Popular Bible teacher and speaker Ellie Lofaro delivers a humorous message with a serious theme as she encourages women to follow God and trust Jesus Christ with joy and confidence, no matter what problems they face. (Part 1 of 2)
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John Fuller: On today's "Focus on the Family," Ellie Lofaro shares her perspective about dealing with all the trials of life. And whether you live on the East Coast, like she does or on the West coast or somewhere in between, the starting point is the Bible.
Ellie Lofaro: God did not leave us to dangle in the dark. He's not a sadist in the sky, waiting to hit you with a rubber band or a disease. He did leave directions. He did leave instructions. Taxes, sex, mother-in-laws, it's all in here. (Laughter)
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John: Well, an interesting take on a "good old Book" and there's more to come on this Best of 2015 edition of "Focus on the Family" with your host, Focus president, Jim Daly. Thanks for listening. I'm John Fuller.
Jim: John, Ellie is a very popular Bible teacher and speaker. In fact, she teamed up with singer, Kathy Troccoli just a few years ago for a woman's conference called Spaghetti for the Soul. That toured I think about 40 cities across the U.S. and they co-authored a book by that same title. Ellie combines biblical wisdom with a great sense of humor, as you're gonna hear in a minute. In fact, when we aired this back in March, one of our Facebook friends said, "This made me laugh out loud as I was driving home from work. Good thing it was dark outside or people would've thought I was crazy."
John: (Laughing) That's a great comment and quite a compliment. Well, Ellie Lofaro certainly is a very gifted speaker. She's a native New Yorker and she and her husband, Frank now live near Washington, D.C. and have three grown children--two daughters and a son. And here now is Ellie Lofaro, speaking at a women's conference on today's best of "Focus on the Family."
Ellie Lofaro: Reston, Virginia is a planned community. It was created by Robert E. Simon. Those are his initials, Robert E. Simon--town. Reston is kind of a strange place. It made me very nervous when I first moved there, because it's a perfect planned community, 20 pools. Everything is just so. There's a certain mileage; there's [sic] walking trails and jogging trails. There's [sic] no funeral homes or cemeteries. (Laughter) He said he was building Utopia. I guess you don't die in Utopia. But I do have a theory. They lay fresh mulch every three months. (Laughter)
Anyway, it's just a unique place and it's like I said, just lovely and there's flowers [sic] planted and it's just very nice. But it really was a unique change for me in the beginning. And I believe that to live in Reston, you have to be between 30 and 60. It's "Baby Boomerville." And then, when you're 60, you have to move out. (Laughter)
There is a tower at one end of town, it's the Lutheran home. It's a sky scraper and I go there every few months and I sing some songs, play guitar and I'm an honorary member of the 30+ Club (Laughter) So, I go and it's so much fun and I like doing humor for the old people, 'cause they have hearing aids (Laughter). And the joke goes around the room real slow (Laughter). They start banging on their canes, you know (Laughter). But I love going there. And there's nothing more beautiful than a woman who loves Jesus who's in her 80's (Laughter), who's been loving Jesus a long time.
You know, people say that you start looking like your pet. You start to look like your husband after many years. You know, you take on characteristics of people you spend time with. Imagine what that's like when you're a Christian, that you can start to look like Jesus.
When you walk in a room, sometimes women will say, "Excuse me, what is that you're wearing?" You know, wouldn't it be nice if we could say, "That's Jesus." You know, what is that about her? Why is she different? Oh, I gotta get some of that." Do you ever have people say to you, "Who are you?" or "What are you so happy about?" And it's such a great opportunity to say, "It's Jesus. It's Jesus. It's not me. This is how I used to be. This is how I am now," so I love that.
