Staying FocusedMay 5, 2011
Are you losing sight of Jesus in the midst of your storms? Today mother and daughter Kathie Reimer and Lisa Whittle team up to talk about one of the hardest things God asks a woman to do – surrender every care to Christ.
Are you losing sight of Jesus in the midst of your storms? Today mother and daughter Kathie Reimer and Lisa Whittle team up to talk about one of the hardest things God asks a woman to do – surrender every care to Christ.
Lisa: Many of my friends have said to me, “I don’t have time for God. I don’t have time to have my quiet time or spend time in fellowship with Him and reading the Word.” I have talked to them about the fact that “You really don’t have time not to focus on God.” That is just really the core of it. So, there is no magic pill that you can take. This is a discipline of the Christian walk. You make time for God. That has to become important to you.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, May 5th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll talk about how a woman finds time to spend time with God and about other hard things that God asks women to do on today’s program.
Welcome to FamilyLife Today; thanks for joining us. You think we can get our guest to tell us about the tree in the junk yard? You know the time she was driving through and saw the tree in the junk yard? You don’t know what I’m talking about?
Dennis: I don’t remember that one, but I’m looking forward to hearing it. Let me just introduce our guests to our listeners. Lisa Whittle and Kathie Reimer join us on FamilyLife Today.
Kathie, welcome back. You’ve been here before.
Kathie: Thank you.
Dennis: Lisa, welcome for the first time.
Lisa: Thank you. It is great to be here.
Dennis: You are courageous to come and join Bob and me. Your mom has been here she knows.
Lisa: I’m hoping she’ll teach me the ropes.
Dennis: This is a dangerous interview. You’ve written a book called The Seven Hardest Things God Asks a Woman to Do. After you tell this story, I’ve got a good question for both of you; but first of all, let me just explain who Lisa is. She is an author, speaker, wife, and a mom of three. She is the daughter of Kathie Reimer, and that’s kind of how they collaborated together.
Kathie is also an author and an educator. She has two other children. All three are adult children now. Grandmother of three. She and her husband, Jim, live in Charlotte, North Carolina. Jim is a big, white-tail deer antler collector.
Kathie: Yes. That’s right.
Dennis: I’ve learned a lot before we’ve come into the studio.
Bob: We’re not going to go there.
Dennis: We’re not. We’re not going to there. We’re going to resist that because we’d offend 90% of our audience.
Explain the story that Bob is referring to because I missed it. I’m sorry.
Kathie: Well, that’s a story about my mother and Lisa’s grandmother. She lived with us the last five years of her life. One of the last trips that I made with her, we were driving down through a section of Springfield, Missouri, through an industrial area in town. She hadn’t said a word. I was just driving; and out of the blue, she said, “Oh, look at that beautiful tree!”
So, I looked over out her window to see what she was looking at. There was a junk yard with all kinds of car carcasses and rusting old appliances and all sorts of things. Then, way, way, back past all the junk and debris, there was a tree; and it was absolutely beautiful. It was fall, all the fall foliage. I was inspired. It was one of those moments I thought, “Lord, thank you for a woman who can see past all the debris and all the junk and see the beauty of your creation.” That’s the way she lived.
Bob: That picture became a metaphor for you—
Bob: —that you carried over into the book. What did you use it to illustrate?
Kathie: I was talking about how we need to in our busy, cluttered lives to single focus on Jesus. Sometimes, we need to focus on Him in the midst of storms and trials; and sometimes just in the midst of all the junk that every woman deals with regardless of her age and stage in life and see the beauty of Jesus in the midst of all that.
Dennis: You two joined together. It was originally your idea, Kathie, right? The title for this book?
Kathie: Well, the title only.
Dennis: You had the idea. As I read the title, I thought, “I know the first question I want to ask both of them.” We want to get to The Seven Hardest Things God Asks a Woman to Do. I want to get to those principles in a moment; but I want to ask both of you: what is the hardest thing God has ever asked you to do?
Kathie: Go, Lisa.
Lisa: I was going—
Dennis: Go, Lisa.
Lisa: —I was going to let—
Dennis: Lisa had a—she looked like the deer in the headlights.
Kathie: Sorry, Lisa.
Bob: You were going to defer to Mom on that one?
Lisa: I was going to count on Mom to talk about and share about that first. Then, talk about what I wanted to say next.
Dennis: Yes. So, what about it, Lisa?
Lisa: Wow! The hardest thing that God has ever asked me to do is the job loss situation; I would say would be the hardest. When my husband lost his job and I could not control the outcome, it was not a quick process.
