Category Archives: Life Lessons

A Man Walks into a Bar…(When Today May Be Your Last)

Friends! Lest you think I’m vying for late night TV, a man really did walk into a bar.  John and I were right there, and this is no joke…

Being empty nesters for a handful of years, we’ve developed hilarious habits. My favorite habit happens to be eating out. (Emphasis on O-U-T.)

Recently, while dining at one of our favorite haunts, Porcini’s (www.porcinilouisville.com), something happened which opened our eyes… porcini-store-front2 John and I were talking to one of our favorite waitresses who informed us EMS would be arriving soon. Seems a guy literally walked in off the street and hollered, “I think I’m having a heart attack.”

Sure enough, we began to hear sirens. A fire truck and an ambulance pulled up out front. Before we knew it, the EMT’s were whisking a stretcher, occupied by this guy, thru’ the door, and up into the ambulance. Off they went. Ambulance car back at the white background While I don’t know the outcome, it sure made me think: What if that evening, that man didn’t live to see the next morning?

Which of course leads me to pose three huge questions to us all:

What if today was your last day on this Earth?

– Are you sure you’re Heaven bound?

– While you’re at it, are you aging gracefully?”

Not too long ago, several of us were finishing up the Bible study on Acts of God—Why Does God Allow So Much Pain? by Bob Russell. As God would orchestrate, we were on Chapter Eleven which discusses the trials of aging.

Bob shares the painful process of watching his Mother succumb to Alzheimer’s. Several of my friends are dealing with this very scenario as I type. It’s not easy by any stretch. My own Mother died of Advanced Dementia.

Bob tells about two final encouraging visits he had with his Mother, long after she quit recognizing him. They began as seemingly futile. One visit, when Bob was about to leave, he decided to read the 23rd Psalm to his Mother. Like a switch was turned on, she began to quote it with him, word for word. psalm23 On another visit, Bob and his brother, John, began singing a hymn, and their Mother suddenly sang along with them. Bob said, “God is at work in ways we never see. I thanked Him and praised Him on my way home.”

Here’s the bottom line: “It’s only human to fear the unknown, of course, but at some point, genuine trust in God should make the difference.” May we truly trust, daily.

Bob reminds us, “Revelation 2:10 is a promise from the mouth of Christ: ‘Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.’”

Bob talks about people aging gracefully, and of some who do not. You’ll be astonished to learn about Florence Nightingale.

You’ll get tickled when Bob discusses those who get so consumed with all their aches and pains they take themselves out of the battle before it’s fought. Does anyone or several someones come to mind? Clouds and female hand waving with a white flag to surrender Or have you heard, “Oh, we must make the trip, for this could be Aunt Edna’s (or fill-in-the-blank of your longest living relative) last Thanksgiving!” Bob says if we are to age gracefully, we must “live life to the fullest, and let God decide when the curtains are going to close.”

Finally, one more point to consider: “The truth of heaven should also impact our feelings of urgency in sharing the Gospel with those we love.” Old Bible With Sword Do you have a friend or family member who needs to hear the Good News? I keep thinking of that man We saw who came into the restaurant, right off the street. Did he know the Lord? I pray so.

Bob concludes, “Every act of God carries more meaning than our minds can grasp. No matter how we mourn, no matter how sad some days can be, we must believe that God is loving and good, and that someday, in His presence, we’ll see the whole picture and understand that the darkest moments of this life were necessary ingredients to the brightest miracles he was planning.”

May our eyes be opened to those God places in our path.

Press on, friends.

Be ready.

‘Til next time!

(FYI: The teaching DVD’s to Acts of God are incredible. They include clips from the movie of the same name, memorable teaching by Bob, and helpful nuggets from God’s Word. I highly recommend it for your small group/Bible study. You can find these at The Living Word Bookstore, www.livingword.org or, you can order them from www.actsofgodthemovie.com or www.cityonahillstudio.com )

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Get a Front Row Seat to Surviving a Storm with Rick and Karen Santorum

Friends!  I recently caught a fascinating interview with Senator Rick Santorum on the Eric Metaxas Show.

I’ve always respected Rick immensely and didn’t realize he’s currently a Senior Political Commentator on  CNN.  He’s on Anderson Cooper and on Chris Cuomo and one of the morning shows each week!  (Which rock have I been under?)

The other wonderful discovery from Eric Metaxas’ show was learning about a book Rick and his wife, Karen, wrote called Bella’s Gift:  How One Little Girl Transformed Our Family and Inspired a Nation. (Their daughter, Elizabeth, helped them write the book.)

As with many of Eric’s guests who write books, upon hearing the interview, I immediately ordered the book.  Reading the book is like you’re sitting down with Rick and Karen (each of them have written several chapters) while they walk us through a whale of a storm they experienced and continue to live with each day.

Parents to eight children, one of which died soon after he was born (Gabriel—his death was their first storm they encountered prior to the current one they’re enduring. Karen wrote a book about Gabriel and their experience:  Letters to Gabriel), we see how their last child, Bella, impacts the entire family which is hugely miraculous.

Bella was born with Trisomy 18.  Most babies born with this condition don’t survive more than a few days. You’ll be astonished at some of the doctors Bella had who never called her by name, wrote her off as untreatable, considered her not worth their time, while calling her “incompatible with life.”

The first few days of Bella’s life were frightening to say the least, charting unknown territory.  Karen says, “A strong prayer chain strengthened and sustained us. Our families and friends were the hands of Christ during her hospitalization.”  And you can see how they remain strong week in and week out throughout the book.

The Mama Bear in me surfaced quickly and Karen, more than once, called this instinct we moms have her “inner Grizzly Bear.”  Happy with relief over finally finding docs who were on board, compassionate, and who gave Bella wonderful care, Rick and Karen brought Bella home where she’s blossomed, has six siblings who adore her and I’m happy to report is now eleven years old!

Frightening trips to the hospital keep the Santorum family on their toes, along with multi-faceted daily care for Bella.  How did they survive the early years and how do they keep putting one foot forward every day? And how in the world did Rick run for President during all of this?  (You must read the book to find out!)

You will be inspired by bold faith, gut-level honesty, and pearls of wisdom both Rick and Karen generously share.  Additionally, you may wonder (and marvel) at how they held their marriage together.  Plus you will never look at a special-needs child the same again, that I can promise.  The Santorum’s teach us, “We see that value is not determined by what society calls ‘usefulness,’ but, rather, value is measured by our capacity to love.”

While each of the eighteen chapters has the word “love” in its title, each offers a glimpse at the many ways love affects us and how we can learn to emulate this beautiful kind of God-given love toward one another.

My two favorite chapters are Chapter 13:  Love Unifies (by Karen) and Chapter 14: Love Encourages Selflessness (by Rick).

In Chapter 13, Karen reveals advice she gives newlyweds based on her own marriage and experiences.  She says, “It’s good to understand that marriage is never 50-50. Sometimes, whether it’s emotional, physical, or spiritual, one of you will need the encouragement and strength of the other. You will give 90 %. …Believe and love each other through the imbalances. …because there’s no room for selfishness in marriage.”

She quotes Ephesians 4:26 as their go-to verse:  “Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Karen says when they do have a conflict, Rick always says, “I’m not going anywhere, so let’s just work it out.” I love that and Karen closes with, “Amen.”

Karen and Rick emphasize the importance of family in every chapter.  Because their children were old enough to take on many chores, etc., they were a huge help to Karen managing the care for Bella.  She grew up in a large family and she says,

The Santorums consider Bella a gift to their family for a lot of reasons, and Karen says, “One of the most important reasons was to revisit and strengthen my understanding of love through the fear of loss…Rick and I both understood that ‘There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.’” (I John 4:18)

Last week I wrote about a book by Lloyd John Ogilvie called Facing the Future without FearPrescriptions for Courageous Living in the New Millennium.  Lloyd was the Chaplain to the Senate during the time Rick was a Senator.  In Rick and Karen’s book, Rick credits Lloyd, along with a priest, for transforming his faith. You will see in each chapter how strong their faith is which helps them navigate this storm they’re enduring.  God’s impeccable timing is nothing short of miraculous.

Karen closes Chapter 13 with, “Our love for each other and for our Lord has unified us through all the ups and downs. The twists and turns of life have brought us even closer together.” This chapter is inspirational and filled with words of wisdom on the loss of a child, on surviving a storm, and on how to preserve your marriage.  As with each of the chapters, it offers multiple Bible verses (she calls them “sacred Scripture”) you’ll want to write in your journal asap.

