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YA Friday: READ: Made to Crave for Young Women by Lisa TerKeurst and Shaunti Feldhahn

I admit it. I’m not one to follow the trends. If anything, I’m the one standing on the sidelines, smiling to myself. Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean I have to buy/read/eat/sing/whatever it.That’s why when Lysa TerKeurst‘s Made to Crave (Zondervan, 2011) debuted and hit all kinds of best-seller lists, I waited. It’s probably not all that good. The author has a huge network. Gotta be a combination of savvy marketing and the right book at the right time.  Or maybe it’s biblical, contemporary, life-shaping, fresh, and poignant —like its younger sister. Today’s review covers the YA version of Made to Crave, written with best-selling author Shaunti Feldhahn. As the mother of young adults and as someone who writes for them (often through the pages of SUSIE Magazine), I try to stay in touch with YA literature. I rarely see anything as well-written, targeted, focused, and practical as Made to Crave for Young Women: Satisfying Your Deepest Desires with God. Although the original book addresses the food cravings many of us battle, this version speaks to the physical, emotional, and material cravings that grip young lives in huge ways. Topics range from body image to inappropriate means of seeking approval to tough issues like promiscuity and alcohol abuse. Neither author is afraid of stark statistics or the kind of transparent sharing that breaks down walls. The book moves forward with just the right blend of biblical truth, personal anecdote, and directed challenge. Lysa and Shaunti are not finger-pointing church ladies but big sisters coming alongside to offer hope and help. The practical steps they suggest include directed journaling, Scripture memory suggestions, and wholesome activities that will help readers retrain their minds and reshape their hearts. I doubt I’ll ever leap onto the next trendy bandwagon, literary or otherwise. But a book that says more than, “Just stop it” in its effort to help young adults recognize their cravings as idolatry? That’s a trend to follow.  Right away. BONUS: I can’t let YA Friday pass without reminding you to vote to help put SUSIE Magazine on the shelf at Wal-Mart. The first round of voting is over, and out of 4,000 products, we made it to the Top Ten! Find directions for voting by Twitter and Facebook (once per day, each way) here. How do you choose your books? Have you read this one? Leave a comment and let me know. Find a local Christian bookstoreFind this book on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, or at Christian Book Distributors (FTC Disclaimer: I received an electronic advance reading copy free from the publisher. I was not required to post a review or a positive...

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WRITE: Colorado Christian Writers Conference and Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference

“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others” (Habakkuk 2:2). My dear friend, Marlene Bagnull, takes this verse as the theme of her writing life. Along the way, she’s published several books and hundreds of articles and devotions. She’s served her family, which includes a husband, three grown children, and three active grandchildren. And through the years, she’s grown her roots deep in God. This devotion to her Father, I’m convinced, is what sets Marlene’s two conferences—one in the heart of the rugged Rocky Mountains, the other cradled in the countryside near Philadelphia—apart. Yes, you can find authors, editors, and agents (more than 70 on each faculty) at both events. Yes, you’ll receive top-notch instruction in almost any area of writing. And yes, you’ll connect with writers of many genres, various experiences, and great expertise. But God’s Spirit pervades these events in a way I can only trace back to Marlene’s unique walk with God. Who else but a surrendered servant would break into prayer as she makes conference announcements? Who else would choose faculty not on the basis of renown but of ministry capacity? And who else would focus each conference on an issue she believes writers need to address? You see, Marlene’s conferences go beyond helping writers achieve publication. She uses these events to equip writers to use their words to change the world. Keynote speakers address issues that matter and suggest ways writers’ messages can connect.  I’ve served on several conference faculties, but I’ve never had my call to write renewed and reaffirmed in the ways I have at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference (GPCWC) and, in a few more weeks, as I will during my first visit to the Colorado Christian Writers Conference (CCWC). I’ve wept. I’ve prayed. I’ve been reminded to listen to His voice about what and how I write. Last year at the GPCWC, I taught Writer WannaBe, a continuing workshop for new writers. This year, I have the privilege of teaching Book Doctor, a nonfiction book proposal clinic, at the CCWC along with a workshop that’s become my personal favorite, Master the Memoir. I’ll also represent SUSIE Magazine, the only print Christian magazine targeted exclusively toward girls ages 11-19.  Do you have an interest in writing? Do you believe God wants to use your words to make an impact? Check out either or both of these conferences. Scholarships are available and registration deadlines loom. Does God have an appointment for you at the CCWC or GPWC this year? Don’t miss His invitation to write His answer. Do you have a conference (one of Marlene’s or...

