Monthly Archives: August 2015

“Uh, Ma’am, We’ll Be Needin’ to CUT SOME HOLES in Your Walls…” (Quick! Grab Chocolate on the Brain—Foolproof Recipes for Unrepentant Chocoholics by Kevin and Nancy Mills)

Ahhhh, Monday morning. Some of us dread Mondays, while others cherish Mondays.

Me?  If I’ve planned properly, as in NO PLANS but playing catch up, I cherish Mondays.

Silver Blue Pen On Open Business Agenda

Last Monday, I happily had no plans.  We were just back from a family vacation and there was lots of playing catch up to do…

However (!!!), as Hubster was hustlin’ out the door, rushing to work, he leaves me with, “Oh yeah, plumbers are comin’ today to address that leak.” (The one we sorta forgot about while on vacay.)

Buzz.

Quiet day evaporated.

Sure enough, as John pulled out of the driveway, in rolled the plumbers…  Seems we had a wee bit of water in the basement. They’d traced it to an upstairs toilet.

Hollering back and forth between two floors, the two guys would say, “Hear anything?”

Then, what you never want to hear a plumber say, falls out of one of their mouths….”Oh, no!”

Followed quickly by, “TURN IT OFF!!”

Worse, they’re now both dashing downstairs, looking at walls in our living room and dining room.  “No! Not the dining room!!!  We have NO. SPARE. WALLPAPER!!!” I thought to myself.

Thankfully, they concluded they’d need to cut some holes in the living room wall.  I chuckled to myself, as I’ve been toying with lightening up the room paint-wise.  I blissfully gave them my blessing….  “Sure!  Cut away!!!” (I can soooooo see Hubster shaking his head….)

holes in house

Honestly, if we only had a very tall, full-length mirror, we could hide the holes with the shiny new pipes now installed.   It was all the fault of a very old cast iron pipe which had split “clean in two” as one of the guys reported.  Jolly good.

Next up (watch it be on a Monday), Buzzie-the-drywaller will come do his miraculous repair work, followed by our relentlessly faithful painter who might as well move in.  There are endless projects in this house, no thanks to our last foray with When You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

So those guys will come to the rescue of our home, but what could possibly save this Monday?  Days like these call for prayers for patience plus recognition of unrealized blessings .  They will quickly derail your woe-du-jour.

Praying Hands

I LOVE how the Message phrases Matthew 5:3 –

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope.  With less of you, there is more of God and His rule.”  Oh, yes, we could ALL use a little more of God, don’t you think?  I often forget to pray, “Lord, please empty me of me and fill me with you.”

May I offer additional “help”?  Few things come to my aid more than chocolate.  Rich, I know.

My cousin gave me a very fun cookbook you would all love called Chocolate On The Brain: Foolproof Recipes for Unrepentant Chocoholics by Kevin and Nancy Mills.  (Mother and Son, no less.  Furthermore, it’s no coincidence my maiden name is Mills, either.  Surely we’re related….)

chocolate on the brain

Kevin says their book is not for “people who like to nibble, who can eat just one piece of chocolate and move on.

The book is for:

…those poor souls enslaved by chocolate,

who sit at work and think about chocolate,

who hatch plots to get other people’s chocolate,

who buy their loved ones gifts of chocolate only to consume them themselves

who are rendered powerless by chocolate as if it were Kryptonite….”  (At the very least we must be second or third cousins.)

The book is a boatload of fun because it not only has loads of delish recipes, but Kevin’s Mom, Nancy, gives helpful “Mom Tips”.  There are also fascinating fun facts and historical dates with explanations of how chocolate made its’ entry into our world. Many of the recipes can be done in less than thirty minutes.

Chocolate cake with fork on a red napkin

Psalm 34:8 tells us, “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.”

Next time you find someone wanting to blast thru’ your walls, or something equally lovely, pray, and reach for some chocolate.  Don’t forget the dark variety is good for your heart. Or go buy some to “share” with a friend.

Smile.  Don’t frown.

As my friend Liz often reminds me, “God’s got this.”

