Monthly Archives: December 2019

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. 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.

446821_w185

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, gulp, can it be, 2020???

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 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 my better half. Hint, hint, hint. )

I pray you and your family have a most memorable (!!!) and blessed Christmas and Happy-n-Healthy New Year. I look forward to spending more time with you as we learn about helpful Scripture and books and authors in 2020.

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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Christmas Gift Ideas: # 4 of 4 – A Great Way to Start Your Day!

Friends!  Anybody besides me rushing around like a crazy person???  No time to rest, recharge, relax?  Never fear, I’ve got just the prescription to start your day in the best of ways whether you have just a few minutes or maybe a half hour or more. Not only would this book make an excellent last-minute gift, you may consider grabbing one for yourself…

The book?  Take a look at Bible and Breakfast: 31 Mornings with Jesus (Feeding Our Bodies and Souls Together) by Asheritah Ciuciu.

I don’t even remember how I learned about this book, I just know I ordered four copies and have wrapped three for our sweet daughters-in-love. (Shhh, don’t tell.)  They love cookbooks like I do, especially with pretty pictures (!!!) and the fact that this book is also a Bible study makes it even better!

Even if you think you have zero minutes, author Asheritah Ciuciu will assure you you’re fully capable of trying this lovely way of beginning your day.  Her website, www.onethingalone.com is rich with resources including my favorite, “No guilt in quiet time.”  She’s a busy mom like so many of us whether our kids are still at home or not.

Each devotion includes a “snack on the go” for busy days, and a “feast at the table” with Bible study prompts for days when you have time to dig deeper.  There’s also room to jot down your thoughts.

Recipes range from muffins to smoothies to creative ways to prepare eggs. All are labeled according to if they’re “freezer friendly,” “kid friendly”, “gluten free,” etc. Instructions are easy and simple to understand, which for this challenged chef, is a welcomed delight.

From the first few pages, Asheritah answers frequently asked questions beginning w/ a biggie, “What if I don’t have time to eat breakfast?”  She says, “Just as a nourishing snack is better than starving all morning, so a few minutes with Jesus is better than nothing at all…Throughout this challenge, I’ll invite you to think creatively about how to feed your soul while feeding your body, like listening to a Bible passage while munching on an apple during your commute.”

A printable reading plan is available via her website. She adds, “You don’t have to arrange your schedule for Bible and Breakfast—it’s meant to fit right into your busy life, because Jesus wants to meet us in our mess.” She shows us examples from the Bible such as the Samaritan woman at the well, Mary and Martha, etc.

In 2016, Asheritah invited her blog readers to join her in a 31-day challenge which she called “Bible and Breakfast.” She says, “The response was overwhelming. In just a week, more than a thousand women signed up to join me, and for 31 days we swapped recipes and Scripture insights—all from our own kitchen tables around the world.”  This book is the result of a fun little-turned-large experiment!

The very first recipe in the book, Double Chocolate Banana Muffins, sold me, being the chocoholic that I am.  The most intriguing dish (to me) is called “The Mason Jar Omelet.”  I plan on trying this with our little Claire Elizabeth over the Christmas break as she’s never met an egg she didn’t like and this will be cool to watch cook in the microwave.

Every so often, there’s a section called, “Develop a Healthy Habit,” where you can reflect back over the past few days (usually a week) and evaluate what’s working, what’s not, where you’d like to go, etc.  I like this let’s-take-an-inventory kind of idea, vs. everyone attempting New Year’s resolutions we know won’t still be around come February.

Now you know what’s next:  Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab several copies of Bible and Breakfast!  Your family will thank you for the variety of new recipes and our Lord will welcome you with open arms each morning as you meet with Him in a new and fresh way.

I pray you and your family have a wonderfully Merry Christmas and a Happy-n-Healthy 2020!!!

‘Til next time!

 

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Christmas Gift Ideas: #3 of 4 – For ALL Ages, for Women and Men…

Friends!  Oh, my, do I ever have the book recommendation to beat all books, ready to decorate your favorite coffee table and sure to spur on a variety of conversations….drum roll….

Checkout A Million God Stories:  Volume 1 – Glorify

The book is not only lovely to look at, its jaw-dropping stories are ones you’ll marvel over noting the lengths and details to which our Lord goes to, all the while pursuing us.

The book is divided into 7 parts:

God is love,
Healing,
Connecting His Children,
Angels,
Provision,
Beauty from Ashes, and
Surrender

The spectacular photography enhances the beauty of each story.  Illustrations with Scripture are sprinkled throughout as well.

A Million God Stories is the brainchild of Founder Pam VanArsdall.  Entrepreneurial minded, Pam’s brain is always going a million miles an hour.  The website launched in August of 2016.  (Checkout www.amilliongodstories.com) Stories in the book all come from the website where there are currently 182 stories posted, with 999,818 to go!

For more information see http://www.amilliongodstories.com

One of many favorite aspects of the website is found on the right margin. You’ll find a large list of topics where you may choose a pertinent one for yourself. It’s called “Search by tags.”   Whatever you’re going thru’, you’re sure to find someone else who is or has gone thru’ the same thing with helpful information right at your fingertips. (Some examples include: Bible study, Christmas, God as Father, God redeems, abortion, addiction, adoption, community, control, etc.)

The Mission of A Million God Stories is to provide a global media platform for all Christians to share stories that glorify God.  Its goal is to share one million stories from every tribe, tongue, and nation that honor God, with Isaiah 42:12 being its mantra:

I’m delighted to discover this book says, “Volume 1,” indicating it’s one of many to come.  I’m giving it to many of my friends this Christmas with a challenge.  I’m going to ask each recipient to pray about sharing their own story with the staff at A Million God Stories.  If you don’t want to write it yourself, they will happily help you.  There are step by step instructions with how to proceed on the website.

