Tag Archives: Blessed Earth

Let’s Prepare Our Hearts for Easter With Help from Liz Curtis Higgs and Her New Book: The Women of Easter—Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth, and Mary Magdalene

Friends!  Greetings this lovely Lenten Season!

I confess I haven’t proclaimed what I’m giving up yet even tho’ Ash Wednesday was March 1st…usually it’s chocolate and I manage to fail at keeping the promise.  Deep, I know…

My freshman year of college I gave up the elevator and walked the four flights of stairs to my room.  Deeper…

I love what my friend, Nancy Sleeth from www.BlessedEarth.org , suggests:

Consider what you might ADD during this season to draw closer to God?”

Nancy offers the following ideas:

All  great ideas, thanks Nancy!

I have another stellar idea for you that our Tuesday Bible study group, a/k/a “Blessings on Burlington” is about to embark on to help us appreciate Easter more.  We’ll be reading Liz Curtis Higgs’ newest book, The Women of Easter—Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth, and Mary Magdalene.

Before I even opened the book, I need to own up to the fact I wasn’t certain who all these Marys were.  Once I dove in, I realized “Mary of Bethany” is none other than the chill-child-Mary vs. the nervous-Nellie-Martha…you know, that Mary and Martha duo.

How many times have we all said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things…” (Luke 10:41) Liz calls Martha the “first century Martha Stewart”. She kills me.

Mary of Nazareth was Jesus’ Mother and Mary Magdalene was the demon-possessed woman who Jesus healed and who became a devout follower of our Lord.  The numerous details Liz reveals within each chapter on these Marys is fascinating.

Liz tells us readers, “We’ll meet three women of Easter who poured our their lives for their beloved Teacher. .. Mary of Bethany prepared the Lord for burial by anointing Him with a priceless perfume. Mary of Nazareth, who’d watched Jesus draw His first breath, bravely watched Him breathe His last. Mary Magdalene witnessed His resurrection and proclaimed the good news to His disciples.”

Liz walks us thru’ several parts of the Bible, teaching us along the way via various translations, making us feel as if we’re right in every scene.  When Jesus raises Lazarus from the grave, you experience not only His affection for Lazarus, but the palpable grief from the sisters, Mary and Martha.

She explains what’s happening in certain passages, drawing a teaching point for us to think about, showing us how we can apply it to our life.  She also builds the tension toward what we know is coming:  the crucifixion…

Blissfully dotting the pages with her humor, we readers find this to be a relief from some of the very tough subject matter.  For example, when Liz is talking about the disciples deserting Jesus and fleeing (Matthew 26:56), she says, “It’s heartening to realize that Scripture has no parallel stories of women betraying Jesus, denying Jesus, or abandoning Jesus.”

Frederick Dale Bruner said, “They’re not like the disciple-defectors.” (!!!) Lizzie calls Jesus’ female followers “loyal from start to finish.”

Good luck getting thru’ Chapter Seven without hunting down a Kleenex or two, or ten.  Liz’ description of what Jesus endured as well as the women looking on will take your breath away.

Liz reminds us, “Lent is a time of remembering, of revisiting the familiar scenes in Scripture and discovering what God wants us to learn this year. We are not the same women we were twelve months ago. Our lives have changed and our perspectives have shifted. …His love for us has not changed, and our need for Him has not diminished.”

May we STOP… and consider what we’ve learned this past year as we refocus on the cross and the miraculous resurrection this Easter.  Liz’ book is akin to a guided tour toward the cross…and yet, praises we sing,  with an empowering ending.  Let’s celebrate!

More GOOD NEWS:

If you live anywhere near Louisville and are nearby next Wednesday, March 22nd, don’t miss the opportunity to hear Liz speak at St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church at 6:00 p.m.  She’s one of their Lenten Series speakers and will be talking about this excellent book. She’s the third of five speakers each Wednesday before Easter. For more information, visit www.stfrancisinthefields.org

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Book Clubs, Book Reviews, Holidays

What You Miss When You’re in a Hurry…

“Ok, let’s go for it!” I shouted above the roar of cars. Hubster John, wild-child-dog Gracie, and I dashed across the huge intersection of traffic. (If you live in Louisville, you know where Brownsboro Road and Rudy Lane intersect. It’s always busy.)

We’d just had a delicious breakfast outside at Panera.

