Monthly Archives: May 2013

What Kind of Friend Are You? A Mary or a Martha? (Part 2 of 3)

“Martha, dear Martha,….you are fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing …” Yes, Jesus said that to Martha AND… I know several of us, myself included, whose names could be inserted in Martha’s place.

The above Scripture is Luke 10:41-42, from The Message.  The NIV uses this phrase:  “You are worried about many things…” Yep, gifted in that department too…

How ‘bout you?  Are you a “Mary” or a “Martha”?  Do you revel in sitting at someone’s feet (as Mary did with Jesus while Martha stewed),  listening intently, completely spellbound by their every word?  Then you are a “Mary”.

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We “Martha”s (!!!), fume and fuss over every single, solitary, silly detail and want everything “just right” at the expense of all who cross our path. (Pity the poor person who makes that crossing!)

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This week and next, we’re going to become acquainted with two gals who are polar opposites, a la Mary and Martha.  They also hail from different generations.  We’ll glean “pearls” from their unlikely friendship.

Last week we started learning about the “Friend Chick”, from Holly Wagner’s book, God Chicks—Living Life as a 21st Century Woman.  (click on…for Friend Chick..To learn about other chicks we’ve discussed, you may click on… Just B U Chick, Princess Chick, Warrior Chick,  Champion Chick)

God Chicks

You can meet these Mary-and-Martha-types  in a beautiful book called Over Salad and Hot Bread—What an Old Friend Taught Me About Life by Mary Jensen.  It was a favorite in our Book Club.  This true story blesses women of all ages.

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You will laugh and cry (a lot!).  My goal with you over these next two posts is to walk us thru’ some highlights without giving away too much of the book in case you haven’t read it yet!

Allow me to introduce you to Nancy Bayless and Mary Jensen.  Oddly enough, Mary is a “Martha”, and Nancy is a “Mary”, thru’ and thru’.  They met at a writer’s conference.  They had “a common love of books and good writing, a passionate faith, and a fondness for each other.”

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Nancy said, “We write together like one mind.” Thinking they had all the time in the world, they began setting deadlines, outlining, etc., excited about writing a book together.  Mary said, “Nancy and I had a few years to learn how to be friends and just a few months to learn how to die.”

Hebrews 12:1 was their go-to verse:  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” 

 One of Nancy and Mary’s favorite activities was taking car trips together.  (Think Thelma and Louise minus the cliff dive.)  While reading this book, you’ll feel like YOU are in the car with them.  Nancy never left without packing snacks, never forgetting the chocolate!  Wise woman…

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Mary was always the chauffeur.  Nancy navigated with maps.  Mary was the anxious type while Nancy was adventurous.  Nancy called Mary “a classy young chick” while Mary said Nancy was an “indefatigable optimist”!  Their differences are hysterical.

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Nancy was tough tho’.  She pegged Mary almost from the start.  She actually said, “I don’t see how you can believe in God the way you say you do and be so worried about everything.”  Ouch!

Mary said, “Here was my first major lesson:  keep a positive attitude.”  Nancy recited Philippians 2:14 to keep Mary on track: “Do everything without complaining or arguing…” 

One of my favorite parts in the book is where Nancy challenges Mary to grow her faith.  Do you have a friend who challenges you to grow your faith?  Be thankful if you do!  Pray for one if you don’t!

Mary said, “So I began praying earnestly for a passion for God.”  Isn’t that beautiful?  Wouldn’t we all do well to pray such a prayer?

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Excerpts of Nancy’s writing are throughout the book.  Each one is more lovely than the next.  Her expression of loss over her husband’s death is a tearjerker that’ll melt your heart.  She concludes, “And I know my season of joy will come again…when my husband enfolds me with an eager hug…on a street of gold in heaven.”

One fascinating element in this book is the relationship Nancy had with best-selling author, Jerry Jenkins.  You’ll hear more about his visit with her next week.  Nancy was very fond of Jerry.  He helped her with her writing as she did him. (One of the many books he’s known for is Left Behind which Nancy was blessed to get to read in manuscript form!)

