Category Archives: Book Clubs

What’s Irresistible to You? Chocolate? Yes. Our Faith? Yay or Nay…

Friends!  Would your friends say you have an irresistible faith?  Anybody besides me want to reply, “Come back in a bit, I’m not quite ready for that question…”

Yes, well, let me fetch some chocolate while we ponder this together…

Recently I was delighted to be part of a committee to choose books for our upcoming book club season for fall 2019-spring 2020.  Seven slots to fill seemed easy, however five for five of us arrived at the meeting with ten to fifteen suggestions, each.  We were a vision of “so many books, so little time.”

One of the many recommendations I received, I also read.  It hit me between the eyes and my poor brain is still trying to process it..  The book?  Irresistible Faith: Becoming the Kind of Christian The World Can’t Resist by Scott Sauls. Scott pastors Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville where I’ve been blessed to attend a women’s conference with my good buddy, Madge, who lives there.

My favorite endorsement of this book comes from Duke Keon who pastors Grace Meridian Hill in Washington, DC:  “With biblical clarity, personal transparency, and a relentlessly winsome  spirit, Scott Sauls shows us how authentic Christianity is attractive Christianity. It’s a timely and reliable road map for those seeking to restore the damaged witness and public reputation of Christians…If you want to learn how the grace of God makes us the ‘light of the world’ in all of life, read this book!”

In his Foreword in the book, Bob Goff says, “This book is an invitation for us to return to the most authentic version of our faith. It’s also an invitation to join, or create, an authentic community of people trying to go somewhere beautiful with their faith.”

Bob has just painted a picture for us of what we experience in Bible study and small groups.  That’s exactly what we aspire to do, to “go somewhere beautiful with our faith.”  I love that!

Scott begins by saying what really bugs him is how many negative reactions the word “Christian” gets.  He quotes San Francisco journalist Herb Caen who said, “The trouble with born-again Christians is that they are an even bigger pain the second time around.”  OUCH…

Scott rattles off a dozen questions causing us readers to consider what it would look like for our love for the Lord and each other to be so contagious and so irresistible non-believers would want to know the source of our faith. His book offers some much-needed ideas and suggestions. It’s akin to an owner’s manual you’ll want to refer to often. (Scott, any fat chance you could create a pocket-size version for us???)

Scott asks,

I’m happy to report you’ll also get to laugh out loud multiple times.  Scott tells on himself and gifts us with fantastic quotes from other authors as well.  He confesses he finds “more satisfaction in the praise of people than he does in the grace of God.”  We’re all normal human beings and we simply forget the glory goes to God and belongs only to Him. This is not an easy subject matter, and Scott takes us by the hand to show us what irresistible faith looks like.

Brennan Manning says it best:

“I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.” (From The Ragamuffin Gospel)

Right about the time you want to ask, “Now what?” Scott reminds us if we keep a “steady diet of God-inspired words, aided and animated by the Holy Spirit, we’ll have nurtured, healthy, and solid souls.” He lists countless classic authors, musicians, all steeped in God’s Word giving us beautiful examples and a well-built case for keeping our noses in His Word.

A new-to-me and now favorite concept we learn about is found in Chapter 4, “Practicing Transparency and Kindness.” We discover a thought from Ann Voskamp that Scott’s church has now adopted, “only speak words that make souls stronger.”

He tells us,

The staff at Christ Presbyterian Church has come to “nurture a culture of benediction.”  They begin their staff meetings “by speaking life-giving words over each other.” Can you imagine the impact on each of them when their co-workers publicly praise each other one by one? What if we tried this in our homes with our beloved family? And friends? And anyone who crosses our path?

Scott teaches us “the universal Christian job description:  all Christians are called as Christ’s ambassadors into the places where they live, work, play, and worship, with the glorious purpose of leaving people, places, and things better than they found them.”

It’s living out Colossians 3:23-24:

Now you know what I’m going to say, “Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and snag a copy of Irresistible Faith.

‘Til next time!

P.S.  While reading this book, I kept thinking to myself that Scott should connect with Christine Caine as they really remind me of each other.  They both pack a punch with mega enthusiasm causing you to want to be on their team.  How like the Lord to have Christine as one of Scott’s endorsers.  She says Scott and his wife, Patty, are friends with Christine and her husband Nick! She goes so far as to say she loves everything Scott writes.  Amen and amen…

 

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Happy Holy Week! You’re Invited to Our Last Book Club Meeting of the Season, Cliffhanger and All, Next Monday, 4/22 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. (Don’t miss the Rx for Anxiety near the end…)

Friends! Come one, come all to what promises to be a super fun finale for our season. Terri Blackstock’s If I Run is not only suspenseful, it’s a cliffhanger and will provide you with two more books you’ll want to read to find out what happens. Yes, it’s #1 of 3 in a series!

