Monthly Archives: January 2016

A Resolution Worth Your Consideration…

Now that we’re in our LAST WEEK OF JANUARY, in hopes of encouraging you to consider something super simple, let’s review a post from last January.  May it bless you in your walk with the Lord and spur you on to take the time to read and study God’s Word.  In God’s economy, He will stretch your time…


Resolution, Schmezolution.

If I had a nickel for every New Year’s Resolution I’ve been-ever-so-desirous-of-but-ditched, I’d be rich. Same song, different year…How ‘bout you?

Therefore, I’m not making any resolutions this year…

Wide-eyed tho’ you may be, It was my resolution to not make any resolutions….

Until…..I came across a lovely idea we can all do. It comes from a book my friend Mary gave me by Henry T. and Richard Blackaby in their note worthy devotional, Experiencing God Day by Day. 

Experiencing god

The entry from December 23rd is entitled The Wisdom of Spiritual Checking. The Blackabys discuss how we’re all used to having our progress measured in lots of ways. For example, we’re given tests in school, employee evaluations at work, and let’s not forget those charming physical exams from your docs.

My doc had a sign that read:   “Eat Less. Exercise More” in every single exam room. I always challenged his nurses to place me in a room without that sign, but alas, they really were In. Every. Single. Exam. Room. (As were the obnoxious scales.)

Hiding Numbers

The Blackabys point out that while we’re measured in many areas of our lives, we’re rarely measured by our spiritual growth. We learn from Luke 2:52:


The Blackabys remind us of Paul’s words:   “When he was a new Christian, he behaved as a spiritual child, but as he matured in his faith, he began to act like a spiritual adult.”(1 Corinthians 13:11) They build their case by saying “There’s nothing wrong with acting like a baby when you are an infant, but…

… it is the obligation of every believer to strive for maturity.”

Hebrews 6:1 says, “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity….” (ESV)

The Message is more my speed: “So come on, let’s leave the preschool finger painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on ‘salvation by self-help’ and turning in trust toward God…”

3D Keep Calm And Trust God Button Click Here Block Text

The Blackabys suggest, “It is helpful for you to measure the progress in your spiritual life from time to time.”

How, we wonder, would one do such a thing?  Our authors recommend we ask a mature Christian if our actions reveal our maturity. Another question to ask yourself comes from the Chairman of the Board of the school our boys used to attend (I’ll never forget it.): Are you more mature in your faith today than you were six months ago?

Photo of a funny surprised girl

I know, yikes! Let’s vow to pray about these questions this week.  Ask God to bring to mind someone you can ask about your spiritual growth. Dive into God’s Word, via a Bible study where your study and quiet time will become invaluable.


Women Bow And Pray

Checkout this inspirational quote from Kelly Minter in her “Morning Meditations” (

kellyminter-1546_final-200x300“Every moment we’re immersed in the Word is a moment with eternal ramifications.  All those moments add up, which is why it’s vital to make time for them each day.  To have a plan and to guard that plan…

At the top of 2016, may we allow the Word to give us understanding of God’s character so we can know who He is and how He acts….For His Word is a true mirror, refiner’s fire, healing balm, sure rudder, sheltering hull, map, light, hope, help, plumb line, and comfort.  May we let it do its’ work one day at a time.”

Checkout “But I Don’t Have Time for a Bible study” if you’re already trying to squelch this idea

‘Til next time!


Filed under Book Reviews, Life Lessons

When You Weep Over Sheep…Join us for a Delightful Discussion of “Scouting the Divine—My Search for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey” by Margaret Feinberg MONDAY, JANUARY 25th! 6:30-8:00 p.m.

California bound, Hubster and I found ourselves soaring above the clouds at thirty-three thousand feet, bright sun shining amidst brilliant blue skies. With the long flight, most passengers were watching movies.

I was reading. (Know you’re shocked…) Suddenly, I realized tears were streaming down my face. I was only fifty pages into a book. It grabbed me from the first page and wouldn’t let go.

