Monthly Archives: November 2014

When Your Day Seems Impossible to Unscramble…(Growing Grateful and Staying There for Thanksgiving Part 2 of 2)

When was the last time you had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?   (Anybody remember Alexander???)

alexander

Last Friday, I had the day-to-beat-all-days for no apparent reason. I kept praying, “Lord, please help me unscramble this.” As the day progressed, it became nearly impossible to unscramble. My only hope was to tuck tail and head home.

I’d run errands from my lengthy list. Each of which should’ve taken ten to fifteen minutes-max, many took over an hour, further frustrating yours truly.

I got stuck waiting on a train.

Rail Crossing

(Use your imagination to add about fifty more cars waiting in line.  I would be forty-ninth….)

I got stuck behind a woman in the Walgreen’s drive-thru’ who had so many prescriptions, they wouldn’t fit in the tube. Thus, she had to get out of her car to retrieve them.

Once back in her car, she remembered she needed to ask the pharmacist a question. Oh, but she couldn’t remember the name of the drug, so had to fish in her bottomless purse to find the name. Then the pharmacist had to look up the medicine and finally tell her “No Ma’am, we are out of it.”

These were only two of ten terribly taxing scenarios testing me this horrible, no good, very bad day.

It was at this very moment a lightening bolt of revelation hit me. I’d already grumbled enough to my poor husband, who’d merely phoned earlier to check on me.

I was also relentlessly grumbling to God–just like the Israelites grumbled to Him when He kept giving them manna. They declared they hated it! (Numbers 21:5 NLT) Sadly, in both cases, nothing satisfied.

The lightening bolt? God gingerly reminded me that only twenty-four hours prior I’d posted a blog about, well, um, yeah, being thankful.

Remember the “Stop and Give me Ten” game? (Please see “Drop and Give Me Twenty” post for more information…..) I began laughing out loud in my car. BEYOND BUSTED…

Thunderstorm

Ok, Lord, I’m listening….Here are my ten immediate blessings:

(I held up my ten fingers, pressing one-by-one down on the steering wheel as I proceeded to rattle off blessings, while still patiently waiting in the Walgreen’s line.)

1 – I’m healthy today.

2 – I’m blessed with a TDH (tall, dark, and handsome) husband in a thirty-year-old marriage.

3 – I’m blessed with a wonderful family.

4 – I sorta like our, dog, Gracie. (Kidding, sorta.)

5 – I love it when the Lord “catches” me on something I should know better. (I needed this, thank you.)

6 – John and I are blessed with great friends.

7 – I love my Bible study buddies.

8 – I’m excited Bev’s bringing her chocolate, chocolate chip pound cake to our Friendsgiving. (Like really excited…)

9 – I know I’ve gotta write about this little tirade….but that’s good because I love to write, and perhaps someone may relate.

10 – I’m beyond grateful for your lavish grace, Lord Jesus.

THANK YOU.

Grace Letterpress

So, I promised we’d learn how to grow grateful and stay there this Thanksgiving. Here’s a little help from another favorite author, Max Lucado. This is from his newest book, Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer.

Before Amen

This Thanksgiving Week, I pray we will all attempt Max’ suggestion and go thru’ the entire alphabet, yes, all twenty-six letters, and assign something corresponding for which we’re thankful. (Take this into December…you probably have too many guests to consider this now….but do give it a try when you can….)

Allow me to share a few of Max’ alphabet:

“A – For Andy” (Max’ dog)

“B – Bald spots” (Hey, whatever works!)

“C – Chocolate” (Shocking, this did not come from me, but would match my list exactly for the letter ‘c’.)

“D – Dictionaries” (Love this! Max is a wordsmith, so no surprise.)

“E – Exercises – like this one. This was Denalyn’s idea.” (Denalyn is Max’ wife.)

Alphabetize your blessings.

***Rather than catalog burdens, itemize benefits.***

This is a sure cure for the grumpy spirit.”