Regarding their storm, Karen said, “Venturing into uncharted, stormy seas, my vessel was my faith, and it separated me from the sea of madness and sorrow.”

In Chapter 14, Rick speaks about the importance of family and shows us how “Love Encourages Selflessness.”  He says, “Families are the foundation of society, so when families are healthy, so is the country.” We get to learn of Rick’s childhood and how he saw what it meant for family to come first.

Rick addresses selflessness both in families and in marriage. He teaches us the acronym for FAMILY:  “Forget About Me I Love You.”

Rick once had the opportunity to meet Saint Teresa of Calcutta.  She said something he never forgot, “God does not call on you to do great things; He calls on you to do little things with great love.”

Chapter 15, “Love Begets Peace,” opens with a lovely quote from Madeline L’Engle:

I am certain Rick and Karen have been a beautiful visual of the light of Christ to scores of people they’ve encountered. Whether it was in the political arena, or in hospitals or doctors offices where they’ve  been with Bella, their light from our Lord is causing many to want what they have.

It’s no coincidence Karen used to be a neonatal intensive care nurse. More than once, when they had to call 911 for Bella, Rick and the children chime in it was Karen who saved Bella.  Any time Bella gets a simple cold, it usually goes into her chest, causing breathing to be difficult and a downward spiral to her health.

What Karen and Rick have done for Bella, not just for her as their child, but for thousands of children with special-needs, fighting for their rights and the perfect care, is above and beyond, making all of us realize afresh we are all created by the same God who loves each and every one of us, each with our own purpose to glorify God as He would orchestrate. Amen and amen and thank you, Rick and Karen Santorum for this beautiful, eye-opening book.  God Bless you and your family!

‘Til next time!

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A “Fear Not” a Day Keeps the Devil Away

Friends! Remember your parents telling you “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?”  I didn’t fall for that for long. To this day, I have to force myself to sit down and eat an apple. Don’t ask me why…

Fun sidebar:  A more interesting proverb about the apple first appeared in 1866 in Wales,

“Eat an apple on going to bed and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.”

While most medical experts agree this isn’t true re: docs, some say the act of eating an apple can keep the pharmacist away. Do try this at home…

I have even better medical news (as in “prescriptions” to lower your stress, coupled with giving-peace-of-mind-news), thanks of course, to a book with my name on it. Not literally, but you’ll learn why this book jumped out at me recently…

The book? Facing the Future without Fear:  Prescriptions for Courageous Living in the New Millennium by Lloyd John Ogilvie.

Lloyd was the  61st Chaplain to the U.S. Senate from 1995-2003. Prior to that he pastored First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, California for twenty-three years.  He also authored fifty plus books!

Sadly, Lloyd John Ogilvie died just this month (June of 2019) at 88 years of age. U.S. Senator Mark O.Hatfield said to hear him preach was like experiencing a “living gospel.”

In an interview in 1989, Ogilvie said,

Now, to the book:  First off, and primo to remember, Lloyd teaches us there are 366 “Fear nots” in the Bible.  One for every day, including leap year! Thence the title of this post:  “A ‘fear not’ a day keeps the devil away.”

Each of the book’s twelve chapters are “prescriptions for courageous living.”  If I had to pick a favorite, I’d choose Prescription #9:

 

Lloyd took a survey of the causes of fear and many answered, “imaginary fears.”  He said, “Some went on to explain that many of their worst fears never happened. And yet they continued to be victims of their gloomy imaginations.”

Look at these ever-so-true words from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Some of your hurts you have cured

And the sharpest you still have survived

But what torment of grief you’ve endured

From hurts that never arrived.”

It never occurred to me to confess our fearful imaginations to the Lord and BEGGING (my word choice, lol) Him to make our imagination “a channel of His vision and NOT a breeding place for fear.” Lloyd adds the importance and the dire need of our understanding what the Lord intended for our imaginations to do, that it must frustrate and distort His original purpose when we don’t consider such.  What a way to think!  Lloyd assures us if we do this, “then we can claim His power to live out each day as fearless, imaginative, and healthy Christians.”

Let’s reiterate those three adjectives!  FEARLESS, IMAGINATIVE, and HEALTHY!!!

Lloyd continues to define imagination for us:  It is:

“The God-given ability of the thinking brain to form and hold images of thought.