But a wonderful thing about visiting the old folks' home is, that you get to enjoy some of their wisdom. Here are some observations made by "Senior Saints." One lady says, "Insanity is my only means of relaxation." (Laughter) A reason to smile, every seven minutes of every day, someone in aerobics pulls a hamstring. (Laughter) One of life's mysteries is how a two-pound box of candy can make a woman gain five pounds. (Laughter) Mildred says, "My mind not only wanders, sometimes it leaves completely." (Laughter) Ethel says, "The best way to forget your troubles is to wear tight shoes." (Laughter) The nice part about living in a small town is, that when you don't know what you're doing, someone else does. (Laughter) Phyllis says, "The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight, because by then, your body and your fat are really good friends." (Laughter)
Sometimes I think I understand everything and then I regain consciousness. (Laughter) Martha said, "I gave up jogging for my health when my thighs kept rubbing together and setting my pantyhose on fire." (Laughter) Amazing, you hang something in your closet for a while and it shrinks two sizes. (Laughter) Lillian said, "Skinny people irritate me, especially when they say things like, 'You know, sometimes I just forget to eat.'" (Laughter) I have forgotten my address, my mother's maiden name, my keys, but I have never forgotten to eat. You have to be a special kind of stupid to forget to eat. (Laughter and Applause) Margaret said, "A friend of mine confused her Valium with her birth control pills. She has 14 kids, but she doesn't care." (Laughter and Applause) And finally, women over 50 don't have babies, 'cause they would put them down and forget where they put 'em. (Laughter)
I like the story of the elderly lady who came out of the shopping mall, bags in both hands. And as she's approaching her little white car, all four doors are open; the trunk is open. Four teenage boys are proceeding to enter her car. She's the widow of a police lieutenant and she has the right to carry his weapon. It's not loaded, but she carries it. She reaches into her deep pocketbook and she pulls it out and she says, "Get away from that car. I have a gun and I'm not afraid to use it." The teenagers did not wait for a second invitation; they fled.
She was so shaken, poor thing. She put her bags in the car; she sat down in the driver's seat. She was just absolutely upset and she could not get the key in the ignition. (Laughter) Five minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes later she looked over four cars and she saw a car. (Extended Laughter) It looked exactly like her car! (Laughter) She put her head on the steering wheel and she shook it. And she went over and she tried the key and it fit. (Laughter)
She went straight to the police station to turn herself in. (Laughter) The police captain fell on the floor like Dorothy. (Laughter) He pointed to the other end of the counter where four shaken teenage boys (Laughter and Applause) were reporting a carjacking (Laughter) by a crazed elderly woman, 5'2", white hair, big black shoes. (Laughter) No charges were filed. (Laughter) Senior citizens!
I'm 45. I'm having a lot of senior moments. I walk around the house sometimes. I get to the kitchen. The kids go, "It's dinner time, Mom. Sit down." (Laughter) I apologize to my mother all the time, because this happened to her in her late 50's. It's happening to me much sooner. I used to make fun of mother, like "Ma, you know." You know, open the cabinet, you look in, you're going "No. I know I'm ..." (Laughter) I just know. I laugh at myself all the time. I have sometimes gone back for the third time, goin', "I think I can get it." (Laughter) It's just difficult. It's just really difficult. It's very, very hard. But it's good to laugh at ourselves, ladies.
Motherhood is hard work. Aging is hard work. I like the story of Mabel. She's a sharp woman. Mabel has raised her son, David, right and she's a little concerned, because David moved to the big city and he has a roommate, who is a female. David insists that it's just platonic. Mabel is not so sure about that and she knows that if she goes there, she can tell for her own eyes. She's very discerning. Mabel arrives and they put out a lovely dinner. Stephanie cooks. Mabel goes home.
A couple days later Stephanie says to David, "David, I'm not saying anything, but ever since your mom left, my sterling silver gravy ladle is missing." David says, "Stephanie!" "David, I'm not saying anything, but it's missing." "All right, I'll … I'll e-mail mom." "Dear mom, I'm not saying you took the gravy ladle. (Laughter) I'm not saying you didn't. But the fact is, the gravy ladle has been missing ever since you left." Mabel wrote back the next day by e-mail. "Dear David, I'm not saying you're sleeping with Stephanie. (Laughter) But the fact is, if she were sleeping in her own bed she would have found the gravy ladle." (Extended Laughter and Applause)
Power to the mothers! (Applause and Cheers) We need it. These kids are wiping me out. I'm exhausted. My kids were perfect until they were 18 (Clears throat) months (Laughter). Then they started displaying character traits from my in-laws. (Laughter) I pray for the children all the time. (Laughter)
Let's pray. Lord, thank You for the fact that we do believe Your promises. Thank You, Father for foundations that are strong because of You. You are the foundation that is strong and when we're built on You, settled on You, living in You, abiding in You, hidden as the Scripture says, hidden in You, we can be strong. Father, help us now to examine this Word in Joshua and to understand what it is to be an overcomer. That is what this day is about, Lord. We desire to be overcomers. We need to be. Life is hard and You are good and all things are possible through You. Help us now, Father as You illuminate Your Word, amen.
