Let the Bible Be Your Primary Source of Spiritual Nourishment

Hello from the IF:Gathering here in Austin, TX. What an honor to spend time with so many Christian women leaders of similar heart. This global gathering of women not only includes the 2500 attendees here in Austin (tickets sold out in four minutes!) but over 2000 IF:Local groups all across the U.S. and around the world. It’s estimated that 500,000 people viewed the event last year. God is raising up an army of courageous women to link arms and live for the glory of God and the good of others.

Part of my contribution will be on stage Saturday morning with Margaret Feinberg, Rebekah Lyons and Esther Havens as we dive into John 15. Time will be limited so I thought I’d expand a bit on the four color clicky pen method of reading the Bible here. I’m also taping IF:Equip videos with Jeanne Stevens and wanted to include the part from 2 Timothy 3:16 about Scripture in this post.

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I usually have my Muji pen for journalling (seriously, such a great pen from Japan), a meaningful Starbucks gift card for underlying, and my four color clicky pen. What I like about using the four color pen is how it helps me read with intention. It’s like mining for gold or precious jewels. As I read I am asking, “What does this passage teach me about God? What do I learn about His character, His heart, His ways, what He loves, etc.”

Underline in GREEN: anything you learn about God’s character, I also underline prayers in the Bible like Col 1:9-12 and I box names of God in green (e.g. Father, LORD, Shepherd, King, Living Water, etc.)

Underline in BLUE: anything that is our part–things we are to know or do

Underline in BLACK: consequences of sin

Underline in RED: promises of God and any other extra special verses

Sometimes I combine colors, sometimes I circle repeated words. My encouragement is to become familiar with and make your Bible your own.

2 Timothy 3:16 reads, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”

  • teaching=to know
  • reproof=to stop
  • correction=to change
  • training in righteousness=to do

Hope you find this helpful as you study God’s word. We are blessed to have countless resources, the internet, and wonderful devotionals, but remember nothing replaces the written Word of God. If you have never read through the entire Bible, I encourage you to set a goal to read it through. Begin in the gospel of John.

Let the Word of God be your primary source of spiritual nourishment.

** You can view IF:Gathering 2016 for free online through midnight Monday, February 8th.

October Happenings

Oh my. My daughter just informed me.

The year 2024 is closer than the year 2005.

This of course has nothing to do with anything currently spinning around my little mind. I’m sipping a Pumpkin Spice iced frappuccino sweating in 90 degree weather and sniffing my unlit cinnamon pumpkin candle (too hot outside to light). These are my meager attempts to capture autumn. The calendar informs me fall arrived last week, but each day feels like endless summer. Just like 2005 feels closer than 2024.

Today I am reminded to base my faith on facts, not feelings. I don’t feel any different the day before, the day of and the day after my birthday. But the fact is each birthday marks the passing of another year. Okay, and sadly the fact is I need reading glasses now. God’s character and His Word remain steadfast and unchanging. My feelings are fickle and change based on my circumstances. We do well to invest in knowing and learning about the facts of our faith rather than rely on our feelings to dictate how we decide to live.

Didn’t expect the rabbit trail. The original purpose of this post was simply to share a few fun opportunities to hear radio interviews about Warrior In Pink coming up in October. And also to ask if you are the praying type to pray for the different speaking events. I’d be grateful for your prayers in the coming weeks.

IMG_2724Mark your calendars and please share with your friends:

  • October 3rd I’ll be sharing my cancer story at the St. Jude’s Breast Cancer Survivor’s annual retreat in Brea, CA
  • October 5th and 6th radio interview with FamilyLifeToday (those of you in southern California can tune into KKLA 99.5FM at 8:30am). Will also be available to listen online.
  • October 12-16th radio program Discover the Word (those of you in So Cal can tune into KKLA 99.5FM at 1:30pm). Also available online.
  • October 15th I’ll be sharing at Biola University as part of their annual Torrey Conference
  • October 21st. Interview with Jamie Ivey on her popular podcast The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. She will be giving away five copies of Warrior In Pink. Meeting Jamie and conducting interviews, taping IF:Equip videos and participating in the racial reconciliation roundtable at the IF:Gathering in February was one of the main highlights of the conference.
  • October 23-25th Darrin and I will be speaking at the UC Santa Barbara Cru Fall Retreat

Happy October to you all!

