Monthly Archives: June 2017

How About a Mission Trip in Your Own Backyard? (With Help from Kelly Minter and Lysa TerKeurst)

Friends!  Ever dreamed of riding an elephant in Africa, spreading the gospel around a campfire, and nestling in a sleeping bag in the open air?  Me neither…

Forgive me, Lord.

Creature of comfort, I loudly confess I adore indoor plumbing, plush pillows and air conditioning…

Fret no more…thanks to two of my favorite authors, I’m about to shed some light on what exactly constitutes a mission trip.

First up is an excellent read by Kelly MinterWherever the River Runs—How a Forgotten People Renewed My Hope in the Gospel.

Kelly shares multiple encouraging stories of her adventures along the Amazon River.  You’ll meet natives-turned-friends, slithering animals, pesky piranhas, maggots in pineapple (!!!) and other reasons to make you do a big fat u-turn back into your very safe driveway.

Kelly’s humor and love for the Lord is so compelling, I admit if she invited me to go with her the next time, I just might accept.  Maybe.  Really, maybe.

Before her first trip to the Amazon, Kelly had about as much excitement as any of us Nervous Nellies.  But, the message she kept hearing from the Lord was, “Go with what you’ve got, and God will supply the rest.” So there’s the trust component.

Then, throw in some major prayer warriors. One of Kelly’s new friends from these trips named Lazaro, had a prayer warrior who prayed for him for years.  Her name is Fatima.  She started what she called Prayer Campaigns and she and her friends didn’t let up. Ever.

Several trips and multiple new friends later, Kelly learned she could ask them for prayer from the States. She said, “Prayer Campaigns lit up the rain forest.”  What a beautiful thought.

Kelly said, “Just hearing Lazaro talk about Fatima, who so purposely prayed for him, a teenage boy, for forty-two hours over seven days, slayed me.

I wanted her passion,

her persistence,

her zeal.

I wanted her love

I wondered if I might hear more from the Lord if I…

waited on Him like Fatima did,

petitioned Him more regularly,

lingered with Him longer…”

I don’t want to spoil Lazaro’s unbelievable story.  You need to read it for yourself.  You will see firsthand with God all things are indeed possible. This is one of many thrilling testimonies Kelly gifts us with.

You also don’t want to miss Kelly’s Mother visiting the Amazon.  Killer funny, all the while poignant.  Especially when she realizes this isn’t a one and done kind of trip.

Kelly’s Mother’s faith becomes contagious and inspirational to all who cross her path and to all who gain the opportunity to hear her speak.  She’s a very brave woman!

While Kelly learns something new on every trip she takes to the Amazon, she never guilts the reader into going to the Amazon.  She points out (to my great relief) that sometimes our greatest opportunities for spreading the Gospel are right under our noses–in our own back yards.

One perfect example of this smacked me in the face just the other morning from something I’m reading…  I’m previewing a Bible study for my Tuesday group for when we resume in the fall.  It is excellent and if you’ve never been to Israel before, here’s your ticket: (The videos are filmed in Israel!)

Checkout Finding I Am by Lysa TeurKerst

I was only on Week Two, Day One when Lysa posed a show-stopping question:

“Do you ever wonder exactly what God wants you to do, especially when you have so many options and demands to manage?”  (Crammed Calendars Anonymous take note…)

Along the same vein as Kelly, Lysa says, “…God just wants us to pay attention to what He places right in front of us.”

“However when I looked at what was right in front of me, at that time, I saw my neighbors.”  Lysa then shares about her family going thru’ a cancer journey with their neighbors, Ken and Mary.  Mary was diagnosed with cancer, ultimately landing in the arms of Jesus. God rest her soul.

Lysa’s family invited Ken to their home for dinner on Monday nights.  They all learned these dinners broke the deafening silence and absence of his wife.

Lysa took it as an assignment from God disregarding the fact she didn’t consider herself a stellar chef. (!!!) Meals didn’t have to be a big production, thus ordering pizzas worked many a night. (Cooking impaired, this brought me great solace and insight!)

She said, “The noise of our family was an orchestra of comfort and healing to Ken’s lonely heart.”  Isn’t that beautiful?

What Lysa’s message that day prompted me to do was to call my across-the-street neighbor.  She’s a very sweet, elderly woman who recently lost her husband to cancer.  I know she’s lonely.

We chat frequently on the street gathering our mail or on the phone and we watch each other’s homes when we’re out of town, picking up each other’s newspapers.

She’s friends with my in-laws and occasionally we all get together.  A small gesture, but exactly what Lysa and Kelly suggest.  Across the street is a little easier than going to the Amazon, same message, same Jesus.  Try it!

The above scenarios are “mission trip” ideas for your own back yard.  Next time we’ll move out into the front yard.  Look out!