If you do have a Bible, turn to Joshua 3, being an overcomer. I think when we think of overcoming, very often, we think of physical maladies. We think of the great Joni Eareckson Tada, who in a diving accident became a quadriplegic. We think of those who have survived horrible things.
I spoke at a retreat last year in Sacramento, California and arrived at the airport and this lovely woman, Sue, picked me up--strawberry-colored hair and freckles. And she had told me that she had recently had double mastectomy and she explained to me that it was a win-win situation. And I said, "Win-win, tell me about that." And she said, "Well, you know, if I got better, the glory would go to God. If I got sick people would pay attention better to my Christianity. In my sickness, my family's come closer to God. My husband's deepened in his faith. If I die, I'm gonna be with Him." I said, "You should be teaching this weekend, not me." Win-win, I don't know if I'm there.
John: You're listening to Ellie Lofaro on today's "Focus on the Family" and in just a few minutes, you'll hear Ellie how the Proverbs 31 woman was able to laugh at the days to come. And you can get this message on CD or in audio download form. It's part of our Best of 2015 collection, when you call 800 the letter A and the word FAMILY or at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. Let's go ahead and return now to more from Ellie Lofaro on today's "Focus on the Family."
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Ellie: Paris is pretty sharp and she's like, "Mom, I want Jesus to come back, but after the wedding." (Laughter) When I was a young Christian, I used to hear the women of faith, the great women of my church say, "Oh, dear Lord Jesus, come, come. Take us out of here." And I thought, "Wow, they must be so unhappy." (Laughter) Life's a party. Why do they want Him to rush? I understand now when we look at headlines and we look at abuse and we look at what's happening with certain kidnappings and homes and sex rings and all those things, that we'd like to somehow lock them in a white room, wouldn't we? But we can't do that and you grandmas know what it's like to stand by and watch it happen again to grandchildren that you'd give your life for. You'd do anything to protect them.
A non-Christian neighbor with the terrorism and the Anthrax [thought it] was quite an issue in the D.C. area. We live 25 minutes from the Pentagon. She called me to let me know that she had a plan, an emergency evacuation management plan for her only child. And I listened and I thought, "How sad that she thinks her plan will protect that child."
We can't protect anybody. People say to me, "You're not afraid to go on planes? It doesn't bother you?" And I said, "What can happen on a plane that, you know, it can happen in a supermarket?" You are not in control of your life, are you? No, we are overcomers and we know from Proverbs 31, that "She laughed at the days to come." Why did she laugh? Has she had a lobotomy? (Laughter) She laughs because the good guys win in the end. She laughs because the King is coming. She laughs because she lives forever; she lives forever.
I wrote a book, just a very small amount of copies--a few thousand--called Bonding With the Blonde Women. (Laughter) You'll never guess how I picked that title. (Laughter) My speaking had stopped. The radio had stopped. I moved and God said one day when I was complaining about working in the cafeteria, "I want you to love the blonde women." (Laughter) "Don't make me be friends with the blonde women, God." (Laughter) "Yes, you're gonna be friends with the blonde women."