Guest Writing for She Reads Truth

Honored to be invited to guest write for She Reads Truth. This women’s daily Bible devotion is read by an estimated 300,000 women around the world. The premise is simple: women in the Word everyday. The photography is lovely and the team is fun and down to earth. They have a terrific phone app and all sorts of beautiful art. The timing for this first post came as the situation in Baltimore regarding the death of Freddy Gray escalated. I pray God will continue to use my words whether spoken or written to point people to Truth and help restore perspective. I’ve included the first part of the post below or you can read the complete post by clicking this link: http://shereadstruth.com/2015/04/29/honor-the-image-bearers/

 

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My arms ached from carrying his newly walking little brother. The 15-hour time change between California and Hong Kong meant waking while it was still dark and a predictable afternoon crash. With only one short week to spend visiting my parents, we determined to squeeze in all we could. The rocking motion from the ferry ride across the Hong Kong harbor put my younger son to sleep, but my preschool aged son knelt on the wooden bench. He strained his neck in order to peer out the window as the ferry carried our family across the dark green colored water. Jonathan watched, eyes barely blinking, as new sights, sounds, smells and an unfamiliar language filled his naturally inquisitive mind.

The long walkway brimmed with people as we exited the ferry. Jonathan skipped along ahead and then I watched as he slowed down, almost to a stop, and tried to make sense of what he saw. A man with no legs, no teeth, matted hair, covered in soot and sores, sat on a flattened cardboard box, begging. A few coins clanked against the metal canister he tapped on the cement. Scores of people hurried by him acting as if he was invisible. I watched Jonathan tilt his head; his young mind had no category for people living in such poverty.

I transferred my sleeping son into my husband’s arms as a quote from the Mystery of Marriageby Mike Mason came to mind:

“If man really is fashioned, more than anything else, in the image of God, then clearly it follows that there is nothing on earth so near to God as a human being. The conclusion is inescapable, that to be in the presence of even the meanest, lowest, most repulsive specimen of humanity in the world is still to be closer to God than when looking up into a starry sky or at a beautiful sunset.”

Taking Jonathan’s hand, I pulled him over to the side. Once we moved out of the center of the steady stream of people, I knelt down so we could look straight into each other’s eyes.

You can finish reading the post here:

P. S. My next post comes out tomorrow for the Fruit of the Spirit series!

P.P.S. Here’s a link to one of the IF:Equip bible studies Jamie Ivey and I taught on 1 Peter. Click here

Video clips from IF:Gathering Racial Reconciliation Roundtable

Quick post for those of you who may not have seen the article earlier this week in Christianity Today. The video clips at the end of the interview were filmed at the IF:Gathering after the audience was excused. I’m encouraged to hear of new relationships formed as a result of our time. Please pray for humble hearts, for restoration, for walls to come down. So fitting as we enter Holy Week to think on the final prayer Jesus prayed for His disciples and for each of us:

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“All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.  And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” John 17:10-11

http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/march/modeling-healthy-gathering-on-race.html

IF:Gathering Racial Reconciliation Roundtable

Greetings from Austin, TX. Amazing city. Amazing food. Amazing people. Took part in the IF:Gathering yesterday and the day before. Click the link to sign up to hear the sessions. Powerful weekend. The leadership and women I met were humble, down-to-earth, Kingdom-minded warriors. Warm. Welcoming. Brave. Courageous. I’ve always held strong to the belief: you become like those you are around. Grateful for every woman I met. I want to be more like them, because of how I saw Jesus in their lives and in their eyes. I was invited to contribute. Taped several mini Bible studies for IF:Equip and an interview on unity and diversity.

IF:Equip bible studies

IF:Equip bible studies

Yesterday, in a remarkably intimate setting, even though surrounded by 2000 in attendance at the venue and over 20,000 women watching live stream, seven of us discussed the elephant in the room: racial reconcilation. We began unpacking issues of awareness, ethnic diversity (or the lack thereof), racism, unity. The 20 minutes onstage continued for another full hour of taping as we continued to share stories of discrimination and barriers. We sat around a table, looking into each other’s eyes. Through conversation we risked and brought our stories into this space of grace and truth. Our perspectives of the God we love deepened through exposure to each other’s stories.

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Among the many “God’s perfect timing moments,” my article for Today’s Christian Women, “Rocking the Small World Boat” went live right in time for the conference. In it I share about awareness and included resources and tips to help further the conversation. You can click the link to access the article. TCW graciously unlocked the article so IF:Gathering and IF:Local women would have access to the resources.

I’m still turning over in my mind the content, the names, the faces, the experience. Anticipating how God will move, trusting Him for movement in the right direction.

Changed lives. Changed world.

 

Did you participate in the IF:Gathering? If so, I’d love to hear your feedback!

 

Receive the Missing Max Chapter

It’s been quiet over here on the website. Quite the opposite of life over here in my little corner of the planet. Have decided to go off grid for the remainder of the year. Needing time to reflect and decompress. My soul craves quiet on the inside and outside.

But before I bid you adieu I wanted to “gift” you with the “Missing Max Chapter” that was cut from the final “Warrior In Pink” manuscript. My little Christmas gift to you. Simply subscribe to receive email posts in the little box over there on the left. You will need to confirm the subscription when the email arrives in you inbox.

I won’t be mailing out the chapter until the end of January. And I promise I won’t sell the list or use it except to announce important events or opportunities.

Hope you enjoy the extended version.

May your Christmas and New Year be filled with meaning. And may God give you eyes to see all the blessings in your life beyond the material.

much love,

viv

MAX - HEAD SHOT

Perspective From a Son And a Psalm

October is winding down. I can’t remember a fuller Fall. No easing in. Spring boarding off an incredible summer of ministry and training with student leaders from across the country, I jumped into the deep end of ministry activity at the start of this school year. Exhilarating, challenging, humbling, fun, s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g.

  • Joined Darrin’s Epic National Field Ministry team. I’m serving with some of the finest leaders and friends during an exciting time of growth and fruit. Even more convinced than ever who you serve with is as important or maybe even more important than where you serve.
  • Speaking schedule has been varied and extremely enjoyable. In addition to speaking a retreats and events, I’ve tried out new modes of teaching. Did my first webinar and first podcast this fall.
  • Started back working on my MA at Talbot Seminary (yeah Class of 2045!). Taking a hybrid version (online and two-three hour “in human” classes) of Hermeneutics/Bible Interpretation has given me a greater appreciation for the Scriptures and humbled me to the core.

One of many significant take-aways from my class has been shifting my focus from “What does this Bible verse say to ME” to “What does this passage of Scripture say about God. His character, His will, His attributes, His ways, His heart. Perspective off self onto God. Not only is this lesson coming through my seminary class, I’ve also been challenged and blessed by my son, Michael. He and some of his friends have been taking turns writing devotionals to encourage one another from the Bible. He shared this devotional with me and with his permission I’m sharing part of it here with you. Hope it blesses you as it did me.

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Read Psalm 8.

As a whole, the psalm is simply glorifying God. Think about today’s Christian music. How much of it is about what God does for us, and then we praise him after that, because of what he’s done for us. Worship is not meant to be about what God does for us or how much stronger we are because of the things God does for us. Worship is simply praising God and glorifying him. We need to start removing ourself from worship, because it takes away from the glory God truly deserves. Reflect on how you can simply glorify God like this psalm does, and not bring yourself into it.
 
Now pay special attention to verses 5-8. How significant is it that God put us in charge of his creations. In spite of our imperfections and how unworthy we are, God allows us to tend to his creations. He even says that we are just a little lower than the angels. How can we be better stewards of what God has given us in this world, whether it be material things like money and possessions, or things like talents, abilities, the friendships he’s put in your life, and your spiritual gifts. How can we use these to glorify God rather than ourselves, and be stewards of it, constantly aware that we don’t own or deserve any of it.
 
How can you use one (or all) of your spiritual gifts to glorify God? This week? This month? For the rest of your life?
How can you constantly remind yourself that nothing you own is yours, and through that depend on God more? And how can you steward it to the best of your ability?
 
Michael’s encouragement to worship God for who He is, not what He does for us along with the reminder that our lives are not our own and to steward well all God has given is so timely in light of this past month.

As we wind down breast cancer awareness month, here are a few more blogs highlighting “Warrior In Pink.” Grateful for these friends who are hosting book giveaways on their websites. Seriously. If ever you wanted to get a free copy of the book to keep or give to a friend, now is the time. And if you don’t win, my publisher is offering Warrior In Pink for the special price of $7.99. You can order here.

  • My friend, author and speaker, Donna Jones is hosting a giveaway here.
  • First podcast with a fellow writer I met at Mount Hermon Writers Conference, Bethany Macklin, here.
  • New friend from Canada, April Yamasaki, is hosting a giveaway here.

Feel free to leave Michael a comment below if what he shared ministered to you.

Celebrating 5 Years Post Cancer Treatment!

Five years ago, on October 22, 2009, I wiped tears out of my ears. Lying still on a cold metal table I couldn’t hold them back. Silent tears of exhaustion and relief rolled out of my eyes and pooled in both my ears. After clearing out my ears, I glanced around the dimly lit room one last time. A quiet prayer of thanks and then I rushed out of the room and down the hallway, determined to never set my eyes again on the hand painted flower mural covering the cement walls. I renamed the basement radiation office “the dungeon.” For six weeks I walked around smelling like a giant tube of aloe vera gel. Every morning, Monday through Friday, I would take my place on the cold table under the Star Trek Enterprise looking giant zapper. Thirty-three radiation treatments to eliminate any lingering cancer cells. I started hunching my shoulders to keep my blistered, angry lobster-red skin from touching my T-shirts. Finishing radiation treatments marked the end of active treatment. Ten long months of active treatment. Three surgeries, 32 physical therapy appointments (to help regain range of motion and later to treat lymphedema), six rounds of chemotherapy and losing all my hair.

Five years ago I finished active treatment for breast cancer. At the time, I wondered if this day would ever come.

darrin and viv sans hair

For many cancer survivors the five-year mark is a milestone. For me, every year is a milestone. Watching Jonathan graduate from high school three years ago, shouting an extra loud “Woohoo!” as Julia promoted from elementary school to intermediate school last spring, and looking forward to this weekend as Michael attends his Homecoming Dance and begins applying for colleges in the coming weeks–I relish each and every one of these milestones.

I finally worked up the courage to ask my oncologist about recurrence. She shared that the aggressive type of cancer most young women are diagnosed with usually recurs within the first three years post active treatment. For my type of cancer, she said if it would return it would be in 7-10 years. So, though I am able to go through most days now without any thought of cancer, I find there are days when unwelcome fears circle around and enter my mind. On those days I am faced with the choice of how to proceed. Do I live in “what-ifs?” Do I obsess? Do I lay down my anxious thoughts and receive each day as a gift? Most days I walk in freedom knowing my days are numbered by the One who knows how many hairs have regrown on my head.

As I shared in my last post, along the way I have met remarkable people who have come alongside to help and encourage during both the cancer journey as well as the writing journey. This theme of community plays on repeat now in my little life as I go along each day. My soul has been altered for the better having been loved so well. My mind is filled with the faces of family and friends near and far who rallied, prayed and carried our family through the darkest days. I lift my pumpkin spice latte with deepest gratitude to each of you who came alongside us. Thank you.

