Monthly Archives: August 2016

New Website, A Million God Stories, Launches Tonight! (7:00 p.m., ET 8/31/16)

Friends! Hustle over to your phone or I-pad or laptop and checkout a wonderful, blessings-filled, only-God-could-pull-this-off brand-new website:

www.amilliongodstories.com will launch at 7:00 sharp tonight, 8/31/16, while anyone who’s anywhere near Lexington, Kentucky, is invited and more than welcome to celebrate at The Roastery. (529 West Main Street, www.dailyoffersingscoffee.com )

The website will start being available tonight world-wide, filled with stories from people all over the world. Initially there’ll be ten stories. Then every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, a new story will be posted. All topics will be included from all ages, with one theme: God is at work, everywhere, every day and the world needs to know about it!

Readers can subscribe on the website to receive the new stories in a newsletter by email every Saturday.

 

Their mission:

“To glorify God by providing a place for all people to share stories of the amazing things God has done.”

Their goal:

“To share one million stories that honor God.”

Their verse:

Let the whole world glorify the Lord.” Isaiah 42:12

 

Who’s behind this? Pam VanArsdall, Founder and Editor-in-Chief.

Pam VanArsdall

Pam tells us, “As average Americans, we spend one hour and forty minutes browsing social media each day. Much of the content is not meaningful. What if even a portion of that time was spent reading about the incredible things of God? Wouldn’t that have a positive impact on us?”

Pam maintains we can all think of at least one amazing God experience in our lifetimes. Some of these stories get shared and sadly, some don’t. Maybe it’s too personal, or maybe we fear we’d be judged.

She reminds us, “We’re called to witness, to share our testimonies of God’s power, goodness, faithfulness, and love. We are called to bring God glory.”

www.amilliongodstories.com is a website where you may share your story! It’s a safe place where you can be anonymous if you choose, or you can opt to use your name and perhaps your photograph.

One neat service this website offers is Pam and her Team have writers available to help you should you wish to share your story and don’t want to be the one to write it.

If you simply wish to visit the site and read the stories, that’s great too. These stories will minister to so many, on so many different levels. They will encourage and remind us of God’s faithfulness.

There’s a cool search feature where we readers can choose stories with a particular topic such as:

God’s presence,

Holy Spirit,

Anxiety,

College Student,

Contentment,

Crises,

Grief,

Hope,

Marriage,

Mission trip,

Overwhelmed,

Surrender,

Witnessing, etc.

I’m blessed to call Pam a dear friend.  The icing on the cake is we have a fabulous connection. Just so happens her daughter, Lauren, and our son, Gordy, are married. It’s the BEST.

The past year and a half has brought many changes for Pam.  She got married, went from full-time to part-time in her job, then flat retired.  This was about the exact same time the Lord put this idea in her head and she sprinted with it.  No resting on your laurels for her!  I’m so excited for this endeavor.

Pam’s Team she’s assembled is amazing as well:

Maddie Pierce Wofford is their Visionary Director and Connector. Maddie’s a good friend of all our kiddos. She’s a ten talent gal who was in both Lauren’s and LT’s weddings, and they in turn were in hers.

Maddie Wofford

Ashley McKinney is their Creative Director and On-Location Photographer.

Ashley McKinney

Nicole Tarpoff is their Director of Photography.

Nicole Tarpoff

Kelly Bixler is their Copyeditor.  She can become your right hand man should you need help writing your story!

Kelly Bixler

Please lift up Pam and her Team in prayer as they launch this beautiful, Spirit-filled website. It has the potential to reach so many for God and His glory, while touching  countless lives.

Blessings to you, Pam, and thanks for a wonderful resource!

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

 

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Sophie Hudson’s Newest Book, “Giddy Up, Eunice—Because Women Need Each Other”, is Her Best Yet!

Friends! Run grab Sophie’s new book for you and for your friends! I bet I’ve bought twenty plus copies recently. This one is my favorite of all of Sophie’s books. (Soph—You are the BOMB!!!)

As if she’s my best friend, I’ve never met her, but she writes like we’re sitting across the table from one another… We could soooo carry on, and on, and on at Starbucks.