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Another lesson Nancy hammered home was:  “Get your eyes off yourself!”  Mary marveled at how Nancy “collected people”.  She was intent on figuring out what made people tick.  The “Rx” for that became a prayer from Mary:

“Lord, now that you’ve given me a passion for You, give me a passion for others, a feeling to go with Your command to ‘love one another’.  Help me be obedient, and flood me at the same time with that remarkable love of Yours that sees everyone as precious, valuable, and worth my while.”

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Like Frieda McGee, who I talked about in the “Champion Chick” post, at ninety years of age, she’s extremely  “others-focused”.   Nancy, at eighty years of age, was exactly like her.  Mary’s children saw in Nancy, “courage, perseverance, acceptance and overwhelming patience with people.  They saw a life that Christ rescued and a woman who loved Him for it.”

Mary was amazed at how the friendship she and Nancy had taught her so much about living.  Next week we’ll see how Nancy observes and boldly addresses married couples. If you are married, tuck your toes under the table as they’re about to get stepped on! (She could have been a counselor!!!)

We’ll also learn a little about dying.  Tough subject. Nancy insisted on dying with dignity and grace—another excellent lesson.

Before we part, let’s recap this week’s lessons:

Keep a positive attitude. 

Grow your faith.

Pray for a passion for God. 

Get your eyes off yourself. 

Be ready for MORE in the next post! Blessings to you!

 ‘Til  next time!

(This week’s post is dedicated to one of my dear friends, who is a TOTAL, 100%  “MARY”.  Best listener on the planet.  Funniest friend on the planet.  Funnier, her name happens to be NANCY!!!  And her favorite word is “indefatigable”!!! Remember Mary used that word to describe her Nancy.  My Nancy loves Jesus more than anybody and wants EVERYBODY to know Him and love Him like she does.  When she calls me on my cell, and I see it’s her, I start laughing before I ever answer the phone.  Many of you know her….let’s give a big shout out to Nancy Aguiar!  God Bless You, Dear Friend!)

Nancy Aguiar

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Filed under Book Reviews, Friends, Life Lessons

What Kind of Friend Are You? Faithful or Flaky? (Part 1 of 3)

“Depends on the minute, the hour, and the day…”  is how I’d answer.  Not such a swell response…Flaky comes to mind…

How  ‘bout you?  Would you say you’re a faithful friend (Think Winnie the Pooh), or a flaky one (Who could ignore Eeyore?)???

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Indulge me in two amazing, inspirational stories of friendship.   We’re still following Holly Wagner’s book, God Chicks-Living Life as a 21st Century Woman.   Next in line is the Friend Chick.  (For other super fun chicks we’ve learned about, click on…Just B U, Princess, Warrior, Champion…)

God Chicks

If we could jump into a sidewalk chalk picture, a la Mary Poppins, we’d take our first plunge into a busy street scene in New York City….many moons ago…

My Aunt June and Uncle Mac lived in Englewood, New Jersey, right across the George Washington Bridge from New York City.  Mac was a tax attorney on Wall Street.  June was an amazing mother to my cousin Russ as well as a Housewife, faithful churchgoer, fan of the theater, fan of the Opera, and life in general. She knew no strangers.

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My favorite story about their marriage, besides their mutual love of travel (They actually lived in Paris for several years!), was that many nights a week you could find them in their basement playing ping-pong!  Quite a sight to behold given Mac’s six-foot-six frame.

Realizing how much time they spent in the City, they decided to find an apartment where they could spend weekends to catch a Broadway show or attend dinner parties.  The apartment also came in handy for Mac to be able to work late.

The only place they differed in their cultural interests was the Opera.  June adored it.  Mac?  Not so much.

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June discovered an easy solution to this dilemma.  She began going to day-time performances of the Opera. It was at these events where she met an amazing woman.  Funny discovery, they shared the exact same last name:  another Mrs. McCandless!

One thing led to another and both Mrs. McCandless’ enjoyed lunches together, savored performances at the Metropolitan Opera House together, and delighted in Afternoon Tea together.  Quickly, a rich friendship blossomed.

