Tag Archives: Liz Curtis Higgs

She Speaks Conference Equips Over 700 Women in Charlotte, NC…

Friends!  Any of y’all interested in writing or speaking?  Pray about attending next year’s She Speaks Conference, hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries (www.proverbs31.org). I had so much fun at the most recent one on July 21st and 22nd, in Charlotte, NC, I just have to share some tidbits with you…

Whether you’ve written a book or are contemplating writing one, or have been speaking various places and think God is calling you to do more speaking, She Speaks is the conference to attend. (7/26-28 are the dates for 2018.)

Due to some perfecto peer pressure a/k/a strong suggestions from my friend, Liz, I signed up for this year’s conference. Not knowing a soul except for Liz Curtis Higgs who would be teaching two workshops and speaking for one of the Main Sessions, I prayed I’d meet some fun friends.  God was gracious.

The morning of registration, I immediately met two gals, one from Wheaton, IL and one from Naples, FL.  We were all three newbies. We had crazy fun connections and promptly agreed to meet up for every meal, sharing tidbits from our workshops.

My new friend, Dawn, and I posed by the She Speaks sign near Registration.  This was a popular photo opp, all of us dumping our book bags which amazingly no one tripped over.

The challenge of the conference was which workshop to sign up for as each one sounded better than the next. Just as an example, here are the ones I took:

“Creating Biblical Content to Engage Your Reader”

“Storytelling on the Page and the Stage”

“Creating a Message That is Powerful, Memorable, and Life Changing”

“How a Small-Time Blogger Can Actually Get a Book Contract”

“60 Things You Can Do to Become a Better Speaker”

“Study Strategies for Teaching Scripture”

The above are a glimpse of the many, many, many workshops offered, plus each attendee had the opportunity to attend Four Main Sessions over the two days with these top-notch speakers:

Pastor Chris Hodges

Chris kicked off the conference Friday morning with a powerful message from Exodus 28 and 29, called “Dress for Success.”  His connection with the Proverbs 31 gals is a sweet one:  One of his children is married to one of Lysa TerKeurst’s children.

Chrystal Evans Hurst is a  fireball like her Dad, Tony Evans, and her sister, Priscilla Shirer. Chrystal equipped us Friday night to take care of ourselves in order to be better used by God. Her stories of biking across the Golden Gate Bridge numerous times were priceless. Some trips were more successful than others, as in “let’s not bleed to death in the process.” (A trip over the handlebars brought about that illustration.)

Sometimes we need to slow down! Rest is a form of worship!

Chrystal also gifted us with several Scriptures, my favorite being:

She closed with, “Be true to your journey, it is enough.”  Amen.

Whitney Capps  was a wonderful wake-up call Saturday morning after many of us had had a sleepless night due to the power going out in our area.  Hotel rooms defined dark and became stuffy hot without the air conditioning.

Whitney remarked that Satan is always trying to thwart her efforts for her messages and this time was no exception…  Seems a snake crawled down into one of the substations and nibbled on some high voltage equipment, causing damage enough to knock out the electricity in a huge grid most of the night.  This included our hotels plus 14,000 other households.  Come on, now!

Here’s the pic the local paper ran:

He looks way too friendly.

Good news is the conference went on as planned, coffee was at the ready, and Whitney preached a meaningful message on “Six Reasons Your Church Needs You.” Thank you, Lord.

Liz Curtis Higgs closed out the conference Saturday night with a bang, working our tear ducts overtime from laughter one minute, to moving testimonials the next.  A few of my favorite quotes from her are:

“Minister to those who are in front of you. Don’t count numbers, because everyone counts to God.”

On writing, Liz encouraged us with, “If He knows every word we are going to say, surely He knows every word we’re going to write.” And I LOVE this:  “You don’t have to write THE best book, you just have to write YOUR best book.”

Obviously, take-home value was at a premium.

One of many bonuses we attendees received was the opportunity to sign up for cd’s of other workshops we weren’t able to attend.  Incredible resources!

Saturday afternoon I rode up the elevator with a gal who had attended this conference the previous year.  She said this year’s conference was so different.  I was astonished because the number of workshops and their variety causes one to wonder how you could keep changing it up?

The brainchild of Lysa TerKeurst, She Speaks ran like a top. Lysa’s beyond blessed to have such a sweet and compassionate team who somehow took all seven hundred of us under their wings!

Here are a few other workshops I also wanted to take but couldn’t squeeze into my two days:

“Writing a Bio That Gets You Hired”

“The Verses That Keep Me Up at Night:  The Risks and Responsibilities of the Christian Writer”

“Creating Your Book Proposal from a Marketing Perspective”

“Guarding Your Capacity to Pace Your Race”

“Finding Soul Rest in the Midst of Busyness”

“How to Write When You Have Kids”

And there were more!

Another bonus of She Speaks was the amazing worship offered before each of the Main Sessions.  Worship  was led by the worship team from Elevation Church in Charlotte.  (www.elevationworship.com )

They were incredible, opening the conference with my current favorite song:  What a Beautiful Name.  Another song they sang I learned they also wrote:  O Come to the Altar.  You can imagine the effect of 700+ gals singing their hearts out.  The Holy Spirit filled the room to its’ brim.

One exciting discovery was learning about the “First 5” app available FOR FREE to us all.  (Go to:  www.first5.org ) Many gals I met were familiar with this app and were “regulars”.  Its’ premise is we all need to plant our faces in Scripture the first five minutes of every day.

The First 5 teachers and writers taught different workshops. It was a blast to meet them and hear from them up close.  They were most gracious in sharing their various methods, all of these gals wise beyond their years.

We attendees also had the opportunity to sign up to meet with publishers and agents.  These were offered on a first-come basis.

She Speaks had about twenty-five people (publishers and agents) to choose from, of which I had to pick five, and of those five, they’d pick two.  How they orchestrated all of this made my head spin.  We each had fifteen minutes for our meetings which evaporated like fifteen seconds.  This was an invaluable experience.

At one point in the worship, as the conference was about to close, I thought, “What if all seven hundred of us goes home, ready to be used by God for God to reach so many for the Kingdom?  What if?”  That’s my prayer for all of us and for any of you considering such an opportunity.

‘Til next time!

 

Liz and I sat together Friday night when Chrystal spoke.

 

 

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Filed under Author Interviews, Conferences, Scripture, Travel

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

Friends!  Greetings this lovely Lenten Season!

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

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

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

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

Nancy offers the following ideas:

All  great ideas, thanks Nancy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More GOOD NEWS:

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

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Book Clubs, Book Reviews, Holidays

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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Filed under Book Clubs, Book Reviews, Life Lessons

To Exercise, or Make Fudge? (Two Fun Ideas with Favorite Things for You and Your Friends)

Friends!  Happy New Year!  Are we really in the year 2017?

Happy to report we will not be discussing New Year’s Resolutions this week because research shows those of us who make ‘em, break ‘em.  Just sayin’….

New Year's Resolutions

This week I’m sharing a new recipe which turned out to be a stellar experiment.  I also have an idea I received from a fabulous party I attended.  You may wish to try these with your friends next Christmas, or sooner!

First, the recipe discovery is for Million Dollar Fudge.  It’s easy, it’s delicious, and while you may be irked at my timing, once you taste it, you’ll thank me, trust me. (Recipe’s at the end of this post.)

Secondly, watch how the other idea transpired:  My Spiritual Mom, Lynn Reece, invited all of our Wednesday Bible study gals to her home for a Christmas Brunch. (100% of us refer to her as our Spiritual Mom.) While Lynn was making most of the meal, she did let some of us bring a few goodies.

This group is a beautiful picture of Hebrews 10:25, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (NLT)

hebrews-10-25

The week before Lynn’s Brunch, she and our other fearless leader, Jane Chilton, attended a cookie exchange where one of the gals brought Million Dollar Fudge.  We all met for lunch the next day while Lynn and Jane rattled on and on and on about this fudge until I could stand it no longer.

“Okay,” I said.  “I think we need some of that fudge to complete our Brunch next week.  I’ll hunt for a recipe, make it, and bring it.”  That was that.

Visions of huge storefront windows revealing expert chefs making fudge, rolling it out onto tables,  floated thru’ my head.  Think  small-town charm, accompanied by delectable aromas wafting thru’ the streets.  I never pass those stores up without marching inside and buying a slice to sometimes share with Hubster.

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Once googling Million Dollar Fudge began, I landed on a recipe  from www.allrecipes.com  Per usual, the day evaporated and Hubster would soon be home to pick me up to go to a Christmas party.  I either had to run upstairs for a quick workout, or dash into the kitchen and make the fudge so as not to be up too late the night before Lynn’s Brunch.

Plus, I didn’t want to disappoint my sisters who all really wanted to re-live the fudge experience.  You can guess the exercise flew right out the window and ooey gooey fudge began to appear in our kitchen.  (Scarlett told me there’s always tomorrow.)

Being a complete chocolate snob, I was elated and relieved to learn two kinds of super tasty chocolate are in this recipe:  bittersweet chocolate (I keep a huge container of Nestle’s Tollhouse chocolate chips in our pantry. Know you’re shocked.) and sweet German chocolate.

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Arriving at Lynn’s our usual fifteen minutes late, our Bible study gals rushed in, covered dishes in hand. Gathering around the table, holding hands, Lynn led us in a chorus of O Come Let Us Adore Him to open our morning.

Our worship and fellowship looks like this:

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8

Lynn’s  beautiful table, complete with linen tablecloth, china and silver, made our time together even sweeter.  Doris had fun with the cardinal napkin rings since we lovingly dole out UK and U of L jabs from time to time.  (They were playing each other that evening and well, we won’t discuss the outcome.)

We also belatedly celebrated Olivia’s birthday.  Translation:  Big birthday cake!  Another sure-fire reason we needed fudge to go with it.

Clearly 1 Corinthians 6:19 escaped our brains:  “Do you now know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own…”  (We claim the 80/20 rule which probably regresses to 50/50 at best during the holidays.)

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Lynn started the ball rollin’ last year for a Favorite Things Party.  She gave all of us Scrub Daddies. This snowballed into all of us bringing our newest favorite things this year. All eight of us chose one of our favorite things, wrapped them, and presented them, one by one to each other.

The variety and the discoveries are priceless.  (Lynn suggested we limit the expense to $5-$10 dollars/item which some adhered to and some sorta/kinda did if one were grading on the curve.)

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From left to right on the top row is: Doris Bridgeman, Gwen Paten, Lynn Reece, Olivia Kirtley, and Reggie Willinger.  Seated left to right is: Jane Chilton, Yours Truly, and Betsy Heady.

For your enjoyment and education, here’s what we received from each other this year:

For you straw lovers, we learned thanks to Doris’ gift, there’s a package of straight and bent stainless steel straws, complete with brushes to clean them.   Saves the environment and your pocketbook. (Amazon has several varieties.)

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Lynn introduced us to a nifty gadget called The Eurosealer for anyone needing to seal their bag of chips, or crackers, or anything else you wish to keep fresh.  Once activated, a rolling ball heats up, meshing the two sides together.  Between the Scrub Daddy and this contraption, Hubster is in Gadget Heaven. (Both are available at www.bedbathandbeyond.com )

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Reggie gave each of us a Jude’s Miracle Cloth (available at Two Chicks, www.twochicksandcompany.com ) which is amazing on stainless steel appliances, car windows, mirrors, etc., plus it goes in the washing machine! Gwennie suggested cutting it in half, one for inside your house and one for inside your car.

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Reggie topped her gifts with Modjeskas, a local treat no one can pass up. The history of this candy is fascinating.  Check it out via www.bauerscandy.com

Also from Two Chicks, Gwennie gave us Captain Rodney’s Private Reserve Scotch Bonnet Pepper Boucan Glaze:  “A Grilling and dipping sauce from the heart of the Caribbean”.  (Our boys go gaga over this because bacon is involved.)

Jane gave us a wonderful, ultra flexible, Mrs. Anderson’s Mini Serving Spatula, only one and a half inches in width that’s perfect for flipping brownies out of the pan or anything similar.  Much better than a regular-sized spatula and easy to find in your drawer, being red.

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Betsy had a theme of a good night’s sleep going with her favorite things:  Lavender Bath Bombs to make us sleepy followed by a Rest and Renew satin pillow protector to keep our coifs at bay. (Available at Bed, Bath and Beyond.) Clever, Betsy!

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We all agreed Betsy’s packages won the most creative and beautiful award plus she’d written an attribute for each of us along with a Scripture to expound on it on our gift tags.  She was spot on with each of us and we had trouble fitting our heads thru’ the door on the way out.

“A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!” Proverbs 15:23 (NIV)

Finally, Olivia and I chose books. (Surprised???) I gave my current favorite du jour:  31 Verses to Write on Your Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs.  My Tuesday Bible study group is reading this as a devotional, attempting to memorize a verse a week.  It’s wonderful regardless of how you use it.  You’ll learn fascinating things about each verse, thanks to Liz, which helps the reader understand it better, making it easier to remember.

31 Verses to Write on your Heart

Olivia’s choice is sitting here on my desk staring at me because I’m dying to dive in….soon.  She gave us French Women Don’t Get Fat—The Secret of Eating for Pleasure by Mireille Guiliano. (Is that some kind of title, or what?)

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It appears to have loads of great info’ in non-diet fashion, as well as recipes, many of which contain chocolate.  (Hallelujah.) There’s even a chapter entitled, Bread and Chocolate. (My two very favorite things.)  My guess is you’ll hear more about this soon. Smile.

Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for:

Recipe for Million Dollar Fudge: (This makes two 9 x 9 pans, so you may want to cut it in half like I did.)

4 ½ cups white sugar
1 pinch of salt
2 tablespoons butter
1-12 oz. can evaporated milk
2 cups chopped nuts (I used pecans)
1-12 oz. package semisweet chocolate chips (I used Nestle’s Toll House chips)
12-1 oz. squares of German sweet chocolate (I used Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate Baking Bar.)
2 cups marshmallow crème

1 – Butter two 9 x 9 baking pans and set aside.
2  – Place chocolate chips, German chocolate, marshmallow crème, and nuts into a large mixing bowl.  Set aside.
3 – In a large saucepan, thrown in sugar, salt, butter, and evaporated milk, stirring over low heat ‘til sugar dissolves.  Bring to a boil, and cook for 6 minutes.
4 – Pour boiling syrup mixture over ingredients in the bowl, stirring ‘til all the chocolate is melted.  Pour into the prepared square pans.  Let stand a few hours before cutting (if you can stand it).  It literally melts in your mouth.

Furthermore, your friends and family will love you.

I pray you all have a Wonderful, Happy, Healthy 2017 and am excited to talk with you about a variety of books-n-topics in the New Year.

‘Til next time!

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Filed under Friends, Holidays

You’re Invited to Meet and Hear from TWO Authors, Monday October 24th: Liz Curtis Higgs and Bill Higgs! Men and Women are welcome!

Friends!  Mark your calendar now to dash over to Middletown United Methodist Church next Monday night, October 24th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m.  Men and women are welcome!

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

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

The ladies of Branches Book Club will be hosting Retro Night.  They’re playing some of the oldies from the 60’s from WPER in Liz’ novel, Mixed Signals, as well as from Bill’s book, Eden Hill, which is set in the 60’s, all the while whippin’ up root beer floats and coke floats!  The floats will be made in mugs you get to take home.  Hey, motivation is everywhere. (Not to mention, there’ll be fabulous door prizes as well!)

Icing on the cake is we’ll be blessed to have TWO visiting authors!  Liz Curtis Higgs and her husband Bill, will be talking about their books, entertaining questions, and signing their books.  We’ll be discussing two novels:  Mixed Signals by Liz and Eden Hill by Bill.

