The Experience Jesus Calling

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Raising Brave Kids: Lisa Bevere, Sami Cone and Rachel Wojo

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Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Today, we speak with Lisa Bevere who is a New York Times bestselling author, a teacher, as well as a wife, mother and grandmother. She and her husband John co-founded the ministry organization Messenger International. When speaking to women, Lisa’s desire was to instill strength within women, helping them embrace their God-given femininity. She wanted to impart this same boldness to her granddaughters, and has now written a new book called “Lizzy the Lioness,” in hopes of teaching young girls (and boys too) how to be brave. In our second segment, bloggers Sami Cone and Rachel Wojo discuss how they “keep it real,” in parenting and trust God through all the messy and rewarding moments.

Raising Brave Kids: Lisa Bevere

Lisa Bevere: I’m Lisa Bevere. I am a Sicilian mother and grandmother. I have four sons four grandchildren. I have the privilege of traveling the earth and speaking to God’s women and for really, three decades now, I’ve been traveling and empowering and speaking to women of all ages. I just really have a heart, to not just speak to women, but to actually speak to children. So this was an incredible opportunity for me to expand this.

Lisa Bevere poses for a picture in a black suit.

I’ve written 12 books. I have one New York Times bestseller I’ve been married for 35 years. My husband is also an author, and we just love life, and we love Jesus.

I was born and raised in West Lafayette, Indiana. My father was a 100 percent Sicilian. His parents were immigrants. He worked really hard to work his way up the ladder; became the president of the Home Builders Association. My grandparents were involved at Purdue University. My mother a stay-at-home mom. I grew up in the Midwest normal and just always was a little bit bent towards wild. I lost an eye to cancer when I was five years of age. I had something called retinoblastoma. I think that really marked my life–kind of punctuated it with an urgency.

Realizing God’s Purpose In Your Life

I also hated feeling like I had limitations. I hated feeling perceived as I was the “one-eyed girl,” I was the outcast. So, I ran away as soon as I could. When I went to college, I went to University of Arizona. I went out there, sowed my wild oats to the extreme, and really found that that was empty. I remember between my junior and my senior year, I said, “OK, I’ve gotten everything I hoped would fill the voids in my life and none of it did.” Between my junior and senior year in college I came home for summer school at Purdue, met John, and he shared with me the Gospel for the very first time. When I heard it, I thought, “this is why I was created. I was created for fellowship with God.” I got born again on my very first date with John. I interrupted him.

I said, “whatever this Christian thing is, I need to do it right now.” I got born again and filled with the Holy Spirit and just realized in that moment, why I was created. I spent about an hour and a half looking for the book of Paul that night because John said, “Paul said this and Paul said that,” and I had been raised heathen–so I had no Christian frame of reference and I was like, “OK, God there’s a book of Paul–I need to find it.” I had like a little New Testament, a New Way New Testament, in my college dormitory. Seriously, from that moment forward, I just realized that God was the purpose behind my life. Back then, they actually told you that God had a plan for your life. It wasn’t about a destination after you died, it was about, “hey, guess what? You’re clueless–God actually already knows the plan He has for your life and it’s for good, and for hope, and for a future.” John and I got married a year and a half later and just began to dream. We were first generation Christians and we said, “OK, we’re going to have to make this up as we go along.” Just kind of by accident, we raised four amazing sons who all love Jesus with all of their heart; serve God, work alongside of us in the ministry. We just said, “we want to do it, and we want to do it as a couple. We want to do it as a family.” We believe that ministry should be legacy.

I said, “whatever this Christian thing is, I need to do it right now.” I got born again and filled with the Holy Spirit and just realized in that moment, why I was created.

I feel like God tricked me into talking to women, because I was kind of like, “hey God, I don’t know if you understand this, but I don’t like women. I don’t like women. I don’t understand women.” I remember when John proposed to me I said, “you are getting such a great deal.” He was like “OK.” I said, “I am a woman’s body with a man’s brain,” He was like, “I am actually not comfortable with that.” I said, “no, you actually need to be comfortable, because women are crazy.” I was like, “you don’t want me to be like that.” I kept giving birth to boys and I was like “yay!” Then God began to move upon my heart and tell me that He had called me to minister to women. I was like, “OK, I think we need to have a talk about this. I don’t like women, they don’t like me. So if you actually want me to speak to women, you’re going to have to send me a mentor.” So the first eight years of my marriage, I’m trying to be obedient. I’m looking from one woman to the next and saying, “OK, do you see something in my life you want to help me with? Do you want to pour into me?” All of them were like, “No, not really.” I remember my husband tricked me into speaking at a women’s meeting.

What Does Your Christian Walk Look Like?

So I had driven with two small children for 14 hours in a car, pregnant with my third, and my husband had gone to this church, and just seen the oppression of the women, and he was like, “hey, I told the pastor that you would love to do a women’s meeting tomorrow morning.” I was like, “Listen. After that many hours with children in the car I’m not even sure I’m saved anymore.” I mean, I was ready to throw all the Bible song things out of the car being like, “I hate Psalty—-I’m not doing this anymore.” So my husband was just like, “no, you just need to be ready.” So, he took our kids out to some breakfast, and I hit my knees, and this was the turning point.

I said, “God you never sent me a mentor, and you know I don’t like women so I don’t know why you’re asking me to speak to women.” He said to me, “Lisa, for you there would never be a mentor,” He said, “but what you wish another woman would have been to you, you begin to be.” I said, “wait a minute, I don’t know how to be that. I don’t know how to be that.” He said, yes you do.” He said, “everything you wish another woman would have poured into you, you begin to pour.” He said, “write it backwards, Lisa. Look at the last eight years of your life–the last decade of your Christian walk, and figure out what you wish you would have done; what you wish she would have told you, and you be that woman.”

Then He said to me, (OK, this is so embarrassing) but He said to me, “Lisa, I like women. I created woman as the answer to the very first problem.” I was like, “wait.” He said that it was not good for a man to be alone. He said, “I see women as answers to problems.” So that shifted all of my perspective.

The Lionesses Within

We raised our boys and never really for sure imagined they would all want to work with us, because my husband is Italian and Dutch, and I am Sicilian and French, and that’s kind of a crazy combination. Our kids are with us, and then we started having grandkids, and that’s one of the most amazing things on the face of the earth.

Lizzy the Lion by Lisa Bevere.I started having these beautiful, spiritual daughters and had such an awareness that so many of these young girls–they were so hungry to actually do it in a feminine heart with strength. I kind of think that there’s been a choice in the past. You can be strong and anti-male, or you can be weak and pro-female. I was like, “No–we can be pro-female and strong.” I had written a book called Lioness Arising, and I had compared women to lionesses, because lionesses are a collection of related females. They hunt together. They take care of each other’s young. They nurse each other’s young. They train each other’s young. I thought, “that’s what we need to be–we need to be those women.” It was great–I was like yes, “I love this. Let’s do it. Then I thought, “well, you’re not doing it. What do you mean–you’re telling other people to do it, but you’ve got some young daughters now, you’ve got mamas looking to you–give them some tools.”

I just found that I wanted my granddaughters to not have to work out the hard way the things I had already paved a way for them. I wanted them to really have this blessing and strength over their life–that they didn’t have to be angry at men or angry at this–but that they could actually understand that their desire for a purpose that honors God, and a life of courage is woven into their being. I just really wanted to write a book that would position young girls and young boys, to be honest with you, because they can listen in, but to position children to really understand that they can be courageous at whatever stage. Wherever they find themselves in life; that no one can take away their voice and that they have permission to use that.

I wanted to empower young people—littles–to ask for help, and to understand that that is, at times, the absolute, most brave, courageous thing you can do is ask for help.

Between Lizzy my granddaughter, who is, I don’t even know how to describe her. She is this package of fierce and adorable. Half the time her clothes are not on her. We’re like, “please Lizzy, just keep your clothes on for fifteen minutes.” She cannot be contained. She hates having limits. When I saw her, I saw so much of me when I was little. Of wanting to be big, wanting to do everything, yet understanding that you can’t. She’s got an older brother, an older sister, all the time telling her “you’re too small. Be careful you’re not big enough.” She’s like, “don’t tell me I’m not big enough.” She’s constantly getting in trouble. I was like, “oh, I need to somehow seize the good of that and empower her to have a voice and ask for help,” I think when everybody tells you you’re too little, the last thing you want to do is admit you’re little. I was like, “what can I do to create this conversation?” The first time I read the book to her she just said, “again, and again, and again.”

It just validated her strengths without minimizing some of the challenges that she would have. I wanted to empower young people, littles, to ask for help, and to understand that that is, at times, the absolute, most brave, courageous thing you can do is ask for help.

Identifying The Need And Equipping Yourself

I had taken Asher and Sophia, my two oldest grandchildren out. I really wanted to actually put some of this into practice. So we were driving in the car and they’re in the back seat. I said, “Hey Sophia, is anybody at school ever mean to you?” She was like “no.” I said, “Asher, is anybody at school ever mean to you.” He said, “no, no one at school is mean to me.” I said, “Oh, is there someone else mean to you?” Then he began to talk to me about this little girl, who was the daughter of friends of my son and daughter-in-law, and that when she would come over, she would hit him in the face, she would isolate him, she would do all these kind of different things. She would come be the big girl and she was probably three years older than him. So I said, “well, have you told your parents?” He said, “well, I tried to, but they just said that I needed to obey her when she was here because she was the oldest.” So then I said, “well, Sophia what do you what do you do when this is happening?” “I said, “do you stand up for Asher, or do you go along because you want to be one of the big girls?”

Sophia throws her head back and starts crying and she said, “I go along ‘cause I want to be one of the big girls.” I was like, “what just happened?” and she goes, “Asher, I won’t do it anymore, I’m going to stand up for you.” I could see she had a lot of guilt about this. This was like a healing between them. Then I got to talk to the parents and say, “hey, I don’t I don’t know if you understand what really is happening,” and they were able to write that dynamic so it didn’t happen anymore.

It was really interesting. I think there’s opportunities for conversations where we number one; identify the need and number two; equip them to meet it. So, that was kind of my three things with this book; create conversations, identify the need, and then equip them to face it.

Be As Bold As A Lion

What we’re doing is we want them to understand that they’re not bold because of their age. You know Proverbs 28; “the righteous are as bold as a lion,” says to them, “it’s not your size, it’s not your age, it’s your standing with God that emboldens you to be a lion–to be as bold as a lion.”

I just think there’s no creature that makes little boys and little girls feel fiercer than a lion. When you tell them they’re as bold as a lion, they’re like, “I am as bold as a lion.” So that was the Scripture that we put out there. We’re just hoping that that becomes a mirror that children can carry into their life. Whether that boldness means they speak out directly to something, or they ask for help. We want them to know that is their heritage of righteousness.

So moms and children need to be set up to have these conversations. Creating opportunity for conversations is a huge tool for parents, especially when they’re putting their kids to bed.

We decided to be devoted. We wanted to do devotions. If we had had Jesus Always–I just scanned through Jesus Always. I got so excited about August 14th. “Wake up your heart.” I was like oh my goodness. Wake up your heart. This book is positioned so well. If I’d had this, we would have done one page at night. This is what I love about Jesus Always for the kids—it’s just one page. You know, that’s like not just the attention capacity, but the retention capacity. I just was flipping through it; I was just so captivated by the unpacking of the truth and then the “read on your own.” When I got a copy of Jesus Always, these 365 devotions for kids, I was like well, I’m going to flip through this and I’m going to try to figure out as a grandmother if this day is at my house, or if it goes to them, because it is just so beautifully written.

The words–the way that each thing was positioned– “Count on me to help–you belong to me. I am the only One. You were made for joy.” I just feel like the way it’s positioned is just so highly relational that it wouldn’t just speak to the kids, but it would speak to the mothers and fathers that are going through it with them.

Narrator: For more information on Lisa’s new book for kids, “Lizzy The Lioness,” please visit LizzyTheLioness.com

We’ll be right back with the second half of our program, after this brief message from Audible.


As a special offering to you, the listeners of The Jesus Calling Podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out their service.

Find your favorite Sarah Young titles, including Jesus Calling and Jesus Always in an audiobook version and get it for free by trying audible.com. Check out a small sample of the Jesus Calling audiobook, featured at the end of this podcast. To download an entire free audiobook today, go to audibletrial.com/JesusCalling. Again, that’s audibletrial.com/JesusCalling for your full, free audiobook. Now, on to the second half of our show.


Narrator: Our next interview features Christian Bloggers Sami Cone and Rachel Wojo. Rachel began her website, RachelWojo.com to keep herself accountable to God’s Word and to help others enjoy fresh faith on a daily basis. Sami Cone started her site, SamiCone.com as a “frugal expert” and she pursues a variety of media to help others live their dream life on less and pursue their passions. They both share their thoughts on why they like to help others through the medium of blogging and their thoughts on being moms with a mission.

Moms With A Mission

Sami Cone: Rachel and I are old friends. But we don’t get to see each other very much.

A headshot of Sami Cone.Rachel Wojo: No, we sure don’t.

Sami: Rachel and I share a common bond in that we both are very real, or at least strive to be very real in our walk and in our families. One of the tendencies of blogging that really try to fight back against, is to portray this “I’ve got it all figured out” image. Coming to know Christ at the age of 25, like I did, that was my freedom in Christ. You know, I grew up as a people pleaser. I thought love came from performance and achievement. I spent the majority of my life trying to be whoever you wanted me to be or whoever was in front of me wanted me to be, because that’s the only way I thought they would like or even love me. So when I came to know Christ at the age of 25, what I literally heard God say to me was, “whether or not people like you or dislike you, they’ll respect you when you live a consistent life for Me.” That was a game changer for me.

Here’s what I’m working through and how the Word has helped me to find, not necessarily answers, but find ways bring me and my family closer to Christ…

In my parenting and my blogging and my writing. I don’t try to unload all my baggage. But I definitely want people to realize I have struggles too. Rachel and I have both been through some very; I mean, I think everyone goes through struggles, right? Rachel with your children, especially, I almost lost my marriage four years ago. Even the book I wrote, it’s on parenting, it’s more about, “this is something I needed and something I’m still struggling with. Here’s what I’m working through and how the Word has helped me to find, not necessarily answers, but find ways bring me and my family closer to Christ. I know Rachel really does that too.

A headshot of Rachel Wojo.Rachel: Yes, yes. Amen, amen.

Rachel: There can be so much pressure on moms these days because we have this ideal standard of what we expect everything to look like and be like. You know, I’m a big Pinterest gal–you know I love Pinterest—and I’m an idea person but, Pinterest can kind of make us have this unrealistic expectation of what life should be like versus what it is like. I mean, if you come in my kitchen right now, you’re going to find crumbs on the floor and there are going to be, most likely, art marks from yesterday with paint markers or something. It’s just not perfect, and I think other people are really looking for that opportunity to see that it’s real life. There is no ideal life–it’s real life.

The Patient Process Of Parenting

Sami: I think blogging in its best form, is really a way to story-tell and to share stories. Again, coming to know Christ later in life, as a Christian, there can be that feeling of where; the church should be somewhere where I should be able to go and be open and say, “Look everything’s not OK.” Sometimes the opposite happens and we walk through the doors of the church after just having fought the whole way to get in the car, much less in the car. Then we walk in the church aisles and say, “OK, everyone–smooth out the clothes, put on a smile–we’re OK.” But we’re not OK.

Sami Cone with her family.Rachel: Everybody needs to know that there are still people out there who are just real. They’re doing the same thing you’re doing; the best that you can for the Lord to raise your children for the Lord every day. Yes, we fail. But I always tell people, “parenting is a patient process,” right? It’s how God makes us more holy as people is through our parenting skills.

Sami: You know, our kids are who they are, but so much of it, and Rachel chime in here, is who we are, and what we’re teaching them, and what they’re seeing, and what we’re teaching them.

Rachel: Modeling to them.

Sami: Lessons are caught not taught, right? They’re listening and watching, and observing. If we’re not going to live it out, and if we’re not going to be respectful to others, and if we’re not going to go across the yard and knock on the neighbor’s door that we haven’t seen come out in a while, or we’re not going to be the ones that are standing up to do something in the community, or in the church that maybe we don’t feel like doing, but we you know needs to be done. How are they going to know how to do it, right?

Rachel: Seizing those moments in everyday parenting is kind of tricky, because they come at the most inconvenient times, doggone it. They want to talk when they’re already tucked in bed, and you’re exhausted, and you’re just like “OK, let’s pray. Dear Jesus, amen. Thank you. All right. Time for sleep.” You’ve got to take that extra 10 minutes there to really talk about—-have that conversation they want to have.

Those Messy Mommy Moments

Narrator: Sami and Rachel impart the messy moments of parenting as well as the rewarding moments through their work as bloggers. They have each written books about what they’ve learned about themselves, their families, and God through their struggles and triumphs in parenting. They both share about how they utilize devotionals to inspire their kids to learn about the Bible and to spend time with God—-and how Jesus Calling For Kids has been instrumental in connecting with their kids through family devotional time.

Rachel: Jesus Calling For Kids; we read it for three years in the mornings every day before school. It’s not just a devotional to us, it’s a very personal devotional. You don’t want your kids to fight over a devotional, you know. I have to admit that some days it was an argument as to who was going to read. We actually had to separate the devotional into the parts and say, “OK, this person gets to read the headline and halfway through the first three paragraphs, and this person gets to read the other two paragraphs and the scripture.” So we had to divide it up.

Sami Cone with her family in the winterBut I believe that Jesus Calling–it’s just been such a grounding devotional for us because it’s such a “quieting your heart’s” time.” Even though you can quickly read it in five minutes, which is awesome, you don’t have to take a ton of time. It doesn’t have to be “let’s have our half-hour Bible study, kids,” because that’s not realistic either. There were times where we just had to grab the devotional and read it in traffic on the way to school. There were times where we would read it in the waiting room, if we missed the morning, we couldn’t do it in the morning because we got up later. We had to be at school early for something. So we would read it at lunchtime, or in a waiting room somewhere, or at bus pickups. That’s what’s cool, is even though we tried to have a structure, we also were flexible with it. It’s really been an important part of our history, of just the school year especially.

The Best Times For Jesus Calling

Sami: I love that you said “be flexible,” Rachel, because the best time we found to do it was in the car on the way to school. Don’t trade those car lines in for anything. Because the times that you have with your kids before and after school, especially as they get older are invaluable, because they’re trapped, right? Cause you’ve got ‘em. I know not everyone can have that, but if you can mimic something like that, that was our best Jesus Calling times.

Sami Cone with her family on the beach.They see me doing my devotions in the morning, but that doesn’t mean that naturally makes them want to do devotions. So when Jesus Calling for Kids came along, it was exactly what we needed because all of a sudden we had–it was great because even if I did Jesus Calling, I knew we were going to talk about Jesus Calling for Kids and it was going to be in their language. It was going to be something they could understand. You know, I love, My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. That’s hard language to pass on to a kid. The times I’ve tried, you see the glaze going over their eyes within about five seconds. Here’s what I’ll say; all it took was one day where our kids opened it, and we’re a little easier because we have two, and one was born on an even number day and one was born an odd numbered day. That’s how we divided it, Rachel, so that we really had it easier. So it was an odd number day, one read, if it was even numbered day, the other read.

All it took was them opening it up to read something, and my daughter would be like, “Mom, this is exactly what we were just talking about! Can you believe that?” That’s all it took for us because it was just that moment of like, “wow.” It’s not that Sarah Young is speaking to us. It’s the idea of; if we allow ourselves to be open to what God has for us on any given day. This is someone that’s using their gifts to bring us closer to us and our relationship with God. That’s what I think the books do so well. They usher us into that posture, in that time and that moment, so that we can hear what God has to say to us or for us.

