Tag Archives: Elizabeth Jeffries

Grab These Nuggets for Your Marriage…They’re GOLD!

Friends!  Have I ever got some great material for you for your marriage!  Even if you think, “Thanks, but I don’t need that.”, I’m here to convince you that yes, you do indeed.

A couple of weeks ago, John and I were blessed to attend the Love and Marriage Project Conference at St. Francis in the Fields Episcopal Church.  Some of you may recall we attended the first annual one last year. (“When You Renew Your Wedding Vows, You May Learn a Thing or Two.”)

Because of going last year, neither of us thought we’d be going again this year.  Until…we discovered our friends, Elizabeth Jeffries Tweed and her husband, Stephen were going to be the speakers.

Elizabeth and Stephen were just inducted as “Legends of the Speaking Profession” at the Veteran Speakers Retreat in Front Royal, VA.

Elizabeth and Stephen are not only professional speakers who speak all over the world, they also happen to be marriage mentors at Southeast Christian Church.  I knew this was an event not to be missed.  John and I began recruiting our friends.

Clearly orchestrated by the Lord, I’m grateful for His prompting to my good buddy, Sherry, who suggested Elizabeth and Stephen.  I immediately emailed Jady Koch, St. Francis’ Rector. He reached out to them, and a miraculous opening in their calendar made them available.

Nearly seventy attendees were blessed by the Tweeds’ presentation.  Take-home value was at a premium, and you, my friend, are about to be the benefactor of their amazing handout. (It’s at the end of this post.)

I’ll share just a few of their nuggets. These are entitled, “The Seven F’s of a Balanced Life and Adventurous Marriage!”  Grab your spouse and work through these at your leisure.  They are GOLD for the health and maintenance of your marriage.

Also noteworthy, we were blessed to meet a couple who’d been married fifty-nine years as well as some newlyweds, who’d almost been married two months.  I thought both spoke volumes for attending as one could argue neither should need advice at those early and late stages!

Elizabeth and Stephen had all of us evaluate where our marriage is currently, plus what our five-year vision is by ranking ourselves on a scale of 1-10 in these seven different areas.  I confess John and I differed a little on the scoring which was a wee bit eye opening!!!

Early into their marriage, especially since they’d both been married before, Elizabeth and Stephen consulted friends who are also mentors to them, Jim and Naomi Rhode.  The Rhodes  gave them three do-or-die suggestions they’ve held onto throughout their marriage:

Elizabeth was very candid about this.  She remarked on the importance of who you hang out with.  She warned, “Divorce is contagious. I believe I got divorced in my first marriage  largely due to the people I was hanging out with at the time.”  This goes along with, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” (Go back and read #3 above!)

Elizabeth and Stephen initiated each of the “F’s” with Scripture as a foundation for the following categories: (I’ll elaborate on some, not all…that’s where your homework comes in on the worksheet.)

Faith – The Scripture they cited for us in this category is a favorite:

Family and Friends (Best Friend – your spouse, Both sides of your families, and Friends)

Key word in this category is CHERISH.   Do you have a “cherish mindset” towards your spouse?

Gary Thomas’ book, Cherish:  The One Word That Changes Everything for Your Marriage came highly recommended.

We discussed what makes us feel cherished.  Elizabeth reminded us, “Language creates feelings, feelings create behavior, and behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated.”  Let that soak in for a minute.

The other golden nugget they shared was a prayer to pray when you’re feeling your spouse is “less than.”  Elizabeth and Stephen suggested we pray this for our spouses continuously:

“Lord, help me to love him/her as you do.”

Here John and I are with some of our couple friends who attended.  Left to Right:  Randy and Susan Bugh, Yours Truly and John, Bev and Steve Fleece

 

And now fun with some of our girlfriends…Left to right:  Mary, Elizabeth, Mary’s daughter, Lacy (She and her husband, Dale, were our very brave newlyweds at the conference), and Yours Truly.

Fun – Oh wow, did we ever have fun with the “fun” category!  Our table mates discussed:

“What does FUN mean to you? 

How does FUN play out in your life and marriage?”

After ranking ourselves on a scale of 1-10, we unanimously decided what it would take for us to rate a “10”:

Tortola in February. (Hey, nothing wrong with goals??!!! Dreams??!!)

Here are our wonderful speakers, Elizabeth and Stephen, having FUN on the dance floor…

Fitness (Mental and Physical) – Being a book lover, it was my great joy to hear Elizabeth and Stephen ask us regarding the mental part of fitness, “What are you reading right now?”  They reminded us growth and learning are paramount to us individually as well as together.

