Monthly Archives: April 2015

When Your Friday Night Date Night Goes Awry….(The Case for Grace by Lee Strobel Will Reignite Your Faith)

Friday morning, before our long-awaited Date Night, something was amiss. Hubster casually mentioned attending the Home and Garden Show prior to a promised, fabulous dinner somewhere. (Any dinner out is fabulous to this challenged chef.)

Contemplating a bathroom renovation, I decided we could perhaps kill two birds with one stone and checkout bathroom ideas as well as garden ideas at the show. John has the green thumb, and I have the “shopping anointing” (as Priscilla Shirer calls it).

Somehow, I totally missed the real mission John was attempting to accomplish. You see, there was a real celebrity about to take the stage and we were about to be front row and center.

We arrived two hours early, giving us plenty of time to check out the exhibits.  Except, I was starving and now smolderingly irked at the realization of why we were really there….

Ahhh, but my complaining came to a screeching halt when all of a sudden……..

THERE—— HE—— WAS!!!

None other than Jeff Hoper, the infamous Mole Hunter!!! (www.molehunter.com ) Mole Hunter Poster Once Jeff began to talk, I realized, to my horror, we were in a group therapy session. We were all “victims” of pesky, tear-your-yard-up moles.

Jeff asked several questions about different “methods” people had tried to trap these critters. (You don’t want to know, trust me on this one.) One hand after another went up. “Oh yes,” people were nodding, as if to say, “I feel your pain.….”

To Hubster’s glee and delight, we left equipped with a “Molenipulator Mole Trap Kit”. I’d love to tell you we’ve trapped loads of moles with it, but once we got home, winter set in.

We don’t know if the moles are still hibernating or if they’ve moved on, high-fiving each other along the way. But, you can bet your bottom Molenipulator dollar, WE ARE READY when they do dig a rut or two. Jeff Hoper mole hunter While educational, I can’t say I was too keen on how our Friday night Date Night began. Thankfully, after thirty-plus years of marriage, I could extend some grace and go on. 

Thanks to an eye-opening book, The Case for Grace: A Journalist Explores the Evidence of Transformed Lives (Case for … Series) by Lee Strobel, I’m learning to extend grace a little more each day. The Case For Grace Whatever Lee Strobel writes blesses me every time. He was an atheist and after extreme, thorough investigation, came to his own conclusion (with the help of the Holy Spirit) that Jesus was indeed real and he needed Him in his life. (www.leestrobel.com )

Lee will tell you, “God’s grace utterly rocked my life—forgiving me, adopting me, and changing my life and my eternity—something else became clear: how tragic it would be to withhold the news of that grace from others.” His fire-like faith ignites his pages. LeeStrobel_mediumIn The Case for Grace, Lee astonishes his readers, chapter by chapter, case after case, with diverse, real-live people who’ve been:

Pursued by and 

Loved by and

Forgiven by a gracious God.

You will shake you head in awe at the places they’ve been “found”.

Maybe you’re like me and at times grow weary of praying for what seems to be perpetual prodigals or impossible challenges.

First, take Mark Batterson’s advice: “Pray A.L.A.T. prayers” (As Long as it Takes Prayers). Satan wants you to throw in the towel. Don’t!

Hold onto Romans 8:26 for dear life:

“…for we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”

Second, listen to the words of Cody Huff from Chapter Six of Lee’s book. Look at his history: He’d been a “burglar, a drug dealer, a counterfeiter, and a scammer. He’d been beaten, shot at and stabbed. He’d sat atop mountains of cash and frittered it all away on meth and heroin.” Plus, he spent eight years in jail and wound up homeless.

Cody heard about Jud Wilhite’s church, Central Christian in Las Vegas, where they offer showers to the homeless.(www.centralonline.tv )

Because of ONE HUG by ONE WOMAN, who told him JESUS LOVES him, THAT MOMENT turned his life around. 

The CrossCody said, “It was like a personal encounter with Jesus.”

