Tag Archives: Kelly Minter

Need a Gift Idea? Try This New Book Releasing Monday, November 4th…

Friends!  Checkout the snippets below from a brand-new book, rolling hot off the press next Monday, November 4th!  Perfect timing for stocking up on Christmas gifts or if you need a gift idea for ANY REASON, THIS is your ticket:

Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore next week and grab Lucinda (Cindy) Secrest McDowell’s newest book, Life-Giving Choices:  60 Days to What Matters Most.

You’ll be astonished at all the words (60 entries!) Cindy blesses us with.  Each day and topic concludes with a prayer and a question prompting you to take action.  Carol Kent calls it a “timeless devotion.”  I agree, and when I finished, I started all over again!

Cindy tells us, “It is actually within our power to decide each day HOW we will live out numerous interruptions.”  She adds, “Don’t settle for the good when you can choose the best.”

She shows us exactly how to do this in our everyday lives. You’ll find it very empowering.  Carol Kent says Life-Giving Choices will greatly impact the way you live your life.”

One of many favorite quotes in the book is:

My three favorite entries are:  Choose to be Fearless, Choose Serenity, and Choose Friendship, but ALL of the other entries are well worth studying and pondering.

#8 is all about tackling fear, “Choose to be Fearless.”  Cindy offers four practical tips:  (the first two will get you rolling…you’ll have to read the chapter to get the rest!)

“ 1 – Be assured of God’s constant presence in hard times.
2 – Trust God is stronger than anything the enemy can send your way.”

Cindy includes this quote from Max Lucado in his book, Fearless, which kills me:

#25 is “Choose Serenity.”  I suppose this resonated with me because I always desire, but would rarely say I’m on serenity overload.  Sigh…more like “calendar overload”, which incidentally is of my own making…

What I especially love about this entry is Cindy spells out the word “serenity,” attaching a lovely word with each letter, i.e. “S” for still, “E” for established, “R” for restored…(You don’t want to  miss this entry!) and each letter is loaded with pertinent Scripture.

The entry opens with one of my favorite verses, Jeremiah 17:7-8 in The Message which says,

Note we’re to “put down roots”, “NEVER worrying,” “ALWAYS bearing fruit,” all the while trusting the Lord.  My friend, Liz, and I were talking yesterday about our older friends who still faithfully trot (optimistic verb for us future “old folk”) to Bible study year, after year, after year.  We agreed we want to do exactly the same thing.

I confess it’s not a good thing if I’m not in Bible study (I’ve learned that the hard way). The bonus from Bible study is being held accountable, and mining for more nuggets of gold in God’s Word. Kelly Minter coined the phrase “relational serenity” regarding fellowship with your friends and how this concept is even more beautiful when we’re planting our faces in the Word, “putting down roots” together.

This brings me to my 3rd favorite entry, #44, “Choose Friendship.”  Cindy uses Proverbs 27:9, “A sweet friendship refreshes the soul” to begin with and adds, “Grace is always the best formula for friendships.”

Also in this section, we get to read a quote from Eugene Peterson in his book, Leap Over a Wall:  Earthly Spirituality for Everyday Christians. Look how he depicts friendship:

Let’s close with a beautiful prayer from #49, “Choose Rest.”  This entry ranks up there with the one on serenity. The prayer sucker punched me while also encouraging me.  Right about NOW I’m off for a much-needed nap!

Enjoy:

Now you know what I’m going to say, Run!  Don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab this brand-new most helpful devotional, surely to bless you and your friends.

Don’t miss Cindy’s website:  lucindasecrestmcdowell.com

‘Til next time!

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the page above are “affiliate links.”

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How About a Mission Trip in Your Own Backyard? (With Help from Kelly Minter and Lysa TerKeurst)

Friends!  Ever dreamed of riding an elephant in Africa, spreading the gospel around a campfire, and nestling in a sleeping bag in the open air?  Me neither…

Forgive me, Lord.

Creature of comfort, I loudly confess I adore indoor plumbing, plush pillows and air conditioning…

Fret no more…thanks to two of my favorite authors, I’m about to shed some light on what exactly constitutes a mission trip.

First up is an excellent read by Kelly MinterWherever the River Runs—How a Forgotten People Renewed My Hope in the Gospel.

Kelly shares multiple encouraging stories of her adventures along the Amazon River.  You’ll meet natives-turned-friends, slithering animals, pesky piranhas, maggots in pineapple (!!!) and other reasons to make you do a big fat u-turn back into your very safe driveway.

Kelly’s humor and love for the Lord is so compelling, I admit if she invited me to go with her the next time, I just might accept.  Maybe.  Really, maybe.

Before her first trip to the Amazon, Kelly had about as much excitement as any of us Nervous Nellies.  But, the message she kept hearing from the Lord was, “Go with what you’ve got, and God will supply the rest.” So there’s the trust component.

Then, throw in some major prayer warriors. One of Kelly’s new friends from these trips named Lazaro, had a prayer warrior who prayed for him for years.  Her name is Fatima.  She started what she called Prayer Campaigns and she and her friends didn’t let up. Ever.

Several trips and multiple new friends later, Kelly learned she could ask them for prayer from the States. She said, “Prayer Campaigns lit up the rain forest.”  What a beautiful thought.

Kelly said, “Just hearing Lazaro talk about Fatima, who so purposely prayed for him, a teenage boy, for forty-two hours over seven days, slayed me.

I wanted her passion,

her persistence,

her zeal.

I wanted her love

I wondered if I might hear more from the Lord if I…

waited on Him like Fatima did,

petitioned Him more regularly,

lingered with Him longer…”

I don’t want to spoil Lazaro’s unbelievable story.  You need to read it for yourself.  You will see firsthand with God all things are indeed possible. This is one of many thrilling testimonies Kelly gifts us with.

You also don’t want to miss Kelly’s Mother visiting the Amazon.  Killer funny, all the while poignant.  Especially when she realizes this isn’t a one and done kind of trip.

Kelly’s Mother’s faith becomes contagious and inspirational to all who cross her path and to all who gain the opportunity to hear her speak.  She’s a very brave woman!

While Kelly learns something new on every trip she takes to the Amazon, she never guilts the reader into going to the Amazon.  She points out (to my great relief) that sometimes our greatest opportunities for spreading the Gospel are right under our noses–in our own back yards.

One perfect example of this smacked me in the face just the other morning from something I’m reading…  I’m previewing a Bible study for my Tuesday group for when we resume in the fall.  It is excellent and if you’ve never been to Israel before, here’s your ticket: (The videos are filmed in Israel!)

Checkout Finding I Am by Lysa TeurKerst

I was only on Week Two, Day One when Lysa posed a show-stopping question:

“Do you ever wonder exactly what God wants you to do, especially when you have so many options and demands to manage?”  (Crammed Calendars Anonymous take note…)

Along the same vein as Kelly, Lysa says, “…God just wants us to pay attention to what He places right in front of us.”

“However when I looked at what was right in front of me, at that time, I saw my neighbors.”  Lysa then shares about her family going thru’ a cancer journey with their neighbors, Ken and Mary.  Mary was diagnosed with cancer, ultimately landing in the arms of Jesus. God rest her soul.

Lysa’s family invited Ken to their home for dinner on Monday nights.  They all learned these dinners broke the deafening silence and absence of his wife.

Lysa took it as an assignment from God disregarding the fact she didn’t consider herself a stellar chef. (!!!) Meals didn’t have to be a big production, thus ordering pizzas worked many a night. (Cooking impaired, this brought me great solace and insight!)

She said, “The noise of our family was an orchestra of comfort and healing to Ken’s lonely heart.”  Isn’t that beautiful?

What Lysa’s message that day prompted me to do was to call my across-the-street neighbor.  She’s a very sweet, elderly woman who recently lost her husband to cancer.  I know she’s lonely.

We chat frequently on the street gathering our mail or on the phone and we watch each other’s homes when we’re out of town, picking up each other’s newspapers.

She’s friends with my in-laws and occasionally we all get together.  A small gesture, but exactly what Lysa and Kelly suggest.  Across the street is a little easier than going to the Amazon, same message, same Jesus.  Try it!

The above scenarios are “mission trip” ideas for your own back yard.  Next time we’ll move out into the front yard.  Look out!

I pray you and your families have a happy, safe, and blessed Fourth of July next week. We’ll resume the following week.

‘Til next time!

 

Petite P.S.:  Kelly Minter partners with and is  now on the Board of Justice and Mercy International www.justiceandmercyamazon.org Look for ways to become a sponsor!

 

 

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A Resolution Worth Your Consideration…

Now that we’re in our LAST WEEK OF JANUARY, in hopes of encouraging you to consider something super simple, let’s review a post from last January.  May it bless you in your walk with the Lord and spur you on to take the time to read and study God’s Word.  In God’s economy, He will stretch your time…

 

Resolution, Schmezolution.

If I had a nickel for every New Year’s Resolution I’ve been-ever-so-desirous-of-but-ditched, I’d be rich. Same song, different year…How ‘bout you?

Therefore, I’m not making any resolutions this year…

Wide-eyed tho’ you may be, It was my resolution to not make any resolutions….

Until…..I came across a lovely idea we can all do. It comes from a book my friend Mary gave me by Henry T. and Richard Blackaby in their note worthy devotional, Experiencing God Day by Day. 

Experiencing god

The entry from December 23rd is entitled The Wisdom of Spiritual Checking. The Blackabys discuss how we’re all used to having our progress measured in lots of ways. For example, we’re given tests in school, employee evaluations at work, and let’s not forget those charming physical exams from your docs.

My doc had a sign that read:   “Eat Less. Exercise More” in every single exam room. I always challenged his nurses to place me in a room without that sign, but alas, they really were In. Every. Single. Exam. Room. (As were the obnoxious scales.)

Hiding Numbers

The Blackabys point out that while we’re measured in many areas of our lives, we’re rarely measured by our spiritual growth. We learn from Luke 2:52:

flowers-daisy-1024x683

The Blackabys remind us of Paul’s words:   “When he was a new Christian, he behaved as a spiritual child, but as he matured in his faith, he began to act like a spiritual adult.”(1 Corinthians 13:11) They build their case by saying “There’s nothing wrong with acting like a baby when you are an infant, but…

… it is the obligation of every believer to strive for maturity.”

Hebrews 6:1 says, “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity….” (ESV)

The Message is more my speed: “So come on, let’s leave the preschool finger painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on ‘salvation by self-help’ and turning in trust toward God…”

3D Keep Calm And Trust God Button Click Here Block Text

The Blackabys suggest, “It is helpful for you to measure the progress in your spiritual life from time to time.”