“The drama department of the mind, giving our ideas form and structure,

“It produces the motion picture version of our thought.”

And, if that’s not mind-blowing enough, we’re reminded of Joel 2:28-29 which says,

Lloyd said, regarding the above verse, “It’s not only the prediction of the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, but it’s also the promise of the renaissance of the imagination.”  Friends, I HAVE NEVER CONSIDERED THIS BEFORE, HAVE YOU?

Frankly it was a relief to discover later in the chapter that Lloyd had never considered this before either until he kept reading Paul’s words regarding “the fullness of God.”

Let’s read Ephesians 3:17-19:

Now, tuck your toes under the table as they’re about to get stepped on:  Lloyd then asked himself this question:  “If I have been created to receive all of the fullness, have I responded with all of my life?”

He had the revelation he’d been using his imagination to promote fear, not faith, so he made a deep commitment to the Lord re: his imagination and prayed for the fullness of His Spirit to fill it, heal it and use it to help him see himself and other people and the church the way the Lord does. This was a huge “aha” for Lloyd and is also, I’m sure, for us readers! WOW.

The end of the chapter includes six points to recap the wealth of information we’re given in Chapter Nine. The sixth point is my favorite because it truly reminds us to bookend our days with prayer:

I must admit I was deeply saddened to learn of Lloyd’s recent death because I wanted to write him and tell him how much this book has meant to me.  Being fearful is one of my many activities du jour which produce ridiculous worry, thence the need to “readjust” my imagination just as Lloyd advises.

I nearly fell out of my chair while reading another faith-equipping book (which I’ll be writing about next!), called Bella’s Gift:  How One Little Girl Transformed Our Family and Inspired a Nation by Rick and Karen Santorum with Elizabeth Santorum.

I’m sure y’all remember Rick and his run for presidency.  He tells us early into the book how Lloyd John Ogilvie transformed his faith, calling Lloyd a “great man of God.”  (This was while Rick got to sit under Lloyd’s preaching and teaching when he was Chaplain to the Senate!)

Finally, another big fan of Lloyd was author and pastor John Ortberg.  When John was a student at Fuller Seminary, he would sneak over to Hollywood Presbyterian (where Lloyd was the pastor) to watch and learn.  John said, “LLoyd John Ogilvie was a kind of statesman in the world of evangelical Christianity whose type is sorely needed and will be badly missed. He deeply valued the life of the mind and was a model scholar-pastor. At the same time, his commitment to a life of prayer and a fresh experience of intimacy with God shone thru’ almost every sermon…How good God was to lend him to us for a while.”

Dash away, dash away all to your nearest bookstore and grab Facing the Future Without Fear:  Prescriptions for Courageous Living in the New Millenium. You will be so blessed!

‘Til next time!

 

 

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What Can We Learn From A 92-Year-Old Prayer Warrior?

Friends!  I mustn’t let one more minute fly by without revealing a discovery I predict will change every reader’s prayer life.  It’s a delightful discovery because it’s based on the woman who inspired the character, Miss Clara, in the movie War Room. 

The book?  The Audacious Molly Bruno:  Amazing Stories from the Life of a Powerful Woman of Prayer

Molly Bruno is the incredible prayer warrior we become acquainted with. We get lovely sneak peeks into Molly’s life, thanks to her daughter, Marie Armenia, who authored the book.

The Foreword is by Stephen Kendrick of the Kendrick brothers who co-wrote and produced the movie War Room.  Molly became friends with them and with the cast (including Priscilla Shirer, Beth Moore, etc.) She especially became close with Stephen.

She prayed for the movie fervently during production, sadly passing away just as it came out. However, the crew sent her the movie early so she could see how it turned out. She declared she was proud of every single detail.

This inspiring book includes, get ready for this:  EIGHTY, count ‘em 80, Life Lessons from Molly.  Each chapter includes recipes for:

 

PLUS, the end of the book has two appendices:  One of the list of Molly’s Life lessons AND the recipe for Molly’s Meatballs!  What a resource to treasure!

First I’d like to share a couple of endorsements and then I’ll share just a few highlights without giving away too much of the book.  There’s so much you’ll be blown away by, I don’t want to spoil the discoveries for you!

Tim Enloe said, “The secret of Molly’s life was that she was wonderfully, unusually dependent upon Jesus.”

Ralph Duncan said, “Molly Bruno models how an ordinary mother can partner with God in shaping the world!”

Ivey Harrington Beckmann said, “Molly Bruno did not walk on water, but she was the hands and feet of Jesus wherever she went…Marie Armenia has captured the effervescent soul of her mom and given women the lifeline of Molly’s exceptional wisdom so they can navigate the rough seas of life with faith, hope, and laughter.” (Don’t miss that word “lifeline!”)

One of the first things we learn about Molly is revealed to us by her daughter, Marie.  Marie declares her mother was “a nuclear -powered witnessing machine.” We readers get to see Molly in action, first-hand.  Molly and Marie take us by the hand and mentor us along the way.

Marie tells us that prayer for her mom “was like eating candy to her—a sweet JOY to her.”  It was Molly’s way of living.  Her two-word solution was always, “Let’s pray.”  It’s not a coincidence that 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray continually.

Chapter Two contains one of my many favorite Life Lessons, #14:

This lesson came on the heels of 9/11 hitting in New York City, the very week Marie and her husband were moving her parents to Nashville, Tennessee from the Big Apple.  Lo, and behold, with the terrorist attack and all that came with it, there were no moving vans in NYC.

Marie kept trying to relay the severity of the situation to her mother who was not to be dissuaded, praying like she always did.  It wasn’t three more minutes until the phone rang and a man from a moving company posed the most curious question, “Does anyone there need a moving truck?”

No, I’m not kidding, and this kind of scenario is in every single chapter.  You will flip, I promise. (And don’t miss the chapter on dreams.  Uncanny and total proof our Lord is in every detail of our lives.)

And, I love Molly’s Life Lesson #16:  “If prayer is your first response in every situation, it will become your children’s first response in every situation.”  That should make us all parent differently, huh?

Chapter Four is hands down another favorite:  “The Recipe for Reading and Understanding the Bible.” Marie tells us her parents, who were married for seventy-two years, recited Hebrews 4:12 in unison every night before they fell asleep:

Marie reveals her son recorded her parents reciting Scripture together because what could be more beautiful than seeing this sweet couple in their 90’s, reciting Scripture?  Marie said, “It’s like they were memorizing their marching orders from their heavenly Commander in Chief.”

This rolls right into Molly’s Life lesson #27:  “There is no age limit on memorizing Scripture. Do it with your children and your grandchildren. And keep doing it until you see the Lord.”

Here’s where we need to call upon Rob Morgan’s excellent book, 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart for a little help.  Just a thought…

Chapter Seven is killer funny and killer convicting.  The subject? “The Recipe for Being a Wife.”

Here’s THE question:  “Would You Want to Come Home to You?”

Marie tosses us these two verses:  “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife…Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.” Proverbs 21:9,19

Yes, well, we all know the saying, “If Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy.”  I remember hearing one of our boys saying, “Steer clear of Mom, she’s in a mood.”  Super proud of that.  Sigh.

Molly taught Marie, “The wife sets the tone for the home.”  And she takes it a step further teaching us to, “overlook what someone else was doing to me in an attempt to see why God was allowing it to happen…Nothing touches me unless God allows it. What is God trying to teach me by allowing this in my life? Is there something He is trying to dig out of my heart?”

Let’s discuss just one more wee, tiny point  and then y’all can dive into the rest of the book…Chapter Eight is the “Recipe for Being a Mom.”

One of my very first Bible studies I attended included the part in Genesis where Abraham was asked by God to sacrifice his one and only son, Isaac, who he and Sarah had waited for for years and years, even decades.  (See Genesis 22) I could not grasp how in the world Abraham could have the faith and trust in the Lord to prepare his one and only son to be sacrificed.  (Still have trouble with it, truth be told. Still learning, Lord. Doubting Thomas is the first friend in Heaven I wish to talk to…)

I was struck by what Molly said to her daughter with faith as bold as Abraham:  “Marie , if you wind up in China because that’s God’s will for your life and I never see you again while we both live on this earth, that’s fine. I’d rather never see you again and know you are in the center of God’s will for your life than to have you live right next door to me and be out of the will of God.”

This, my friends, is HUGE.  Can you/could you say such?  I immediately thought of our friends, Nancy and Matthew Sleeth, whose two children and spouses and one granddaughter (and one grandson arriving this month, Lord willing) all live in Africa as missionaries.  I recounted Molly’s words recently to Nancy saying I’d thought of her with her kids clear across the world.  Nancy smiled and said, “Yes, but we will have eternity together.”  Gulp.  I realized at that very second my own petite faith had miles to go to reach that kind of trust.

Oh, now you know what I’m going to say, “Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and snag The Audacious Molly Bruno!”  There’s so much more to becoming acquainted with a quintessential, inspirational 92-year-old prayer warrior. Savor all eighty of her lessons and share them with your family and friends.

‘Til next time!

 

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How Are You Sleeping? Yeah, Me Neither…(One Resource Worth Researching)

Friends! Any insomniacs out there? Waking up in the wee hours of the night and can’t go back to sleep? Having wild nightmares? WHY is this happening to so many of us?

Old age is one petite charming cause. Others include depression. Hormones. Stress. Anxiety. Yada, yada, yada…

According to federal health officials, “Nearly half of Americans get less sleep than the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a day.” The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention says 40.6 million Americans sleep six or fewer hours a day.

John and I struggle with consistently getting a good night’s sleep. Approaching our sixth decades, I understand this is super common. However, this is NOT GOOD long-term for our bodies to not get enough rest. The question is, do we diligently try to catch up/nap/recharge? Do we ever consider our dreams and how they affect our sleep? Do we forget to pray for a good night’s sleep every night?

I’m happy to report on a fascinating book I discovered thanks to Eric Metaxas, on his radio show, Metaxas Talk. (www.metaxastalk.com)

Eric interviewed author Faith Blatchford about her eye-opening book, Winning the Battle for the Night: God’s Plan for Sleep, Dreams and Revelation. She is a pastoral counselor at Bethel Church in Redding, California. (www.faithblatchford.com )

Checkout these tidbits from her endorsers:

Winning the Battle for the Night…

– “inspires the reader to reconnect with God’s purpose for sleep—communion and rest…our yielded imaginations become a sanctified imagination, positioned for visions and dreams.”
Bill Johnson, Bethel Church

– “ignites hunger to be saturated in the last-days language of the Holy Spirit. We can no longer say, ‘It was just a dream. It was the roar of the Lord!’”
Lou Engle, co-founder of The Call

– “shows us how sleep can become our friend to help us grow spiritually.”
Beni Johnson, author

– “explains the spiritual science behind sleep. It arms us with relevant and practical information about the physiological, psychological and spiritual roots to sleeplessness. It helps us reclaim God’s design for rejuvenation and revelation through sleep.”
Margaret Nagib, Psy.D., clinical psychologist

– “offers practical solutions to finding the peace of God, which can guard our hearts and minds, interacting on a spiritual level with the Prince of Peace.”
Peter Carter, M.D., family practioner in the U.K.

– “reminds us of the importance of adequate sleep and rest both from a biblical and a medical perspective, integrating key Scriptures with evidence-based medical practice to address sleep and rest deprivation.”
Brenda B. Jones, Ph.D., assistant professor of nursing

Those of us not getting enough sleep can be prone to many battles that are terrible for our health, i.e. anxiety, depression, inability to focus, heart problems, poor judgment, among others. We’d be wise to sit up and take notice of a concept known as “the theology of dreams.”

Faith says,

Faith shows us many instances in the Bible where dreams occur. Joseph was one who paid attention to the angel’s warning which had been prophesied by Jeremiah (31:15) six hundred years before Herod’s order to murder every male child under two in Bethlehem.

One person who did NOT pay attention to a dream he had, to his own detriment and ultimate demise, is President Abraham Lincoln. I never knew he’d dreamed that he was killed by an assassin. He told his wife about it and she said she was glad she didn’t believe in dreams and President Lincoln said they shouldn’t think anymore about it.

President Lincoln even acknowledged the frequency of dreams occurring in the Bible and yet he didn’t take his own dream seriously. The evening he was shot, Lincoln’s bodyguard was out of town. He’d begged Lincoln not to go out, however he and his wife went to Ford’s theater and we all know he was shot that night, on April 14, 1865. This, of course, makes us think, “What if he had paid attention to that dream?”

Each chapter of Winning the Battle for the Night is more fascinating than the next. Chapter Four includes “Five Historic Encounters with God at Night.” Faith shows us how these encounters with God “changed not only these people’s lives, but ours as well.” We’re reminded about God’s encounters with Adam, Abraham, Jacob, David and Solomon. Don’t miss the “Songs Downloaded” section!

Faith reminds us,

In later chapters, we readers get to explore the GIFT of sleep. Did you know King David said, “He gives His beloved sleep.”(NKJV). The ESV says, “God gives rest to His loved ones.” Thinking of sleep and rest as a gift from God can and realistically should be transformational for us!

But…in 2013 (SIX years ago!), CBS reported “nine million Americans are currently on prescription medication for insomnia.” Staggering and I’m sure that figure’s higher today. Faith reminds us, “the most important sleep aid of all is God!” We must remind ourselves to ask Him, praying before our heads hit our pillows.

Along with that prayer, one of the biggest robbers of sleep comes from our enemy, Satan. “Paul declared that he was not going to be taken advantage of by Satan because he was ‘not ignorant of his schemes.’” (2 Corinthians 2:11 NASB)

We’re reminded of the acronym for fear:  False Evidence Appearing Real. We must remember Satan is the “prince of darkness.” However, it’s our God who created day and night, and He has dominion over the darkness.

Faith points out that our winning the battle for the night is directly related to our “understanding that God created, dwells in, and has authority over all the darkness.”

One of my favorite take-aways from this book is Faith closes each chapter with a prayer. Let’s read this one together:

Not only are we readers gifted with prayers, we also are given practical ways to combat distractions (Chapter 9 is “Weapons to Win the Battle.”) and other things which rob us of our sleep. Chapter 11 helps us when our children or grandchildren are having nightmares, etc.: “Teach Children to Say ‘Bye-Bye, Boogeyman.’” For example, I had no idea that the word nightmare means “night demon.”

Finally, in the exploration of dreams, Faith closes the book with thirty-one questions we may have about our dreams. This is fascinating and makes for a great resource to return to over and over. Equipping Scripture accompanies her points all throughout the book which I find reassuring. (Don’t miss the Appendix with Twenty Declarations straight out of the Bible!)

If you struggle with getting enough sleep, having nightmares, or are curious about what your dreams mean, run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab this book! You’ll refer to it often and be encouraged and best of all, “armored up”.

‘Til next time!

P.S. This is another book by Faith which  looks like it would be a good resource as well:

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When Your Beloved Pet is Diagnosed with Cancer…

Friends! It’s been several sad weeks here in the Hoagland household. Our beloved Gracie, our wire-haired fox terrier who was only 7 1/2 years old, got sick on Christmas Day and got worse and worse, week after week, until we discovered she had liver cancer and lymphoma. Only five days after that hard-to-believe diagnosis, we knew “it was time.” Beyond awful.

I know many of you have been thru’ this. One of our dear couple friends dropped off a new-to-us children’s book you need to know about: It’s called Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant.

The book is super sweet and we will enjoy sharing it with our grandchildren later while it helped comfort us immediately.  Additionally wonderful, our six children commissioned a super talented local artist to create a watercolor of our Gracie. What a keepsake.

Special thanks go to Taylor Grimm! Find her on Instagram at: Taylor_Leigh_Grimm

Since we’ve been empty nesters, Gracie has been our little shadow, going everywhere with us, especially my better half. We logged miles and miles a day walking with her, she chased a thousand and one squirrels, and was quite the mole hunter and conqueror.

Claire “calms” Gracie before bedtime…

Gracie perches over Poppy’s shoulder while he reads to Claire Bear.

Gracie’s favorite hangout, by the fire…

The Great Squirrel Hunter…

Thankfully, I remembered an invaluable resource we read years ago in book club: Heaven by Randy Alcorn. It’s a tome, and is seminary-worthy. Even tho’ we read it over the summer to discuss once we resumed in the fall, it was a little more than we bargained for.

We howled when the children’s version came out about the time of our meeting. However, the adult version is truly a resource readers can consult over and over for just about any topic you’d be interested in. (Try 12 sections, 46 chapters!)

Yes, there’s a chapter called, Will Animals, Including Our Pet’s, Live Again? You can bet I went to grab the book and reread this chapter.

Let’s read the first paragraph (Ch 40):

“Christ proclaims from his throne on the New Earth: ‘Behold I am making all things new’ (Revelation 21:5 ESV). It’s not just people who will be renewed but also the earth and ‘all things’ in it. Do ‘all things’ include animals? Yes. Horses, cats, dogs, deer, dolphins, and squirrels—as well as the inanimate creation—will be beneficiaries of Christ’s death and resurrection.”

