Made to Crave Q&A with Renee & JJ Swope

Thank you for entrusting us with your “Made to Crave ” stories, struggles and questions. We are honored to pray this week for each of you and what you shared.

We had a hard time choosing between your great questions. So, we picked the most common ones this time. We didn’t go over our answers beforehand and I JJ surprised with his first one. I was thinking, “Wow, that’s not at all what I thought you were gonna say.” It’ll be fun to hear your thoughts. And your comments today (even if you don’t have time to watch them all) will be entered into the drawing for the “Made to Crave” bundle that includes a book, DVD set and participant’s guide. So, here we go. Welcome to our house!

We want this to be a conversation, so let us know your thoughts or questions. And let us know if you’d like to hear more answers to your questions. Again, today’s comments will be entered into the drawing for the “Made to Crave” bundle which includes abook, DVD set and participant’s guide. Winners announced Monday, January 31st.

Want to be notified when I announce the winner?
After you leave a comment, enter your email in the white box in my sidebar (right under the P31 logo). You’ll also receive updates when I write on my blog. But I will not share your email with anyone. Promise.

All in a day…

My heart feels ready and so does my home. I spent all day shopping for food and gifts yesterday.Today has been spent with friends and now I am back to share photos from last week’s adventures. I can’t believe it’s already been a week since we got back. Here are a few of the fun memories…

Lights, camera, action!
The first part of filming was just me talking to the camera – sharing about the conference and why it’s so very needed for parents today. Then I shared a D6 story.

Leah said it went great. I was so glad she was there to
encourage and pray for me. Here she is on the floor, which she said was more comfortable than the chair behind her.
From the floor, this was Leah’s view of us filming.

Jeremy (who has such a servant’s heart) is working the cameraand Matt Markins (who is a creative genius that passionately loves Jesus and his family) is getting ready to do the interview portion. He had such great questions!

Lysa stopped by towards the end to
share two great D6 stories.
Leah took a quick photo of us together.
This is our before photo…

These are our “after” photos!After we finished filming, we caught a 7:45pm flight to Houston – which was delayed. We got to TX at 11pm our time. Somehow our luggage got delayed in la la land. Here we are standing in baggage claim for what felt like forever waiting for our precious cargo!
Here I am swatting at Lysa who’s trying to get a close-up
so you can see how blood shot my eyes are.
We finally got our bags, rented a car and found our hotel. Much to our surprise, it was FREEZING outside!! Thankfully they had hot cocoa in the hotel lobby (although the color of the hot water was questionable). We got some anyway, and then went nighty-night. It was 1am EST when our heads hit the pillow. All this happened, all in a day!

The Interview and the Winners!

I love your insights and ideas about parents being involved in their kids’ spiritual lives. I have some special guest bloggers stopping by soon to share their perspectives and stories – maybe even a few author interviews, too. And best of all I’ve got more book give-aways sponsored by D6 and a big announcement about how you can win a trip for two (all expenses paid) to the D6 conference in September 2009!!! This week’s winners, chosen by Random Integers, are: Commenters 9 and 1 Timestamp: 2008-12-18 03:33:14 UTC

1 – Carol is the winner of Revolutionary Parenting by George Barna

9 – Caroline is the winner of The Bathtub’s Overflowing…. by Lysa TerKeurst

The Interview

The interviews on Monday were fun. I have photos to share, too. After I was done, Matt from D6 did a spontaneous Q&A with my ten-year-old, Andrew. It was just the guys talking, and me sitting there listening…and thinking… and praying! It was so funny and went something like this:

Matt: So, Andrew what is your favorite thing about being part of your family?

Me: Hoping he’ll say “I love how my mom prays for me on the way to school and talks to me about Jesus, and tells how I can love people like He loves me. I also like it when we read the Bible together and have family time.”

Andrew: Ummm, what I like most about our family is decorating the Christmas tree. I love the Christmas lights but I have to keep asking my mom again and again when we’re going to decorate our tree because we don’t usually decorate our tree until two weeks before Christmas but I love the Christmas tree lights and when we finally put the ornaments on.

Matt: Why do you like that?

Me: Hoping he’ll say, “Because Christmas lights remind me that Jesus is the Light of the world. And Christmas is His birthday.”

Andrew: Because it’s gives me that warm feeling inside. You know that feeling you get when you are with family and it’s all cozy ’cause you’re together?

Me: Ahh, that is so sweet. But I sure do wish He’d mention Jesus or the Bible or something spiritual for Heaven’s sake.

Matt: Andrew, what is your favorite thing about Christmas?

Me: Here’s his chance to mention Jesus’ birthday and our breakfast where we give Him a gift from our hearts and put baby Jesus in the mangers. Or how we do the advent wreath..oh no we haven’t done the Advent wreath – yet! Note to self:Light Advent candles and catch up on Advent reading when you get back from TX.

Andrew: My favorite thing about Christmas is the Christmas tree and the lights and opening presents and being together. And oh yea, my mom will read the Bible about Jesus being born.

Matt: That’s good since Jesus is what Christmas is all about, right?

Me: Oh, thank you Andrew for remembering that sweetheart. You might have just saved me from getting pulled off the speakers list!

It was really funny! Here I am being interviewed by the director of a conference for Christian parenting who invited me to speak and my child is not mentioning Jesus. I am sure he thought Matt knew enough about Jesus and just needed some Christmas light inspiration! My favorite part came towards the end when Matt asked:

Matt: What do you think your mom likes most about being in your family?

Andrew: Loving us. She really loves me and she’s always there for me.

Me: Ahh, that’s enough to make my heart just melt!

Matt: What do you think your dad likes most about being in your family?

Andrew: Reading the Bible. He loves to read the Bible. He makes me want to read the Bible and be a Christian when I grow up!

Me: Thank you Lord for my husband’s influence in my precious son’s life. Note to self: Be sure to talk with Andrew about what it means to be a Christian since he already is (or I thought he was) and be sure he knows he doesn’t have to wait until he grows up to read the Bible 🙂 like his dad but I sure am glad he wants to!!

Kids! They’ll keep you humble for sure. But I am so thankful for my little man. One thing I know: he loves God’s beauty reflected in Christmas lights! And he lights up a room with his smile and humor, the way Jesus did. Just makes me want to squeeze him!

So, have your kids ever had one of these moments? I have another funny story about something Andrew said to my pastor about “gas” after one of his sermons. Oh, but I don’t think I can share it in bloggy world!

More than I can Handle

Today holds a little bit more than this girl feels like she can handle in one day. I have three guests arriving in two hours with video cameras, lights, electrical smetrical gadgets and interview questions! Matt Markins from the D6 Family ministry is flying in from Nashville, TN today. He’s bringing a video/camera guy to my house to capture some conversations on film to use in promotions for the D6 conference I’ll be part of September 23-25, 2009 in Dallas, TX.

My wonderful friend and speaking assistant, Leah DiPascal, will be here too. She’ll be smiling and encouraging and calming – like she always is!! She’ll be reminding me that this is God’s assignment and that He’s given me all I need to fulfill it. She’s so much like Elizabeth, how she encouraged Mary to keep believing and focusing her eyes on the one who called her and promised to supply all that she needed!

So, about those interviews we’ll be doing. Matt wants me to share why it’s important for parents to be involved in their children’s spiritual growth. He’s has asked me to share a D6 story about a time with my kids where life and God’s truths intersected. I plan to share about Joshua’s incredible insight after my mom’s tinted sunglasses moment and how it opened the door for a very meaningful conversation about how we can see things through God’s perspective. The term D6 comes from God’s clear, powerful and practical commands for parents found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

We’ll also be talking about why this conference is needed at a time when mom’s are being pulled in every direction and overwhelmed, but longing for encouragement and ideas to connect with their kids spiritually.

Then tonight I fly out to Houston, Texas with Lysa to meet with KSBJ tomorrow about our Girl’s Night out with Proverbs 31 Ministries, Kate Gosselin from TLC’s Jon and Kate + 8, and Ayiesha Woods in Houston on January 22, 2009.

It’s the week before Christmas. This is crazy isn’t it? What was I thinking? Honestly, I wasn’t. This wasn’t on my calendar until two weeks ago. But I have come to believe that long, long ago it was on God’s calendar. He just happened to insert these plans it into mine when all the details, and promotions deadlines came together. Sometimes, God’s timing doesn’t make sense but if it did I wouldn’t have to depend on Him so much. Today, I definitely do. It might be more than I can handle, but He can more than handle all of it!