I pray you and your families have a happy, safe, and blessed Fourth of July next week. We’ll resume the following week.

‘Til next time!

 

Petite P.S.:  Kelly Minter partners with and is  now on the Board of Justice and Mercy International www.justiceandmercyamazon.org Look for ways to become a sponsor!

 

 

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Save Saturday, August 5th for “Shelf Life: A Day With Rachel McRae” Inspiration, Learning, Lunch, and Fun!

Friends!  Grab your calendar and save Saturday, August 5th for a fun day with a gal sure to become your friend, Rachel McRae. 

The gals at Middletown United Methodist Church have cooked up quite the agenda for anyone interested in attending. On Saturday, August 5th, from 8:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. we will be blessed to hear from Rachel McRae and several other local authors. (Wait ‘til you hear who all is coming!)

Rachel has been working for LifeWay for nineteen years.  She’s currently their Senior Book Buyer.  She’s been buying books for fourteen years.

Originally from Knoxville, she now calls Nashville home.  She is a member of Brentwood Baptist Church. (I hear a little bright orange a la University of Tennessee comin’ on.  We may need to have a discussion…)

Rachel’s favorite type of books is Christian fiction. On Saturday, August 5th, we will get to hear about the nature of Rachel’s job, how she programs her day to read and select books.  She’ll also share her top ten list of Christian fiction novels as well as trends she’s seeing in Christian fiction.

In addition to Rachel, we’ll get to hear from Nancy Tinnell who will encourage us to consider our own stories. How they are uniquely important, even if they’re not in a book.  She’ll show us the Hebrew names for God and how they speak to your story.

You do not have to have written a book or love writing to attend… IF YOU LOVE TO READ YOU’LL LOVE THIS EVENT!

One more enticing tidbit: This event will also offer an Author’s Forum featuring several local authors:

Liz Curtis Higgs

Kristy Cambron

Sarah Ladd

Icing on the cake:  This event includes lunch and shopping opportunities at the LifeWay display and store they’re bringing, as well as door prizes!!!  Can it get any better than this?

Get a group of your friends together and reserve your spots at the bargain-price of $15.00 each ASAP!!!  You may call Middletown United Methodist Church to register at: (502) 245-8839 or you may email Nancy Tinnell at:  Ntinnell@middletownumc.org

We look forward to seeing you and hearing from these wonderful writers, and speakers.

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25 NLT)

‘Til next time!

 

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Filed under Book Clubs, Book Reviews

Great Summer Reading Suggestions! Announcing the 2017-2018 Book Club Season…

Friends!  Need ideas for your summer reading?  You’ve come to the right place.

It’s with great excitement I bring you the 2017-2018 Branches Book Club line-up.  Grab them now for a summer of fun reading. Then you’ll be ready to join in our delightful discussions at our meetings.

We meet on Monday evenings, from 6:30-8:00 p.m., on the below dates, at Middletown United Methodist Church.  As we get closer to these dates, I’ll be sending out more details as to our theme and food ideas for each meeting. Such details make our time together that much more fun!

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

First up, on September 25th, we’ll be discussing Looking for Lovely by Annie Downs.

The following synopses of each of these books are thanks to our friends at Amazon:

“In Looking for Lovely, Annie F. Downs shares personal stories, biblical truth, and examples of how others have courageously walked the path God paved for their lives by remembering all God had done, loving what was right in front of them, and seeing God in the everyday—whether that be nature, friends, or the face they see in the mirror.

Intensely personal, yet incredibly powerful, Looking for Lovely will spark transformative conversations and life changing patterns. No matter who we are and what path God has us on, we all need to look for lovely, fight to finish, and find beautiful in our every day!”

This is her latest book, plus she has several other excellent books as well. Checkout her website:  www.anniefdowns.com

Our October 23rd selection is a page-turner of a novel by  Kentucky author, Laura Frantz who is coming to be with us that night!  The book is  A Moonbow NightYou won’t want to miss meeting Laura and getting to know her. Here’s her website:  www.laurafrantz.net   Don’t miss her fun recipes!

“On the vast, uncharted Kentucky frontier of the 1770s, Temperance Tucker has learned to be fleet of foot, accurate with her rifle, and silent about the past. But her family secrets complicate her growing attraction to a handsome Virginia land surveyor with a harsh history of his own. Will the hurts and hardships of the past prevent them from a fulfilling future?

With her signature sweeping style and ability to bring the distant past to vivid life, Laura Frantz beacons readers to join her in a land of Indian ambushes, conflicting loyalties, and a tentative love that meanders like a cool mountain stream.”