Giddy up eunice

In case you’re not familiar with Sophie, she’s best known for her blog, the Boo Mama blog: www.BooMama.net She also happens to be friends with another one of my favorite authors, Melanie Shankle, blogger of www.thebigmamablog.com

Further exciting, the two of them converse from time to time and record it on Sophie’s blog, calling it “The Big Boo Cast”. Check it out! Fab music, too. They kill me. (They’re currently on Episode 63.)

Anywho, let’s chat about Sophie’s book. This one’s my favorite because she includes mini-Bible studies about three beautiful friendships in the Bible: Mary and Elizabeth, Ruth and Naomi, and Lois and Eunice.

I’m only sharing tidbits from the first of the three friendships (Mary and Elizabeth) to entice you to read about all of them! Her humor is non-stop amidst the serious Scripture page-turner points. (I predict every one of us readers will have a sinking spell over the sink.  Someone, please, for Sophie’s sake, go get that sink…)

Plus, word of warning: the last chapters on Lois and Eunice include the decline of Sophie’s Mother’s health. You will need a box of Kleenex.  (I went thru’ this with my own Mother.)  Sophie really brings you in the room with her family. Precious, dear, and courageous.

My favorite chapter title is: We May Have to Walk Uphill Together, but at Least It’s Good for Our Calves. That’s the best thing us gals can do for one another is to simply be there for one another.

Woman Friends Enjoying A Day On The Beach

My friend Jane is the quintessential hold-your-hand-friend. (Surely she’s related to Radar from M*A*S*H.) She suddenly appears, with whatever you need, in hand.

When my Daddy was about to take his last breath on this earth, in walks Jane, Starbucks in hand for both of us, to hold my hand. Had she called, I would’ve said, “No, don’t come, I’m fine.” But she knew I wasn’t.

When our friend Gwen, recently widowed, was returning from a trip out of town, Jane drove over to her condo’, groceries in hand, stocked her frig, and turned some lights on so she wouldn’t come in to a dark house. Who does that?

Detached house at night view from outside the rear courtyard.

Back to Giddy Up, Eunice: One of many pearls Sophie offers is about the need for us older gals to come alongside the younger gals. She says, “These Millenial girls need us, y’all. They need us something awful.”

She adds, “We need to keep our spiritual eyes wide open as we walk our unique, God-ordained roads because:

  • We need each other, and
  • Sometimes the folks God sends to walk with us don’t look anything like what we expect.”

Lest you think you’re not qualified or have nothing to offer, Sophie pretty much tells us to just show up. Let the Lord take the reigns and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I declare our daughters-in-love bless me more than I bless them, so the tables can be turned age-wise as well.

Sophie also points out things you and I may not have considered before. Such as Mary must’ve been desperate for company if she walked seventy miles to see Elizabeth!

Plus, this is a major pearl—think about this with your own friends: When you know you can trust someone, and are in a safe place within your relationship…look at what Sophie teaches us that makes a relationship so special:

“When the Holy Spirit in one woman recognizes and responds to the Holy Spirit in another woman, safe places become sacred spaces.”

 Oh, that needs repeating: “Safe places become sacred spaces.”

 She adds, “…when we know we’re in a sacred space, there’s freedom to share our real lives and our real circumstances.

To sincerely pray for one another.

To bless each other.

To listen with our hearts as well as our ears.”

Isn’t that the best? I experienced this first hand weekend before last on a road trip to Nashville with my friend Nancy. Nancy’s the kind of friend who will drop whatever she’s doing to tune into you and your day.

While we were trekking south to attend a Beth Moore conference, that was exciting in and of itself, but for us to be together for three hours in the car, we both decided that was just as exciting as going to the conference! Why? Because we both possess crazy calendars and rarely get this kind of opportunity.

Further funny, both of us are writing books (more to come on that little topic down the pike…) and still cannot believe such truth. We are living proof the Lord has a sense of humor.

The other gift Sophie blesses us with is rich application. She teaches us about trust that Mary and Elizabeth had for each other regardless of their age difference. (They were approximately fifty years apart!)

