Become a Safe Haven


While life can (and should) be something you enjoy and look forward to every day, there will be times in your life when everything seems to be going against you. Whether in your personal life, at your workplace, or even spiritually, there may come a day when you find yourself in the middle of a situation that seems determined to beat you down. Author Pamela Lau dealt with two life-altering situations that, at the time, seemed like one-way tickets to a less-fulfilling and joyful life. Instead, she was led on a journey that inspired her latest book, A Friend in Me: How to Be A Safe Haven for Other Women.

If you want to find a “safe haven Mentor” for yourself and the journey your life is currently on, be sure to apply to the 4word: Mentor Program! Applications for the upcoming fall session will be accepted through Friday, August 14. Click here to apply!


4word: Tell us a little about your background.

Pamela:  I’m originally from Cherry Hill, New Jersey.  My parents are first-generation Christians—my mother is Jewish and I’m the oldest of three. When I graduated from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, I was offered a job with Gannett Newspapers as their national advertising manager. I loved the job; however, I knew I wanted to write, and I was trying to figure out how to make it happen.

A year later, I married Brad Lau and we started graduate school at Colorado State University where I earned a master’s degree in technical journalism. During that time, I started freelancing and wrote for technical magazines to get my feet wet. Two years later, we moved to Kansas, where I worked as an executive assistant to the college president. The president was somewhat entrepreneurial and used part of my working hours to edit and ghostwrite for his larger projects. The experiences he gave me were invaluable.

YO9A126664bBut what altered my calling more was when I taught my first college writing course at 25 years old. After that year, we moved to the East Coast. I started teaching full-time at the college level, where I became the lead learner in all my classes: college writing, communications, public speaking, creative writing, devotional writing, journalism, introduction to literature, and interpersonal communication.

During those years of teaching, I was asked to speak at women’s events and women’s retreats—it was such an honor for me as I was so young and only had my research and my own life to pull from. From those opportunities, I developed a hunger for Scripture and how I could apply it to my life. Skeptically, I dove into Bible study so I could speak to the women with credibility.  My twenty-something life was full of teaching—teaching writing, teaching speaking and teaching the Bible. By the time I was 31 years old, I had three daughters under 3 and it seemed as if my entire life came to a halt.

Brad, my husband, accepted an executive level position at George Fox University and we moved three thousand miles to the West coast.  After the first year of moving, I started teaching at GFU and wrote my first book, Soul Strength.


4word: You were a writing professor at George Fox University before deciding to switch to teaching at a private school after your daughters were born. What led you to make this transition? Was it difficult?

Pamela: In 2003, I was speaking at an event with my mother-in-law, LeAnne Lau, at Glen Eyrie in Colorado Springs when a group of young women came up to me and asked, “What do you want to do in the future?” Instantly, I said, “I want to be close to all three of my daughters now and twenty years from now. Everything else in between would be awesome.”

YO9A126671aMy answer surprised me.  Why did I feel it was necessary to voice staying close to my daughters? The answer is I was starting to feel scattered. There’s not a better job in the world than college teaching for women who are thoughtful self-starters and who love young people. When I received a call from our girls’ day school to take a teaching position, I took it seriously as it appealed to me for us to all be going in one direction.

Yes, it was a difficult transition for me on many levels. I felt a series of losses: the loss of autonomy, loss of freedom since younger students need management, and a loss of position since parents have such a strong voice in schools.  But the advantage for our family in that season was great. I witnessed first-hand how my daughters interacted with their peers, teachers, and other parents, and I learned about them—who each one was as a person. Also, I had the privilege of teaching two of my daughters in a formal classroom setting.

Teaching younger children was a humbling experience for me. College students are adults: they need the structure of a dynamic classroom but they aren’t dependent on you. Younger students depend on their teachers, and I felt the weight of that responsibility. It was also humbling being in an environment where my direct supervisor was always present: the daily of life shifted greatly for me in my work and it wasn’t the best fit for me long term. From that job, I started my own LLC so I could help organizations and leaders with their own writing. I also continued to speak and write.


4word: Your passion to connect women of all ages came about after two traumatic events in your life. Can you tell us about these?

Pamela: The first event laid the foundation for the second. When I was 14 years old, my mom left our family.  As you can imagine, all that goes along with a family breaking up, feeling abandoned, and feeling responsible for my siblings created a deep sense of angst for me. A few key women along the way reached out to me and their stability gave me the courage to attend college and later on decide to marry.

Three years after I was married, my husband’s younger brother and his fiancé were killed in a head-on collision with a cement truck. It was a nightmare.  My husband shut down (understandably so), and I had nowhere to turn. The intense vulnerability I felt from both of these events came to a head in my mid-twenties. I knew how to be on my own, but I couldn’t navigate the violent emotions I was experiencing. My healing started and ended with connecting with women of various ages—women who walked a traditional path in life and women who were professionals—I needed all kinds and all ages.  One thing was for sure—I needed to connect at a deeper level.



4word: Your passion to connect women resulted in your book “A Friend in Me: How to Be A Safe Haven for Other Women.” What are the key themes and ideas behind the book?

Pamela: Young women long for relational connection with those of us further ahead of them on the journey. Yet, without realizing it, many of us tend to distance ourselves from the younger women in our lives.  I am asking my readers, “Can we really have close relationships with women who have different thoughts on church, different experiences with family, and different ways of talking about God?” If so, where do we start? Along with the five key themes, I encourage women to talk about issues such as faith, forgiveness, sexuality, and vocation.


4word: In the book, you discuss five patterns women should practice when initiating relationships and conversations surrounding difficult topics. Can you walk us through these patterns?

Pamela: I believe as we become more like Christ, his influence on the next generation can pour through us to them.  First, however, we must receive and embrace what I suggest are five life-giving patterns from Psalm 119:73-80:


4word: Why do you believe that a large age gap is not necessary when looking for a mentor?

YO9A126678aPamela: Life experience knows no age limit, no boundary, no socio-economic threshold.  As I humbly grow in relationship with a variety of women, I learn more than I ever thought possible.  How one woman mentors me in learning more about her particular struggle has nothing to do with age. When I wrote the chapter on sexual conversations, I met with a woman who is two decades younger than me to help me with my perspective. When I needed a mentor in my career direction, God led me to someone who was twenty years ahead of me in life. Yet, one of my most influential spiritual mentors is only a year or two older than myself. It’s not always about age but experience and attitude.


4word: What advice do you have for someone going through a difficult time in their life and desperate to find someone to talk and/or pray with?

YO9A126662aPamela: Several years ago, I was in a season where I needed a woman outside of my current circle to help me navigate an extremely painful life experience. Before I just randomly talked with anyone who came to mind, I made a list of what I needed in that counsel. I remember the morning I wrote out that list in a journal and asked God to lead me, no matter how long it took, to the right person who could counsel and pray with me about this issue.

Three weeks later to the day, I was sitting across the table from a woman who stockpiled resources like no one I’d ever met and she freely offered what she’d received along the way.  How did I find her? By waiting and listening—in our culture we tend to rush impatiently even through our hurts and our needs. The more a woman can use her tenacity to find the community, the person, the mentor she identifies with best, the more satisfying her life becomes. She’s out there! Don’t give up. Be persistent.


What is your first response when dealing with a challenging situation in life? Are you like Pamela and find yourself needing to be surrounded by mentors who have been where you are now? If you find yourself in a situation that seems too much to bear on your own, look at those around you and seek out someone to talk to. You never know the blessings you might receive until you try!


Who has stepped in and helped you during a difficult time? Have you had the opportunity to be an influence and encourager to someone during a tough trial?



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