I would say that was a real moment of surrender to me where all of the things in that I had learned in the Word, growing up as a pastor’s daughter, that were great, rich concepts became very personalized. It was a huge moment of realizing. You have to surrender this. This is not something you can do in your own strength.
Dennis: I am not in control—
Dennis: —God, you are—
Dennis: —I yield—
Dennis: —and I back off.
Lisa: That’s a hard one for me.
Kathie: It is interesting: as Lisa gave hers, I thought, “That is mine too.” Our temperaments are very different, which I love. I love the mix. I’ve always loved Lisa’s temperament. I come at that control issue as a fixer. Yet, it is still a control issue. I want to preempt problems. That is not all bad; but as a result, I want to fix situations. I get in the way of natural things that God wants to run their course.
Probably, the most difficult thing God has asked me to do is to surrender the outcome of something that I didn’t want to end the way it did. I wanted God to answer in a different way. All the time, I knew He might not; but when He didn’t answer in that way, to surrender to Him and say, “Lord, I don’t know where in the world this is going to go, but I know You’re here. I know you have a plan in this, Lord. I’ll just let You make that happen.”
Dennis: I appreciate both of you ladies being authentic in answering that question because like Bob said I don’t think you are alone. I think the issue of control is a big deal in all of our lives.
When we find ourselves, especially out of control in a big way, it is in those moments that I think the Holy Spirit can use the Bible. He can use other followers of Christ who, as you illustrated, Kathie, can come along side us and give us grace to be struggling. It is in those moments when you dare not be alone. You better be not only walking with Christ, but you better have some good friends at your side and, hopefully, your spouse with you as well to deal with those issues.
Now, both of you have tackled the subject. When I sat down to prepare for the studio and missed the story of the junk yard, by the way—when I sat down to prepare, though, I really didn’t know what you were going to say. What are the seven hardest things God asks a woman to do? How did you all decide this? Was it based upon your experience, interviews? How did you come about the seven?
Lisa: If I am being completely honest about this, Mom did come up with the concept for the book, which I thought was fantastic. So, she allowed me to ride her wonderful coat-tails and be a part of the project. I didn’t really have a writing ambition to be quite honest with you, but we were asked to teach a class for our church. Because of our varying personalities, we like to team up together and do things and show that these can be principles that are applicable to any temperament of a woman.
So, we had a seven week slot that we needed to fill. Originally, Mom had come up with ten hardest things. We, literally, sat at my kitchen table and said, “Let’s look at these. What are really the core seven issues?” That’s really where we arrived at the ones that we chose for the book.
Bob: When you started to wrestle with these seven hard things, it really got framed in the area of paradox because ever one of the seven has a point and a counter-point. God asked you to do this, but it is almost like He asked you to do this and then the opposite of it simultaneously.
Lisa: Right. They seem to be in contradiction with one another. Really they kind of join together and marry; so, that was something that God really impressed on Mom was this idea of these kind of paradoxes that I feel make the book very interesting and then also very important to point out.
Bob: So, for example, Kathie, you talk in the book about God calling women and actually, I think, creating women to be able to multi-task. It is one of those things that women seem to be able to do, maybe better than men in a lot of situations. Yet, at the same time He is calling you to multi-task, He’s calling you to have a single focus.
Kathie: That is right. I’ve been married a long time, a long, wonderful time—
Dennis: You kind of used the word long.
Kathie: I know it—
Kathie: —I probably need to restate that because it has been a long, wonderful journey.
Dennis: Thank you. How many years?
Dennis: Wow. Moving in on fifty.
Kathie: Yes. I know. Wow! I don’t even feel like I am fifty, but—
Yes. I do think it is the difference in men and women because of the roles that we play. We are equipped to multi-task. I think my husband is a man’s man, pretty typical. He always says, “Let’s do one thing at a time.”
Bob: Lisa, you feel like you’re a natural multi-tasker?
Lisa: I do. I would say that I’m able to juggle tasks. I do better when I have pressure, just my personality. I’ve always been that way. I am a multi-tasker—absolutely, as a mom. I don’t know how you couldn’t be, especially if you have multiple children. You are multi-tasking all the time. So, it is difficult to single focus when you do that.
Bob: That’s the hard thing. Multi-tasking kind of comes easy. The hard thing is to have a single focus.