‘Til next time!

(Next month we’ll tackle together some back-to-school survival tactics.)

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Consider a Tree’s Canopy a Source of Comfort (Unafraid—Trusting God in an Unsafe World by Susie Davis Teaches Lessons from Trees)

When was the last time you plopped yourself down under a tree?  Yeah, that’s what I thought…tough to remember…

My most fun recollection of sitting under a tree was when I was helplessly star struck, head-over-heels-in-love with John, who would later become my sweet husband.  Back in our dating days at UK, we used to sit under a weeping willow.

Fast forward many moons, and envision Hubster pulling in the driveway, with something green and willowy hanging off the back of a pick-up truck.  Much to my surprise, he’d purchased a lovely, tall-but-skinny weeping willow!

DSC_0004

Now, only a couple of years later, our weeping willow occupies a good part of our circle out front.  Our little bench nearby is a sweet spot to sit when we take the time to do so. It’s not only grown up, but out as well, waving to us every day, grace overflowing.

Last week I shared a bit from Susie Davis’ most intriguing book, Unafraid: Trusting God in an Unsafe WorldI’ve now finished it and am stunned over occurrences in Susie’s life which led her from being terribly fearful, to becoming confident and completely trustworthy of God.

unafraid

You will not believe how God orchestrated various events in Susie’s life, always leaving “love letters” to her like we talked about last week.  (Click on SLIVER OF HEAVEN: COFFEE ON THE PORCH…..for more details.) As you progress thru’ the book, Susie shares some of her most fearful days.

To learn the “back story” and see where God was all along is breathtaking.  (I mustn’t  spoil the story…you’ll have to read it find out!)  You might say Our Heavenly Father was stitching in parallel fashion, Susie’s tapestry, which seemed awful and ugly to her, yet later became beautiful and miraculous.

verdure_au_chateau_1

One of my favorite parts of the book is a thought I’d not considered before about trees.  As long as Susie can remember, her Dad has enjoyed planting trees, many times growing saplings from acorns.

He watered them and waited, nurturing them until months later, he brought a tiny sapling over to Susie’s house.  While Susie’s children watched, her Father planted a bur oak. He taught her, “Trees make the best preachers.”

Gardener with vegetable seedling. Spring garden. Plant seedling in farmers hands.

Susie says, “Trees are the conduits for some of the biggest messages God has ever spoken to me.”

She adds, “Our bur oak tree reminds me of my Dad’s funny obsession with trees….it’s a physical representation of my Father’s love and care for my extended family.  But mainly I love that tree because I love my Dad.  I am overwhelmed at how he’s loved me, cared for me, and encouraged me all my life.”

Old Oak Tree

“Just like my Heavenly Father.  He’s planted trees all over just for me.  To  show his love, his care, his encouragement.  I see God because of those trees.”

Susie reminds us from Genesis 2:15, “The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.”  She points out,

“We’re still supposed to be tend-ers.

We tend hope and courage God plants inside our souls…

When we read what He says to us.

When we listen to the Spirit.

When we hold fast to the good news.”

Male hands harvesting fresh potatoes from soil

Dear friends, I hear her saying, “HOLD ON to Him for dear life!”  This puts the responsibility in our court, to cultivate, grow, and tend to our faith and hope… ultimately clinging to our Savior.

Susie says, “It means when you see a big ol’ tree, its leafy canopy reaching toward the heavens, you remember that tree was once a small seed.”  So it is with our faith….

Isaiah 61:3b says, “We are strong and graceful oaks for His glory.” (NLT)

Oaks Avenue Charleston Sc Plantation Live Oak Trees Forest Lands

Savor this noteworthy summary:

Susie reveals:

“When God makes a promise, YOU CAN COUNT ON HIM TO KEEP IT.

When He says you will see goodness in the land of the living, BELIEVE IT.

When He says He is a strong protector and completely trustworthy in every situation (Psalm 62:7-8 NET), YOU CAN COUNT ON IT.”