Focus on Career

Finances

Free Gifts – Matthew 10:8 was the verse on this section reminding us, “…freely you have received, freely give.”

Additional excellent nuggets we were blessed with were two questions to ask each other at the close of every day:

Finally, Elizabeth and Stephen showed us a framed prayer they pray together every night before they go to sleep.  It sits on their bedside table:

At the close of the morning session, attendees were dismissed until 4:30 in the afternoon when a lovely service on marriage was performed by Jady.  We all then reconvened for dinner and dancing  which was the icing on the cake (Yes, we had a wedding cake of course!) for all of us.

Sherry affirmed all of our sentiments with this quote: “The day, from start to finish, was so special as we focused in on our marriage.  It’s been thirty years for Bill and me, and we both appreciated being able to reflect, learn and celebrate.”

Thanks again to Mary Young who birthed this idea a year ago, Jady Koch and the folks at St. Francis, and our outstanding teachers/speakers, Elizabeth and Stephen Tweed.

Please enjoy a couple more photos from the evening portion plus you’ll find the invaluable handout with contact information at the end.

Left to Right:  Bill and Sherry Leavell with Mary and Michael Young

Left to right:  John, Stephen, Elizabeth and Yours Truly

Do try these Seven “F’s” with your spouse (click the link to be taken to a printable version).

‘Til next time!

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The Single Most Effective Exercise You Can Do… (With Help from New Author, Carol Bonura and her book, “Our God is a Big God—Personal Stories of Those Touched by the Bigness of God”) Part 1 of 4 on Fitness

Friends!  Let’s play Good News/Bad News….

Bad news first:  Yes, we’ll be doing a four-part series on fitness over the next few weeks which does involve exercise. But, here on the blog, you only have to read about it.  If you want to try it, well, that’s up to you!

Good news:  We’ll be starting out slowly (!!!), and some of the exercise is metaphorical vs. physical.  We’ll break halfway thru’ to talk about Book Club (Mark your calendars for February 27th when Branches Book Club will be discussing Beth Moore’s debut novel, The Undoing of Saint Sylvanus and will receive a personal video message from Beth.)

**Even BETTER news**:  There’s a brand new book out by my sweet friend, Carol Bonura.  It would be great for any age, male or female.  Checkout the title:  Our God is a Big God—Personal Stories of Those Touched by the Bigness of God.

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The format is fantastic as is each, unique story by over forty different individuals.  As the title indicates, these friends of Carol’s share a story where God has revealed Himself.  Many of the stories are an only-God-could-pull-this-off kind, leaving no other possible explanation.

Prior to the contributor’s story, Carol shares how she knows this person.  Their story rolls, followed by that person’s favorite Scripture verse.  Carol then blesses each contributor with a verse which is not only fitting to the story, I believe it inspires that person to carry on. To see the Word of God “work together” so beautifully is another one of my favorite parts of Carol’s book.

I can’t begin to choose a favorite story.  I’ve loved them all.  (I happen to have a story in Carol’s book and while it’s my story, it’s still a cool God-incident, also irrefutable.)

Bob Russell wrote the Foreword and he has written a story.  Liz Curtis Higgs, Pat Day, Elizabeth Jeffries, Amos Martin, Dave Stone, and Joe Donaldson are just a few of the many contributors.

Bob said, “When we allow the Spirit of God to work through us, we have a positive story to tell to the nations, a story that can change lives and inspire others to be more than they can be alone.”

Carol’s book came about from a recent vacation she and her husband, Joe,  took with friends.  Carol tells us while on vacation, they all participated in Bible study every morning.

She was so moved by Ecclesiastes 3:11, she decided to ask these six friends to share “how they’d been impacted by the immensity of God.” After hearing their amazing stories, it was Joe who suggested she enlist more friends and family to share their stories on the Bigness of God, putting them together in a book.

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Once you dive into the book, you’ll immediately say to yourself, “Oh my goodness, so-and-so would enjoy this!”  Take my advice and have a notepad nearby as one friend will lead to five.  What a beautiful gift this makes.

So, I’ve dodged exercise long enough…What’s fun about this week’s post is you can read Carol’s book and try this most effective exercise at the same time.

A fascinating book came out in 2010 entitled The Blue Zones—Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner (The 2nd edition is in paperback.)

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Dan used to write for National Geographic magazine.  His article on “The Secrets of Long Life” and its’ popularity, caused him to research the ends of the earth to find more concentrated areas of living centenarians. He studied the lifestyle of these people. They dubbed these parts of the world “Blue Zones”.