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YA Friday: READ–Vote for SUSIE Magazine

How many people have the privilege of pursuing a job they love? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I do know how grateful I am that my writing provides both income and joy. My work with SUSIE Magazine brings an extra measure of blessing since it includes writing for and about some of my favorite people: teens. And the missions trips I’ve taken in my role with SUSIE Mag (to Guatemala, Ecuador, and this summer—Panama) only add to my enjoyment of this connection. SUSIE’s making a strong bid to obtain a spot Wal-Mart via a month-long campaign entitled “Get On the Shelf.” Fans may vote twice daily—once via text (text 4959 to 383838) and once via Facebook. And in case you’re not sure about that vote, I now present my  TOP FIVE S-U-S-I-E REASONS SUSIE MAGAZINE IS STUPENDOUS: Spiritual: SUSIE presents a healthy, Christ-centered perspective on anything pertinent to girls ages 11-19 and beyond. Unique: SUSIE is the only print publication focused exclusively on teen girls and written from a Christian perspective. Supportive: SUSIE includes a powerful online component known as the Gloal Sisterhood at Insightful: SUSIE gives young women the privilege of hearing from experts in the fields of theology, practical living, beauty, health, fashion, and more. Excellent: Take one look at SUSIE and you’ll agree. The writing, photography, graphics, and design make this magazine a standout. Won’t you vote—and keep voting—to put SUSIE on the shelves at Wal-Mart? A print product matched to this store’s huge customer base could have boundless potential. Just like the teens who read the magazine. How has SUSIE Magazine touched your life or your family? I’d love to have your feedback and will pass it on to SUSIE editor/founder, the real-life Susie...

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PRAY: A Missionary’s Response to Short-Term Mission Trips

I’m newly returned from my SUSIE Magazine/Never the Same trip to Ecuador and overflowing with stories about the great things God did there. I need to save most of those for the magazine so you won’t read many here!Blogging and mission trips don’t seem to go together well for me. Internet tends to be sporadic and my days, long and full. Of course, I had good intentions of pre-posting (didn’t happen), posting during training (didn’t happen), and posting during the trip (you guessed it–didn’t happen). But before we return to our regular programming, I wanted to share a word received from a dear friend from seminary who now serves as a career missionary in Honduras. She had tried to post this as a comment on my “Prayer for Summer Missionaries” and was unsuccessful so I received her permission to include it here.I don’t understand everything about the spiritual dynamic of mission trips. I do know that God talks about the importance of planting and watering as well as sowing and reaping. When I teach about prayerwalking, I remind people that sometimes our work is as much or more about preparing the soil than harvesting. Each aspect of a trip is important and, although we want to see people come to know Christ, we need to be aware that the timing belongs to the Lord. He is the One who draws people to Himself. And if our work moves them one step closer to true relationship with Him, it has value whether or not we get to see them cross the line.Please read my friend Beverly’s remarks and add your own comments. Are short-term teams valuable? Do they hurt or help the work of career missionaries? Do they make an impact in the kingdom? Feel free to join the discussion!As long-term missionaries, we’ve learned to value short-term teams. They are sometimes a breath of fresh air, sometimes a headache, have much to offer or are barely prepared, but at the end of the day there is a powerful spiritual dynamic in their presence.We are faith missionaries, so some have asked, “Wouldn’t it be more useful to just send you the cost of the airfare and other trip costs?” While we never turn down God’s provision :), the answer is “no”. The truth is that when they, in obedience to God’s call, place their feet in our nation, they bring the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom, after all, is where we do exactly what the King says, including putting our passport to work. Their obedience creates a dynamic in the heavenlies over our nation that results in the salvation of persons whom we haven’t been able to reach (even when the visiting...