Then she gives us a “let’s-take-this-upon-ourselves” question: “Are our spiritual eyes wide open as we look for our people?”

Look out. Literally. Some of my best friends came from the craziest of coincidences. And we know with God, there are no such things as coincidences, they’re God-incidences. May we all be in tune for whomever our Sweet Lord wants us to meet. 

This is where our ships, yes plural, shall come in:

Relationship.

Friendship.

Fellowship.

Discipleship.

Large yacht harbor in purple sunset light, luxury summer cruise,

This is my constant sermonette to our Bible study gals. When we study God’s Word, all, (Yes, ALL) of those “ships” will come in.  It’s an amazingly beautiful gift from God.

Sophie gives proof of this to us in one of my all-time favorite verses:

Hebrews

Let’s set sail and see where we land. While you’re packin’, be sure to pack Sophie’s book in your bag.

‘Til next time!

 

P.S. FYI, here are Sophie’s other books:

Home is Where My People Are: The Roads That Lead Us to Where We Belong

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A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet: Southern Stories of Faith, family and Fifteen Pounds of Bacon

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Guest Author, Robert J. Morgan, tells us about his new book: The Strength You Need—The Twelve Great Strength Passages of the Bible (Releasing August 16th!)

Friends! We are so blessed this week to get to hear from author and preacher Rob Morgan about his new book, The Strength You Need. I can’t wait to read it as every book Rob writes becomes my favorite.

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Rob is the Teaching Pastor at Donelson Fellowship Church in Nashville, Tennessee. (www.donelson.org ) He’s been preaching, shepherding and serving there for thirty-five years. John and I go hear him preach whenever we’re in Nashville. His church is only five minutes from Opryland.

Rob has been most gracious to drive in from Nashville to speak at two book clubs I’ve had the pleasure of attending in Louisville. He came to Southeast Christian several years ago when we read his book One Hundred Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart. Last fall he came to Middletown United Methodist Church when we discussed The Red Sea Rules: 10 God-Given Strategies for Difficult Times.

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Rob and his lovely wife, Katrina, worked together on this newest book, The Strength You Need–The Twelve Great Strength Passages of the Bible. Katrina has been valiantly fighting multiple sclerosis for years. He told me that even tho’ she’s in a weakened state, she contributed a paragraph at the end of each chapter–all the more reason to want to read this book! (Please keep Katrina in your prayers.)

Rob and Katrina are about to celebrate their fortieth wedding anniversary with their family at the beach the end of this month. They’re blessed with three daughters and fourteen grandchildren. (You don’t want to miss their experiences in raising sheep when the girls were young in The Lord is My Shepherd—Exploring Psalm 23.)

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Rob recently sent me an excerpt from his newest book.  Without further ado, let’s enjoy some wonderful words from our author while praying we can wait patiently for the August 16th release date of The Strength You Need


“From Strength to Strength”

By Robert J. Morgan

(Adapted from the conclusion of his book, The Strength You Need)

Last night I stood on the front porch and watched the sun descend like a burning plate behind the horizon. This morning while brushing my teeth, I saw the same sun arise on the opposite side, ascending over the tree line like a blazing disk. I thought of the old song, “Awake, my soul, and with the sun thy daily stage of duty run.”

Who knows how many days are left us in this world? How long until the Lord returns? Not long, I think. We have work to do and a cause to advance, and we need all the strength we can muster.

Psalm 84 tells the story of a pilgrim like us, a traveler preparing for his annual trek to Jerusalem for one of the great Jewish festivals. For him, the greatest thing was visiting the Jewish Temple, standing in its courtyards, listening to its choirs, and sensing the presence of the Lord God. “My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord,” he said in verse 2. But the trip was rigorous, dangerous, and demanding. Where would he find strength for the journey, especially through the hot valley of Baka?

He exclaimed in verses 5-7:

Psalm 84

We can learn from this Psalm. Our lives are a pilgrimage to the city whose architect and builder is God. We’re travelers tackling rugged terrain. As we press on, strengthened by the Lord, we leave blessings behind us. We turn waterless valleys into irrigated landscapes. We go from strength to strength, from day to day, from faith to faith, and from glory to glory. Along the way, the Lord will provide the strength we need.