How, we wonder, would one do such a thing?  Our authors recommend we ask a mature Christian if our actions reveal our maturity. Another question to ask yourself comes from the Chairman of the Board of the school our boys used to attend (I’ll never forget it.): Are you more mature in your faith today than you were six months ago?

Photo of a funny surprised girl

I know, yikes! Let’s vow to pray about these questions this week.  Ask God to bring to mind someone you can ask about your spiritual growth. Dive into God’s Word, via a Bible study where your study and quiet time will become invaluable.

 

Women Bow And Pray

Checkout this inspirational quote from Kelly Minter in her “Morning Meditations” (http://www.kellyminter.com)

kellyminter-1546_final-200x300“Every moment we’re immersed in the Word is a moment with eternal ramifications.  All those moments add up, which is why it’s vital to make time for them each day.  To have a plan and to guard that plan…

At the top of 2016, may we allow the Word to give us understanding of God’s character so we can know who He is and how He acts….For His Word is a true mirror, refiner’s fire, healing balm, sure rudder, sheltering hull, map, light, hope, help, plumb line, and comfort.  May we let it do its’ work one day at a time.”

Checkout “But I Don’t Have Time for a Bible study” if you’re already trying to squelch this idea

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Life Lessons

Surviving the Season of Christmas – Part 1 of 4, The Sure Cure for a Bah Humbug Attitude

Greetings, friends! The below post is a reprise well-worth repeating to inspire you with an idea for this Christmas season.

It’ll help you cope with our culture’s craziness. It’ll help you survive this season of Christmas!

I’m thrilled to report this very fun tradition lives on….

Check it out:

Just wondering, now that Thanksgiving’s past and that Christmas décor’s been up since Halloween (in some stores that is, surely not in this household!), if you have a KICK in your step while shopping, or if you are SLIP-SLIDIN’-AWAY, Scrooge-like?

Grunge Scrooge With a Small Gift

Don’t even talk to me if you’re done with your Christmas shopping.  And don’t even look this way if you’ve shopped and wrapped.

Christmas isn’t happenin’ today, the way Jesus intended it to.  For that, I’m certain.  Every single year I try to think of ways to “taper down” on the gift-giving, think of the less fortunate, donate to new charities/ministries, and yet I still wind up looking more like Santa’s helper/enabler than a child of God.  Big sigh.Santa's Elf on Sign EdgeThe commercialization of Christmas makes me say “Bah humbug”…and I’m determined to NOT let it get the best of me. Lord, please help us  focus on you.  Matthew 6:33 reminds us: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Praying Friends

So, now that the Christmas season’s officially “on”… no thanks to some poor souls opening up on Thanksgiving Day (really?), Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc., I’d like to give you one prescription sure to bring a smile to your face, and a cure for any “Bah Humbug” attitudes trying to surface.

I am beyond blessed to have a very fun cousin.  Her name is Bonnie, and we in the family call her “Martha”, as in Stewart.  She’s one of those creative types:  she can whip up the most gorgeous bow you’ve ever seen. Friends now recognize them sayin’, “Now THAT’S a “Bonnie Bow”!!!

Bonnie will also try any new recipe.  She’ll paint a room an entirely new color when the mood strikes.  Furthermore, she will absolutely, positively, do anything for anyone, at any time, just for starters.

A few years ago, Bonnie came up with this fabulous idea…  She invited a group of our friends, a/k/a “the Butter Babes” over for a gift wrapping party.  Soup simmerin’ on the stove, Christmas music in the air, pool table covered as our wrapping station, and we move in for the day.

bigstock-Red-Green-Gold-and-Silver-W-12760646

What’s great about this is she sets the date way ahead of time (novel idea!) so we know when our deadline is…as in if you want to wrap a pretty package, you’d better have done some shopping and have packages in tow!

The five of us man our stations and the wrapping begins.  (Did I mention her endless supply of reams of paper and enough ribbon to extend to the moon?)  Oh, but the conversation around the table is the best.  You’re wondering if there’s a message here! Or what’s so spiritual about a wrapping party?

Well, you’ve got to know these Butter Babes.  These are some serious Bible study students and teachers.  These are some very close friends and mentors. These are some serious prayer warriors. They share meaningful Scripture. They share prayer requests. They share answered prayers.  They have lived a lot of life.  We laugh.  We cry.

DSC_0020

One of my favorite verses depicting this friendship journey is found in Proverbs 27:17 which says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (NIV)  It’s a huge blessing simply doing life with the help of dear friends who teach you to ultimately lean on the Lord.

Nary a  “Bah Humbug” erupts from this bunch. Nope, the Butter Babes would flat have a meltdown if such a phrase surfaced.  (Oh, I could have fun with that last phrase…)

Proverbs 27:7b says, “A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.”  Refreshing it is to be surrounded by such sweet sisters.  No Scrooges allowed!

Let me show you one more favorite verse to go along with our prescription:  Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. “

The “sure cure” for a Bah Humbug attitude can be found straight out of the three above phrases I’ve italicized:

Spur one another on:  This means we cheer each other on toward the finish line…as in our Heavenly Home.

Not giving up meeting together:  Keep regular gathering times with your friends.  How many times have you heard “friends are cheaper than therapy”?  It’s always nice to have something to look forward to.