Nancy Tinnell was most gracious to write a teaser for us. (If you’ve not read the book yet, you’re going to want to!). Here’s Nancy:

”Terri Blackstock’s suspenseful novel, If I Run, is our final book club selection this year. We will be discussing it on Monday, April 22nd, and you are invited to join us! I apologized in advance to the group last month for the cliffhanger ending in this story. It provides an automatic summer reading suggestion for us: books two and three of the If I Run Series. Those titles are If I’m Found and If I Live.


Casey Cox, the anxious young woman at the heart of the story, is in a desperate situation. She has discovered a crime scene, knows that DNA evidence will point to her, even though she is innocent, but she doesn’t have much faith in the local authorities. She feels they let her down at the time of her father’s death thirteen years earlier. Casey is so wounded in her spirit and feels so alone in this dilemma that she chooses to run.

In this story, we follow her as she constantly changes her location, her appearance, and her identity, so she can buy time to think through the situation and decide what to do. There is a lot of suspense involved here, so be prepared to feel a bit anxious yourself.

Enter the love interest! Well, Dylan is not a love interest yet. He’s one of the authorities trying to track her. But we can see it coming. I just know it! He has a knack for analysis and can see that the details don’t add up to her guilt, even if the DNA evidence does implicate her. Also, Dylan’s back story makes him a sympathetic character.

At book club, we’ll be discussing these characters and several others, in addition to probing Casey’s suspicions about this crime and the circumstances surrounding her father’s death.

Since Casey has to live on fast food on the road, our suggested snack theme for our April meeting is “food on the run.” What do you fix when you have to fix something super-fast? Or what do you “drive through the drive-through” to pick up when you are in a hurry? Or what leftovers in the fridge can you pull together quickly? Food on the run, lots of fun! See you on the 22nd, book lovers.”

Thank you, Nancy! We will also announce our selections for our 2019-2020 season. We had a meeting last week and chose four fiction and three non-fiction books, all of which look wonderful!

The Living Word Bookstore in Southeast Christian Church is partnering with us to carry our selections for our new season. You may call them at (502) 253-8220. (Their website is: www.livingword.org ) They’ll be happy to order your books for you.

Gather up a carload of your friends! We hope to see you Monday, April 22nd, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Middletown United Methodist Church. Please RSVP to Nancy at (502) 245-8839.

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

 

Finally, since this week is Holy Week, here’s a reprise from last year should any of you have any anxiety about anything at all…our friend Max Lucado has just the help we need:

Anyone lugging around worries that are making you anxious? (I’m just realizing lug is in luggage.) Luggage denotes “inconveniently heavy baggage.” Well, take heart, I’m bringing you good news to lighten your load and bless us this Holy Week!

Many of you know how often I quote author Max Lucado. His book, Anxious for Nothing—Finding Calm in a Chaotic World, is a current favorite, its’ many pages already highlighted and dog-eared.

I’ll share a few of many favorite quotes which I pray will ease our anxiety, perhaps even erase it altogether, blessing us with a peaceful Holy Week. In the meantime, you may wish to grab this book as it’s a resource you would return to time and time again.

Max begins with, “Anxiety is a meteor shower of what-ifs…
Anxiety is trepidation.
It’s a suspicion,
An apprehension.
Life in a minor key with major concerns…
You’re part Chicken Little and part Eeyore. The sky is falling and it’s falling disproportionately on you.” Anyone?!!! Max not only cracks me up, he often perfectly depicts my own moods.

Flip on the news or grab a newspaper and “anxiety disorders” are usually the front runners. Epidemic proportions.Max states what we think, yet fear to admit:

One would think Christians would be exempt from worry. But we are not. We have been taught that the Christian life is a life of peace, and when we don’t have peace, we assume the problem lies within us. Not only do we feel anxious, but we also feel guilty about our anxiety! The result is a downward spiral of worry, guilt, worry, guilt.”

What’s a person to do? Thankfully, Max gifts us with the solution straight from Scripture. Philippians 4:4-8 says:

Max shows us that these five verses include, “four admonitions that lead to ONE WONDERFUL PROMISE: ‘the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds.’” (v. 7)

Additionally, this book blesses us throughout by equipping us with a simple acronym, the word “CALM”. Put this in your anxiety arsenal and you will have a peaceful Holy Week:

The concept of “CALM” is introduced in Chapter One, and expounded on throughout the book. You’ll never look at it again in the same way! (See page 10 for starters!)

