Category Archives: Life Lessons

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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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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Books to Help the Grieving Process in the Death of a Loved One (with help from Anne Riley) Part 1 of 2

Friends!  Anyone besides me ever feel helpless when your friends lose loved ones?  Sorry to say I’m the babbling fool at visitations where the bereaved has to comfort me.

I know.

Good news!  I have a few remedies up my sleeve I’d like to share in the form of a children’s book this week, and several other books for us grown-ups next week.

John and I were blessed to have dinner with old and new friends in Lexington this past April.  We learned about a book where a family lost two of their children. I immediately thought of Nancy Guthrie in Nashville who experienced such. (We’ll talk about her books next week.)

To my surprise, Nancy was not who our friends were talking about.  Surely there’s not another family who’s also lost two of their children? Sadly, there is, and a family friend has written a beautiful children’s book to help families cope with losing a child.

The book?  Voyage to the Star Kingdom

Author Anne Riley was so moved by her friends’ story, she and her cousin, Amy Grimes (who’s also friends with the family), put this beautiful book together.  Anne wrote the story (www.annerileybooks.com ) while Amy created the beautifully charming illustrations. (www.storypaintings.net ) Anne says Amy came up with the “essential story elements” and God wove the rest of it together.

When Anne first heard of Frazer and Dana Gieselmann and their plight to fight Batten Disease, she was so moved she literally couldn’t move.  She kept praying about how or what she could do.  It was in church the Holy Spirit convinced her to use her gift of writing to tell their story.

Blessed with three beautiful daughters, Frazer and Dana were completely thrown off guard when their daughter, Milla, began having seizures in August of 2013.  By October of 2014, Milla was diagnosed with a disease that’s very rare, and so far, incurable. It attacks the brain, causing loss of sight, mental impairment, worsening seizures, and a decline in motor skills. The dreaded disease is known as Batten Disease. Milla passed away November 26, 2016, just three weeks after her 6th birthday.

Unbelievably, Batten Disease possesses a genetic nature, thus docs suggested Frazer and Dana have their other two daughters tested.  Soon afterward, they learned their youngest daughter, Elle, also has the disease. Elle began having seizures not long after the discovery. You see now why Annie felt compelled to do something. (Miraculously, their eldest daughter, Ann Carlyle, does not have the disease.)

Thanks to extensive research at a hospital in Columbus, Ohio, Elle is receiving new treatments, infusions, and surgeries. Their long, hard, ongoing fight is explained in detail on their blog:  www.thegieselmann5.blogspot.com

Warning:  The family’s daily battle will tear your heart out, however the book is so well done, you’ll want to share it with your friends. Huge favor:  Please pray for this precious family.

The Gieselmann’s live in Memphis, Tennessee, so upon discovering Milla was treated at Le Bonheur Hospital, I immediately reached out to a friend of our kiddos who went thru’ an excruciating ordeal, also at LeBonheur, when their baby boy only lived two months.  I told her about this book and she said her NICU nurse gave her a copy. She and her husband, like the Gieselmanns, thankfully live with an eternal perspective. (See Revelation 21:1-5)

The grandest news of these sad stories comes as a reminder from Anne: “Milla and Elle will receive their prize early. Yes, we will suffer greatly in their absence. But this life is so short compared with eternity, and one day very soon, Frazer, Dana, and Ann Carlyle will be with Milla and Elle forever.”

My other favorite aspect of this book is it speaks matter-of-factly about real-life issues.  You’ll see the family undergoing multiple storms.  Two of their three daughters have to leave their family on earth, per the request of the Star King. Anne emphasizes, “The rest of the family will follow soon, but for now, they must say a temporary farewell.”

A beautiful angelfish escorts the girls to Heaven. (Don’t miss the part where they learn about how to fight evil on their journey.) Upon their approach, they see a man coming out of the Radiant Palace, waiting for them.  “Are you the Star King?” the youngest girl asked.

He smiled and said, “I have many names: Elohim, Jehovah, the Alpha and the Omega, the Prince of Peace, the Good Shepherd. And yes, the Star King.

Oh, my beloved children, I am so glad you’re here.”

The story gets even better as the King shows them He’s set a table for five. You must read this book to witness something beautiful!

