Tag Archives: Elizabeth Hoagland

Next Time You’re Down in the Dumps, Grab “Every Bitter Thing is Sweet—Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things” by Sara Hagerty

Friends! Havin’ a bad day? One of those where everything goes wrong? Chances are, if you’re not, someone you know is.

I’ve got just the cure. It’s one we all know, and yet forget daily.

My good buddy, Liz, loaned me a boatload of books recently, and this one, Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things by Sara Hagerty has been an eye-opening blessing for this woe-is-me girl. 63823EB Many times when I read a book, I try to come up with one, single, take-away word. “Adoration” is our inspiration in this book and “adore” the verb to put into action.

You may already be familiar with Sara’s blog, www.everybitterthingissweet.com She has information on her book, resources, her posts for the blog, plus an incredible section with fantastic printables under “Adoration”. (I chose this word before I knew she had an entire section in her blog about it!!!)

Brutally honest, Sara journeys us readers thru’ some tough times in her life. She’s been blessed with friends who she says “wore a brand of Christianity that was attractive, but foreign.” (to her) She continues, “They acted as if they believed God didn’t just tolerate them; He enjoyed them.” These fascinating friends “approached their days with a confidence that God had something for them…” Wow, don’t we all want that?

In the midst of three equally difficult trials (infertility, lengthy adoption processes and her father dying of cancer), Sara said, “God was revealing this kind of availability to me in both the big aches and the everyday small ones.”

With eyes opened to a different perspective, she told her husband, “…all this mess—was fodder for discovering His love anew.” Small newborn baby legs in mothers lovely hand with soft focus on babie's foot Here comes the adoration part….This is what Sara does and what we all can do. She reveals, “My first step in inhaling adoration was inviting that language into my everyday ache.” She began with one word or phrase from the Bible, depending on her particular need or worry. For example, from Psalm 36:5 and 57:10 she read, “Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.” Sun Ray Shining Through The Clouds In The Blue Sky Then she’d pray:

God, You are faithful.

You are faithful when I am fearful.

I can count on You.

You will not leave me when You see my failure.”

Here are just a few of Sara’s discoveries about adoration (This is my favorite part of the book and what I believe to be the most powerful):

“Adoration is exploration. The Father loves to be explored.

Fear loses oxygen when every moment suspends itself under the purpose of bringing Him glory.

Adoration makes walking with God more than just reacting to a series of externals.

Adoration CALLS the circumstances, no matter how high or low, into proper submission in our hearts.

Adoration ROOTS us in a reality that no amount of pain and no amount of blessing can shake.

Adoration STEADIES US. Inspirational Typographic Quote - Slow and Steady It REPATTERNS our thinking.

It CENTERS our lives around a God-man instead of forever trying to make sense of the God-man thru’ the lenses of our circumstances.

Adoration ALIGNS US under Him… THIS IS THE PLACE WHERE LIFE IS FOUND.”

Another excellent part of the book is found at the end of each chapter where Sara gives us several Scriptures to look up which pertain to the chapter. The “For Your Continued Pursuit” passages bring light and promises from His Word to bless you, the reader.

Sara’s vivid style makes you feel like you’re riding in the car with them many times and you say, “Oh no!” out loud more than once! However, with her “adoration-eyes-on”, she shows us God is on her side, fighting for her and her family. And just wait ‘til you see how God builds their family. (Not spoilin’ the fun! You must discover this for yourself! You need to take the journey with her.)

I pray we’ll all open our eyes, filled with adoration for our Creator, our Heavenly Father, our Constant Companion.

Sara says the experience is like a “minute-by-minute communion” that makes her feel alive. Wouldn’t you love that too?

Romans 15-13 ‘Til next time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

What if today was your last day on this Earth?

– Are you sure you’re Heaven bound?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Press on, friends.

Be ready.

‘Til next time!

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

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I Will Never Yell, “Hurry Up!” to Our Children, And Other Motherhood Myths…

Friends! This Mother’s Day Week I thought I’d amuse you with some of my own horrific mothering no-no’s, show off our newest grandchildren (Oh yeah, I’m one of those—pics are at the end!), and then point you to a quick must-read for all parents and grandparents: Praying Circles around Your Children by Mark Batterson. It’s a powerful little paperback that will change the way you think and pray.

