From Risk to Resilience: A Book Review


I am a privileged white woman living in one of the most affluent countries in the world. I never had to walk more than a few yards from anywhere in my house to get fresh water. I never wondered where my next meal would come from. I never worried that my parents would sell me or my siblings because they were trying to survive.

frontI never had to worry if I would be given in marriage when I was still a child so that my parents could get a dowry for me. Education? Free. Transportation to that education? Free. It never even crossed my mind that I would have to quit school to work to help my parents with living expenses. I always had an abundance.

War never came through my town. I never had to rely on the kindness of strangers in a new place where we had to flee because it was unsafe where we were. I never had to fear rape or death at the hands of invading soldiers.

risk to resilience

In From Risk to Resilience: How Empowering Young Women Can Change Everything, Jenny Rae Armstrong opened my eyes to things I had never thought of before. Things that are everyday realities for a too-large percentage of girls around the world. And I thank her for it.

Jenny Rae is a friend of mine through the Redbud Writers Guild, of which we’re both members. So I know that she is a foster mom to a bunch of teenage boys. I know that she’s not just talking about this stuff. She’s walking it. She lived overseas for many years as a child. She still visits African countries and meets with the people and cares for their needs. This isn’t just lip service. Jenny Rae has done her research and her book will not only touch your heart for the plight of our global sisters, it will spur you into action.

Did you ever think that contributing to a clean water project could help ensure a young girls’ future? I hadn’t either, until Jenny Rae pointed out that if girls in Africa, who have the majority of the responsibility for bringing clean water, sometimes from extremely long distances, into their homes, could have access right near where they live, then they would not have to spend so much time in that job. They could actually go to school and have time to study for tests. They could possibly get into universities and further their education, thus setting themselves up for greater economic success.

Clean water near their homes = less time spent toting water and more time studying. It’s not rocket science.

Did you know that when you send your used clothing to well-meaning organizations that ship it overseas to needy countries that you are taking away the livelihood of those who work in those countries to make clothing or materials used for clothing? I had never thought of that before.

There are so many other ways that the lives of girls could be improved, and Jenny gives us a look into some of those ways. Even right here in my own city, there are ways that I can help. I can’t do everything, but I can do something.


For many years I have supported Mercy House Global through their Earring of the Month Club. Two times a year I send a contribution and every month, I get a pair of handcrafted earrings from different countries where the ministry is teaching women trades so they can support their families. This past Christmas, I decided to shop at the Mercy House Global online store so that I could continue to help support these women around the world, some of whom have been rescued from sex trafficking.

What is that old saying? Give someone a fish and they have food for a day; teach someone to fish and they have food for a lifetime?

What I appreciate about Jenny’s book is not only the practical steps she gives, but the fact that she acknowledges that all the injustice and hurt and bad things that are happening in the world will not be solved without hearts being changed by Jesus. But that doesn’t get us off the hook for helping where we can.

In From Risk to Resilience, you will read statistics and be apprised of facts, but you will also be introduced to some of the girls who have been affected by cultural norms in their countries that are literally killing them. Shame for how their bodies naturally work; savagery in the hands of men sometimes more than twice their age; responsibilities that should never have to be placed on the shoulders of ones so young.

We take so much for granted in the western world. Yes, I have been leered at and catcalled. I have been afraid when I have gone places by myself. I have felt the unwanted attention of men when I’m just going about my life. But I will never endure what thousands upon thousands of women around the world assume is normal.

In her epilogue, Jenny says this:

So consider this your invitation to jump into the fray and fight for shalom for girls. Every voice, every heart, every set of hands is needed. Gather your people, gather your resources, and resist until the powers, principalities, and dominant forces of this world have been trampled under your feet. Don’t just fight to win; fight because we bear the name of Christ and surrendering to sin is not an option, no matter how hard and hopeless the battle may seem at times.

I have an almost 17-year-old daughter. I can’t even imagine being at a point where I would consider selling her to an older man so that I could make ends meet, or so that I could ensure she was provided for because I couldn’t do it. My heart breaks for the mothers and fathers around the world who have felt that they had no other choice.

Read this book. Share this message. Do it for the girls. Do it for yourself.

We Are Family

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a 1-word prompt without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “hospitality.”