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Opera seasons and the years flew by.  Their faithful friendship grew closer with each passing year.  Sadly, the elder Mrs. McCandless’ health began to deteriorate.  Upon her death, June and Mac were amazed to learn that Mrs. McCandless truly had no immediate family.  Her husband had passed away years before.  She left her entire estate to my Aunt June.

The elder Mrs. McCandless also had a New York apartment.  As June and Mac sifted thru’ her belongings, they kept some things and donated some things.  One lighting fixture was always a favorite of my Aunt’s.  It was a crystal chandelier.

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They had the chandelier moved to their home in New Jersey.  For some reason, they couldn’t get the fixture to operate consistently.  They had a lighting expert, whom I’ll call Joe, come and take it to be cleaned and thoroughly re-wired.

A few days later, Joe phoned June.  “Mrs. McCandless, you’d better come down here.  I want you to see something.”  Fearing he’d somehow damaged the chandelier, June jumped in her car, arriving in minutes.

“Mrs. McCandless, I’d like to show you something.  What you have, I believe, is priceless.  The crystal drops on this chandelier are signed.  This is Signature Waterford.”  Now, while my Aunt was normally the very calm, conservative, serene type, I suspect she was border-line heart attack at this announcement!  Can you fathom such a scenario?

Now please-oh-please do NOT hear me say, “Let’s make friends just so we can inherit a priceless treasure…”(Au contraire!!!),  but please DO hear me say: Pay attention to people with whom God crosses your path. God made us for relationship. He usually has a purpose in crossing your path with someone.

Always keep your heart open for friends….of ALL ages.  (You can revisit last week’s post about carrying the torch of friendship “Just Take One More Step”… regarding Champion Chicks.)  We learned via a relay illustration how we must not only pass the baton of faith to younger generations, but we must receive the baton of faith from older ones.

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While I jokingly say, “Friends are cheaper than therapy,” for many of us, it’s the truth.  Angela Hunt said, “friends are the life preserver to one’s sanity.” 

The biggest requirement for a faithful friendship to grow is the GIFT OF TIME. 

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Our challenge in today’s culture is the demands it puts on our time.  Sadly the first thing to go, many days, is our time and effort spent with a friend.  Texting has now pre-empted email which has now pre-empted phone calls.  When was the last time you received a hand written note in the mail?

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Recently I was awakened late at night by a text message.  It was from a long-time friend who I’d not seen in months.  What she wrote, in one simple sentence, would NOT be something to text someone.

For starters, it was late and secondly, this was a supremely delicate subject which really required a face-to-face conversation or a phone call at the very least. Because she is a long-time friend and I know her character, I trust she didn’t mean any harm by it.

But… my friends, it’s fair to say this is where our culture is headed.  Bottom lineBe considerate in how you handle your friends. Don’t be flaky!

I love how the Message tackles this subject:  Ephesians 4:29 says, “Watch the way you talk.  Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth.  Say only what helps, EACH  WORD A GIFT.”

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The New International Version is also great: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Holly Wagner reminds us, “Friendships are not just for you, they are to help those around you. Friendships can be an avenue of hope.

Holly adds, “One way to build friendships is to show acceptance in spite of differences.”   She then expounds on the four personality types:  sanguine, melancholy, phlegmatic and choleric.  (See chapter five in God Chicks.)

Carl Rogers gives us the perfect depiction of appreciating differences: “When I walk on the beach to watch the sunset, I do not call out, ‘A little more orange over to the right, please, or ‘Would you mind giving us less purple in the back?’ No, I enjoy the always-different sunsets as they are.  We’d do well to do the same with people we love.”

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May we all be purposeful in being faithful friends.  May we give grace and the Gospel, loving as Christ loved.

We will learn of another uncanny friendship involving two very different personality types AND two different generations next week.  Go hunt down some Kleenex, you’ll need it.

‘Til next time!

