Category Archives: Book Reviews

What Every Grandmother Needs…

Friends!  Whether you’re already a grandmother or have a friend who’s a grandmother, I’ve got just the book for you and/or for you to give to a friend.

I discovered this book thanks to my sis-in-love, Margee, who gifted me with it when our little Claire Elizabeth was born. The book?  A Grandmother’s Prayers—60 Days of Devotions and Prayer by Kay Swatkowski.

Not only was the book new to me, so was the author, Kay Swatkowski.  I’m already a huge fan of her ideas and creative writing, plus I discovered her blog:  www.americangrandma.com which also offers a wide variety of information.

The book includes sixty devotions.  Each is short, including five parts:

1 – Kay opens with a story which illustrates the point of that day’s devotion.

2 – “Let us pray that…” This part offers points to pray about related to the story along with a Scripture to bring that point home.

3 – A prayer to help us apply this idea into our lives with our grandchildren.

4 – “Think and Do”:  This part includes questions to get us thinking about how to incorporate the devotion’s idea into our lives, sometimes a Scripture to look up and sometimes a children’s book is recommended.  (I grinned after Kay recommended children’s books by Max Lucado on more than one day.  This is yet another reason she and I could be big buddies. Bigger smile.)

I’ve made quite a list of books purely from Kay’s recommendations to look into for reading to Claire and our future grands, Lord willing. (This may be a bit of an investment!)  Kay gives a brief snippet of each book she recommends for younger and older children.

Here are just a few:

 

Bedtime Blessings by John Trent

Just in Case You Ever Wonder, The Crippled Lamb, and The Christmas Child by Max Lucado

God is With You by Larry Libby

My Friend Jesus by Kathryn Slattery

Too Small to Ignore by Wes Stafford

The Lord’s Prayer by Rick Warren

A Child’s Look at the 23rd Psalm by W. Phillip Keller

A children’s adaptation of Les Miserables by Monica Kulling

The Priest with Dirty Clothes by R.C. Sproul

She also recommends reading missionary stories of Gladys Aylward, Mary Slessor, Hudson Taylor, and Jim Elliot.

5Each devotion closes with several Scriptures to reinforce its’ focus.  Each entry is empowering and encouraging for us grandparents to boldly press on praying for our precious grandchildren.

Kay opens the book with a charge of sorts:

“Research reveals that the love and care of the older generation has a positive impact on children in many ways.

One study found a definite link between grandparent involvement and adolescent well-being.

Grandparents provide  not only affection and support, but also wisdom, problem-solving, and stability during times of family crisis…

GOD IS NOT FINISHED WITH US.

WE HAVE A CRITICAL JOB TO DO.”

As God would orchestrate, when our whole family was at the beach in South Carolina in July, I opened Kay’s book to “Day Thirty:  The Sea.”  There I was, on a deck overlooking the ocean while Kay talks about us  being drawn to the sea.

All I have to do is see the sea and my soul begins to stir.  I recharge by the sea better than any other place on this earth.

Kay reminds us, “Our God is a Sea of limitless love and forgiveness. He is a Sea of acceptance and mercy. He is a Sea of strength and comfort…”

When the tide was out, walks on the beach allowed us to tote Claire along in her stroller.

Even this poor guy, having lost an eye and a claw, strolled the beach!

This particular morning, Diana and I started out with Claire in her Baby Bjorn.  It was so hot, Claire immediately fell asleep.  We decided to ditch the walk and grab an iced coffee in the air-conditioned shops.  Certain the whipped cream smothering that coffee was walked off from our other beach walks???

This year’s family vacation not only included the beach, but our new little beach baby.  Please note the wee bit of attention Baby Claire received from all of us:

In the devotional’s closing on the sea, Kay gives several Scriptures to pray, my favorite of which is:

“Let us pray that our children will have the delight of leading their children to an understanding of the deep love of God and of becoming part of one endless line of faith until Christ returns.” (3 John 1:4)

Amen and Amen.

 

Thanks to the Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, Mount Pleasant and Charleston, South Carolina for a week of fun for our entire family…What a blessing!

Til next time!

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Grandchildren, Travel

Who’s in Your Balcony? (Encouraging book: “Balcony People” by Joyce Landorf Heatherley)

Friends! This is a post I’m bringing back from three years ago, its’ concept of being a “balcony person” well worth repeating should you have missed it. I pray you’re blessed by it.