The book? Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey by Margaret Feinberg. Fascinating, fun and educational, this book will not disappoint.


The gals at Branches Book Club will be discussing this beautiful book Monday night, January 25th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Middletown United Methodist Church. I can tell from the contents of the book, there’ll be delightful-don’t-miss-this-discussion! Please join us and bring a friend!

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243

Margaret thoroughly investigates four occupations: a shepherd in “the good shepherd” chapter, a farmer in “the harvest” chapter, a beekeeper in “the land of milk and honey” chapter, and a vintner in “the vine” chapter. I’ll just be sharing tidbits about the sheep and the shepherd. However, you do not want to miss her other discoveries.

Margaret’s scouting is highly detailed, hilarious at times, and blissfully confirming of our faith and the inerrancy of God’s Word.


She defines scouting the divine where “each of us are looking for those ordinary and extraordinary moments when God intersects our world.”

She views the pages of the Bible as “portals to adventure.”

Margaret prepares her readers for that adventure when she shares, “I long for the sense of wonderment that comes with knowing God, for those occasions when I wake to find the drawbridge down and the King beckoning me into a castle overflowing with life.”


Some of her interviewees become just as surprised as we readers do! Your jaw will drop over the minute details that only our Creator could’ve created. Margaret says, “When Scripture comes alive in our hearts, it doesn’t inform us as much as transform us.”

Margaret goes to visit a real-live shepherdess named Lynne. How Lynne came about raising sheep is astonishing. Lynne loves to knit. She’d knitted for years when her husband, Tom, “challenged her to go one step further and raise an animal that could provide the raw fiber for her knitting…” (Do not share this idea with Hubster or he’ll have us raising pigs for the enormous amount of bacon we consume.)

Lynne reports this matter-of-factly, after adding she mail-ordered the sheep!   She tells Margaret that upon the sheeps’ arrival, all three were pregnant. Talk about being baptized by fire!

Lynne said the sheep gave birth successfully. She then decided she wanted her flock to grow, so she ordered two rams! Wonder Woman comes to mind.

Mother Sheep And Her Lamb Looks At The Camera

Thanks to the help of an excellent, supportive veterinarian, fast forward several more years of experience, and we learn from Lynne she’s now become a “shepherd to the shepherds”, as young shepherds call her frequently for advice.

Lynne took Margaret to the barn and out into the fields to meet the sheep. You do not want to miss their adventure, nor the whereabouts of one of Margaret’s boots. Seems one boot got stuck in, well, use your imagination.

Back in the house, Margaret called out several Scriptures. She and Lynne looked wide-eyed at each other because Lynne would say, “Yes, that’s exactly how it happens.”

John 10

Lynne talks about the importance of certain gates being closed. They function as boundaries not only for the sheep, but to keep predators out. Margaret points us to John 10:1-21 where Jesus calls himself “the gate”, and the “good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.”

Moorland Farmyard

Lynne whispered to Margaret when they were out in the field, “As soon as they hear my voice, they’ll come running.” Sure enough, after calling them, the sheep came running toward both of them.

Margaret reminds us of Jesus saying, “…the sheep listen to my voice. I call the sheep by name and lead them out.” (Hubster reports our little Gracie comes to the sound of his voice. I report she has selective hearing.)

Margaret noticed Lynne was always counting the sheep. Lynne’s continual checking reminded Margaret of Luke 15, the Parable of the Lost Sheep, where “Jesus tells of the shepherd who discovers one of his sheep is missing. The shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to scout for the lost one.”

A shepherd is leading his flock to pasture

We readers learn of the many uses of sheep such as they’re a source of food and clothing. They garner goodwill, reconciling both human and Godly relationships. Sheep and shepherds are throughout the Bible (over seven hundred mentions!) and we, as believers, are told to shepherd our flocks. Who are you shepherding these days?