Our November 27th selection is a fun little petite book that packs a punch by none other than Scottish minister and author, Alistair Begg.  It’s called Christmas Playlist.  Catch one of his sermons via www.truthforlife.org  You’ll love his Scottish brogue. Alistair is the senior pastor of Cleveland’s Parkside Church. (www.parksidechurch.com)

“Music is everywhere at Christmas chart-toppers, carols, children’s tunes… Alistair Begg takes us to four songs that were sung by people at the very first Christmas (and his favorite carol).

In this short, winsome book a teenage girl, a respected priest, a group of angels and an old man bring readers to the heart of Christmas, showing them the joy and peace that comes from meeting a baby who lay in the food trough and changed eternity.”

For our January 22nd, 2018 meeting, what better way to kick off the new year than by reading a more-than-enthusiastic (understatement of the century if you’ve heard him speak) author named Bob Goff.  His book will be just what we need:  Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World. Don’t miss his website: bobgoff.com

“As a college student Bob spent 16 days in the Pacific Ocean with five guys and a crate of canned meat. As a father he took his kids on a world tour to eat ice cream with heads of state. He made friends in Uganda, and they liked him so much he became the Ugandan consul. He pursued his wife for three years before she agreed to date him. His grades weren’t good enough to get into law school, so he sat on a bench outside the Dean’s office for seven days until they finally let him enroll.

Bob Goff has become something of a legend, and his friends consider him the world’s best-kept secret. Those same friends have long insisted he write a book. What follows are paradigm shifts, musings, and stories from one of the world’s most delightfully engaging and winsome people. What fuels his impact? Love. But it’s not the kind of love that stops at thoughts and feelings. Bob’s love takes action. Bob believes Love Does.

When Love Does, life gets interesting. Each day turns into a hilarious, whimsical, meaningful chance that makes faith simple and real. Each chapter is a story that forms a book, a life. And this is one life you don’t want to miss.

Light and fun, unique and profound, the lessons drawn from Bob’s life and attitude just might inspire you to be secretly incredible, too.”

A little p.s. on this…I’m currently reading Bob’s wife, Maria’s book, Love Lives Here:  Finding What You Need in a World Telling You What You WantIt’s an excellent read as well.  Big thumbs’ up.

February 26th finds us back in fiction:  Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon. Irene is amazing.  She’s written fifty plus books and has received many awards.  Read more about her on her website:  irenehannon.com

“Hope Harbor police chief Lexie Graham has plenty on her plate raising her son alone and dealing with a sudden rash of petty theft and vandalism in her coastal Oregon hometown. As a result, she has zero time for extracurricular activities–including romance. Ex-con Adam Stone isn’t looking for love either–but how ironic is it that the first woman to catch his eye is a police chief? Yet wishing for things that can never be is foolish.

Nevertheless, when Lexie enlists Adam’s help to keep a young man from falling into a life of crime, sparks begin to fly. And as they work together, it soon becomes apparent that God may have a different–and better–future planned for them than either could imagine.”

On March 26th, we’ll discuss Choosing by Rachelle Dekker. Rachelle happens to be the oldest daughter of bestselling author Ted Dekker.  Read more about her via rachelledekker.com

“Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for―her Choosing ceremony―to end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.

But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. Though the whispers contradict everything she’s been told, they resonate deep within.

Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, yet she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.”

We’ll finish out our season on April 23rd, reading a novel by a favorite author of mine, Julie Klassen. Her book we’ll be reading is The Innkeeper of Ivy HillShe loves all things Jane–Jane Eyre and Jane Austin.  We will have fun with this novel!  Read more about Julia via her website:  julieklassen.com  (The book I read long ago and loved was The Apothecary’s Daughter.)

“The lifeblood of the Wiltshire village of Ivy Hill is its coaching inn, The Bell. But when the innkeeper dies suddenly, his genteel wife, Jane Bell, becomes the reluctant owner. Jane has no notion of how to run a business. However, with the town’s livelihood at stake and a large loan due, she must find a way to bring new life to the inn.

Despite their strained relationship, Jane turns to her resentful mother-in-law, Thora, for help. Formerly mistress of The Bell, Thora is struggling to find her place in the world. As she and Jane work together, they form a measure of trust, and Thora’s wounded heart begins to heal. When she encounters two men from her past, she sees them–and her future–in a different light.

With pressure mounting from the bank, Jane employs innovative methods to turn the inn around, and puzzles over the intentions of several men who seem to have a vested interest in the place. Will her efforts be enough to save The Bell? And will Thora embrace the possibility of a second chance at love?”

Get these dates on your calendar and be thinking of friends you can invite!  You’ll enjoy this variety of Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction and your summer all at once! We look forward to seeing you in the fall!

‘Til next time!

P.S.  Next week I’ll have details to share about an amazing event with even more amazing speakers on August 5th from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.  Save the date!

