Category Archives: Scripture

How About JOMO vs. FOMO?

Friends!  Anyone besides me stricken with FOMO?  (Fear of Missing Out…)

Growing up a “lonely only”, being invited and being included were paramount to me.  Many times, especially in college, even if I was invited to do something I didn’t really want to do, I’d still say, “yes…”

Fast forward a few years as we grow up and have children. Suddenly we realize our busyness has filtered down to them and they are doing the same thing!?!  Huh?  FOMO is a by-product of our culture, I’m sorry to say. Fill, fill, fill that calendar.

However, many of you are brave naysayers. You’re strong enough to say “No, thank you very much, maybe next time.” I applaud you.

Potential solution?  Our sweet daughter-in-love, LT, just taught me a new term.  It’s become my new goal.  Call me crazy.

The term?  JOMO….Ready?  It stands for the Joy of Missing Out.  Being joyful when you answer, “no thanks” and relishing your time at home.

Lately John and I’ve been staying home more.  Some nights we enjoy being wedding crashers from our front porch when there’s a wedding nearby at Locust Grove.  We listen to the music and sometimes dance in our driveway.  (Shhh, don’t tell the neighbors.)

Sometimes turning down an invitation blesses your marriage, your rest, and replenishes you with joy…

I recently read where the words “joy”, “rejoice”, and “joyful” are in the ESV Bible four hundred and thirty times.  What does that tell you?  Being joyful is pretty important to our Lord! Being joyful = JOMO!

Let’s savor my TOP FIVE VERSES ON JOY:  Then YOU choose which are your favorites. (Extra bonus:  If you go to:  www.openbible.com , you’ll find “100 Verses About Joy” you can skim and choose some more. Problem is, they’re all good—and that, my friend, is a most excellent problem!)

Simply read thru’ the below verses. Allow them to soothe your soul:

In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!”

May we all strive to find JOMO.  It’s a heck of a sight superior to FOMO.  Trust me on this one.

 

‘Til next time!

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Life Lessons, Scripture

She Speaks Conference Equips Over 700 Women in Charlotte, NC…

Friends!  Any of y’all interested in writing or speaking?  Pray about attending next year’s She Speaks Conference, hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries (www.proverbs31.org). I had so much fun at the most recent one on July 21st and 22nd, in Charlotte, NC, I just have to share some tidbits with you…

Whether you’ve written a book or are contemplating writing one, or have been speaking various places and think God is calling you to do more speaking, She Speaks is the conference to attend. (7/26-28 are the dates for 2018.)

Due to some perfecto peer pressure a/k/a strong suggestions from my friend, Liz, I signed up for this year’s conference. Not knowing a soul except for Liz Curtis Higgs who would be teaching two workshops and speaking for one of the Main Sessions, I prayed I’d meet some fun friends.  God was gracious.

The morning of registration, I immediately met two gals, one from Wheaton, IL and one from Naples, FL.  We were all three newbies. We had crazy fun connections and promptly agreed to meet up for every meal, sharing tidbits from our workshops.

My new friend, Dawn, and I posed by the She Speaks sign near Registration.  This was a popular photo opp, all of us dumping our book bags which amazingly no one tripped over.

The challenge of the conference was which workshop to sign up for as each one sounded better than the next. Just as an example, here are the ones I took:

“Creating Biblical Content to Engage Your Reader”

“Storytelling on the Page and the Stage”

“Creating a Message That is Powerful, Memorable, and Life Changing”

“How a Small-Time Blogger Can Actually Get a Book Contract”

“60 Things You Can Do to Become a Better Speaker”

“Study Strategies for Teaching Scripture”

The above are a glimpse of the many, many, many workshops offered, plus each attendee had the opportunity to attend Four Main Sessions over the two days with these top-notch speakers:

Pastor Chris Hodges

Chris kicked off the conference Friday morning with a powerful message from Exodus 28 and 29, called “Dress for Success.”  His connection with the Proverbs 31 gals is a sweet one:  One of his children is married to one of Lysa TerKeurst’s children.

Chrystal Evans Hurst is a  fireball like her Dad, Tony Evans, and her sister, Priscilla Shirer. Chrystal equipped us Friday night to take care of ourselves in order to be better used by God. Her stories of biking across the Golden Gate Bridge numerous times were priceless. Some trips were more successful than others, as in “let’s not bleed to death in the process.” (A trip over the handlebars brought about that illustration.)

Sometimes we need to slow down! Rest is a form of worship!

Chrystal also gifted us with several Scriptures, my favorite being:

She closed with, “Be true to your journey, it is enough.”  Amen.

Whitney Capps  was a wonderful wake-up call Saturday morning after many of us had had a sleepless night due to the power going out in our area.  Hotel rooms defined dark and became stuffy hot without the air conditioning.

Whitney remarked that Satan is always trying to thwart her efforts for her messages and this time was no exception…  Seems a snake crawled down into one of the substations and nibbled on some high voltage equipment, causing damage enough to knock out the electricity in a huge grid most of the night.  This included our hotels plus 14,000 other households.  Come on, now!

Here’s the pic the local paper ran:

He looks way too friendly.

Good news is the conference went on as planned, coffee was at the ready, and Whitney preached a meaningful message on “Six Reasons Your Church Needs You.” Thank you, Lord.

Liz Curtis Higgs closed out the conference Saturday night with a bang, working our tear ducts overtime from laughter one minute, to moving testimonials the next.  A few of my favorite quotes from her are:

“Minister to those who are in front of you. Don’t count numbers, because everyone counts to God.”

On writing, Liz encouraged us with, “If He knows every word we are going to say, surely He knows every word we’re going to write.” And I LOVE this:  “You don’t have to write THE best book, you just have to write YOUR best book.”

Obviously, take-home value was at a premium.

One of many bonuses we attendees received was the opportunity to sign up for cd’s of other workshops we weren’t able to attend.  Incredible resources!

Saturday afternoon I rode up the elevator with a gal who had attended this conference the previous year.  She said this year’s conference was so different.  I was astonished because the number of workshops and their variety causes one to wonder how you could keep changing it up?

The brainchild of Lysa TerKeurst, She Speaks ran like a top. Lysa’s beyond blessed to have such a sweet and compassionate team who somehow took all seven hundred of us under their wings!

Here are a few other workshops I also wanted to take but couldn’t squeeze into my two days:

“Writing a Bio That Gets You Hired”

“The Verses That Keep Me Up at Night:  The Risks and Responsibilities of the Christian Writer”

“Creating Your Book Proposal from a Marketing Perspective”

“Guarding Your Capacity to Pace Your Race”

“Finding Soul Rest in the Midst of Busyness”

“How to Write When You Have Kids”

And there were more!

Another bonus of She Speaks was the amazing worship offered before each of the Main Sessions.  Worship  was led by the worship team from Elevation Church in Charlotte.  (www.elevationworship.com )

They were incredible, opening the conference with my current favorite song:  What a Beautiful Name.  Another song they sang I learned they also wrote:  O Come to the Altar.  You can imagine the effect of 700+ gals singing their hearts out.  The Holy Spirit filled the room to its’ brim.

One exciting discovery was learning about the “First 5” app available FOR FREE to us all.  (Go to:  www.first5.org ) Many gals I met were familiar with this app and were “regulars”.  Its’ premise is we all need to plant our faces in Scripture the first five minutes of every day.

The First 5 teachers and writers taught different workshops. It was a blast to meet them and hear from them up close.  They were most gracious in sharing their various methods, all of these gals wise beyond their years.

We attendees also had the opportunity to sign up to meet with publishers and agents.  These were offered on a first-come basis.

She Speaks had about twenty-five people (publishers and agents) to choose from, of which I had to pick five, and of those five, they’d pick two.  How they orchestrated all of this made my head spin.  We each had fifteen minutes for our meetings which evaporated like fifteen seconds.  This was an invaluable experience.

At one point in the worship, as the conference was about to close, I thought, “What if all seven hundred of us goes home, ready to be used by God for God to reach so many for the Kingdom?  What if?”  That’s my prayer for all of us and for any of you considering such an opportunity.

‘Til next time!

 

Liz and I sat together Friday night when Chrystal spoke.

 

 

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Filed under Author Interviews, Conferences, Scripture, Travel

Encouragement We Need This Mother’s Day Week…

Friends!  Blessings to you this Mother’s Day Week!  Whether you’re a Mom, or an Aunt, or a Grandmother, or a Mother-like-neighbor, I pray we’ll all be encouraged this week not only for ourselves, but so we may in turn encourage the precious Moms who are in our lives.

Many of us know Mothering is no piece of cake.  It’s the most rewarding experience we can have, and yet it’s one of the most difficult jobs we’ll ever hold. (As in it never ends.  Case in point:  My sweet Mother-in-love, who’s a mere eighty-six years old, is found often worrying about one of her sixty-something daughters who’s battling Parkinson’s.)

I nearly fell out of my chair this morning (for many reasons you’ll soon see) as I was reading a devotional by my good buddy, Debora Coty.  I’ve written about this book before, Too Blessed to Be Stressed—Inspiration for Every Day—365 Devotions for Women, but this particular entry is well worth sharing.  First, here’s the book:

Second, let’s have some fun and encouragement together thanks to Debora’s entry on May 8th, Surviving the Hood.  (“Hood”, of course, referring to Motherhood.   LOL.)