The part that caused tears to flow centered around the idea of sacrifice. Lynne reported that within the shepherding community, they all get excited about their lambs. She said, “When the first one comes, it’s extra special. It means spring is here. It’s a symbol of new life, hope, and joy for us…

I think that in the action of giving over the first, you’re saying to God that He is FIRST in your life.”


If you think of the Passover, you recognize “the spotless sheep is representative of the flawless sacrifice—the Son of God. When God asked for the sheep without blemish, spot or defect, He was asking the people …to sacrifice something they’d worked years to develop.”

We learn from Deuteronomy 18:4 that God “instructs shepherds to give the first shearing.” Lynne taught us “the first shearing is the finest fleece, used for the best clothes. Each sheep’s best wool comes from their first-ever haircut. The first virgin wool, is a shearing that can never be recovered.” (Read that last sentence again.)

Woolen plaid cup of tea old books red pillow on wooden backgroun

Lynne pulled out bags and bags of wool. Some she’d dyed different colors. She’d marked them with the different sheep’s names and the date of their shearings. The first ones were markedly softer than the most recent ones.

Here’s the kicker: Margaret said, “For the first time in a long while, maybe ever, I had felt with my own hands what God desired from sacrifice. It was nothing like what I expected.

All too often when I think about giving my best to God, I think about giving big. But in asking for the first fleece, God isn’t asking for the biggest. He wants the smallest and softest. He doesn’t want more—He wants the best.”

Enough said. Still renders me tearful and speechless and this, my friends, is a mere sampling of just one of four vocations Margaret investigates, pointing you directly to the Bible.

Learn more fascinating details from the beekeeper, the farmer, and the winemaker. Come join us at Book Club and hear a great discussion!

If time allows, please bring a treat to eat with honey in the ingredients to honor the beekeepers of the world. I’m dreaming of warm biscuits, butter and honey, just for example. Baklava has honey, too, doesn’t it???!!!

Buttermilk Biscuits With Butter And Honey

Hope to see you Monday, January 25th from 6:30-8:00 p.m.!!! (To RSVP, or if you have any questions, please call Nancy Tinnell at Middletown United Methodist Church: (502) 245-8839.)

‘Til next time!


Filed under Book Clubs, Book Reviews

Why We Need More Iron in our Diets (SPIRITUAL Iron that is…)

Sluggin’ down a can of spinach a la Popeye is not my idea of adding more iron to my diet.


Savoring spinach sautéed in brown butter with slivered almonds by the Chef at Jack Fry’s is.  Just sayin’…

My dear friend Jane and I recently had the most delicious lunch at our favorite haunt, Jack Fry’s.  Because this was post-holidays and we’d had more than our fair share of Christmas delicacies, we shared the warm brie salad, the infamous Jack’s burger, and fries (one cannot do without their fries).

We justified the fries because their veggie special of the day, the aforementioned spinach, surely cut the calories of the fries in half, right? Again, we only shared one order of the melt-in-your-mouth spinach:  clearly a much tastier way to put iron into one’s diet.


This week we’ll hear from more friends who’ve chosen one word for 2016 (see last week’s post) as well as learn about a nifty little verse you can see come alive.  The verse?

Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpen iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” (NLT)

The week before Christmas, my buddy Nancy Sleeth from Lexington emailed several of us in Louisville and said, ”Hey, I’m going to be in Louisville 12/22, any possibility y’all can grab some lunch?”  Don’t you know four of the five of us were free?  What are the chances?

Once we figured out a time and place, Sleeth proceeded to throw us a curve ball. (Since we had two Nancys at the table, I’ll use last names to distinguish them so you’re not confused.  Aguiar has gotten me in this hilarious habit.)

Sleeth said, “Since Christmas is fast upon us, and we’re about to celebrate the birth of Christ, let’s all be thinking about sharing a birth and a re-birth story.”  Hmmm…sure makes you think!


(Going around the table left to right:  Judy Russell, Sherry Leavell, Nancy Sleeth, Nancy Aguiar and Yours Truly.)