 

 

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Clearing Clutter Clears Your Mind…and then some… (With help from author Ruth Soukup)

Friends!  I pray this finds you well and rested, having had fun family time over Memorial Day Weekend.

Wait ’til you hear what nearly happened:  My sweet husband, John, and I recently came within hours of buying another house.  As in Sunday night, before we were to answer the contract Monday morning, we were leaving the potential purchase and I said, “Ya know, I’m just not 100%.”  To which he replied, “Me neither.”

KUNG…..Are you kidding me?  I’d already mentally placed furniture in each room thanks to sleepless nights among other distractions. We’d be gaining a neat, “lock and leave” concept-of-a-home with a four foot by eight foot patch of grass verses our current two acres, a first floor master, etc.

John stopped the car mid-hill and we said in unison, “Let’s not do it.”  That was that.

While some of our friends considered us in dire need of a psychological evaluation (!!!), others “got it”.  Several of our friends are downsizing, simplifying, and purging their homes of stuff so their poor children don’t have to years later. Having gone thru’ that with my own parents, that experience was no picnic.  At  all. At  all.

One huge “aha” moment occurred during this lapse of sanity.  I declared while in a major panic mode:  “Wow, if we have to show this house for sale, the first and second floors are good.  But  the closets?  And  the basements?  Major deal-breakers. Buyers would run for the hills.”

You may have noticed “basements” is plural.  Yes, we have two basements.  Both small, but both very full of stuff.  Largely thanks to my parents’ home we emptied.

Thus we’ve begun the purging process.  We’ve made good dents in all the closets.  But, we’ve not ventured down to the basements yet.  Soon tho’, very soon.  It’s a very good feeling to finally begin this long, overdue process.

There are a gazillion books available to aid those of us in the pack rat category.  One which many of us have read and continually quote is Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:  The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

One of Marie’s suggestions is to hold up the item in question (whether to keep or toss), and ask yourself, “Does this bring me joy?” My friends and I’ve had a boatload of fun discussing this.

The other good news is there are numerous organizations more than happy to take your stuff, friends in need, maybe even consignment opportunities. Our “trash” is morphing into someone else’s “treasure”.  Hallelujah!!!

Another book I read years ago is by a guy whose fame largely came from Oprah. His name is Peter Walsh. He’s written many more books since the one I read.  I confess I totally bought this book on a whim because the title made me howl right there in the bookstore: Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?  For  real?  Yet it seems there is a correlation to people with stuff also carrying around extra pounds…Hmmm…

Even better news, I’ve discovered a lovely Christian author named Ruth Soukup.  She’s authored several books on decluttering and comes highly recommended.  Her most recent book is called Unstuffed:  Decluttering Your Home, Mind and Soul.

Check out her amazing blog, too:  www.lvingwellspendingless.com

On Ruth’s blog, she says her mission is to “eliminate overwhelm and make your life just a little bit easier.”  Amen. She even offers many amazing recipes!

Lysa TerKeurst says, “As women, we have the tendency to overstuff our lives, our schedules, and our homes with things that really aren’t beneficial.  And our souls suffer because of our unwillingness to let go.  Ruth Soukup tackles this issue head-on and gives practical steps to be purposeful with the stuff we let into our sacred spaces.”

Ruth’s book is divided into three parts:  Home, Mind, and Soul.  It’s not just about decluttering stuff, she helps you seriously look at your schedule, your paperwork, and other people’s stuff…as in letting go of guilt.  i.e. “My Mother would never forgive me if I got rid of _______________.”

She also talks about when you’re “drowning in magazines” as an example of the paperwork part.  (Please, no one venture onto our porch right now as there’s a pile of magazines and catalogs awaiting my review.  Hello? Busted.)

Regarding your soul, Ruth addresses friends, wellness and your spirit, “Letting go of the need to do it yourself.”  She tells us, “Each chapter will offer sidebars of concrete ideas you can implement right away to clear the chaos and create calm, clutter-free zones within your home…”

While we may have missed the spring cleaning season (it’s not quite summer yet, is it?), it’s never too late to begin purging.  Your home and your family will thank you, trust me.

Before we close, let’s look at some other books by Ruth:

31 Days to a Clutter Free Life:  One Month to Clear Your Home, Mind and Schedule

Living Well Spending Less:  12 Secrets of the Good Life

31 Days of Living Well and Spending Zero:  Freeze Your Spending. Change Your Life.

Before I return to editing my book, I’m tackling two horrendous looking piles surrounding me on my desk.  Got a place in mind you need to tackle?  Go for it! Just start, little by little.

Clear the clutter, clear your mind.  You’ll be honoring the Lord with your efforts and He will be well pleased.

Proverbs 16:3 reminds us to include God in our efforts: 

‘Til next time!

 

 

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