(This week’s post is dedicated to my sweet Aunt and Uncle, June and Mac McCandless, who are already with the Lord, perhaps dancing, reading, teaching, and of course, playing ping pong! Time spent with them was always educational, fun, and enlightening.  One of June’s many gifts was handwriting a beautiful letter.  After Mac passed away, June played the role of the Matriarch of our family beautifully.  Even at 90 years of age, she had a personal trainer!  Now THAT is some positive attitude!!!  She, too, was a Champion Chick as well as a Faithful Friend Chick. And for those of you wondering the whereabouts of this incredible chandelier, it is now happily hanging in my cousin Russ’ dining room.)

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Is It Possible to Have Lunch with Ann Voskamp and Breakfast with Matthew and Nancy Sleeth?

Yes, yes, and yes to LOADS of opportunities to meet and hear incredibly gifted authors and preachers at the North American Christian Convention (NACC), from July 9th to the 12th, right here in Louisville, Kentucky! (www.gotonacc.org)  ‘Tis time to get this on your calendar!

The Women’s Ministry portion of the convention has two exceptional offers which include the opportunity to hear Ann Voskamp speak at the Ladies’ Luncheon on  Thursday, July 11th, from 12:00-1:15 p.m.  Ann is the author of the best-selling book, One Thousand Gifts—A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.  (A  must-read for us all.)

One Thousand Gifts

I was blessed recently to trek downtown with my sweet friend, Judy Russell, to taste what we’ll be having at the luncheon.  You will be delighted in so many ways, not to mention the piece de resistance, the chocolate mousse cake! Chocolate and more chocolate!!! (Hey, I’m not beyond bribing!!!) Add to that the chance to hear Ann speak and you have a win-win scenario.

I also had the pleasure, this past March, to meet Ann at a conference where she and Liz Curtis Higgs were speaking in Minneapolis, MN.  (to read more, click on….Magnificent Manifesto in Minneapolis…)  She is a profound and sincere speaker.  She was written up recently in Christianity Today for being one of the fifty most influential Christian Women in the country!

Ann Eliz and Judy

Believe it or not, our other speaker, Nancy Sleeth, was also one of the top fifty most influential Christian Women in the same article!  Nancy’s newest book, Almost Amish–One Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Lifeis delightful.  She spoke at our Book Club last fall and was incredibly encouraging.  You’ll get the opportunity to have breakfast with her on Friday, July 12th.  It begins at 7:30 a.m.

Almost Amish Sleeth

To add further intrigue to that early morning breakfast (We must have incentive to rise so early, huh?!!!), Nancy’s husband, Dr. Matthew Sleeth, will also speak.  He, too, has a new book out (Quite the inspirational pair, aren’t they???), 24/6—A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life. The first chapter will hook you while the entire book enlightens and inspires you to cherish and savor the Sabbath.

24-6 Sleeth

Matthew and Nancy will be speaking on “A Simple Plan that Simply Works.”  You do not want to miss this opportunity!  Look at their company, Blessed Earth, and you can see where their hearts are. (www.blessedearth.org )

Judy and I were also blessed to get to taste our menu for the breakfast (Well someone must take the time to make sure you won’t be disappointed!!!) and it, too, will be delicious!  The breakfast will get your day off to a great start coupled with fantastic teaching and information from the Sleeths.

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Both events, the luncheon and breakfast, are ticketed events.  You can purchase tickets via the North American Christian Convention’s website:  www.gotonacc.org

Please join me and several others at these highly inspirational events. Incredible workshops will also be offered.  Checkout the program line-up on the NACC website.   You will be BEYOND blessed.

The convention’s theme this year is VICTORIOUS:  When Life Seems Hopeless, Read the End of the Story—The Message of Revelation.  Meanwhile, please pray for all of these speakers, all of the details to come together, etc.  Pray for the attendees whose lives will be changed because of the Gospel.  VICTORIOUS!!!

See YOU in July!!!

‘Til next time!

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Come On, Let’s Take Just One More Step….

Running.

Jogging.

Walking.

Crawling….

