Monthly Archives: November 2017

Christmas Gift Ideas: New Novel “Granted” by Angela Correll (Part 1 of 4)

Friends! Between now and the next three weeks leading up to Christmas, I’ll be giving you some Christmas gift ideas for your friends and family. Hey, if YOU are interested, drop some serious hints…These ideas are all lovely and are guaranteed to bless the recipient.

First up, I’m thrilled to report Angela Correll has a new novel out which just released November 22ndGranted is the third and final novel in the May Hollow trilogy.  Sad for us May Hollow fans, but hang with me for news on that little issue…hope’s around the corner…

I told Angela I’d have bought Granted  on the spot solely from the cover! (Yes, I’m guilty of judging a book by its’ cover.) Note the wedding dress….Yes, love is in the air.

Critics have compared Angela’s writing to Jan Karon’s.  I love her writing because her story is set in Kentucky with visits to my hometown of Lexington, including some of my favorite restaurants. Faith, food, fellowship, and farming play a large role in the story as well.

Additionally, you’ll adore Granted’s characters. Annie, Jake, and Beulah are my favorites, but you’ll have to decide who yours are as there are plenty more to choose from. They jump off the pages to meet you and you find yourself lured into their story.

Their simple lifestyle is terribly appealing, inspiring downtime and not activities to decorate your calendar. Angela says she hopes her readers’ takeaway is “inspiration to enrich intergenerational community whether it’s a neighborhood in Manhattan or a rural area in Alabama.”.

Christian fiction can sometimes be sappy, as in way unrealistic, but I give my hats’ off to Angela as she does not tie every situation up into a tidy little knot.  She keeps you guessing, throwing a few curve balls along with some characters who’ll make you want to teach them a lesson or two!

Angela shares the lesson from a messy relationship is for us to make peace with it.  (This is a painful part of the story.) Here’s a favorite quote regarding this particular mess:

“She recalled her favorite verse, the one she struggled with the most: ‘Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.’ She did cast her anxiety on him, but many times she picked it right back up again. That was what she had done all month. Lord help me in my unbelief, she prayed, because unbelief was the very root of it.” (This is from 1 Peter 5:7 NIV)

Not only is there a wedding in store for the reader, a trip to Italy in the Tuscany region is also included with scenery Angela so beautifully paints.  I’m ready to hop a plane there as I write.  Actually, I’m dreaming of hopping a plane there!

Nancy Sleeth’s endorsement illustrates Angela’s creativity:

 

Several people have asked me if it’s necessary to have read the first two books prior to Granted. I say, “No, but they’re both so good, you won’t want to miss the characters’ transformations, story line, etc.”

Grounded  is the first one, with Guarded being the second. As a matter of fact, the entire trilogy would make an even greater gift!

Life as Angela and her husband, Jess, experience fills Granted’s pages…If you live in Kentucky, I’ve got the perfect road trip for you either for the day, or for an overnight.

Drive to Stanford and grab a bite at the Bluebird Café. (www.bluebirdnatural.com) The café only serves food from local vendors and farmers, farm-to-table style.

Following your meal, you can walk across the street to mill around Angela’s shop, Kentucky Soaps and Such (www.kentuckysoapsandsuch.com ). Warning:  In addition to a wide variety of gifts including her goat’s milk cream (“Summer rain” is my favorite scent, but you may choose your own.), there’s a bookstore within the store loaded with excellent selections.  Last time I was there with friends, we needed multiple shopping bags.

But, if you want a true escape, try one of Angela’s Wilderness Road homes and spend the night.  (new.wildernessroadguest.com )

One of many favorite parts of her novel includes  “porch time”—just sitting on the porch either reading or chatting with neighbors.  John and I stayed in one of the Wilderness Road homes for a little respite not too long ago. We have pictures of us drinking coffee, sitting on a porch swing, taking in the morning.

Go grab Granted, a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy the Christmas season.  Grab one for a friend as a Christmas gift.  You’ll both be blessed!

‘Til next time!

P.S. I promised to share what’s ahead for Angela.  She’s got a couple of projects in the works and when asked if this is the last time we’ll hear from the families on May Hollow Road she said, “There was a story arc I wanted to see through from the beginning and Granted does complete that. There’s room in the future to pick up other story lines from some of the characters, so it may not be the last time we hear from some of the characters, but Granted does round out the story of Annie’s return home.” Stay tuned!

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Come Enjoy 5 Fun Treats at Book Club Monday, 11/27 (“Christmas Playlist” by Alistair Begg)

Friends! Be thinking of who to bring with you to our next Book Club gathering on Monday, November 27th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. You won’t believe what all is on our agenda!

First up, we have some special guests coming who will serenade us! Yes, the Cincinnati Christmas Carolers are joining us! (www.cincycarolers.com )They will not only get us in the Christmas spirit, they will be the perfect segue way into our book we’ll be discussing, Christmas Playlist—Four Songs that Bring You to the Heart of Christmas by Alistair Begg.