Enjoy!


Oh, the days of cheerleading.

Peer pressure at its’ peak.

Mine peaked in Middle School as we know it now.  In my school days, (when we had to walk a mile in the snow to school) we attended “Junior High”, which included sixth thru’ ninth grades.

Seemingly every girl in eighth or ninth grade tried out for cheerleading.

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Clueless, I signed up.

What, pray tell, had I gotten myself into?  We had to attend several practice clinics.  Quickly, try-outs were upon us.

Bad-n-sad memories of not making it in eighth grade surface.  Oh, but then came ninth grade and by some miracle, I made it.  You haven’t “made it” ‘til you make the cheerleading squad.  Or, at least that’s what appeared to be true.

Shallow, naïve, junior-higher that I was, our new cheerleading squad became my new friends.  Dumping my old friends for girls I didn’t even know was my “M.O.”   Horrors.

We quickly learned new cheers, cheering for football and basketball games.  Humorous given I had no knowledge of sports, much less which cheer to do, etc.  Follower…Very insecure follower.

So, had I known of the concept we’ll discuss today, that of “Balcony People”, I’d have told you my tally was a big, round, fat zero.  Oh, but wait ‘til you see how many we have!!! Hang with me…

One of my favorite gifts I received for Christmas this past year, a must-read, is Balcony People by Joyce Landorf Heatherley.   Joyce has the gift of opening your eyes to people in your life.  She talks about people with the gift of affirmation: Those who go around affirming others, not dragging them down.

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Those dragging you down are known as  “evaluators”, also known as “basement people”.  Know any of these?  Making a mental list?

“Basement people” spew snide remarks such as, “you’ll never make it…you can’t do that…”, inflicting judgment, damage, and unnecessary critiques.  Note the lower location of this moniker. (!!!)

One woman wrote to Joyce and asked, “Please keep reminding us how much God loves us.  We need that love, not the constant judgment we pour on ourselves.”

We got a large dose of judgment last week (check out “When Grace Rescues You From Judgment”), so this week we’ll discover “Balcony People”.

Joyce asks, “Who is the special affirmer who catches quick glimpses of the flames from the fires of your potential and tells you so?  Who, by his or her words, helps you to respect and believe in your own value as a person?”  We can dub these sweet souls our personal cheerleaders.

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Joyce douses any doubt you may have should you think you don’t have any affirmers.  She said, “I have known only a few genuine affirmers, but one affirmer is worth a thousand evaluators.”

She adds, “The need for affirming one another is crucial to our process of becoming real, not phony or hypocritical, people of God.  Affirming brings authenticity and credibility to our faith as it is lived day by day…Otherwise, we miss one of the main concepts of the Holy Scriptures—to love one another and to bear one another’s burdens.”

These affirmers, or “Balcony  People”, “practically hang over the rail, cheering us on.  As you begin to think of who in your life may be in your balcony, you’ll find it fun to discover these people do not have to be alive.” Do you love that?

One of Joyce’s friends shared his list of Balcony People: Number One:  The Lord (think about THAT!!!),  Paul the Apostle, and David the Psalmist, for starters.  Joyce added Peter the Apostle as well as her Mother who had also gone Heavenward to her list.

One aspect I love from Joyce is she includes her children on her list.  I’d like to think our boys and their wives are in my balcony.  That completely warms my heart.  You?

I have to say my biggest cheerleader/balcony person is my husband, John.  Love is blind comes to mind, God bless him.  (Kidding.  Sorta.)  Amazing grace.

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Jumping backwards to Middle School or Junior High, I can tell you I was not in my Mother’s balcony.  I gave her enough trouble to bond with her “basement people”  for years.  Awful.  By the same token if you have middle schoolers right now, never fear, for they will mature to cheer you on later.  Pray hard.

Joyce gives us one of my all-time favorite verses:  Hebrews 12:1 “telling us to run with patience (and perseverance) the race that’s set before us ‘since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands’”.

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With that in mind, here’s the kicker to this whole concept of “Balcony People”…

Joyce admits, “Listing the people who were in my balcony, I concluded, was only half of what should be written.  So I got out another sheet of paper and put down all the names of people to whom I’d be a “balcony person.”  She continues, “It was time to concentrate on my balcony people and on being a balcony person to others.”  Whoa.  That turns the tables a tad, huh?

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Taken from Liz Curtis Higgs Facebook page, “‘The Choir’ by Ofra Zimbalista, three life-size statues made of painted aluminum in 1995. You can almost hear them singing…”

Joyce teaches us to look for and cultivate the following three traits of a “Balcony Person”:

1 – “They Love.”

2 – “They Listen.”

3 – “They Care from the Heart.”

Joyce directs us to the entire sixteenth chapter of Romans where Paul is cheering numerous people onward.  Joyce calls it the “Biblical ‘balcony person’ passage.”  She says her “favorite balcony motto from Paul is ‘whatever you do, do it with kindness and love.’” (I Corinthians 16:14)

When Jesus was juggling the disciples’ arguments over who was the greatest among them in Luke 9, He gave them the formula, as Joyce calls it, “for being the best manYour care for others is the measure of your greatness.”

 

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In closing, Joyce shares a memory of her grandson being very fearful of an unknown noise:  A big garbage truck screeched to a halt in front of their house.  Joyce said, “James looked up to her yelling, ‘Hug! Hug!’ And the look on his face screamed, ‘Hurry!  Hurry!’”  She added, “I remember reaching down for him and wallpapering his little body to my chest.”  Precious…

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From that experience, she paralleled the noisy “pandemonium of this evil world making us desperate to be:

Hugged,

Rescued

Home safe…

We are shouting through our panic, ‘Hurry!  Hurry!’”

Then she poses, “What is the frightening noise in your life?…

Is it the noise of:

Cancer

Divorce

Rejection

Discouragement

Depression

Loneliness…?

Whatever is pounding loudly in your mind, your body, or your soul,

LET ME BE YOUR BALCONY PERSON.

LET ME HUG YOU WITH MY WORDS.

LET ME WALLPAPER YOUR SOUL TO MINE.”

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Joyce reminds us of the Apostle Paul’s words:  “Long ago, even before He made the world, God chose us to be His very own.” (Check out the whole passage:  Ephesians 1:4-14)

Joyce further encourages: “You and I are His children.   I believe in you.  I’m leaning way, way over your balcony railing; I’m waving my coat above my head, and I’m yelling above the frightening noises of your world, You can do it!  Keep at it!  Keep on!  God’s here beside me; yes that’s right, He’s here, and He’s not sitting down.  YOU  are His child, He is YOUR Father.  and we are BOTH in your balcony cheering YOU on together!”

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I pray this concept of Balcony People has encouraged you…

Who’s in your balcony?

Whose balcony are you in?

May God guide us all to be more attentive to those whose paths we cross.

‘Til next time!

 

 

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More on Gathering Around a Table with Help from Shauna Niequist’s book: BREAD AND WINE

Friends!  The past few weeks we’ve been looking around with mission-minded eyes from our back yards to our front yards, perhaps plopping down turquoise picnic tables in them.

This week we’re going to mosey on inside, and try a few recipes in the kitchen, making some unsuspecting guests at our table very, very happy.

Even if you’re challenged in the cooking department like me, you’ll be so inspired to try what author Shauna Niequist suggests in her super fun book, Bread and Wine—A Love Letter to Life Around the Table (with recipes).

Shauna’s honest, no-nonsense style and wit make this book a page-turner.  Divided into three parts, most chapters, which are lovely vignettes, include a recipe.

All her chocolate recipes call for my favorite ingredient:  dark chocolate. The one I most desperately wish to try ASAP is her three-ingredient “Simplest Dark Chocolate Mousse”.  I know…  She dubs it “cheater mousse”.  LOL.

Sensing some of her readers may be cooking impaired, Shauna offers entertaining tips, a list for what to stock your pantry with, and menu ideas.  It’s the best!  Plus, for those of you who need to eat gluten free, she either shows you how to make the dish GF, or it already is GF.

You’ll become acquainted with Shauna and her husband, Aaron, their two boys, Henry and Mac and many of their unique friends. Her Supper Club sounds like a blast.

Her extended family makes cameos as well and you’ll get a feel for how real they are. In reality, I’m sure it’s tough to escape from under the microscope of her Dad’s mega church, Willow Creek.  (www.willowcreek.org )

Also an accomplished author, Shauna’s Dad, Bill Hybels, clearly loves his family.  Getting a peek into their family is so sweet.  Their devotion to one another is beautiful.

I love how Shauna calls her Mother, Lynne, “a global soul: a poet, an activist, a woman of creativity and conviction and vision, a woman I aspire to be like in a million ways.” Lynne is also a fantastic author.

Just as author Kristin Schell showed us easy ways to be hospitable via a turquoise table, Shauna does the very same at her dining room table.  She proclaims, “Fuss not!”, blissfully chucking perfectionism out the window.

This is how she puts her foot down:  “You can decide that every time you open your door, it’s an act of love, not performance or competition or striving. You can decide that every time people gather around your table, your goal is nourishment, not neurotic proving…” I need to make that quote into a sign and hang it in our kitchen!

Here, Shauna’s readying to prepare a meal…

My Mother was a long-suffering perfectionist.  When John and I would go home to Lexington for dinner, she’d spend the entire afternoon in the kitchen.  We’d serve our plates and she insisted we “go on and eat.”  We complied, but by the time she fixed her plate and came in to eat, we were all nearly done. There we sat.

One petite example:  Jelly was never served in a jelly jar, it was presented in a crystal bowl, silver spoon at the ready.  To this day, I still laugh when I whip out the ketchup and barbecue sauce bottles, salad dressing bottles, etc. and set them on the counter for everyone to self-serve.  (Mother would be horrified. Shauna would say, “Yes!  You can do this!”)

Above and beyond striving for simplicity, Shauna and I could be buddies on many levels. In addition to being a mom of boys, I adore her love for bread.  I’d go one step further and confess my love for bread and butter. (Any of you Whole 30 advocates out there are cringing.)

Shauna explains her title beautifully:  “…I am a bread-and-wine person. By that I mean I’m a Christian, a person of the body and blood, a person of the bread and wine…The two together are the sacred and the material at once, the heaven and earth, the divine and the daily.” To me, that makes communion that much more special.

Another of many favorite quotes in the book is: “Many of the most sacred moments in my life, the ones in which I feel God’s presence most profoundly, when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly, take place around the table.

Something extraordinary happens when we…

Slow down,

Open our homes,

Look into one another’s faces, and

Listen to one another’s stories around the table.”

We also learn early on Shauna bravely put herself in a culinary boot camp.  I applaud her effort. Her experience filters throughout the book in an encouraging if-I-can-do-this-you-can-do-this way.

One statement from the Intro’ seems to be a goal of the book. We readers get to see it in action in each of the meals Shauna serves.  I see it in three parts:

What makes me feel alive and connected to God’s voice and spirit in this world is creating opportunities for the people I love to

(1) Rest and

(2) Connect and

(3) Be fed at my table.” (I added the numbers.)

Dash  to your local bookstore.  Find this book and flip thru’ it.  My guess is you’ll see enough recipes you’ll want to try, especially when you learn the stories behind them…even better!  Bread and Wine would make a great gift as well.

‘Til next time!

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Now We’re Movin’ to the Front Yard with help from Kristin Schell and THE TURQUOISE TABLE…

Friends!  I pray today finds you well…I’m livin’ in the Land of Denial re:  “Summer’s Half Over”…Somehow the 4th of July left us rather rudely in the dust…

Here’s a book for your summer reading whether this finds you poolside, or perched by a picture window…

A recent discovery of this book has snowballed to near avalanche proportions.  Thanks to a favorite, informative resource, www.styleblueprint.com , the gals offered a fascinating interview with author Kristin Schell as a “Face of the South”.

I was so mesmerized by the article, I promptly forwarded it to my friend, Judy, who’s creating her own book with similar offerings.  Judy up and ordered two copies, one for her and one for me.  We’ve simultaneously become enraptured by the book.

The book?  The Turquoise Table—Finding Community and Connection in Your Own Front Yard by Kristen Schell.

Note the beauty of the cover.  I’d have bought it solely from the cover.  Its’ spine is a lovely, sheeny gold and it includes a rich, brown, satin book marker.  Such things tickle me. (You go, Thomas Nelson.)

Each page is thick, easy to turn. Each chapter has beautiful photographs, ideas, recipes (all of which look easy and delicious), and testimonies of others acquiring a turquoise table.  Why the turquoise table you ask?

One weekend, Kristin and her family were going to be entertaining in their back yard and she realized they needed furniture.  A picnic table fit their budget.

Delivery guys plunked the table in her front yard.  This gave Kristin an idea:  What if she left it there, inviting friends and neighbors to visit on a whim?