We readers are reminded to consult the Apostle Paul’s words and actions. Max says, “Paul believed in the steady hand of a good God. He was protected by God’s strength, preserved by God’s love. He lived beneath the shadow of God’s wings.”

What does that look like for us? It translates into savoring God’s sovereignty. Clinging to His sovereignty and reminding ourselves daily that God is still on the throne. Always occupied. Always interceding for you and for me…

This Holy Week as we march toward Good Friday and Easter, may we remember the acronym “Calm”, and hear Max’ reminder: “God took the crucifixion of Friday and turned it into the celebration of Sunday.”

Max’ book also includes a Study Guide which would be great for anyone, but also super for a Small Group to work thru’.

Have a blessed Easter.

‘Til next time!

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You’re Invited to Book Club Next Monday, 3/25. Author Angela Correll is sending us a video! Come one, come all!

Friends! Fill your car with your best buddies and head to Middletown United Methodist Church next Monday night for what will be a super fun book club meeting.  We will be discussing Angela Correll’s novel, Granted.  Angela is making us a personalized video which will also add to our evening.

Granted  is the third of the May Hollow Trilogy, following Grounded and Guarded. While they’re all stand-alones, they’re each excellent reads packed with characters you’ll quickly become attached to.

Angela hails from Danville, Kentucky.  She and her husband, Jess currently live in Stanford. They have several businesses in Stanford.  We will also be showing a video about some of these projects they’ve taken on and I know you will be impressed.  They’re a fascinating couple.  You may just decide to take a road trip there asap!

Several of my friends and I enjoyed the drive over to Stanford not too long ago, ate lunch at their restaurant, The Bluebird Cafe, toured some of their guest homes (Wilderness Road Guest Houses) and we managed to get into trouble (!!!) by making multiple purchases at Angela’s gift shop, Kentucky Soaps and Such.  (Don’t miss the goat’s milk soap and body cream.  It’s to die for.)

Since Granted often discusses good ole’ down home country cooking, we’re suggesting we bring similar treats such as country ham biscuits, etc. I couldn’t begin to count the number of pies Annie’s Grandmother Beulah made, or the fried chicken, or the multiple delicious sounding meals.  Between the church suppers, Beulah’s many meals, and their gardening and farming, food plays a large role with their little community.

We readers don’t just stay in the state of Kentucky, watching Annie and Jake juggle multiple plot twists, including putting together their upcoming wedding.  We get to hop the pond and travel to the lovely area of Tuscany in Italy for their wedding! Delightful!

Annie’s father proves to be one character you dislike and don’t trust.  He defines narcissism while poor Annie keeps believing he will do what he says.

Faith plays a large role in the story as well.  We learn many a lesson in endearing ways which are all excellent reminders. At one point when discussing her farm, Beulah tells Annie, “It all belongs to God—I’m simply a steward, here for a little while…”

While planning their wedding, Annie “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.”

A huge sense of community comforts us readers and in the Author’s Note,  Angela tells us, “While I’m certainly an advocate of small-town life, I also realize this same type of community can be experienced in New York, Los Angeles, and other major cities through the local neighborhoods, which seem like small towns within big cities.”

Angela closes with this quote:  “President Lyndon B. Johnson once said, ‘It’s nice to live in a place where people know when you are sick, love you while you are alive, and miss you when you die.’” Amen!

Grab your friends and come join us next Monday night, March 25th from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Middletown United Methodist Church.  Please rsvp to Nancy Tinnell at (502) 345-8839 and bring your favorite down-home-delight if time allows.

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

We look forward to seeing you and hearing what will prove to be a great discussion as well as enjoying the two videos.

‘Til next time!

 

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Please Join Us For a Riveting Discussion of Francine Rivers’ “The Masterpiece” on Monday, February 25th, 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Friends! You and your friends and neighbors are invited to our next Branches Book Club meeting, on Monday, February 25th, at Middletown United Methodist Church, where we’ll discuss Francine Rivers’ compelling and page-turner of a novel, The Masterpiece. (We meet from 6:30-8:00 p.m.)

