrived. St. Paul spoke to me when he wrote, “They compared themselves with themselves and they were not wise.” I was guilty of such comparisons in my admiration of Diane Sawyer. I remember reading an interview with her in Guideposts magazine many years ago, an interview about being a Miss America contestant. She related how one of my mentors, the awesome writer Catherine Marshall, spoke to the finalists. Her steel blue eyes sparkling, she commended them for the heights to which they had risen with hard work and application of their gifts, but then she pierced their hearts, saying they were aiming too low and they needed to reach higher. God had great plans for them to use what He had given them from then on. It caught Diane Sawyer off guard and made a huge impression on her. It did the same for me when I read it.

I guess it’s really about ability more than opportunity. The Bible once again guides us here. In 1 Peter 4:10, it says, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Looking back over my meandering life, my transition from a shy and envying girl to a woman serving Christ boldly has been an up-and-down journey. I’ve asked and received His forgiveness for stubbornly heading off on my own way, only to reach a dead end and return to Him again. I treasure the wisdom of age and experience He has given me. I ended up being His workhorse instead of a beauty pageant winner with the right words, but it’s working well. I am filled to overflowing with His Words that bring life and hope on the air, in person, and in print. That’s enough for me!

What has it taken for God to get your attention and earn your trust so that you follow Him instead of taking the lead? Have you shared your story with someone else? If you’d like to, please share it with me. There’s no right or wrong story here. It’s about your experience, where you’ve been, and where you are now. It’s also about trusting where God will take your life. Wow!

Monday, April 13, 2009


Last month my husband took our family to Orlando to visit a bunch of famous characters our kids and grandkids know well -- or at least they feel like they know them well. We rented a home with a heated pool and an outdoor grill just three miles from where these characters hang out. Fifty-six homes in the subdivision were for sale; hence the cost was about one fourth of staying on the property where the characters live. The whole trip -- every hassle, every dime -- was worth it. Highlights of this vacation included feeling a little “goofy” as we “Mickey-moused” around. Also, meeting a princess and getting Buzz Lightyear’s autograph were magical!

Another highlight was really high -- way up high, that is. Our daughter Jennifer’s husband, Phil, didn’t join us until later in the week, and his kids could hardly wait for Dad to get there. One day when they were swimming in the backyard, his daughter Emma pointed to the sky, exclaiming, “Look, it’s a drawing!”

And so it was. A skywriter had drawn a very clear smiley face, then continued into the letter J. Someone said, “It’s Phil. He misses Jennifer so much he’s having her name written in the sky to let her know.” Sure enough, the next letter was E. That’s when Emma declared that it wouldn’t be her mother’s name. “It’s going to be J-e-s-u-s!” And it was, in the end, the word “Jesus!” Emma was in awe.

After spending time and resources to get to this wonderful holiday, our real joy was absolutely free up in the air for all to see: J-E-S-U-S. What a great reminder! My son joked, “It wasn’t Phil; it was Mom!” I laughed, too. If that’s how he sees me now, as lifting Jesus higher, I pray when my own name is but a vanishing vapor in this world, he’ll remember the One I taught him about at my knee, the One who loves you and me. Vapor letters fade, but Jesus wants to be closer than a brother. Now that’s awesome. Take Him up on it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Need a "Wow?"

If it seems like a good time for a “wow” or if it’s been too long since a “wow” in your life, ask God to “wow” you, to open your eyes to what He has for you to woo you to Himself. He’s doing that all the time, but sometimes we just don’t notice because something else like the what, where or when get in the way.

Robert Orben’s statement catches one aspect of God. "Spring is God's way of saying, 'One more time!” With God, there’s always something just around the corner, some place He’s leading us or a point He’s making to teach us. You’re closer than you think. He’s wowed you before, be open to His doing it again and again! He does repeat Himself. Sunsets, seasons, reasons. Until then, I hope you’ll be “wowed,” inspired and delighted with the April offerings of Woman to Woman®.

On “Loving Your Addict” you’ll meet my friend Debra Jay who, with her husband Jeff, wrote the best-selling book Love First that helped revolutionize the field of intervention. After Deb asks, “Do you want to live this way the rest of your life?” she follows up with the how-to’s of helping your addict to be set free from bondage to the addiction. It’s encouraging that 85% of addicts who experience a Love First intervention embrace the recovery process.

How about a free makeover? That’s what you’ll get from four women on our Easter show this month! We’ll visit with women from faith backgrounds other than Christianity and find out what their lives were like before and after Jesus! These are enlightening peeks about spiritual “makeovers” from the insights of women just like us.

If you parent or work with teens, you’re probably open to all the encouragement you can find! Teens are fascinating, in state of flux and bring so much life and challenge into our lives. When the moods go up and down how do you know if it’s normal or if depression is creeping in? To answer these questions, psychotherapist Catherine Hart Weber, PhD wrote the book Is Your Teen Stressed or Depressed? with her father, Dr. Archibald Hart, senior professor of psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. Dr. Hart Weber brings enormous hope into play which I urge you to enjoy on this show!