Dan also includes lessons enabling you to create your own personal Blue Zone. Happy to report one of the common denominators you’ll discover is these folks consume dark chocolate.

Every day. 

(Just on the off chance you need one more reason to consume chocolate.)

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Other common denominators include participating in a community.  Another one, across the board, is these folks walk everywhere.  Many times, logging miles and miles a day.  (One of our four exercise posts will discuss walking and jogging in detail…)

One of a handful of helpful take-home resources is where Dan reveals the single most effective exercise you can do for yourself :  Simply sit in a chair.  Followed by standing to get yourself up out of the chair. (These women in the picture are practicing!)

Senior Women Standing And Sitting For ExerciseWorking your three sets of thigh muscles faithfully will keep you out of a wheelchair. I know this to be true as this happened to my own Mother.  She quit trying, and kept sitting, causing her to be unable to get up out of that chair, sadly landing her in a wheelchair, immobile.

My proposition to you dear friends, today, is to suggest you grab a good book.  Preferably Carol’s new one, Our God is a Big God, and read one of the stories each day. 

Take it with you to your favorite chair.  Sit down, read one of the stories.  Then get up!  This simple act will help you stay mobile. Read another story, repeating this action the next day.  And the next…

Now see?  That wasn’t too painful!  This is a mere warm-up for next week’s post.  Much  more vigorous exercise lies ahead…

One more fun fact before we close:  I was blessed to meet Carol many years ago thru’ mutual friends plus we attended Book Club together.  One New Year’s Eve, John and I were with Carol and Joe and Liz and Bill Higgs over at Elizabeth Jeffries’ home.  Elizabeth and Stephen had asked us over for dinner to ring in the New Year.

We each shared something fun we’d done in the previous year.  I about fell out of my chair when Carol reported she’d read sixty-five books that year.  How wonderful for her she now has her very own book for us to read!  Congratulations, Carol!

‘Til next time!

P.S.  FYI, here are other interesting books by the Blue Zone guy,  Dan Buettner:

The Blue Zone Solution:   Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People

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Thrive:  Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way

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Power Up Your Mornings With Worship: A New Discovery by Guest Author Elizabeth Jeffries (Plus FREE Book GIVEAWAY!!!) Part 3 of 3

It is with profound respect and admiration I present to you words written by my friend and mentor, Elizabeth Jeffries.  Elizabeth is the most determined person I know who will jump any hurdle with Godly vim and vigor.  Fear is not in her vocabulary.

One of many cases in point:  Not too long ago Elizabeth spent ninety days in Florence, Italy simply because it was on her bucket list. (For more fun twists on bucket lists, click here.)  John and I benefitted from her adventure as that particular year we took a trip to Italy which happened to end in Florence.  Elizabeth most graciously invited us to stay over with her three more nights.  Did she ever show us the town! EJ & me in Florence(We are pictured above in a charming little church in Florence, Italy.  Elizabeth had just delivered a lovely, challenging talk to students where missionaries she knows minister. Note below Elizabeth wrote a book about her Italian adventure!!!)

90 Days in Florence

In Elizabeth’s post, you’ll also see her dear Summit Sisters, many of whom I’m blessed to know.  These are some serious, Godly women who gather to glean from God’s Word.  They include:  Liz Curtis Higgs, Naomi Rhode, Gail Wenos, Glenna Salsbury and Elizabeth.

Please enjoy Elizabeth’s fun discovery along with its’ many benefits (and ***don’t forget to comment at the end to be in a drawing for Rob Morgan’s book,  Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World’s Greatest Hymn Stories!!!***)

Here’s Elizabeth:

In the past sixteen annual retreats with my four Summit Sisters, we have sung old Gospel hymns as part of our study weekend.  Ok, THEY sang hymns while I tried to follow along and mouth some of the words that I knew not, even if some of the melodies were familiar.

My earlier Catholic tradition had some beautiful songs, but most of the old Gospel hymns were foreign to me.  I envied the joyful expressions of my Sisters when they belted out the words, their beautiful faces almost other-worldly as they praised our Lord through these old hymns. Eliz Jeffries group photo I oftentimes felt a bit left out. So finally, this year at our January retreat, I decided I would learn some of these old hymns too. Our teacher, Glenna Salsbury, suggested I order Robert Morgan’s book, Then Sings My Soul and not only learn the hymns, but the story behind them. In my do-it-now style, I immediately went on line and ordered the book! Rob Morgan Then Sings My Soul By the time I arrived back in Louisville, the book was waiting for me. Its’ beautiful parchment pages called to me as I thumbed through and, oh my heavens, I actually recognized some of the hymns! Maybe I wasn’t so far out of the Christian music world as I thought!!??

