You’re Invited to Book Club Next Monday, 3/25. Author Angela Correll is sending us a video! Come one, come all!

Friends! Fill your car with your best buddies and head to Middletown United Methodist Church next Monday night for what will be a super fun book club meeting.  We will be discussing Angela Correll’s novel, Granted.  Angela is making us a personalized video which will also add to our evening.

Granted  is the third of the May Hollow Trilogy, following Grounded and Guarded. While they’re all stand-alones, they’re each excellent reads packed with characters you’ll quickly become attached to.

Angela hails from Danville, Kentucky.  She and her husband, Jess currently live in Stanford. They have several businesses in Stanford.  We will also be showing a video about some of these projects they’ve taken on and I know you will be impressed.  They’re a fascinating couple.  You may just decide to take a road trip there asap!

Several of my friends and I enjoyed the drive over to Stanford not too long ago, ate lunch at their restaurant, The Bluebird Cafe, toured some of their guest homes (Wilderness Road Guest Houses) and we managed to get into trouble (!!!) by making multiple purchases at Angela’s gift shop, Kentucky Soaps and Such.  (Don’t miss the goat’s milk soap and body cream.  It’s to die for.)

Since Granted often discusses good ole’ down home country cooking, we’re suggesting we bring similar treats such as country ham biscuits, etc. I couldn’t begin to count the number of pies Annie’s Grandmother Beulah made, or the fried chicken, or the multiple delicious sounding meals.  Between the church suppers, Beulah’s many meals, and their gardening and farming, food plays a large role with their little community.

We readers don’t just stay in the state of Kentucky, watching Annie and Jake juggle multiple plot twists, including putting together their upcoming wedding.  We get to hop the pond and travel to the lovely area of Tuscany in Italy for their wedding! Delightful!

Annie’s father proves to be one character you dislike and don’t trust.  He defines narcissism while poor Annie keeps believing he will do what he says.

Faith plays a large role in the story as well.  We learn many a lesson in endearing ways which are all excellent reminders. At one point when discussing her farm, Beulah tells Annie, “It all belongs to God—I’m simply a steward, here for a little while…”

While planning their wedding, Annie “recalled her favorite verse, the one she struggled with the most:  ‘Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.’ She did cast her anxiety on him, but many times she picked it right back up again. That was what she had done all month. Lord help me in my unbelief, she prayed, because unbelief was the very root of it.”

A huge sense of community comforts us readers and in the Author’s Note,  Angela tells us, “While I’m certainly an advocate of small-town life, I also realize this same type of community can be experienced in New York, Los Angeles, and other major cities through the local neighborhoods, which seem like small towns within big cities.”

Angela closes with this quote:  “President Lyndon B. Johnson once said, ‘It’s nice to live in a place where people know when you are sick, love you while you are alive, and miss you when you die.’” Amen!

Grab your friends and come join us next Monday night, March 25th from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Middletown United Methodist Church.  Please rsvp to Nancy Tinnell at (502) 345-8839 and bring your favorite down-home-delight if time allows.

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

We look forward to seeing you and hearing what will prove to be a great discussion as well as enjoying the two videos.

‘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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Anyone Want a Sneak Peek Into C.S. Lewis’ Incredible Friendship/Romance/Marriage??? Don’t Miss “Becoming Mrs. Lewis” by Patti Callahan

Friends! You do not want to miss this beautifully written novel about the lives of C.S. Lewis and the courageous woman who became his bride, Joy Davidman Gresham. I was captivated immediately, even tho’ I knew the outcome, I still wanted to see how it would shake out.

While this book is fiction, author Patti Callahan says her research helped her be as accurate as possible. Joy’s son, Douglas was also a great resource. Her writing completely transports us readers from America to London to Oxford, watching this unlikely romance transpire. Her captivating style, many times poetic and lyrical, makes for a primo reading experience.

We meet Joy while she lives in the United States, married to a man named Bill Gresham. They have two sons: Douglas and David. Their marriage crashes on the rocks, many scenes painful to read.

But Joy’s faith is about to take a huge leap. Consulting a colleague, he suggests she write to C.S. Lewis, who in turn, writes back. They develop an improbable friendship.

The first sentence of Becoming Mrs. Lewis sets the stage: “From the very beginning it was the Great Lion who brought us together.” As in Aslan from The Chronicles of Narnia who equates, as we discover, to our own Lord, Jesus Christ.

I confess while reading the books to our boys as a young mom, I had no clue of the characters’ spiritual significance! And to be honest, I think we only read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. You can guess I’m about to dive back in and read all seven of them!

Plus, we readers learn C.S. Lewis dedicated Book # 3, The Horse and His Boy, to Douglas and David Gresham. Joy’s sons indeed had been reading The Chronicles of Narnia and were clearly excited about meeting the writer/creator of these works. It is beyond exciting to hear the boys speak about meeting Mr. Lewis and to ultimately watch them develop a relationship. Very endearing.

The Magician’s Nephew, interesting enough, is #1 of the series now according to chronological order. Publication order has The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe first as it came out in 1950. We learn that shortly after C.S. Lewis’ death, British editions began appearing that were numbered chronologically. Lewis scholars, however, agree that publication order makes more sense.

Back to the novel…Joy’s conversion experience is breathtaking. It happens early in the novel, after the birth of her second child. We find her on her knees praying after declaring she was an atheist (!!!):

Eventually, Joy and Jack (as his friends called C.S. Lewis) meet in person for lunch in Oxford. She also gets to meet Jack’s brother, Warnie, at another lunch gathering. Another of their meetings included Jack’s friend J.R. R. Tolkien, “Tollers,” who didn’t appear to think much of Joy. (Can you imagine meeting Tolkien and Lewis together???)

She inquires about Jack’s and Tollers’ friendship, as Tollers was who led Jack to faith. Jack said, “As with any good friend, we have many of those moments when one turns to the other and says, ‘You, too?’” (That particular quote I use in every chapter of my book on friendship. Love it!)

Joy’s healing sabbatical returns her to the states (she constantly fights health issues), to find that her cousin who stayed with her husband has become his lover ultimately landing Joy and Bill a divorce. She manages to take their boys with her, and returns to England.

Joy finds a place to live (neat story), a boarding school for the boys, and settles in to a lovely life of writing, editing (sometimes for Warnie and sometimes for Jack—can you fathom?), all the while trying to sell her writing. Challenges occur around every turn, but they don’t stop her.

Soon Joy and the boys get to go to The Kilns, where C.S. Lewis’ home is. He and Warnie live there, with a gardener, Paxford, and a cook, Mrs. Williams. You will love all of them.  Life at the Kilns for the boys is a little like Narnia, seemingly.

We also learn Jack reads a Bible, sometimes in the original Greek, and sometimes in Latin every morning. His office where he worked was “crammed from corner to ceiling with books, stacked and line up on floors and tables and bookshelves.” This is one of many examples of the delightful and highly visual details Patti gives us readers.

I felt a little like movie goers of Mary Poppins, when the characters were allowed to jump into the sidewalk chalk picture. Author Patti invites us in, gifting us with a for-real peek into the life and beautiful friendship/romance between Joy and Jack.

Many of you know Jack’s mother and Joy, his wife, died of cancer. Because he loved his mother so and was saddened over losing her, perhaps that’s why it takes him EONS to own his love for Joy. So in many ways, you want to continue in the story, and yet you don’t for fear of what will transpire. Grab a bunch of Kleenex, too, as it’s beautiful and terribly sad simultaneously. Don’t miss their steadfast faith—a great lesson for all of us during suffering.

That’s all I’ll share, you need to be the one to dive in. When you do finish, you’ll want to immediately research where the boys are, what they’re doing, find many of the books mentioned and read them, especially the ones Joy and Jack worked on together. Oh, my friend, I predict this is just the beginning of a new reading adventure for you!

Here are a couple of the books I’m about to hunt down:

Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab Becoming Mrs. Lewis! You will be so blessed!

‘Til next time!

P.S. Here is the Publication Order, FYI:

1. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)


2. Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (1951)

3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)


4. The Silver Chair (1953)


5. The Horse and His Boy (1954)


6. The Magician’s Nephew (1955)


7. The Last Battle (1956)

 

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Please Join Us For a Riveting Discussion of Francine Rivers’ “The Masterpiece” on Monday, February 25th, 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Friends! You and your friends and neighbors are invited to our next Branches Book Club meeting, on Monday, February 25th, at Middletown United Methodist Church, where we’ll discuss Francine Rivers’ compelling and page-turner of a novel, The Masterpiece. (We meet from 6:30-8:00 p.m.)

While it’s a tome, I read it in no time, quickly loaning it to a friend so she could enjoy it. Fast forward to this week when I called on our faithful friend and fearless leader, Nancy Tinnell to come up with a “teaser” to get you to book club. Let’s learn a little more about The Masterpiece…

Here’s Nancy:

“Francine Rivers has done it again. She creates characters that compel us to lean in to them. We are drawn to them like flies to honey, and, if you’re like me, you can’t wait to finish the book to see how the story will end.

The Masterpiece has that wonderful element of bad boy/good girl that we so often love in our novels, but this one has a twist. The bad boy is somewhat reformed from his juvenile “tagging” days, but he has some distance yet to travel. Our good girl does not feel truly good because of her past. I got so caught up in Grace and Roman’s story that I wished I could climb into the pages and counsel both of them.

The bonus in the book is the cast of characters surrounding our primary duo. I even got drawn into their stories! Thank you, Francine. This book does not disappoint. If they ever make a movie based on it, I could see Antonio Banderas playing Roman. But I’m not sure about the actress to play Grace. Reese Witherspoon, maybe?

We are giving a nod to the book’s location (California coast) by making healthy, coastal snacks our food theme. When we get together for book club, I’m dying to ask your opinion on something in the book, but it will have to wait. I have to leave you with that teaser for now.”