Effectively addressing fear and control issues, Susie gifts us readers with this:

“I don’t know what kind of hopelessness you face because of fear, but I know God has a promise for YOU, and because of that, YOU CAN LIVE UNAFRAID IN AN UNSAFE WORLD.”

If you want to grow your trust, and your faith, and witness Susie’s incredible testimony, this book is for you.

Now go find a tree, park yourself under it, glory in Him and His creation and REST!

‘Til next time!

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Sliver of Heaven: Coffee on the Porch (“Unafraid—Trusting God in an Unsafe World” by Susie Davis Gives Readers New Perspective)

Nobody can beat Hubster’s coffee.  Who knew I’d marry the best Barista this side of the Mississippi??? (Please don’t reveal this to Starbucks or they may recruit him.)

On vacation last week, our family rented a home near Lake Keowee in South Carolina.  (For you Clemson fans, we were only about twenty-five minutes from the stadium.)

Cloudless day on Lake Keowee

Cloudless day on Lake Keowee

I must insert this picture of LT, Lauren, a most decorative Clemson Tiger, Gordy and Woody at Mellow Mushroom in Clemson, or my friend Susan would never forgive me, avid fan that she is…)

I must insert this picture of LT, Lauren, a most decorative Clemson Tiger, Gordy and Woody at Mellow Mushroom in Clemson, or my friend Susan would never forgive me, avid fan that she is…

The home we rented has forever ruined any future family vacation (It had stellar finishes in every room that one only dreams about.) It has not one, but two porches.

One porch is screened-in with an outdoor kitchen (pardonnez-moi), while the other overlooks the golf course and mountains with lovely, sturdy rocking chairs.  Oh yes, those rockers called to us each morning.

Seated with a stack of books next to me, out comes Hubster, armed with two mugs of steaming coffee.  Mornings just don’t get any better than this!  (Surely this is a sliver of Heaven???)

Old books and cup of coffee on table

One of several books I packed for this trip, Unafraid: Trusting God in an Unsafe World by Susie Davis offers comforting perspectives.   (I’m only about half way into the book, so I’ll be sharing more snippets with you in the future when I finish.)

One perspective Susie gives us readers is this simple thought:

Open your eyes tolove letters from God”.

bigstock-Fountain-pen-on-an-antique-han-54193727

Hey, God can write in any language He wants. (I happen to be a fan of the French language….)

What in the world is a love letter from God?  Anything you spy that catches your eye, STOPPING you in your tracks, causing you to instantly think of God, to literally stop and smell the coffee….even when you’re drinking coffee as John and I did each morning on the porch.

Allow me to give you a couple of examples from our trip.  Before we arrived in South Carolina, we began our adventure in Asheville, North Carolina.  We took our kiddos to The Biltmore Estate. www.biltmore.com  They’d never been, so to see it thru’ their eyes was our first love letter from God.

Biltmore

After we toured the house, we ventured into the garden.  Oh the roses! And oh, the orchids!!!  Once in the conservatory, winding our way thru’ many hibiscus trees and other multiple-bloom-filled trees, I quietly, but urgently whispered to John, “Look!!!!

Within my arm’s reach, was the tee-tiniest hummingbird, flappin’ those wings faster than you could see, tasting nectar from one bloom, after another, after another.  He was not at all concerned about us and John was able to capture him in a video on his phone!

Allens Hummingbird (selasphorus Sasin)

We joined the kids at a nearby table and that’s when I shared with them the concept of “love letters from God.”  That little hummingbird was one of many “love letters from God” during our vacation. I enjoyed jotting them down each day, akin to Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.

One Thousand Gifts

Susie Davis, in Unafraid… says, “God has been leaving me love notes all my life—tangible signs of how much He loves me…saying,

I love you.

I’m thinking of you.

I’m protecting you.

I have good plans…”

Susie’s story, and how she overcame her many fears, is an only-God-can-pull-this-off-kind-of-story.  While her horrific experience from the late 70’s nearly paralyzed her, I believe we all should read her story given the scary culture in which we live.

Dear friends, we must not live in fear.

