Tell it Well!

Whether it’s running for office, speaking up at a community meeting, delivering a moving tribute at a friend’s memorial service, sharing your faith effectively, or even conveying your thoughts clearly and confidently at work or a dinner party, you have a unique voice and the world is waiting for your contribution…yes, yours!

Over the past year, I’ve been blessed to extend my speaking into serving other speakers through coaching/training both individuals and groups.

Tell it Well

It’s been fulfilling to see inexperienced speakers trade fear for finesse…and to help seasoned speakers fine-tune their speeches into unforgettable messages.

Tell it Well!

I wholeheartedly believe everyone has a story.  And that story is worth telling well!

It’s been many months in the development and now it’s official!  Visit my new site www.TellItWell.org to learn more. Please “like” my facebook page and take a moment to sign up for my Tell it Well blog to receive tips, articles and videos to help you put your best forward.  And thanks to Skype, coaching sessions are not limited by geography!

It would be my honor to support you in developing a talk that expresses your thoughts and ideas beautifully.  In the process, you’ll come away not only with a great message, but with more confidence and skill that you can apply to future talks.

Everyone has a story…here’s to telling yours well!

Learn to Read or Go to Jail

I could hardly believe it when I heard it:

Many states project future prison beds based on current fourth grade reading levels.

Our time has taught us much in the short eight months we’ve been engaged with this community.  Poverty is strongly linked to illiteracy, and illiteracy is strongly linked to crime.

I’m indebted to Curtis Honeycutt and his article “Read or Go to Jail” for the following statistics:

When the states of Arizona and California project how many prison beds they will need, they factor in the number of kids who read well in fourth grade. Evidence shows that children who do not read by third grade often fail to catch up and are more likely to drop out of school, take drugs, become pregnant out of wedlock or go to prison.  So many nonreaders wind up in jail that Arizona and California officials have found they can use the rate of illiteracy to help calculate future prison needs (Wonder of Reading).

60% of urban school children do not graduate from high school. 40% of those who do read at only a 4th grade level.(Edu-Cyberpg)

The Department of Justice states, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.” Over 70% of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level. (Begintoread.com)

So, what’s the moral of this story?   Mentoring and tutoring kids (especially in reading) can directly lead to a decrease in crime over time.

Who can make a difference?  Anyone who can read and has 45 minutes a week to spare.

How can you make a difference?  Robin Crosby, director of Campus Clubs in Macon, says that if every child had a reading buddy (someone who is willing to spend 45 minutes a week with a child working on reading skills) the result could be astounding.

A few of my friends and I are seeing slow but satisfying progress in the reading skills of our little friends.  Project the weekly investment of 45 minutes of your time down the road.  Imagine that child beating the odds of his neighborhood and graduating from high school, getting a job and making a living, having a healthy self esteem and staying out of prison.  That could well be the result of the grace of God and your weekly 45 minute investment.

Go ahead.  Picture it.

There are not many better contributions you could make toward changing a life, a home, a street, a neighborhood, a city, a state and our country.  And the beauty is that it’s easy, often fun and richly rewarding.

Can’t beat that!

For more information, visit www.campusclubsmacon.org.

Radical

You know how when you’re first married, you’re still finding out things about each other? One night, early on in our marriage, the subject of missions came up and I said to John, “I need to confess something to you…you know that whole ‘gift of missions’ thing?… Well, I don’t have it.” He wiped his brow and let out a big, “Whew!  What a relief!  Me, either!” and we rejoiced that God had known just what He was doing when He put us together.  “It just isn’t our calling”, we’d say.

Two committed Christians…with not an inkling of desire toward missions.

It was a miracle!

(Well, maybe not quite as big as some miracles, but still, it was pretty cool.)

Our “miracle” came to a screeching halt last summer when we stumbled upon the book Radical…Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt.  Platt said that it’s easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said His followers would actually live, and what their new lifestyle would actually look like.  They would, Jesus said, leave behind money, security and convenience for Him.  They would abandon everything for the gospel.

“But who do you know who really lives like that?”, asks Platt.  We knew we didn’t.

Every page drew us in like a magnet, but with a personal “ouch” as we realized how far our lives were from the New Testament Christians described in the Bible.  I’ve known and loved the Lord since the age of nine.  I’ve even worked in a church full time.  My husband was and is a committed Bible teacher.  Most everyone I knew was a Christian.

The literally billions in need of the gospel seemed far away…so far away that my thoughts were consumed not with them, but with (and this is not easy to say) wanting my house and yard to look good when all my Christian friends came over for Bible study.