Max says, “The next time I make the list, my wife trumps dictionary. Which, by the way, is a lesson of this exercise. A person never runs out of reasons to say ‘thanks’.

To say thanks is to celebrate a gift.

Something.

Anything…

Gratitude is a dialysis of sorts.

It flushes the self-pity out of our systems.”

Excited Boy Running Between Water Flow In City Park

And then, as only Max can do, he gently reminds us that God’s Word repeats over and overgiving thanks is not a suggestion; it is a command…more than a hundred times, either by imperative or example, the Bible commands us to be thankful.”

The opposite of being thankful is being ungrateful. Max warns,

“Ingratitude is a devil’s brew.

IT.

WILL.

KILL.

YOU.” Yikes…

Cauldron On The Open Fire

Max tells of a dear friend of his named Jack. Jack was dying from heart disease. Max went to visit him and said, “Jack, I hear you’re not doing so well?”

“Oh, Max,” he corrected with a weak smile. “Never better.”

“They say you can’t sleep.”

“No, I can’t. But I can pray.”

I just talk to Jesus, Max.

I tell him I love him.

I tell him how good he is.

I tell him, ‘Thanks’.

These are good times for me.

I’m just talking to Jesus.’”

Jack died the next morning after Max’ visit. He died “with a thankful and hope-filled spirit, with gratitude.”

Give THanks

Our minister, Kyle Idleman, expounds beautifully on I Thessalonians 5:18. (See the verse in the above picture.) When you have the time, I highly recommend you watch this week’s sermon, “Grace is Greater Than Your Circumstances.” www.southeastchristian.org

Get those pens and papers out, and write out your ABC’s. Or, if you’re never without your cell phone, make your list on it. (This activity is found in Chapter 8 of Before Amen. Checkout Max’ list and then make your own.) This is well-worth your time. Perhaps in between the turkey and the stuffing….

And don’t just do this once. Keep at it. It’ll enrich your Christmas season, your New Year, and on into 2015…it’ll reframe your outlook.

I pray you and your family have a most wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving!

‘Til next time!

 

P.S. Max’ book on Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine is another excellent book for reframing your outlook..   Click on Lets Give Some Grace for Christmas for more on this book.

Max Lucado Grace

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Drop and Give Me Twenty!!! (Growing Grateful and Staying There for Thanksgiving – Part 1 of 2)

Getting bused to a brand new school is no fun. Our little neighborhood in Lexington, KY, just because it was on one side of a certain road, suddenly became a part of a different school district, busing us to an unfamiliar high school.  Of course now, Henry Clay High School is near and dear to my heart.

henry%20clay%20-%20web%20version

Knowing very few students there, a friend of mine and I signed up for summer school to meet some new friends, thus making the transition less painful.

Confession for vanity’s sake: We signed up for P.E., so we wouldn’t have to be groty (as we used to say back then) during regular school hours. Who cared during the summer?

Much of the summer P.E. class involved swimming. I’d been swimming for years. Piece-of-cake, right?

Ready swimming pool

Yes, until….we met the teacher. Turns out Mrs. Rentz was a former coach. Think of the toughest type of coach you’ve ever known and he/she would be a veritable wimp compared to Mrs. Renz.

The first morning of class, Mrs. Rentz had us arrive super early at a local public pool. Early and teenagers don’t mix.

“Let’s warm up with twenty laps!” She barked.

Man swimmer swimming crawl in blue water. Portrait of an athleti

“Oh, nooooooooo.” We’d groan.

“WHO just groaned?” She screamed.

“Ummmmm, we did…” Several of us sheepishly replied.

“This class will not tolerate complainers!!! DROP AND GIVE ME TWENTY!” She spewed.

Instructor with group of fitness class doing push ups in the par

As in twenty push-ups. Like girls can do that….come on. Well, some of you can. I can from my knees. But that was unheard of in the 70’s.

