By Debbie Altman




I didn’t have a sister and my adopted mother was absent during my late teens and twenties, then passed away when I was twenty-eight years old. By the grace of God and a girl named Martha, I became Christian when I was eighteen and began to discover the power of community within the church.


When I had no choice but to move from my home as a college student, Carole took me in and loved on me. She mentored me in life and pointed me to Christ and His Word. Later, her mother Frances gave me a home until I married.


As a young wife I remember having Esther who I would run to when I was in need of some big-time prayer and motherly encouragement. I clung to Meg when I needed a woman right ahead of me in parenting to guide me along the way. And there was always Mama Kaye to cheer me on!


Later, Carole led a small group to help us to enjoy our husbands, love on our babies and also learn to lovingly discipline them. (Our children, not our husbands!) As I got older, there were the ladies who stood with me as my nest emptied, and those patient ones who prayed and listened as I went through a serious mid-life, menopausal meltdown! It was not a pretty time.


I am now enjoying the camaraderie of girlfriends who are navigating this next season of life involving the joys of aging, adult children, and grandbabies! Yes, every season of a woman’s life has its challenges and blessings, and every season needs it’s female friendships, mentors, and safe landing places.


As if having Jesus is not amazing enough, we are blessed with the Christian community as well… an unexpected treasure! The way women have ministered to me and filled in the gaps when family is lacking, and even when it is not, is priceless and humbling. I am thankful for all the small groups that I have been a part of and the many women, young and old, who have supported, affirmed, taught, comforted, challenged and loved me. The girls in my life allow me to laugh, cry, scream, grow, and fail. The girls in my life allow me to talk when the man in my life has already heard it all and can’t fix it! They are life-giving. They are necessary. Don’t do Debbie's Story finalthis life without them.

Click on this link for information about all our Beautiful Summer Groups starting in June.


Embracing the Uncomfortable

By Leah Martorana



The other day, something amazing happened when I decided to embrace the uncomfortable.


I saw a man in the parking lot and could tell at first glance he was in need of something. To be honest, my first thought was to turn away and stare down at the concrete to avoid the conversation. But instead I decided to look up, make eye contact, and hear what he had to say. I could tell it was taking every ounce of energy in him to swallow his pride and ask me for help. He said his name was Russell and he just needed enough money to get to the Salvation Army where he could spend the night and get a meal. He told me he was a veteran, a heart patient, and due to a chain of events he had recently found himself temporarily homeless. He pulled out his wallet and showed me his military ID as if to prove he was telling the truth. I thought about how this came to him so naturally. Like he had been proving himself and explaining himself to other people for so long that he didn’t even have hope that someone would believe him or take his word at face value. That made me feel sad.


I looked in my purse and didn’t have any cash. Ordinarily I would have told him this and then been onmatthew my way. Most likely I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. I’m ashamed to say I’ve done it many times. But on this day, I didn’t walk away. I drove across the street, stopped at an ATM, took out some cash and bought a bottle of water. I went back and handed the cash and water to Russell. Tears filled his eyes and he took my hand and prayed the most beautiful prayer for my family and me. I was a bawling mess. He told me thank you but I was the one who won. I had “things to do” but this small change in my day made a huge impact on me.


I don’t share this for a pat on the back because his response was far more rewarding than any compliments here could ever be. I share this to encourage each of us to soften our hearts just a little bit and embrace uncomfortable.


Pay it forward. It may be awkward to talk to the complete stranger. Thoughts enter your head and cause you to be fearful. Sometimes we feel entitled to judge the person and whether or not they have good intentions. We wonder how they could have arrived in a tough situation. But what if we didn’t question or judge and we gave just a little bit more freely – no questions asked?


Many years ago I read a book titled “Same Kind of Different As Me”. One part that stuck with me was when the main character, a homeless man, describes how for years people had avoided looking at him in the eyes. One of the best things that happened in his life was not receiving a handout from somebody but experiencing the love of someone showing him respect and making eye contact. Somebody actually looking him square in the face and interacting with him as a human being without any judgment. Everyone deserves that.


“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these
brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40


Investing in Others

By Trudy Loots

may BB 3

A good friend of mine recently asked very candidly, “How are you able to discern when God is telling you to mentor or pour into someone specifically?”