I have another group of friends which includes a retired school teacher.  (Several actually, but one in particular is the glue that holds us together.)  Periodically, Jayne will shoot us an email with the tagline being:  “Random Dinner”.  She randomly picks a night and we show up to catch up.  Try it.  You’ll like it.

Encouraging  one another This goes hand in hand with spurring one another on. All three of these are great fuels for fanning the flame of friendship.

Kelly Minters Nehemiah

Kelly Minter’s  Bible study on Nehemiah—A Heart That Can Break offers a PERFECT DEPICTION of what I’m attempting to recommend to you regarding friendship.  She opines*, “The world doesn’t need more wealth, strength, power, or skill as much as it desperately needs trustworthy people.  My heart is never more at rest, my soul never more at peace than when I am in the presence of a person of integrity.

I find relational serenity in never having to second-guess what the person really meant, not having to dodge gossip or duck drama.  When I have the assurance that a person’s word is true, motives pure, and intents just, I have found a rare treasure indeed.”

Look again at those two above paragraphs.  Did you see that cool phrase, “relational serenity”?  What a sanctuary! What a safe haven!!!

Whether it’s a wrapping party, or a lunch out somewhere, or a Starbucks rendez-vous, I pray you’ll set a date with some of your friends and sail cheerfully thru’ this Christmas season, in relational serenity, sans any “Bah Humbugs”.

Purposefully celebrate Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (KJV) Remember Christ’s Birthday.

Savor God’s gift.  As Liz Curtis Higgs said, “Let’s be forever grateful for the One whose birth changed everything.”  (Click here to see an interview with her…)

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‘Til next time!

(This December post is happily dedicated to my long-time friend, cousin-by-marriage-who’s-more-like-a-sister, partner-in-crime in shopping, encourager extraordinaire, Bonnie Johnson. May blessings be abundant to you and your sweet family this Christmas season!!!)

*Lest you think I toss out unique words frequently, this one, “opine,” was a new one to me. Can’t believe I haven’t discovered this word ’til now.  I’m practically a professional at offering my opinion!  May we all opine with tact.

I ran across it twice in two days in two different books!  Both worth recommending:  one by Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage:  Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God and the other by Robert J. Morgan called Angels—True Stories—What Angels Do For Us.

Tim KellerRobert J Morgan

 

 

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Filed under Family, Friends, Holidays

That’s a WRAP! One Thing Worthy of Adding to Your Calendar

Only seven errands to accomplish today…Sigh…

Some of these errands are probably necessary, while others, well, not so much. Someone once coined this scrambling as  “calendar constipation”.  Now there’s a visual….

bigstock-Calendar-987269

Guessing the same person who came up with that also came up with the Dwarf in the Drawer to oppose the precious Elf on the Shelf!!!  Who thinks of these things???

My dear friend and mentor, Nancy Tinnell, who faithfully ministers at Middletown United Methodist Church, recently wrote the below poem.  I just had to share it with you!  Between Nancy’s poem and a prior post following this poem on a unique Gift Wrapping Party, I pray your attitude becomes filled with glee and the kick in your step is higher than ever:

The planning, the shopping, the wrapping, the gifting

The eggs, the butter, the flour for sifting…

The holly, the ivy, the tree must look right!

‘Oh, honey, you promised you’d put up the lights?’

I bought it at Target, now it’s cheaper at Sears,

The tree-topper star is missing this year!

If I stay up ‘til midnight, the cookies can bake

While I finish wrapping for Abby and Jake.

If I keep wrapping for Susan and Lee

I can get it all done, if I stay up ‘til three!

The choir will stay late tomorrow night

The cantata is rough and it needs to be right!

I know I need work on my duet with Bill

When I hit my high note it’s always so shrill!

Can I get all this done in the time remaining?

All  the cooking, the serving, the hosting, the cleaning?

By the time Christmas gets here, I’ll have it all done.

I will be like the woman in Proverbs 31!

Will my children rise up and call me blessed?

Or will they just rise up and say, ‘Mom, where’s breakfast?’”

Love that, Nancy!!!  Thank you!

Pictured from left to right is Nancy Tinnell, Jane Chilton and yours truly.

Pictured from left to right is Nancy Tinnell, Jane Chilton and yours truly.

Please allow me to recap a stellar activity.  One of which is way worthy of your calendar.  (If it’s too late for you this year, well, there’s always next year.)

Last Monday, some friends of mine, known as the Butter Babes (another story for another day) met for their Annual Wrapping Party.  I’ll describe it in detail in a minute.  New for this year, at my pleading, we added a stop prior to arriving at my cousin’s.

butter babes

We went to the home of one of our dear friends, Aletia Thompson.  She decorates for Jesus at Christmas time.  Each room points to Jesus’  life, death, resurrection and  our ultimate Eternal Home.  Her home is the most beautifully, breathtakingly decorated home I’ve seen.

Aletia puts it beautifully:  “The true gift of Christmas is eternal life.  God gave His only Son that we might have that gift.  Christmas should be the biggest and the best birthday celebration in history because it’s for Our Savior.”

I forewarned the Babes and said, “Now don’t even attempt to compare your own décor, or you may become depressed.  Simply savor each room, each detail, and soak in our Savior.  You will see Him everywhere.”

Worship the King

We were all teary-eyed and speechless.  Judy was so moved, she immediately called our buddy over at The Southeast Outlook newspaper, Ruth Schenk, who fast-as-lightning set up an appointment to go interview Aletia, take pictures, etc.  Her article is in this week’s issue.  (Go to:  www.southeastoutlook.org beginning December 19th, . It’s found on pages 20-24.)

I’m off now to tackle my list. No worries, still smiling, no stress.

I pray you and your families have a most Blessed, Happy, Healthy and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  We have many fun celebrations coming up, so John and  I’ll be spending as much time as possible with our ever expanding family!  Come January, I’ll be sharing information on some favorite books read this year, among other trinkets.

Our gift for 2013 and 2014 is that John and I, within eleven months,  Lord willing, will be gaining three precious, beautiful-on-the-inside-as-well-as-the-outside daughters-in-love!  Wedding Central!  We will also be celebrating our 30th Wedding Anniversary in 2014!

Please read the below post to enlighten you on my cousin Bonnie’s wrapping party.  It’s worthy of repetition, and as I said earlier, way worthy of your calendar.

God’s Grace, Glory and Blessings!!!

SURE CURE FOR A BAH HUMBUG ATTITUDE…

Hello Friends!  Just wondering, now that Thanksgiving’s past and that Christmas décor’s been up since Halloween (in some stores that is, surely not in this household!), if you have a KICK in your step while shopping, or if you are SLIP-SLIDIN’-AWAY, Scrooge-like?

Grunge Scrooge With a Small Gift

Don’t even talk to me if you’re done with your Christmas shopping.  And don’t even look this way if you’ve shopped and wrapped.

Christmas isn’t happenin’ today, the way Jesus intended it to.  For that, I’m certain.  Every single year I try to think of ways to “taper down” on the gift-giving, think of the less fortunate, donate to new charities/ministries, and yet I still wind up looking more like Santa’s helper/enabler than a child of God.  Big sigh.

Santa's Elf on Sign Edge

The commercialization of Christmas makes me say “Bah humbug”…and I’m determined to NOT let it get the best of me. Lord, please help us to focus on you.  Matthew 6:33 reminds us:But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Praying Friends

So, now that the Christmas season’s officially “on”… I’d like to give you one prescription sure to bring a smile to your face, and a sure cure for any “Bah Humbug” attitudes trying to surface.

I am beyond blessed to have a very fun cousin.  Her name is Bonnie, but we in the family call her “Martha”, as in Stewart.  She’s one of those creative types:  she can whip up the most gorgeous bow you’ve ever seen. Friends now recognize them sayin’, “Now THAT’S a “Bonnie Bow”!!!

Bonnie will also try any new recipe.  She’ll paint a room an entirely new color when the mood strikes.  Furthermore, she will absolutely, positively, do anything for anyone, at any time, just for starters.

A few years ago, Bonnie came up with this fabulous idea…  She invited a group of our friends, a/k/a “the Butter Babes” over for a gift wrapping party.  Soup simmerin’ on the stove, Christmas music in the air, pool table covered as our wrapping station, and we move in for the day.

bigstock-Red-Green-Gold-and-Silver-W-12760646

What’s great about this is she sets the date way ahead of time (novel idea!) so we know when our deadline is…as in if you want to wrap a pretty package, you’d better have done some shopping and have packages in tow!

The five of us man our stations and the wrapping begins.  (Did I mention her endless supply of reams of paper and enough ribbon to extend to the moon?)  Oh, but the conversation around the table is the best.  You’re wondering if there’s a message here! Or what’s so spiritual about a wrapping party?

Well, you’ve got to know these Butter Babes.  These are some serious Bible study students and teachers.  These are some very close friends and mentors. These are some serious prayer warriors. They share meaningful Scripture. They share prayer requests. They share answered prayers.  They have lived a lot of life.  We laugh.  We cry.

DSC_0020

One of my favorite verses depicting this friendship journey is found in Proverbs 27:17 which says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (NIV)  It’s a huge blessing simply doing life with the help of dear friends who teach you to ultimately lean on the Lord.

Nary a  “Bah Humbug” erupts from this bunch. Nope, the Butter Babes would flat have a meltdown if such a phrase surfaced.  (Oh, I could have fun with that last phrase…)

Proverbs 27:7b says, “A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.”  Refreshing it is to be surrounded by such sweet sisters.  No Scrooges allowed!

Let me show you one more favorite verse to go along with our prescription:  Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. “

The “sure cure” for a Bah Humbug attitude can be found straight out of the three above phrases I’ve italicized:

Spur one another on:  This means we cheer each other on toward the finish line…as in our Heavenly Home.

Not giving up meeting together:  Keep regular gathering times with your friends.  How many times have you heard “friends are cheaper than therapy”?  It’s always nice to have something to look forward to.

I have another group of friends which includes a retired school teacher.  (Several actually, but one in particular is the glue that holds us together.)  Periodically, Jayne will shoot us an email with the tagline being:  “Random Dinner”.  She randomly picks a night and we show up to catch up.  Try it.  You’ll like it.

Encouraging  one another:  This goes hand in hand with spurring one another on. All three of these are great fuels for fanning the flame of friendship.

Kelly Minters Nehemiah

Kelly Minter’s Bible study on Nehemiah—A Heart That Can Break offers a PERFECT DEPICTION of what I’m attempting to recommend to you regarding friendship.  She opines*, “The world doesn’t need more wealth, strength, power, or skill as much as it desperately needs trustworthy peopleMy heart is never more at rest, my soul never more at peace than when I am in the presence of a person of integrity.

I find relational serenity in never having to second-guess what the person really meant, not having to dodge gossip or duck drama.  When I have the assurance that a person’s word is true, motives pure, and intents just, I have found a rare treasure indeed.”

Look again at those two above paragraphs.  Did you see that cool phrase, “relational serenity”?  What a sanctuary! What a safe haven!!!

Whether it’s a wrapping party, or a lunch out somewhere, or a Starbucks rendez-vous, I pray you’ll set a date with some of your friends and sail cheerfully thru’ this Christmas season, in relational serenity, sans any “Bah Humbugs”.

Purposefully celebrate Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (KJV) Remember Christ’s Birthday.

Savor God’s gift.  As Liz Curtis Higgs said, “Let’s be forever grateful for the One whose birth changed everything.”  (Click here to see an interview with her…)

??????????????

‘Til next time!

(This December post is happily dedicated to my long-time friend, cousin-by-marriage-who’s-more-like-a-sister, partner-in-crime in shopping, encourager extraordinaire, Bonnie Johnson. May blessings be abundant to you and your sweet family this Christmas season!!!)

*Lest you think I toss out unique words frequently, this one, “opine,” was a new one to me. Can’t believe I haven’t discovered this word ’til now.  I’m practically a professional at offering my opinion!  May we all opine with tact.

I ran across it twice in two days in two different books!  Both worth recommending:  one by Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage:  Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God and the other by Robert J. Morgan called Angels—True Stories—What Angels Do For Us.

Tim KellerRobert J Morgan

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Filed under Family, Friends, Holidays, Life Lessons, Margin

But I Don’t Have TIME for a Bible Study! (Beating Busyness – Part 1 of 4)

If my Mother were still with us on this earth, and she knew this tough topic I’m about to broach, she’d cross her arms and say, “Well now, THIS ought to be REAL interesting….”

She used to get a kick out of sitting in our kitchen, watching our three boys come and go while I attempted to feed them, put coats on, tie shoes, coordinate carpools and hunt for the next necessary piece of sports equipment. She said it was like watching a funny tennis match. Hmmmmph.

Eliz and her parents

At Mom & Dad’s 50th Anniversary Brunch, 2002

 

So, I confess I’m preaching to the choir. We shall get down to business. We are going to attempt to beat busyness. We will apply a little “margin”* to our lives, our calendars, our sweet, smiling faces. No frumpiness, no frowns, no frustrated sighs allowed. And yes, we do have time for a Bible study. Stick with me…

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After a boatload of research from being 100% convicted, no thanks to Priscilla Shirer, I’m convinced we all  need a lil’ margin. Good news? Margin beats busyness.

It all started with a conference I attended with eight thousand other women a couple of summers ago. Priscilla was one of three speakers, the other two being Kay Arthur and Beth Moore. All were powerful, but when Priscilla began to teach on margin, I felt as if I was the only one in the room. Biggest “aha moment” to date. (Her message can be found in the chapter entitled “Sabbath Spaces” in her excellent book Resolution for Women. We’ll be talking about this more in Part 4, later in the month. Meanwhile, checkout her website for more information: www.goingbeyond.com)

Resolution for Women

*What is “margin”? Margin is the space between our load and our limits. Breathing room. Best definition I’ve heard comes from Andy Stanley in his Bible study Pushing it to the Limits. He says, “All good things happen within margin…such as your relationships with others, and with God. And, because we are human, we all have limits on our time, our energy, and our money. So, if we push our limits, spreading ourselves too thin, we push out God. Therefore deleting any margin we may have had.”

Note the warning…pushing out God deletes margin. Skipping quiet times in the morning would be a good example of margin-less living. Yes, we’re getting to that excuse about Bible study…

The guru of margin, Richard A. Swenson, M.D., has written numerous books on margin. I’ll be quoting him frequently over the next few weeks. Richard opens our eyes from the get-go in his book, Margin-Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives:

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“Margin-less is fatigue. Margin is energy.  Margin-less is anxiety and worry.” (Worry’s one of my special sins, you? Please forgive me AGAIN, Lord.) “Margin is peace. Margin-less is our crazy culture. Margin is counterculture. Margin exists for relationship.  Our relationships are being starved to death by velocity. No one has time to listen, let alone love.” Ouch!

How ’bout a couple of real-life scenarios?  Margin-less is hurry, frantic frenzy, speeding tickets!!! (Anybody?) Margin is slowing down, being still, being calm, basking in a bubble bath, taking a nap, reading a novel, meditating on Scripture….(Catching on now?)

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Why do we need margin? Because God did not create us to be spinning in a thousand directions, out of control. He created us to yearn for more time with Him, to learn more about Him, not the world in which we live. Remember He’s the One who created rest. (See Genesis 2:2-3** below.)

In 1915, an Australian by the name of F.W. Boreham said: “I believe that a supreme goal of one’s life should be to secure a margin. A good life, like a good book, should have a good margin.” Poor man would flip over today’s culture, huh?

One of my favorite devotionals is Jesus Calling by Sara Young. Flip over to October 24th’s entry if you have a copy. Sara uses Psalm 23:1-3**, Genesis 2:2-3** and Luke 1:79** to encourage us. Remember she writes as if Jesus is speaking directly to us:

Jesus Calling

“…Learn to unwind whenever possible, resting in the Presence of your Shepherd. This electronic age keeps My children ‘wired’ much of the time, too tense to find Me in the midst of their moments. I built into your very being the need for rest. How twisted the world has become when people feel guilty about meeting this basic need! How much time and energy they waste by being always on the go, rather than taking time to seek My direction for their lives.

I have called you to walk with Me down paths of peace. I want you to blaze a trail for others who desire to live in My peaceful Presence. I have chosen you less for your strengths than for your weaknesses, which amplify your need for Me. Depend on Me more and more, and I will shower Peace on all your paths.”

Notice, He notices when we are too wired from being “always on the go”…Let’s look at one of Jesus’ invitations from Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (The Message says, “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” Love that!)

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HOW can we build margin into our everyday lives? I’m going to give you a sampling of a plethora of ideas from Dr. Swenson’s book on Margin.  He offers excellent details, twenty-two for example, on margin in physical energy, fourteen on margin in emotional energy, sixteen on margin in time, and sixteen on margin in finances!!! We’re going to tackle only four, one each week.  These will include:  Bible study, Prayer, Guarding our Calendars, and Rest (which is directly tied to keeping the Sabbath.)

This week’s answers the title of this post:  “But I don’t have time to do a Bible study.”  God’s Word answers:  “Yes, you do.”

Are you good at coming up with excuses? I could teach a class on such. Not a boastable attribute… The first time I was invited to a Bible study, I received four  invitations, three of which came from family members. Talk about pressure!

But guess what I learned? Every time I tried to study the Bible on my own, I failed. When I joined a class, with friends and accountability, Bingo.

Author and Bible study teacher Angela Thomas says Matthew 6:33 is her life-verse: “Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  www.gospel.com,  spells it out for us: “It’s often the case that we put our spiritual life on a lower priority than other ‘pressing concerns’…Jesus is telling us that a properly balanced life is one that puts Him above our other concerns. He’ll take care of them.”

I can’t explain it in the physical realm, but when we put God first, He somehow supernaturally, exponentially adds to our day. Don’t take my word for it. Try it.

Another cool thing happens when you read God’s Word (and we know the Bible is God-breathed from 2 Timothy 3:16**). You’ll get to know Him better and you can hear His voice speaking to you straight from Scripture.

Embrace Grace Bible Study BLOG 450x150

For example, one of my dear friends y’all hear me talk about all the time is Liz Curtis Higgs. She’s written  just a few  books. (She’s well on her way with #31! Check her out at: www.lizcurtishiggs.com)

When I read her writing, because I’ve gotten to know her, I can  hear  her voice, as if she is reading to me. So it is when you study the Bible…

Robert Bugh, in his recent release, When the Bottom Drops Out—Finding Grace in the Depths of Disappointment, maintains that “long before a crisis hits, IF we’ve been deeply rooted in the Word of God, THEN we’re equipped when difficulty comes, or ‘when the bottom drops out.’” Bible study readies you for daily living.

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Adding a Bible study to your calendar is just one way to build margin into your day. We’re on our way to beating busyness! (Bible study recommendations are listed at the end of this post.***) Next week we’ll talk about prayer. What an invaluable resource.

‘Til next time!

(This week’s post is dedicated to Priscilla Shirer, an amazing wife, Mom of three boys, Bible study teacher, speaker, and writer. Let’s pray for her! It’s a miracle she does all she does and she is living proof of Matthew 6:33—see above. Thank you, Priscilla, for haulin’ all those belts to Freedom Hall. You set me free! Not quite ready for a home inspection, but I’m workin’ on that 14%!!! We’ll be talking more about your inspirational message in future posts. May God bless you and your precious family.)

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

Psalm 23:1-3The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”

Luke 1:79 to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

2 Timothy 3:16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

***Below are some recent Bible studies I’ve done which are well worth your time:

Bad Girls of the BibleThe Girls still got it

The Girl’s Still Got It–Take a Walk With Ruth and the God Who Changed Her World and newly revamped Bad Girls of the Bible (due out July 16th) by Liz Curtis Higgs

James Mercy TriumphsDavid Seeking a Heartbelieving god  Stepping Up

James: Mercy Triumphs; David: Seeking a Heart Like His; Believing God; and Stepping Up–A Journey through the Psalms of Ascent all by Beth Moore

Brave

Brave — Honest Questions Women Ask by Angela Thomas

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Jonah: Navigating Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer

No other GodsNehemiah

No Other Gods: Confronting Our Modern Day Idols; and Nehemiah: A Heart that Can Break by Kelly Minter

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Filed under Book Reviews, Life Lessons, Margin, Scripture

Sure Cure for a Bah Humbug Attitude…

Hello Friends!  Just wondering, now that Thanksgiving’s past and that Christmas décor’s been up since Halloween (in some stores that is, surely not in this household!), if you have a KICK in your step while shopping, or if you are SLIP-SLIDIN’-AWAY, Scrooge-like?

Grunge Scrooge With a Small Gift

Don’t even talk to me if you’re done with your Christmas shopping.  And don’t even look this way if you’ve shopped and wrapped.