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PRAY: Prayer for Summer Missionaries

This morning, I leave for my short-term missions trip to Ecuador with SUSIE Magazine. I go as the writer charged with sharing the story of the trip; as a seminar leader; and above all as a missionary and servant to my fellow missionaries. My heart overflows with prayers for these more than 300 teens and what God intends to do through them as well as for Awe Star Ministries and my own teen daughters who begin their ministries in Peru and Latvia today. This summer, many others will travel to serve in short-term missions. Will you join me in praying for them today? Lord, I praise You because of Your great love—a love that extends to all nations, all peoples. What an honor we have to carry Your love to other countries. What an honor we have to serve You as we carry Your life within us, ready to spill out as we go. Today, Lord, I ask You to go before us and prepare the way. Prepare the soil in the countries we go that it may be soft for Your touch. Protect the people who listen and who speak from the evil one—fill the land with Your presence and banish him by the power of Your Word and Your shed blood. Open their hearts, open their lives to hear not from us but from You. Prepare my fellow missionaries and me as well, God. Prepare our hearts that we may be worthy vessels. Prepare our hands that we may be willing servants and our minds that we may be wise counselors. Prepare our feet that we may be sure travelers and our mouths that we may be sound proclaimers. Prepare us, revive us, restore us to follow You. I thank you, God, that You are the giver of all good gifts and have many in store for us this summer. Help us to receive everything as from Your hand, to trust You from moment to moment and step to step. Thank You for choosing us and using us as we go. In Your holy name I pray—AMEN. Are you praying for summer missionaries? Please tell us about them so we can lift them up as...

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Pray: Why Missions?

Team Latvia, 2011 (Karissa in front row, second from left) “Wow. That’s great for your kids. I just don’t  think our family could do that.” That’s the most common response I hear when people find out that we said goodbye to both our youngest daughters this past weekend. One left Saturday and the other Sunday for the training step of their five-week mission trips. Although they’re both in Dallas for training, on Thursday, Melanie (14) and her team will head to Peru and Karissa (16) and hers to Latvia. This trip marks Melanie’s third missionary journey and second summer in Peru. And Latvia makes Karissa’s (counting on fingers here) fifth mission trip and fourth summer overseas (she’s served in Mexico, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Panama in all). And yes, we could list similar countries and numbers for their older siblings. Missions matters to our family and, by God’s grace, has become a treasured part of our lives. Team Peru, 2011 (Melanie in second row, far right) I’ve read some negative things about short-term mission trips that focus more on the needs of those who go than the needs in-country. I count many fulltime missionaries as friends and understand something about the work these trips involve for them. But I will continue to help my children (and others) go. Since I hear many questions about our family’s mission activities, I thought I’d share my responses to a few of the more frequently asked. Aren’t your kids missing out on normal summer activities? In a word, yes. But I don’t have a problem with that. My children have grown up knowing that what was right for everyone was not necessarily right for them. Their youth group’s going to a fantastic camp this summer. My girls are sad to miss the adventure and praying for their friends who attend. But at the burden to take the gospel overseas outweighs any desire on their part for sun, sand, jobs, or a great camp experience. To say they’re missing out is like saying the person who dines on steak and lobster has blown the opportunity for a fantastic Happy Meal. How can you let them go for so long? Our children serve with Awe Star Ministries which provides a 35-day (3 days training, 30 days in-country, 2 days debriefing) missions experience. In the beginning, these were rite of passage trips for them both. The trip length has been specifically designed as an intentional step from childhood to adult. Now, they love the five-week format and the intense discipleship/missions experience. I miss my daughters, but I rest easier at night knowing they’re with an organization I trust doing work that counts for eternity. How...

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