He prayed, “God, I’m so tired. I’m tired of the drugs. Please, take them away from me. It’s like I’ve been driving my own car and all I do is get into head-on crashes. Why don’t you drive? I’m sorry for the way I’ve lived. I want to surrender my life to you. God, please make me a new man.” PetitionYou won’t believe the rest of Cody’s story. His is just one of nine only-God-could-pull-this-off stories in the book. My favorite is The Orphan. You’ll need a box of Kleenex by your side.

When doubts rise, pick this book up and read it. It’s a sure cure to reigniting your faith.

Lee’s book also offers a Discussion Guide, which would be great for your Bible study or Small Group as well an Appendix, What the Bible Says About Grace, full of beautiful Scripture.

Lee said after writing this book on grace, it only strengthened his resolved to emulate Paul where he says in Acts 10:24, “What matters most to me, is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this…

INCREDIBLY,     

EXTRAVAGANT,           

GENEROSITY of God.”  

‘Til next time!

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Don’t Allow Distractions to Derail You…(One Solution: Spa for the Soul—Rejuvenate Your Inner Life by Lucinda Secrest McDowell)

How do you handle distractions? 

This past week produced interminable distractions. They surfaced day by day, hour by hour, severely scrambling my brain…

At the end of the week, like a train wreck, my poor, pitiful self ran head on into my poor, unprepared husband. God Bless him.

John innocently walked thru’ the back door that afternoon and I commenced to share what kind of killer week I’d had, akin to a rapid firing machine gun, foghorn in hand…

Problems In Relationships

The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back happened in the morning of day five-for-five of frenetic faux pas. Consumed with concern (close cousin to worry) all I really needed was time to recharge.

We have recently finished our porch and I decided with such a pretty day, this was the perfect place to do just that, RECHARGE. Armed with books, laptop, and a steaming cup of coffee, I dumped said pile in a chair. At that very moment, a large red blur blew by the window.

retro red truck headlight

“Please tell me that is not our painter!” I said to myself. Sure enough, it was and he was going to paint, you guessed it, all around the porch. Busted.

I retreated to John’s office and set up again.

The phone rang.

The mailman made a delivery.

The dog needed walking.

The dryer was beeping…while a pesky partridge sang The Hallelujah Chorus while perched in a pear tree. (Slight exaggeration…)

Partridge in a Pear Tree

Like a doctor writes out prescriptions, my favorite pastime is recommending books. One resource I’ve come across is Spa for the Soul: Rejuvenate Your Inner Life by Lucinda Secrest McDowell. It literally rejuvenated my about-to-blow-a-gasket soul.

4161458

Lucinda says, “We need rest for our souls as well as rejuvenation of our bodies…Most women go to a spa for physical refreshment, we must recognize our NEED for spiritual renewal in the inner person…our soul.”

Alice Gray, who co-wrote The Worn Out Woman: When Life is Full and Your Spirit is Empty, said, “Soul nurturing is NOT OPTIONAL. It’s not a luxury, but a necessity. I could almost define the worn-out woman…

… as a person who has allowed her soul to parch and wither because, for one reason or another, she has not been able to spend time beside still waters.”

Mountain River with, forest landscape. Tranquil waterfall scener

Lucinda then teaches us the word spa is an acronym coming from the Latin Salus Per Aquam which means “health by water.” At the end of each chapter, she also gives us a different “spa”: Spiritual Personal Assessment. These are excellent.

Jesus is called the Living Water in Scripture. Remember in John 4 when Jesus offers living water to the Woman at the Well? And if we believe in Him, out of our hearts will flow rivers of living water? (John 7:38)

I recently learned that trees are many times used metaphorically in the Bible for us humans. We’re called to put down our roots by the life-giving water. (Jeremiah 17:7-8 and Psalm 92:12-14, for example.)

Why do I forget the very same rejuvenation by still waters is right in God’s Word?

Satan is at the helm of driving distractions our way. Be aware! He can scramble us into a frustrating froth exactly as he did to me all week long–to the point I had to ask my friends to pray for unscrambling. God Bless ‘em. The power of prayer did indeed bring clarity.   We praise you, Lord.

Praying Hands

Next time you’re derailed by a distraction, retreat into God’s Word. 

