Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Betty Huizenga mentors younger women, helping them understand the Bible and economical decorating.

Betty Huizenga: If you don’t have a lot of beautiful things, how can you make your table look pretty with the simple things that you do have in your home?

You can pick a few greens from your yard and put them in a vase on the table. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect or matched. You can still make it beautiful.

Leslie: It’s Friday, July 27, and you’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Yesterday’s conversation on Revive Our Hearts was eye-opening. We were able to picture what mentoring really looks like. A lot of women are now thinking, “Maybe I really can become a mentor.

If you missed the program, you can order a copy on CD or hear it on our website. It’s ReviveOurHearts.com. I’ll give you the address again at the end. First, let’s listen as Nancy continues talking with our guests about the how and why of mentoring.

Nancy: Welcome back to Revive Our Hearts and a discussion we’re having this week with three friends who are here to talk with us about mentoring.

I don’t know where you listen to Revive Our Hearts. If you’re in your car, you won’t be able to do this, but if you’re in your home or in a place where you’re settled and stable, you may just want to get a cup of coffee or tea and sit down and open up your heart, open your ears and listen.

Join in with us on this conversation as we talk about what I think is one of the most important needs for women today, and that is to be in relationships where older women are teaching younger women the ways of God.

Now, there are a lot of mentoring programs available out there, but recently I’ve come across one that I think is so wonderful, and we wanted to let you know about it.

The founder of Apples of Gold is with us today, Betty Huizenga. Betty, thank you so much for starting this program and for being here with us today to talk about it.

Betty: Thank you for having us, Nancy. And really, it was God’s idea. I am so thankful that I listened, because I wouldn’t know any of the people in this room as well as do, and I probably wouldn’t have met you, either.

Nancy: Well, we want to hear the story of how God birthed this is your heart, but first let me introduce the other people in this room.

Dee Horne, you have been connected with Betty since the beginning of Apples of Gold. Thank you for coming to share with us as one of the mentors in this program.

Dee Horne: Thank you for having us.

Nancy: And Margo Topp. You don’t look old enough to have a married daughter.

Margo Topp: Oh, thank you!

Nancy: But you do. You have children from a married daughter down to a three-year-old, five children, and you’ve been one of the younger women, the Apples, as they call them, whose been mentored and polished in this Apples of Gold program.

Thanks so much for taking time from your family today to help us know more about this ministry.

Margo: Thank you for allowing me to share about it.

Nancy: And you, all three, were involved in the first class that Betty did in Holland, Michigan, that is, in 1995, and now you’re here, years later, to talk about this story, about this ministry that is now all over the country.

Women in groups, in churches—in fact, this morning I walked into our office here in southwest Michigan and said to our receptionist, “We have some special guests coming today from the ministry Apples of Gold.”

And she said, “Oh, they’re doing that program in our church right now,” so this is happening all over, but you all go back to the earliest days.

Betty, how did it get started? Did you intend for this to be a big national ministry? What did you have in mind, and how did the Lord birth this?

Betty: In 1995, we sold our business in Michigan, and I was struggling with that. I had gone to work at this business for a few years and enjoyed being with the people, and as much as my husband was really excited about this next phase of our life, I was wondering what God would have us do in this next phase of our lives.

A friend invited me to go to the Greenbriar with her in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia for cooking classes. She said, “You need to get away. This will be good for you.”

But God really had a different plan for that week, and on the second to the last day, as I was hiking through the beautiful mountains there, I found an old chair, and I sat down.

I was really crying out to God, “What do you want me to do with the rest of my life?” It’s the first time in my whole life when God really poured a call into my life. I knew my name was on this, and I had to say yes or no to it.

When God calls you, you need to listen. I had experienced the Spirit of God working in my life before, but I’d never felt called to do something like this.

He really clearly put into my mind the whole idea of Apples of Gold. Now, I have to tell you, it wasn’t something I’d ever thought of, so I knew it was from God.

I had never thought to be a mentor, and I’m truly humbled even now that God would choose a wife and a mom and a grandmother to start a program like this. As I’ve gone through these years, I’ve realized that’s kind of the whole point of it, that God calls ordinary people to do extraordinary things when it’s His plan.

He laid out the idea of Apples of Gold in my heart. I went back to my room and wrote down everything I could remember, and the next day as we came home, I shared with my husband Lee, who said, “Go for it!”

I called my pastor to talk to him, and he said the same thing. Lee has just encouraged me ever since. “You can do this. Let’s go. Let’s try to make it work.”

Well, I thought God had called me for my church in Holland, Michigan, which didn’t seem too big a deal. I had been there for many years, and the following week, I had agreed to do a luncheon for MOPS, for moms who had been on the committee for MOPS, including my daughter-in-law.

