Tag Archives: Max Lucado

What Every Grandmother Needs…

Friends!  Whether you’re already a grandmother or have a friend who’s a grandmother, I’ve got just the book for you and/or for you to give to a friend.

I discovered this book thanks to my sis-in-love, Margee, who gifted me with it when our little Claire Elizabeth was born. The book?  A Grandmother’s Prayers—60 Days of Devotions and Prayer by Kay Swatkowski.

Not only was the book new to me, so was the author, Kay Swatkowski.  I’m already a huge fan of her ideas and creative writing, plus I discovered her blog:  www.americangrandma.com which also offers a wide variety of information.

The book includes sixty devotions.  Each is short, including five parts:

1 – Kay opens with a story which illustrates the point of that day’s devotion.

2 – “Let us pray that…” This part offers points to pray about related to the story along with a Scripture to bring that point home.

3 – A prayer to help us apply this idea into our lives with our grandchildren.

4 – “Think and Do”:  This part includes questions to get us thinking about how to incorporate the devotion’s idea into our lives, sometimes a Scripture to look up and sometimes a children’s book is recommended.  (I grinned after Kay recommended children’s books by Max Lucado on more than one day.  This is yet another reason she and I could be big buddies. Bigger smile.)

I’ve made quite a list of books purely from Kay’s recommendations to look into for reading to Claire and our future grands, Lord willing. (This may be a bit of an investment!)  Kay gives a brief snippet of each book she recommends for younger and older children.

Here are just a few:

 

Bedtime Blessings by John Trent

Just in Case You Ever Wonder, The Crippled Lamb, and The Christmas Child by Max Lucado

God is With You by Larry Libby

My Friend Jesus by Kathryn Slattery

Too Small to Ignore by Wes Stafford

The Lord’s Prayer by Rick Warren

A Child’s Look at the 23rd Psalm by W. Phillip Keller

A children’s adaptation of Les Miserables by Monica Kulling

The Priest with Dirty Clothes by R.C. Sproul

She also recommends reading missionary stories of Gladys Aylward, Mary Slessor, Hudson Taylor, and Jim Elliot.

5Each devotion closes with several Scriptures to reinforce its’ focus.  Each entry is empowering and encouraging for us grandparents to boldly press on praying for our precious grandchildren.

Kay opens the book with a charge of sorts:

“Research reveals that the love and care of the older generation has a positive impact on children in many ways.

One study found a definite link between grandparent involvement and adolescent well-being.

Grandparents provide  not only affection and support, but also wisdom, problem-solving, and stability during times of family crisis…

GOD IS NOT FINISHED WITH US.

WE HAVE A CRITICAL JOB TO DO.”

As God would orchestrate, when our whole family was at the beach in South Carolina in July, I opened Kay’s book to “Day Thirty:  The Sea.”  There I was, on a deck overlooking the ocean while Kay talks about us  being drawn to the sea.

All I have to do is see the sea and my soul begins to stir.  I recharge by the sea better than any other place on this earth.

Kay reminds us, “Our God is a Sea of limitless love and forgiveness. He is a Sea of acceptance and mercy. He is a Sea of strength and comfort…”

When the tide was out, walks on the beach allowed us to tote Claire along in her stroller.

Even this poor guy, having lost an eye and a claw, strolled the beach!

This particular morning, Diana and I started out with Claire in her Baby Bjorn.  It was so hot, Claire immediately fell asleep.  We decided to ditch the walk and grab an iced coffee in the air-conditioned shops.  Certain the whipped cream smothering that coffee was walked off from our other beach walks???

This year’s family vacation not only included the beach, but our new little beach baby.  Please note the wee bit of attention Baby Claire received from all of us:

In the devotional’s closing on the sea, Kay gives several Scriptures to pray, my favorite of which is:

“Let us pray that our children will have the delight of leading their children to an understanding of the deep love of God and of becoming part of one endless line of faith until Christ returns.” (3 John 1:4)

Amen and Amen.

 

Thanks to the Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s Island, Mount Pleasant and Charleston, South Carolina for a week of fun for our entire family…What a blessing!

Til next time!

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Grandchildren, Travel

When You Miss Your Mom and Dad…

What seemed like a normal stop in the laundry room last week turned out to be a devastating downpour.  This is the challenge in losing a loved one.  One little photo can spark a thousand emotions…

Growing up a lonely only was super swell in my book.   My petite universe swirled around me.  No wonder sharing wasn’t in my vocabulary. (Can you say, “spoiled”?)

My Mother and Father married in 1952, but I wasn’t born until 1960.  After eight long years of waiting, who wouldn’t be fearful of a brand new baby girl?  I still believe they had no idea what to do with me.

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(Note most of our pictures were either of Daddy and me or Mother and me as with the three of us, who else would take the picture?  Please don’t miss Daddy’s very svelte argyle socks.  This was 1960.  My sweet sister-in-law got all our boys rockin’ with svelte socks last Christmas.  Yeah, 2015.  Thank you, Nordstrom Rack.)

Mom and Dad perfected helicopter parenting, not wanting a scratch or a bruise to mar my little self.  The day I rode my Radio Flyer Classic Red Wagon down our neighbor’s hill, crashing on the asphalt in our driveway, depositing some skin on the pavement, freaked us all out.  Odd, there was no flying in that wagon.

Once in school, I began inviting friends over.  Many of them were lonely onlies too.

God provided the best kind of friend directly across the street from us.  She was ultra cool because she came with the bonus of having two older brothers.  They were boy scouts and there was nothing they couldn’t do.  Each visit was a new lesson.