 

Mixed Signals

Eden Hill

 

You can catch my thumbs’ up review of Bill’s book Eden Hill, here:

Step Back into a Delightful Time with Bill Higg’s Debut Novel, Eden Hill

We’ll get to hear from Bill about his writing process, his characters, etc.  This is his debut novel which is a HUGE accomplishment.  Obviously, Liz is very proud of her hubbie!  She’ll be talking about Mixed Signals and hopefully a little about her newest release, 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart.  They will share their writing experiences together, interview style, much to our delight.

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Liz’ novel, Mixed Signals, was published in 1999.  This was her very first contemporary fiction she wrote, followed by Bookends (2000), followed by Fine Print in Three Weddings and a Giggle (2001), and finally Mercy Like Sunlight in Unveiling Magdalene (2001).

Liz then turned to Scottish historical fiction with Thorn in my Heart (2003). She’ll be the first to tell you, she’s never looked back!

I read Mixed Signals when it released, but needed to revisit it to jog my memory. (I can’t remember milk at the grocery store, much less what I read seventeen years ago!) I found it just as captivating as before. Liz keeps you on your toes.

You’ll instantly fall in love with her characters.  How Liz weaves God’s grace and forgiveness into the story line is breathtaking. The banter between potential lovebirds will make you laugh out loud.

The setting is positively charming. From Liz’ descriptive writing, you feel as if you’re right there in Abingdon with Belle, David, Patrick, and Norah. Liz includes not one, but two love stories, plus a side of sweet friendship. The friendship blooms between Belle and Norah.

Liz writes, “Morning after morning, in the cozy confines of the shop, their friendship had begun quilting itself together with tiny, intricate stitches…Their friendship fell somewhere between sisters and friends, with a dash of mother-daughter dynamics thrown in for good measure.”

Patchwork quilt. Part of patchwork quilt as background. Handmade.

Right about the time you think all problems are solved, and all relationships are tied up in a pretty little package, Liz throws you a curve ball.  One cup of coffee consumed too many, coupled with this curve ball, caused my heart to nearly beat out of my chest.

I kept thinking, “Surely she’s not going to harm these characters??? Surely she won’t end this in disaster???”  If you’re not glued to the book from the beginning, you’ll be tethered to it in the end.  Mercy.

Even if you haven’t had time to read these two novels by the Higgs’, come meet them and spend some time with them.  You’ll be beyond blessed. You can always read their books afterwards.  When you do, you’ll be able to hear Liz and Bill’s voices reading to you, a huge perk from coming to Book Club.

As if the timing couldn’t be more perfect, this week, on October 18th, a lovely, new, devotional-style book by Liz releases called 31 Verses to Write on Your HeartThis book will be available not only in bookstores, but the Higgs’ will also be bringing it to Book Club.  (Start your Christmas shopping!)

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I was blessed to read an early copy. As I finished each chapter, I’d text Liz and say, “Ok, now this chapter is my favorite.” Friends, they’re all wonderful.

Some verses you’ll immediately recognize while some may be less known.  As only Liz can do, she unpacks them, word by word, or phrase-by-phrase, making them come alive, applying them to our daily lives.

An added challenge comes with this beautiful book:  We, the readers, are invited to memorize these Scriptures. Each of the thirty-one chapters offers a different tip for how to do exactly that.

Scripture memory continues to haunt me on a regular basis whether from an author, or a book, or a Bible study.  Here we go again…

When I was in Nashville in August, I showed 31 Verses to my friend, Meredith.  She, too, said she always wants to attempt memorizing the Word, but never determines to do it.  With that, she blind-sided me:  “Let’s do this together!”  Well, what does one do with that?

I said, “Okay!”  Hey, and with Liz as your coach?  We all should say, “Yes!  We’re in!”

Friends, here’s your challenge! Please comment and let me know if you’re in! You’ll be entered in a drawing to win your own copy of 31 Verses!!!

Karen Ehman calls this, “Your new spiritual strategy for deepening your daily walk with God.”

Patsy Clairmont says, “Writing God’s Word on our hearts is insurance. It’s truth we can call on 24/7 in times of fear, insecurity, or intimidation.”

Are you in?  Pray about this! While this book is great for your own individual use, consider using it with your Bible study group or Small Group.  Our Tuesday group, better known as Blessings on Burlington, generally breaks during the holidays, thus giving us several weeks off.  We’re hoping to use this book to keep our faces in the Word.  It’s the perfect tool.

One of many favorite examples comes from Chapter 14:  Comfort Food.  It focuses on Isaiah 41:10.

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Liz says this verse is, “Simple, straightforward nutrition that fills our hearts with everything we hunger for…”  No panic, no worry, no anxiety:  “there is nothing to fear” (AMPC).

She encourages us by reminding us, “He is with you, beloved. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, He’s on your side and by your side. What a balm to our anxious hearts to know we are never alone.”

Each chapter blesses the reader with new insights and this one (chapter 14) is no exception:  “Every time we see some variation of ‘I am your God’ in Scripture, that’s our cue to embrace the truth and respond in kind, ‘I am Your child.’

Even if your earthly parents dropped the ball, you can be very sure God did not, cannot, and will not. He is the father you can trust completely.” 

See what a blessing this is?  Thank you, Lizzie!

We all hope to see you next Monday night, October 24th, at Book Club at Middletown United Methodist Church from 6:30-8:00 p.m.!

Bring your friends and don’t forget, men and women are welcome.

 ‘Til next time!

 

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Filed under Book Clubs, Book Reviews, Scripture

“Appointments with Heaven” Comforts and Reassures Readers Beautifully

On the last day of our escape to Naples, Florida,  John and I decided a breakfast al fresco on Fifth Avenue would be the perfect finale. Armed with a stack of books, off we went.

The aroma of dark, rich coffee lured us in. Grabbing a table by the street, we began to take in our surroundings. One couple with an older pug and a younger maltese sat next to us which thrilled us immensely. We were terribly homesick for our wild child, a/k/a Gracie, our very wired wire-haired fox terrier.

Dog fix satisfied, we inhaled our buttery rich croissants stuffed with eggs, cheese, and bacon (Hey, calories don’t count when one is on vacation, right?). John dashed back inside to refill our coffees. Now we were settled in to sit and read under the palm trees.

One of the many books I packed surprised me. It had two things going for it before I ever opened it up: 1 – It’s a gift from my sweet friend Meredith along with her thumbs’ up recommendation, and 2 – Heaven is the subject manner. Few things fascinate me more.

What I wasn’t ready for was how glued to the pages I’d become, not wanting to put the book down. The book? Appointments with Heaven—The true story of a country doctor’s healing encounters with the hereafter by Dr. Reggie Anderson with Jennifer Schuchmann.

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Reggie’s a family physician. He and his wife, Karen have three daughters who are married and one son who’s in nursing school. Oh boy, you must read how Reggie and Karen began dating and got married! Huge proof our Lord has a gigantic sense of humor.

One of many cool connections in the book is Reggie and Karen’s daughter, Julia, is married to Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman’s son, Caleb.

Steven and Mary Beth wrote the powerful Foreword to Reggie’s book. The friendships forged between these two families is so clearly woven by God, they’ll take your breath away. (You can watch a video of an interview with the Chapmans talking about Reggie and his book. Go to: www.appointmentswithheaven.com )

Near the end of the book, Reggie shares the tragic story of the Chapman’s daughter Maria’s death. Reggie relates their experience with bittersweet details, making you feel as if you’re in their home with them. The timing of everything is another only-God orchestration.

Reggie opens and closes the book with him treating his Father as a patient. Be sure you’re equipped with Kleenex. You’ll need them more than once. Reggie’s journey in his faith and experiences helps him cope with his Father’s death. The hope of heaven is never more real.

Reggie also tells beautiful stories from his childhood, his coming to faith, and the tragedy that caused him to walk away from his faith. The lengths to which the Lord goes to rescue him, bringing him back to faith, are beyond amazing.

His faith is challenged more than once, however, and he candidly shares his doubts. Over and over again, the Lord proves Himself trustworthy despite the temptation to ask, “Why?” It’s a gift for the reader to learn the answer to this question.

How Reggie winds up in med school is another divine deal. Any of you docs out there will appreciate the details of Reggie’s cases. Many are humorous while the more serious are covered in prayer.

Dreams are an added detail both from Reggie and his patients. They bring everyone, us readers included, a swath of comfort.

The power of prayer plays a big role in Reggie’s life personally and professionally. His mother prayed faithfully for him during his prodigal years. Many answers to prayer included in the book further encourage us to press on.

Pray.

The first time Reggie is alone with someone who dies, something strange happens. We readers get to read about Reggie’s experiences with several patients . Each “appointment” brings with it more comfort and reassurance to us for our own peace of mind, plus for those of our loved ones who have gone on to Heaven.

Reggie’s senses become heightened. He keeps mentioning smelling citrus and lilac. When the soul leaves a body, He feels a warm sensation. He sees a soft glow always above and to the right of the patient. He feels a sense of peace as well as God’s presence. You must read each of these, because each one becomes more fascinating.

When one of his first patients, Irene, died, he felt the same warmth pass by him. He said, “I knew it was her soul carried on a fresh breeze slipping to the other side into the warmth of God’s presence.”

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Not all of Reggie’s patients are believers however. After one patient died, Reggie recognized “evil had entered the room.” He said, “Everything about the room that day was the antithesis of heaven—no warmth, no breezes. Just a stagnant coldness.”

This frightening experience made Reggie more thankful he knows where he’s going. He realized, “It also made me more intentional about making sure others knew where they were going too.”

Finally, Reggie offers us readers a tip. He says some of his “greatest insights into heaven come from a resource that is just as available to you as it is to me: Scripture.”

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You can bet I’ll be sharing this quote with my Bible study buddies. The benefits from reading God’s Word are innumerable.

Reggie suggests we read Scripture “attentively, listening for what God’s Spirit is saying to you and asking Him to make you mindful of the many ways he is at work in the lives around you. Then you will hear and see and know the reality of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, both here on earth and in our forever home—heaven.”

He says the “one passage that perhaps best reflects God’s grace in my own life is:

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Grab this book to add to your queue. You’ll more than likely want to give it to your friends too!

Blessings to the Andersons. Thank you, Reggie, for having the courage to share your story. It’s the boost we readers need to endure life here on earth, expectantly awaiting Heaven.

‘Til next time!

P.S. If you live anywhere near Louisville, be sure to head to Lifeway on Hurstbourne Lane next Tuesday, October 18th. Liz Curtis Higgs will be signing her newest book, 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. I’ll be writing about it next week. It, too, would make a great gift in addition to enhancing your own library. You can also use it for Scripture memory.  We’ll get into that challenge next week!

Also for your calendar: DOUBLE BONUS:  Liz and Bill Higgs will be joining us at Book Club, Monday, October 24th from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Middletown United Methodist Church.  Guys and Gals are welcome.  Bring your friends!

We’ll be discussing Liz’ novel, Mixed Signals,  plus Bill’s novel, Eden Hill, and Liz’ newest book,, 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart will just have released, so it’ll be available as well.  Crazy fun in the forecast from the Higgs’ household. More on that next week too.

 

 

Eden Hill

Mixed Signals

31 Verses to Write on your Heart

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You’re Invited to Meet and Hear Author Kristy Cambron, Monday, September 26th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Middletown United Methodist Church (PLUS FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY!!!***)

Friends! You’re invited to Branches Book Club’s first gathering of the season. Bring your friends! We’ll be extra spoiled by having the opportunity to meet and hear from author Kristy Cambron. She’s driving in from Indiana.

 

We’ll be meeting at Middletown United Methodist Church, 11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. on Monday, September 26th.

Kristy will be talking about her newest book, The Ringmaster’s Wife. You still have plenty of time to read this compelling novel and bring questions you may have for her.