We’re all sitting around on our patio one afternoon, 18 young women. My daughter-in-law said, “Mom, why don’t you tell the girls what God’s called you to do.” And as I shared that, they all put their hands up and said, “I would love to be in that.”

Most of those women became our first class. We had no idea what we were doing. We didn’t have lessons written, so I began to put some lessons together, and I called friends who I knew would be wonderful mentors.

Dee and I had been neighbors and friends for a long time, and I knew she would say yes. And actually, Margo’s mom is a mentor for Loving Your Husbands, and these wonderful friends have been with us from the beginning.

So for five years we did Apples of Gold from my home with written lessons, but not published lessons. And then in 2000, we were so blessed that Cook Ministries published the book.

All of that’s just a miracle of God because nobody knew who I was. And as you know, you don’t just have things published. It was just God’s hand the whole way, and now there are classes all around the country and even around the world.

We actually have a book published in Dutch, Apples of Gold, Epfels van Ghelt, which is fun because I’m Dutch background, and it’s being translated in Polish and Spanish at this time.

Just to see God’s hand at work, I know it was His idea, and I can take no credit for it. I’m just humbled by it, and I’m happy to be on board, but it’s just been evident from the beginning that it was His plan.

Nancy: Now you have a lot of resources available that help people develop an Apples of Gold program. Those resources are available through Revive Our Hearts, and we hope that you’ll take a look at those and take advantage of those.

But let’s talk about what the class looks like, what the program looks like, and can you alll think back to that first class? What it was like, and describe for us for listeners who may not be familiar with Apples of Gold what becoming a part of that program looks like and about that first class?

Dee: We had no idea that it would go any further, so we were really pouring our hearts out to our daughters, daughter-in-laws, and friends, just trying to teach them the things we had learned, and writing our own lessons ourselves.

We were so green, but God just used it and took our words and made them His, and we had people call us from all over saying, “Can I come watch you do a class,” and pretty soon, there was a class sprouting up one over here and one over there.

Every week we’d have more and more people come to watch us, and we were running off on the printer recipes and our lesson plans and so, it was such a treat when we finally got the Apples of Gold book in our hands that we could work with printed material.

Nancy: Betty, this is different than some other mentoring programs in the way that you match the women up, isn’t it?

Betty: It really is. After the first summer when I went back to Florida in the winter, I was invited to come to speak at a local church on Sanibel Island, and they had tried a one-on-one mentoring program.

Some of those might work great, but in their case, it didn’t work too well. Sometimes if you’re assigned a mentor and you don’t click, then the whole relationship falls apart.

They had to bribe young women to come to this luncheon. It was really kind of fun to listen to me speak because they said, “No, we tried mentoring, and it didn’t work.”

Well, as I explained Apples of Gold that day at that luncheon, I saw a table of young women that were all sitting together, ten women around a table, and they were all weeping.

It was really disconcerting. I didn’t know why they were crying, but afterward, they closed the meeting and one of the girls jumped up and said, “May I say something?”

They said, “Well, yes.” And she said, “This is what our hearts long for. We want you to just be our friend and come alongside and teach us the things you know, and we just want this. Will you do it for us?”

And within a couple of weeks, Apples of Gold started down in Sanibel. So that’s how the Lord has spread this.

Then those mentors went back north to different places and they started classes in their churches. Iif God has an idea, He’ll see to it that it comes to pass; it’s been great.

Nancy: Tell us what it looks like. Help us experience what someone would experience going through the class. Somebody invites you to come and be a part of this, and what happens when you arrive?

Margo: Because I got to be a part of the first class, I was invited by a letter from Betty, just explaining what Apples of Gold was and what their plan was and what God had called her to do.

How a class begins now is great. We, the Apple, the girl who would have just finished the session, she prays over who she would invite, who she has in her life that she feels the Lord would have be a part of Apples of Gold.

I love that about Apples of Gold. I think God can just bring in who He wants to be in there at just the right time. When we come to the session, it would begin at about 11 o’clock, and we would start out in the kitchen.

Nancy: So this takes place in a home.

Margo: This takes place in a home, right.

Nancy: And why is this so important?

Margo: Well, as I said before, for me, and I think for some of the other gals, I’ve heard them say that because it’s in a home, some of the guards are let down. Some of the gals who come to Apples of Gold may not know the Lord, so this is just a very welcome, warm atmosphere for us gals to come to.

Nancy: It’s really on-the-job training. It’s onsite training where women live out so much of their lives. That’s where they're getting this nurturing and discipling.

Margo: Right. Exactly. So we’ll come in and some of the food has been prepared, some of the slicing and dicing has been done, but we’ll start out in the kitchen for a time of cooking, and it’s just a good ice breaker.

We’ll prepare the meal that we’ll have for our lunch.