Two well-known authors are also quoted in this chapter. First, let’s hear from Joni Erickson Tada from her book on Heaven:

And you all will LOVE to read this poem from none other than John Piper:

Randy Alcorn’s chapter on pets also includes answers to:

“How closely are animals tied to our resurrection?”

“Will extinct animals live on the new earth?”

“Will our pets be restored on the new earth?”

“Is it wrong to grieve a pet’s death?”

“What future is God planning for animals?”

“Might some animals talk?”

You can tell these are deep questions, Likewise goes the rest of the book. You’ll get to see and read Scripture after Scripture on animals (in this particular chapter) and see the wonder and the love the Lord gives us through our pets, ultimately created for God’s glory.

Already John and I’ve been asked the big question, “So, will you get another dog?”  To which, for today, I’ll answer “no.” We wish (!!!) to hold off until our future grandchildren arrive (two grandsons super soon, Lord willing!) and we see how much time we’d have to raise a puppy!?!

Meanwhile to those of you who’ve survived losing a pet, we’re with you. Gracie’s our third terrier and it gets much more difficult each time.

So, as Bob Hope would sing, Gracie, “Thanks for the memories…”

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Grief, Life Lessons

Heat Got Your Tongue? (Help on taming the tongue from Karen Ehman…)

Friends!  With the exception of last Saturday’s cool temps and low humidity, we’ve been HOT and HUMID here in the Bluegrass State since before the first day of summer.  I don’t know about you, but heat is not my friend.  I get tired, and cranky, and my tongue gets me into trouble.

Notice I’m blaming my tongue, not my heart—where the words bubble up out of in the first place. Anyone else?

I discovered a super helpful book around Christmas season of 2016, called Keep it Shut:  What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All by Karen Ehman.  I dubbed it the “Perfect Handbook for the Christmas Season.”  Click here to read more.

Sadly, like most things, I loved it, but promptly forgot about it until….my friend, Sue, in South Carolina told me about a devotional she was reading, Zip It:  The Keep it Shut 40-Day Challenge, yes, by Karen Ehman! I ordered it immediately.

This little book packs a powerful punch.  It’s just what the doctor ordered for a quick, fast, booster shot to TRAP YOUR TONGUE. It piggybacks off of Karen’s Keep it Shut book. She tell us that on our 40-day journey together,

Each of the forty devotionals are divided into four parts:

1 – The devotional itself, always introduced by a pertinent Scripture,

2 – “Today’s Takeaways” – great ideas to apply to our lives,

3 – “Lesson for the Lips” – thought-provoking questions to get you moving in the direction of the takeaways, and

4 – A closing prayer.  

One of my favorites is from entry 7, “Your Heart Thoughts are Louder than you Realize.” From several points in Scripture, Karen shows us Jesus knows our thoughts before they’re ever spoken.  She says,

“Jesus hears the words of your heart.

Jesus hears the words you speak to others.

Jesus hears the words you say to yourself.”

Here’s where things get interesting.  In “Today’s Takeaways,” Karen says, Keep a clean “word-robe.” Likening our heart and mind to a closet, Karen asks, “What kind of “word-robe” do you have hanging in there?

Think on that question a minute.

She suggests, “Keep it clean, fresh, and full of His promises!”

How’s that for a wonderful word picture?  That’s stuck with me throughout the entire reading of this book.  It smacks me daily, too, as John and I’ve just had our closets re-done.  Neat and orderly is now their potential, however, should the closet police visit unexpectedly, dirty laundry, spare hangers, and stray tennis shoes could possibly  be discovered…

Let’s close with Karen’s beautiful prayer:

Friends, these highlights are just from one of the forty devotionals Karen blesses us with.  Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab this book!  It would make a great gift for your friends too!

Huge thanks to Karen Ehman for being bold and honest enough to share her experiences with us.  These are ones we can all relate to, laugh about, and learn from.

Once you read this book, let me know which ones are your favorites.  Two others that made me howl while simultaneously stepping on my toes (but in a good way) are:  “That time I spied ugly in the mirror,” and “But you don’t know my family.”  I’m telling you, they’re for all of us!

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Life Lessons