Somehow we survived that summer. We did more than our fair share of push-ups, too. Looking back, Mrs. Rentz taught us more than swimming. She taught us respect. Respect for our teacher. Respect for our classmates. Thankfully, her bark was worse than her bite.

While “Drop and give me twenty” has one connotation, I’d like to offer you a newer, and nicer phrase, thanks to Lisa Harper. Her most recent book is:

Overextended and Loving Most of It: The Unexpected Joy of Being Harried, Heartbroken, and Hurling Oneself Off Cliffs. It’s one you don’t want to miss.

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We’ll be hitting highlights for part of a series coming in December on “Surviving the Season of Christmas”. Truthfully, this book is excellent for any season you may be in.

I’ve been blessed to hear Lisa Harper speak on several occasions. One of her many God-given gifts is teaching the Bible. Reading this book is a blast because she writes like she talks. You’ll howl one minute and cry the next.

One part in particular will help us as we prepare to be grateful Thanksgiving hostesses, wives, Moms, Mother-in-laws, sisters, sister-in-laws, daughters, daughter-in-laws, etc. (I’m often tempted to pose the question, “Is ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ an oxymoron?” Shhh, don’t tell!!!)

Lisa tells us she and her road manager, Sharon, have come up with a simple game when they’re traveling. She says, “It’s for when one of us notices that the other is especially grumpy or negative. We call it the ‘Stop and Give Me Ten’ game.”

Good news? It has nothing to do with push-ups!!!

Lisa explains: “The ‘ten’ in the title refers to all the fingers on two hands’ worth of things we’re grateful for.”

Recently when Lisa and Sharon were traveling to a speaking engagement, everything that could go wrong did, and then some. After listening to Lisa whine one too many times, Sharon “commanded in her best impression of A Master Army Sergeant: ‘STOP AND GIVE ME TEN!”

Mature Soldier Shouting Through Megaphone

Lisa said, “…then I submitted, held my hands up, and raised all ten fingers and stated in quick succession:

hands

(I’ll give you my favorite five of her ten, but you’ll get the idea…)

“I’m thankful our flights were only delayed and not canceled.

I’m thankful we’re in a car instead of on foot.

I’m thankful I get to see women launch themselves into the arms of Jesus for the first time almost every weekend.

I’m thankful God is so strong when I’m being such a weenie baby.

I’m thankful He’s slow to anger and rich in compassion.”

Compassion sign with a beautiful day on background

Lisa concludes, “It’s amazing how just thirty-six seconds of practicing gratitude totally changed my mood. I went from Eeyore to Tigger in less than a minute!” She says this works even when you’re in ultra difficult circumstances.

She adds, “…extending past the pain of life to reach for the joy God promises is so very, very worth it.”

Footnote: Ann Voskamp further expounds on this concept of counting your blessings in her book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.

One Thousand Gifts

Finally, Lisa concludes with an awesome visual and Scripture:

“Thankfully, the Holy Spirit motors around in a big four-wheel drive truck with a winch. After He pulls me out, He leaves notes like this on my windshield:

Notebook page2

Stop and give me ten!!! Try it….you’ll like it.

May we grow grateful and stay grateful as our Thanksgiving Day quickly approaches.

Next week, we’ll hear another grand idea to help with Thanksgiving from none other than Max Lucado.

‘Til next time!

 

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When You Get Kicked in the Seat of Your Pants…(Tough, Trembling Words from Francis Chan…)

Few things surprise me anymore. You?

Spend enough time watching the morning or nightly news and the shock factor simply, and sadly, fades away. News stories fly at lightening speed, the more gruesome ones making breaking news. Crowds cheer when a victim gets kicked.

Let’s establish while there are some negative kicks in the seat of our pants, there are also some positive kicks in the seat of your pants. Neither are comfy scenarios, but…

I’m going to prove to you good kicks will make you a better, more effective believer.