Such was the pitiful-poor progression a few years ago from running a race that, for me, was easily two miles too long.  How we get ourselves into these things is beyond me.  In this scenario, I s’pose peer pressure prevailed.

Marathon runners

My husband and our oldest son, John Jr., had committed to training and running the Mini-Marathon here in Louisville.  Just like the Kentucky Derby we talked about last week (see “What-Oh-What Do We Wear?”…)  is the first leg of the Triple Crown of horse racing, followed by the Preakness and the Belmont, the Mini-Marathon now follows the Triple Crown of Races.  It’s preceded by the Anthem 5K Fitness Classic, The Rodes City Run and the Papa John’s 10 Miler. (For you runners out there, visit www.louisvilletriplecrown.com )

No way would I commit to the Mini, however I did say “yes” to the first two races.  This was before the Anthem race was offered.  Comfy with a 5K distance (about three miles), friends assured me a 10K (The City Run) would be a cake walk.  Training would be recommended, however, to complete the then nine mile race.

Procrastinator extraordinaire, I stuck with low mileage.  The City Run was not a cake walk, but we finished.  Only three weeks apart, we had to hustle to increase our mileage for the next race.  Others said, “Oh, the adrenaline you’ll get during the race will compensate for your lack of training.”  Hmph.

Well into the race and totally exhausted, with John Jr. way ahead of us, John and I kept on trekking. Passing the six mile mark, the seventh mile came very slowly.  I was cooked.  I was more than ready to walk and/or quit.

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Suddenly….out of the corner of my eye, a tall guy wearing a Rambo-like bandana around his head was rapidly approaching.  Amazingly, he knew John and they began to talk.  (Who in the world has that much oxygen?)

All I remember was this guy said he was having so much fun.  And with that, he sped on as if he were a gazelle, parting the red sea of runners, with ease and confidence.

THAT was THE turning point.  I thought to myself, “If Jolly-Ole’-Rambo can do it, WE can do it.”  By now we were at the eighth mile marker and Churchill Downs was within sight.  John, who was having no problems, patiently stuck with me.  We finished, running thru’ a tunnel with music blaring and people cheering.   I admit, it was a total rush.  The finish line never looked so good.

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The next day our family left for vacation.  I could hardly lift my legs to get into the car I was so sore. “Just take one more step…” our boys cheered.  Therein lies our theme for this week.

I’m told, “you need a goal.”  Champion runners begin with the end in mind. Champions take just one more step.

Please look with me at Hebrews 12:1-2.  I’ve highlighted phrases to help us be Champions.  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…” (NIV)

In The Message, Eugene Peterson calls this same passage “Discipline in a Long-Distance Race”  Here are my favorite “take home lessons” for us from verses 1-2:  “…Never quit! Keep your eyes on Jesus. Study how he did itHe never lost sight of where he was headedWhen you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”  Now THERE’S the adrenaline we all need!

For the past two weeks we’ve talked about Warrior Chicks from Holly Wagner’s book,  God Chicks—Living Life as a 21st Century Woman.  This week we’ll learn about being a Champion Chick.  Again, Holly is not using “chick” to be disrespectful, she’s just trying to get us to lighten up a bit.  If you’ve missed our other fun chicks, here are the links:  Just-B-U, Princess, Warrior

God Chicks

Champion Chicks have three distinctive strengths: 

1 – Spiritual

2 – Mental

3 – Physical

Let’s get #3,  the physical strength, over with first…By now you’ve probably realized I’m not a mega fan of exercise.  Au contraire.  While I do walk Gracie, our pup, it’s purely because this phrase haunts me:  “A bored puppy is a bad puppy.”  With the best of intentions, I believe we all know we are supposed to take care of ourselves.

Another excellent motivator comes from Ken Davis’ new book, Fully Alive.  (To see a review of it, click here) Like many of us who will become grandparents (Lord willing!) or who already are, we realize we need to physically be able to pick up the babies, walk with ‘em, play with ‘em, get down on the floor with ‘em.  We won’t do that with ease if we don’t take care of ourselves.  Sigh…

Ken Davis

1 Corinthians 6: 18-20 reminds us, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.(NIV)

The Message adds to that thought:“… your body is a sacred place, … God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.”  I need to read that over and over and over and over….

