Read an Excerpt
Gifts OF Gold
Gathering, Training, and Encouraging Mentors
By Betty Huizenga, Janet Lee
David C. CookCopyright © 2002 Betty Huizenga
All rights reserved.
Catching the Vision
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WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT
Since the publishing of the book, Apples of Gold, in March of 2000, classes have started all over this land and in other countries of the world. It seems that for every class that starts there are new ideas and questions that need to be addressed. For this reason, we are offering this book to encourage the leaders of the program and to share some of the wonderful and encouraging ideas other class leaders have used to enhance their classes. We are indeed learning from one another and growing together.
I have made so many new friends through the Apples of Gold ministry. The website applesofgold.org introduces me to new women and classes literally every day. What a joy and blessing to hear from you and receive ideas and encouragement from you. Some of those ideas are shared on the website. We want Apples of Gold to honor God and that happens best as we listen to Him and to one another.
I have also met many of you through my travels and speaking about Apples of Gold at various meetings and churches. Visiting classes is the best! Seeing firsthand how other classes are setting up their meetings, decorating their tables, and meeting the personal needs of each woman is a continuing education for me.
I'm sure many of you have read The Prayer of Jabez by Dr. Bruce Wilkerson. That little book has touched the hearts of many people, including mine. The prayer, found in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, says,
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying "I gave birth to him in pain." Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory. Let your hand be with me and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain. And God granted his request.
Jabez wanted to rise above the circumstances of his birth. He wisely goes directly to the Lord and asks the Lord to help him. The fact that God granted his request indicates that Jabez asked with the proper motives.
Few of us are in the habit of asking God to bless us. It is far easier to ask the Lord to bless our family and friends. But asking to be blessed in order to bless others is an unselfish and God-honoring request. I do want that. I want to make a difference in the lives of those around me. I don't want my past, my failures, or my indifference to hinder my work in God's kingdom.
It is such a joy to be reminded of the faithfulness of God. He has 'enlarged the territory' of Apples of Gold in ways I never dreamed. Women are gravitating to this ministry because it meets a deep need in their hearts and lives. The testimonies of those who have been touched, some of which you will read in this book, bear witness to how God is working. Even so, sometimes I struggle with feelings of inadequacy. Perhaps you can relate to the following illustration:
In Florida, there is an exterminating company that uses a unique way of advertising. They have VW bugs with mouse ears on top and a long tail behind. One day as I was following one of these adorable cars, I realized that as the car sped along, the mouse ears flopped back and flattened out—not at all the proper position for listening. Sometimes, I am going so fast that my ears cannot hear. I need to stop and be quiet in order to hear the voice of God.
It had been a difficult couple of weeks. I was facing some struggles and I was discouraged. I asked the Lord to remind me of His call and to encourage my heart. On this particular restless night, the Spirit of God spoke to my heart. God gave me a wonderful time in His presence. I'm not sure why these times seem to come at night, except that night-time is one of the rare times I am quiet and still. In fact, every song I have written has come to me in the night hours.
Earlier that week, I had written:
Life is really hard today.
I don't know what to think or say.
I even stumble when I pray.
Life is really hard today.
But Lord I know if I am still
And listen to Your tender voice,
You will help me know Your will.
My heart will once again rejoice.
And sure enough Lord, You came through
With help and wisdom, tried and true.
With love of friends and many prayers
You showed exactly what to do.
For love, so generous, so undeserved,
My grateful heart can now rejoice.
Thank you for reminding me
To listen to Your tender voice.
During this sleepless night as I listened to God, He reminded me, "I am faithful."
My mind was flooded with His presence as He took me down the path of my life starting 32 years before when I committed my life to Him in Annapolis, Maryland.
There is a song I love which I heard many years ago. It is not a familiar song, but it is a wonderful song.
Those Quiet Times
WORDS BY H.B. BARTON MUSIC BY ROBERT BROOKS
Those quiet times I thank Thee for, when I commune with Thee;
And in Thy presence peace I find, when Thou dost speak to me.
Those silent moments in the night, when sleep has passed me by,
My thoughts all dwell with Thee, as Thou dost draw me nigh.
How precious are those quiet times when Thy peace fills my soul,
And all my sorrows from me flee, and Thou dost make me whole.
O Lord how precious is the plan thy grace provides for man;
If we but stop and rest with Thee, we are renewed again.