Susie recounts telling her children of all the great things the Lord has done, of all of His mighty miracles.  She calls them “God stories– so they can set their hope on God and live unafraid.”

Two of many beautiful Scriptures Susie reminds us of are:

psalm 4-8

psalm 62

Stay tuned for more pearls from this most helpful book soon! And be on the alert for love letters from our Lord.

‘Til next time!

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Next Time You’re Down in the Dumps, Grab “Every Bitter Thing is Sweet—Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things” by Sara Hagerty

Havin’ a bad day? One of those where everything goes wrong? Chances are, if you’re not, someone you know is.

I’ve got just the cure. It’s one we all know, and yet forget daily.

My good buddy Liz loaned me a boatload of books recently, and this one, Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things by Sara Hagerty has been an eye-opening blessing for this woe-is-me girl. 63823EB Many times when I read a book, I try to come up with one, single, take-away word. “Adoration” is our inspiration in this book and “adore” the verb to put into action.

You may already be familiar with Sara’s blog, www.everybitterthingissweet.com She has information on her book, resources, her posts for the blog, plus an incredible section with fantastic printables under “Adoration”. (I chose this word before I knew she had an entire section in her blog about it!!!)

Brutally honest, Sara journeys us readers thru’ some tough times in her life. She’s been blessed with friends who she says “wore a brand of Christianity that was attractive, but foreign.” (to her) She continues, “They acted as if they believed God didn’t just tolerate them; He enjoyed them.” These fascinating friends “approached their days with a confidence that God had something for them…” Wow, don’t we all want that?

In the midst of three equally difficult trials (infertility, lengthy adoption processes and her father dying of cancer), Sara said, “God was revealing this kind of availability to me in both the big aches and the everyday small ones.”

With eyes opened to a different perspective, she told her husband, “…all this mess—was fodder for discovering His love anew.” Small newborn baby legs in mothers lovely hand with soft focus on babie's foot Here comes the adoration part….This is what Sara does and what we all can do. She reveals, “My first step in inhaling adoration was inviting that language into my everyday ache.” She began with one word or phrase from the Bible, depending on her particular need or worry. For example, from Psalm 36:5 and 57:10 she read, “Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.” Sun Ray Shining Through The Clouds In The Blue Sky Then she’d pray:

God, You are faithful.

You are faithful when I am fearful.

I can count on You.

You will not leave me when You see my failure.”

Here are just a few of Sara’s discoveries about adoration (This is my favorite part of the book and what I believe to be the most powerful):

“Adoration is exploration. The Father loves to be explored.

Fear loses oxygen when every moment suspends itself under the purpose of bringing Him glory.

Adoration makes walking with God more than just reacting to a series of externals.

Adoration CALLS the circumstances, no matter how high or low, into proper submission in our hearts.

Adoration ROOTS us in a reality that no amount of pain and no amount of blessing can shake.

Adoration STEADIES US. Inspirational Typographic Quote - Slow and Steady It REPATTERNS our thinking.

It CENTERS our lives around a God-man instead of forever trying to make sense of the God-man thru’ the lenses of our circumstances.

Adoration ALIGNS US under Him… THIS IS THE PLACE WHERE LIFE IS FOUND.”

Another excellent part of the book is found at the end of each chapter where Sara gives us several Scriptures to look up which pertain to the chapter. The “For Your Continued Pursuit” passages bring light and promises from His Word to bless you, the reader.

Sara’s vivid style makes you feel like you’re riding in the car with them many times and you say, “Oh no!” out loud more than once! However, with her “adoration-eyes-on”, she shows us God is on her side, fighting for her and her family. And just wait ‘til you see how God builds their family. (Not spoilin’ the fun! You must discover this for yourself! You need to take the journey with her.)

I pray we’ll all open our eyes, filled with adoration for our Creator, our Heavenly Father, our Constant Companion.

Sara says the experience is like a “minute-by-minute communion” that makes her feel alive. Wouldn’t you love that too?

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13, NIV) Romans 15-13 ‘Til next time!

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