Debora believes our reward awaiting us in Heaven will be “something akin to a twenty-four-year deluxe spa treatment with a Godiva smorgasbord.” I knew as soon as I read that I was all in on this day’s devotion.

Debora dubs her friends who are moms “mom-sisters.”  Let’s just see how some of their quotes affect you:

  • “Giving birth to a child is the beginning of a long good-bye.” (Debora’s friend, Sarah) This is killer.  Don’t even broach this subject with me as our family has just been blessed with our first grandchild…
  • “If you wouldn’t want someone calling you poopy-face, don’t call anyone else poopy-face.” (Deborah’s friend Debbie explaining Matthew 7:12, a/k/a The Golden Rule, to her twins.) This is grand “toddler speak.”

  • “I’m a parenting survivor!” (Deborah’s friend Carol at her son’s high school graduation.) This is brilliant  and empowering given the popularity of Survivor on TV. Yes! Let’s say that together, “I am a survivor!”…

Take a moment to pour over these little numbers.  I still can’t believe this:

  • “Think you’re busy? According to Guinness World Records, the greatest number of children born to one mother is sixty-nine children (an 18th century Russian peasant)…

She had twenty-seven pregnancies:

 16 sets of twins,

7 sets of triplets, and

4  sets of quads.

 I’m betting her tombstone said, ‘Rest in Peace. Finally.’”  I know.  Mercy sakes’ alive…

And, I love this…Here’s what happens when your kids finally get a glimpse of what you’ve been thru’:

  • “When my friend Eddie asked her son, married one year, when he planned to have kids, he answered, ‘I’m not ready to share my fries like you always did, Mom.’” I confess I didn’t always want to share my fries or cookies or…

Finally Debora leaves us a jewel of a Scripture to encourage us to “continue to diligently pray for our children and grandchildren”:

If you’d like to learn more about Debora’s devotional, here’s the link to my recent review.  All of Debora’s books are wonderful with her hysterical humor and heartfelt devotion to our Lord, whom she calls “Papa God.” Checkout her website:  www.deboracoty.com

Happy Mother’s Day!  And many thanks to my dear Floridian friend and mentor, Debora Coty, who continues to bless me every day.

Next week you’re in for another treat with some astonishing stories proving God pursues us even as young children…

‘Til next time!

P.S. It’s our distinct, overwhelming pleasure to announce the birth of our first grandchild, Claire Elizabeth Hoagland.  Born May 9th at 9:17 a.m.  Mamma Diana, Papa John Jr.  and Baby Claire are well. Huge answer to prayer! We praise you, Lord.  Claire weighed 7 lbs., 15 oz., and is 20 inches long. Here we go on our new adventure!!! Needless to say we’re ALL smitten. =)

Here is the girls’ side of the table at Our Last Supper before Baby Claire’s arrival. Left to right:  Yours truly, LT, Lauren, and Diana (9+ mos. pregnant!) This was at one of our favorite hangouts, Noosh Nosh.

 

Here are the new proud parents, Diana and John Jr with Baby Claire.

Have you ever seen any bigger ear-to-ear grins on new grandparents?  We hope to be called Lolly and Poppy, but I’m told whatever the grand darlin’s call us is what we’re called.  So be it for the little angel.

Here, unbelievably, are our three grown sons with Claire.  Left to right, Proud new father John Jr., Uncle Woody in the center with Claire, and Uncle Gordy (maybe Uncle “G”) on the right.

Amen and Amen.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Holidays, Scripture

Joy From January For February (With help from Margaret Feinberg)

Friends!  How could it be February?  Where did January go?

No worries…I’ve got GREAT NEWS for you.  Better yet, I’ve got some gargantuan JOY for you.

My Tuesday Bible study group, now known as “Blessings on Burlington”, is currently devouring Fight Back With Joy—Celebrate More. Regret Less. Stare Down Your Greatest Fears. by Margaret Feinberg.  I cannot begin to tell you (altho’ I’m going to try!) what an invaluable resource this workbook is. Run, don’t walk to your nearest Christian bookstore and grab one.

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We finished Week One’s homework last week.  One of our gals said, “Wow, I can’t believe Margaret’s got more to give!  This is  amazing!”

What I love and appreciate about the workbook is how equipping and empowering it is.  Margaret’s input, after having battled cancer (can you imagine?), has boatloads of  blessings  and loads of lessons, page, after page, after page.

In addition to the body of the workbook’s text, little “quotables” and “notables” are stashed in many of the margins. One favorite from Week One comes from Henry Nouwen who said, “Joy and laughter are the gifts of living in the presence of God and trusting that tomorrow is not worth worrying about.”

Speaking of gifts, each day’s homework is gifted with a “Closing Prayer”.  Day Three’s prayer was a blessing last week:

Continue to ask God to reveal any areas where you’re missing out on the fullness of joy that He wants to give you. Ask Him to supernaturally allow you to experience more of His joy than you’ve ever experienced before.”

We joked about suffering from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in our social lives.  One of our gals learned in a recent email about JOMO (Joy of Missing Out).  Oh, we had fun with that!

Beautiful Scriptures are sprinkled throughout each week’s lessons making you want to add them to your journal or copy it onto a post-it note for your home or car.  Memory verses on cards are in the back of the workbook which you can tear out and place in a prominent spot.  What hasn’t Margaret thought of?

Each week also has an “Experiential Activity” for your group.  My friend, Susan, our hostess with the mostest, and I have tweaked these to work for our group.  Those of you who are craft lovers, knock yourselves out.  But those of us who are craft-impaired (!!!) prefer to choose an “adjusted” route. Hey, we’re still celebrating and reaping joy…

Margaret reminds us:  “You and I are called to a life marked by:

Gladness,

psalm-67-4

Rejoicing,

philippians-4-4

Blessedness,

jeremiah-17-7

Happiness,

psalm-146-5

and much, much more!  As children of God, we are meant to radiate God’s joy and leave a well-littered trail of divine affection and delight wherever we go.”

This is exactly what Margaret equips us to do.  She gives us tactic after tactic to “litter” joy around and  innumerable ways to fight back with joy.  (Incredibly Margaret also gives us a Joy Bomb Journal in the back to list daily pieces of joy we see or experience. Yes, chocolate can be one of them.)

Joy word on gray wooden table closeup

I’ll go so far as to say if you have a friend who’s going thru’ a rough time right now, even without the videos (altho’ they could download them thru’ Lifeway), this workbook would bless them immensely. Obviously if you’re in a grande season, it’ll still bring you joy!

N.D. Wilson wrote an article for Christianity Today entitled Lighten Up, Christians: God Loves a Good TimeMay we all heed his quote (which Margaret includes in her workbook) as I’d never considered such before….Enjoy:

“We Christians are the
          speakers of light.
We are the
          proclaimers of joy.
Wherever we go, we are the
Mascots of the gospel,
          The imagers of the infinitely creative Father,
And the
Younger  brothers and sisters of the humbled and triumphant Word.
We speak in this world on behalf of the One who made up lightning and snowflakes and eggs.”

I believe Margaret wrote the book, of the same title, before the workbook. The book is also excellent, however I personally prefer the layout of the workbook.  That friend you have in mind may prefer the book.  Consider their personality to help you decide which format would be best. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with either.

And don’t forget, Margaret began her study of joy in the Bible a full year before she was diagnosed with cancer.  I believe God filled her up, equipping her for that very difficult battle. Another perfect example of His perfect timing.

Here’s what the book looks like:

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May our joy from January flow to overflowing for February.

You’ll be thrilled to know some words on FITNESS for February are coming your way.  Oh yeah, I’m groaning right there with you.  But, we’ll have fun, I promise.

Fit people working out in fitness class at the gym

‘Til next time!

 

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Filed under Bible Studies, Book Reviews, Friends, Scripture

When You’re Bold Enough to Ask…

Friends!  Ever have something happen to you which completely unravels you?  This happened to me this past week in my favorite nail salon…

Do you think a nail salon could possibly become a sanctuary?  Oh, stick around and find out…

My friend Jane and I go to the same fabulous manicurist.  Her name is Savang and she and her family’s nail salon give the best pedicures in town.  (Think hot stones, oil, ahhhh-so-spa-like.)

The place?  If you’re in Louisville, it’s at the corner of Brownsboro Road and Rudy Lane, near Fresh Market and Panera.  CND Nails—Tom and Savang are the owners and not only are they incredible manicurists, their entire crew is.  Even better, the majority of them love Jesus.

cnd-nails

1901 Rudy Lane, Louisville, KY  40207 (502) 894-4445

 

And if you want to hear an incredible testimony, be sure and ask Savang how she arrived in the United States.  It is nothing short of a miracle.  Seriously.

Nearly monthly, I’m blessed to visit Savang and be pampered by her.  Our conversation is always filled with what the Lord is doing in her life, how we can pray for each other and our families, etc.