While it’s a tome, I read it in no time, quickly loaning it to a friend so she could enjoy it. Fast forward to this week when I called on our faithful friend and fearless leader, Nancy Tinnell to come up with a “teaser” to get you to book club. Let’s learn a little more about The Masterpiece…

Here’s Nancy:

“Francine Rivers has done it again. She creates characters that compel us to lean in to them. We are drawn to them like flies to honey, and, if you’re like me, you can’t wait to finish the book to see how the story will end.

The Masterpiece has that wonderful element of bad boy/good girl that we so often love in our novels, but this one has a twist. The bad boy is somewhat reformed from his juvenile “tagging” days, but he has some distance yet to travel. Our good girl does not feel truly good because of her past. I got so caught up in Grace and Roman’s story that I wished I could climb into the pages and counsel both of them.

The bonus in the book is the cast of characters surrounding our primary duo. I even got drawn into their stories! Thank you, Francine. This book does not disappoint. If they ever make a movie based on it, I could see Antonio Banderas playing Roman. But I’m not sure about the actress to play Grace. Reese Witherspoon, maybe?

We are giving a nod to the book’s location (California coast) by making healthy, coastal snacks our food theme. When we get together for book club, I’m dying to ask your opinion on something in the book, but it will have to wait. I have to leave you with that teaser for now.”

 

Thank you, Nancy!

So, girls, you can tell we will have quite a discussion.  If time allows, please bring a California Coastal treat per Nancy’s suggestion and RSVP to her at (502) 245-3839. We look forward to seeing you next Monday night!

’Til next time!

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

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You’re Invited to Book Club Featuring TWO Authors Next Monday, January 28th!!!

Friends!  Have we ever got a double-header for you next Monday night, January 28th from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. You do not want to miss this! Grab several buddies and hustle over to Middletown United Methodist Church for what promises to be an eye-opening evening…

We will be discussing Michelle Ule’s fascinating non-fiction book, Mrs. Oswald Chambers:  The Woman Behind the World’s Bestselling DevotionalWhile Michelle lives in California, she’s promised to send us a video sharing highlights and tidbits of Biddy’s life, how the book came to be, etc. This is very exciting and generous of Michelle to share her time with us.

I first learned of Michelle and her book via an Eric Metaxas interview (www.metaxastalk.com ).  It was so compelling, I quickly ordered and devoured the book and have given several friends copies of it.  It reads like a novel even tho’ it’s all true! (You may read more from my post about it from 12/13/17.)

Not only will we be blessed by words from Michelle Ule, we are also having a local author, Sherry Leavell, come and share snippets from her new and inspiring devotional, Grateful Living.  You will also hear the uncanny story of how she came to write this lovely book.  (Spoiler alert:  Liz Curtis Higgs had something to do with it!)

Finally I’ll be sharing a couple of teasers from Michelle’s new novel, which has lovely appearances and pearls of their faith from Biddy and Oswald, called A Poppy in Remembrance. To read more about it, here’s the link from when I wrote about it:  10/24/18.

Believe me, this will be an exciting evening and your brain will be bursting forth with wisdom afresh, challenging you and your walk with the Lord.

Since Biddy served tea at a moment’s notice, we will also be serving tea Monday night and little snacks to go along with it. We may even have a wild card of some cake.  Let’s just say I’m doing some “research.” Hey, someone’s gotta do it! Stay tuned…

We look forward to seeing you Monday night, January 28th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Bring a car load of book buddies by all means! Please RSVP to Nancy Tinnell @ (502) 245-8839.

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

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

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Thanks for a GREAT Launch! Come SHOP at Two Chicks Louisville this Saturday, December 1st!!!

Friends!  WOW. Just wow.  Monday night at Middletown United Methodist Church (MUMC) was a dream come true!  Did it really happen? To God Be the Glory.

THANK YOU to ALL of you who came.  What a fun crowd!  Liz Curtis Higgs was the bomb to kick off our night with beautiful, funny, and hope-filled words.

Nancy Tinnell, from MUMC, and all the gals of Branches Book Club pulled out all the stops and put together quite the celebration.  Huge thanks. (Please keep Nancy on your prayer list as she got a new knee the morning after our Launch!  Healing hugs, Nancy! She told me she comes home this Thursday.)

One of my many favorite take-aways from Monday night was seeing y’all savor Bonnie’s Butter Bride story we shared from the 4th stop in my book.  Thank you, Bon Bon, for letting me include excerpts.  Y’all can truly picture the Butter Babes hearing this for the first time! Unstoppable laughter!!!