Put on the Armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Put down your roots in the life-giving water to soothe your soul. And while you’re at it, treat yourself to a glorious bubble bath. A petite spa is better than no spa at all, right???!!!

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Scripture

Don’t Forget: You Are Invited To “Fountains of Friendship” on April 23rd!!!

What do trees and roots and water have in common?  Come find out how they can help us SAVOR OUR SEASON DAILY….straight out of Scripture, along with Proverbs 27:9 which says, “A Sweet friendship refreshes the soul.”  We will all be refreshed….

YOU, yes YOU (!!!) are invited to join women of all ages and yours truly at a neat little event called Fountains of Friendship.  This is an annual Women’s Ministry event hosted by the gals at Hurstbourne Baptist Church. (8800 Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40222)

Fountains of Friendship will be on Thursday, April 23rd, from 7:00 -8:30 p.m.  There will be yummy desserts to savor and I will be speaking on “Savor Your Season Daily”.  Yes, daily.  (I need this message probably more than all of us attending put together!)Chocolate Heart Dessert Cups With Pudding And RaspberriesWe’ll have some fun with this challenging subject and will take home some “tools” to help us with it.  We’ll also address obstacles we must be aware of which can potentially prevent us from savoring the season we’re in.

Proverbs 27:17 reminds us:  “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  May we sharpen each other Thursday the 23rd!!! Proverbs 27-17 Tickets may be purchased for $5.00 by calling or going by the church office.   The office is  open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday thru’ Friday.  Tickets will also be available at the Welcome Center on Sundays. You may call (502) 426-2444 and ask for Carmen.  (Tell her some crazy woman sent you!)

And did I say we’ll have some fun???? Group of happy friends making funny facesBring a friend and come join us for a FUN night out! 

Please PRAY for this event as well!  In Mark Batterson’s book, (Oh, you know there had to be a book involved…) Praying Circles around Your Children, he recommends we envision drawing circles around whatever or whomever is a prayer concern and praying for them.  (How many circles can you draw???!!!) Praying Circles Please offer up a prayer as you drive by Hurstbourne Baptist Church for:

ALL of you sweet ladies attending,

For my message to be God-honoring and helpful for us all to savor our season daily,

For the weather,

For all the details to come together smoothly, and

For the precious ladies working on this to be blessed for their service.

Thank you! We’d LOVE to see you Thursday, April 23rd!!!

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Conferences, Speaking Engagements

The Power of an Intentional Text….

Belated Easter Greetings! I pray you and your families had a most Blessed Easter.

Our family was beyond tickled to celebrate Easter. We had the awesome privilege of observing the new little cousins (now two years old) run and play together, while their new siblings, only two days apart (Now just three months old), slept or were passed around like a slow-mo football game.

Baby With Bunny

The “E.B.” (Easter Bunny) was good to all as we munched on jelly beans, peeps (!!!), and decadent dark chocolate dove chocolate eggs. Can you say, “Aren’t you forgetting something???”

Case in point: Friday afternoon (Uh, that would be Good Friday), I was scrambling thru’ Kroger’s aisles on the hunt for desserts to take to my brother-in-law’s on Sunday, as well as Easter basket “stuff” for our children. (Yes, our children are grown adults, but the “E.B.” can’t help herself.) Forever the procrastinator, thankfully supplies were still plentiful.

Easter Eggs

All of a sudden two texts beeped on my cell phone. The first of which was yet another storm warning. “Tornado watch and flood warning.” My first reaction was, “Great! My umbrella’s in the car!!!”

The second text stopped me in my tracks. I was so dumbfounded, that when a friend approached me and hugged me, all I could do was show her the text. (She, too, was playing beat-the-clock, buying a darling birthday cake for her daughter complete with peeps on top.) Hmmmm….again, aren’t we forgetting something???

“Oh my, “ she said upon reading the text. “Please forward that to me! I need it!!!”

Here’s the text:

“Hey Girls!

Just a reminder that JESUS died at the 9th hour, which is our 3:00 p.m. (Just thirteen minutes from now!!!) At that moment, the Temple curtain split symbolizing that we have DIRECT ACCESS to God!!!

