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Where’s Marti? Spring-Summer 2016

Dear Friends, Every so often, I take a little time to post my upcoming speaking schedule. I’ve had an exceptionally busy start to 2016, with lots of writing and editing projects, but I haven’t traveled much to speak. That all ends next weekend, although even then, I won’t travel far. Here’s my speaking schedule for the next few months, with a few notes about the specific conference or venue and topics: April 9, 2016: Outreach Prayer workshop, Women’s Retreat, University of South Florida Baptist Collegiate Ministry, held at First Baptist Wahoo, Bushnell, Florida May 11-14, 2016: Colorado Christian Writers Conference, Estes Park, Colorado. I’ll teach an Early Bird Workshop called “The Genuine Article,” but my main role will be serving on the conference staff and ministering through the appointment desk. These are the dates of the actual conference, but my husband (who is also serving on staff) and I will be there May 9-17. June 23-July 11, 2016: Panama Mission Trip with Awe Star Ministries. I serve as Director of Prayer and Publication for this student mission-sending organization but have not traveled with them since 2011. I’ll serve on a 10-day team and then join a 35-day team for another few days. I anticipate serving the students and leadership, writing regular blog updates for both teams, and seeing how God chooses to use me in the cities, jungles, and mountains of Panama. July 17-21, 2016: Montrose Christian Writers Conference, Montrose, Pennsylvania: This is the first time I’ve taught at this respected conference. I’ll present workshops on “Ethics for the Christian Writer,” “Master the Memoir,” and “I Want 2 Write 4 Teens” as well as a morning keynote. August 3-6, 2016: Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference: Faculty assignments have not yet been made for this conference, but I’ll again serve the faculty and conferees via the appointment desk. I expect to be in Philadelphia August 1-9 to help with pre- and post-conference work. I can recommend any and all of these events, and all except the first are open to the public. I’d love to see you there, so please let me know if you plan to attend. Blessings and prayers for you as you look ahead to your upcoming schedule, too.   For His glory,...

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New Year’s Resolution?

A trip to any grocery store or warehouse club tells us a new year has begun.  year. In December, shelves loaded with Christmas candy and holiday baking items greeted us. Now, a towering display of protein bars, vitamins and muscle-building shake mixes fills the front of the store. And almost every aisle boasts nutritious snacks, diet drinks and other items designed to appeal to those in New Year’s resolution mode. Social media now allows us to share our once-private pledges with the world. Declarations like “I’ll work out twice a day,” “I’ll lose 50 pounds,” or even “I won’t touch fats or carbs” fill my news feed along with pictures of the lifters, squatters, runners and dieters on my list of friends and followers. Christians, of course, are just as likely as others to post these year-opening promises and to make others that sound more spiritual: “I’ll read the Bible through four times this year” or “I’ll memorize 15 Bible verses every week.” But what about service? Where does it fit on our resolutions list? Deuteronomy encourages us to give God the firstfruit offering. For many believers, this means at least a tithe of our income belongs to God. But couldn’t we extend the idea of firstfruits to our ministry to others as well? Instead of waiting for pleading letters or posts from your favorite nonprofit or other service organization, calendar some activities now. Does the local homeless shelter or food bank need people to serve or pack meals? Such ministries typically have many offers of help in November and December but few after the feel-good holiday season has passed. Local schools are back in session and (after appropriate background checks) often welcome volunteers. And what about summer mission trips? Committing to one now instead of later will give you plenty of time to gather both needed funds and prayer support. If you’re a teen or have teens, I want to take a moment to recommend two student mission-sending organizations. My family and I have served with both. Awe Star Ministries designs its mission trips around the rite of passage concept in which students take a definite step into adulthood. The trips place an equal emphasis on evangelism and discipleship. During the trips, small groups of students work through materials designed to help them walk out what it means to be a man or woman of God. Awe Star offers spring break, Christmas and summer mission trips ranging from 10 to 35 days in length. Summer teams, ranging in size from 20 to 30 students, depart from Dallas after four days of training. Each serves in a different country (this year, teams will travel to Mexico, Peru, Panama, and Suriname) and...