It was through Radical that God said two resounding words…”Wake up.” Wake up and realize that there are real battles to be fought. God was preparing us for what was to come.  He began to plant the thought in us that there had to be more to Christianity than the American Dream.  The book called us to wake up to the real battles for the souls of the countless multitudes who are currently destined for an eternity without Christ.

We went on our first mission trip to Panama, then some months later, Africa, seeing God do things only He could do, drawing hearts to Himself. We saw a baby miraculously healed overnight after fervent prayer that God remove from her a deadly illness.

We saw dozens of people give their hearts to Christ in Panama, then just over a hundred in Africa.  We saw self-less, grateful attitudes among Panamanian and Ugandan Christians who had absolutely nothing.  We saw people hungry enough for the Word to read by flashlight at night.And in the process, something shifted in us that cannot, will not shift back.

Have you had a “wake up” call from God before? Or has Radical affected your life? I’d love to know how He’s worked in your life. Drop me a line and tell me about your “wake up call”… and what happened next!

Safari Sightings & Favorite Pics (Africa Series: 5 of 5)

OK, so it wasn’t ALL missionary work.

On our last day, we piled into Range Rovers for some safari sightings!  Can you hear the theme music of Daktari playing in the background?  No? How bout Born Free?  Does the phrase Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom ring a bell? Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?

I remember my brother and me getting our PJ’s on and horsing around in front of the TV, while we excitedly waited for our show to begin.

Marlin Perkins

Credit: Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom

Anyway, here are a few favorite shots from our sensational safari day:

First, we spent the night at a beautiful lodge overlooking the Nile.  Here’s a view of the river from our patio:

And one more.  Can’t you just picture lil’ baby Moses in a basket, nestled in those bullrushes?

Then we loaded up.  That’s our good friend, Kat, in the back of the Range Rover along with Marla and Shawn, who we met while on the trip.  Kat’s crazy about animals.  As in Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs kind of crazy.  In fact, she’s the proud surrogate mama of a donkey, a goat and several chickens.  Hey, we love it, because she brings us fresh eggs now and then. But I digress.  The point is… she was happy as a pig in slop on our safari!

So, why did the chicken cross the road?  Wow, the chickens look a lot different in Africa than they do back home!  (By the way, Kat snapped this great shot.)

Then he waved his trunk at us as we passed by.

Wasn’t it accommodating of these two giraffes to pose for us?

They were everywhere!


“Where the deer and the antelope play”…

This ends my series on Africa.

Africa, you’ve stolen my heart.

Happy People (Africa Series #4)

Uganda.  War torn.  Victim of the Lord’s Resistance Army, rebels who used to wander around Northern Uganda and Southern Sudan, replenishing their ranks by brutally tearing children from their villages and forcing them to fight.

Dr. Ian Clarke, an Irish doctor who pitched himself and his family into Uganda more than twenty years ago, has found purpose in responding to the needs he found all around him there.  In his book, “How Deep is This Pothole?”, he describes the LRA’s atrocities:

A group would target a school or village and abduct more children.  They were taken from their classrooms, roped together and marched into the bush. Within hours many of them had swollen or blistered feet and cried out that they could go no further.  A group of friends would be made to beat the child.  Of course they did not want to hit their friend or sibling, but they themselves were beaten to force them, so they would tentatively beat the child around the legs.

“No, not like that”, the commander would instruct. “Like this.”  And he would beat the child on the head.  Then, crying and sobbing, the other children would beat their victim until his blood and brains leaked out over the ground.

Clarke explains that by forcing children to kill in this manner within hours of their capture, they were made to share in the collective guilt.  Having murdered their own friends and family members, they were now killers and could not go back to a normal life.

Please forgive the gore. But these are the kind of stories we heard sitting under the mango trees with our new friends.

Although thankfully, this ended in 2008,  everyone in Uganda lost a friend or mother or father or brother or sister or child to this atrocity.

You would think they’d be angry, sarcastic, jaded, cynical.

Yet they are gentle, happy, grateful people.  Maybe happier than you and me?

“How can that be?”,  I pondered each night under my mosquito net as I trailed off to sleep.  No electricity, no toilets, no clean water.  Yet happy, genuinely joyful people.

I only know that when they sing,“Lord I lift Your  name on high” and “I’m so glad You’re in my life”,  they mean it. They really mean it.

When they sing “You are my All in all”, there is a look on their faces that tells me that He truly is.

When they speak of having been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, there is a conviction in their voices, a sparkle in their eyes.

When I asked one of them about their feelings concerning all that had happened, he pointed me to Job.  “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  “By His grace, our joy is unshakeable because it comes, not from our temporal circumstances, but from Jesus Christ.”

Humbled. Convicted. Seeking God with all my heart to give me a heart like this.

Click on the video below to see my happy friends singing: