By Lynn Cowell
Hit the alarm.
Read God’s Word.
Does your mom schedule read anything like mine? From the moment the buzzer goes off until your body hits the bed again, you’re running, running, running.
While you know these daily responsibilities are important, there is a part of you that wonders, Am I making a difference? Is my life counting?
I’ve asked the questions and felt the longing too. When I was a young woman right out of high school, some amazing ladies came into my life, teaching me that no guy, be it a dad, boyfriend, or husband, can ever fill the love gap deep inside me.
Introduced to portions of the Bible I had never read, I began to see a side of God I had never seen before—verses like Psalm 45:11: “The king is enthralled by your beauty” (NIV 1984), and Song of Solomon 4:7: “You are altogether beautiful my darling and there is no blemish in you” (New American Standard Bible). Passages like these empowered my young teen heart to find true love in the One True Love, and now I am empowering teen girls and their moms to do the same through my writing and speaking.
During my adventures of investing in teen girls and their moms, I have met some amazing women along the way. Women I believe will inspire you as they have inspired me. These moms are making a difference, some in their hometown and others around the globe. They are changing the world, one small act at a time.
Salons and Strippers
I met Aimee last December in a hair salon. We weren’t there to get beautiful; we were there helping others see their true beauty. Aimee Johnson, mother of four, is the Director of Rise Up, an anti-sex-trafficking ministry in Charlotte, North Carolina, which reaches out to women through awareness, education, and support.
On this day, Aimee had brought a group of young girls to the salon to hear the truth about their worth. Before my speaking segment, the girls were treated to haircuts and nail polish while Aimee shared with me the details of the special outreach Rise Up had organized on Thanksgiving Day.
She and her team prepared a Thanksgiving meal with all of the trimmings and delivered it to the dancers in a strip club. By building relationships through beauty bags, baby showers, and baked goods, the women in this ministry show and share the love of Christ. Their ultimate goal is helping the strippers find freedom and obtain the fullness of life God offers them. Aimee and her team know that every life is beautiful and no one is broken beyond
Boarding School and Bonding
There’s something exciting about making a new friend who has a passion similar to your own. For the last 16 years my new friend, Elisa Pulliam, a mother of four, has lived at a boarding and day school in the Northeast. Teens and mentoring had defined her life long before she had her own family.
For the last five years, Elisa has hosted a mentoring group for teen girls in her home, known as ETC (Evening Tea & Chat). As part of this casual mentoring time together, she answers questions about life, boys, and God. In response to their questions, Elisa began preparing short, topical studies for the girls to take home.
In time, Elisa had a binder packed with lessons along with a heart swollen with desire to see women around the world begin their own ETC groups. Her ministry, More to Be, provides mentoring information and resources for working with teens. God showed Elisa how he can use a little step of faith and obedience to create something more amazing than she ever could have dreamed.
Now, two years later, More to Be is impacting women and girls around the world by serving missionaries and moms, encouraging teens and college girls, and speaking to the hearts of women, showing them that as they follow Christ, they become qualified to mentor others biblically. Elisa began where she was, in a boarding school, and asked God how she could serve him there. God has blessed her willing and obedient heart.
Heartache and Home Impact
From the moment I first heard Stephanie’s voice, I knew she was a woman who was passionate about investing in moms. Stephanie Shott, a mom living in Florida, has allowed God to take a painful start and turn it into a powerful outreach. She shared with me the story of her beginning.
It was 1962. Abortion wasn’t legal but it was still dangerously available in back alleys and dim rooms. Nineteen-year-old Faye was on her final date with her controlling and intimidating boyfriend, but when she told him it was over, things became violent. Rejection wasn’t something he was willing to accept, and so his rage turned into a brutal rape.
For nine months, Faye carried within her the constant reminder of that horrific event—a reminder that would later be named Stephanie. Although she wanted to end the life that was conceived in violence, Faye started looking into adoption.
I entered the world with no first name—just Baby Salvatore. But four days later I left the hospital as Stephanie Tyler in the arms of two wonderful parents who would forever be known to me as Mom and Dad.
I was blessed with two wonderful parents who loved me as their own, but from the age of 3 until 12, my concept of life and love became skewed and shattered as I was repeatedly molested and raped by two people in my family. Beaten, abused, and broken by those I should have been able to trust, I was a messed up little girl who never really knew what it was like to be a little girl.
With more violence as a part of her story, Stephanie lived her teen years on the wild side and became pregnant at 17. She was a divorced single mom by the age of 19. Another quick marriage and divorce followed as she spent the next five years looking for love in all the wrong places.
Stephanie told me when things began to change: “At the age of 24 I was ready. Ready to surrender all I was for all Jesus is. I knew he was the only one who could save my wretched self, and this time, I was not only ready; I was willing. Since that time, it’s been a wild ride serving my amazing Savior.”
Part of that wild ride included a ministry to moms like her. In a grocery store parking lot, God gave Stephanie an idea for helping moms who have no idea how to raise a new baby.
I watched a young teenage girl walking out of the store, belly swollen with life, and I thought, Who is going to teach her how to raise her child? The answer came: “You are.” Within minutes, the acronym MOM (Mothers on a Mission) came to me. The MOM initiative, also known as Mothers on a Mission to Mentor Others, gives young mothers a biblical foundation for understanding what a mother is and does. It also provides tools to help churches become intentional in mentoring and giving mentors the resources, support, and community support they need to mentor other mothers.
It’s amazing to see how God uses our stories and surroundings when we willingly give them to him to use. I know you have valuable experiences and encouragement to share with another. How will you make yourself available to God?
Lynn Cowell is a speaker and author of Devotions for a Revolutionary Year; 365 Days of Jesus’ Radical Pursuit of You and His Revolutionary Love; Jesus’ Radical Pursuit of You (item 025451111 at Standardpub.com). She lives in North Carolina with her husband, Greg, and their three children. www.LynnCowell.com
Learning and Growing as a Mom
The Missional Mom: Living with Purpose at Home & in the World
by Helen Lee
(Moody Publishers, 2010)
Stepping-Stones for Stepmoms: Everyday Strength for a Blended-Family Mom
by Karon Phillips Goodman
(New Hope Publishing, 2007)
The Mission of Motherhood
by Sally Clarkson
(Doubleday Religious Publishing Group, 2003)
The Ministry of Motherhood: Following Christ’s Example in Reaching the Hearts of Our Children
by Sally Clarkson
(Doubleday Religious Publishing Group, 2004)
Learn More About Moms Who Are Making a Difference
Rise Up Ministries
You might be surprised to learn the extent of sex trafficking in your city. Could you help young women like Aimee? Learn more about Rise Up Ministries at www.RiseUp52.com.
More to Be
More to Be includes online mentoring training programs based on Elisa’s book, Impact My Life: Biblical Mentoring Simplified (CreateSpace Independent Publishers, 2012). The programs include studies for moms and daughters, community groups, and resources for putting on a Redefining Beauty Event. With a team of more than 25 women and college girls serving through More to Be, Elisa counts it an honor to see God at work through her even while she maintains her first priority commitment to serve her family. Learn more at www.moretobe.com.
The MOM Initiative
Do you know a young mother who could use some direction? Give her a call, invite her out for coffee, and share with her The MOM Initiative resource. Let her know you are available too! Check it out at www.themominitiative.com.