Oh LORD JESUS we praise you and thank you.

May you ALL have a Blessed Easter.”

Concept conceptual black cross or religion symbol silhouette in

See what I mean? My cart and I came to a screeching halt. It was pitch black outside too, complete with a storm brewing. Coincidence? I think not.

A good reminder? I think so.

Not only did my dear friend, and mentor, and Bible study leader, Jane send this to me, but she sent it to our Wednesday group. She is always intentional with us. That just could be my favorite thing I love about her.

And my friend Teresa, whom I’d just run into, was blessed by her intentionality as well. I forwarded Jane’s text to her and she then shared it with her family. Ripple effects are a win-win!

One more powerful perspective on Easter,

      and the Power of the Resurrection,

           and the freedom that comes from forgiveness

hails from a favorite author of mine, Charles Martin. While it’s a long post, it is more than worth your time to read. Perhaps in snippets if your days are wild. You will be blessed. (It’s the post from 4/5 called What Now?)

www.charlesmartinbooks.com

May we all be more intentional post Easter….

Easter Christian Motive, Resurrection

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Family, Friends, Holidays

Why Be a No-Show to God? Purposeful Living Pre- and Post Easter (with Guest Author Nancy Sleeth) PLUS TWO FREE BOOK GIVEAWAYS!!!**

Happy Holy Week!

Killer Question: How are you living prior to Easter and how will you live post-Easter? Are you intentional about your day-to-day to-do’s or is life passing you by?

Still Puzzled? The below article, written by my friend Nancy Sleeth, will offer much-needed help to our bustin-busy 24/7 world in which we live.

Busy retail high street 3 days after Christmas

Nancy and her husband, Matthew live in Lexington, Kentucky and run their non-profit Blessed Earth. (www.blessedearth.org) They both have authored books.

**If you’re blessed by her article and leave a comment, you have a CHANCE TO WIN not one, but TWO books! Matthew’s 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life and Nancy’s Almost Amish: One Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life.**

24-6 Sleeth

Almost Amish Sleeth

(Checkout “Is it Possible to Have Lunch with Ann Voskamp and Breakfast with Matthew and Nancy Sleeth?” and “What You Miss When You’re in a Hurry” for more information on their books.)

Soak in these challenging, Biblical ideas from guest author Nancy Sleeth’s recent article in Relevant Magazine…:

The Most Ignored Commandment
It’s one of the Bible’s most well-known commandments. So why aren’t we following it?
By Nancy Sleeth
February 20, 2015

A recent poll of 2,000 pastors in North Carolina revealed that less than 10 percent are keeping a regular Sabbath.

Think about this for a moment. If 90 percent of pastors announced from the pulpit that murder (or stealing, or adultery) is OK, don’t you think it might raise a few eyebrows in the pews, let alone the press?

It’s true: Jesus freed us from temple and ritual laws, but nowhere does He say we get a pass on moral laws. Of all the moral laws, Christ is especially clear that we must honor the Top Ten.

In fact, he ups the ante: if the law says don’t commit murder, Jesus says don’t get mad at the person who just sent you a snarky text. If the law says don’t commit adultery, Jesus says don’t even surf the Internet looking for racy pictures.

The Ten Commandments are engraved twice in the walls of the Supreme Court building. Why? Even for people who don’t believe in God, they serve as the bedrock of morality. The Ten Commandments help keep civilization civilized.

For those of us who believe in the Creator, the Ten Commandments are gifts from the very hand of God. The first three commandments are about our relationship with the Lord. The last six are about our relationship with humanity. The fourth commandment is a bridge: it connects heaven and earth, God and people.

Once a week, God walks out on the Sabbath bridge to meet us. But most of us are no-shows; we unapologetically stand up the Creator of the universe, week after week.

Once a week, God walks out on the Sabbath bridge to meet us. But most of us are no-shows; we unapologetically stand up the Creator of the universe, week after week.