So bid my soul in peace to rest with Thee, O Lord, I pray,
When weary, tired and worn, I stumble on my way.
Those quiet times are blest to me, for in them flies my goal
To walk with Thee, my Lord and King, and find peace for my soul.
It is in those quiet times that God reminds me of all the precious friends He has put in my life—to mentor, to guide, to bring me to where I am today. All of us can point to dear people God has brought into our lives—those who love, confront, and urge us on to reach the highest goal to which God has called us. Now it is our turn—yours and mine—to give back to others what we have received.
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This excites me. It reminds me of the original call of God to start Apples of Gold. Listening to His voice and following His path brings a joy that we could never have on our own. In Matthew 6:33, my husband's favorite verse, we read, 'Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you."
You who are mentors in Apples of Gold are wonderful new friends to me—gifts of gold from the Lord's own hand. You are part of that train of friends God is using to grow my spiritual life to follow His purpose.
I am so thankful for each of you. I pray for you often, even for those of you I have never met. I pray that your life will be a blessing to the young women God puts into your path, and that you will receive a blessing, greater than you can imagine, for your obedience.
THE HEART OF APPLES OF GOLD
The title for the book, Apples of Gold, is taken from Proverbs 25:11. "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver."
Picture ripe, golden apples, polished to a luster, artistically arranged in the finest sterling bowl, or a 24-karat gold inlay of apples on an exquisite silver platter. This word picture highlights again the beauty and value of wise words spoken at the right time. The wise teachers of Proverbs don't consider it hyperbole to aim to make one's speech a work of art.
Apples of Gold is such a fitting title for this nurturing program. This is a program that combines the study of scripture with bringing that scripture to life everyday by the way we show kindness, love for our family, submission to God and others, purity of body and spirit, and genuine hospitality to those around us. These are the areas mentioned in Titus 2 and upon which the Apples of Gold ministry rests.
Apples of Gold Mission Statement
The primary purpose of Apples of Gold is for older women to nurture younger women in the Word of God, the Bible, and to encourage them to obey that Word.
The secondary purpose of the program is the practical application of these principles:
Each week the first hour is held in the kitchen, learning about menu planning, and cooking wonderful food for our families. If more families eat together around the table sharing not only food, but devotions, and encouraging conversation, our families will grow together and in Christ.
We want to build friendships among women and between generations. By learning to understand and love one another, we help to build the church at large. We can't understand one another without knowing one another. Apples of Gold is a bridge—building ministry between older and younger.
Many young women today have not been taught such simple tasks as setting the table properly, or proper etiquette. Having an understanding of these skills will help these young women to feel more confident and aid them in passing these skills along to their children.
Sharing hospitality with family, friends and even strangers, is one of the great pleasures of life. Yet, today, it is nearly a lost art. We are more and more pre-occupied with our homes, yet use them less to warm the hearts of our friends and entertain strangers. Apples of Gold seeks to encourage women "they can do it" and we teach by example.
The program is based on the principles found in Titus 2:3-5, which teach how to enhance our spiritual and personal lives, the lives of our families and the lives of those around us.
Titus 2:3-5 states,
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.
Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
In these verses, Paul highlights the value of a woman's influence and work. Whether young or old, a woman has the potential to affect her world by her character and the conduct of her life.
Some have seen these verses as a restriction on a woman's role, but they are not. Instead, these verses point to the tremendous opportunities available to a creative, godly woman who purposes to build a life where love and faith can flourish.
As responsibilities at home decrease with time a woman is able to use the character and wisdom she has gained to have a broader influence on the world. It is important to note that her impact comes primarily through her godly character, not through the accomplishments of domestic or professional duties.
I especially like the word nurture for describing this ministry. The word nurture means to nourish and rear. Nurturing indicates active participation. In Apples of Gold, we nourish both body and spirit. Nourish means to foster or cherish. So we both nourish and cherish one another. I love that. It is meaningful, it is loving, it is fulfilling.
Many classes ask the younger women to fill in an evaluation sheet at the conclusion of their 6 weeks together. These evaluations are a joy to read and I will share from some of them throughout this book. Here's an example:
This program has impacted every part of my life! God's timing was perfect in placing Apples of Gold in my life this summer. The encouragement, love and teaching in each area of the study that I received was such a blessing. I have such hope now that I can be the woman God wants me to be and live a victorious life by His strength. You are all wonderful examples to me.
