As part of my promise to give away more books and tell you about some great titles that are coming out, I’ve invited my author friends Cheri Fuller and Sandra Aldrich to visit. You can win a copy of their new book, the Women’s Friendship Devotional, by leaving a comment on this post.
The One-Year Women’s Friendship Devotional (Tyndale) is their latest project. Not only does the text provide a deeper connection to and enjoyment of God and His Word, but it is a wonderful opportunity for today’s busy women to connect with each other as they discuss the short daily devotions and the “To Ponder” questions at the end of each week’s section. Perfect for small groups or two girlfriends meeting over coffee, the devotional also is appropriate for those who prefer individual study.
What can women gain from The One-Year Women’s Friendship Devotional?
Sandra: The One-Year Women’s Friendship Devotional is designed for today’s busy woman. Each of the 365 devotions are on one page and contain a daily Scripture, short devotional thought from either Cheri or me and end with an honest prayer and an insightful quote. At the end of each week are questions to ponder individually or talk over with a friend. But beyond the friendship connection is our heavenly Father’s invitation to know more about Him and His living Word.
Cheri: One of the benefits of our One Year devotional is it provides a vehicle to discover your natural rhythm for drawing near to God in a personal and regular way. For right-brained people like me, the structure helps me stay in God’s Word day by day so my roots can grow deeper in Christ. Being a lover of people, I also enjoy exchanging ideas and discussing how a certain verse or story spoke to me, and the weekly questions are ideal for that purpose.
What’s the target audience for The One-Year Women’s Friendship Devotional?
Sandra and Cheri: This devotional is written for women of all ages. Some of the illustrations deal with situations young career women face, and some touch a woman’s experience during mid-life. But all age groups will find material that will relate to their life and situations.
I understand the need for younger women to develop solid friendships, but why is friendship so vital to women 40-65?
Sandra: Friendship is vital to all age groups. However, women 40-65 often have entered the Empty Nest and/or grandparenting stage of life and need the strength and advice from friends who already have experienced these challenges. In addition, women in this age group tend to be more comfortable with who they are. Not having to prove anything to relatives, friends or even themselves provides remarkable freedom that allows them to encourage others and share the wisdom of their years.
Cheri: Nothing is more refreshing than time spent with a girlfriend, and who doesn’t need that? A friend can quiet our fears, pray for and with us. We all need friends to laugh with and even travel with (I took my first across the country road trip with my sister Marilyn last summer and it was a blast, and summer before last a great trip to Maine with my two “since teen years” friends). Three of my longtime girlfriends and I celebrate each of our birthdays together—so no matter how busy we are, we get to see each other four times a year. We’ve found enjoying a long lunch out at a fabulous place (and gifts from the other three) really takes the sting out of growing one year older.
What’s the biggest challenge to women developing friendships today?
Sandra: Lack of time. And a lack of a sense of community. Today’s women have daily to-do lists as long as their arms. It’s difficult to concentrate on deepening friendships—or even developing them—when our idea of fun is crossing items off that list. Also, those endless lists make us feel alone even in a crowd. Women need each other, but often it takes special effort to form those connections.
Cheri: Recent research shows that 30% of Americans are lonely and often feel isolated. The more hectic life gets, the more we need friends and the encouragement that comes from relationship with God and our sisters in Christ. Our hope is that reading The One Year Women’s Friendship Devotional will energize your spiritual life and your friendships.
Another major challenge we face as women is taking care of so many people that we neglect ourselves and become irritated or burned out. Taking time to refuel spiritually and emotionally is important and the benefits ripple out to our children and family members, job, and all the people our lives touch.
You both are busy women. What has been your hardest friendship challenge?
Sandra: Even though most of us do not have our days consumed by cooking meals over a wood-burning stove or washing clothes in a copper kettle in the yard, our schedules still are not our own. Some days it seems as though each minute is controlled by demands from bosses and needs of family, leaving us little time for the soul nourishment friendship provides. The women of my long-ago farm community worked together—canning, quilting and cooking for ill or grieving families. In addition to accomplishing a needed task, they built a friendship fortress that provided an example of how community is supposed to work. I long for those relationships today.
Cheri: When I started speaking and writing, women I knew assumed I was working all the time and stopped calling to go to lunch or play tennis. They thought I was just too busy for fun. But I love people; I’m refreshed by being with people. My heart would dry up and have nothing to say without friendships with women and time with loved ones. So I’m very intentional and initiate getting together with friends.
Both of you share intense personal accounts. Was it difficult to be so open?
Sandra: Of course it’s difficult to share personal challenges and failures—even triumphs. But those human elements provide encouragement for others who are going through the same situations. Every woman has a story. As we share those stories, we learn from each other. And we grow.
Cheri: When I speak or write, I purpose to be vulnerable and open about my life. There are times I’ve been through a particularly difficult time and said, “God, I don’t understand all this, but if you can use my pain to distill into something that would give hope to another woman—have at it!
Talk about that power of story.
Sandra: We have a perfect example of the power of story as we look to the parables of Jesus. He tucked spiritual points into stories of people and situations His audiences could identify with. And they remembered the lesson because they remembered the stories.
Cheri: Stories are what impacts a heart. Stories are what we remember. The concepts and truths are vital, but I’ve often learned the most from stories of living people I meet, people from the Bible and throughout history—especially missionaries who lived on the edge of adventure, often with no one to depend on but God. So I love to weave stories into the devotionals or other writing I do.
What parting words do you have for your readers?
Cheri: Remember that God loves to hear your voice, just as you love to hear the sound of your kids’ or loved ones’ voices—not just once a week on Sunday but throughout your days. And every time we open his Book, the Bible, there’s a gift, a promise, or a truth that will help us learn to live abundantly no matter what we’re facing.
Sandra: Because of the shed blood of Jesus, we have the incredible privilege of stepping directly into the Presence of our heavenly Father through prayer. Years ago, a woman asked the great preacher G. Campbell Morgan if she should pray about everything or just the big things. Morgan answered, “Dear lady, pray about everything. After all, what could possibly be big to God?” I love that. And I love knowing we do not pray to air.
The One-Year Women’s Friendship Devotional provides connection in this fragmented world—connection to other women and, most importantly, connection to our heavenly Father. The quickest way to order it is through amazon.com. For more information about Cheri Fuller or Sandra Aldrich visit their websites at www.cherifuller.com or www.sandraaldrich.com And remember: the heavenly Father is just a whisper away.
Post a comment or question by Wednesday, Nov. 19, to be entered in the drawing to win this book. If you’ve won a book from this blog or my newsletter in the last three months, you can comment if you like but you won’t be eligible–we want to spread the wealth, so to speak! 🙂
Let’s hear from you, this would make a great Christmas gift for a friend!