Once upon a time I took a spiritual gifts test which determined that I had the gifts of administration and hospitality. Being fairly young in my journey with Jesus, I didn’t completely know what that meant, but I did know that I was pretty organized and good at keeping things going, and that I liked to be with people.

Is that all there was to it?


As the years have gone by, my home has become one in which people like to gather. It’s not huge, it’s not fancy, it’s not even all that clean (I had a friend describe it as clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy), but people are welcome and they know it.

Every Christmas we have a huge gathering of friends for Christmas dinner. At last count we were at 50-something, I think. I have people call and say, “We don’t have plans, can we come to your place?” Even when the number seems overwhelming, nobody is turned away. Most of us have moved far from our family of origin, so our friends have become that family to us.

Every time that I think about maybe scaling back and tightening our circle, I look around at the faces and there’s not a one I would consider losing. How do you purposefully cut off a hand or a foot?


And so we continue setting tables on the back porch, thankful for the mild December weather in Florida, and rejoice in the bounty of our friendships.

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Family of Five

Today’s post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a 1-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what we come up with. Today’s prompt is “Five.”

I’m going to tell you a little bit about my family of 5.

IMG_6427My husband, David, and I got married in 1991. That was the start of it all.

Five-plus years later, we added Justin David to the mix. He’s now 22 and a college graduated, restaurant-serving father of my grandson, Zayne. He’s a great dad, learning the ins and outs of a committed relationship, making his way in the world with a bit of advice from his old parents along the way.J&A

A little more than 2 years later, Nathan Allan made his appearance. This 20-year-old college student has spent much of the summer as a counselor at a camp in Alaska. He’s a lover of the Nathanoutdoors, but not so much in Florida. This opportunity has been so great for him.

Three and a half years and 2 miscarriages later, our daughter, Morgan Claire, came along. She will be 17 in about 7 weeks. She’s currently making biscuits and chocolate gravy (it’s a thing, trust me) in the kitchen. I’m blessed to have her home most of the time doing high school virtually. And she just got her first job!IMG_1422

After having dealt with infertility for several years, we are beyond blessed to have our 3 kids, and now a grandson in the mix. Our family of 5 will keep growing, I’m sure, but the core will remain. So much of what I write about, so much of what I’ve learned, is because of my family. Today, on the 12th anniversary of my mom’s death, it seems apropos. I wish she was here to see it all play out with my family of five and my sisters’ and brother’s families as well.

So there you have it. My little family.

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A Wing and a Prayer

This post is a part of my 10-minute Tuesday series. I write for just 10 minutes on a one-word prompt provided by a friend. Today’s prompt is “prayer.”

The title of today’s post came to mind quickly, but I actually wanted to look up its origins to understand it. It originates from the idea of a damaged military plane coming in for a landing. It’s got a wing to fly with, but maybe not much more. So, it’s coming in on a wing and a prayer.


I’ve seen miraculous healings; I’ve seen situations that seemed insurmountable be overcome by prayer. Most recently, a friend of mine had a dire diagnosis of stage 3 or 4 ovarian cancer. When the doctors went in to perform a complete hysterectomy, they found that the cancer was contained in only 1 ovary and was only a stage 1. Complete recovery is now the prognosis.

I have another friend whose baby in utero was diagnosed with a condition that caused his organs to grow into his chest cavity, causing his lungs to be unable to develop correctly. It’s more complicated than that, but regardless, 3 weeks after he was born and surgery was performed to correct the issue, he was able to go home. They thought he would be there for 6 months.

There is story after story after story about how prayer made a difference. Not every circumstance was changed, but every heart was. I have another friend who is currently heartbroken over a lost dog. They just moved to a new house after living on a 15-acre farm for many years, and the dog got out of the new place. It’s been 4 days and he is nowhere to be found. People are looking for him and praying for his safe return, but we obviously don’t know the outcome. And so I pray not only that he would be found, but that their hearts would be comforted.

Prayer is a mysterious thing. We can approach it as if God is a cosmic vending machine, just there to give us what we want. And if He doesn’t, then what good is He anyway?

Or we can view prayer as an amazing opportunity to draw near to the heart of God. He is sovereign and He is able to do abundantly more than we ask or imagine, and one of those abundant things he gives is Himself.


Does it feel like you’re just coming in on a wing and a prayer? Believe it or not, that is enough.