At the heart of Apples of Gold is the desire to touch the lives of women like this one. It doesn't take a college degree or seminary training. All you need is a heart willing to serve and share what God has taught you during your life journey.CHAPTER 2
Meant to Mentor
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A heritage is not a heritage unless it is passed on from one generation to another. The work of God in your life has left you with a wealth of knowledge and experience—a treasured heirloom just waiting to be passed along.
Each of you probably has an heirloom at home, a part of your heritage handed down to you or something you plan to give to your children one day. I still wrap up in a blanket given to me by my Grammy for a wedding gift. There is no longer a silky edge, but it still gives warmth and comfort to my body and to my heart.
Each of our children has a baby blanket knitted for them by my mom. She knitted 17 of the same white blanket, one for each grandchild. I treasure the blanket that was in her knitting basket when she died. She never gave up and always gave her heart to her children and grandchildren.
One of our most treasured heirlooms is certainly the Word of God. Second Timothy 3:1617 reminds us:
All scripture is God-breathed (or inspired by God) and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
How precious it is to have God's words written down for us through all these generations. They guide, comfort, and teach us about God the Father, Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, and the Holy Spirit, our Comforter and Teacher.
There are certain qualities about heirlooms that are much like us:
An heirloom has a story that goes with it.
God has written for each of us a story that accompanies our life.
An heirloom brings delight to its owner.
God wants us to delight in the spiritual heritage we have in Him and to understand His delight in us, whatever our story.
An heirloom is meant to be preserved and passed on from generation to generation.
God has promised to keep us to the end and pass on our faith to other generations.
Nurturing others is much like passing on a priceless heirloom. Nurturing is passing wisdom, ideas and the truths of God's Word from one generation to the next. Sharing ideas from life lessons is a forgotten art. We have neglected it and in the process, lost the joy and sheer fun of days gone by.
I so clearly remember when my mom's sisters gathered to can and freeze foods, to mend clothing over a cup of coffee and what laughter and fun they had in the process.
My precious sister-in-law, Jeanne, taught me how to can peaches and pickles. Her five children and our four were underfoot, but we had great satisfaction in working together and lining up the jars as they came out of the canner.
The times when we canned or baked together drew us close. I never had a sister so it was Jeanne who taught me so much about being a wife and mom. When she died at the age of 36, it put a hole in my heart that has never been filled by anyone else. What she taught me was just for us!
What happened between Jeanne and me was extraordinary precisely because we were ordinary women who cared for each other. I am ever more aware that God chooses to use people just like you and me to do His extraordinary work. Apples of Gold is the story of how God chose to use an ordinary woman—a wife, mother, and grandmother, to accomplish His purpose. It is for me an act of obedience to a call from God. It does not come from a heart full of self-confidence, but of confidence in an Almighty God.
Apples of Gold is a program that can help you be a "Jeanne" to a young woman who needs a friend to listen—someone to teach her biblical principles and practical skills. Or, someone to just laugh with over a cup of tea.
WHAT IS A MENTOR?
If you have never had a mentor, you may not be clear on what is expected in a mentoring role. You may feel you can't possibly be a mentor because you don't know what a mentor is?
Bobb Biehl, in his excellent book Mentoring, shares his thoughts on the ideal mentor:
The ideal mentor is honest with you.
The ideal mentor is a model for you.
The ideal mentor is deeply committed to you.
The ideal mentor is open and transparent.
The ideal mentor is a teacher.
The ideal mentor believes in your potential.
The ideal mentor helps you define your dreams.
The ideal mentor is successful in your eyes, someone you would like to be like.
The ideal mentor is open to learning from you as well as teaching you.
A trusted friend is a good description for a mentor. There must be a confidence in our relationships with the younger women, a trust that our sharing is sacred. Trust is built week by week as you meet together, laugh and learn together.
Another aspect of mentoring is that of a respected coach. A coach tells you what to do and how to do it but also shows you what and how. Good coaches inspire you by example. This is the type of teaching and training seen in Titus 2. Both the friend and the coach are necessary parts of the mentoring relationship.
Excerpted from Gifts OF Gold by Betty Huizenga, Janet Lee. Copyright © 2002 Betty Huizenga. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
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