Oh, but it couldn’t stay in its’ plain ole’ natural wood color.  Flipping thru’ many paint samples, with the help of Kristin’s Mom, Mia, they landed on “Nifty Turquoise”.

Check this out from Bourn Creative:  “The color turquoise is associated with meanings of refreshing, calming, sophisticated, energy, wisdom, serenity, wholeness, creativity, emotional balance, spiritual grounding, friendship, love, joy, tranquility, patience, etc.”

Kristin’s writing style is expressive, funny, and honest.  You’ll relate with her from the first page.  This comes as great relief to the reader as we learn the simplicity of offering hospitality to others.

One of many appealing aspects of the turquoise table is its’ location:  it’s outside.  Thus, no one knows if the inside of your house is a wreck or not.  (Just pray they don’t have to use the bathroom, right?)

Kristen says, “If you’re busy and overwhelmed, the last thing you need is one more project, one more thing to do. Well, you’ll see the Turquoise Table offers simplicity. It’s more than a table; it’s a symbol of reaching out and making room without all the fuss and frenzy.”

In my last post, we talked about our mission fields being in our own back yards. Here we see Kristen showing us:  “We are called to love others in our everyday, ordinary lives…right where we live: in our own front yards.”

Kristen shares how this whole idea of the table evolved.  Many days she begins by sitting at the table alone and soon, others show up. Sometimes she plans get-togethers. Sometimes she’s there with her children.  She adds, “If people come, great, but if not, then you have time to stay unconnected and have room to breathe.”

One on-purpose gathering simply came from a text she sent out saying, “9:00 tomorrow. Yoga pants.”  Love that! (You can hear more from Kristen in a fun interview she did with Eric Metaxas on his radio show.  It aired 6/13/17.  Visit www.metaxastalk.com)

Kristen’s kids began setting out a bowl of water for dogs who walk by, and a bowl of candy to treat their neighbors, just for starters.  She includes other numerous ideas.  To see how this whole idea has evolved and literally spread across the country is astonishing.

After having her fourth child, Kristen began dubbing herself the “Queen of Crazy”.  She prayed a fabulous prayer:  “Lord, edit my life!”  (Note to self…)

Romans 12:13 became her mantra:

You’ll love what you’ll learn about hospitality. It has many different faces according to Kristen.  If she can do this with four young children, surely we can too…

Equally fascinating is a pattern she discovers.  Don’t miss this!  (I’m not about to spoil the discovery for you, you must read the book!)

Countless people have written to Kristen sharing their stories, including some challenges their HOA has presented and their very clever solutions. One of many favorite ideas from Kristen’s time at the table is she’s begun setting out an “iBasket”…which you can guess collects cell phones.  Kristen said in the Style Blueprint interview, “There’s no ‘i’ device that will ever replace ‘eye’ contact.”  Whoa.

Combine quiet, unplugged time with the  “Ministry of Presence”, thanks to inspiration from an eighty-four-year-old widow in Prague…

Her name is Ludmilla.  She has a plaque on the outside of her apartment that says, “Embassy of the Kingdom of Heaven.” She opens her door and her heart to friends and strangers. Kristen said Ludmilla encouraged her to “want to have a simple table spread with abundant love. To offer an atmosphere of joy and peace.” 

Any argument you could have about beginning this endeavor, Kristen answers.  It almost becomes comical because you feel as if she’s reading your mind.

One of many favorite activities in the book is to “Start a Front Yard People Journal.”  This helps you remember neighbors’ names, their family, prayer requests, etc.—Almost a guest book of sorts.

I’ll go so far as to recommend you start your own version of a guest book whether you’re considering a turquoise table or not.  My same friend Judy who gave me Kristen’s book says her one major regret over the years from having hosted countless missionaries, pastors, authors, friends, and family is not recording who all has gathered and placed their feet under her table.  That would make for a fascinating book!  (We’re anxiously awaiting yours, Judy!!! You can do it!)

Friend, run don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab The Turquoise Table.  You’ll love it.  It’s also an excellent gift idea.  My daughters-in-love are getting a copy ASAP.  It would also be a beautiful coffee table book, guaranteeing lively conversation.

‘Til next time!

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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!

 

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

Filed under Book Clubs, Book Reviews

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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Filed under Book Reviews, Life Lessons