Since that day in early January, I’ve created a morning routine I follow wherever I am in my travels. I gather up my Bible, my iPad, the Then Sings my Soul book, and a highlighter. I open the book, read the story of who wrote the song and the circumstances under which it was written, log onto You Tube, find the hymn and do my darndest to sing along with the likes of Carrie Underwood, Beverly Shea or the Gaithers. Bible Study Ok, Lord, you gave me this voice, so ignore that I’m off key and can’t read sheet music too well. Please just listen to me praise you and feel my love for you and the joy of worshipping this way!

I’m at page 64 now and I can’t wait to meet Jesus this way every day. Several mornings my hubby walked in while I was belting out a joyful praise and he joined me! Oh how sweet that was. Thank you Lord!

If you haven’t consciously worshipped this way, perhaps these ideas will enliven your spirit as they have mine. Here’s my take away from this book, this process, this amazing way to worship our Lord…

  • I’m worshipping from the depths of my soul in a way I’ve never experienced before. Worship music touches every fiber of my being and brings out feelings and visions of God in new and exciting ways. I hear His voice and see His face! He really, really is alive!
  • Since many of the hymns are actually from Psalms and other words of Scripture, I’m studying and learning too.
  • I’m learning about composers and when and why they wrote these words. I now know who some of the greats are: people like Isaac Watts, Fanny Crosby, and Charles Wesley are my new friends.
  • Since I listen to the music and sing the hymn several times in my morning worship, the words and music stay with me all day. I find I fall asleep singing in my head with a smile on my face.
  • If I have an early flight, I may do this on the plane with ear phones. I feel my seat mate glancing out of the corner of his eye. No one has asked anything yet and only the Lord knows how this has impacted them…or not. Hmmm! Maybe that person is humming a different tune that day!
  • I’m so much more conscious of Jesus throughout the day. I hope I’m more attentive to others as the words of the morning hymn twirl through my brain. I think I am living more intentionally. I sure smile and laugh a lot more.
  • Jesus is more alive to me than ever. His Amazing Grace really is amazing and I have His Blessed Assurance of salvation that I experience as I walk In the Garden with Him. Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus as I strive to live out, minute by minute, How Great Thou Art! Indeed, Lord! All is Well With My Soul!

Thank you for these great ideas, Elizabeth!!!  Blessings to you and your sweet hubby Stephen!!!  I look forward to seeing you soon!  Starbucks??? —–

Elizabeth Jeffries is oftentimes referred to as a marketplace minister!  She is committed to bringing Biblical principles to people in businesses, healthcare organizations and professional associations. With God’s Word as her foundation, she presents keynote speeches, conducts learning seminars and retreats, and coaches business leaders in the way of a servant-leader.

—– ***Please offer your comments and you will be entered to win a FREE COPY of Then Sings My Soul!***

(Next week look forward to one more idea to implement before Lent ends or perhaps post Easter!!!  Plus yet ANOTHER free book giveaway!!!)  

‘Til next time!

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What’s on your Bucket List? NO REGRETS…

Could there ever be a better cast movie than The Bucket List ?  (Let’s push pause for a second, because if you haven’t seen the movie, read no further ‘til you have.  It’s a must-see.)

Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman simultaneously steal the show while attempting to cross off all items on their Bucket List.  (“Bucket List” being defined as “all things you wish to do before you kick the bucket”.)

Bucket List

Two favorite lines from the movie include one from Jack Nicholson, who plays Edward Coleman, billionaire hospital magnate.  “I run hospitals, not health spas!!” This was a ploy to ensure each hospital room had two beds and no  private rooms.  He’d no sooner sputtered that phrase when suddenly, he fell ill and became one hundred percent infuriated upon landing in a hospital room with Freeman for a roommate!  Oh, the irony…

Second favorite line comes from Morgan Freeman, who plays blue-collar mechanic Carter Chambers. He shrieks, while skydiving toward Edward, something totally out of character, akin to a toddler throwing a temper tantrum: “I hate your rotten guts!”  Seems he failed to mention his fear of heights!!!  Hysterical.

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We, the audience, become completely enthralled with their mission to complete their Bucket List. Edward Coleman’s wealth allows them no limits, so quite the fun fantasy.

How ‘bout you? Do you have a Bucket List? Thought much about it?

The past couple of years have found John and me attending more and more funerals. Maybe you’ve noticed this too. Many of us say, “Cancer’s just more prevalent.” Last week at a bookstore, I found myself, yet again, buying a box of sympathy cards. Catch my drift?