Christmas isn’t happenin’ today, the way Jesus intended it to.  For that, I’m certain.  Every single year I try to think of ways to “taper down” on the gift-giving, think of the less fortunate, donate to new charities/ministries, and yet I still wind up looking more like Santa’s helper/enabler than a child of God.  Big sigh.Santa's Elf on Sign EdgeThe commercialization of Christmas makes me say “Bah humbug”…and I’m determined to NOT let it get the best of me. Lord, please help us to focus on you.  Matthew 6:33 reminds us: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Praying Friends

So, now that the Christmas season’s officially “on”… no thanks to some poor souls opening up on Thanksgiving Day (really?), Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc., I’d like to give you one prescription sure to bring a smile to your face, and a cure for any “Bah Humbug” attitudes trying to surface.

I am beyond blessed to have a very fun cousin.  Her name is Bonnie, but we in the family call her “Martha”, as in Stewart.  She’s one of those creative types:  she can whip up the most gorgeous bow you’ve ever seen. Friends now recognize them sayin’, “Now THAT’S a “Bonnie Bow”!!!

Bonnie will also try any new recipe.  She’ll paint a room an entirely new color when the mood strikes.  Furthermore, she will absolutely, positively, do anything for anyone, at any time, just for starters.

A few years ago, Bonnie came up with this fabulous idea…  She invited a group of our friends, a/k/a “the Butter Babes” over for a gift wrapping party.  Soup simmerin’ on the stove, Christmas music in the air, pool table covered as our wrapping station, and we move in for the day.

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What’s great about this is she sets the date way ahead of time (novel idea!) so we know when our deadline is…as in if you want to wrap a pretty package, you’d better have done some shopping and have packages in tow!

The five of us man our stations and the wrapping begins.  (Did I mention her endless supply of reams of paper and enough ribbon to extend to the moon?)  Oh, but the conversation around the table is the best.  You’re wondering if there’s a message here! Or what’s so spiritual about a wrapping party?

Well, you’ve got to know these Butter Babes.  These are some serious Bible study students and teachers.  These are some very close friends and mentors. These are some serious prayer warriors. They share meaningful Scripture. They share prayer requests. They share answered prayers.  They have lived a lot of life.  We laugh.  We cry.

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One of my favorite verses depicting this friendship journey is found in Proverbs 27:17 which says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (NIV)  It’s a huge blessing simply doing life with the help of dear friends who teach you to ultimately lean on the Lord.

Nary a  “Bah Humbug” erupts from this bunch. Nope, the Butter Babes would flat have a meltdown if such a phrase surfaced.  (Oh, I could have fun with that last phrase…)

Proverbs 27:7b says, “A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.”  Refreshing it is to be surrounded by such sweet sisters.  No Scrooges allowed!

Let me show you one more favorite verse to go along with our prescription:  Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. “

The “sure cure” for a Bah Humbug attitude can be found straight out of the three above phrases I’ve italicized:

Spur one another on:  This means we cheer each other on toward the finish line…as in our Heavenly Home.

Not giving up meeting together:  Keep regular gathering times with your friends.  How many times have you heard “friends are cheaper than therapy”?  It’s always nice to have something to look forward to.

I have another group of friends which includes a retired school teacher.  (Several actually, but one in particular is the glue that holds us together.)  Periodically, Jayne will shoot us an email with the tagline being:  “Random Dinner”.  She randomly picks a night and we show up to catch up.  Try it.  You’ll like it.

Encouraging  one another:  This goes hand in hand with spurring one another on. All three of these are great fuels for fanning the flame of friendship.

Kelly Minters Nehemiah

Kelly Minter’s most recent Bible study on Nehemiah—A Heart That Can Break offers a PERFECT DEPICTION of what I’m attempting to recommend to you regarding friendship.  She opines*, “The world doesn’t need more wealth, strength, power, or skill as much as it desperately needs trustworthy people.  My heart is never more at rest, my soul never more at peace than when I am in the presence of a person of integrity.

I find relational serenity in never having to second-guess what the person really meant, not having to dodge gossip or duck drama.  When I have the assurance that a person’s word is true, motives pure, and intents just, I have found a rare treasure indeed.”

Look again at those two above paragraphs.  Did you see that cool phrase, “relational serenity”?  What a sanctuary! What a safe haven!!!

Whether it’s a wrapping party, or a lunch out somewhere, or a Starbucks rendez-vous, I pray you’ll set a date with some of your friends and sail cheerfully thru’ this Christmas season, in relational serenity, sans any “Bah Humbugs”.

Purposefully celebrate Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (KJV) Remember Christ’s Birthday.

Savor God’s gift.  As Liz Curtis Higgs said, “Let’s be forever grateful for the One whose birth changed everything.”  (Click here to see an interview with her…)

??????????????

‘Til next time!

(This December post is happily dedicated to my long-time friend, cousin-by-marriage-who’s-more-like-a-sister, partner-in-crime in shopping, encourager extraordinaire, Bonnie Johnson. May blessings be abundant to you and your sweet family this Christmas season!!!)

*Lest you think I toss out unique words frequently, this one, “opine,” was a new one to me. Can’t believe I haven’t discovered this word ’til now.  I’m practically a professional at offering my opinion!  May we all opine with tact.

I ran across it twice in two days in two different books!  Both worth recommending:  one by Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage:  Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God and the other by Robert J. Morgan called Angels—True Stories—What Angels Do For Us.

Tim KellerRobert J Morgan

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Filed under Friends, Holidays, Scripture