One thing I forgot to share with you is that on the second page of my book, where all the copyright info is, you’ll see “Interior Art by John Hoagland, Jr.” Yes, dear friends, that is our oldest son!  He did all the sketches at the beginning of each chapter.  Don’t miss them! Way-2-go, Johnny! (He was home putting Claire to bed Monday night.  He said she was out by 7:01 which is about the time Lizzie launched my book.)

Another highlight happened Monday afternoon when Jane Chilton and I got to go on Rachel Platt’s 4:00 LIVE newscast, on WHAS 11.  We were both Nervous Nellies, but Rachel’s welcoming demeanor put us at ease and we had a blast.  Jane made her famous pound cake to share with the folks at WHAS. (Recipe’s on my website! Go to: www.elizabethhoagalnd.com and click on  “My New Book” , then  “Recipes”.  It’s “Pound Cake with a Boatload of BUTTER.”)

Next up?  Oh, the super fun girls at Two Chicks Louisville have invited me to come sign books this Saturday, December 1st, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Pop in and see all their fabulous Christmas gifts, among other goodies, such as jewelry, baby gifts, foodie gifts, etc. I’ve already been in twice since they decorated for Christmas and have found great hostess gifts and stocking stuffers. (A dress jumped off its hanger and landed in my arms. Imagine that!) Maybe grab lunch at the Cheddar Box and shop at Two Chicks before or afterwards?

http://twochicksnandcompany.com
1212 Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243

Finally, allow me to close with the beautiful words by the late Eugene Peterson. He wrote the Afterword in his wife, Janice’s new book six months before he died. The book is:  Becoming Gertrude:  How Our Friendships Shape Our Faith.

Everyone is in a process of becoming. More gradually than rapidly, we grow into the unique people we were created to be, throughout a lifetime of learning in Christ and practicing the way of Jesus…

Even eighty years is still a relatively short time to prepare for citizenship in the Kingdom of God…

We need the companionship of fellow disciples as we make our way on our lifelong pilgrimage. Such companions, have holy agency:  Our lives are healed and shaped by the people whose company we keep.”

THAT is a perfect depiction of friendship.

Hope to see you Saturday!

‘Til next time!

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Come Help Me Launch My New Book! Bring a Friend and Travel to MUMC, 11/26 @ 6:30 p.m. Liz Curtis Higgs will Kick off the Evening!

Friends!

Guess what? My first book is here and the girls from Branches Book Club at Middletown United Methodist Church (MUMC) are throwing a party! Call up a friend and join us Monday night, November 26th at 6:30 p.m. to launch this baby. (It’s been a very long twenty-seven months in the making!)

Another highlight that evening will be when my friend, mentor, and well-known author, Liz Curtis Higgs, kicks off the Launch. (She wrote the Foreword, God bless her.) You’ll learn why she had such an integral part in the birth of my book.

I’ll share with you some crazy anecdotes from this journey as well as do a reading for you. We’ll be meeting in the newly remodeled Connections Center.

We will have books available Monday night and I’ll be tickled to sign them if you like. This is a pinch-me-I’m-dreaming-scenario for certain!

You can also find my book and Kindle format on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and www.christianbook.com. Locally, The Living Word Bookstore in Southeast Christian Church is selling my book as well as both the Frankfort Ave. and Bardstown Road locations of Carmichael’s Bookstore. (My website has more info on the “my new book” tab and more recipes! More fun things coming soon.)

Many of you will know my friends who wrote beautiful treatises in the book as well as who gave me fabuloso recipes! Two prominent and favorite restaurateurs also graciously gave me recipes: Nancy Tarrant from the Cheddar Box St. Matthews location and Kelley Ledford from Uptown Cafe. These would be great to try with your friends.

I pray my book becomes a fun resource for you and your friends on many levels. (There are questions for Book Clubs as well as questions for your small group for a mini-Bible study.)  I hope to see you Monday night the 26th! Please RSVP to Nancy Tinnell at (502)245-8839.

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

FYI: Before Liz kicks off the launch, we will have a short, mini-book club discussion about our November selection, Merry Hmbug Christmas: Two Tales of Holiday Romance by Sandra Bricker. If you’d like to participate in the ornament exchange, please bring a wrapped ornament with you. I’ve received the cutest ornaments the last couple of years from this exchange!

Have a Happy, Blessed Thanksgiving and I’ll look forward to seeing you next Monday!

‘Til next time!

P.S. My friend, Jane Chilton, and I will be on the 4 o’clock news LIVE on Monday the 26th on WHAS 11 with Rachel Platt to chat about my book. Oh, I see you laughing.  We are too, believe me! Please pray we’re able to say something that makes sense in some wild way.😍

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