Lisa: No. I think multi-tasking is hard as well. If you talk to any mom who had multiple children, she would say, “It’s tough to multi-task.” I think it is more naturally within us to do that. Part of that is we do just do what is placed in front of us. So, when we have those things to do, we take our role seriously and seek to do them well. It is still difficult to juggle all the things of life.
Dennis: It seemed that Barbara when we raising our children had this ability. She could be cooking dinner, she could be talking on the phone, and she had a radar out that was saying younger brother is about to lose his life to the older brother in the upstairs bedroom. Beep-Beep-Beep-Beep-Beep-Beep. She would run to that situation and be able to multi-task.
I remember on more than one occasion staying home while she got away to a retreat or did something for herself. I would be praying for her return.
Because as a father, I was not nearly as good at multi-tasking. Now, there is a gender difference here, I think. Men tend to be more singularly focused than women do.
Dennis: That’s why we need each other.
Kathie: Yes. That’s right. That’s exactly right.
Bob: That doesn’t mean, though, that men are necessarily singularly focused on the right thing. When you talk about a woman needing to be single focused, what you are really saying is she needs to have a foundational priority in her life that in the middle of her multi-tasking there is an anchor that keeps her centered, right?
Kathie: Yes. Absolutely. It goes back to that tree story that Jesus must be the focus, our central focus. If He isn’t, then our central focus is going to be ourselves. Not just ourselves, but our family, our opinions, anything that has to do with us and all of life’s loose-ends are just going to keep on flapping if we don’t have Him as our central focus.
In Colossians, He is the consistency of life. He’s the one who holds everything together. So, He must be our single focus.
Dennis: You’re quoting Colossians 1:18, which used to be the verse that I called all the eleven and twelve year olds to memorize in my sixth grade Sunday school class.
Bob: Oh, this is in Passport to Purity in the curriculum. We put it to music in there. Kids learn it and sing along.
Dennis: Yes. It is just calling boys and girls, as far as that is concerned, to—well, here is the verse. It says it very clearly. “And [Jesus Christ] is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the first born from the dead that in everything He might be preeminent.”
I like to tell the kids in my class—I said, “Jesus Christ came to have first place in everything. You’ll never go wrong with Him being the center focus of your life.” That’s really what you’re calling women to do in the midst of all the multi-tasking, multi-being, and multi-doing that women have to perform on a day in and day out basis. You’re really calling women back to the simplicity of loving Jesus Christ with their whole hearts.
Bob: I’m curious what that focus looks like for both of you. How do you keep that central focus in your own life? You are busy women. You’ve got a lot of different assignments. You’re a mom, an author, a speaker, Lisa. Kathie, you’re a grandmother, you write, you speak. How do you stay single focused on a practical level?
I’m thinking of listeners who are listening to us. They’re going, “I’m a mother of three kids. I’ve got this; and today, I’ve got this and that. I’m trying to maintain my focus on the Lord, but life has a way of crowding that out.” How do you keep your focus where it belongs?
Kathie: Life does definitely have the ability to crowd that out. Lisa is on a different level than I am, a different place in life; but I have also been there. My multi-tasking is different from hers, but the need to focus on Jesus as our source of everything always exists. Both of us came to know Him as children. We focused on Him as the source of our salvation. He continues to be the source of our strength.
I think how that plays out depends on a person’s individual life, temperament, circumstances. For me, because of my temperament, primarily, I am a person that feels a dependency. I feel a need to have Him as my focus because I know I can’t do it without Him. I’m not smart enough, I’m not bold enough, not wise enough; but it is not all bad to feel inadequate. We are inadequate; so, we might as well admit it whether we’re confident people or whether we lack confidence. We’re inadequate.
So, to focus on Him as my source, sometimes I have to refocus (kind of like spiritual window cleaner). I realized a few years ago that I was a news junkie. I kept turning on the news to just see if something had happened since I had watched last night. I realized I needed to turn that off because I don’t know how loudly Jesus had been crying for my attention. I just didn’t hear him.
It could be a card, a greeting card, with a picture of Jesus on it; an open Bible; whatever will remind us of who He is in our lives.
Dennis: There is a lot of noise today.
Dennis: That’s what you’re saying.
Dennis: In order to get that focus, you’ve got to reduce the noise. Lisa, how would you answer Bob’s question?
Lisa: What Mom said about her temperament and feeling inadequate, I think through a series of things in my life that regardless of the fact that I’m kind of more of a Type-A person and feel like I can juggle things and handle things. I think through a series of things in my life God has shown me that, that’s not true. I can’t do it without Him. So, I too feel inadequate without Jesus at this point in my life. Although there have been many days of my life that I’ve thought I could do it myself, I’ve come back to that place.