Here are some power lines stretching from heaven right into your heart. These are some of the great strength passages of the Bible. My wife, Katrina, and I have searched these out and have written about them in my book The Strength You Need. Read them, and claim one of them for your pilgrimage today.

  • Your strength will equal your days – Deuteronomy 33:25.
  • The eyes of the Lord range to and fro throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him – 2 Chronicles 16:9.
  • The joy of the Lord is your strength – Nehemiah 8:10.
  • The Lord is our refuge and strength – Psalm 46:1
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me – Philippians 4:13.
  • Out of His glorious riches He will strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being – Ephesians 3:16.

 

 

THANK YOU, ROB!!!  Blessings to you, your family, your church and please keep writing!

August 16th won’t come soon enough! May we stop and take hold of those “power lines” to strengthen us.

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Guest Post

Gift Book, Married for Life—Inspirations from Those Married Fifty Years or More, Inspires All Ages…(Plus Petite Travelogue from Gulf Shores, Alabama)

Friends! Run, don’t walk, to your nearest Hallmark store and grab several copies of a nifty little gift book. (www.hallmark.com ) Married for Life—Inspirations from those Married Fifty Years or More by Russ L. Potter, II and Bill Morelan is a fantastic, enlightening discovery.

My friend Mary gave a copy of this book to our newest daughter-in-love, Diana, at a dinner in her honor before she and John Jr. got married. Fascinated by the title, I peeked inside…

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Every two pages include quotes, devotional-style, from a different couple who have been married fifty years or more. A snippet of how they met comes with their two cents’ worth on what’s kept them married all these years. The advice concludes with a fitting Scripture.

I was so blown away by this power-packed book, I marched out and bought several copies. One for Hubster and me since we’ve just celebrated our thirty-second anniversary, one for each of our married kids, and one for several different couples who recently got engaged. It’s the perfect gift!

One favorite section is entitled: “Never get too old to hold hands.” This comes from Arnold and Hazel Morelan, married on February 17, 1920 in Iola, Kansas.

Old Couple Holding Hands

They say, “Holding hands is one of the most intimate expressions of love between two human beings. Don’t ever let this beautiful act slip away from you…It requires no words; in fact, no words can convey such a profound message.”

They conclude: “Hold your spouse’s hand throughout your life together; don’t ever let it go until the day when you’ve fulfilled every marriage vow and finally release it from your grasp, placing it lovingly, trustingly into the hand of God.” Tear jerker!

Psalm 73:23-24 ties this together:

Psalm 73 23 24

The Life Application Bible reminds us, “From birth to death, God has us continually in His grip. But far more, we have hope in the resurrection. Though our courage and strength may fail, we know that one day we will be raised to life to serve Him forever. He is our security, and we must cling to Him.”

Our family of eight was recently gathered around a table, eating breakfast in Orange Beach, Alabama, right down the beach from Gulf Shores. We’d trekked there for a week of vacation. (Just to pull that off is like herding cats, so we were beyond grateful it came to fruition.)

LT read us this very quote from this devotional. Now that we all have a copy, my prayer is we’ll continue to enjoy the book post-vacation.

God blessed us with picture perfect weather, a beautiful beach to look at, walk on, sit on, play in, and the most fun lazy river pool you’ve ever seen. It was the solution to beating the heat.

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I must share about a very challenging team-building activity we tried: Breakout Games— “A Life-Sized Game of Twists and Turns”. (Checkout www.breakoutgames.com ) See if your town has one!

Grab some friends or family and go try it!  It’s a total blast. I double dog dare ya to watch the “launch video briefing” from the website.  It’ll kick your heartbeat up a notch or two or twenty…

Breakout Games currently offers the following options:

Museum Heist,
The Kidnapping,
Island Escape,
Hostage, and
Operation: Casino.

We chose the Operation: Casino. Our kids turned out to be super smart sleuths, solving puzzle, after clue, after lock combination. Hubster and I pretty much watched them at work, all the while being one hundred percent wide-eyed.