Time Debt

Our generation is the first in 2,000 years of church history that is on the go 24/7. But this experiment in Sabbath-less living is taking a huge toll. It’s called time debt. We overcommit. We multi-task. We stay so busy we don’t have enough time for relationships with family and friends, let alone God.

The result? Nonstop stress. When I asked my husband Matthew, a physician, about the physical consequences of stress, he gave me a mini-lesson on the endocrine system. If your body never knows when the next Stop Day is coming, it sends out stress hormones. These hormones are commonly known as the fight or flight response. If you’ve ever had a severe allergic reaction, a shot of adrenaline can save your life. A few hours later, however, you will feel utterly exhausted, like you’ve been run over by a truck.

Matthew went on to explain that when we are under stress long term, our bodies produce another stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol production contributes to a host of medical conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, acne, depression, anxiety, sleep disruption, digestive problems, and memory and concentration impairment. The bottom line: constant stress doesn’t just make us tired and grumpy; it makes us ill.

So if you’re ready to start attempting to keep a Sabbath, here are a few ways you can start:

Block off Sabbath Time on Your Calendar.

Here’s a simple truth: It won’t happen unless you schedule it. For most people, Sabbath is celebrated on Sunday. For church leaders, hospital workers and people who provide emergency services, Sabbath might have to be moved to another day of the week.

Because our ministry requires frequent travel, I use Google calendar to schedule our Sabbaths at least four months in advance. This lets our staff know when we will be offline and allows them to plan accordingly.

Prepare Joyfully.

In today’s 24/7 world, Sabbath-keeping is countercultural; it doesn’t just happen by default. If you long to lay down your heavy burdens, you’ll need to be more intentional about your time the other six days of the week.

On Sabbath eve, I clean out my email inbox, finish chores and run errands with an almost giddy joy. I also plan ahead for holy fun, seeking out new places for a hike or picking out a book to read aloud with my husband.

Figure Out What “Work” is for You.

Scholars have argued for centuries about how to define rest. Here’s a simple definition: decide what work is for you and don’t do it on your Sabbath.

For people engaged in sedentary work during the week, puttering around in the garden on the Sabbath might be restful. For people who do manual labor, holy rest might mean taking a nap.

Pray and Play.

Eugene Peterson, one of my theological heroes and author of The Message, once said that there are only two rules for Sabbath: play and pray. Now in his eighth decade of life, Peterson also believes Sabbath-keeping is the best thing he ever did for his marriage, his children and his ministry.

My family and I have been keeping the Sabbath for the past dozen years, and all I can say is “Amen!” Now grown, our kids kept the Sabbath throughout high school, college, medical school and now residency. The Sabbath gave them something almost none of their peers had, even while attending a Christian college: a day off. No homework, no chores, no shopping—just time with family, friends and God.

Find a Sabbath Buddy.

My husband I run a nonprofit together. We both have workaholic tendencies. We both love our work. This is a dangerous combination. Yet no matter what deadlines are looming, my husband and I do not work on the Sabbath. When one of us begins to “talk shop,” we gently remind each other to give it a rest.

Sabbath is best practiced in community. So find a Sabbath buddy. Help each other to create a Sabbath plan: what you’ll need to do to get ready, how you’ll celebrate, and what you’ll avoid on your day of rest. Then check in and encourage each other.

Giving Up Busyness for Lent.

Here’s my challenge for you: this Lent season, engage in a Sabbath experiment. Resolve to spend one day in seven resting and restoring. Praying and playing. Being still and knowing God.

Come Easter, you will not only celebrate the risen Lord; you will celebrate a renewed you!

THANK YOU, NANCY!!!

In case you missed my favorite quote of Nancy’s, it’s well worth repeating:

“Once a week, God walks out on the Sabbath Bridge to meet us.   But most of us are no-shows; we unapologetically stand up the Creator of the universe, week after week.” Ouch! Definitely food for thought, huh?

Please let us know your thoughts and ideas, and maybe how you were challenged. Don’t forget, if you leave a comment, you’ll be entered into a drawing for Matthew and Nancy’s books!

Have a Most Blessed Easter!!! He is risen!

‘Til next time!

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