Let’s talk about #2, Mental Strength.  Holly Wagner says a Champion chick must also be “mentally strongShe manages her reactions to stressful situations.  Instead of reacting, she responds appropriately.”

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Holly suggests, “We must manage our emotions rather than let them manage us.”  Oh boy, this isn’t getting any easier, is it?!!! Champion chicks go the distance…they just take one more step.

Learning, growing and being mentored are all ways to becoming a Champion Chick.  I loved it when one of my mentors told me she was looking for FAT friends.  (Hang with me a minute!).  NOT “fat” as in overweight, but “FAT” as in being Faithful, Available and Teachable types.

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Finally, let’s tackle #1 – Being Spiritually STRONG…This makes me think of our verses above from Hebrews 12…Finishing the race. Finishing strong.

Please allow me to introduce you to my friend Frieda McGee. Frieda just celebrated her 90th birthday!  She and her husband, Cecil, have been married for sixty-four years. They are blessed with three children and a quiver full of  grandchildren. They are two of the most spiritually strong people I’ve ever met.

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Photo above is from the Southeast Outlook online edition.

They’re also multi-talented.  They sing beautifully.  Frieda plays the piano.  She and Cecil go to nursing homes, toting a keyboard, and they sing for residents.  They always sing songs with the theme of salvation. They talk about our Heavenly Home and try to reassure the residents of their salvation.  They evangelize effortlessly wherever they go!

Our mutual friend Sherry Leavell shared with me she was able to get Frieda to come and speak to her Bible study ladies recently.  Sherry said, “I’ve never met anyone so ‘others-focused’.”  Frieda said she wishes she’d memorized more Scripture.  Her current favorite is Psalm 103.  Do you get what she’s saying?  She is still memorizing Scripture at age 90!

Another friend, Christina Davis, who moved to Colorado, asked Frieda if she’d take over her group of young Moms she’d been mentoring in Louisville.  Frieda agreed to do so and immediately began having these gals in her home.  Like a Homemakers Club, Frieda would serve the girls demonstrating her gift of hospitality.  She often would have speakers come and share how they’re doing life.  Sherry, Gina Russell, and I were blessed to be part of Frieda’s gatherings.

At our Book Club a while ago, we were able to have Frieda come and share, along with a panel of women of all ages, what it looks like to “grow old in the Lord.”  The book we discussed, Come Walk With Me–A Woman’s Personal Guide to Knowing God and Mentoring Others, by Carole Mayhall paralleled these girls’ advice.

Carole Mayhall

Frieda is always studying God’s Word.  She is always sharing God’s Word.  She has the most positive attitude of anyone on the planet.  She doles out grace. She serves the Lord with gladness in a myriad of ways. She and Cecil are finishing well.

Years ago John and I took a Wednesday night class at church based on a book by Bob Buford called Half Time.  At the time we were in our forties and we were wondering what the next half of our lives would look like.  There, on the front row, sat Cecil and Frieda McGee!  Talk about Faithful, Available and Teachable!  What a perfect example of taking just one more step.

Bob Buford

The three strengths of Champion Chicks, Physical, Mental, and Spiritual add up to one thing:  “Champion Chicks MUST persevere.”  Here’s the kicker for you and me:  “There is a generation coming up behind us that needs us to finish our part of this race.”  Holly recommends we envision ourselves in a relay race. (Oh dear, more running!)

In relays, the baton exchange is key.  The two groups Holly wants us to fix our eyes on are: ”the people we are handing off to and the people we are receiving fromWhat I learn, I should be continually passing to a younger woman.  And my hand should be extended to an older one ready to receive the baton she puts in my hand. THE FOCUS IS ON TAKING THE TORCH FARTHER.”  Just take one more step.

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I pray we all may strengthen ourselves, this very week, physically, mentally, and spiritually to become the Champion Chicks God created in us.  Let’s just take one more step.  To God be the Glory.