Panera

Yes, to the horror of most veterinarians, Gracie managed to con us out of a few scraps. Smart girl, she knows when to play her terrier card.

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Several years ago, the City of Windy Hills commissioned a chain saw artist to carve a very tall bear out of a very tall tree stump—as in twenty-five feet tall. This bear, better known as “my bear” (wonder who else calls him that?!!) has been standing guard over a lovely park at this very same intersection.

Some clever soul adorns “my bear” each Christmas Season with a very svelte red bow. While he’s been affectionately known as “my bear” for years, and we drive past him numerous times daily, we’ve never stopped long enough to become acquainted….until today.

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Bear on Rudy and Elizabeth

 

This park offers loads of benches where one can sit and read, or picnic, or simply rest and soak in the environment. Even tho’ it’s on a busy street, there’s a meandering path of mulch to walk on and you’ll find yourself quite a distance from the traffic.

Onward we proceeded down the sidewalks of Rudy Lane. We walked down two streets we’d never been on before. This area is very close to where our first home is located. Why, you ask, hadn’t we explored here before? Sad answer is that four-letter word we try to gain more of: TIME.

One more four-letter word strongly related to TIME seems to be everyone’s universal excuse: We’re sooooo BUSY. Sigh…

Our eyes were opened to several new discoveries once we slowed down…..We happened to stop for a minute to look across the street at some large front yards on Rudy Lane. To our complete astonishment, there before our very eyes, was another carved bear!!!

Are you kidding me??? He can be found right around the corner from “my bear” in the park. He is equally adorable and sports a pinwheel to bedazzle onlookers on a windy day.

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I remain clueless as to how long that bear has been there. And just wait for this: we found one more carved animal from a tree stump, not even a mile from these bears. It’s either a coyote or a wolf…and he lives off of Hubbards Lane on Pin Oak Lane.

carved fox

If only we’d all just slow down and open our eyes. Author Mark Buchanan really brings this point home in his book, The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath. For more information, please click on “Wander with Wonder”)

John and I are blessed to have become acquainted with an amazing couple in Lexington. They’re the type the more you’re with them, the more you want to be with them. You know the type?

I s’pose one reason we’re so fascinated by them is we desire to emulate they’re lifestyle. Their names? Matthew and Nancy Sleeth.

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They’re the co-founders of an amazing educational non-profit called Blessed Earth. (www.blessedearth.org) Creation care, as in becoming better stewards of the earth, is their mantra.

They also happen to each have written phenomenal books that are perpetual resources. Matthew wrote 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life.

24-6 Sleeth 

Nancy wrote Almost Amish: One Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life. Nancy tells us, “The Almost Amish life is a conscious life. Though the choices we make may vary, it is a journey that we can take together—and above all with God

The busyness of modern life has a way of thwarting even the best of intentions…Yet each time we seek out an Almost Amish path, we move one step nearer to the Kingdom of God.

Every time we choose the Almost Amish way, we come one breath closer to a slower, simpler, more sustainable life.”

Almost Amish Sleeth

Nancy and Matthew are proficient at slowing down. They faithfully honor God’s weekly gift to us:  the Sabbath. Matthew says they find themselves “wealthy with time” when they observe the Sabbath.

When was the last time you found yourself “wealthy with time”???

Clock and Bible on Wood

My prayer for us all is to slow down and discover what the Lord is trying to open our eyes to. May you find some carved animals (!!!) or other “treasures” to discover…

Let’s close with a poem which later became a hymn by William D. Longstaff.  He hailed from England and used his wealth to bless many others, including Dwight Moody and Ira Sankey.

Please be sure to take note of each line as they are all packed with lessons for us:

Take Time to Be Holy:

“Take time to be holy, speak oft with they Lord;

Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word.

Make friend of God’s children; help those who are weak,

Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

 

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;

Spend much time in secret with Jesus alone.

By looking to Jesus, like him thou shalt be;

Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

 

Take time to be holy; let Him be thy guide;

And run not before Him whatever betide.

In joy or in sorrow still follow thy Lord.

And, looking to Jesus, still trust in His Word.

 

Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul;

Each thought and each motive beneath His control.

Thus led by His Spirit to fountains of love,

Thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.”

 

If you’re more of a visual than a text person, please stay seated for just three more minutes and watch Jamie Grace’s song, It’s a Beautiful Day. Her photographs are exactly what I’ve been trying to articulate about keeping our eyes open. Let’s “get our worship on”!!! Praise and Glory be to God.