Nancy: And somebody heads that up, somebody’s done all the advanced preparation. Is there training going on during that time?

Margo: There is.

Nancy: I imagine there’s some women who don’t know how to cook more than a carry-in pizza.

Margo: That’s exactly right, but I think a lot of us just think that’s okay, and that’s the way society is right now. I even saw an advertisement for already-made frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

You just pull them out of a box in the freezer. That’s the way our culture is going, but that’s not necessarily the way our hearts are going. I think we still desire to be able to be homemakers.

At least for myself, I can say that. So to be able to come here and actually have a cooking demonstration and to get new recipes and even learn about some new kitchen gadgets—it’s wonderful. It’s just a real warm time of communication during that time.

Dee: And that’s a good hook, too, because some people would not come to a Bible study, but boy, they’ll come to a cooking class. Who doesn’t want that?

Margo: Right.

Nancy: So you gather in the kitchen, you’re seeing this demonstration, and you’re actually preparing together a meal that you’re going to eat.

Margo: Exactly. Right.

Betty: We have lots of fun in the kitchen, too. I think there’s something about that—what Margo said, that when women come we laugh and get to know one another in the kitchen, so when we do go into the living room to talk about loving your husband or being kind or purity or submission, our hearts are just in a little better shape.

I think if someone came to your front door and said, “Come on in. We’re going to talk about submission today, there’s just something not quite conducive to making them want to talk about that.

But we have the kitchen time to really learn many things, basic things, things that young women need to know about cooking. We like to say, “You can do this. We can help you, and you can do it.”

We talk about menu planning. We talk about how to set the table. Many young women have not even learned how to properly set the table. They want to know. They just don’t know, and they don’t think sometimes that it’s so important for their families.

And we say, light a candle for your family every once in a while. Set a pretty table. They’ll come back and say, “You know, it really made a difference. My family noticed that I did things in a beautiful way for them, and they appreciated it. They felt loved.”

So we want to talk about some of those things. Sometimes I’ll set a table setting right on the island in the kitchen if we’re going to have, for instance, soup, and show them how the table is set for that, so that when they get to that place, they might not feel awkward about, “What is this spoon doing here, and what do I do with it?”

One time, I had a woman call me, and she was on her way back from New York City, and she said, “Betty, I’m in my car, and I’ve just come from the Waldorf Astoria. I was sent here by my company.”

“I got to the place, and I realized I didn’t know how to make proper introductions. I didn’t know how to make small talk around the table. I sat down and there was silverware everywhere, and I didn’t know what to do with it.”

“I’m on the way home, and I’m calling you to tell you this will not happen to my daughters.” She had just picked up Apple Seeds, which is a book for the younger girls. She said, “I’m going to teach them these things, that manners matter.”

So we talk about a lot of things. How do you put the napkin on the table and how to mix it up.

If you don’t have a lot of beautiful things, how can you make your table look pretty with the simple things that you do have in your home?

You can pick a few greens from your yard and put them in a vase on the table. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect or matched. You can still make it beautiful.

Nancy: The goal of all that is not to be a Martha Stewart. The goal is to show your family and friends that they are important, it’s to express love, it’s to create a climate conducive to cultivating the hearts of the people who come into your home.

Betty: I have a real desire to get families back around the table, too, Nancy. When you ask sometimes how family life goes, we find out people will drive through three or four different drive-throughs to get what the kids want.

Or they’ll say, “What’s your favorite meal that your mom makes?” And they’ll say, “Well, mom just asks each one of us what we’d like and she makes it for us.” So there’s never that time around the table where you really share a meal and you do have the time to teach manners, to listen to the best story of the day, to encourage your children. It’s important.

Nancy: Those times were so important in my own growing up. My dad was a very busy business man. He didn’t get home until seven at night, so we held dinner. We thought that was torture because all our friends got to eat at five or five-thirty in the afternoon.

Here we are waiting until seven o’clock. But I look back now, and I realize my parents realized this was important. We had breakfast together, as a family, at eight in the morning, and then supper together at night.

Even with a family of seven children, all outgoing, all talkative, they weren’t always the most peaceful times on earth, but I believe they were so important just cultivating a heart for the Lord and a heart for each other and a heart for home.

So in this Apples of Gold program, you start out in the kitchen training, teaching. What do you do when you leave the kitchen?

Betty: We go to the living room or the family room, and we do our Bible study lesson.

Nancy: So that’s the second hour, roughly, of this three hour time in the home?

Betty: Right. And the women have prepared their lesson ahead of time from the book Apples of Gold, and they write their answers right in the book. We’re all in the same book together, the mentors and the younger women.

We’re all in it together. We can work through our lesson. The mentor is more of a facilitator than a teacher, just guiding us through the lesson, adding her own life lessons that she’s had, adding her own life into it. We share what the women have learned in this week, as well.