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What if I Don’t Go? Lessons from My Summer

Summer 2015: my first summer in six years without a mission trip. Because of family commitments, my husband and I decided not to serve overseas this past summer. And for multiple reasons, it was the right decision. But without a mission trip, summer didn’t seem like summer. I missed the packing, the planning, the prayer over the country and the people. I missed the confusion and excitement of travel, the challenge of operating in another language, and the fun of discovering how people in other cultures and countries live. I missed the early-morning bus rides, the late-night talk sessions, the evening challenges in Word and worship. I missed the performances of a gospel-sharing drama and the intense conversations and conversions that followed. I missed the miracles of healing, provision, salvation, and more. A summer without missions didn’t seem like summer. Not at all. But is God only at work on the mission field? And is missions only about my satisfaction? Of course not. This summer proved a good time to reflect on the reasons I go and tell. Besides having some of my personal preferences unfulfilled, what happens if I don’t go? People don’t come to know Christ. I don’t have the gift of evangelism, but I do love Jesus. A lot. And I believe his Word compels me to tell others about him. If I miss a trip, the people with whom I would have shared miss the gospel. Yes, God can cover that through others, but fewer missionaries means fewer contacts, and fewer contacts means fewer people who have the opportunity to hear and respond. Students don’t grow in their faith. Every mission trip I’ve taken has involved some of my favorite people: students. I love the double opportunity these trips bring to share my faith with the nationals and share about my faith with the teens, some of whom have become lifelong friends. Of course, I learn as much from these students as they do from me (“Never the Same Missions: Grace” gives one heartfelt example). So I miss out on the spiritual growth that takes place on the mission field, too. Those in need receive less. When I travel overseas, I take clothing, toys, and other items to share. Our Never the Same teams raise extra money to bring Spanish Bibles each year. And while on the field, it seems there’s always a project, a church, or a ministry that needs our help via cleaning, painting, or other practical acts. One less person on the field means less giving in those ways, too. Stories of God’s work don’t get told. I live and move and breathe as a storyteller, so whether I’m the official writer on a trip or not,...

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WRITE: Escape the Lie, The Story Behind the Book, Part II

Today, I want you to imagine with me. Imagine you’re a research scientist. After working for years,  you can hardly believe it. You’ve discovered a pharmaceutical formula that cures cancer in all its forms. You know it works because of all your study. But you also know it works because you’re a cancer survivor yourself. Things looked bleak for you until you participated in a test of this drug. And now, you’re cancer-free—and have been for some time. You have a problem, though. You have no way of taking the drug to market. You’re a researcher, not a doctor. You’ve exhausted your funds and can’t finish all the FDA and other approval needed. And you can’t even begin to package it attractively or get it into consumer’s hands. So what do you do? You get help, don’t you? You do whatever it takes to finish the process and get the drug out there where it could save lives. You don’t quit. You persevere. Dramatic, yes, but both Walker and I feel this way about his Orphan Heart message. It has touched both our lives in specific, personal ways. And although it took us several years and a team of people to take the book from initial ideas to preached message to published book, we didn’t give up. We couldn’t. As you read the book, you’ll find his story. Wounded by a father he loved but couldn’t seem to please, he became an orphan who tried to fix himself and others by doing everything right. And things grew worse, not better, until he understood the truth he shares with thousands across the country and around the world: I am my Father’s favorite child. In brief, the Orphan Heart is the lie Satan implants in our hearts, often through a wound or perceived wound from a parent or other authority figure, which says we don’t matter to God or to other people. Sometimes we respond in rebellion, like the prodigal son we read about in the New Testament. Sometimes we respond by trying our best to be perfect, like his elder brother. Either way, we lose, and we lose big. We may know Christ, but we don’t live the abundant life He promised because we’re stuck in the past and afraid of the future. Our everyday lives are filled with “if only” and “what if” instead of the fruit of the Spirit. The Orphan Heart keeps us living as those who have no father, no identity, no purpose, no direction, and no destiny. And no, it’s not cancer, but it’s not life, either. So when I heard and responded to the Orphan Heart message, I knew I had to help Walker share it. I’ve been in...