‘Til next time!

P.S. Last week, over at the girls with In Courage, Lysa TerKeurst posted an excellent blog where we’re basically pleading for the same thing. Check it out:

www.incourage.me (post from 8/18/14)

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Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Friends, Life Lessons

Get Over the Guilt: Grab a Nap! (Beating Busyness: Part 4 of 4)

Slinking up the stairs, barely putting one foot in front of the other, the oh-so-tired Wife/Mom/Crazy Girl crawled into bed.

Long sigh…

Buried under the covers, sleep enveloped her quickly.

Oh, but not for long.  The world pursued…  Startling her, something was ringing, and ringing, and ringing.

Eyes wide open, she snapped: “I promise, if it rings one more time, I’m chuckin’ that thing OUT the window!” …as if her cell phone could comprehend.

She’d told herself all she needed was a quick, fifteen minute power nap…

Fuming at the interruption, she climbed back out of bed and returned to the first floor, where laundry, emails, and dishes awaited.

A rather large hamster wheel comes to mind.

hamster in wheel

How does one find time for a break???

Why does the word “R-E-S-T” seem so foreign to us?  Today we’re going to address the four letters of “rest” to help us rest.  Let’s not forget how God created rest and fully intends for us to find it.

Genesis 2:2-3 says, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.  And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” NIV

R: “Remember to take a nap REGULARLYand do not, do not, do NOT feel guilty about it! Get over the guilt and get off the hamster wheel.  Remember from last week how Mary Byers taught us that even Jesus got away to rest.  (Click on Part 3 of 4 on Beating Busyness here for more information.)

So IF we are rested, we’re more apt to glorify God, as He longs for us to do.  John Piper says it best: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

Please mimic our friendly polar bear below:

Sleepy Polar Bear

E : “Engage in LAUGHTER!”

Make a lunch date with your funniest friend.

Rent a funny movie.

Hang out at a preschool!  What?  Richard A. Swenson, M.D., in his book Margin–Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, shares remarkable stats:   Did you know the peak age for laughter is age four???  It’s reported that four year olds laugh once every four minutes, or four hundred times a day!

Can you guess how many times adults laugh?  An average of  fifteen times per day. (Not sure I make that on a daily basis.)  You WILL feel better if you can find the humor in your daily situations.

Dr. Swenson adds, “Perhaps the best kind of laughter is when we laugh at ourselves–we never run out of material.  After Hurricane Andrew leveled his house, a man in south Florida put out a sign reading:  ‘Open House.’  He will heal faster than his neighbors.”

Write these verses on a post-it note to take with you:  Proverbs 15:13 says, “A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face, a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.” (The Message)

Proverbs 17:22 helps as well: “A cheerful heart is good medecine…” (NIV)

Kick in those endorphins!

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S:  “Sabbath Keeping”

Read, very slowly, the following phrase: “Seven FULL days makes one WEAK.” Nope, not  w-e-e-k,   w-e-a-k.

This truth hails from Lynne Baab’s excellent book Sabbath Keeping.  We read and discussed her book in Book Club a few years ago.  Sadly, not one of us at the time could honestly say we even tried to keep the Sabbath.

Sabbath Keeping

One teensy-tiny detail I believe we all overlook:  One of the Ten Commandments (not “suggestions”!) happens to be about keeping the Sabbath:  Exodus 20: 8-11 says,  “Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work.  But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work.  For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day.” (NIV)

The word “Sabbath” is from the Hebrew word, “Shabbat”, meaning “stopping” or “ceasing.”  God’s true desire is for us to purposefully carve out time to be still and enjoy Him.

Matthew Sleeth, M.D. recently wrote   24/6—a prescription for a healthier, happier life.  (This is my new favorite book to give to people!)

Matthew shares his own discovery of the Sabbath along with his family’s journey in keeping it.  His excitement is contagious.  His medical experiences from running an Emergency Room, combined with his honesty and sense of humor, makes this book a fascinating page-turner.  What makes it unique is he backs up the cases he builds with Scripture.

24-6 Sleeth

Matthew says, “In learning how to rest, we actually gain knowledge of Christ.  We learn to be gentle and humble and to GIVE UP OUR PRIDE.  My ideal day of rest …is a day when I trust that the world can get along just fine WITHOUT Matthew.”  Hmmmm, this is a good reminder for some of us control freaks (!) to mosey on over to the passenger seat.