I am also so grateful for these friends who are hosting book giveaways this week:

Gillian Marchenko, author of “Sunshine Down” is hosting a book giveaway here.

Lesley Miller, fellow Redbud Writer and friend, is hosting a book giveaway here.

And here’s my first article for Today’s Christian Woman, “Caring for Friends with Cancer” here.

Oh, and an hour long live Interview on My Faith Radio program here.

The month is not over and several other opportunities still remain to win a copy of the book. Keep checking back.

And join me in raising a pumpkin spice latte to celebrate five years cancer free!

 

Meeting Warriors In Pink

Cancer is no respecter of age, race, faith, socio-economic status, life-stage. All of us have been touched by cancer whether personally or someone close to us. The day after receiving my cancer diagnosis, Darrin and I sat in a cold, sterile office with a nurse practitioner. In addition to receiving a crash course on all things breast cancer, a bulging folder stuffed with pamphlets about treatment, we also learned statistically most everyone will deal with some form of cancer in their lifetime. Sobering news. Sadly, I’ve found the nurse’s words to be true.

This past weekend I enjoyed the company of the wonderful women from Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles. The theme of this retreat: “A Willing Heart.” Several women shared how cancer touched their lives. Our shared experience connected us; the theme applying on an entirely different level. What blessed me was seeing their warrior hearts, their willing hearts and also seeing the loyalty and love of friends and family who came alongside to help.

Following the retreat I had the privilege of FaceTiming and joining, via technology, a gathering up in San Francisco. My dear friend, May, pulled together an impressive team of women who walked 40 miles (not minutes, which would be about what I could handle, but MILES!) this past July in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. This photo is missing two others who were part of the team.

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They sweetly included me as an honorary team member. I was out-of-state during the walk. Honestly, if I joined them they would have had to dump me into a wagon and pull me along. 40 MILES. Wow. I did, however, wear my matching shirt, personalized with surVIVor, on race day. My heart remains grateful for these women and their families. Their willingness to train and walk, raise money and awareness blessed me. My heart is especially grateful for May and her loyalty and love throughout our cancer battle.

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With the continuation of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I wanted to highlight a blog post I wrote following the Webinar with Fullfill Magazine on “Helping Those Who Hurt.” I am grateful for this book review written by friend and Cru ministry leader, Andrea Buczynski. You can read it here.

And here is another place to enter for a free copy of Warrior In Pink. Asian American Women on Leadership blog is giving away a free copy, you just need to comment to be entered into the drawing.

Another five copies of the book will be given away later on this week over at Today’s Christian Women magazine and several more bloggers are also hosting giveaways. I’ll be sure to let you know when and where.

Still more to come!! Stay tuned!!

Warrior In Pink Book Giveaways

Warrior In Pink. The book is traveling to places outside the United States. I received this tweet from a woman in Uganda:

Earlier in the week I found out a friend was sending the book to a friend in Scotland! Another friend mentioned it was being read in Central Asia. I’m all goofy-face grinning.

Here are a few other places with book giveaways:

The amazing Mary DeMuth edited Warrior In Pink. She is offering a book over at her website. So far only one person has entered so your odds are ever in your favor (*high Hunger Games British accent voice). Click here to enter:

I’ll be participating in a webinar on Wednesday October 8th with Elisa Morgan, editor of Fulfill, cohost of Discover the Word, author, and gifted leader, teacher/speaker.  Two books will be given away during the webinar. The topic is “Helping Those Who Hurt.” The webinar will be interactive with content, polls, and opportunities to ask questions. Click here to sign up for the webinar until midnight tonight (Oct. 6th).

One more day left to enter the drawing over at Robin Lee Hatchers website. Click here to enter.

Still more to come! Also, I’d love to hear if you know of the book being read in countries outside the U.S. :)