Belgian Draft horse bucking while running in a fall pasture

Please meet my friend “Buck” in the above photo. He’s our “kicker” for today.

My goal today:

…to enlighten you to read any verse in your Bible, in a different manner.

My prayer:

…for us all to open our eyes and hearts differently when we open God’s Word.

Bible

How many of you have ever read writings by Francis Chan or heard him speak? He has the uncanny gift of preaching while kicking you in the seat of your pants. I’ve been known to veer in the opposite direction from him, knowin’ I was gonna get it.

francis_chan_331x221_755769185

A few years ago, our Book Club read and discussed a powerful book of Francis’: Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God. (Danae Yankoski and Chris Tomlin are also contributors.)

crazy love

I warned our members this book was going to mess with them in a mighty way. The chapter on being lukewarm nailed me to the wall.

Revelation 3:16 warns, “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

One of our very good friends, who at the time, happened to be the manager of the bookstore at our church, was so convicted by this book she and her husband put their home on the market. It quickly sold.

They got rid of a lot of their belongings (I benefitted from her books she was ridding herself of, thanks again Sara!), and moved to South Carolina to help with a start-up church. They moved into a neighborhood to be the salt and light of Christ, being true disciples.

Friendly neighborhood of townhouses.

I confess I thought they were a wee bit Crazy-Love-Cuckoo. Something in me, however, revealed I no more had the guts to do what they were doing than a man in the moon.

To throw myself under the bus one more time, I haven’t read any more by Francis until today. Somehow, he snuck into a book I bought unknowingly.

Oh, I can see the Lord smiling: “Gotcha!”

Francis, along with his inspiration from the Lord, has kicked me in the seat of my pants again. It’s my pleasure to try and kick all of us in the seat of our pants today! I promise, you’ll thank me. (Please hang in there….)

The book? PASSION: The Bright Light of Glory by Louie Giglio, with contributions from Francis Chan (I totally missed that!), Beth Moore, John Piper, Judah Smith and Christine Caine.

passion

Each of the sixteen chapters are talks given by these wonderful teachers from Passion conferences. They each pack a punch. They all revolve around Passion’s mantra from Isaiah 26:8 that says,

Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your truth,

We wait eagerly for You,

For Your name and Your renown

Are the desire of our souls.”

CHECKOUT www.268generation.com for more information about the Passion conferences as well as Louie’s church, Passion City Church, in Atlanta, GA:

www.passioncitychurch.com

Francis shows us Isaiah 66:2 –

“This is the one to whom I will look:

He who is humble

                             And contrite in spirit

                                      And trembles at my word.”

Ready to be kicked? …

Belgian Draft horse bucking while running in a fall pasture

(We’ll “get” to see “Buck” more than once, sorry…)

Francis asks, “Do YOU match the description of the person to whom God is looking?” (Humble, contrite in spirit, trembling at His Word???)

What does it mean to “tremble at God’s Word”? Francis says we’re to respond like this:

“Wow! That came from God! I just read words sent to me from God Almighty, from the Great I AM!”

Francis says, “When you view the Word of God like that, you realize:

How much you need to listen,

How much you need to act.

I want to beg you to read your Bible.

But that’s not all. I want to beg you to not just study the Bible, but to tremble at the very words of God.”

He continues, “Imagine trembling at everything in your Bible! With every page you turn, you maintain a sense that ‘I’ve just heard from the voice of God!”

Oh, we best repeat that: “I’VE JUST HEARD FROM THE VOICE OF GOD!!!!!”

Francis reminds us how Peter trembled at the Word of God in Matthew 17 (verses 1-8). Later, in 2 Peter, verses 16-25, Peter returns to that experience, when he heard God’s voice on the mountain. He says we’d “do well to pay attention” calling the Word “living and abiding”, with the beautiful climax echoing Isaiah: “The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.