It’s also not lost on me she washes my feet when I visit her.  Selfless and dedicated, she perseveres day after day, literally being the hands and feet of Jesus.

savang

Appointments with Savang are one of my favorite activities. I come away more blessed than when I arrived every single time. If I’m really lucky, sometimes I get to take one or more of our daughters-in-love.  Savang always stops what she’s doing and prays for them.  Warms this Mom’s heart, let me tell you.  Savang is definitely one of my sisters in Christ.

savang-and-eliz

Funny tho’, Savang’s faith has grown by leaps and bounds.  As in she sorta left me in the dust.  I’m not trapped by comparison, however, I simply delight in her ever-growing faith. She shines for the Lord.

matthew-5-15

Perfect example occurred this past week. My friend Michelle was sitting opposite me.  We chatted while our feet received major pampering.  Nearly every pedicure chair was occupied, however one still remained.

Two gals came into the salon.  One escorted the other to the remaining pedicure chair.  This young woman was beautiful.  Another gal recognized her and said, “Hello.”  She smiled.  (I’ll call her Grace from now on…she exudes grace without realizing it.)

A few minutes later, Grace’s nail tech asked her what color she’d like on her toes. Grace didn’t understand.  The nail tech asked her again.  Nothing.  Just a blank look.

Savang and I could tell Grace wasn’t processing the conversation.  I wondered if she’d had a stroke and perhaps wasn’t able to carry on a conversation.  She seemed so young.  This troubled both Savang and me.

stop worrying no more worries solve all problems and relax keep

We left the pedi station and headed to Savang’s table to begin a manicure.  Grace’s friend helped her from the pedi chair to also have a manicure.  Several people in passing spoke to her.  She smiled and nodded. Her friend revealed Grace is a wife and mother and her family was going on a trip the next day.

Savang’s husband came over and told us Grace has advanced Alzheimer’s.  We were stunned.  While I was trying to absorb that, Savang immediately said, “I want to pray for her.”

Before I could take another breath, she asked Grace’s friend if it would be alright if she prayed for her.  The friend, somewhat surprised, said, “Sure.”

Savang went over to Grace, placing her hand on her shoulder, praying  with boldness and beauty.  I fought back tears.

At that very moment, the nail salon became a sanctuary, with prayers ascending Heavenward. Godly thunder surrounding us.

Did I believe God could heal this woman on the spot?  Most definitely.  Will He?  We don’t know.  Perhaps it’s His plan, within His timing. Here’s where we have to trust in His Sovereignty.

Savang was bold. 

She thought to pray. 

She thought to boldly ask.

Matthew 7:7 says,

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.
Keep on seeking, and you will find.
Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” (NLT)

Open Door

Matthew Henry said,
“Prayer is the appointed means for obtaining what we need. Pray; pray often; make a business of prayer, and be serious and earnest in it.
Ask, as a beggar asks alms.
Ask, as a traveler asks the way.
Seek, as for a thing of value that we have lost; or as the merchantman that seeks goodly pearls.
Knock, as he that desires to enter into the house knocks at the door…”

May we all have eyes to see someone’s need for prayer and may we boldly ask, followed by boldly praying.

This reminds me of one of my all-time favorite Scriptures….Watch what we’ll receive and find when we’re bold:

hebrews-4-16

Let’s pray:

Lord, please forgive us when we don’t notice a need.  Open our eyes to see others as you see them.  Guide us to shine your light among our surroundings and to be bold for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

‘Til next time! 

 

 

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Filed under Friends, Life Lessons, Scripture

You’re Invited to Meet and Hear from TWO Authors, Monday October 24th: Liz Curtis Higgs and Bill Higgs! Men and Women are welcome!

Friends!  Mark your calendar now to dash over to Middletown United Methodist Church next Monday night, October 24th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m.  Men and women are welcome!

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

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

The ladies of Branches Book Club will be hosting Retro Night.  They’re playing some of the oldies from the 60’s from WPER in Liz’ novel, Mixed Signals, as well as from Bill’s book, Eden Hill, which is set in the 60’s, all the while whippin’ up root beer floats and coke floats!  The floats will be made in mugs you get to take home.  Hey, motivation is everywhere. (Not to mention, there’ll be fabulous door prizes as well!)

Icing on the cake is we’ll be blessed to have TWO visiting authors!  Liz Curtis Higgs and her husband Bill, will be talking about their books, entertaining questions, and signing their books.  We’ll be discussing two novels:  Mixed Signals by Liz and Eden Hill by Bill.

 

Mixed Signals

Eden Hill

 

You can catch my thumbs’ up review of Bill’s book Eden Hill, here:

Step Back into a Delightful Time with Bill Higg’s Debut Novel, Eden Hill

We’ll get to hear from Bill about his writing process, his characters, etc.  This is his debut novel which is a HUGE accomplishment.  Obviously, Liz is very proud of her hubbie!  She’ll be talking about Mixed Signals and hopefully a little about her newest release, 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart.  They will share their writing experiences together, interview style, much to our delight.

liz-and-bill-higgs

Liz’ novel, Mixed Signals, was published in 1999.  This was her very first contemporary fiction she wrote, followed by Bookends (2000), followed by Fine Print in Three Weddings and a Giggle (2001), and finally Mercy Like Sunlight in Unveiling Magdalene (2001).

Liz then turned to Scottish historical fiction with Thorn in my Heart (2003). She’ll be the first to tell you, she’s never looked back!

I read Mixed Signals when it released, but needed to revisit it to jog my memory. (I can’t remember milk at the grocery store, much less what I read seventeen years ago!) I found it just as captivating as before. Liz keeps you on your toes.

You’ll instantly fall in love with her characters.  How Liz weaves God’s grace and forgiveness into the story line is breathtaking. The banter between potential lovebirds will make you laugh out loud.

The setting is positively charming. From Liz’ descriptive writing, you feel as if you’re right there in Abingdon with Belle, David, Patrick, and Norah. Liz includes not one, but two love stories, plus a side of sweet friendship. The friendship blooms between Belle and Norah.

Liz writes, “Morning after morning, in the cozy confines of the shop, their friendship had begun quilting itself together with tiny, intricate stitches…Their friendship fell somewhere between sisters and friends, with a dash of mother-daughter dynamics thrown in for good measure.”

Patchwork quilt. Part of patchwork quilt as background. Handmade.

Right about the time you think all problems are solved, and all relationships are tied up in a pretty little package, Liz throws you a curve ball.  One cup of coffee consumed too many, coupled with this curve ball, caused my heart to nearly beat out of my chest.

I kept thinking, “Surely she’s not going to harm these characters??? Surely she won’t end this in disaster???”  If you’re not glued to the book from the beginning, you’ll be tethered to it in the end.  Mercy.

Even if you haven’t had time to read these two novels by the Higgs’, come meet them and spend some time with them.  You’ll be beyond blessed. You can always read their books afterwards.  When you do, you’ll be able to hear Liz and Bill’s voices reading to you, a huge perk from coming to Book Club.

As if the timing couldn’t be more perfect, this week, on October 18th, a lovely, new, devotional-style book by Liz releases called 31 Verses to Write on Your HeartThis book will be available not only in bookstores, but the Higgs’ will also be bringing it to Book Club.  (Start your Christmas shopping!)

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I was blessed to read an early copy. As I finished each chapter, I’d text Liz and say, “Ok, now this chapter is my favorite.” Friends, they’re all wonderful.

Some verses you’ll immediately recognize while some may be less known.  As only Liz can do, she unpacks them, word by word, or phrase-by-phrase, making them come alive, applying them to our daily lives.

An added challenge comes with this beautiful book:  We, the readers, are invited to memorize these Scriptures. Each of the thirty-one chapters offers a different tip for how to do exactly that.

Scripture memory continues to haunt me on a regular basis whether from an author, or a book, or a Bible study.  Here we go again…

When I was in Nashville in August, I showed 31 Verses to my friend, Meredith.  She, too, said she always wants to attempt memorizing the Word, but never determines to do it.  With that, she blind-sided me:  “Let’s do this together!”  Well, what does one do with that?

I said, “Okay!”  Hey, and with Liz as your coach?  We all should say, “Yes!  We’re in!”

Friends, here’s your challenge! Please comment and let me know if you’re in! You’ll be entered in a drawing to win your own copy of 31 Verses!!!

Karen Ehman calls this, “Your new spiritual strategy for deepening your daily walk with God.”

Patsy Clairmont says, “Writing God’s Word on our hearts is insurance. It’s truth we can call on 24/7 in times of fear, insecurity, or intimidation.”

Are you in?  Pray about this! While this book is great for your own individual use, consider using it with your Bible study group or Small Group.  Our Tuesday group, better known as Blessings on Burlington, generally breaks during the holidays, thus giving us several weeks off.  We’re hoping to use this book to keep our faces in the Word.  It’s the perfect tool.

One of many favorite examples comes from Chapter 14:  Comfort Food.  It focuses on Isaiah 41:10.

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Liz says this verse is, “Simple, straightforward nutrition that fills our hearts with everything we hunger for…”  No panic, no worry, no anxiety:  “there is nothing to fear” (AMPC).

She encourages us by reminding us, “He is with you, beloved. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, He’s on your side and by your side. What a balm to our anxious hearts to know we are never alone.”

Each chapter blesses the reader with new insights and this one (chapter 14) is no exception:  “Every time we see some variation of ‘I am your God’ in Scripture, that’s our cue to embrace the truth and respond in kind, ‘I am Your child.’

Even if your earthly parents dropped the ball, you can be very sure God did not, cannot, and will not. He is the father you can trust completely.” 

See what a blessing this is?  Thank you, Lizzie!

We all hope to see you next Monday night, October 24th, at Book Club at Middletown United Methodist Church from 6:30-8:00 p.m.!

Bring your friends and don’t forget, men and women are welcome.

 ‘Til next time!

 

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Filed under Book Clubs, Book Reviews, Scripture

Four Fabulous Kinds of Love in February Part 1 of 4: Love for God with Help from Stuart, Jill, and Pete Briscoe…

Ahhh, February. The month of love. Any of you guys out there reading this better have “buy chocolate for ____________” on your calendar…

Gift boxes of gourmet chocolates for Valentine's Day

We gals really appreciate it even if we say, “Oh no, please do not buy me any this year.” Just know we do NOT. MEAN. A. WORD. OF. IT. (!!!)

This month we’re going to have some fun with four different kinds of love:

Love for God,

Love for Spouse,

Love for Family, and

Love for Friends.

We’ll be exploring ideas from God’s Word and from excellent authors who can teach us a thing or two or ten.

Just when I thought our beloved Naples, Florida couldn’t get any better, Hubster and I were blessed with an unbelievable opportunity to enjoy it even more. On Sunday, January 24th, we attended Covenant Church of Naples (www.covenantnaples.com).

Pastor Trent Casto delivered a sermon on ‘The Lion of Hell” which caused each of us to walk out of there with both eyes open, hearts beating more rapidly, and much more on the alert for the prowling lion/thief/father of lies who’s looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) Translation: Major wake-up call!

In addition to being blessed by an applicable sermon, we noticed in Covenant’s bulletin we could return on Wednesday to have “Breakfast with the Briscoes”. As in Jill, Stuart, and Pete Briscoe! For real???

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Guessing many of you have either heard of the Briscoes or have read one of their many, many excellent books. Their books cover every topic you can imagine such as Bible studies, women’s ministries, prayer, marriage, family, aging, renewal, children’s books, etc.

Two of my personal favorites are Time Bandits: Putting First Things First (LifeChange Books) by Stuart

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And A Little Pot of Oil: A Life Overflowing (LifeChange Books) by Jill

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Stuart and Jill hail from England, married in 1958, and praises to our Lord landed in the United States, ministering at Elmbrook Church (www.elmrook.org) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for thirty plus years. They’re “retired”, altho’ still travel and speak everywhere while being in their 80’s! They are still goin’ strong. Stuart said when asked when they were going to quit speaking, “As long as we’re able, we’ll go!”

Their youngest son, Pete, pastors Bent Tree Bible Fellowship in Dallas (www.benttree.org). He, too, has written several books. He is very articulate, clearly loves the Lord, and is fun to watch interact with his parents.

The three of them have an amazing ministry, in addition to all they do via www.tellingthetruth.org. It offers messages that are broadcast all over the world via six hundred radio stations in eight different countries! Their website is a wonderful resource with invaluable teaching. (Podcasts, etc. are available PLUS they have a FREE APP you can download on your phone!)

Let’s get to the questions Pastor Trent posed to the three Briscoes. Each and every one of us can benefit from these.  Consider your love for God in each of these scenarios:

QUESTION #1 – How do you find joy and purpose in your everyday life?

Stuart said we must keep everything in perspective, especially from our human vantage point. He quoted Theologian Dr. Vernon Grounds who said, “aging means diminishing”. We must embrace slowing down, finding joy in each and every stage.

He told us he loves enjoying different generations. He and Jill are blessed with three children and thirteen grandchildren. Each month, he asks his grandchildren for a few sentences’ worth of an update—for their “beings and doings in the last month”. Then he publishes them in “Pappa’s Monthly Round-Up” so they can keep up with one another. Grandparents, take note!

Stuart told us he used to be a runner. One day he was out jogging and became really tired. He slowed to a walk and suddenly realized what he’d been missing: trees in bloom, green, green grass, blue skies, he heard birds singing, etc. He added, “It’s amazing what you see when you take the time to slow down.”

He quipped that in England there’s a trajectory to your life: you start out playing rugby, then soccer, then you just run, then you walk and play golf, and finally you become a bird watcher. We all laughed at this, and yet while Stuart said he and Jill are now birdwatchers, they still were quite spry moving around on the stage, up and down the steps, etc. He may have been fooling all of us!