Many of you know of Alistair and have been blessed by his preaching on the radio via Truth for Life. (www.truthforlife.org )  He’s been the Senior Pastor of Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio since 1983. (www.parksidechurch.com )

I used to listen to Alistair every morning after dropping off the children in carpool.  His Scottish brogue, along with his inspiring message, calmed my frazzled self to enjoy the day.

The second treat we’ll experience is watching a short-but-sweet video message Alistair made just for us! How fun is that?

Thirdly, all the while this is going on, we can taste fun Christmas party appetizers everyone is bringing (how about that Christmas tree-shaped cheese mold?!!!) to share.  Get creative, but please do avoid fruit cake. (Nobody quote me on that, and please do forgive me, I know some of you actually like the stuff.) And relax, no judgment will surface if you blow into Kroger and buy something readymade.  Food is food is food.

Fourthly, we’ll have a lively discussion about the book, your favorite songs, Christmas traditions, you-name-it.  This will be a sure cure for any potential Scrooges to infiltrate your homes.

The four songs Alistair shares with us straight from Scripture will prepare our hearts and minds to embrace the Christmas season. Unlike the innkeeper who said, “Sorry, there’s no room in the inn…”, we will uncover ways to make room for Jesus and celebrate His birthday in the best possible way this Christmas.

Fifthly, and finally, in addition to your Christmas party appetizer, please bring a wrapped ornament for our Ornament Exchange! This was so fun last year and a huge bonus to have a new ornament to take home and hang on your tree. This will be our grande finale to a most outstanding and uplifting meeting.

Make arrangements now to join us, toting friends with you, at our Christmas Book Club gathering, Next Monday, November 27th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Middletown United Methodist Church.

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

Please call Nancy Tinnell to RSVP:  (502) 245-8839.

‘Til next time!

 

 

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Let’s Add a Side of Grace for Thanksgiving…(With help from author David Mathis—Part 2 of 2)

Friends!  Allow me to let you in on a little secret…Sometimes it’s the little things that help you persevere.  This one little gift helped me thru’ those challenging years of hosting Thanksgiving.

The gift?  The giver shall go unnamed, but I must share:

Believe it or not, in this pic I was attempting a new chili recipe, claiming to be “hot and spicy”.  Yes, well, it was sooo spicy we decided it was better off in the trash can than in a tupperware container for further punishment tomorrow.

Just let the apron’s petite phrase sink in for a minute.  I howl every time I read it, much less when I’m bold enough to wear it. It’s these little things that push us onward to maintain our sanity.

This week we’re having our close friends over for a Friendsgiving Feast.  We’re all super excited and no bad attitudes are in the forecast.  We’re all in fun seasons, some of us are becoming grandparents, some of the guys are retiring, and we wonder where the years have gone.

You can bet I’ll be sportin’ the apron.  The girls are all better cooks than I am, but it’s really not the food that’s so important, it’s our time together. 

Because of our growing families, finding time like this can be challenging.  We will savor every second. This will be a good warm-up for when we are with our families Thanksgiving Week.

For those of you who have extended family rolling in, maybe you’re a hair uneasy.  There’s that relative who crunches celery forty-seven times before picking up another stalk. (Not that I’ve ever counted.) Or maybe the grandmother who means well, but who says without fail, “Oh, you’ll be wanting to put more lipstick on.” Or my favorite, “I remember when…fill-in-the-blank.” And you want to crawl under the table.

Last week we got a good dose of grace to add to our Thanksgiving meal from Kyle Idleman. This week I’d like to share tidbits from a book our son, Gordy, told me about. It’s by David Mathis and is called Habits of Grace—Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.

This book is so meaty, you’ll want to chew on it slowly.  It’s a resource I know I’ll return to often. Trust me, you’ll want to do the same.

David is an executive director at www.desiringGod.org, an adjunct professor with Bethlehem College and Seminary, and pastor for Cities Church in Minneapolis, MN. A pleasant addition to the book is the Foreword by John Piper.

Divided into three parts, we readers are taught how to:

Hear His Voice (The Word)

Have His Ear (Prayer) and

Belong to His Body (Fellowship)

I got a little tickled at Part 4, “The Coda” which includes The Commission, The Dollar, and the Clock, followed by the Epilogue entitled, “Communing with Christ on a Crazy Day.”  David keeps it real by recognizing some may have a newborn at home in which case finding time to practice these habits of grace may be next to impossible.  He offers additional ideas to grab snippets of grace, all of which make us all easier to live with. NOTE TO SELF…Ahemmmmm…

David’s habits of grace he teaches us readers are the best resource for us to live out 2 Peter 3:18, so that we may:

In the Intro’, David suggests an interesting concept, a la Zacchaeus, who positioned himself up in a tree along Jesus’ path, which transformed into a lovely path of grace. Jonathan Edwards said, “endeavor to promote spiritual appetites by laying yourself in the way of allurement.”