Carter Chamber’s advice to Edward Coleman bodes well for us all: “May you find the joy in your life.” Nehemiah 8:10b reminds us, “…do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

After losing three dear friends within a thirteen-month period, John and I decided to mark off one thing real fast from our Bucket List: a trip to Italy. No regrets there!

Sadly, my Mother’s first words upon my Father’s death did include words of regret. It’s my personal goal, and I pray will become yours as well, to live a life with no regrets. Queen of the “shoulda-coulda-wouldas”, living with no regrets is no piece of cake. Already I could give you a mega list over raising our boys.

“I should have read to them more. I should have held them more. I should have played with them more. I should have prayed with them more. I should have planted more seeds of God’s Word in them. I didn’t teach them enough before leaving for college! I should have cooked more.” (Just seeing if you’re still awake…you know that last phrase is not true!!!) Oh, but the list rattles on…and on….and on.

Chris and Kerry Shook have co-authored a phenomenal book called One Month to Live–Thirty Days to a No Regrets Life—They point out that most tombstones include a date of birth and a date of death, separated by a little dash. Here’s their CHALLENGE: “You get to choose how to spend that little dash of time between the two dates of your earthly existence.

What are you spending yours on?  Are you living the dash, knowing fully who you are and why you’re here?  Or dashing  to live, hurriedly spending precious time chasing things that really don’t matter to you? “

Ouch.  That hurts.  Daring dasher that I am… My perpetual challenge du jour is “beat the clock”.  Sigh…Can you relate?

Beat the clock runner

The Shooks continue, “The psalmist prayed, ‘Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should’  (Psalm 90:12 TLB).  God wants us to realize that our time on earth is limited so we will spend it wisely.  But He gives us the choice about how we spend this most valuable currency.”

Don’t you love those last four words?  “This most valuable currency.”  Oh, that we’d really choose to cherish each day.   Corrie Ten Boom said, “The measure of a life, after all, is not its duration but its donation.”

Allow me to introduce you to a dear friend and mentor of mine who recently completed an over-the-top bucket list item and quite a donation to the people in Florence, Italy.  Knowing she had a “milestone” birthday (Not tellin’, y’all have to guess…), and being the consummate planner, this smart gal researched all avenues of how she could spend a chunk of time living in Italy.

No easy feat given she’s a successful business woman, speaker, coach, and writer in  Louisville, Kentucky.  She also travels frequently for business and pleasure.  Oh, and small detail:  she’s married to an equally successful businessman, Stephen Tweed, who also travels, speaks, leads seminars, etc.

How in the world she made it all work with both of their schedules remains a mystery to me!!!  But….I’m thrilled to tell you that John and I had the pleasure of spending three nights with her in her lovely palazzo in Florence, Italy!

Sunset in Florence

Please meet Elizabeth Nardi (Yes, very Italian!) Jeffries.  Elizabeth did what she set out to do: She and Stephen lived in Florence for three months.  You may checkout her very fun and informative blog, chronicling her adventures by going to:  www.90daysinflorence.blogspot.com

EJ & me in Florence

Much more than just accomplishing a “check off” of the ole’ Bucket List, Elizabeth was determined to meet and get to know her neighbors, her landlords, the restaurateurs, the people who worked in the nearby market, the gal at the gelato store, the nail tech, shop keepers, church members, etc.  Shining the light of Christ and doing what Jesus did, building relationships one by one, were her goals.  She lived out Matthew 5:16 – “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  I’d say Elizabeth’s “dash” is full from Florence!

So don’t miss the point here.  Yes, it’s all well and good to have a Bucket List.  But, it’s more important  to do as Elizabeth did and build relationships along the way, with no regrets..  I love the quote, “What in the world are you doing for heaven’s sake?”   Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in time.  He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Let’s ask God this week  to show us people along our paths.  May we all shine the Light of Christ to those we meet along the way, keeping eternity in our hearts, with no regrets..

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Erma Bombeck said, “There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, ‘Yes, I’ve got dreams, of course I’ve got dreams.’ Then they put the box away and bring it out once in a while to look in it, and yep, they’re still there.”  Don’t be packing your dreams away…Live the dash, with no regrets..

As Thanksgiving Week approaches, I pray you and your family have a most Blessed, Happy Thanksgiving and share your blessings with your loved ones.  ‘Til next time…

(This November 2012 blog entry is dedicated, bet you can guess, to my friend Elizabeth Nardi Jeffries. Elizabeth dared to dream and blessed a boatload of people in the process!  Happy 70th Birthday!!!  Oops, I told.  Well, no one will believe it. Let’s have some more  gelato!  Ciao!)

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