Monthly Archives: December 2015

Four Fabulous Phrases Plus a Crazy Fun Fact for You this Christmas…

One verse.  Four names.  It’s all we need this Christmas Week…

But first, a question:

How’s your memory? You may say, “What memory? My train of thought just left the station…”

C-train, Calgary

I’ve been up a creek without a paddle after numerous grocery runs. Forgetting milk isn’t as big of a deal-breaker as forgetting hamburger when you’re making tacos.

Forgetting names is my strong suit. I meet someone and instantaneously, poof!, their name evaporates. Infuriating. Frustrating. Embarrassing.

Further forgetful, I forgot to order a book in a recent order of gifts and cards from a favorite catalog company known as Bas Bleu. (www.basbleu.com ) The book? Wait for it….

You Can Learn to Remember: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life (You Can… (Watkins Publishing)) by Dominic O’Brien

You can learn to remember

I thought, “Wow, for $9.95, why not?” Excited to open my package a few days later, the memory book was MIA. I looked at my order list. Nope, I did not order it. How can you forget to order a book on remembering?

Well, one thing I did learn this Christmas season, is I can remember one Scripture verse. You can too. Thanks to the fact I’ve written a verse out on several Christmas cards. It’s been my go-to phrase. Repetition helps! (If you think you can’t do this, trust me, if I can, you can.)

Best book for doing so? Obviously your Bible, but add this one to it and you’re in business: 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart by Rob Morgan.

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I’d like to give you the verse I learned and recommend simply repeating these four fabulous phrases (names), especially this week, praising our Lord and Savior. He is our gift this Christmas, and every day, as we roll into 2016.

Christmas Nativity Scene

Isaiah 9:6 says,

“For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given;

and the government shall be on his shoulder,

And his name shall be called

WONDERFUL COUNSELOR,

MIGHTY GOD,

EVERLASTING FATHER

PRINCE OF PEACE.” (ESV)

These four fabulous names are gifts for us we can give back to the Lord in praise to Him:

1 – Wonderful Counselor:

Jesus told His disciples in John 14:26, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Not only is the Holy Spirit our Advocate or Counselor, my favorite gift He offers is when we are so overwhelmed we don’t know what to pray for, He steps in and mediates for us.

Romans 8: 26 tells us, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Remember “Wonderful Counselor”!

Gift

2 – Mighty God: Our God is Mighty. Think Mighty Warrior. Psalm 50:1 says, “The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.” (ESV) Mighty is, well, mighty. Praiseworthy. Remember “Mighty God”!

Gift Box

3 – Everlasting Father: Everlasting is forever. Our God is our Forever Father. HCSB says, “Eternal Father.”

Isaiah 63:16b says, “You, O Lord, are our Father; Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your Name.” Always was. Always is. Always will be.

Hebrews 13:8 reminds us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Remember “Everlasting Father”!

white gift box with blue ribbon

4 – Prince of Peace:

A prince of anything is someone who’s in charge of something. i.e. Prince Charles. Prince William. Prince Harry.

To learn our Savior is the Prince of Peace should bring us all the peace we can handle. Who doesn’t want peace, especially at this time of year?

Praise Him for giving you and me peace. Don’t forget Jesus’ words in John 14:27…

John 14 27

 Focus and allow His peace to saturate your heart. Offer peace to your family this Christmas! Remember “Prince of Peace”!

Single red gift box with silver ribbon on white background.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with a crazy fun fact my friend Pat sent me this Season:

This is a tradition you may wish to start in your own home this year. It comes from the lovely country of Iceland.

Did you know Iceland sells more books per person than any other nation in the world, especially during the Christmas season? They call it Jolabokaflod, or the “Christmas Book Flood”.

Literary Iceland Revels In Its Annual 'Christmas Book Flood". Photo courtesy of npr.org. Click image to view article.

Literary Iceland Revels In Its Annual ‘Christmas Book Flood”. Photo courtesy of npr.org. Click image to view article.

The tradition has a twofold purpose:

1 – Each person must receive at least one book for Christmas to take to bed with them on Christmas Eve.

2 – Along with taking the book to bed, each person must have some chocolates to go along with their book reading! How crazy fun is that? (You can bet I’ve shared this discovery with Hubster. )

I pray you and your family have a most memorable (!!!) and blessed Christmas and New Year. I look forward to spending more time with you as we learn about helpful Scripture and books and authors in 2016.

Don’t forget (!!!) the four names: Wonderful Counselor. Mighty God. Everlasting Father. Prince of Peace.

These two beautiful songs via YouTube may also help you remember and worship:

In 1741, George Frederick Handel composed a song based on Isaiah 9:6 which you can watch the London Symphony Orchestra perform on this YouTube link:

A more contemporary twist to Isaiah 9:6 came out in 2014, sung by Aaron Shust, “Unto Us”. Both of these are wonderful.  Enjoy!

See you next year!

‘Til next time!

 

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A Peek into History Proves Priceless (You won’t believe this…)

Envision Thelma and Louise blowin’ and goin’ over the hills of Woodford County. Horse farms flanking both sides of these country roads were made complete with horses frolicking in the fields. We’re talkin’ some kind of sweet Kentucky scenery!

Thoroughbred horse series. More in portfolio

While my dear friend, Sherry Leavell, captained her car, yours truly had the job of feverishly reading our MapQuest to “get us to the church on time”. (Hum a few bars…)

Sherry’s daughter, Laura, told us about a significant event at the Chapel Service of Asbury Theological Seminary (ATS) on December 9th. We were determined not to miss it!

Both Asbury campuses are situated picturesquely in the city of Wilmore, Kentucky. (Asbury University: www.asbury.edu and Asbury Theological Seminary: www.asburyseminary.edu ) The city is akin to stepping back into time.

We met several friends there: Nancy Sleeth and Pam Stein VanArsdall from Lexington, Sarah Grace Bloyd, who’s a student at Asbury University, and Evan Wehrle, a student at ATS (and friend of all three of our boys.) We filled a pew and excitedly waited for the service to begin.

The chapel was beautifully decorated for Christmas. The current Chaplain, Jessica LaGrone, opened the service, telling us we were about to witness a “piece of history.”

(You can learn more about Jessica and her many talents from this link)

Estes Chapel

We stood while students from all over the world marched in bearing candles. My favorite sight to behold included a beautiful African American girl holding up a very large, opened Bible which she placed upon a stand at the altar.

The worship band led us in traditional Christmas carols and contemporary worship songs. These kids’ talent blessed our socks off. We felt as if we were standing on holy ground.

The icing on the cake came from an amazing couple, Bob and Ellen Stamps, who served at Asbury for four years. Bob was the Chaplain there until they retired this year.

Ellen has many fascinating claims to fame, one of which includes her being Corrie ten Boom’s Personal Assistant for nearly ten years. Ellen wrote a book, My Years with Corrie, about their many only-God-could-pull-this-off-experiences.

My Years with Corrie

At the end of Ellen’s tenure, Corrie wanted to give Ellen a gift. She decided to give Ellen and Bob the clock Corrie’s Father wound every night while they were hiding the Jews in their home.

The program from the service informed us, “We revere the courage, love, and faith the ten Boom family demonstrated to the world as they risked their own lives to help save eight hundred Jewish people during the Holocaust in World War II.

Their courage and faith came from their belief in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

From Left to Right: Tine (wife of Willem), Baby Kik, Willem, Nollie, Corrie, Cornelia, Betsie and Casper Ten Boom

From Left to Right: Tine (wife of Willem), Baby Kik, Willem, Nollie, Corrie, Cornelia, Betsie and Casper Ten Boom

The last thing Corrie’s Father did, before her whole family was taken away by the Nazis in 1944 to the concentration camps, was to wind the clock. He died ten days later. Corrie’s sister, Betsie, also died after a brief time with Corrie in the camp.

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Ellen’s moving sermon reminded all of us that we carry the Gospel and must share it with all who cross our path. We also learned that Psalm 91, which we read earlier in the service, was Corrie’s favorite. She truly believed the Lord was her refuge, a phrase repeated frequently in it.

Ellen said, “Everyone must bring the message of Christ. We must share there’s no pit so deep that Jesus isn’t deeper still to rescue us.” She continued, “We mustn’t bury our talent whether one or ten. We must give of our talents—not hide them as the servant did in the Parable of the Talents.” (She pointed us to Matthew 25: 14-30.)

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The purpose of this incredible Chapel service was for Ellen and Bob to present the clock that Corrie gave her to ATS. While the wording in the program said the Stamps were “loaning” the clock to Asbury, Ellen quipped, “Yes, it says the clock is ‘on loan’, but I’m seventy-five years old!!! We know you will care for it and keep it safe.”

If you’ve seen The Hiding Place movie, this beautiful clock is in it! It belonged to the ten Boom family for one hundred and fifty years in Haarlem, Holland.

The Hiding Place

The path the clock has traveled is astonishing. Once shipped from Holland to the United States, Ellen and Bob kept praying about what to do with it.

A ninety year-old clockmaker who worked at Monticello repaired the clock after its’ transatlantic journey. He relayed he was honored to have worked on it knowing of Corrie’s tremendous ministry. He died shortly thereafter.

Because of Corrie’s stay and miraculous release from the concentration camps, the Stamps decided she would’ve approved of it being in the Holocaust Museum in Richmond, VA where it stayed for years.

After their remarkable experience at Asbury, Ellen and Bob were so taken with the students and with Asbury’s heart for missions, they felt Corrie would have loved the clock to be at Asbury. After all, she lived her entire life as a missionary!

Following Ellen’s sermon, Bob led us in communion. His booming, enthusiastic voice was contagious as it exuded heartfelt worship of our Lord. Sherry and I realized we both had an aha! moment thanks to Bob.

He prayed that while we were at the Communion Table, we would commune with the saints of old, that perhaps while we were partaking of communion, we’d be in community with the ten Boom family. What an eternal perspective and comforting visual!!!

After communion, we were dismissed to the Administration Building’s Lobby where the clock is hanging. We participated in a brief “Litany for the Dedication of the ten Boom Clock.”

clock

(Sherry and I were amazed at the size of the clock. We’d pictured a small desk clock, not this large-yet-intricate wall clock, nearly the size of a Grandfather clock!)

Dr. Timothy C. Tennent led us thru’ responses, a few of which I’d love to share with you:

Now is the time of God’s favor.

Now is the day of salvation…

We trust in you, O Lord and say, ‘You are our God.’

Our times are in your hands. 

For His choice servants, the ten Boom family:

We give our praise and thanks to God

Grant, that, by Your grace, Asbury Theological Seminary will continue to teach the faith once delivered to the saints.

Hear our prayer.”

Friends, please keep ATS students and staff on your prayer radar.

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Here’s a great shot (above) of Ellen and Bob after the dedication.  Following our responses, there was an unveiling of a plaque which hangs right next to the clock. It has the amazing story of the clock inscribed on it.

hiding place clock plaque

Dr. Tennent also read from Ecclesiastes, Chapter Three which reminds us about time. This passage offers thirty different kinds of time/seasons we may experience. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) Ellen said Corrie believed that each season prepares us for the next. 

Ecclesiastes 3-1

After the service, Sherry and I stole a few more minutes with Ellen. It was a bit of a reunion as Sherry and I were blessed to have had lunch with her this past May, which was another adventure! LUNCH WITH A MODERN DAY SAINT MAKES FOR AN EXTRAORDINARY DAY

Ellen and Bob had other commitments afterwards, so Nancy, Pam, Sarah Grace, Sherry and I headed to the Cafeteria for lunch to catch up. Two hours later (!!!), we sadly said our goodbyes and returned to Louisville.

We were filled to overflowing, beyond blessed by witnessing a piece of history, thanks to a faithful “Tramp for the Lord” as Corrie called herself. She’d be so proud of Ellen and Bob Stamps and the legacy they’re leaving everywhere they land. “Jesus is Victor” was Corrie’s and still is Ellen’s favorite reminder to bless all who they encounter.

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clock with friends

Pictured left to right: Ellen, Sarah Grace, Sherry and Yours Truly

Blessings to Bob and Ellen Stamps and HUGE Congratulations to Asbury Theological Seminary!

Who knows where Thelma and Louise will venture next. Stay tuned…

‘Til next time!

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What Does Finishing Well Mean? One Free Gift You Can Give for Christmas…

“Good grief!” (Please repeat those two words in the spirit of Charlie Brown…) I thought I was done shopping.  I realized, much to my deep dismay, I’ve forgotten a few folks on the ole’ list. Bust…

Not to mention the fact that being Empty Nesters, it’s not like our dog can participate with us in our Advent Calendar. It’s cute, but it’s not chocolate either. Hubster and I even contemplated not putting up the tree!!! (Shhh, please do not tell our children.)

I.

DO.

DECLARE.

Well, in spite of more shopping to be done, I have some good news for us all. Last week in our Bible study, we experienced a Grand Finale from It’s Good to Be Queen: Becoming as Bold, Gracious, and Wise as the Queen of Sheba.

Hoagland Study 01b Books

Fittingly, the last chapter is entitled: “It’s Good to End Well”. Our group was blessed to have not one, but two “Visiting Queens” who graciously came to impart their wisdom: Judy Russell and Jane Summay. These special ladies are still finishing well. We received a bird’s eye view of what that looks like.

They highlighted points from Liz’ book and paralleled them with real-life scenarios. They passed out slips of paper with pertinent Scriptures we each read showing us the wisdom we keep searching for is straight out of God’s Word.

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Judy and Jane have been friends for nearly fifty years. Those of you who knew Russ Summay, Jane’s husband, may not realize he was an elder at Southeast Christian Church in 1966 when Bob Russell received the post of becoming Southeast’s pastor!

Judy and Jane raised their boys together. They also served together in several different ministries at church, serving alongside one another, as well as having gone to Africa on a mission trip together.

With Judy and Jane’s input, we tackled the killer question Liz poses early on in the chapter: “When you come to the end of your days, what will you be glad you invested your life in?”

Jane shared Russ’ instructions with us from right before he went to be with the Lord. He strongly suggested she not sit at home and feel sorry for herself. He asked her to please live life, to get out of the house and go somewhere with friends, and to love others. We have all witnessed her doing this and doing it very well.

These suggestions are great examples from Liz’ section, “Finishing well means living well.” We all loved hearing Colossians 1:10, “Live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way.”

Our Queens both agreed with Liz on being thankful for the little things. Judy recommended reading Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.

One Thousand Gifts

Judy and Jane chimed in about blessings:

When our eyes are opened to the many blessings around us, it frees us from drowning in regrets. Counting blessings helps us to more easily extend grace, forgive and forget, and move on.

They also emphasized the importance of leaving a legacy of love for one another and for our Lord. Judy’s grandchildren had just been here for Thanksgiving. She said they had prayer time and devotional time with them, and they would ask to be read to or told stories. She said, “It’s up to us as parents and grandparents to be planting these seeds of faith.”

 growing plants

In the Study Guide of Liz’ book, Liz points out, “a thousand years after her death, Sheba was still being talked about, and by Jesus Himself. Another two thousand years have passed, and we are still examining her life…” Friends, we are talking three thousand years!!!

Then came questions for us all:

“In comparison, how long do you imagine your legacy will continue? Two generations? Three?” Ponder that a while!

Recently a friend’s father passed away. The most remarkable, touching scenario evolved after the funeral. While walking out of the church, this man’s great grandchildren shed many a tear. Now that’s some legacy!

So while planting seeds cost you time, there’s no price you can put on the legacy you’re building. This Christmas season, make it a point to build upon your legacy. This free gift will truly last for generations.

Isaiah 40-8Another one of many verses we enjoyed was Isaiah 40:8 –

“Grass withers and flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord stands forever.”

In Liz’ video (you can watch all ten videos via www.vimeo.com/lizcurtishiggs.com) on Chapter Ten, we got to hear more thoughts on finishing well. Our friend Sherry Leavell says “finishing well” to her means:

“Not backing off,

Remaining faithful,

Going the distance and

Being intentional.”

Liz quotes Kay Arthur, who says, “We don’t get to retire during war time.” Wow.

All the queens concurred we must pray believing and trusting God knows best, in His time.

Judy brought up Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

When we finish well, our final goal should come from Mathew 25:21 where Jesus says, “….well done, good and faithful servant.”

Golden CrownLord, please  guide us to finish well. May we build upon our legacies, leaving your rich Word embedded in our children’s and grandchildren’s and if it’s your will, great grandchildren’s lives. Amen and amen.

For King & Country: The Proof of Your Love

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

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Running to Rest…(Add “Restless” by Jennie Allen to Your Christmas List)

Mr. Music please:

“Oh….you better watch out,

You better not cry!

Better not pout

I’m telling you why……”

Abrupt, screeching halt:

Christmas is very, very, very NEAR…

To which we all say, “Oh Dear!!!”

Please tell me why we are all racing? Racing for what?

To the store.

To the mall.

To the Outlets.

Ever on the hunt for that perfect gift. Sigh…

Tired Woman Yawning

Recently I read a book that stopped me in my tracks. It so jarred my world I decided you, dear readers, must know about it, ‘cuz I don’t want to be jarred all by myself!!! Quickly, add this book to your Christmas list! Next, jot down “Read in January” on your calendar.

The book? Restless: Because You Were Made for More by Jennie Allen. It is a resource you’ll gobble up (Sorry, consumed too much turkey over Thanksgiving…) and return to often. It applies to all ages because Jennie teaches us about different seasons we all go thru’, especially when we feel restless. She shows us how to recognize them, while clinging to our faith. www.jennieallen.com

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One of my favorite chapters includes a clever parable Jennie created. It challenged me regarding my whereabouts in this race called “life”.

Chapter Seven begins with:

When I met Christ, He set me on a track, and

I began running a race with fervor,

Surrounded by people cheering.

I felt motivated, purposeful, full of joy.

My eyes weren’t distracted.

Jesus was in full focus, and the point of this race felt clear.”

Marathon

Jennie continues telling us about the race. She did really well … for a while… Sadly, one day she tripped and hurt her ankle. She was tired and admitted it felt good to stop for a while.

On the side of the road, were other injured folks. They gathered together and soon became comfortable with one another, looking to other things besides running. They even went so far as to critique the runners passing by…all the while enjoying being together on the side of the road… DANGER WILL ROBINSON…. Can’t you picture this scenario? This is a red-hot-warning

Let’s look at it another way: Let’s say you go to a Bible study, or to your Small Group, but one day you’re sick. You can’t go. You stay home. And then the next week, something else comes up. All too soon you find other folks who aren’t in a Bible study, but maybe involved with something else.

One day you wake up and realize you’re equally “entertained”, but nowhere close to studying God’s Word anymore. How’d that happen? What causes us to get off track???

One thing I’ve learned the hard way, is there’s always somebody who’ll be on your side. Especially when it may not be the right side to be on. The very last place Satan wants you to be is in a Bible Study or Small Group. He’s crafty at creating detours.

Unplanned Detour

Check your whereabouts! Get back in the race! Hold each other accountable!

Back to Jennie’s parable: Finally, a runner in the race approached Jennie on the side line and asked her if she needed help. She surprisingly answered, “Yes!” The runner said, “We want you to run the rest of the way with us. It’s really exciting and we don’t have much farther.”

Something inside of Jennie woke up. She said, “A fire relit itself in my chest. My ankle still hurt, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to recklessly run with all my heart again, because they reminded me of the reason we run.”

“I am running to bring Glory to my Father God, who gave me a purpose and a hope when I was unworthy, on the side of the road, broken.”

“Now our little misfit team STOPS for every runner we see on the side of the road. We STOP and offer them the same healing and hope that was offered to us.”

“I sense God’s pleasure as we run and as we STOP for those who have fallen off to the side.”

Red Stop Sign

So while the Christmas Season is fast upon us, and while we just may be racing around town for that special gift, make a concerted effort to slow down.

Stop.

Be aware of those around you.

Someone along your path may need hope and purpose for the perfect Christmas gift.

Come January, as in post-Christmas, take the time to read Restless. Jennie will walk you thru’ threads which reveal your gifts, and ways to be right smack in the middle of God’s will.

She includes wonderful Scripture for many challenging scenarios that will dig you out, plopping you right back into the race. You’ll lose that restless feeling while gaining a whole new appreciation for the Lord.

She concludes with, “Our souls are restless until they rest in God.”

Finally, write Hebrews 12:1-3 out on a post-it note for your dashboard while you traverse the Christmas shopping traffic. (If you live in Louisville, think Shelbyville Road by the malls!!!) It will be a good reminder to dodge distractions and stay in the race:

Hebrews 12 1-3

Marathon running race, runners feet on road

‘Til next time!

 

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