As in most of my short posts, there is not enough time to delve into the whole subject of prayer. These are just a few of my quick thoughts. I’d love to hear what you think!



Feeling The Distance

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s word is “distant.” 

I took my husband to the airport today for a one-week trip to a conference in Colorado. This conference is for the ministry we both worked with for more than 30 years, and that I left 2 years ago.

I know I was right in leaving when I did. God has made that abundantly clear in the past 2 years, but I can’t help being a little sad as most of my good friends gather without me in Fort Collins.


Photo by my son Nathan. This sunset pic was taken at 12:25 a.m. in Soldotna, Alaska.

And I have a son in Alaska. And another good friend on a trip to Japan. And the last of our close-knit group in Ohio.

Everyone is in a distant place. Again. Last summer the majority of our little friend group was on a trip together to Hawaii. I wrote my feelings about that here. Not being envious and discontent is a struggle. To top that off, I’ve got a writing assignment that is supposed to take people on a journey through the mountains.

Talk about piling it on.

me and ZayneAnd so I sit in my distant chair in my distant house, not completely alone (it’s me and my 18-month-old grandson, 16-year-old daughter and 76-year-old mother-in-law holding down the fort), but bracing myself for the slew of Facebook and Instagram posts that will come in the next week as my friends enjoy each other in a place with beautiful scenery.

They are far away, but God is near.

Thanks be to God.


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If You Are Willing

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes on a one-word prompt, without heavy editing, and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “willing.”

“While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”And He stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately the leprosy left him” (Luke 5:12-13 NASB).

I have a friend, Marcey, whose 22-year-old daughter, Julia, became very ill. After many weeks, a large mass was discovered in her abdomen that was pushing all her organs out of the way. She was in excruciating, debilitating pain. Surgery was performed and 90+ percent of the tumor was removed. Within 6 weeks, it had grown back.

The doctors were stymied. Even the top tumor experts were not able to figure out what this tumor was. It had never been seen before.

As friends were rallied to pray, radiation and chemo therapies were applied. At one point, Marcey told me they thought they were going to lose her. She was so weak. There didn’t seem to be any hope.

And yet we prayed.


Julia sporting her new wig (photo courtesy her mom)

Just two days ago, Marcey reported that there has been a turnaround in Julia’s prognosis. The chemotherapy is working and the tumors are shrinking. The doctor’s are jubilant as is her family. Today she is off her pain pump and trusting God for a future that just weeks ago she wasn’t sure she would have.

She’s a walking miracle.

We asked God to be willing to heal her, and His answer was, “Yes.”

But we know that’s not always His answer in this life. But He is always our portion. Whether healed in this life or not, we always have our hope in Him.

Even though my 5 minutes are up, I’m going to add a note here that this is a way bigger subject than can be tackled in just 5 minutes. This story is fresh on my heart and I wanted to share it, but I know that there are so many people who have not experienced healing of either themselves or a loved one. I lost both my mom and my grandmother to cancer and have known many others who have succumbed to this dread disease. There are no guarantees of physical healing here on earth, but I stand on the fact that God is good. Whether His healing happens here or not, He is good and He redeems all things. If you or someone you love is in need of God’s healing touch, keep praying: Your will be done.

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If Someone Offers A Gift—Take It

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday link up. We write for just 5 minutes without heavy editing and see what happens. Today’s prompt is “Take.”

I’ve lived the better part of my adult life as a missionary supported prayerfully and financially by the gifts of others. If people don’t give, we get no paycheck. So I have learned over these 30+ years that if someone offers something, I take it graciously and just say thank you.

God has always met our needs and we have abundantly more than we need, so I know the power of receiving a gift, not only because it meets a need for us, but also because of the joy it can bring to the giver.


We have living room furniture because friends didn’t need it anymore. We have a kitchen table and chairs because friends wanted proceeds from the sale of ours at a yard sale to go to our son’s missions trip (I know, it’s kind of a complicated story). We received tons of baby stuff when our grandson was born because of the generosity of a group of young moms who just wanted to be able to pay it forward.

We can give generously as well because we have received so much. If we refuse to receive, we dishonor the giver. Yes, it’s humbling to admit the need, but it’s good and it’s necessary. We don’t go through this life alone, and we shouldn’t pretend like we don’t need the generosity of others.

“God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:28-29).