Praying Circles

First, here are some of my Motherhood Myths, and then we’ll get to the prayer tips:

I’ll never chuck a pop tart into the back seat on the way to school.” (Well, at least this didn’t happen ‘til child #3 arrived.)

I’ll never yell at our children before church.” (Yeah, that happened more than once: Verrry ugly.)

“We will never blow thru’ a drive-thru’ two nights in a row.” (That didn’t last thru’ the first soccer season.)

I’ll always realize what a blessing they are when they seem to be a pain in the you-know-where.” (I need to write this on a blackboard about a hundred times while begging the Lord for His forgiveness about a thousand times.)

I’ll never cry uncontrollably in front of them.” (Scares our boys silly.)

I’ll stop worrying about them when they reach age _____.” (Hasn’t happened yet.)

I’ll never forget they’re really on loan from the Lord.” (This is a primo reminder I’m suspecting we ALL need. Frequently.) PLUS, He loves them more than we do.

Don’t mess with these Motherhood Myths! While you’re at, pitch your own if you have any! Instead, begin with this beautiful Scripture:

Lamentations 2-19

Author Mark Batterson tells of a legend he discovered in the Jewish Talmud about a prayer warrior named Honi. Honi literally drew a circle around himself in the sand, and stayed there praying for much-needed rain, for mercy on the people of the village, and for favor, blessing and graciousness. He was ultimately honored for “the prayer that saved a generation.”

This eye-opening little book, Praying Circles Around Your Children, gives you loads of promises in Scripture to “circle” around your children. It gives you ideas for circling a place of work, or a school, or a piece of property, or a home, covering that concern in prayer.

“Circling” something or someone in prayer is really akin to:

I Thessalonians 5:17 which simply says, “Pray continually.” Mark recommends we endeavor to rev up the intensity and tenacity of our prayers.

Mark adds, “Prayer is the way we take our hands off our children and place them in the hands of God.”

Of the five prayer circles Mark gives his readers, the second one, Making Prayer Lists, is my favorite. Being a list maker (to a fault!!!), this idea grabbed me. Look at the verse he gives us:

“Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.” (Psalm 5:3 NLT)

What’s on your list? I have short-term and long-term requests on mine. I have a list of friends with health challenges. The blessing in seeing how God answers them is worth the time and effort of writing them down, plus you know the direction to keep praying.

Recently I drew circles in my journal and placed people in them according to their circumstances. The visual effect is comforting. Remember, tho’, these lists are not just your wish list.

Mark reminds us, “Every prayer, including your prayers for your children, must pass a twofold litmus test:

Your prayers must be in the will of God and for the Glory of God.”

I love one of Mark’s prayers for his children, “Lord let their ears be tuned to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. I want my children to find their voice, and the key is hearing the voice of God.”

Don’t miss this warning: “If they don’t hear the voice of God, they will echo our culture.” Hello? Anyone aghast at the goings on of our culture???

Checkout the other prayer circles (I’ve only given you a snippet!) in the book. May we heed Mark’s closing remarks,

“Don’t lose heart.

          Don’t lose hope.

                    Don’t lose faith.

                              Keep circling!”

May we all be reminded of Psalm 127:3:

Children are a GIFT from the Lord; they are a REWARD from him…”

I loved seeing this Scripture on the wall of Central Baptist Hospital where our 3rd grandchild, Henry Pierce Hoagland was born in Lexington, KY on 4/22/19. Gordy and Lauren told us a prayer is said over the intercom every morning.

Here we are cuddling with Henry.  What a blessing.

John and Huck with Baby Henry

 

Yours truly with Baby Henry

 

Baby Ford (Woodford Lee Hoagland, Jr.) is now smiling! He is Woody and LT’s baby, born 3/18/19. Ford and Henry are five weeks apart to the day and almost the hour.

 

Claire and Diana at Dawn at the Downs Derby Week. Claire Elizabeth Hoagland turns 2 years old on 5/9/19! John Junior and Diana are expecting Baby Charlotte September 1st.  Let the games begin!

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day Week and Weekend!

‘Til next time!

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Family

Transform Your Morning and Your Mood in Less Than TEN Minutes…

GOOD NEWS for you readers out there: You do NOT have to be a morning person to start your day off well!!!

Coming from a Confirmed Grouch in the morning, in dire need of a pot of coffee prior to producing any semblance of intelligent conversation, I’m happy to report that listening to music in the morning brings blessings a plenty:

music and technology concept - smiling young woman with closed e

Blessing #1: Your focus will shift away from you and your distractions, rising up to the Lord.

Blessing #2: Praising the Lord allows you to worship with truths straight out of God’s Word.

Blessing #3: Your spirit will be lifted no matter your circumstance.

I’ll be giving you two worship songs shortly to get you started. If you listen to both of them, you can do this in under ten minutes

A while ago, I talked about Dee Brestin’s book The God of All Comfort: Finding Your Way into His Arms which she penned after her husband’s death. Songs are what saved her sanity.

The God of All Comfort

The first song I’d like to share with you John and I discovered recently at Tates Creek Presbyterian Church (TCPC), in Lexington, Kentucky.(www.tcpa.org ) We were visiting Gordy and Lauren over the weekend.

Upon singing this song with its’ powerful lyrics (which caused me to weep), I made a mental note to investigate it.  I also wrongly assumed, because of TCPC’s more liturgical services and typically older hymns, that this song was also an old one. Au contraire…

Please allow me to show you one of my new favorites,

O Church Arise by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. (Never mind they also wrote a huge favorite of mine and I suspect yours, In Christ Alone. Checkout Travis Cottrell’s rendition if you have time.)

Keith is a British, Northern Irish composer, married to Kristyn, who many times co-writes these “modern hymns”. Stuart Townend is a British, English songwriter and worship leader.

GETTYMUSIC-WELCOME-BOX_01

Please sit back and enjoy Oh Church Arise. Soak in the lyrics:

To read these truths from the lyrics, here are just a few Scriptures that spell them out:

Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Corinthians 4:6 and 8, 12:9; 1 John 1:5; Isaiah 14:2; Psalm 27:1; Philippians 4:13; Romans 5:2; Colossians 2:15; and Hebrews 4:12.

The second song I’d like to show you I suspect you already know, but perhaps hadn’t been able to savor the Scripture around which it’s centered.

I’d heard about Kari Jobe over the past few years and was blessed to be led in worship by her at a Women of Faith Conference in Houston a few years ago. (Click on “Houston We Have an Answer” )

I love her song I Am Not Alone for several reasons…the most important of which is the reminder within the title. As believers in Jesus Christ, because of the gift of the Holy Spirit within us, we are never alone.

Matthew 28:20 is where Jesus tells us, “And lo, I am with you always…” Kari also says while writing the song, they began with Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Please enjoy:

Savor these Scriptures which go along with Kari’s song:

Isaiah 43:1-2; Daniel 3; Psalm 23; Psalm 46; Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; 2 Corinthians 7:9-16; Romans 9:2; John 12:35; Exodus 14:14; and 2 Chronicles 20:17. (You can find more if you hunt!)

My prayer for all of us is as we begin our days, may we jump start them with worship and praise as only our King of Kings and Lord of Lords deserves. See if your mood doesn’t vastly improve as well. This week as you’re reading this, try a tune or two.

‘Til next time!

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“Uh, Ma’am, We’ll Be Needin’ to CUT SOME HOLES in Your Walls…” (Quick! Grab Chocolate on the Brain—Foolproof Recipes for Unrepentant Chocoholics by Kevin and Nancy Mills)

Friends!  Ever had a plumbing disaster nearly derail you?  The below story actually happened three summers ago, but the COOKBOOK ON CHOCOLATE you’ll learn about is what needs repeating.
Please enjoy:

Ahhhh, Monday morning. Some of us dread Mondays, while others cherish Mondays.

Me?  If I’ve planned properly, as in NO PLANS but playing catch up, I cherish Mondays.

Silver Blue Pen On Open Business Agenda

Last Monday, I happily had no plans.  We were just back from a family vacation and there was lots of playing catch up to do…

However (!!!), as Hubster was hustlin’ out the door, rushing to work, he leaves me with, “Oh yeah, plumbers are comin’ today to address that leak.” (The one we sorta forgot about while on vacay.)

Buzz.

Quiet day evaporated.

Sure enough, as John pulled out of the driveway, in rolled the plumbers…  Seems we had a wee bit of water in the basement. They’d traced it to an upstairs toilet.

Hollering back and forth between two floors, the two guys would say, “Hear anything?”

Then, what you never want to hear a plumber say, falls out of one of their mouths….”Oh, no!”

Followed quickly by, “TURN IT OFF!!”

Worse, they’re now both dashing downstairs, looking at walls in our living room and dining room.  “No! Not the dining room!!!  We have NO. SPARE. WALLPAPER!!!” I thought to myself.

Thankfully, they concluded they’d need to cut some holes in the living room wall.  I chuckled to myself, as I’ve been toying with lightening up the room paint-wise.  I blissfully gave them my blessing….  “Sure!  Cut away!!!” (I can soooooo see Hubster shaking his head….)

holes in house

Honestly, if we only had a very tall, full-length mirror, we could hide the holes with the shiny new pipes now installed.   It was all the fault of a very old cast iron pipe which had split “clean in two” as one of the guys reported.  Jolly good.

Next up (watch it be on a Monday), Buzzie-the-drywaller will come do his miraculous repair work, followed by our relentlessly faithful painter who might as well move in.  There are endless projects in this house, no thanks to our last foray with When You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

So those guys will come to the rescue of our home, but what could possibly save this Monday?  Days like these call for prayers for patience plus recognition of unrealized blessings .  They will quickly derail your woe-du-jour.

Praying Hands

I LOVE how the Message phrases Matthew 5:3 –

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope.  With less of you, there is more of God and His rule.”  Oh, yes, we could ALL use a little more of God, don’t you think?  I often forget to pray, “Lord, please empty me of me and fill me with you.”

May I offer additional “help”?  Few things come to my aid more than chocolate.  Rich, I know.

My cousin gave me a very fun cookbook you would all love called Chocolate On The Brain: Foolproof Recipes for Unrepentant Chocoholics by Kevin and Nancy Mills.  (Mother and Son, no less.  Furthermore, it’s no coincidence my maiden name is Mills, either.  Surely we’re related….)

chocolate on the brain

Kevin says their book is not for “people who like to nibble, who can eat just one piece of chocolate and move on.

The book is for:

…those poor souls enslaved by chocolate,

who sit at work and think about chocolate,

who hatch plots to get other people’s chocolate,

who buy their loved ones gifts of chocolate only to consume them themselves

who are rendered powerless by chocolate as if it were Kryptonite….”  (At the very least we must be second or third cousins.)

The book is a boatload of fun because it not only has loads of delish recipes, but Kevin’s Mom, Nancy, gives helpful “Mom Tips”.  There are also fascinating fun facts and historical dates with explanations of how chocolate made its’ entry into our world. Many of the recipes can be done in less than thirty minutes.

Chocolate cake with fork on a red napkin

Psalm 34:8 tells us, “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.”

Next time you find someone wanting to blast thru’ your walls, or something equally lovely, pray, and reach for some chocolate.  Don’t forget the dark variety is good for your heart. Or go buy some to “share” with a friend.

Smile.  Don’t frown.

As my friend Liz often reminds me, “God’s got this.”

‘Til next time!

 

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Transform Your Morning and Your Mood in Less Than TEN Minutes…

Friends! March madness won’t drive us mad IF we try the below suggestion each morning…

GOOD NEWS for you readers out there: You do NOT have to be a morning person to start your day off well!!!

Coming from a confirmed grouch in the morning, in dire need of a pot of coffee prior to producing any semblance of intelligent conversation, I’m happy to report that listening to music in the morning brings blessings a plenty:

music and technology concept - smiling young woman with closed e

Blessing #1: Your focus will shift away from you and your distractions, rising up to the Lord.

Blessing #2: Praising the Lord allows you to worship with truths straight out of God’s Word.

Blessing #3: Your spirit will be lifted no matter your circumstance.

I’ll be giving you two worship songs shortly to get you started. If you listen to both of them, you can do this in under ten minutes

Recently we talked briefly about Dee Brestin’s book The God of All Comfort: Finding Your Way into His Arms which she graciously penned after her husband’s death. Songs are what saved her sanity.

The God of All Comfort

The first song I’d like to share with you John and I discovered while attending our middle son’s church, Tates Creek Presbyterian Church (TCPC), in Lexington, Kentucky.(www.tcpa.org )

Upon singing this song with its’ powerful lyrics (which caused me to weep), I made a mental note to investigate it.  I also wrongly assumed, because of TCPC’s more liturgical services and typically older hymns, that this song was also an old one. Au contraire…

Please allow me to show you one of my new favorites,

O Church Arise by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. (Never mind they also wrote a huge favorite of mine and I suspect yours, In Christ Alone. Checkout Travis Cottrell’s rendition if you have time.)

Keith is a British, Northern Irish composer, married to Kristyn, who many times co-write these “modern hymns”. Stuart Townend is a British, English songwriter and worship leader.

GETTYMUSIC-WELCOME-BOX_01

Please sit back and enjoy Oh Church Arise. Soak in the lyrics:

To read these truths from the lyrics, here are just a few Scriptures that spell them out:

Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Corinthians 4:6 and 8, 12:9; 1 John 1:5; Isaiah 14:2; Psalm 27:1; Philippians 4:13; Romans 5:2; Colossians 2:15; and Hebrews 4:12.

The second song I’d like to show you I suspect you already know, but perhaps hadn’t been able to savor the Scripture around which it’s centered.

I’d heard about Kari Jobe over the past few years and was blessed to be led in worship by her at a Women of Faith Conference in Houston in March of 2014. (Click on “Houston We Have an Answer” from 3/6/14) FYI:

I love her song I Am Not Alone for several reasons…the most important of which is the reminder within the title. As believers in Jesus Christ, because of the gift of the Holy Spirit within us, we are never alone.

Matthew 28:20 is where Jesus tells us, “And lo, I am with you always…” Kari also says while writing the song, they began with Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. 

Please enjoy:

Savor these Scriptures which go along with Kari’s song:

Isaiah 43:1-2; Daniel 3; Psalm 23; Psalm 46; Deuteronomy 31:6, 8; 2 Corinthians 7:9-16; Romans 9:2; John 12:35; Exodus 14:14; and 2 Chronicles 20:17. (You can find more if you hunt!)

My prayer for all of us is as we begin our days, may we jump start them with worship and praise as only our Lord deserves. See if your mood doesn’t vastly improve as well.

‘Til next time!

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Love Stories and Chocolate Treats (Part 4 of 4) Dare We Write it in Cement?

Friends! Have you ever seen anyone staring at a mailbox?  I get that.  I’ve done that.

Four weeks before our wedding, with invitations in hand, all addressed and stamped, I remember I hesitated at the mailbox.  “This is it!  No turning back now!”…

Seconds, seeming like hours, passed.  Deep breath.

Whoosh…into the mailbox they went.

bigstock-Mailbox-4748677

Almost thirty-four years later, I’m pleased to report, John and I are still happily married and yes, we’ve dared to write many things in cement.  Two of our homes, a former one and our current one, have had charming water-in-the-basement issues. Upon their repair, new cement poured, we trek down the stairs to write something prolific or silly in the cement.

basement 1

basement 2

So why is it, please tell me, so many of us are afraid to make a commitment?  Fear of failure, or pride, perhaps.  “Blame it on today’s culture…” many will say.

Allow me to offer a brief respite.  One  into the blissful world of love.  Young love.  Naive love.   Pagan-turned-Christian love.  So completely-certain-of-love, this couple you’ll meet would one hundred percent  have written their names in cement.

All of the above and more is found in an extraordinary love story, A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken.  It won the National Book Award as well as the Gold Medallion Award.  (A dear friend gave me this for Christmas a couple of years ago and I can’t quit talking about it!!!)

9780060688240_p0_v2_s260x420

Along with such bliss, throw in a friendship with none other than infamous author  C.S. Lewis.  You, the reader, will get to read eighteen of Lewis’ letters to Sheldon within the book.

Favorite discovery?  Lewis was quite the crackerjack!  He certainly didn’t fear sharing his brutally honest opinion about anything!  (And for you happy texters out there, Lewis abbreviates a lot, so you’ll have to crack his code.)

How God orchestrates Sheldon’s friendship with Lewis is fascinating.  How God orchestrates Sheldon and Davy’s (her real name was Jean) romance and ultimate marriage is nothing short of breathtaking.

Sheldon’s picturesque writing causes you to ooh and ahh, turning the pages as fast as you can to discover what lies ahead.  I found myself floating along the countryside right with them, almost feeling a breach of privacy in their romance.

Voracious readers, poets, lovers of the sea, and music aficionados, Sheldon and Davy delight the reader with their daily antics.  Their gatherings with friends are festive and intriguing.  Their spiritual path, while comical at times, reinforces how God is so passionate in His pursuit of us.  His painstaking attention to detail never ceases to amaze me.

Our Heavenly Father provides just the right person at just the right time to lead us into His loving arms.  When doubt arises, as it often does,  He brings to mind that special person in whom we may confide.  Watching these scenarios transpire in Sheldon’s life is amazing grace at its’ finest.  Many times Sheldon shares his questions with C.S. Lewis.  Can you imagine having C.S. Lewis as your spiritual mentor?

CS Lewis

Sheldon and C.S. Lewis’ friendship was a gift to both of them, especially in later years.  Believe it or not, both of their wives suffered from terminal illnesses.  They walked these paths together.  Don’t miss their journeys.

C.S. Lewis preceded Sheldon in death.  Sheldon recalls Lewis shouting across the street during their Oxford days, “Christians NEVER say goodbye!  In eternity, there’ll be ‘time enough’!”

Sheldon called C.S. Lewis  “Jack” per Lewis’ pleading.  He added, “And as Jack said, ‘We must talk of a thousand things when you come.’”

Early in their relationship, when Sheldon accepts Christ into his life, he writes to tell Lewis.  Lewis replies, “My prayers are answered!”  Then he issues a warning we’d all be wise to heed:  “There will be a counter attack on you, you know, so don’t be too alarmed when it comes.  The enemy will not see you vanish into God’s company without an effort to reclaim you.  Be busy learning to pray. “

Lewis continues, “Blessings on you and a hundred thousand welcomes.  Make use of me in any way you please; and let us pray for each other always.”  (I’d drop the note like a hot potato if C.S. Lewis offered me his council at any time, wouldn’t you?)

2926x

Prior to Sheldon’s conversion, Lewis closes another letter with, “The Holy Spirit is after you.  I doubt if you’ll get away!” Sheldon confesses to us readers that this time in his life “was getting serious” and he and Davy were a bit frightened.  He says, “Alarm bells sounded, but I couldn’t decide where to run.  The personality of Jesus kept emerging from the Gospels with astonishing consistency.”

You’ll be moved to tears witnessing their faith come alive.  Because of Sheldon’s very open and tender depictions, it feels like another breach of privacy.

Sheldon and Davy embraced Philippians 1:21 and Galatians 2:20:

Philippians-1-21-web-nlt

“For to me, to live is Christ

and to die is gain.”

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I’ve been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

(Footnote: for an excellent read on To Live Is Christ to Die Is Gain checkout Matt Chandler’s book…)

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Without giving away anything else, I’ll end with Sheldon’s closing words about writing this book.  He said he prayed almost hourly, “that Christ would be in me, and speak through me.”  His prayers were answered…(Also don’t miss how the title came to be.)

He was dumbfounded by the overwhelming responses from readers once the book was published.   Scores told him how much the book meant to them, stabbing them in their hearts, making them kindred spirits.  Sheldon said, “Our broader kinship is, I think, we’re all so alone in what lies deepest in our souls, so unable to find the words and perhaps the courage to speak with unlocked hearts, that we do not know that it is the same with others.”  Amen.

“Robert Louis Stevenson said that every book was intimately a letter to friends.”

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I pray each and every one of you dashes out to find and read this beautiful love story, A Severe Mercy.

Finally, as February winds down, it’s time for our conclusion of our four chocolate treats…This is an easy store-bought delicacy by our good buddies at Godiva. Some angel in disguise gave me these last year and I’ve been buying them ever since. (Bad discovery!)

We had our family over for Valentine’s Day and this was the very fancy dessert I served RIGHT OUT OF THE BAG. (My Mother, who served everything in crystal or silver serving pieces, is rolling over in her grave. God rest her soul.)

Don’t miss these little morsels of Heaven! Your Friends will love you!

‘Til next time!

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