One hint arrives from the Angelfish: “You will be together again sooner than you think. The Star King is not bound by time.”

This is a beautiful picture of 2 Peter 3:8 in the NIV that says,

That verse reminds me of a time when I read about a young Mom who knew she was dying of cancer. She asked her pastor to verify the above Scripture, promptly proceeding to do some mind-blowing math.

She said, “I figure if a thousand years is like a day, then forty years is like an hour. I’ll be leaving my husband and children soon. He may live another forty years, but that’ll be just like an hour to me in heaven.

…My children may live another seventy or eighty years, but that’ll be like two hours to me.” Just before she died, she told her husband, “I love you. Take care of our children and I’ll see you in an hour.” (from One Month to Live:  30 Days to a No-Regrets Life by Kerry and Chris Shook.) Now that’s some sweet eternal perspective!

Soak in 2 Peter 3:8, and you will sleep well tonight. And every other night.

‘Til next time!

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Love and Chocolate Treats for February (Part 2 of 4)When You’re STUNNED about your Valentine’s Day Gift…

Friends! Happy Belated Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day! Please enjoy two wild tales…

FLASHBACK:  Valentine’s Day 1993…

“No babysitter for Valentine’s Day???” I whined, coupled with a proficient pout…

“Now honey…” my way-too-practical hubby began…”You know restaurants jack up their prices on Valentine’s Day, and the boys are too little to take out…”

Translation:  “Why don’t you just cook us up somethin’?

Silent thought while heaving an extra loud sigh for future Oscar potential:  “Oh boy, grocery shopping with three boys is such a trip…literally….”

Determined to create fun and education for our Valentine meal, I hunted down ingredients for everything RED:  cherry cool-aid, red spaghetti sauce, cherry jello,  red sprinkles to go on the ice cream with the not-so-red-but-filled-with-a-boatload-of-chocolate brownies.

Spreading out papers for the boys to color, my scary cooking commenced…

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Quickly into our “project”, something was not quite right.  I couldn’t put my finger on it.  Our oldest son, John Jr., was way too excited about helping with his brothers. They were coloring at lightening speed, wanting more and more “Valentines” to make for Daddy.

Dinner pulled together, Hubster now home and seated,  John Jr. and Gordy seated, Woody in his high-chair, the following proclamation ensued:

“Mommy!  We have a huge surprise for you! Daddy’s gotten a babysitter and everything!”

Visions of an escape to a hotel sans les enfants rolled thru’ my head….

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Fantasy interrupted, my mischievous husband said, “John Jr., why don’t you tell Mommy about her Valentine’s Day gift?”

“Mommy”, John Jr. continued with wildly excited eyes, “Daddy and I got a babysitter for Woody…

so that the four of us can go to…..

…the Truck and Tractor Pull!!!”…

Taken from www.farmmachineryshow.org Photos by Scott Henson

Taken from http://www.farmmachineryshow.org Photos by Scott Henson

“The what?”  I managed to ask…feigning interest…

“THE TRUCK AND TRACTOR PULL!!!” John Jr.  repeated, now standing, voice at high decibels.

Fabulous hotel fantasy comes to a screeching halt.

Pivotal moment in Mother/Wife Career:

Enter a God moment…”You’d better put on a sense of humor while raising these boys, being a Godly, cheery, loving  wife and mom, or you’ll never make it.” (Guessing The Lord didn’t say “or you’ll never make it”, that’s just my translation.)

3boys

Bidding adieu to my very-sheltered-only-child background, it was time to buck up.  Riding a perpetual roller coaster comes to mind. Nevertheless, I will still praise you, Lord.

That year was a turning point for me.  Ups and downs, yes, but with a sense of humor.  Which segues beautifully into one of the funniest books on marriage I’ve read lately.

Allow me to share snippets of The Antelope in the Living Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life  by Melanie Shankle.

antelope

You’ve probably heard of Melanie.  She’s one in the same who wrote Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn. She reports receiving countless pairs of earrings after the book published.  (There’s an idea!  She said she really wanted her next book to be Louis Vuitton Purse with Matching Wallet!!!  I’m thinkin’ A Caribbean Villa…could be swell.) Check out her way popular blog at www.thebigmamablog.com.