I had to smile and then I actually began to think on it. It wasn’t something that I had ever sat down and made a formula of. Quickly, I began to think of relationships that I knew God called me into that had failed miserably. I thought that would prove that it’s never a simple thing. But I couldn’t think of any!


Then I tried to explain how I personally sense the Holy Spirit when he provokes me to pursue a person/relationship. That didn’t help much either, because that’s such a subjective thing. We all encounter God in such unique ways that it wouldn’t be fair to reduce His influence to one method.


Finally, I tried to reason with my friend that it was based on finding things I had in common with that individual and seeing how my past could relate to either their past or their present. While this is usually a great conversation starter, that’s not necessarily the “special sauce” that forms the bond she was addressing.


Truthfully, God does it. It takes the divine intervention of an all-knowing God to strike up a sense of urgency within you that can only be settled by a steadfast dedication to another person knowing they might never give you anything in return. It totally goes against what our culture preaches. Society says “take what you can, while you can”. But God says in Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”


may BB 2God is able to take two separate individuals, coming from two separate upbringings, having very separate emotional scars and knit their souls together in such a way that glorifies Him. It allows him to get the glory. If we could simply credit it to compatibility tests or friendship speed-dating, we would wind up with people we chose.


Now I’m going to say a super-cliché christianese line here… investing in other’s lives for the pure sake of loving them like Jesus would will never return as a void investment. Like I said in the beginning, I couldn’t think of any relationship where I undoubtedly knew God had called me to it that went sour or was a waste of time.


I say all of this certainly not to toot my own horn but to encourage you today. Who is it that God is giving you a nudge to invest into? How long have you been ignoring that nudge because you’re “too busy”, “they won’t like you” or “you’re not spiritual enough to help others grow”?


If you don’t already have someone you are intentionally investing your time and soul into, begin praying that God would politely nudge you towards the person He desires you to mentor/befriend. You don’t have to have a list of 20 people. In fact, Jesus gave the perfect example of how much he cares about just even one person in the parable of Luke 15:1-7

A Mother’s Legacy

By Dawn Smiling



“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

Psalms 139:13 NIV


As my sister’s and I circled around my mother’s bed, I still believed my mother would live forever.  She could never leave us.  I planned for my mother to live to at least 150 years old. After a long day, I would call her to bounce off my ideas and get her stamp of approval. But as I saw her in the hospital bed, I knew life was changing in a way that I felt I was ill prepared for.  I knew my sister’s and I would never be the same, and I was right!


A holistic legacy is when one is genuinely determined to offer yourself by making a meaningful, lasting energizing contribution to humanly serving a cause greater than your own.  Mothers leave a legacy that stretches all dimensions and spans the beginning of time.


Eve, in the book of Genesis, never had a mother.  She taught us that God loves us through our mistakes.  Hagar wandered in the wilderness, wept for her child, and God responded to the cry of her heart by revealing a well of water nearby to quench the thirst of her and her child (Genesis 21:16, 19).  Jocebed defied Pharaoh in order to save the life of her son (Exodus 2:1-8).  The mother who appealed to Solomon was willing to let another woman enjoy her son rather than see the child murdered (I Kings 3:26).   Hannah was devoted to her son, yet willingly offered him to the Lord (I Samuel 1:27, 28).


We can’t forget the mothers who didn’t make good choices, and yet left a legacy that we can learn from.  Athaliah, the idolatrous mother of King Ahaziah, guided her son into devotion to evil (2 Kings 8:26, 27).  Lot’s wife took her eyes off of her children; and in an instance, turned into a pillar of salt (Luke 17:31-33).  Rebekah caused dissension between two brothers, Jacob and Esau, over a birthright (Genesis 27:6, 7).


Each one of these women left something behind that we cheer or cry over.  God has a plan for mothers, and each one of these women left an example of life that we can learn from.



As we stood around my mother’s bed, she had the strangest smile on her face.  I realize now that she felt complete.  She could go home to be with the Lord knowing that everything she poured into us would live long after she was gone.  Mom saw us not as we were in that moment, but as she always dreamed we would be in the future.


A mother lives her life preparing her children to one day live without her.  I am thankful to be a part of her legacy.  I understand that she followed her mother, and I am following her.  I pray I leave a greater legacy for my children, and those whom God has given me influence to nurture.


Happy Mother’s Day!!