"Volunteers are seldom paid; not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless!" (author unknown) To celebrate National Volunteer week this month, we feature stories to put a WOW into your spring and a spring into your WOW! LaGayle Sosnowy at Univ. of Washington goes way beyond the call of duty with her love for her full time volunteer work there; Internist Dr. John Echrich of St. Louis, MO founded Grace Place Retreats to focus on keeping church workers and leaders, e.g. pastors, teachers, DCE’s, church musicians, parish nurses and church staff healthy, physically, emotionally, relationally, fiscally and spiritually with incredible results; and Bob and Sherry Wechsler of Elbow Lake, MN who tell how their son Crist died suddenly at age 28 and through organ donation helped improve the lives of 100 people!

Monday, April 6, 2009


A “wow!” story I seldom get to tell is about the first wow I ever received. I was working as a junior high counselor with kids abusing drugs, starting with toluene, found in airplane glue, which they sniffed in a paper bag. It escalated from there to “fruit salad” parties at their parents’ homes when they were left alone. Everyone brought a few colorful pills from their medicine cabinets and put them in a bowl at the host’s house, then during the evening the bowl was passed around and they took the color combinations of their choosing to see what would happen. Yeah, it was about as safe as it sounds. I worked with those kids and more serious offenders and ended up helping some. I got a reputation for knowing something about youth with self-defeating habits and started speaking about it.

Around this time, I met Dr. John from Ann Arbor, a British Ob-GYN turned psychiatrist, who taught and counseled at the University of Michigan. He was 20 years my senior and had an accent that made everyone sit up and take notice because he sounded brilliant -- and he was! John was writing NBC and CBS specials, warning of the impending fallout from the drug use sweeping the country, and I understood it from the perspective of street usage, so our professional interests complemented one another well. Despite my friendship with John, I was petrified when we were both invited to speak at an event in Chicago. I was nervous for two reasons: one, my parents lived in the Chicago area and my mom would be listening to the radio broadcast of the panel and two, I was the “token” woman, in my early 20s, and unaccustomed to public speaking, while the men on the panel were a distinguished juvenile court judge, a social worker, a pastor, a youth advocate, and Dr. John. These were pedigreed people, and I felt incredibly out of my league.

I got cold feet the night before and rang up John with a request: would he please sit in the empty ballroom and listen to my 15-minute talk? Because he’s such a nice guy, he agreed. It felt weird, but I practiced and he clapped, motioning me to do it again and again. By the third time, I had it down and felt much better.

The next day, following the judge’s sublime words of wisdom, I walked to the microphone, staring out at hundreds of youth professionals under the ballroom lights. I was only nervous until I realized I was simply telling them what I knew about helping turn kids’ lives around. I talked, and they listened and took notes. That helped.

The 15 minutes were over before you could say, “Thank heavens,” and I sat down. My heart was racing at the applause. I looked up at the next speaker attentively, barely noticing the judge reach over and grab my large folded Mrs. Wallace table placard. He then wrote on the back of it with a marker pen. He placed it back in front of me with huge letters on the back: WOW!

I thought I’d died and gone to heaven; it was one of the greatest affirmations of my life. I smiled graciously; he nodded, and we turned back to the speaker. He may never have known what he did for me that day with that simple comment. It was the boost of confidence from another human being, on top of John’s applause, that convinced me I really could earn some wows in my life.

Twelve years later, I was leading a community Bible study life-issues group called “Wednesday Woman” at our church. This group was made up of 100 women from 14 different church backgrounds who attended the study every week. We studied for an hour, worked on crafts, joked around, and shared snacks, while our children played and giggled together in the childcare area. It was a great group, and I realized early on we needed an identity, a logo, to put on letterheads, postcards, and shirts. I asked my eighth-grade daughter Jennifer to design a logo for us. The next day she brought me the word WOW with a W on each side of a heart (for the O) and a little cross inside the heart. Instantly, I thought of the last time someone had written that word out for me. Jennifer didn’t know about my wow sign from years ago, but God did, and He sent me another one from my own flesh and blood -- a reminder of how far I’d come.

Wow stories are everywhere, and once you look for them -- even ask God for them -- you can’t help but see them all around you. I hope you find plenty of wows in Woman to Woman. I know I do! Every single time I go on the air and provide information and encouragement, I can feel God creating a wow in my life, connecting me with others. I don’t need to look for a guy clapping out in the audience anymore; I know God made me to “encourage the weary with words,” as He says in His Word. I feel His pleasure when I write, and His Word is always in my ear when I speak. I hope you’re on the lookout for your own wows; God isn’t stingy, but rather a giver of good things to those who believe in Him, so I know you’ll find them if you take the time to look. Wow!