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Jump onto her website and go to “books”. Click on The Ringmaster’s Wife and you’ll find a video clip of her research into the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. She takes you on a fabulous tour of the Ringlings’ Ca’d’Zan Mansion.

It’s just as elaborate as she describes in the book, complete with a breathtaking vista of the bay. Don’t miss the gorgeous wood in the dining room.

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Kristy’s novel is set in the 1920’s. She transports us readers right into the Roaring Twenties when the circus was gaining momentum.

An unusually talented young woman from North Yorkshire, England, Lady Rosamund Easling, is discovered by a young man named Colin Keary. He works for the Ringlings. (Colin has an interesting story revealed in the book as well.)

Colin spies Rosamund standing atop a horse while the horse gallops thru’ a field. She remains standing with an uncanny ease. Colin instantly knows he must talk her into joining the circus. You’ll be astonished at the hurdles she jumps to get to the States.

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Rosamund left a life of royalty, comfort, and a future marriage for the vagabond circus life. Her boldness will take your breath away.

I’m forever grateful for Kristy writing this novel. I confess I’ve never been much of a circus girl. Having our own three-ring circus at home (Three boys plus one wildly adventurous husband, come on!) seemed enough entertainment. Kristy and her husband are also blessed with three boys, so I’m hopeful she’ll share some of their stories on the 26th too.

When our boys were little, we took them a couple of times when the circus came to town. They preferred cotton candy to the clowns, but the elephants and tigers completely won their attention.

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We never realized the intense orchestration behind the actual production of the circus. This is one of many eye-openers Kristy includes in her novel.

Kristy also gives us a sneak peek into circus performers’ lives, the significant effort it takes to tote a circus to town, juggling the vast variety of personalities, the challenge of bookings, ticket sales, and on and on.

We readers will also witness the destructive potential of star power. Kristy weaves a little plot within the plot that’ll shock your socks off. Jealousy rares its’ ugly head and you won’t believe her who-done-it.

Happy to report there’s also a love story. Who doesn’t love a love story? You’ll be cheering the characters along.

Finally, don’t miss the unique friendship that evolves between Mrs. Ringling herself and Rosamund. It’s sweet and sincere. Can you fathom having a mentor such as Mable Ringling?

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Kristy dots her pages with God’s hand in some of her character’s faith, their prayer lives, and lessons in relying upon the Lord. Not every character has faith to cling to which is precisely what gets them into trouble. No spoiler alerts, tho’!

Read the book before September 26th and come ready to discuss it. Think of some questions you’d like to ask Kristy. If you don’t have time to read it, no worries. Please come and listen because you’ll want to read it later!

More good news: We’ll be having circus fare to eat! Caramel corn, hot dogs, corn dogs, popcorn, spun sugar (sounds fancier than cotton candy) and other nutritious treats will be on the menu. If time permits, bring something you’d like to have at a circus to add to our smorgasbord.

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Between meeting the author and the fun food, what more motivation do you need? Mark you calendar now! Please join us Monday, September 26th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m.! You won’t want to miss this!!! Don’t forget to invite your friends!

Let’s remember to ask Kristy to tell us about her next book, The Illusionist’s Apprentice coming out next year.

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Don’t forget to add to your calendar Liz Curtis Higgs and Bill Higgs are BOTH coming to our October meeting, October 24th! We’ll be discussing Mixed Signals by Liz and she’ll be interviewing Bill about his new novel, Eden Hill.

Mixed Signals

Eden Hill

31 Verses to Write on your Heart

Plus Liz’ newest book, 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart will have just released. (10/18) It will be available that night as well.

Hope to see you Monday, September 26th! Please call Nancy Tinnell at MUMC to RSVP: (502) 245-8839.

“Let us not give 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.” Hebrews 10:25

***Please leave a comment which will enter you to win a FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY of The Ringmaster’s Wife. After five days, we’ll draw a name from the comments. I’ll mail it to you in time before the meeting.

 ‘Til next time!

 

 

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Filed under Book Clubs, Book Reviews