We really learn from each other. I learn a lot of things about my children by listening to the other young women who are in the classes. It’s helpful. It’s as good for the mentors as it is for the young women.

Nancy: And you said mentors. I want to make it clear there’s not just one mentor, but you choose six older women, and each one teaches one of the week’s lessons, but they’re all there each time.

Betty: That’s right. The commitment is to be there for all six lessons, but they’re only facilitating one, and that’s pretty do-able for a woman who says, “I can’t do that.”

There have been times when mentors have said, “I just can’t do that.” We had one situation where a group of young women wanted this so badly that they set up a dinner in their home, provided a dinner, and invited a bunch of women they thought would be great mentors, gave them dinner, served them, and just said, “Here’s this book. We want you to teach us. Will you do it?” By the time they got home and shared with their husbands, they had all called back by the next morning and said, “Okay, you got us. We’re going to do it.”

Nancy: So the younger women really can initiate this?

Betty: They can. They really want it. I have a lot of emails from women saying, “How do I get a mentor.” The sad thing is how many young women have asked for a mentor, only to be refused.

Nancy: I’ve heard this.

Betty: That’s just really sad to me because we don’t know what we’re missing when we don’t have those relationships.

Nancy: I think maybe the reason for some of these older women is they think, “I wouldn’t know what to say. I wouldn’t know what to do.” But with Apples of Gold, you’ve given them a track to run on.

Margo: Right. As an Apple, I could tell you what I’m looking for in a mentor. I’m not looking for someone to come over and clean my house or somebody that I can call regularly to come and babysit my children.

What I’m looking for is somebody who’s simply going to be available, available for me to see in church and check in with that person or see in town and check in with that person and that she would know a bit about me, and I would know a bit about her.

She would come alongside and encourage me. Really, what it boils down to is I want somebody who’s going to be able to guide me a little bit in the way that the Lord would want me to go.

Nancy: And not always a formal teaching relationship.

Margo: No, no. That’s not it, either. It’s somebody who will guide me to the Lord, and somebody who’s out there in front of me. That’s what I’m looking for.

Nancy: The neat thing about this program is you have a group. How many girls, ideally, would you want of the younger women?

Betty: It depends on the home. It depends on how many you can squeeze into your house. Some people just feel more comfortable with eight or ten. Whatever you’re comfortable with.

I think God guides that part, too. I think a full house is fun. I’ve always just loved a full house, anyway. We have a great time, but maybe you have discovered, too, Nancy, in working with young women, these young women really, really want to know what God wants them to do.

Once we get obedience things straightened out in our hearts, it makes all the difference in our lives. I think that was the thing I most struggled with when I really gave my heart to Christ.

I realized I had such a stubborn, disobedient heart, and that there was no joy in that. Once you learn what God wants you to do, and you obey it, there’s just such blessing and joy. That’s what we get to see the fruit of.

Leslie: That’s Betty Huizenga, who has responded to God’s call on her life to mentor younger women. She’s been talking with Nancy Leigh DeMoss about the importance of mentors in the body of Christ.

We also heard from Margo Topp and Dee Horne, two of the women involved in the mentoring program, Apples of Gold. Betty began this program to help younger and older women connect.

While going through this program, older women pass on the knowledge in the kitchen, discussing details of hospitality, down to how to set the table for different occasions, and they discuss the Bible and how it relates to the lives of women today.

Find out for yourself what this kind of mentoring program is like. Betty Huizenga wrote a workbook for younger and older women to explore together. It will take you through the kinds of topics I just mentioned.

Get a copy and connect with someone who can help you grow in maturity and faith. We’ll send you the book Apples of Gold when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. We’ll also add the radio series of mentoring featuring Betty’s conversation with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Ask for the book and CD when you make a donation of any amount. Call 1-800-569-5959, or donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

If you enjoy listening to the teaching of Nancy Leigh DeMoss, you’ll get so much more out of it by studying along with her. You’ll have a chance to do that in a couple of months when she begins a series called Seeking Him.

It’s twelve weeks that could transform your life. Imagine having a clear conscience, being freed from bitterness, having a new passion for honesty, purity, and holiness, getting more out of God’s Word.

Those who have gone through Seeking Him have had all these experiences. This twelve-week study could be a chance to connect with God in a deeper way than you ever have before, and by following along on the program every day, you’ll be motivated to tackle your daily study questions and keep up with Nancy’s teaching.

Plan ahead and get the materials you need to follow along with Nancy’s teaching during Seeking Him. Find out more at ReviveOurHearts.com. Today’s guests return on Monday, and I hope you will, too.

Find out how God can use relationships between women in powerful ways for His kingdom. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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