Sun rays shining brightly in clouds

Francis says, “If we actually took God’s Word seriously on this point—if we trembled at His Word—then we could actually live out the grace that Peter talks about in 2 Peter 1:2 – “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

Ready to be kicked again?…

Belgian Draft horse bucking while running in a fall pasture

Round Two with “Buck”…

Francis asks us, “Is God’s Word formed in your life in such a way that people see grace and peace exuding from your life and wish they had your God?

Kicker incentive:

“From knowing Him,

From a relationship with Him,

If we are close to God and tremble at His Word, then these things will characterize our lives.”

Francis’ prayer is one for us all: “May you experience so much of God’s grace that everyone around you says,

‘Wow. I wish I had your God’.”

Praying hands bible

Nough said.  I pray we’ve all benefitted from these kicks…

(If you haven’t been kicked enough, ha, be my guest and finish reading chapter five in Passion—The Bright Light of Glory. I didn’t reveal all….Mr. Chan, and the Lord, thankfully, aren’t thru’ with us yet. As my Uncle Bruno used to say, “You worry, I’ll be back!)

‘Til next time…

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Navy is the New Black…(Part 2 of 2 from Grace-Filled Marriage—The Missing Piece. The Place to Start. by Dr. Tim and Darcy Kimmel)

It’s Wedding Day! Beautiful September weather in the heart of the Bluegrass of Kentucky, found us all readying for our middle son’s wedding. You’d be hard pressed to find any prettier location this time of year…

Kentucky Horse Ranch

It was September 27th. This was going to be Lauren and Gordy’s BEST DAY EVER... We were all about to meet at the reception venue to be “transformed”…

Major project for yours truly. But for this Mom of all boys, a day like today was Heaven on earth.

Lauren and her Mom, Pam, graciously invited me to join the bridesmaids for brunch, make-up and hairdos. The bridesmaids were in their pink, monogrammed robes getting gussied up. Fascinating fun is the only way to describe it.

IMG_0769

Once I was literally made over (!!!), I headed back to the hotel where my dear friend, Meredith, awaited. She’d just driven in from Nashville. We walked across the street for a bite to eat.  John was out riding his bicycle and scoping out the Harley store, of all things

We all agreed to meet up around three o’clock to dress and head to the church at four o’clock. As is our predictable routine, we ran late, and started scrambling….

Wedding blunders began:

Only three of four tuxedo studs were in John’s box. Bit of a challenge as we were in Lexington, while perhaps the wayward stud was still in our home in Louisville, seventy-five miles away.

John’s bowtie stubbornly refused to stay on.

Bow Tie With Clipping Path

One hook on my dress was problematic.

My Grandmother’s pearls hung askew.

And you can guess, the blasted clock kept ticking…

John quickly threw on his jacket and off we raced to the church while I hummed, “Just Get Me to the Church on Time….”

tates creek

Once there, Lauren’s wedding coordinator helped secure John’s bowtie, and boutonnieres, bouquets, and bridal party were all in place. Guests were already arriving and before we knew it, we were marching down the aisle…

Will Witherington, one of Gordy and Lauren’s preachers, performed the wedding ceremony. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Will weeps and trembles over God’s Word. Sincerely. He makes his passion and zeal for the Word contagious. It was a moment in time you desperately wanted to freeze.

Bible With A Burning Candle

(Sidebar: I believe Will is a nicer version of Francis Chan. Hold on, we’ll be taught by Francis next week. Just you wait….)

Four thousand, seven hundred pictures posed for later (Kidding, sorta!!!), John and Meredith and I headed out to the parking lot to go to the Reception. Sun still brightly shining, something made me look over at John.

Group 2

As if a light switch of horrific realization flipped on, I blurted out, “Oh my word! You’re wearing your navy blazer!”

John said, “Oh, no! We’ve got to go back to the hotel and get my tux jacket!!! How in the world did that happen???”

I know now, I should have inspected John before we walked out of the hotel. I was too consumed with my own issues. Go figure.