We've never owned a new house. We've always had used houses in New York. We got to have a new house in Virginia. Everybody's doin' the same thing, putting in the carpeting, getting the trees, the mulch, the painting, the windows, the gutters, all that. And I knocked on 33 doors and invited 33 women to a Bible study. [I] told them I wasn't a theologian or an expert of anything, but I loved God and I thought the Bible was helpful for life. Three of them came. That's amazing. That was four years ago. Now it's a morning and night group, 52. (Applause) That's not about me. That's about [the fact that] people are hungry. And the blonde women are coming to the Bible study and they've been in my house. (Laughter) And they help me to lose weight. (Laughter) They don't think fat jokes are funny. (Laughter) In New York, we love fat jokes. I was gaining two pounds a year and proud of it. (Laughter)
I love it. They raise their hand. And one woman says, whose husband is very successful, "Ellie, my Bible is defective!" "What? What happened? What is it?" "There's no red ink in the beginning!" (Laughter) And a woman who's a successful accountant wants to know what's God's turnaround time on prayer (Laughter). It has been so refreshing. If you are not hanging out with women who don't look like you, you're missing something; you're missing something. I love God's promises. I love that we are overcomers. I love that we get to live forever.
Now just to give you a little background here, we're entering the Promise Land in Joshua 1. Joshua and the people are prepared. The river Jordan is gonna be crossed and a memorial will be erected. We know that Moses did not get to enter in. We know that a whole generation did not get to enter in. They were complainers; they were gripers; they were mopers. They were procrastinators and they did not get to enter in. God waited until all the disobedient people were gone. He will pick out the people that are causing trouble. He will remove the murmurers and the scoffers.
Preparation, Joshua 3, verse 5, "Then Joshua said to the people, 'Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.' And Joshua spoke to the priest saying, 'Take up the Ark of the Covenant and cross over ahead of the people.' So they took up the Ark of the Covenant and went ahead of the people. Now the Lord said to Joshua, 'This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel.'" There He is again making somebody great.
"I'm gonna exalt you, Joshua, that they may know that just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you. You shall, moreover, command the priests who are carrying the Ark of the Covenant, saying, 'When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.' Then Joshua said to the sons of Israel, 'Come here and hear the word of the Lord.' And Joshua said, 'By this you shall know that the living God is among you and that He will assuredly dispossess from thee before the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Hivite,'" the parasite, the gargasite, the New Jerseyite and the termite. (Laughter) Sorry Jersey.
"'Behold the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing overhead into the Jordan. Now then, take for yourselves 12 men from the tribe of Israel, one man for each tribe. And it shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests, when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the Ark, when they're in the Jordan, when they shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, then the Jordan shall be cut off. And the waters which are flowing down shall stand up in one heap.'"
The Jews are tired. They've been traveling 40 years. That's because there was a man up front who would not ask for directions. (Laughter) Sorry, sorry. (Laughter)
Three men are walking along a river and there was this terrible storm. They were taking a lovely hike and a horrible storm [arose]. And they were Christian men and they were just having a nice hike in the woods and this storm was so amazing. And they had to get back over this river that they had crossed and there was no way to do it. The river suddenly was going 80 miles an hour. And one man said, "Lord, Lord, Lord. Give me the strength to cross the river." He jumped in the river and he swam across and he just made it, almost drowned, sitting and breathing hard.
The second man said, "Lord, give me the strength and the tools to cross the river." And God put a little rowboat right there and he rowed with all his might and he got across this river. And the third said, "Lord, give me the strength and the tools and the wisdom to cross the river." God turned him into a woman and she read the map and crossed over; (Laughter and Applause) she just crossed over the bridge 10 yards up. (Laughter) Directions.
So, there has to be preparation. We have to have some sense of preparing. When the cancer comes and you have not prepared in your faith, it's late. A woman in my Bible study had just asked Jesus into her heart and she called me--I was doing a retreat in Nashville--on the cell phone and she said, "Please pray for us. We're on the way to [the] hospital. I found Cory dead in his bed this morning," 2 1/2-years-old. (Audience Reaction), some type of extreme unusual seizure. And as I got in the reception line after the Mass, I put my face next to hers and her face was all wet and she whispered, "I don't get it." I said, "It's okay, Maggie. You don't have to get it." You know, ladies, there are some things we're not gonna get on this side of the veil. There are some things we're just not gonna get, but do we believe? But do we trust? But can we say "He is God and He is a good God?"
