Tag Archives: Margaret Feinberg

Bad News: Branches Book Club next Monday the 23rd is cancelled…GOOD NEWS: Don’t miss the page-turner novel (review below) while we’re all inside, and, DO Look Forward to our April 27th Meeting!

Friends! In my wildest imagination, never in a million years, could I have predicted what would be transpiring over the past two weeks. Each day and hour bring changes.  As many of you have reminded us, “Praise God He’s Sovereign and is surprised by none of this.”

Another most gracious-gift from God happened last Monday when I had my right hip replaced.  Had that been this week, it wouldn’t have happened given the surgeries that are being postponed.  The Lord sent guardian angels disguised as nurses and physical therapists last week and this week.  The stories are so uncanny, you wouldn’t believe me unless I told you.  We praise you, Lord.

So, because many churches have been cancelling big gatherings, our Branches Book Club falls under that category, thus we will not meet next Monday the 23rd.  We were to have read Secrets of Paper and Ink by Lindsay Harrel.

Don’t miss reading this clever novel!  It’ll give you something to do and will keep you guessing until the last page.

Author Lindsay Harrell was most gracious and made us a video to show at our meeting. Since we’re now cancelled, Nancy Tinnell’s posting the video on our Branches Facebook page. Don’t miss it!


One of the many reasons this novel grabbed me from the get-go was thanks to the character, Sophie, who decides to get away for the season, dashing across the pond to a lovely area known as Cornwall, England.  Oh, and this gets better!  Sophie has rented an apartment above a bookstore and part of her deal will be she gets to work in the bookstore! Can you dream of anything better?!!!

Both Sophie and the bookstore owner, Ginny, have relationship challenges with their significant others, and we readers get to see firsthand how they learn to deal with them. Their fast friendship is fun to watch, seeing how they bounce ideas off of each other.

Early on, Sophie finds a notebook in the bookstore  which has journal entries from a woman named Emily Fairfax.  Emily was a governess who lived in Cornwall over 150 years ago.

So as not to give away their discoveries, join Sophie and Willam (Ginny’s brother-in-law) and Ginny as they make connection after connection uncovering things you never could’ve predicted. Their thought processes make Sherlock Holmes’ look dim. Oh, and we also get to be in on more than one budding romance…

Author Lindsay Harrel does an absolutely stellar job in toting us readers along with her characters, never knowing what’s around the next bend.  I found the entire journey delightful and didn’t want the book to end.

Checkout Lindsey’s message to us (on Branches’ Facebook page) and we will hope to see all of you at our last meeting of the season, on April 27th (Lord willing), when we discuss Margaret Feinberg’s Taste and See:  Discovering God among Butchers, Bakers, and Fresh Food Makers.

Prayers for all of you to stay healthy and safe during this COVID-19 situation. While we wait things out, may you and your family savor your time together and perhaps read LOTS of good books!

 As Barbara Bush once said, “At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal, you will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend, or a parent.”

‘Til next time!




Filed under Book Clubs, Book Reviews

Joy From January For February (With help from Margaret Feinberg)

Friends!  How could it be February?  Where did January go?

No worries…I’ve got GREAT NEWS for you.  Better yet, I’ve got some gargantuan JOY for you.

My Tuesday Bible study group, now known as “Blessings on Burlington”, is currently devouring Fight Back With Joy—Celebrate More. Regret Less. Stare Down Your Greatest Fears. by Margaret Feinberg.  I cannot begin to tell you (altho’ I’m going to try!) what an invaluable resource this workbook is. Run, don’t walk to your nearest Christian bookstore and grab one.


We finished Week One’s homework last week.  One of our gals said, “Wow, I can’t believe Margaret’s got more to give!  This is  amazing!”

What I love and appreciate about the workbook is how equipping and empowering it is.  Margaret’s input, after having battled cancer (can you imagine?), has boatloads of  blessings  and loads of lessons, page, after page, after page.

In addition to the body of the workbook’s text, little “quotables” and “notables” are stashed in many of the margins. One favorite from Week One comes from Henry Nouwen who said, “Joy and laughter are the gifts of living in the presence of God and trusting that tomorrow is not worth worrying about.”

Speaking of gifts, each day’s homework is gifted with a “Closing Prayer”.  Day Three’s prayer was a blessing last week:

Continue to ask God to reveal any areas where you’re missing out on the fullness of joy that He wants to give you. Ask Him to supernaturally allow you to experience more of His joy than you’ve ever experienced before.”

We joked about suffering from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) in our social lives.  One of our gals learned in a recent email about JOMO (Joy of Missing Out).  Oh, we had fun with that!

Beautiful Scriptures are sprinkled throughout each week’s lessons making you want to add them to your journal or copy it onto a post-it note for your home or car.  Memory verses on cards are in the back of the workbook which you can tear out and place in a prominent spot.  What hasn’t Margaret thought of?

Each week also has an “Experiential Activity” for your group.  My friend, Susan, our hostess with the mostest, and I have tweaked these to work for our group.  Those of you who are craft lovers, knock yourselves out.  But those of us who are craft-impaired (!!!) prefer to choose an “adjusted” route. Hey, we’re still celebrating and reaping joy…

Margaret reminds us:  “You and I are called to a life marked by:









and much, much more!  As children of God, we are meant to radiate God’s joy and leave a well-littered trail of divine affection and delight wherever we go.”

This is exactly what Margaret equips us to do.  She gives us tactic after tactic to “litter” joy around and  innumerable ways to fight back with joy.  (Incredibly Margaret also gives us a Joy Bomb Journal in the back to list daily pieces of joy we see or experience. Yes, chocolate can be one of them.)

Joy word on gray wooden table closeup

I’ll go so far as to say if you have a friend who’s going thru’ a rough time right now, even without the videos (altho’ they could download them thru’ Lifeway), this workbook would bless them immensely. Obviously if you’re in a grande season, it’ll still bring you joy!

N.D. Wilson wrote an article for Christianity Today entitled Lighten Up, Christians: God Loves a Good TimeMay we all heed his quote (which Margaret includes in her workbook) as I’d never considered such before….Enjoy:

“We Christians are the
          speakers of light.
We are the
          proclaimers of joy.
Wherever we go, we are the
Mascots of the gospel,
          The imagers of the infinitely creative Father,
And the
Younger  brothers and sisters of the humbled and triumphant Word.
We speak in this world on behalf of the One who made up lightning and snowflakes and eggs.”

I believe Margaret wrote the book, of the same title, before the workbook. The book is also excellent, however I personally prefer the layout of the workbook.  That friend you have in mind may prefer the book.  Consider their personality to help you decide which format would be best. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with either.

And don’t forget, Margaret began her study of joy in the Bible a full year before she was diagnosed with cancer.  I believe God filled her up, equipping her for that very difficult battle. Another perfect example of His perfect timing.

Here’s what the book looks like:


May our joy from January flow to overflowing for February.

You’ll be thrilled to know some words on FITNESS for February are coming your way.  Oh yeah, I’m groaning right there with you.  But, we’ll have fun, I promise.

Fit people working out in fitness class at the gym

‘Til next time!



Filed under Bible Studies, Book Reviews, Friends, Scripture

When You Weep Over Sheep…Join us for a Delightful Discussion of “Scouting the Divine—My Search for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey” by Margaret Feinberg MONDAY, JANUARY 25th! 6:30-8:00 p.m.

California bound, Hubster and I found ourselves soaring above the clouds at thirty-three thousand feet, bright sun shining amidst brilliant blue skies. With the long flight, most passengers were watching movies.

I was reading. (Know you’re shocked…) Suddenly, I realized tears were streaming down my face. I was only fifty pages into a book. It grabbed me from the first page and wouldn’t let go.

The book? Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey by Margaret Feinberg. Fascinating, fun and educational, this book will not disappoint.


The gals at Branches Book Club will be discussing this beautiful book Monday night, January 25th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Middletown United Methodist Church. I can tell from the contents of the book, there’ll be delightful-don’t-miss-this-discussion! Please join us and bring a friend!

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

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

Margaret thoroughly investigates four occupations: a shepherd in “the good shepherd” chapter, a farmer in “the harvest” chapter, a beekeeper in “the land of milk and honey” chapter, and a vintner in “the vine” chapter. I’ll just be sharing tidbits about the sheep and the shepherd. However, you do not want to miss her other discoveries.

Margaret’s scouting is highly detailed, hilarious at times, and blissfully confirming of our faith and the inerrancy of God’s Word.


She defines scouting the divine where “each of us are looking for those ordinary and extraordinary moments when God intersects our world.”

She views the pages of the Bible as “portals to adventure.”

Margaret prepares her readers for that adventure when she shares, “I long for the sense of wonderment that comes with knowing God, for those occasions when I wake to find the drawbridge down and the King beckoning me into a castle overflowing with life.”


Some of her interviewees become just as surprised as we readers do! Your jaw will drop over the minute details that only our Creator could’ve created. Margaret says, “When Scripture comes alive in our hearts, it doesn’t inform us as much as transform us.”

Margaret goes to visit a real-live shepherdess named Lynne. How Lynne came about raising sheep is astonishing. Lynne loves to knit. She’d knitted for years when her husband, Tom, “challenged her to go one step further and raise an animal that could provide the raw fiber for her knitting…” (Do not share this idea with Hubster or he’ll have us raising pigs for the enormous amount of bacon we consume.)

Lynne reports this matter-of-factly, after adding she mail-ordered the sheep!   She tells Margaret that upon the sheeps’ arrival, all three were pregnant. Talk about being baptized by fire!

Lynne said the sheep gave birth successfully. She then decided she wanted her flock to grow, so she ordered two rams! Wonder Woman comes to mind.

Mother Sheep And Her Lamb Looks At The Camera

Thanks to the help of an excellent, supportive veterinarian, fast forward several more years of experience, and we learn from Lynne she’s now become a “shepherd to the shepherds”, as young shepherds call her frequently for advice.

Lynne took Margaret to the barn and out into the fields to meet the sheep. You do not want to miss their adventure, nor the whereabouts of one of Margaret’s boots. Seems one boot got stuck in, well, use your imagination.

Back in the house, Margaret called out several Scriptures. She and Lynne looked wide-eyed at each other because Lynne would say, “Yes, that’s exactly how it happens.”

John 10

Lynne talks about the importance of certain gates being closed. They function as boundaries not only for the sheep, but to keep predators out. Margaret points us to John 10:1-21 where Jesus calls himself “the gate”, and the “good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.”

Moorland Farmyard

Lynne whispered to Margaret when they were out in the field, “As soon as they hear my voice, they’ll come running.” Sure enough, after calling them, the sheep came running toward both of them.

Margaret reminds us of Jesus saying, “…the sheep listen to my voice. I call the sheep by name and lead them out.” (Hubster reports our little Gracie comes to the sound of his voice. I report she has selective hearing.)

Margaret noticed Lynne was always counting the sheep. Lynne’s continual checking reminded Margaret of Luke 15, the Parable of the Lost Sheep, where “Jesus tells of the shepherd who discovers one of his sheep is missing. The shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to scout for the lost one.”

A shepherd is leading his flock to pasture

We readers learn of the many uses of sheep such as they’re a source of food and clothing. They garner goodwill, reconciling both human and Godly relationships. Sheep and shepherds are throughout the Bible (over seven hundred mentions!) and we, as believers, are told to shepherd our flocks. Who are you shepherding these days?

The part that caused tears to flow centered around the idea of sacrifice. Lynne reported that within the shepherding community, they all get excited about their lambs. She said, “When the first one comes, it’s extra special. It means spring is here. It’s a symbol of new life, hope, and joy for us…

I think that in the action of giving over the first, you’re saying to God that He is FIRST in your life.”


If you think of the Passover, you recognize “the spotless sheep is representative of the flawless sacrifice—the Son of God. When God asked for the sheep without blemish, spot or defect, He was asking the people …to sacrifice something they’d worked years to develop.”

We learn from Deuteronomy 18:4 that God “instructs shepherds to give the first shearing.” Lynne taught us “the first shearing is the finest fleece, used for the best clothes. Each sheep’s best wool comes from their first-ever haircut. The first virgin wool, is a shearing that can never be recovered.” (Read that last sentence again.)

Woolen plaid cup of tea old books red pillow on wooden backgroun

Lynne pulled out bags and bags of wool. Some she’d dyed different colors. She’d marked them with the different sheep’s names and the date of their shearings. The first ones were markedly softer than the most recent ones.

Here’s the kicker: Margaret said, “For the first time in a long while, maybe ever, I had felt with my own hands what God desired from sacrifice. It was nothing like what I expected.

All too often when I think about giving my best to God, I think about giving big. But in asking for the first fleece, God isn’t asking for the biggest. He wants the smallest and softest. He doesn’t want more—He wants the best.”

Enough said. Still renders me tearful and speechless and this, my friends, is a mere sampling of just one of four vocations Margaret investigates, pointing you directly to the Bible.

Learn more fascinating details from the beekeeper, the farmer, and the winemaker. Come join us at Book Club and hear a great discussion!

If time allows, please bring a treat to eat with honey in the ingredients to honor the beekeepers of the world. I’m dreaming of warm biscuits, butter and honey, just for example. Baklava has honey, too, doesn’t it???!!!

Buttermilk Biscuits With Butter And Honey

Hope to see you Monday, January 25th from 6:30-8:00 p.m.!!! (To RSVP, or if you have any questions, please call Nancy Tinnell at Middletown United Methodist Church: (502) 245-8839.)

‘Til next time!


Filed under Book Clubs, Book Reviews