I certainly understand that multi-tasking is something that moms, people in my season in life, have to do and juggle. Many of my friends have said to me, “I don’t have time for God. I don’t have time to have my quiet time or spend time in fellowship with Him and reading the Word.” I have talked to them about the fact that “You really don’t have time not to focus on God.” That’s just really the core of it.
There is no magic pill you can take. This is the Christian walk. This is a discipline of the Christian walk. You make time for God. That has to become important to you. You have to see through a series of your life, in your life, that is not something you can do by yourself.
Bob: You’ve got to say no to some other things.
Lisa: Absolutely. I think too, Bob, that we say yes to so many things and that we crowd Him out; then, we say, “We don’t have time for you.” The reality is that He is the most important things in our life. The roles that we have are roles that He’s given to us that are beautiful, wonderful things. Many times, I think just enhance and bring joy in life, but He is our creator. We were created to have fellowship with Him and that is our core, primary reason to represent Him on this earth. That’s what we’re here to do.
Dennis: Whether male or female.
Lisa: That’s right. Absolutely.
Dennis: That’s right. God is calling everybody to do what is right in the midst of the hard thing you’re facing, whether that is multi-tasking or being a singularly focused person.
The passage that came to my mind, just to kind of summarize the broadcast today, John 15:4. These are the words of Christ. He said, “Abide in me.” Abide in me. That word, abide, means to draw the essence of your life from Christ. “Abide in me, and I in you. As a branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine; neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he, it is that bears much fruit; for apart from me, you can do nothing.”
So, whether you are a multi-tasker, today, and that’s the hard thing you’re facing or trying to be focused solely upon Jesus Christ, I think that the word to take away from the day is draw the essence of your life from Jesus Christ, His teachings, how He lived, and let Him live in and through you.
Bob: I think the issue is priorities. As we’ve said here today, it is having the right perspective, the right North Star guiding your life. You talk about that in the book that you’ve written, The Seven Hardest Things God Asks a Woman to Do, which we have in our FamilyLife Resource Center. This would be a great book for ladies to go through as a study together. It would create some great discussions, some great conversation with the women in your Sunday school class or in your small group.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information on how to get a copy of the book that Kathie and Lisa have written together, The Seven Hardest Things God Asks a Woman to Do. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about the book or give us a call at 1-800-FL-Today, 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- F as in “family”, L as in “life”, and then the word “TODAY”.
Now, I don’t know if you have been to the FamilyLife Today website in recent days. If you’ve been to FamilyLifeToday.com, there is a thermometer that is on our website. It has nothing to do with the temperature outdoors. It is all about the matching gift fund that has been established here at FamilyLife during the month of May.
We had some friends who came to the ministry and said, “We know that during the summer, you guys, like many ministries experience a decline in donations. Folks get busy. They’re doing other things. They just don’t send donations to support the ministry like they do at other times of the year.” They said, “We want to help you get through the summer by getting some money set aside; so, that you can pay the bills when they come during the summer months.”
“To do that,” they said, “we’re going to make available a $750,000 matching gift. In order for you guys to take advantage of that matching gift, FamilyLife Today listeners are going to need to step up and make a donation to help support the ministry. Every time they do we will match the donation dollar for dollar up to a total of $750,000.” That’s how it works. Obviously, we’re excited about that, but this is the largest matching gift that we’ve ever received outside of December.
In the month of May, we’re really wondering will FamilyLife Today listeners respond the way we hope they will by calling or going online and just doing whatever you can do: ten, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty dollars, a hundred (if you can do that), three hundred, five hundred, whatever you can do. You make a donation and that donation is going to be matched dollar for dollar up to a total of $750,000.
Can you help out today? Can you go to FamilyLifeToday.com and make a donation? Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and make a donation? Help support FamilyLife Today and help us take advantage of this matching gift. Let me just say thanks in advance for whatever you’re able to do.
We’ll keep you posted with the thermometer throughout the week. If you want to find out more about what’s going on, go online at FamilyLifeToday.com.
Be sure to be back with us again tomorrow when we’re going to talk some more with Kathie Reimer and with Lisa Whittle about the hard things God asks women to do. We’ll have that conversation tomorrow. I hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.
We are so happy to provide these transcripts. However, there is a cost to produce them for our website. If you've benefited from the broadcast transcripts, would you consider donating today to help defray the costs?
Copyright © 2011 FamilyLife. All rights reserved.