Bird Watchers

Pete said one lesson he’s learned was that he does not find joy and purpose in success. He pointed us to Galatians 5:22-23 which lists the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

He said, “Joy is a gift from the Holy Spirit. We must be available to the Spirit and receive joy and purpose from Him.”

Jill said when you can’t praise Him for what He’s allowed, praise Him for what He has done. She cited cancer as an example. She doesn’t believe we should praise Him for the cancer, but praise Him for our caregivers, medicine working, family surrounding us, etc.

Praise Him that we find joy in Jesus, within us. There’s joy in serving Him. Look for the invisible qualities of God that are visible in His Creation. She cited Psalm 16:11 which says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy…”

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QUESTION #2 – Each of you are leaders in different capacities. What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned?

Stuart replied that “leaders are intended to lead with followers following—a followship if you will.” He offered three suggestions:

A – Lead them where they are, not where you think they should be.

B – Lead in the direction they’re willing to go, not where you’re determined they should go.

C – Move at their speed, not yours.

IF you’re able to accomplish all three of these, two things will happen:

1 –Rapport is built.

2 –Momentum is generated. As a leader, you need momentum because nobody can steer a stationary vehicle!

Stationary bike

Pete said he loves the opening line of Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life: “It’s not about you….” He said, “As a leader, you must remember that!”

Two levels to consider are “is this working?” and “is this not working?”, all the while remembering it’s not about you! Piece of cake, right???

Pete quoted Bill Hybels’ book Courageous Leadership illustrating the difference between “Capitol L” leaders and “Little ‘l’” leaders. He talked about leaders who are visionary, entrepreneurial, motivational, directional, strategic and managerial. Many audience members nodded recognizing some of their own particular styles.

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He admitted, “It’s tough to not get hung up on performance. At the end of the day, people still want to know how well you know Jesus, not how well you perform.” John and I talked about this later and he said, “This reminds me of that saying, ‘People don’t really care how much you know until they know how much you care.’” Amen.

Jill confessed she’s quite the instigator, full of ideas. While this is a gift of hers, putting the ideas all together, coming up with a plan, and implementing it is not. Therefore, she learned to invite help.

When she and Stuart first arrived at Elmbrook, she realized she was the “minister’s wife”, therefore she must surely have a job to do. She gathered the women of the church and asked them to write out what their expectations of her were. (Can you imagine?)

Not surprisingly, their lists, upon lists, upon lists of expectations not only overwhelmed Jill, but she almost instantaneously realized she could do nothing on those lists!

After her cup of tea in a time of crisis (great suggestion!!!), she realized, thanks to the Lord, she’d just chip away a la Ecclesiastes 9:10 and “do unto the Lord”. Even if her efforts were bad, she was trying with all her might and praying harder than ever.

QUESTION #3 – In your own walk in Christ, what is the single greatest discipline a Christian should develop?

Jill suggested three things: prayer, solitude, and silence. No performance. She said, “Jesus will mentor you when you pray to Him.”

Young woman praying in the church

Jill recalls a visit to Viet Nam thirty years ago. They were led to a secret church. After hearing Jill pray, one young gal who’d also risked her life to be there said, “I love how well you know Jesus. I want to know Him like you do.” Jill realized that how we pray suggests how deep our relationship is to the Lord. Now that will make you think!

Stuart believes there’s more than one discipline. He said, “Both dependence and obedience are required.” These produce trust. Let that soak in a minute…

He pointed us to Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20 where He tells His disciples to “go and make disciples of all the nations, teaching them to obey all the commands I’ve given you…”

Pete believes the discipline of knowing who you really are is of paramount importance. He threw us a curve ball. He asked, “How many of you are sinners in need of a savior?” To which we all raised our hands.

He corrected us by saying, “We shouldn’t identify ourselves as sinners, we are saints now, saved by grace. Perhaps we’re saints who sometimes sin, but we cannot mistake our identities…

There’s so much Christ has purchased for us. Knowing Him more today than yesterday should be our goal.”  How great is your love for God?

After the Q & A we had the opportunity to receive two books:

Improving with Age: God’s Plan for Getting Older and Better by Jill and Stuart Briscoe

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Experiencing Life Today: 365 Day Devotional by Pete Briscoe

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Sadly the morning flew by and it was time to leave. Pete, Stuart and Jill all gave John and me lots to discuss and ponder. We got to meet and speak with each of them and they were positively lovely, engaging and sincere.  Their love for God is contagious.

Take the time to explore their website: www.tellingthetruth.org.   You will be blessed!

‘Til next time!

 

 

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Filed under Bible Studies, Book Reviews, Scripture