Participants only get an hour to solve the mystery. You’re also blessed with a “Game Keeper” who watches your every move from another room and occasionally gives you a hint or two. Jessica was our Game Keeper. She was the bomb, bless her patient soul.

The instant the door closed, a very large clock started the sixty minute countdown…oh my… I had my doubts, but with the kids’ persistence, I’m happy to report we were able to break out with less than three minutes to spare.

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Lest any of you are claustrophobic, you’re free to leave the room at any time, especially to visit the loo. Just sayin’…You can imagine our dinner conversation after our big breakout!

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We all had “jobs” during our week of vacation, just to throw some more ideas your way…

Each of our newlywed couples had a night where they “got” to cook dinner. We called it a “Cook Off”. (Translation: Mom and Dad have a night off.) Each couple grilled.

We had tilapia tacos one night, steaks-n-potatoes another, and chicken with mozzarella, tomatoes and avocado another, pardon me. We never declared a winner as each meal was so delicious, we couldn’t have possibly chosen just one.

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My equally tough assignment (!!!) was to choose a restaurant to dine in on the nights when the kids weren’t cooking.

Any of y’all heading to Gulf Shores may like to know we LOVED The Gulf (www.thegulf.com). They have a fantastic grouper sandwich as well as a grouper salad in a very festive atmosphere.  We ate at a picnic table right next to the beach.

Since Breakout Games is located at The Wharf (www.alwharf.com), we were able to get a table by the marina at The Villaggio Grille. (www.villaggiogrille.com) The Wharf’s development has only been open a few months, so they’re still trying to fine tune things. Good potential.

Craving a good lasagna as Hubster does nearly nightly, we tried Cafe Grazie (www.cafe-grazie.com) another night. The lasagna was good, but not as pretty as the picture.

I had the grouper with pasta and capers which was delicious. Others of us tried a pizza and different shrimp and pasta dishes. Crab cakes were a big hit. After dinner, we walked out onto the docks and snapped some fun photos:

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Group picture of all eight of us above from left to right are: Woody and LT, John Jr. and Diana, Gordy and Lauren and Hubster and Yours Truly.  The girls’ photo starts with Diana, then Lauren, me, and LT.  Just warmed our hearts to have our kiddos together.

Sadly our last night rolled around way too quickly. We ventured over to Shipps Harbour Grill (www.shippsrestaurant.com) . Big bonus: you could make a reservation.

We tried nearly everything on the menu: oysters on the half shell (not 100% participation there….); smoked tuna dip (delish, but we all ate too many crackers!), fried shrimp and fish, coconut grouper, island mahi mahi, and a crab and brie quesadilla. Our favorite side dish of the night was the smoked gouda mashed potatoes (oh my—to die for!). Our round table of eight led to some massive sharing. This was a favorite.

Finally, let’s look at one more pearl of a quote from Married for Life. At dinner one night, we loved this, given we were at the beach: “Enjoy the simple things—like looking at sunsets.”

Retirement Vacation Concept, Happy Mature Retired Couple Enjoyin

This comes from Auburn and Louise Roland, married December 14, 1935 in Leicester, North Carolina. They say, “When you and your spouse feel the need to get back to basics, to look beyond the clutter and clamor of this bewildering, complicated world and see what really matters, just go outside together for a moment and gaze upward. No matter what time of day it is, you will witness God’s splendor—…”

“…And when a butterfly floats out of the sky and alights nearby, examine it closely and consider, Who but God could have made such a lovely, ‘simple’ thing?”

Large Tree Nymphs butterfly and flowers

As God would orchestrate, Lauren had just been telling us about a neat connection she has with butterflies. Our gracious God literally sent one her way at the perfect time when we’d been in Naples together a few years ago. (Later this month I’ll be sharing about a new website Lauren’s Mother is launching and you’ll be able to read her whole story. It’s the BEST!)

We also realized Gordy’s had a love for butterflies since he was a small child. We have a great picture of him with three butterflies sitting on one hand one summer day. It “just so happened” it was Lauren who read this particular devotion to all of us. Is God the best, or what?

Let’s close with the Scripture this section offers:

Psalm 113:3 says:

Psalm 113 3

We praise you, Lord.

Amen.

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Travel