Go the distance!  May God bless you abundantly.

‘Til  next time!

(This  post is dedicated to two Champion Chicks:  My dear sister-in-law, Marte Hoagland, who trained and persevered to run/walk the Mini Marathon this year  AND FINISHED!!!  And, to Sweet Frieda McGee.  Thank you, Frieda, for your countless hours of faithful perseverance, trust and faith.  You have blessed thousands of us and continue to do so wherever you light. You ALL are finishing well!!!)

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What-Oh-What Do We Wear???

Guess what’s happenin’ in our town this week?  The “Run for the Roses” is about to go off!  If you live in Louisville, or anywhere in Kentucky, you know The Run for the Roses means it’s Kentucky Derby Week.

“Kentucky Derby 2013 is the 139th renewal of the greatest two minutes in sports!” boasts the Kentucky Derby website.  (Checkout  www.kentuckyderby.com) My buddy Liz Curtis Higgs sums it up best:  “For most Louisvillians, it’s not about the gambling, it’s about the beautiful horses and the beautiful hats.”

Breaking From the Gate

Whether you attend The Kentucky Oaks (Friday’s big race) or The Kentucky Derby (always the first Saturday in May), or a party, the majority of women wear hats.  No foolin’.

Derby 138

(Photo by Al Wollerton. Original photo can be found at KentuckyDerby.com.  To see 57 more beautiful hat designs, visit their website)

The hat market in Louisville is HUGE.  My friend Gwen works at a local store where they not only sell hats, but they custom design hats.  I stopped in to see her this past week.  Crowds of women were haulin’ in dresses and shoes, with excitement written all over their faces. (Husbands, while absent, were soon to be sportin’ sticker shock on their faces.)

Customers had to sign in on a list just to acquire a salesperson. A cooler of soft drinks and water awaited the thirsty.   Hats in all shapes, colors, sizes, as well as  fascinators fill the store. A plethora of feathers, flowers, ribbons, netting, etc. are available to further decorate your hat. (Checkout their website to see some exquisite hats:  www.deescrafts.com.   Note their question:  “What are YOU wearing on May 4th?”)

Fashion-challenged, I won’t even entertain wearing a fascinator.  Think terribly-tight-but-cute and over-the-top decorated headband.  Think future headache.   To be fair, some of you fashionistas CAN pull that off.   The last time I had a hat on, our youngest son, who was then a toddler, ran from me in tears because he was so frightened!  Alrighty then.

Liam Spradlin

(Photo by Liam Spradlin. Original photo can be found at KentuckyDerby.com.  To see 62 more photos from Derby 138’s red carpet, visit their website)

Now friends, I know, I know, I KNOW we are not s’posed to worry about what we wear.  Matthew 6:25- 27 plainly says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

With wardrobe in mind, let’s return to last week’s “Warrior Chick” (for more info’, you may click on “Transform Wimpy Attitude into Warrior Attitude…….)  We talked about how anyone of any age can transform a wimpy attitude into a warrior attitude  by putting on the FULL armor of God.   We must remember to put this on DAILY. (See below.)

Ephesians 6:10-17–The Armor of God:   “10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (NIV)

The chicks we’ve been talking about come from Holly Wagner’s book, God Chicks—Living Life as a 21st Century Woman.  (Our first two chicks are the Just-B-U Chick…and the Princess Chick…)  The Warrior Chick/Attitude is so important we need to camp on it a bit longer. Warrior Chicks stand firm in their faith. (See in the above Scripture how many times the word “stand” is used!)

God Chicks

I’m sure some of you are saying, “Well, that’s all well and good to try to have a warrior attitude, but what if I’m wallowing in a pit of depression?”

Glad you asked!  Tammy Head recounts a time when she was inordinately depressed and gripped by fear.  She said, “I was scared out of my mind.  Tears were my constant companion and my friends hardly knew what to do but pray.”