 

Thank you, Nancy!

So, girls, you can tell we will have quite a discussion.  If time allows, please bring a California Coastal treat per Nancy’s suggestion and RSVP to her at (502) 245-3839. We look forward to seeing you next Monday night!

’Til next time!

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

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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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Grab Your Galentines! Come Shop and Eat Chocolate at Belle Monde Boutique Next Saturday, February 9th 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Friends!  First off, did you know your girlfriends these days are known as Galentines?  I kept thinking my friend, Nikki Knight, owner of Belle Monde Boutique, was repeatedly making typo’s when she’d text me about doing a Galentine’s event. Even Target has a “Galentines” section. Yesterday I got an email from Lilly Pulitzer especially for Galentines.  Who knew?

Galentines is supposed to be celebrated the day before our Valentine’s Day with your special girlfriends.  Even more fun, we’re going to celebrate earlyYou and your Galentines are invited to come shop, eat chocolate, and drink tea, coffee, or hot chocolate on Saturday, February 9th from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Belle Monde Boutique. (I’ll be signing my new book, Let’s Be Friends:  What My Sister-Friends Taught Me About Faith, Food, and FunA perfect gift for your Galentines!)

Belle Monde Boutique is located in the heart of St. Matthews, at 115 Fairfax Avenue,   in a darling house filled with even more darling clothes.  Owner Nikki Knight offers new and pre-owned well-made clothing brands.

Nikki and I both hail from Lexington. (GO CATS!) We had a blast many moons ago when she was on staff at Southeast Christian Church and I was helping with the book club.

I can attest to the quality and variety of clothing Nikki offers having shopped at Belle Monde recently.  One of several  purchases I made is a gray, wool poncho.  It’s been a huge staple during these cold days and cost me a whopping sixteen dollars!  I’m not kidding.  (I went with several friends to celebrate my buddy Sherry Leavell and her new book Grateful Living.) We had a ball trying on everything from yoga wear to evening gowns.

Another reason to come on Saturday, February 9th is Nikki is generously offering all customers an extra 20% off of the ticketed items as well as having in-store specials! 10% of the proceeds will go to the Junior League of Louisville, benefitting the Little Libraries.

Belle Monde’s regular hours are Tuesday thru’ Friday from 10-7, Saturday from 10-6, the Knight family  savors the Sabbath on Sundays, therefore they close on Sunday, and Mondays are by appointment only.

Nikki says, “I want to encourage and empower women to live a life of confidence, love, and intentionality.”  She knows her stuff, girlfriends, and she can outfit you from head to toe (you can even find shoes, purses, jewelry, etc.), making you look like a million bucks.  Give her a call at (502) 403-3432.

Bring a carload of friends (Galentines!) and come shop and fill your chocolate cravings, sip coffee, tea, or hot chocolate with us on Saturday, February 9th!  I’ll be there to cheer you on from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Don’t miss this fun opportunity.  And as I always say, there are few things more fun than finding a bargain!

‘Til next time!

Here’s THE gray poncho!  Favorite-bargain-ever, with fam on Christmas Eve

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You’re Invited to Book Club Featuring TWO Authors Next Monday, January 28th!!!

Friends!  Have we ever got a double-header for you next Monday night, January 28th from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. You do not want to miss this! Grab several buddies and hustle over to Middletown United Methodist Church for what promises to be an eye-opening evening…

We will be discussing Michelle Ule’s fascinating non-fiction book, Mrs. Oswald Chambers:  The Woman Behind the World’s Bestselling DevotionalWhile Michelle lives in California, she’s promised to send us a video sharing highlights and tidbits of Biddy’s life, how the book came to be, etc. This is very exciting and generous of Michelle to share her time with us.

I first learned of Michelle and her book via an Eric Metaxas interview (www.metaxastalk.com ).  It was so compelling, I quickly ordered and devoured the book and have given several friends copies of it.  It reads like a novel even tho’ it’s all true! (You may read more from my post about it from 12/13/17.)

Not only will we be blessed by words from Michelle Ule, we are also having a local author, Sherry Leavell, come and share snippets from her new and inspiring devotional, Grateful Living.  You will also hear the uncanny story of how she came to write this lovely book.  (Spoiler alert:  Liz Curtis Higgs had something to do with it!)

Finally I’ll be sharing a couple of teasers from Michelle’s new novel, which has lovely appearances and pearls of their faith from Biddy and Oswald, called A Poppy in Remembrance. To read more about it, here’s the link from when I wrote about it:  10/24/18.

Believe me, this will be an exciting evening and your brain will be bursting forth with wisdom afresh, challenging you and your walk with the Lord.

Since Biddy served tea at a moment’s notice, we will also be serving tea Monday night and little snacks to go along with it. We may even have a wild card of some cake.  Let’s just say I’m doing some “research.” Hey, someone’s gotta do it! Stay tuned…

We look forward to seeing you Monday night, January 28th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Bring a car load of book buddies by all means! Please RSVP to Nancy Tinnell @ (502) 245-8839.

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

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

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