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WRITE: Escape the Lie: The Story behind the Book, Part I

“How did you come to be involved with this book?” a friend asked. Escape the Lie: Journey to Freedom from the Orphan Heart released last week on the day I flew home from teaching at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. I came home to two cases of the book resting on my office floor. And even though midnight had just passed, I had to hold one of the real-life copies in my hand before I went to bed. My writing partner, Dr. Walker Moore, and I agree that the path to publication has been a journey—a personal, spiritual one as well as a professional one. Escape the Lie is the third book on which we’ve collaborated (the other two are Rite of Passage Parenting: Four Essential Experiences to Equip Your Kids for Life and the award-winning Rite of Passage Parenting Workbook). We first connected when a friend recommended the student missions-sending organization he founded, Awe Star Ministries, as a great avenue for our two oldest daughters, then fifteen and sixteen. Since then, all five Pieper children have served multiple times with Awe Star, and I’ve also served with Awe Star teams in both Mexico and Panama. In 2005, because of our involvement with Awe Star, I was part of a group of thousands across the world who were praying for fifteen-year-old BJ Higgins, a committed follower of Christ who fell ill after serving for the second time with Awe Star in Peru. When I saw the potential for a book in his story, I wrote Walker and volunteered to help. The memoir that resulted, I Would Die for You, became a Young Adult bestseller and continues to draw people toward the God BJ served with such passion. But even before I had the opportunity to assist BJ’s parents in telling his story, I began editing Walker’s popular weekly column in the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger. Walker is a brilliant Bible teacher, but, like two of my daughters, he’s dyslexic. He doesn’t think of himself as a writer, but his combination of biblical wisdom, humor, and life-changing stories (many from his years of experience on the mission field) has a way of touching lives few writers can achieve. For his column, I have the privilege of making sure the words appear in the right order and the stories make sense. For his books, though, we have a different way of working. In fact, we wrote much of Rite of Passage Parenting before we ever met. At first, he sent me some of his old writing and workshop videos, asking me to turn them into something fresh.  He hated the result. And I hated that way of working. So since that time, I do the...

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PRAY: Top Ten Reasons to Bee-lieve in the Bee (National Bible Bee)

Next week, my two youngest daughters and I set off on what we know will be an amazing adventure. We’ll join more than 300 finalists, their families, speakers, and sponsors for the National Bible Bee to be held at the Nashville Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. The girls and I will volunteer in various ways including, for my part, serving as a judge for the preliminaries and collecting Bible Bee stories to share later. Our journey to the Bee began, as have so many of my others, in prayer. More than six years ago, when B.J. Higgins lay fighting for his life in a hospital bed, I kept close watch on his family’s blog,, where I posted prayers and words of encouragement. More and more, I noticed the posted prayers of another warrior, Tammy McMahan.  Could she read my mind? Or did our words flow from similar hearts?  As the weeks progressed, it became obvious that we shared a heart for prayer, for our Father, and for connecting lives with His truth. Tammy and I became off-blog friends, prayer partners, and e-mail sisters. We continued our relationship as I moved into the considerable task of helping BJ’s parents share their son’s story in the book I Would Die for You (Revell, 2008). Not long after that, God moved the McMahans to my parents’ Ohio hometown where, after more months and more prayer,  Tammy’s husband Mark accepted the position of CEO of the Shelby Kennedy Foundation/National Bible Bee. I hope to do a bit of blogging from the Bee itself, but for now, I’ll settle for a quick  TOP TEN REASONS TO BEE-LIEVE IN THE BEE:             10.  Prizes: The Shelby Kennedy Foundation gives away $260,000 in cash prizes at the National Bible Bee competition each year. Top prize in the senior division is $100,000. 9. Speakers: The 2011 National Bible Bee competition features presentations by Dr. Voddie Baucham, Kirk Cameron, John Stonestreet, Doug Philips, and others passionate for the cause of Christ-centered family discipleship, including my friend and writing partner, Dr. Walker Moore of Awe Star Ministries. 8. Family-friendly Environment: The opposite of the typical adults-only conference, the National Bible Bee offers wholesome activities and experiences for all ages and interests. The Bee’s unique curriculum also allows elementary-age students through adults to study the same passages at the same time. 7. Exposure and Experience: The National Bible Bee competition gives young people the opportunity to share their knowledge of Scripture with others in a safe, non-threatening environment. 6. Planning and Preparation: The National Bible Bee is well-planned, well-thought-out, and well-administered at every level. 5. True Fellowship: The National Bible Bee offers families the experience of building...

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