Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Power of Props

This post was written by my sweet friend, Lynn Cowell.  Please don’t miss out on the information about her newly release book for teen girls His Revolutionary Love.

 He started at the bottom; squeezing out all the toothpaste forming a mountain. “Try to put all the toothpaste back.” he instructed; handing me the flattened tube. I just stared at that blue blob and wondered “How?” He knew it was impossible. Still he chose to watch me sweat it out. After a minute, he gently said, “That’s how words are. Once, they’re out; you can’t put them back.”

Though that example happened to me years ago, the fact that words cannot be retracted has stuck with me all due to the power of props. That’s the type of “sticking” power that I have tried to create when I have only 35 – 40 minutes to speak to a group.

Our goal when we speak is to create life change. How can life change be created though if our audience forgets our message? Leading teens and their moms to find their completion in Christ is my passion. As women, we desperately need to be filled by Jesus and find our value in Him and Him alone. For many, though, this concept is vague; one that could be easily forgotten. Completion? Value? What does that really look like? When I speak, I need some way to make my spiritual point concrete. I need to make it stick. Props do that.

Here is an example in my talk, “His Revolutionary Love: Jesus’ Radical Pursuit of You”. Using props, I create a visual of what it means to be filled with Jesus. Feel free to skip up to 9:47 in order to just watch the part of my message using props.

When using props, here are a couple of helpful hints:
1) Be sure that your props are elevated enough, allowing everyone to be able to see. There is nothing more frustrating than feeling like you are missing out on something!
2) If possible, try to give your audience a take away that will remind them of your prop. I have a message where I used a spinning top toy. I then purchased online miniature tops to give to each attendee.
3) If you are going to need your event coordinator to supply the props (I have to do this when I am flying), be sure to give her ample time to collect the props as well as locate an appropriate table. Be sure to not spring this on her last minute.
4) When using water, try using food coloring so that they can see it more clearly.
5) Keep a running list of prop ideas when they come to mind. It is a lot easier to write them down as they come then when you have an event coming up.
6) Invoke the help of friends. Maybe you are like me and don’t consider yourself very creative. Ask a friend who is creative to read your talk and help you to come up with a prop.

What props have you used when you speak? Let’s take some time to share with each other ways we have found to make our messages stick. Just click on “comments” below.

Lynn Cowell’s heart is to lead teens and their moms to find completion in Christ. Between carpooling and sleepovers, she speaks and writes for Proverbs 31 ministries as well as magazines such as Susie and Focus on the Family. Her first book, “His Revolutionary Love; Jesus’ Radical Pursuit of You” was just released. She and her husband, Greg, also have a college age son, Zach. Lynn loves sushi, anything that combines chocolate and peanut butter and well-worn sweatshirts. You can connect with Lynn on her blog at www.LynnCowell.com and on FaceBook at Lynn Martin Cowell.

Leave a comment here | 8 Comments
Share and Enjoy:
Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring Break

Hey, all…I am going to be taking the week off to spend with my family during spring break. Before I sign off for the week, I’d love to ask for prayer:

  • I’m also not blogging this week, because right now we don’t have internet at my house. Holly Springs, NC was hit with a tornado yesterday. Our home was spared, and we have power. I’d ask you to pray for the many who are dealing with the destruction of their homes. My heart ached as we saw the damage today.
  • Our family is taking a college trip this week with our junior. We’re all really excited, but will ya’ll pray for direction and guidance for my big ‘ole boy as you read this? (And for my full but aching mama’s heart?)

Love you, Cyber-Sistahs! I hope you have a wonderful week!  (I’ve got something to share about a speaking experience this week that I can’t wait to write about.  Please come back next week.)

Leave a comment here | 1 Comment
Share and Enjoy:
Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I found myself in a familiar but uncomfortable place last week–shaken.  I had let my last event begin to erode my confidence and fell back into the comparison trap after seeing one of my fabulous sisters speak.  Have you ever found yourself shaken and lacking confidence?  I had to remind myself of some truths that God has been teaching me.

“Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God.  Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.”  II Corinthians 3:4-5 (NIV)

         “Are you sure you’re ready to have a tiger by the tail?” asked my mom with a big grin.  That was her first response when my then-boyfriend Barry asked my parents if he could marry me.  It still makes me laugh, because I was certainly known as a strange mix of rule-following, first-child with a wide streak of sassiness and fierce independence.  I’m still not sure that Barry had any idea what he was getting into when he said, “I do.” 

That was over twenty years ago, so when Barry asked an unexpected question this week during our family vacation, it opened my eyes to some of God’s difficult work in my life.  Barry and I sat on the deck overlooking the ocean talking in low voices about the topics that concern many of us–finances, parenting, plans for the future…  Suddenly, Barry asked his startling question.

“If you could change one thing about me, what would it be?”

My mind went blank except for the thought, “Whew! This is a really loaded question.” At first I didn’t want to answer (why ruin a great evening?), but I finally answered, braced myself and re-asked the question, “What would you change about me?”

I had a pretty good list going in my mind of what I thought he’d say–I wish you weren’t so critical. I wish you wouldn’t talk so much. I wish you would cook dinner more often…. What he actually said surprised me. “I want you to get your confidence back,” he said. “When I married you, your favorite phrase was, ‘I’ll do it myself!’ I’ve watched you lose your confidence over the years, and I want you to have it back.”

A move, a couple of friendships with bad endings and struggling to find a place in my new home town had knocked the stuffing right out of me.  I had fought and lost against my own tendency toward comparison, perfectionism and an overdeveloped sense of responsibility.   Little by little, I became convinced that I couldn’t and that I wasn’t. My confidence was shaken and then it crumbled.

But sometimes things have to be torn down before they can be rebuilt.
Was it God’s plan that I would move, fail in some friendships and beat myself bloody trying to be somebody else? No! He did, however, use this bad place to bring me to a better place.  God began rebuilding in me about a year ago, but He capped it off when I got home from She Speaks this year. There He spoke to me over and over again about trusting my life to His control, and our scripture in my Sunday school class the following Sunday was this one:  II Corinthians 3:4-6  “Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”  (NIV)

I started with, “I can do it”, but He brought me to “He can do it in me.”  He has brought me out of my own power, which is so limited and flawed, to being dependent on the infilling power of His Spirit. Confidence in myself has very limited power whereas confidence in Him brings limitless possibilities. 

I know that I’ll still have days of struggle with confidence, but my rebuilt and renewed sense of confidence is now firmly in Christ. It’s a beautiful place to rest.

Leave a comment here | 9 Comments
Share and Enjoy:
Tuesday, April 5, 2011

And the Winner Is…

Oh my goodness!  I was simply overwhelmed at the response to our contest. THANK YOU to everyone who left a comment.  I have lots of ideas about the breakout at She Speaks, so please come join us if you are a beginning speaker.  I’ll also have lots of blog posts in the future based on your questions, so make sure to come back here to join us.

In celebration of your amazing response, I’m going to offer 15% off any Next Step Speaker Services contracts for the next 5 clients who sign up before next Tuesday.  If you’re interested, you can fill in the Request for Information Form, and I’ll contact you.  Filling out the form doesn’t obligate you, but it will give you a chance to find out more about our services.

And the winner of the She Speaks conference registration is…Carla MacLachlan (3/30/11 7:32 pm)!!  Carla, please get in touch with me as soon as you can, because I have some information that you’ll need to register.  Congratulations to Carla!  For all the rest of you longing to go to She Speaks, watch Facebook and the She Speaks site.  There are more sch

Leave a comment here | 15 Comments
Share and Enjoy: