Category Archives: Family

More Christmas Gift Ideas! New devo’ by Liz Curtis Higgs and Beautiful Custom-Made Mirrors! (Part 2 of 4)

Friends! Oh, each week leading up to Christmas gets better and this week I’ve got TWO gift ideas just for you!

Liz Curtis Higgs’ newest book, 31 Proverbs to Light Your Path would make a spectacular gift for your friends or family.  The book’s jacket gives us a teaser saying it’s “A daily devotional and small group Bible study gift book brimming with encouragement.” You can take that to the bank a la Lizzie…

Each of Liz’s thirty-seven books, upon launch, is my current favorite du jour, but this one, call me crazy, is really, really, special—in a bizarre-o way. Most of you know Liz was diagnosed with cancer this past summer. She had completed the manuscript for this book prior to her diagnosis.

When you read 31 Verses, it is uncanny how the Lord went before Liz, as if preparing her for what was ahead.  Each chapter gives me chills, especially “Tomorrow, Tomorrow.”

In true Lizzie fashion, Liz dissects these verses, word by word and phrase by phrase, showing us different translations of the Bible which are eye-opening. I’ve highlighted and dog-eared many a page.

The verse in this chapter?

Liz reminds us, “A thousand years after Solomon wrote this verse in Proverbs, Jesus offed the same wisdom:

While statistics can scare us silly, Liz, a lovely ambassador for hope, tells us point blank, “I am not a woman without hope.” In the wake of chemo’ and radiation, Liz will be boldly speaking about “Endless Hope” in her talks for Prison Fellowship events, pointing us to the One who promises hope:

Each chapter concludes with a fun little activity called, “One Minute, One Step.”  It’s a suggestion to help you grab onto the concept of the Scripture verse Liz has just written about.  These are easy and make you say, “Huh, why haven’t I thought of that before?”

At the end of the book are 2-3 Bible study questions per chapter which you can do on your own, or with your Bible study group or Small Group.  They’re thought provoking and rich with application.

I could never choose a favorite chapter, but I can give you one more peek into one more chapter because I have yet another special gift idea for you which relates directly to this verse!

This comes from the chapter called “Looking Glass” and the verse Liz helps us with is Proverbs 27:19,

Each chapter also concludes with a prayer and the one from this chapter is the perfect lead in to our next gift idea:

Amen.

So, while we’re talking about our appearance, allow me to introduce you to a darling, young entrepreneur by the name of Nicole Tarpoff. She is creating custom designed mirrors in all sizes and colors.

For an early Christmas gift, Gordy, Lauren and Lauren’s Mom, Pam, presented John Jr., and Diana with a gift during Thanksgiving.  They’d given Nicole a picture of our granddaughter (Well, ok, their niece, too. LOL), Claire Elizabeth. Nicole prayed for Claire while she made this mirror and included a personal prayer especially for her on the back of the mirror.

Nicole started her ministry by saying, “An object that the enemy once used for destruction in my life is the very same object that the Lord is using to birth a ministry.”

She adds, “Every mirror is prayerfully designed to be a piece that shifts the atmosphere in the room. These pieces are to serve as a reminder we’re called to reflect Him. We were made for love, we were created to serve, and we were designed to bring Him glory. But it starts here. It starts by us boldly claiming who we are in Him, declaring over ourselves the very truths that He has spoken over us from the beginning. This is more than mirrors, it’s a movement.” AMEN

Here’s our little Claire when she received her mirror:

Here’s a snippet of the prayer Nicole wrote out for Claire (…and may I add there were several tears flowing down all of our cheeks during the reading.)

 

I recently heard Andy Stanley talking about when people do something nice for your children (or grandchildren in this case)…You discover it brings you honor and you never forget it.  It blesses your socks off and warms your heart. It’s the BEST. Who are you thinking about who could be blessed by one of these mirrors?

If you’d like to contact Nicole about making a mirror for your daughter or granddaughter or niece, her email is:  Nicole.tarpoff@uky.edu  She’s also on Instagram under her name and you may direct message her @nicoletarpoff.

May you and your families savor the wonder of this Christmas season.

‘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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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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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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Big Excitement from Sally Lloyd Jones’ Jesus Storybook Bible—10th Anniversary! And more!

Friends!  Blessings to you this week.  I’ve got some fun news for you about more than one book by one of my favorite children’s authors, Sally Lloyd-Jones. (We adults enjoy her books as much as our children and grandchildren do.)

I first learned about Sally Lloyd-Jones one weekend when our middle son, Gordy, was home from college several years ago.  He asked me if I’d take him out and buy him a book.  Friends, now this kind of request rarely happens from a boy who’s in college.

This wasn’t a book he needed for classes.  This was a book he heard about from some kids involved with the ministry of  Campus Outreach. All the kids were talking about and reading a children’s Bible.  The Bible?  The Jesus Storybook Bible—Every Story Whispers His Name.

Yes, well, I don’t know about you, but if your child asks you for any Bible, wouldn’t you be thrilled?  Gordy and I marched out and bought a copy for him and a copy for John and me.

The staffers at Campus Outreach were smart.  They were showing college students all about the Bible via Jago’s cool illustrations and Sally Lloyd-Jones’ storytelling skills based on the Bible. Sally’s creation has not only reached and touched college students’  lives, now in its’ tenth year, it’s been translated into thirty-three languages all over the world. Ponder that for a minute…

Here’s a pic of the new gift edition:

Sally begins by reassuring us readers, “You see, the best thing about this Story is—it’s true. There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.”

I love what she says in the section on Adam and Eve, “You see no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love his children—with a

Never Stopping,

Never Giving Up,

Unbreaking,

Always and

Forever Love.”

(These five types of love are repeated throughout her book.)

Another favorite part is found in Paul’s transformation when he says to the people, “It’s not about keeping rules! You don’t have to be good at being good for God to love you. You just have to believe what Jesus has done and follow him. Because it’s not about trying, it’s about trusting. It’s not about rules, It’s about Grace: God’s free gift—that cost him everything.”

I just love how she explains the Gospel.  This book really is for everyone, not  just children!

I discovered another book by Sally at a shower given for me to “Stock the Grandmother’s Library” my cousin Bonnie hosted.  Talk about book heaven! Baby’s Hug-A-Bible is an adorable book, and one where the child can literally hug the fleece-covered book.  It includes ten favorite Bible stories in rhyme.  It would be a great way to introduce your child or grandchild to God’s Word.

For the toddlers who are being potty trained, don’t miss another one of Sally’s books with the best title ever:  Skip to the Loo, My Darling! A Potty Book.  The illustrations and rhyming words are just too terrific.  Beyond clever.

I heard Sally interviewed about this book on the Eric Metaxas Show.  They are long-time friends. You’ll find their back and forth banter priceless. www.metaxastalk.com

She was also recently on his show talking about the 10th Anniversary edition of The Jesus Storybook Bible as well as the Stories and Songs Tour she would be doing with Amy Grant and Ellie Holcomb.  (It ran from March 19-May 13.)

Sally was born in Uganda.  She reveals while she was only nine years of age, at a boarding school no less, she experienced God speaking into her life about her future. It’s an irrefutable God-incident!

Sally’s newest children’s book, Found:  Psalm 23 sounds strangely familiar to her own story.  It’s her paraphrase of Psalm 23 from The Jesus Storybook Bible.

The books we’ve talked about this week are just a sampling of many, many wonderful offerings Sally’s written.  Pop over to her website and check them out. (www.sallylloyd-jones.com ) I can’t begin to say which is my favorite, but I’m on a mission to “research” them all, one by one, and soon will be reading them to our little Claire, Lord willing.

‘Til next time!

 

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Don’t Make Me Come In There… “The Power of a Whisper” by Bill Hybels Makes You Think

Friends! I pray today finds you well and that perhaps you’re getting to experience a beautiful spring day.  It’s been a wild-n-crazy week in the Hoagland Household. (Translation: Not enough hours in the day.)

I found a post on a most helpful and interesting book by Bill Hybels which I wrote about a while ago, worthy of a reprise. Please enjoy.

Next week,  I’ve got a fun, new devotional to share with you. It will lift your spirits every day.

May you have a blessed week and hear from the Holy Spirit thanks to Bill’s great thoughts…


 

Ahhhh…Motherhood…. A time when you finally admit, “Never say never!”

How ‘bout a for instance?

“I’ll never be one of those Mothers who chucks a pop tart in the back seat to my child on the way to school.”  Busted.

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“I’ll never plunk my child down in front of a TV and let him/her sit for hours.”  Busted.

 “I”ll never scream and yell like a  possessed person at my child.”  Yeah, right.

To this day, our boys’ favorite seemingly-possessed-style-of-parenting was me shouting “May Day!  May Day!” at the top of my lungs when something really went awry.  As if “the troops” knew I was waving a major white flag?

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After years of experimentation (!!!), probably the biggest attention grabber in my mothering was lowering my voice, in a do-or-die whisper.  Whispering won out way over yelling.  Greatest fear factor:  Whispering “Don’t Make Me Come In There!”

So what exactly do you do when someone’s whispering to you?  You sit still, ears at attention, and you listen

This week I’d like to share some highlights from an intense book by Bill Hybels:  The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond.  It had me from its’ title…

Not such a gutsy gal, I prayed this book would give me some gargantuan guts. (I s’pose “Guts for God” sounds better…)

Allow me to share the wealth:

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Bill begins with informing us he’s been on a fifty-year odyssey of hearing whispers from God.  Bill expounds: “Inaudible whispers at that!…My entire journey comes down to a series of unplanned promptings from heaven that have charted a course for my life even I never could have foreseen.”

Sound crazy?  Perhaps.  But…to encounter Bills’ experiences all over the world  immediately hooks and leads us, the readers, to want to learn to listen expectantly and prayerfully.

After citing Samuel’s story, how he became a prophet of God from listening to God  in I Samuel 3, Bill shares a poem one of his teachers gave him which he memorized in the second grade:

“Oh! Give me Samuel’s ear,

An open ear, O Lord,

Alive and quick to hear

Each whisper of Thy Word;

Like him to answer to Thy call

And to obey Thee first of all.” (A hymn by James Drummond Burns)

Titus 3:5 returned to Bills’ memory when he surrendered his life to Christ:  “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” (NIV)

Soon after that, a Christian man offered to buy Bill dinner.  Over burgers, the man asked him a show-stopping question:  “What are you going to do with your life that will last forever?…I’m just curious what you’ll do that will outlive you and all of those earthly accomplishments.”

Oh boy…that’ll make you think, huh?  My husband, John, is always saying upon his death, he just hopes he’s missed.  Not remembered so much for what he did, but because if you are missed, you have touched others’  lives.

obits

We are forever and a day laughing at obituaries that rattle on and on and on filled with clubs and organizations people belonged to as if a resume is needed…for heaven?  I don’t think so.

Bill also reminds us of Romans 8:6 “For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (ESV)

Billy Graham, in his book Day by Day, tells us what the Holy Spirit does for us:  “The Holy Spirit illuminates the minds of people, makes us yearn for God, and takes spiritual truth and makes it understandable to us.”

Billy’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, in a recent  Decision Magazine said “Learning to recognize the voice of God is critical, not only for our own peace of mind but also for developing a personal relationship with Him and for living a life pleasing to Him.”  There’s the peace found from Romans 8:6.

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Well how exactly do we hear from the Spirit?  Bill gives us five filters to help us test every whisper we receive.  He says, “No matter how confusing, challenging, or unsettling a prompting may be, if it passes the following filters, I obey it every time:

Filter #1:  Is the Prompting Truly from God?

Filter #2:  Is it Scriptural?

Filter #3:  Is it Wise?

Filter #4:  Is It in Tune with Your Own Character?

Filter #5:  What do the People You Most Trust Think About it?”

The best way to learn more about these, in addition to the book, is to watch the below YouTube clip where Bill talks about this whole concept and explains the filters.  It’s only eighteen minutes long.  The testimony included will bring you to tears.

Stormie Omartian, in her book Lead Me Holy Spirit affirms the concept of being rooted in our faith:  “The Holy Spirit is the power of God flowing through you, and that puts you on solid ground, like a house built on rock.”

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Last week we talked about how we want to become rooted like redwoods. All of these  authors we’ve heard from today are textbook examples of Colossians 2:6-7:  “My counsel for you is simple and straightforward:  Just go ahead with what you’ve been given.  You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You’re deeply rooted in him.  You’re well constructed upon him.  You know your way around the faith.  Now do what you’ve been taught.  School’s out;  quit studying the subject and start living it!  And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.” (The Message)  Don’t miss those last two crucial sentences!

Look at how The Voice puts it in verse seven:  “Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundationBe strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness.”

May it be with us…

‘Til next time!

 

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Calling All “Fixer Upper” Fans…(Make it a Merry “Magnolia Story” Christmas!)

Friends! Are we really in the month of December?  Translation: The countdown to Christmas has arrived. As of this writing, it’s early in December, however many folks have had the nerve to reveal they’re done with their Christmas shopping.

Herein lies the challenge to “rejoice with those who rejoice”…I fear I must be related to Scrooge. Very distantly, of course.

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Good news is there are plenty of delightful distractions to detour one’s potentially foul mood. Bigger bonus: My cousin Bonnie, a/k/a Bow Creator Extraordinaire, has moved right up the street from us. I can magically appear in her foyer in three minutes, tops, begging for a bow. Smiling with relief while typing…

One of my favorite distractions is a wildly popular TV show, Fixer Upper, starring Chip and Joanna Gaines. Their new season has just begun, and there are plenty of other seasons to catch up on. www.magnoliamarket.com  Just ask my friend, Val, who “caught up” on all of them while recovering from surgery. She’s newly hooked.

Before we talk about the show, surely you’ve seen the Gaines’ new book, The Magnolia Story. It landed lickety-split on the New York Times’ Bestseller List and hasn’t left.

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Now that I’ve read it, I also learned Chip and Joanna recently recorded the audio version which would be a total hoot. The book uses two different fonts, helping us readers distinguish whether Chip or Joanna is the one writing. The audio version where one could actually hear them would be stellar.

Mark Dagostino is who helped Chip and Joanna write the book. He has completely captured their personalities. We can literally envision them bantering back and forth. While it’s their story, as in non-fiction, it’s quite the page-turner.

The book also takes us down memory lane via a large section of adorable pictures. You can see their childhood pics, wedding pics, and of course, Fixer Upper pics.

I learned of their show from one of our daughters-in-love, LT. She was wildly blessed by one of her friends last fall who invited her to go to Waco, Texas for the Grand Opening of the Magnolia Market at The Silos. (Silobration)

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LT’s friend, Jamie Marshall Dorr, happened to register to win tickets to the Opening, never thinking she’d win. Lo and behold, she not only won, she won four tickets! Jamie took her sister, Randy, plus LT, and LT’s sister, Chelsea. We could hear them shouting many miles away they were so excited.

They got to go to the Grand Opening, attend a concert by Johnny Swim, meet Clint Harp, the fab furniture maker, and even spend some time with Chip and Joanna:

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Left to right:  Joanna, Jamie, Randy, LT, Chelsea and Chip

And don’t miss the identical leather jackets Joanna and LT are sporting. (Thank you, Anthro’….)

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In addition to learning how Chip and Joanna built their business (you’ll be stunned to learn at one point, they nearly went belly up financially), you’ll connect with a beautiful theme within the book: Their steadfast faith in God. They consistently give God the glory in their endeavors while never waivering in their faith or trust in Him, even in the hard times.

Being a huge fan of Billy Graham and his family, I was excited to learn Chip credits Billy Graham and Danny Lotz (Anne Graham’s husband) with leading him and his family to the Lord. His Mother attended a Billy Graham Crusade in 1975.  Her newfound faith trickled down to her children.

Later while attending college at Baylor, Chip met the Lotz’ children and got to spend time in their home.  He said Danny took an interest in him and mentored him, showing him what a relationship with Jesus Christ looked like. (This came from an article in Decision magazine this past May.)

Both Chip and Joanna are very candid in their book.  They reveal lessons they’ve learned which have the potential to open our eyes to our own foibles.

For example, one home Chip and Joanna bought was what they then considered their dream home. It was in a lovely area of Waco. Joanna worked her creativity to perfection. Problem was they had little bitty children who naturally made messes, leaving trails of who-knows-what behind.

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Joanna said she was constantly fussing at them, straightening, picking up, forever exhausted and frustrated. Her “aha!” moment finally came when they moved to a much smaller home where she purposefully created fun, livable spaces for her kids to just be kids, spill milk, squish play-doh, etc.

She said, “If all I’m doing is creating beautiful spaces, I’m failing. But if I’m creating beautiful spaces where families are thriving, then I’m really doing something. Doing that became my new calling…It’s not just about pretty anymore. It’s about practical.” Stunned, she said, “I saw my family come alive in ways I’d never quite felt before.”

When their Magnolia Market at the Silos opened in October 2015, Joanna said she felt like they’d come full circle. She said, “If ever I needed proof that I should trust God with my dreams, this was certainly it.   He turned my little dream, my mustard seed of faith, into all this.”

What a visual of Matthew 17:20!

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Joanna concludes, “Not even a decade after I made that difficult decision to close my shop to stay home with my babies, God delivered on the promise of making my dreams come true in ways that were bigger than I ever imagined.”

This is where I hear Ephesians 3:20 blessing the Gaineses plus us readers:

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Lastly, my favorite thing about Chip and Joanna is they are complete WYSIWYGs. (What-you-see-is-what-you-get.) The folks at HGTV capture their authenticity which is the main ingredient that draws us viewers in. (It’s throughout the pages of their book as well.)

Joanna says, “We love our kids, we love each other, we love this town, and we love our clients. That’s the heart behind our show.”

If you need another Christmas gift idea this season, your friends would enjoy reading the The Magnolia Story. It’s a fascinating journey.

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Meanwhile, enjoy this Christmas season and may we all remember the reason for the season.

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‘Til next time!

 

 

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