We have since howled over this, laughing ‘til we cried. Only three people that we know of knew of the mysterious switcheroo. John graciously decided two important facts:

1 – Most people weren’t looking at us, they were focused on Lauren and Gordy. Rightly so.

2 – The navy blazer was already a lifesaver the night before for John Jr. He’d forgotten to bring one and needed it for the Rehearsal Dinner. So, we mustn’t blast the blazer. (LOL)

Thanks to my fashionista friends, I’ve been hearing “Navy is the new black.” Perhaps John was stylin’ and didn’t even know it.

His gracious reaction is a great segue way into finishing up our discussion of Grace Filled Marriage: The Missing Piece, the Place to Start by Dr. Tim Kimmel and his wife Darcy. (If you missed last week’s Part One, please click here.)

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Tim says, “In the bigger picture, some points of contention aren’t worth making into a major issue.”

Proverbs 19:11 says:

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” (ESV) John overlooked my overlooking the navy blazer with black tuxedo pants. We call this giving each other a “grace card”.

Part Two of the Kimmel’s book addresses what grace looks like in a marriage. Tim and Darcy give us three things that grace gives us:

“Grace gives you:

         a Secure Love 

                   a Significant Purpose

                             and a Strong Hope…”

As well as two things grace frees us from:

“Grace frees us…

                   …to be Different and Vulnerable

                            …to be Candid and Make Mistakes. “ (Such as our wedding blunder….)

I can’t begin to express the plethora of pearls that are in this book. One of many favorite parts has to do with the freedom to be candid.

Tim says, “Communication is vital to a marriage relationshipA grace-filled spouse wants to communicate clearly and deeply with their mate, but not pummel their heart in the process.”

He goes on to define “candid” as “honesty drenched in grace.”

Playing In The Rain

Don’t you want to be drenched in grace???

Tim reminds us of Paul’s “rules for fighting fair” from Ephesians 4:25-32, especially from verse 29:

Ephesians 4 29

Many times, I know in my heart I shouldn’t say something before I ever say it. Unfortunately my stubbornness sometimes wins out, benefitting no one. And that prayer I should have said, before I blurted out that awful thing, hangs over my head.

If you’re struggling with something in your marriage, pray about it first. In the section on “Maintaining a Climate of Candor”, Tim offers, “God does indeed have an ‘Always Open’ sign. He assumes an approachable posture that is saturated with grace.”

Set of glowing neon OPEN signs. Vector.

Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Straight from scripture Tim teaches:

God has chosen marriage as his highest example to the world of His creation.

He wanted something that could weather the extreme demands of reckless culture and endure the radical attacks of the forces of evil.

Marriage was his first thought when he made man, and it will mark the final celebration of humankind’s journey when we finally join the Lord Jesus for the grand marriage reception with Jesus in heaven.”

Group pic

(CONGRATULATIONS again, Lauren and Gordy!  What a picture-perfect, blessed Wedding Day you had…)

Then, as if that isn’t enough in Grace-Filled Marriage, Tim issues a supreme challenge to all of us:

God needs the two of you to be a benchmark for His glory.

Your marriage is too important.

You’re too important.

And God’s glory….

                            is

                                 worth

                                          it

                                                all.”

Perfect sunrise on the sea, with radiant rays of sun over a warm

If you’d like to hear more on marriage, our ministers, Dave Stone and Kyle Idleman recently preached an excellent, 6-part series on marriage called “Awaken Love.” Kyle recommended Grace-Filled Marriage in the last sermon. Go to: www.southeastchristian.org

Amen and amen.

‘Til next time!

(This post is dedicated to one of my long-time friends, Meredith Myers. She’s been burnin’ up I-65 to attend our boys’ weddings. We met in elementary school when we moved in across the street from each other and she’s been a sister I’ve never had ever since. Love you “Madge”!!!)

Eliz and madge

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