Finally, it’s impossible to choose your favorite story, but I will share with you a few of my favorites you won’t want to miss from the book:  “The Toilet Complex School,” “Bible Study Friends,” and “Darkness into Light.”

My favorite quote comes from a young mom who lost a son soon after he was born.  He died from a heart defect.  Her story, “Every Day is a Gift,” is a beautiful, inspirational tear-jerker. It perfectly depicts 2 Corinthians 1:4 that says,

The young mom closes her story with this:

“Sometimes even now I will just be hit with grief and I will be so sad but at the same time so thankful. It is true that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. I would never want to have that time with Jacob taken away even though it was painful. I have learned every single day is a gift. Knowing that not a single one of us is guaranteed tomorrow, helps me appreciate all the beauty, love, and joy that each day brings.”

The book, A Million God Stories:  Volume 1 – Glorify, retails for $24, but can be purchased for $18 on the website and if you buy more than 15, they’re only $15!  What a deal for a potentially  life-changing book.  Don’t miss this opportunity.  I believe it’s a great evangelizing tool as well.

And, this gets better:  (We readers learn this at the back of the book.)

“All profits from this book will go toward the creation and distribution of  Ring and Robe magazine. A Million God Stories’ ministry produces and sends nearly 4,000 copies of this magazine to jails and prisons twice a year (Spring and Fall editions.) Each issue contains beautiful, faith-building stories of hope and encouragement from men and women who were at one time incarcerated themselves, but who are now out living lives transformed and restored by God. Your purchase of this book helps make possible a message of God’s love, grace and hope to many men and women in jails and prisons.”

I asked Pam the significance of the name Ring and Robe and she said it’s from the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15: 20-24). The end of each magazine explains the title in a beautiful way: “The ring and the robe the father gave to his son were symbols of his love for his son and the son’s worth, identity, and rightful place in his father’s family…Our identity as children of God and our place in His family are secure, just as the ring and the robe symbolize in this story. When you see the name ‘Ring and Robe’ we hope you are reminded of God’s love for you, your worth to God, and your place in His family.”

‘Til next time!

P.S.  Fun disclosure…Pam, who founded A Million Stories, is a dear friend of mine and  just happens to be the Mother of our daughter-in-love in Lexington, Lauren Hoagland, who’s married to Gordy.  So, I do have braggin’ rights!  I’m very proud of Pam and Sweet La as we call her. And Pam and I both have braggin’ rights on our precious grandson, Henry. Mega blessings…

 

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Christmas Gift Ideas – Gift Idea #2 of 4: This is for your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews…

Friends!  Please allow me to share another Christmas gift idea. This one is for your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or neighbors and especially if you hail from Kentucky…

I met a lovely author at the Kentucky Book Festival last month thanks to our daughter-in-love, Lauren, who discovered her.  Her name is Evelyn B. Christensen.  One of many books she’s written is called The Twelve Days of Christmas in Kentucky. (It was chosen to represent Kentucky at the 2017 National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.)

Much to my delight, not only does this fun book offer loads of information about our state, children and adults will learn a LOT about the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  Literally the wealth of information you’ll gain will astonish you.

Many of you know our family has exploded this year with three wee bairns arriving:  Ford in March, Henry in April and Charlotte in August.  One of many delightful discoveries in The Twelve Days of Christmas in Kentucky is the interaction between Marybeth and her cousin Martin.

Naturally, reading about the cousins with our now four grand angels, who are all cousins, got Lauren and me so excited.  Evelyn’s book comes in two types of editions:  a board book (which I scooped up for all the cousins, shhhh, don’t tell) and a regular slick paper edition for older ones.

We readers get to travel all over the state, learning as we go about the state bird, the cardinal, and the state tree, the tulip poplar, just for starters.  We go to the Louisville Zoo, Mammoth Cave, the National Corvette Museum, Louisville Slugger Museum, a coal mining museum, the Kentucky Horse Park and many more fun stops.

 

Evelyn’s description on the back of her book gives us its plot:  “Marybeth is so excited about cousin Martin coming for a Kentucky visit that she gives him one VERY unusual gift on each of the twelve days of Christmas. As the days pass and the gifts pile up, Martin writes lively letters home to tell his mom and dad all about this trip.”

Illustrations by Kent Culotta are most appealing to the eye and fun to look at on each page.  His details will delight readers of all ages.

Our Lauren suggested we take all the cousins to many of these destinations together as a family.  What a fun goal to have!  Be thinking of your relatives and friends who would enjoy this book…

Finally, don’t miss other books by Evelyn. She’s a master at creating puzzles and she includes new ones each week to try out on her website which is a tremendous resource for us parents and grandparents:  www.evelynchristensen.com

This book, Mensa for Kids:  Fun Puzzle Challenges, was also available at the Kentucky Book Festival. Mensa actually asked Evelyn to create this book!

Finally, I love how Evelyn shares her faith with us on her website, telling us she learned over the years God had gifted her with a mind to create these puzzles to teach children fun ways to learn math skills.  She teaches us learning can be fun and not a chore.

She credits a study her small group was doing by John Ortberg called If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat.  She said that was the turning point for her with her writing, realizing God had given her these gifts to share.

Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore and GRAB The Twelve Days of Christmas in Kentucky!  Your family and friends will love it!

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Book Reviews, children's books, Grandchildren