It’s not that idea that Sarah Young is speaking to us—-it’s the idea of; if we allow ourselves to be open to what God has for us on any given day.

It’s not going to be the same thing on July 7th next year. What spoke to us today out of that might be totally different next year. That’s what’s cool to do when you know, like Rachel is saying, doing it over the years to see… and we write in it. You know I’ll write in 2011, if there is something poignant that happened, I just write it on that day and that’s also really great to come back and see, “oh, remember when we were going through blah blah blah,” Just a little reminder because it’s great for your kids to see those visual reminders; placing those stones, making an altar. It’s great for them to see those prayers answered, or the struggles that we’ve had that still aren’t answered, or the praises that happened. I love being able to do that with the kids as well.

Rachel: I just love how you can get something different, like you said, Sami, you can get something different every time you read it through. Somebody will be like, “aren’t you tired of that devotional by now?” Well, the kids have not complained one bit. So I’m guessing the answer is, “No, no…they’re still so ready to go and keep going.”

Sami: Jesus Calling For Kids, I would say, has been a great vehicle for us, but you know, go to your library and find it in your library and start it for three weeks, if you don’t have the money to get it. Or just grab a friend, and grab a notebook, and grab your Bible, and just start somewhere, because that’s where real change happens.

Rachel Wojo with her family in front of a wooden wall.I never want someone to think we’ve got it all figured out. I think whatever you do, do something. Don’t wait for January 1st. Don’t wait for someone to ask you. Don’t wait. I don’t want anyone to think that they don’t have the tools to do something today to deepen their walk with the Lord and their families.

Narrator: Sami Cone’s website is full of amazing resources for busy families. Visit her site to learn more about her work “Raising Uncommon Kids,” by going to SamiCone.com. Rachel Wojo’s “Encouraging Fresh Faith,” website has resources for Bible Study, prayer, and encouragement. Follow her and learn more about her book “One More Step: Finding Strength When You Feel Like Giving Up,” at RachelWojo.com.


Narrator: Next week on the Jesus Calling podcast, we speak with legendary singer/songwriter and country music icon Dolly Parton. Dolly’s eclectic and impactful career has been recognized through the numerous awards she has received including Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Awards. Dolly’s dream has been “to make as many people happy as she could in this life.” and she has done so through her music, acting and through giving to others through her many charitable endeavors. Dolly talks about what inspires her and how she approaches each day.

Dolly Parton: I believe that through God, all things are possible, and I’ve proved a lot of that. I pray every day that God will lead me, guide me, and direct me; and that He’ll bring all the right things, all the right people into my life, and take all the wrong things out. I ask Him to let me, every day, do something to uplift mankind and to glorify Him.

Narrator: Our featured passage from today is from the August 14th entry of the Jesus Always audiobook.

I will restore to you the Joy of My salvation. When you confess your sins to Me with a humble heart, I gladly forgive you. But there is more: I restore you. The salvation of your soul is the source of inexpressible and glorious Joy! I want you to experience once again the rich, deep pleasure of a close relationship with Me. I desire to be your First Love.

Many people and things compete for your attention, so keeping Me first in your heart requires diligence. You have developed ways of seeking Me that are familiar and easy for you. But the danger of relying too much on routine is that it can become a tedious duty. When you realize this has happened, you need to stop—and try something new. Remember who I am: King of kings, Lord of lords, Creator-Sustainer of this vast, awesome universe! Take extra time to worship and adore Me before bringing Me your other prayers and petitions. This will awaken your heart to My Glory—and to the Joy of My Presence.

Narrator: Hear more great stories about the impact Jesus Calling is having all over the world. Be sure to subscribe to the Jesus Calling podcast on iTunes. We value your reviews and comments so we can reach even more people with the message of Jesus Calling. And if you have your own story to share, we’d love to hear from you. Visit JesusCalling.com to share your story today.

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