My sister's neighbor committed suicide. He hung himself by the remote of the garage. And my sister is not a capital C Christian. It was what I call "Christians who report for duty every day." And she's a good woman and I believe that she's close to asking Jesus into her life. The next time I visited her, the teenage boy who found his father and let him down from the ceiling, was out in the street just mechanically bouncing the ball, bouncing the ball, shooting, bouncing, bouncing, shooting. And I said, "Michelle, have you been over there?" She goes, "Well no, I took a casserole when it first happened, but I haven't been back. I wouldn't know what to say."
If you're a Christian, you need to sit on the end of that hospital bed with more than, "Good luck; hang in there." If you're a Christian, you need to have something to say at the cemetery when the casket is lowered. We are overcomers. We are women of faith. We are women of substance. It is not, "Hang in there; do your best, good luck, come what may." He is God. We will live forever. We will meet again. That is a promise.
John: And with that truth so plainly and convincingly spoken by Ellie Lofaro, we come to the close for this portion of her message. This is "Focus on the Family" with Jim Daly and what a compelling message about living out our faith, Jim. We're gonna hear more about how that dynamic faith can sustain us through difficult days, next time.
Jim: Well, and the truth is, I don't know how people get by without believing in a loving Savior, who cares for you. It makes all the difference in the world and here at Focus on the Family, we want to always point you back to the Lord and His Word, which contains all the answers and Ellie was referring to that, that we will need in life. Recently a woman named Katie Joy sent us a note in response to a broadcast.
She wrote: "Thank you for the difference Focus on the Family has made in my life. I grew up in a healthy home, where we listened to all the "Focus on the Family" programs, including Adventures in Odyssey. When I first got married, I struggled with some pretty heavy issues. Where did I turn? Focus on the Family, which turned me back to God. Now I have four little kids and am training to run a marathon, so I spend many hours running alone, listening to "Focus on the Family" podcasts. I come back from my run, physically exhausted, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually strong. I live far away from family and far away from any sort of Bible Belt. Thank you, Focus on the Family for being my family away from home, for being my Bible Belt and for encouraging me to live for God's glory." Wow! That is good stuff.
John: I love that comment and that idea that Focus on the Family can be Katie Joy's Bible Belt, giving her that spiritual strength every day for her challenges, especially as a busy mom. And that's the kind of outreach we do day in and day out here at Focus on the Family.
Jim: In fact, Focus on the Family receives over 500 calls a day from men and women like Katie Joy, who want to pray to either ask Jesus into their hearts or who want to rededicate their lives to Christ. And that's an amazing work of God that's going on each and every day here at Focus on the Family. We need your support though to have enough people working in our call center, to pray with everyone who wants to make that decision. And over the past few years, we've had to cut costs wherever we can. We like to run lean and mean and efficiently and we consider every dollar, every donation that comes into Focus on the Family, we consider it a sacrificial gift from you and that's not taken lightly. We are very conservative in how we spend your dollars.
Please give us a call today and make a donation. Be one of the people helping us turn those 500 a day toward the Lord Jesus Christ. And to say thank you, we want to provide the CD of the entire message from Ellie Lofaro for a gift of any amount. Get one for yourself or for a friend that you might want to pass along for encouragement.
John: Our number to order that CD is 800-232-6450 or at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio . And you still have an opportunity to have your donation effectively doubled through a special matching challenge. Get in touch with us today and help us reach twice as many families in the weeks and months to come.
And this reminder that we have a booklet we'll post on the website called "Coming Home: An Invitation to Join God's Family." It explains what the Christian life is all about and you can download a copy for yourself or a friend at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio .
Our program was provided by Focus on the Family and on behalf of Jim Daly, I'm John Fuller, inviting you back tomorrow. We'll hear more from Ellie Lofaro.
Ellie Lofaro: People are disappointing. People break their heart. They let you down. Where did you think you were gonna find the perfect person? His name is Jesus.
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John: That's next time, as we once again, help your family thrive.
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Ellie LofaroView Bio
Ellie Lofaro is an author, a public speaker and the founder of Heart, Mind & Soul Ministries. Her books include Spaghetti for the Soul (co-authored with Kathy Troccoli), From Battle Scars to Beauty Marks, Leap of Faith and Slices of Life. Ellie and her husband, Frank, reside in northern Virginia and have three grown children. Learn more about Ellie and her ministry by visiting www.ellielofaro.com.