One of her friends brought her a huge stone.  She told her, “God told me to get this for you… It’s an old church cornerstone.”  She didn’t really know what to do with it, so she asked the Lord and here’s what He told her:  “Lay it beside your bed, and when you wake in the morning, stand on it.  This will be a sign to you and your confession that I am your Rock and will hold you together.”

Tammy reminds us that “a cornerstone holds the WHOLE building together.”  May we savor and cling to Christ, our cornerstone and these Scriptures from  Ephesians 2:19-22:  “That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.” (MSG)

bigstock-The-Orvieto-Cathedral-20550785

Last week we talked about warrior-like and faithfully persistent Kristen Sauder.  Thank you for praying for her and please keep it up! (www.kristensauder.com)  Her blog this week also talks about Derby and she tells of a church billboard out in  Oldham County which has “the perfect Derby message:  ‘Bet on the guy riding the donkey.‘”

This week, I’d love to tell you about another friend of mine who is also an incredibly persistent Warrior Chick.  Her name is Diane Schreiner.  Diane was in a serious bicycle accident last August which still remains a mystery.  Neighbors found her unconscious with broken bones and even worse:  bruising to her brain.  Doctors were uncertain about her survival.

Diane’s husband Tom set up an online journal thru’ CaringBridge to keep friends and family updated.  His entries revealed their strong faith and absolute trust in God’s sovereignty.  Painstaking therapy and utter patience was required, all of which Diane sailed thru’ valiantly. She is a testimony to the power of prayers of so many AND to God’s incredible healing power.

My sister-in-law, Marte, and I visited Diane in the hospital early into her recovery.  She seemed amazingly alert and conversed comfortably with us that day. She said she still struggles with memory issues. After weeks and weeks of staying at Frazier Rehab, she was finally able to go home and then be driven to physical therapy several days a week.

The next time I saw her, I picked her up from therapy to go to lunch.  She walked out of the door of the building, by herself, down the stairs, and straight to my car. No walker, no crutches, just Diane!

My mouth dropped to the ground!  I felt like I’d seen a ghost!  I kept trying to help her and she kept saying, “Nope,  I don’t need any help, I’m just fine, thanks!”  Diane’s recovery is truly miraculous.  She is literally a beautiful vision of answered prayer.  We praise you, Lord.

Diane Schreiner

Diane and Tom exemplified warrior-like attitudes, clinging to their strong faith, and blessing all who crossed their paths. Many people’s faith has been strengthened because of what Diane went thru’ and HOW she handled everything. One of Tom’s entries in CaringBridge said, “The best thing to prepare for suffering is good theology.  Whether it is life or death, healing or disease, God is good and He rules.”

Diane says, “I know why God spared me: to glorify Him with my life in the coming days and years.”  Is she a warrior chick or what?!!!  You can read a beautiful article on Tom and Diane in the most recent spring issue of Southern Seminary magazine.  (Go to www.sbts.edu for more nformation.)

Not only do Tom and Diane stand firm in their faith, but like we talked about last week, Diane wields her sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.  (See v. 17 in the above Ephesians passage.)

Lady Justice

Tom tells of Diane having Isaiah 41:10 posted to a window sill, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.”  The article says, “Schreiner’s response to this crisis demonstrates that he and his family believe this promise in Isaiah to be true.”  Amen and amen.

Let’s NOT worry about what we’ll wear today.  Let’s DO put on the Armor of God.  You GO, Warrior Chick!

‘Til next time!

(This post is dedicated to my very brave Warrior Chick friend, Diane Schreiner.  Let’s all vow to pray for her continued healing and recovery.  Thanks Diane for showing us what true, sincere faith is.  The Lord is smiling on you.  And, here’s a fun fact for you readers out there:  Diane’s husband, Tom, is not just a devoted husband and father, he also happens to be an incredibly gifted teacher, preacher and author. He’s too humble to brag on himself, but I happen to know students from all over the country come to Southern Baptist Seminary just to have him for a prof.  You can listen to his sermons he preaches at Clifton Baptist Church on their website:  www.cliftonbaptist.org   God Bless you all and your sweet family.)

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