This is one of many things I love about my Almost Amish friend.  She is always intentional.  She epitomizes Proverbs 27:17. (You can find out more about the Sleeths via their website: )

Here’s her book, also, which I adore:

Almost Amish Sleeth

While we had quite the meal at Bonefish, each of us shared story after story.  Sleeth’s conversation starter really blessed us all and awakened us to the “reason for the season”.  This was a picture of Proverbs 27:17.

This new year finds me devouring a book by Kay Wills Wyma called Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement.  You can bet I’ll be sharing more from it later this year.

I can’t wait to share one concept Kay offers which immediately kicked my brain into overdrive.  It’s beyond brilliant.


Since we’re on the topic of iron sharpening iron, Kay believes in this so much she added “The Ironing Board” to her blog.  Checkout “Because a Mother of Adolescents and Teens (MOAT) should never walk (or drive) alone.”

Woman tired ironed clothes and lay down on the ironing board

Happy to report we are not talking about a real ironing board. (Never mind my ironing pile is relentlessly staring at me in the kitchen.) Kay’s Ironing Board is actually an Advisory Board.  She graciously shares these wonderful women with all her readers. (Go to “Search” on her blog and type in “The Ironing Board” and fire away your questions! For real!)

She says, “Like a steaming hot iron, these mothers and grandmothers will help us smooth out the wrinkles.  They will be the iron upon which we can sharpen ourselves.” Oh, I want an Ironing Board, don’t you?

As promised, I’d like to share a few more words in the spirit of  “One Word for 2016” from a few friends who constantly sharpen each other. It’s my prayer these will help you choose your word.

Sherry and EJ each chose “wisdom”. (Sherry’s already proved to me how wise she is by getting rid of her iron and ironing board altogether!)

Diane’s word from last year was “intentional”, so she’s building on that and chose “prayerful” for 2016.  Mary chose “Scripture” because she’s reading thru’ the entire Bible this year.  Cousin Bonnie chose “Better”. I love ALL of these.

Savor this Scripture this week:  Romans 15:13 says,

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace BECAUSE YOU TRUST IN HIM.  Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (NLT)

Keep sharpening one another!  Start your own Ironing Board! Share with us your word!


‘Til next time!


Filed under Book Reviews, Friends, Holidays, Scripture

“DIET” is NOT my Word for 2016….What’s yours?

Happy New Year, Dear Readers! I pray this first week of January finds you well and full of hope for 2016.

Call me crazy, but can anyone find any piece of media sans les resolutions??? I’ve never seen more articles or ads for diet and exercise, FREE workout programs, blah, blah, blah. (The fact that “diet” is a four-letter word is not lost on yours truly.)

Two favorite cocktail napkins offer brilliant advice:

One says:

“D.I.E.T. stands for:

Did I Eat That?” (Translation: Really? Again?)

And take a gander at this one:

Cocktail napkin

I laughed out loud upon receiving a huge promo’ card from Jazzercise. Their New Year’s slogan?   “New Year, New Rear.” Alrighty then.

Famous for making-but-not-keeping New Year’s Resolutions, I’m suggesting we all choose just one word for 2016. There’s a book about it: My One Word: Change Your Life With Just One Word by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen.

My One Word

While I talked about this last year, and while many of my friends have been choosing one word a year for years, I still maintain such an exercise is well worth your time. Yes, you have my permission to call it exercise!!!

Hubster and I had the most exciting New Year’s Eve Celebration this year. For the second year in a row, his siblings came over for dinner. Astonishingly, also for the second year in a row, we all stayed awake to see the ball drop!


Pictured left to right:

Back row: Billy and Marte Hoagland

Front row: Hubster John, Yours Truly with Princess Grace on my lap, Margee Rulketter (Notice the Santa Claus carving Brother Bill has valiantly placed above Margee’s head…He’s wildly living out the year before entering his sixth decade.), and Van and Joe Gleissner. My John’s the baby, followed by Billy, then Margee, then Van of the four Hoagland sibs.)