With killer humor, Melanie shares good times and not-so-good ones with her husband, Perry.  Melanie and Perry define opposites attract.  She puts it like this:  “Perry loves the outdoors and I love air-conditioning.”

She says,  “There are days filled with laughter and compromise.  And then there are days filled with silence and anger.  But at the end of it all, you’re two people God has joined to journey through life together

… For  better or for worse.  In hunting season and in health.”

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My  wild-n-adventurous husband, John, used to ride motorcycles.  Shouts of praise he’s not riding anymore.  (At least for today.)  I poked fun at all the “accessories” a bike could have, not to mention the “gear”.  They make that in leather???

But guess what Melanie’s husband’s hobby is?  In addition to hunting, he makes homemade ammunition. You go, Perry.

In addition to humor, Melanie includes the importance of their faith.  She alludes to not following God and making bad choices prior to meeting Perry.

She and Perry met at a Bible study at Texas A &  M.  She said, “There was something about Perry that intrigued me.  He was different from other guys I’d met.  And he had a heart for God I hadn’t seen in many other guys.”

Making a list of husband qualities, Melanie realized, “What you really need is someone you’d want to be in battle next to you, someone who can make you laugh even in the tough times, someone who will encourage you to be the best  you can be…” (Sounds just like our “Balcony People” from a couple of weeks ago.  My friend Trish says her husband looks at her with “husband eyes”.  Same concept.)

Since surgery seems to be in the air at our house (we’ll go there later), I cried from laughing so hard over an incident when Perry had yet another surgery for his back.  After a night in the hospital, Melanie got Perry secured in the car for the drive home.  Spying a Chik-fil-A and craving one of their chicken biscuits, Melanie pulled into the drive-thru’ only to be informed they were no longer serving breakfast.

Seven minutes past the breakfast hour caused her to jump the curb to get out of the drive-thru’ lane.  Never mind Perry was in the passenger seat, barely twenty-four hours post-op from back surgery.  This is only the beginning…

Melanie gets Perry home and situated on the couch, somewhat still sedated.  She reports: “According to Perry, the Clemson Tigers band marched thru’ our living room to dispense his pain medication at some point that afternoon.  Which is weird, because we’re not even Clemson fans, not to mention that South Carolina is a pretty good haul from Texas.  So I took this as an indication that maybe it was time to cut back on the meds just a tad.”

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So for a guy who creates his own ammunition, hearing him suggest they try “radiant barrier paint” one day doesn’t seem so far fetched.  When Melanie asked him what he was talking about, he explained:  “It’s paint that makes a surface heat resistant.  They use it on the space shuttle, and I’m thinking about buyin’ some.”

Melanie replies, “Well, of course you are.  I’ve always said that if it’s good enough for the space shuttle, then it’s good enough for us.” 

bigstock-Space-Shuttle-Flying-Over-Eart-2873702

John and I aren’t the only ones having fun with this book!  Guess who else was caught laughing out loud reading this?  Ann Voskamp’s husband!  “The Farmer”, as she often calls him, got side-tracked while paying bills, and read some from The Antelope in the Living Room.  Picture Ann and the Farmer  howling, all the way up in Canada.

Melanie also sprinkles in a few stories about their daughter, Caroline.  She discusses leaving a legacy for Caroline and her future children.  A prayer she prays continually comes from Deuteronomy 30:6—“that the Lord would circumcise our hearts and the hearts of our descendants so that we will love God with all our heart and with all our souls.”

“That’s the legacy that’s worth working thru’ the hard times to leave for our daughter.”   She adds, “In this world that sometimes treats marriage like it’s a disposable commodity we can throw away when it no longer seems to serve our purposes, a world that whispers to us that the grass might be greener on the other side, that’s something worth keeping in mind…”  Oh, someone please shout hallelujah over that one!  May we press on…

Finally, soak in this visual:  In one particular scenario, Perry offered Melanie some inexplicable kind of grace.  She said,    “…even tho’ I thought I understood what grace looked like, I really had no idea how deep and wide the mercy of Christ is.  That he looks at us when we lay ourselves bare before him, with all our ugly truths and realities, and says, ‘And?’”

“In Psalm 103 we are told that God redeems our lives from the pit.  Verses 11-12 proclaim, ‘As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.’”

Melanie adds, “I once heard someone say that those words (of Psalm 103) represent the beams of the cross—reaching all the way up to the heavens with his love and stretching out to remove our sins as far as from where the sun rises to where it sets.”  Grasping the picture???  Beautiful!!!

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I pray you’re encouraged and enlightened by these glimpses of The Antelope in the Living Room.  There’s twenty-four lovely chapters to keep you that way!!!  And don’t forget this Valentine’s week:  Marriage is fueled by fun and forgiveness.

‘Til next time!

Our chocolate treat this week comes from another Kentucky cookbook called “Splendor in the  Bluegrass” by the Junior League of Louisville.  Its’ Chocolate Chess Bars on p. 245 are not to be missed!

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Let’s Start the Year Off Right with Help from “Chasing Slow—Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path” by Erin Loechner

Friends!  Happy New Year!  Let’s rejoice we have a fresh start…a new year, a new calendar, a do-over (anyone?), a mulligan for you golfers.

Recently I discovered a multi-talented young lady by the name of Erin Loechner. Some of you know her from her wildly popular blog, www.designformankind.com Others of you may have caught her when she was on HGTV.  I found her from her latest book which caught my eye:  Chasing Slow—Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path.  The book cover plus its’ title grabbed me right away.

The layout of the book is clean, easy to navigate, and includes some amazing, healthy recipes.  SOLD.  Divided into three parts (“Chasing More”, “Chasing Less”, and “Surrender”), you’ll get thirty-four small chapters to absorb.

Because I’m forever using phrases like, “I’m chasin’ my tail today.” Or “I’m playing beat the clock and losing again…”, Chasing Slow sounded wildly appealing.

Erin takes you on her journey while showing us what it looks like to look for, but avoid, the lion. You know, the roaring one lying to you through his teeth.

Newly married and living in LA, Erin and her husband, Ken, learn he’s got a brain tumor. Couple that with depression and anxiety on Erin’s part, and they’ve got more than a full plate.

She says, “In my mind’s ocean are jaws of depression, tentacles of anxiety. I live daily in the hope that if I work hard enough, if I paddle fast enough, I might outswim the sadness. I might outsmart the tension. I might overcome life’s ambiguity with sheer will, force of mind….” (Notice how many times she uses “I”.)

Then she remembers this verse:

She concludes, “I do know that with God comes wisdom and time, and with wisdom and time comes perspective, and that sometimes, overcoming depression requires an oversized cocktail shaker of all of those things, on the rocks, please.”

Bottom line?  She carries on her sense of humor:  “But sometimes, often, the most reverent spiritual practice is to pick up the pug dung and get back to work.”  In other words, just do the next thing.

You’ll get to see how her blog was born, which she says is her escape, a way to “silence our lions.” She honestly reveals many of their highs and lows. In an article in Relevant magazine from last fall, Erin says, “It’s all about creating margin, ‘Sabbath’ is there for a reason.’”

Another fun fact from the layout of this book, is every so often Erin gifts us with a math lesson. My favorite is #004:  “No = a Complete Sentence.”

Savor this from G.K. Chesterton:

You’ll also get to see how Erin and Ken get themselves into a financial mess, which leads to a move back home in the Midwest with Erin’s family. An opportunity with HGTV suddenly arrives and Erin remarks, “The thing about apples is that we’re always biting off more than we can chew. It is hard to see which bites might nourish and which might cause us to choke.” That’s another case of beware of that prowling lion!

Erin teaches, “Here is the secret to subtraction: It doesn’t matter what you remove. What matters is that you stop adding it back.” POW.

Erin and Ken become blessed with a new baby daughter, they name “Bee”. Their navigation into parenthood is a blast to read. If you’ve had a newborn in your life before, you’ll laugh along with them. Another one of Erin’s math lessons for us is #010:  “Sticker sheet + Toddlers = 5 minutes of peace and quiet for Mama.”

While Erin was writing Chasing Slow, her circle of friends began passing a book around called, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. You might imagine Erin adores it given her book topic. Don’t miss her hysterical remarks about the book.  It was passed around my circle of friends as well.  As I survey my surroundings, I spot signs of mega clutter. It’s occurring to me I may need to dig that meddling book back out with the new year. Sigh…

Finally, when you hit chapter 34, you find yourself wanting more from Erin, and yet her encouragement, use of Scripture verses, and prayers throughout make you want to roll your sleeves up and start chasing slow. Erin suggests, “Chase what God wants for your life, and ask Him how to get there.”