David explains:

(Thence these paths are ways of placing ourselves in the “way of allurement”, and that is a very good place to be…)

In other words, Bible study with friends is one of the best outlets to equip you, as well as a superb habit to get into, aiding you to grab onto God’s grace right in His path.

While there are twenty-one chapters in the book, chapters five and six are some of my favorites:  “Memorize the Mind of God” and “Resolve to be a Lifelong Learner”. They’re overflowing with excellent ideas.

David is a list person and a creative one at that.  A couple of examples from these two chapters, so as not to spoil the education for yourself, include: 5 Tips for Bible Memory, 10 Gospel Verses to Keep Warm, 12 Gospel Passages to Soak In and 5 Principles for Lifelong Learning. Those four sections alone could occupy your time for quite a while!  This is just a mere sampling.

While some of us groan at the thought of Scripture memorization, my guess is the same goes for the topic of fasting.  Yes, David touches on both topics, but I’m happy to report he offers different avenues to explore in both arenas which may change your mind, including benefits to further sway you.

David covers all bases, including another activity some of you love and some of you just can’t quite jump in, that of journaling.  He’s so persuasive:  “What if journaling wasn’t simply about recording the past, but preparing for the future? And what if, because of God’s grace in our past and his promises for our future, journaling were about deepening your joy in the present?”

Finally, don’t miss the chapter on “The Clock”—you’ll uncover some excellent “fruitful time management lessons” worth their weight in gold.  All of the chapters and vast amounts of grace habits would be beneficial to any reader, young or old, man or woman.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough—not just during our Thanksgiving season, but for the entire year.  There’s a study guide to go along with it as well which would make for a superb Bible study if you’re on the hunt for one.

Meanwhile, remember to mentally add that “side” of grace to your plate during Thanksgiving and smile.  (Grit your teeth if you have to!)

I pray you and your family have a most blessed, Happy Thanksgiving!

‘Til next time!

 

 

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Let’s Add a Side of Grace for Thanksgiving… (With help from Kyle Idleman – Part 1 of 2)

Friends!  Readying for Turkey Day? Are you cooking or dining out?  What kind of attitude are you sportin’ to go with that?

For years and years and years, our wee family traveled to Owensboro, Kentucky, where my Aunt whom I’m named for, produced the largest Thanksgiving feast I can recall.  Cousins traveled from afar and we mimicked the children’s book, The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant.

Years later, my cousins in Florida hosted Thanksgiving. Those were some wonderful memory making years of traveling with the boys, Woody eating sand during his first trip to the beach, John Jr. saying we’d better stop for gas when he’d slept the entire night, and Gordy waking but not crying, going right back to sleep provided he could hold a ball of any kind. We could pack a station wagon better than the Beverly Hillbillies.

A few more years rolled by and we found ourselves hosting Thanksgiving in Louisville.  Can’t say I had the best attitude…Juggling teenagers and multiple houseguests wasn’t my strong suit.  One afternoon John came out into the hallway and proclaimed, “We’re running a hotel.”  Had I written a sequel to Cynthia’s book, it would’ve been, The Relatives Came and Stayed and Stayed…

One funny memory after the other accumulated. Our lesson in that season was a novel idea:  BE THANKFUL DURING THANKSGIVING

Best quote ever came from my Uncle Bruno, God rest his soul.  Upon his departure, he’d say, “You worry, I’ll be back!”

So, as Thanksgiving is upon us, (Praise the Lord my in-laws have been hosting Thanksgiving the past few years, so we just show up!) let’s look at a couple of excellent authors’ books on grace, one per week to help us add a side of grace to our Thanksgiving meal.

First up, is a fab book by Kyle Idleman called Grace is Greater—God’s Plan to Overcome Your Past, Redeem Your Pain, and Rewrite Your Story.

Kyle writes just like he talks in a fun, easy way, making you feel like you’re sitting down to a cup of coffee with him.  His humor dotted throughout the book will keep you laughing while his teaching points will move you. (Killer funny footnotes!)

This book was inspired from a Scripture that one day hit Kyle between the eyes:

Kyle shows us that “when we miss grace, things become toxic.”

He says, “My prayer is that you won’t miss grace but rather will powerfully experience the grace effect in your life—and no matter what you’ve done, no matter what’s been done to you, you will personally experience the truth that grace is greater…”

The book’s divided into three parts:  Grace is greater than your mistakes, your hurts, and your circumstances.  Kyle covers any possible scenario you may be experiencing.  If you’re thinking, “Yeah, but you don’t understand my life right now.”  Maybe so, but God does and Kyle will prove it to you.

He explores all the uglies:

Guilt (my challenge du jour),
Brokenness,
Regrets,
Wounds,
Bitterness,
Vengeance,
Resentment,
Disappointments,
Weakness and
Despair.

Quite the shopping list!

Kyle’s honesty is refreshing and reassuring, reminding us none of us are perfect.  He shows us example after example of grace, opening our eyes to see people as Jesus sees them. He says, “I’ll say it in a way that might make you more uncomfortable: the litmus test for the reality of grace you’ve received from God is the extent to which you give grace and offer forgiveness to the person who’s hurt you the most and deserves it the least.”  OUCH!  We’d better re-read that for a minute…

Another way to look at this comes from Kyle’s friend, pastor Pete Wilson.  He says, “What you inhale is what you will exhale…If you’re intentional to inhale God’s grace and forgiveness, you will also exhale it in your relationships. But if you’re breathing in anger and rage, you’re going to breathe it out in your relationships.”

In reading the many wonderful endorsements of Kyle’s book, I laughed at one gal who said she was at first skeptical about another book on grace.  I was with her there.  In fact, my all-time favorite book on grace is by my dear friend, Liz Curtis Higgs:  Embrace Grace—Welcome to the Forgiven Life.

But wait for this:  Liz happens to be one of Kyle’s endorsers! She says, “…Grace is Greater is practical and inspirational, providing a clear path to freedom through God’s amazing gift of grace. I loved it!”  Friends, this is HUGE not only coming from Liz, but I maintain grace is one of the most difficult subjects to articulate.

Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore and snag a copy of Grace is Greater before Thanksgiving and before those relatives roll in!  Bravo to Kyle.

‘Til next time~!

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Evade a Fade…

Friends! Anybody else on the hamster wheel this week?  Can’t quite catch up on that sleep that evaporated into the night? Dozing at the ole desk?

This week we’ll look at a couple of examples we do not want to emulate which I pray will motivate us toward a good finish… in spite of our not-so-friendly fatigue…

Recently John and I were blessed to hear Jonathan Pennington speak on the life of King David.  Our “take home” was DO NOT FADE.  (Avoid fading, or EVADE A FADE.)

Jonathan showed us in 2 Samuel when King David was somewhere between sixty and seventy, he became passive, losing his initiative, no longer active nor whole-hearted in his endeavors. Checkout his parenting skills (or lack thereof) in 2 Samuel as well as his other sinful acts which came with consequences, chapters 11-24, for starters… David was fading. (But don’t miss his repentance in chapter 22 and Psalm 51, plus we know David was a man after God’s own heart…very simply he was human just like you and me.)

Jonathan also reminded us of Eli, Samuel’s father who didn’t discipline his other two sons, who are dubbed “wicked” in the Bible. “But Eli’s sons wouldn’t listen to their father, for the Lord was already planning to put them to death.” (1 Samuel 2:25) Eli lacked the same umph to discipline his sons that David did. Eli was fading.

This word, “fade”, ricocheted between our ears, and other friends of ours afterwards, all of us agreeing we do not want to fade into the background as we get older.  We want to be very present in the lives of our children and grandchildren.

Checkout what some definitions show for “to fade”:

DANGER WILL ROBINSON! We do NOT want to do anything of the sort!

I love a Grandfather’s Prayer that says, “I ask God most often that we would be an unbroken line of Christians until Christ returns.”

Let’s hold Deuteronomy 4:9 tightly in our hearts,

How exactly, you may be asking, are we to evade a fade? Seems Jonathan and author and pastor Erwin Raphael McManus are on the same page, armed with help, just for us.  Erwin’s just written a killer convicting book, The Last Arrow—Save Nothing for the Next Life.

Ten for ten of Erwin’s chapter equip us readers to be “battle ready.” (A few favorites are:  “Save Nothing for the Next Life”, “Refuse to Stay Behind”, “Act Like Your Life Depends on It.”) He says,

“My intention for this book is that you would

NEVER SURRENDER,

That you would NEVER SETTLE,

That you would SAVE NOTHING FOR THE NEXT LIFE.”

Erwin warns,

Existence is a slow death;

Mediocrity is like quicksand that slowly consumes you and sucks the life out of you…

WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO CREATE IN YOU A SENSE OF URGENCY?”

Yes, well that will wake one up, huh?  What makes this book so compelling is Erwin prefaces it by sharing that while he was doing the final edits, he received the news he had cancer. Given that perspective, we readers hang tighter to the message, inspired to, in a nutshell, “buck up.” Stay in the race…

Need encouragement to evade a fade?  Be determined to ask the Lord daily to help you instill faith in your children and grandchildren, extending that line of Christians…making it endless!

2 Timothy 4:7-8 shows us what it looks like to finish well:

Press on, dear friends.

Evade a fade!

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

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