Removing his wristwatch, Matthew and his family’s Sabbath begins.  They are “wealthy with time”.  Give it a try!

Shutting down their computers, they remain media-free for twenty-four hours.  (No more interrupted naps from cell phones! Someone ought to notify that Wife/Mom/Crazy Girl in the beginning of our story….yeah, you guessed it, that would be me.)

A clever promotional magnet to go along with 24/6 is a prescription for us all.  The Rx reads:  “REST for 24 hrs., Dispense 1x/wk, Do NOT mix with work.  Refill:  52x/yr. “  (www.246.com )  Don’t miss that last little number:  FIFTY-TWO TIMES….That equates to FIFTY-TWO GIFTS from God.  Don’t waste these!

If an entire Sabbath seems too extreme for you right now, please allow me to share “The 14 Challenge” from Priscilla Shirer and her book Resolution for Women.  I referred to an “aha moment” when I heard Priscilla speak on this last summer.  She  opened my eyes to the concept of margin. (Click on  “But I Don’t Have Time for a Bible Study!”- Part 1 of 4 of Beating Busyness for more information.)

Resolution for Women

Priscilla occasionally finds herself in need of some “retail therapy”.  She claims she has a “shopping anointing”.  (Not sure I’d share that “gift” with my husband!)

Priscilla’s visual aid was a whole mess of belts she toted up onto stage.   Wide belts, narrow belts, belts with bling, belts  with ropes, belts with dangly-thingys, and well, you get the picture.  Some of us “collect” shoes, Priscilla obviously collects belts.

She bravely confessed to her excess purchases, remarking that clutter causes chaos.  Got clutter?  I’d be happy to share some of mine!  Big sigh…?????????????????

Let’s go back to The 14 Challenge.  Here’s how she came up with the number 14: The Sabbath, being one of seven days is fourteen percent (14%) of your week.  Start little by little.  Try fourteen minutes per day to “be still”.  Gradually, you can add more minutes.  Simple,  right? (This helpful information is in the chapter called “Sabbath Spaces”.)

Additionally, consider clearing Sabbath SPACES (or Margins) in areas of your home.  Try clearing fourteen inches of space somewhere in your living area once a week.  Think of it as an act of obedience to God to “literally give your home some BREATHING ROOM!”  These are very manageable ideas.  (As the piles on my desk are begging to be cleared…)

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Hebrews 4:9-11 says, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from His.  Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.” (NIV)

(Last but not least….)  T: “TEARS”

Seriously?  YES!!  Tears from laughter or tears from sadness, BOTH  are good for you!  Emotional tears have a therapeutic chemical consistency.  How awesome is God to hardwire us to weep when we come to the end of ourselves?

THIS week, I pray we will really make a concerted effort to REST. (R– Remember to take a nap REGULARLY, E– Engage in laughter, S-Begin this Sunday, or the day that best fits your schedule, to take steps toward keeping the Sabbath, T-Tears- Shed some!)

Priscilla’s ideas in The 14 Challenge are your first steps to reaching the Sleeth’s type of all-in Sabbath.  Again, it wasn’t their idea.  It was God who ordained it.

Beyond this week, now that we’ve completed all four parts of Beating Busyness, I pray we will be ever mindful of the meaning and blessing of margin. Let’s go back one more time to that hammock photo….Ahhhhhh…

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R-E-S-T.

Savor the Sabbath.

What have you got to lose?  Chime in and let me know if you try it.  No guilt and remember, it’s a process on this heavenward journey.

Next post, we’re going to talk about a book that’ll make you laugh and cry.  Just addin’ to those endorphins!!!

‘Til  next time!

(This week’s blog post is dedicated to Dr. Matthew Sleeth.  He and his wife Nancy are my newest and super fun discovery thanks to my friend Sherry who introduced us.  Nancy’s book, Almost Amish,  has also blessed my life.  Not converted yet, but sure am thinkin’!   Additional details can be found in a previous blog post about 3 new books & Branches Book Club…May God continue to bless you, Matthew and  Nancy, your family, and your ministry with Blessed Earth. www.blessedearth.org )

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Filed under Book Reviews, Life Lessons, Margin, Scripture