The grande finale of the book holds TWO surprises before you read the last page: (1) The Resource section.  “From A to Z, a Few Easy Changes to Slow Your Life” will bless you further. And (2) “Five Methods of Decluttering Your Home”.  These are priceless.

Thank you, Erin, for a delightful way to start 2018!

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Life Lessons

Mind Your Mind….

Friends!  I just ran across this post from a couple of Octobers ago, remembering I’d forgotten (huh?) its’ message…May we all remember to guard what goes into our minds.  Enjoy!…

Filled to the brim with excitement, Hubster and I were crossing the pond for our first-ever trip to France. Flying thru’ the night from Detroit to Amsterdam, most everyone but me slept.

Watching a little virtual map of our plane flying over different countries, logging hundreds of miles in minutes, kept me wide-eyed. Just as we touched down in Amsterdam, a big, beautiful orange sun was rising over the airport! While it was midnight back in the States, it was six o’clock in the morning in Amsterdam. Wow.

amsterdam

Clueless as to how to find our next gate, some sweet soul showed us how to enter different checkpoints en route to our plane to Marseilles. Suddenly, we came upon a very familiar landmark: Starbucks! And what before my wondering eyes did appear, directly across from Starbucks, a very large chocolatier!!! What a welcoming sight!

eliz in front of chocolate store

We had plenty of time before our next flight departed, so we plunked ourselves and our carry-ons down for a big ole’ comforting cup of coffee. Like little children on Christmas morning, our adventure was already unfolding.

Amsterdam’s airport is a melting pot of passengers from all over the world. John and I sat back and took it all in. The clothes, the accents, everything was fascinating.

Even the moving sidewalk…this lovely female voice, in a sing-song manner, repeated over and over, “Mind your step…..Mind your step…..Mind your step.” We Americans would’ve just hollered, “Watch where you’re goin’, already!!!”

One of many favorite books by Max Lucado, Glory Days: Living Your Promised Land Life Now brings up another way of thinking from “Mind Your Step”, to “Mind Your Mind”….

Glory Days

One favorite chapter is called The God-Drenched Mind. Don’t you want your mind to be God-drenched??? This chapter centers around Joshua 14:6-15.

The good news? Max helps us readers with ways to equip our faith and our minds.

The bad news? He opens with, “You’ll never have a problem-free life.” That’s okay, tho’, because surely by now every single one of us has discovered this!

Max points out that “The Lord” is referenced nine times in this passage alone. We know that any time anything is repeated in the Bible, it’s significant.

Max asks, “Who was on Caleb’s mind? Who was in Caleb’s heart? What caused him to have a different spirit? He centered his mind on the Lord.”

Watch this…Max gets personal: “What about you? What emphasis would a transcript of your thoughts reveal? The Lord? Or the problem? The economy? The jerk?”

In another recent post we talked about the importance of putting on the helmet of salvation. We addressed running everything thru’ the Philippians 4:8 filter:

Philippians 4 8

Max offers a show-stopping visual:

“Imagine two cooking bowls. One contains fresh, clean water. The second contains battery acid. Take an apple and cut it in half.

Place one half of the apple in the bowl of clean water. Place the other half in the bowl of battery acid. Leave each in its respective bowl for five minutes, and then pull out the two halves.

Which one will you want to eat?”

Two different apples, fresh and withered. Rotten apple.

“Your mind is the apple.

God is good water.

Problems are battery acid.

If you marinate your mind in your problems, they will eventually corrode and corrupt your thoughts.

But thoughts of God will preserve and refresh your attitudes.

Caleb was different because he SOAKED HIS MIND IN GOD.”

This caused me to pause and ask myself, “What am I marinating my mind in right now?” I busted myself (there’s a thought!) because I was stewing over a petite problem which my forever optimistic husband has told me, and told me again (remember???) to simply, “Let it go…” Alrighty then.

Finally, we’re blessed with one more prescription from Max for remembering to soak our minds in our Big God: “Stare at the mountain less and at the Mountain Mover more.” Amen.

LET’S MIND OUR MIND!

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Life Lessons, Scripture