Further fascinating, after a fun game we played, John posed a question: “If you could only choose one word to help you stay focused for 2016, what would it be?”

With their permission, I’d like to give you a peek into our family, along with a Scripture verse or two to go along with each of our words. When you see us around town, feel free to ask us how we’re doing with our words as we agreed to hold each other accountable.

Billy and Marte kicked us off. Billy chose aware, challenging himself to keep his eyes looking outward, not within himself. Many of his patients have shared with me how much his praying for them before surgery has blessed them abundantly. I predict being more aware will come easily for Billy.

Philippians 2:3 in the NASB says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.”

Marte chose attentive because she wants to become a better listener. I confess I got tickled when I read Luke 10:39. It’s about Mary and Martha entertaining Jesus in their home. Martha (which is Marte’s real name, thence the humor) becomes irked at her sister, Mary, who’s sitting at the Lord’s feet listening to every word He spoke. Just don’t mimic Martha, Marte!

You’ve certainly listened to and advised me countless times over the years! You can easily do this!

Love this:  Isaiah 55:3a says, “Come to me with your ears wide open.  Listen and you will find life.” (NLT)

We all need to heed Brother James’ advice when he tell us in James 1:19, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:
Everyone should be
quick to listen,
slow to speak
and slow to become angry.”(NIV)

Joe chose renewal because this is going to be a big year for him with retirement approaching in June. He’s been the President and CEO of New Directions Housing Corporation for thirty years. We were all soooo proud of him at their Dream Builders Breakfast in early December.

(New Directions is an awesome, inspirational organization. If you’re not familiar with it, please check it out.

A great verse for all of us comes from Psalm 51:10

psalm 51-10aAnother beautiful one is Lamentations 5:21 which says,

“Restore us to yourself, Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old.” You go, Joe!

Van chose presence to remind her to “just be”—as in not worrying about the future, nor stewing over the past.

Isaiah 43:18 tells us to: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”

While Vannie is not a worrier, some others of us are, so we can’t forget Matthew 6, verses 27 and 34 which simply state:

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Hello?!!!

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  

Piece of cake, Vannie! You can do this!

Margee chose loving because she wants to look for opportunities to love others. This is already a gift of hers, so I believe she’ll become a pro at this!

Romans 12-10

My John chose purposeful, especially with regard to his faith. We all agreed we’ve seen him be bolder and more compassionate already this past year. You go, Hubster.

One of his favorite verses is 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. He lives this out. It would behoove us all to pray thru’ this:

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life:  You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”(NIV)

Jesus’ words are icing on the cake for being purposeful in Mark 16:15 –

Mark 16-15a

I had trouble coming up with one word. Thankfully the sibs helped me out. First, I like the phrase be intentional. Second, I love the word peace.

Then we all agreed the answer arrives if you make an equation out of these:

Being intentional + being peaceful = a trustworthy soul

Therefore, my word is trust. I want to trust in the Lord more and worry about the world less in the most intentional way. (Nineteen words?!!!)

The first verse that popped in my head was one I bet you all know well:

Proverbs 3:5-6

Proverbs 3-5 6

Psalm 28:7 is a new favorite:

Psalm 28-7a

Notice “heart” is in the above twice!

Finally, Psalm 56: 3 should also be in our arsenal: “Even when I’m afraid I will trust in you.”

How blessed my in-laws are as well as each of us Hoaglands that we are all living in Louisville. Growing up an only child, it’s sheer joy for me to see so many siblings carrying on and more importantly, getting along.

Left to right: Van, Billy, John and Margee

Left to right: Van, Billy, John and Margee

Marte and Joe and I crack up when the four sibs start telling stories on each other. Many times we’ll say, “You did WHAT???”

God is good. He gave us another gift this New Year’s Eve. Relish in the moment, be brave, and choose a word!

Please leave a comment and tell me and all our readers your word!

‘Til next time!


Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Friends, Holidays