You know, there are days when parenting two boys feels like more than I can handle, too. That’s why I need conferences like these and encouragement from others. So, I’d love to hear your thoughts about what we’re discussing today: Why do you think it is important for parents to be involved in their children’s spiritual growth, rather than just taking them to Sunday school and youth group?

I’ll be doing a drawing sponsored by the D6 conference and P31 this Wednesday, giving away a copy of George Barna’s, Revolutionary Parenting, and Lysa TerKeurst’s, The Bathtub is Overflowing but I feel Drained . For a chance to win, please share your thoughts below in the comments section. And the winner of my Friday Christmas give-away is Chef Diane!!

Knocked in the Noggin!

You’re not seeing double. That’s my face in the same photo, two times today. Welcome to those of you who popped over from my interview for the cover of the December 2008 Christian Women Online magazine (e-zine). I’m so glad you stopped by!

Now don’t let that touched up cover photo fool you. I have a lot more wrinkles than it shows and I’m no cover girl, let me tell ya. I’m an ordinary woman/mom/wife who sometimes doesn’t even get to take a shower before her husband gets home. Like yesterday, for example. It’s a good thing they weren’t taking my picture then. It would’ve been hard to catch me since I was driving from here to there and everywhere picking up kids, grabbing lunch at the drive-thru, cleaning floors and towels, vacuuming and running to the hospital to get my husband who’d been there over the Thanksgiving holiday.

I was hoping to look pretty for JJ’s homecoming. You know – wash my hair, change out of my sweatsuit. But I gave up that plan after chasing my soaking wet dog who’d come in from the rain. While I wiped her paws, she slipped away in an attempt to run rampant on my newly cleaned floors, so I dove for the open laundry room door. That’s when I slammed the corner of my head into the corner of my faux marble counter top. OUCH!!! (Things like that are not supposed to happen when you’re trying to go get your husband from the hospital.) I really didn’t want to cry. So, I just bit my lip and ignored the throbbing sensation under my bangs and headed for the hospital.

JJ and and the boys gasped when I showed it to them last night. I wish the flash didn’t wash out the color so you could see it. It looked like a bloodshot blue eyeball on my forehead. Lovely, huh?

Here I am knocked in the noggin with a big ole knot on my head and the CWO magazine cover shot and article pops into my email inbox this morning. God’s timing is so funny!

Before I go, I want to say “thanks” to Christian Women Online for the honor of doing this interview! It was a real treat. I loved getting to know Sunny Shell (my CWO interviewer and new friend) and answer all of her great questions. It was like tracing the lines of God’s story in my life for the past 13 years. It helped me remember and thank God for all that He has done. I pray that as women read my story in this interview, they’ll be able to trace His hand in theirs. If you’d like to read it, click here.

She Speaks Q&A

Today I’m joining Lysa TerKeurst and some others from Proverbs 31 Ministries in a Q&A; about She Speaks, our annual conference for women who feel called as speakers, writers and women’s ministry leaders. This year we also have some special sessions for bloggers!

I’m answering some questions below that were posted on her blog yesterday.

How many people attend this conference?
Last year we had right at 400 and were sold out. This year we are planning for around the same number.

How large are the breakout sessions, and is there time to ask questions and talk to the speakers?
The break-out sessions range in size from 20 -100. Many of the speakers allow time for Q&A; and/or they stay after the session to answer questions. Also, all of us as speakers are available in the hallways, at meals and during small group time for questions. We try to be as available as we possibly can.

Is it always in June? Is it always in NC?
We host the conference in early summer for several reasons. It’s a time when churches have scaled back event schedules so leaders can get away more easily. It also allows them time to meet speakers that might be a good fit for the next year’s events. It’s also the best time for us as a staff and speaker team since there are significantly less engagements during this time of year. It’s also usually before most of us and our attendees start our summer vacations.

We host the conference in NC because it’s so much easier on us as a ministry to do something of this magnitude in/near our home office. It’s also much more cost effective because we don’t have to cover the travel expenses of so many of our conference staff/volunteers and speakers. We have been invited and encouraged by others to bring She Speaks on the road. We hope to be able to do that one day. It’s all in God’s timing and through His provision, so pray with us that He’ll make that possible

I live about 45 min to an hour away from where the conference is being held, is it possible to commute back and forth, or do you need to stay there to get the full effect?
That is a hard question because you’ be driving 1.5 hour each day to get there and back. If you were closer I think it might be easier. A lot of connecting with other women and having down time with God alone is a powerful part of the conference, as well as the sessions. I’d just hate for you to miss the full experience. But if it’s what God is leading you to do and it would make it possible to attend, I know He’ll make sure you get the most out of it.

I’m praying about which track to follow- writing or speaking? Is it possible to do both?
Our break-out sessions are a la carte – choose any type you want. Then we have sessions based on track chose in the evenings when we meet in groups for writer’s topics and peer feedback, women’s ministry sessions and networking, or speaker evaluation groups. You will be placed in a group based on the track you choose. So, basically you choose where you want to connect with others, get feedback and additional training during the evenings. You do have to stay within your track group during those time frames..

If am interested in writing and speaking, would you recommend following the track of my greater strength or where I most need work? You can take both writing and speaking workshops, but I would choose the track where you feel God calling you to get more feedback because that is where you will benefit during those times. (see above)

How do you decide between a speaking or writing ministry? Are they related? Which came first for you? I have gone back and forth between writing and speaking. For me they are very interrelated. Writing came first for me (see next question).

All of my messages are birthed from my journals where I write about my everyday life lessons and deep truths God is teaching me. Sometimes that is as far as my writing goes. But I keep writing for an audience of One, and eventually He uses what I’ve written in my journals to develop the messages He is calling me to speak on.

In late 2003 some doors were opening for me to write a parenting book with Focus on the Family based on my Mining for Gold in the heart of your Child character chart and parenting series. But in early 2004, I felt God calling me to lay down any plans of writing a book so I could be fully available for my family, for speaking and for my leadership role in at P31. It’s been four years and boy has He filled my speaking schedule, my family calendar and my plate at P31.

During this season, I have had little time to write devotions which has been hard, but God had assignments for me to help others build their ministries. He was also preparing me behind the scenes by leading me to help write radio shows for Lysa in 2006. Two years into my writing pause, He called me to oversee, write and record radio with Lysa. It has been great training because you have to be very focused and succinct in writing radio shows. The hard part is that it limits me because I can say very little in one minute, and I can’t go deep, which is my passion. But it’s been an incredible blessing and once again, preparation.

Just last summer I sensed God calling me to start writing again so I started this blog, began writing devotions and now I’m praying and waiting to see what He has planned for a book.

I want you to know that I have struggled with intense doubt as a writer. I have a very critical internal editor, me. The enemy also used to beat me up with negative thoughts when I tried to write. Now that God has called me to start again, that is not nearly as intense. In fact it’s the opposite now. Writing for me is no longer about whether I have something valuable to say, it’s about expressing the heart of God in me and the hand of God in my life. If one person benefits, I am blessed. But if not, I am still blessed because when I write I feel God’s pleasure! I am worshiping Him with my Words.

How did you get started?
My speaking ministry was birthed from my writing. It actually all started with a thank you note to a leader in our women’s ministry who loved what I wrote in the note. (I’ll post that story Monday). In 1999, after the thank you note, my women’s ministry leader asked me to write a study guide to give to 1000 women after a dinner series my church was doing. The topics were chosen by the speaker (my pastor’s wife) and her outlines were given to me to structure it. But I was encouraged to share my own journey woven in with her message. Women loved it because they had something to take home that would help them apply the messages.

The next year my women’s ministry leader asked me to teach a series on Weds nights for women who wanted to go through the study guide together. I thought 10 women might show up. We had over 30 the first night! Eventually I wrote more study guides and taught more classes. I was asked to start a ministry and we ended up with session reaching attendance of over 100 women. That is where my speaking ministry started – in my church..

Well, I better stop writing and get to work on messages for my speaking events in the coming weeks. I will write more when I finish the assignments He has for me this weekend. I will definitely share how I have learned to discern when it’s me or God. I want to pray about that one so I can put it into words. It’s a growing process for sure!

Thanks for joining me. I hope you’ll come back Monday for my story about the thank you note that launched my speaking ministry, and Tuesday to hear how God took my speaking beyond the walls of my church. Thanks for joining me!

Please click here to find a list of other blogs with more questions and answers from different perspectives of women just like you.