Her name is Meredith Myers.  She and I are only one year apart, so for several years, we’d ride our bikes together to Glendover Elementary School in Lexington, Kentucky.  God graciously protected us because we never paid attention to cars near us as we talked non-stop all the way to and from school.

Bikes bicyclist girl. Girls wearing bicycle helmet with rucksac

(Note these little girls are wearing helmets.  Helmets weren’t invented back in our day.  Yes, we are old.)

Meredith’s parents and mine also became close friends and “those were the days” as they say.  Elementary School evolved into “Junior High” (now Middle School), on into High School.

Meredith and I went to different colleges, but we managed to visit each other, staying in touch.  We married three weeks apart and were in each other’s weddings.  She and her husband settled in Nashville while John and I settled in Louisville.

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Meredith lost her parents first.  Both deaths seemed too early and too sudden.  Thankfully, we were able to trust in a Sovereign God.

Two favorite Scriptures  which help are:

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My folks stayed in their home, still across the street from where the Myers lived, as long as they could. Multiple illnesses plus my Dad having a stroke landed them in an Assisted Living facility in Lexington.

Unfortunately that was a short term band-aid, causing us to move them to Louisville into a nearby nursing home.  Our three boys swear they’ve never moved so much furniture so many times. God bless their strong backs.

Daddy had a heart attack that ultimately took his life, followed by a seventeen-month progression of health deterioration in my Mother.  “Only the Lord” is how we answer the question of, “How did we survive those difficult years?”

Deuteronomy 31:6 is one of our favorite “life-lines”: 

“So be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the LORD your God will personally go ahead of you.  He will never fail you nor abandon you.” (NLT)  Somehow that little word “panic” resonates. But look at the promise that follows…God will go ahead of us, never failing nor abandoning us.  Isn’t that the best?

Many of our friends are losing their parents too.  I find myself buying sympathy cards by the box.

Visitations and funerals are not at the top of my list of most desirable activities, but of course, who wouldn’t go for a friend?  The greater challenge of attending these services is offering the right words of condolence.  Not a gift of mine, rest assured.

I’m embarrassed to admit that often, the bereaved winds up comforting me because I’ve dissolved into a puddle of tears.  Thus, I’ve resorted to borrowing words of encouragement from a few of my favorite authors:  Max Lucado, Bob Russell and Kerry and Chris Shook.

The Shooks help with a good perspective when a death seems to happen too soon. They tell about a young couple in Owensboro, Kentucky.  The wife discovers she has terminal cancer and soon will be leaving her young children and husband behind.  (This is in their book, One Month to Live—30 Days to a No-Regrets Life.)

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She asks her pastor, Jess Moody, about the below verse:

2 Peter 3:8 “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”

She did the math, and “figured if a thousand years is like a day, then forty years is like one hour…my husband may live another forty years, but that will be just like an hour to me in heaven.  When he gets to heaven, I’ll greet him and say, ‘Where have you been for an hour?…I’ve missed you.’”

My children may live another seventy or eighty years, but that will be like two hours to me.  When they get to heaven, I’ll greet them and say, ‘How was school today?  Mom misses you when you’re gone for a couple of hours.’”

Jess said, “Now that’s an eternal perspective.”

Max Lucado, in his book, When Christ Comes, quotes Bob Russell.  He tells about Bob’s father’s funeral.

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Bob said the day of the funeral was a “cold, blustery, Pennsylvania day”…The Funeral Director told Bob the roads were too treacherous to take a procession to the burial.  He said he’d take the body to the grave.

Bob couldn’t bear to not be at the burial, “so he and his brother and their sons piled into a four-wheel drive vehicle and followed the hearse.”

Bob said, “We plowed thru’ ten inches of snow into the cemetery, got about fifty yards from my Dad’s grave, with the wind blowing about twenty-five miles per hour, and the six of us lugged that casket down to the grave site…”

He continued, “We watched the body lowered in the grave and we turned to leave.  I felt something was undone, so I said, ‘I’d like for us to have a prayer.’  The six of us huddled together and I prayed, ‘Lord, this is such a cold, lonely place.’

“And then I got too choked up to pray anymore.  I kept battling to get my composure, and finally I just whispered, ‘But I thank you, for we know to be absent from the body is to be safe in your warm arms.’” (2 Corinthians 5:6 KJV)

Max concludes with what I hold onto today:

“We don’t like to say good-bye to those whom we love…It is right for us to weep, there is no need for us to despair.  They had pain here.  They have no pain there.  They struggled here.  They have no struggles there.

“You and I might wonder why God took them home.  But they don’t.  They understand.  They are, at this very moment, at peace in the presence of God.”

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This is an older picture of my parents, but it’s how I like to remember them. It’s the one staring at me over the washer and dryer.  It’s the one that triggered the unexpected tears.

On days when those of us who’ve lost our parents are homesick for them, I pray these words of these great authors plus The Author of the Word of God bring us all comfort.

‘Til next time!

 

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Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Life Lessons

When Your Brain is on Overload…(Get Wise-Make Great Decisions Every Day by Bob Merritt is a Must-Read!) Spring Cleaning, Part 4 of 4

Ever feel like you need to go clear your head? Like there’s too much in between the ole’ ears? When I have fifteen frazzling thoughts vying for my attention, sometimes a walk to clear my head is the perfect prescription.

My friend Sherry gave me a book recently, Get Wise—Make Great Decisions Every Day by Bob Merritt. I devoured it and was so moved by it, Hubster and I promptly gave copies to all three of our boys. (Hubster’s readying to read my copy.) This book is great for guys and gals, plus it’ll clear your head rapidly, filling it with wisdom.

Get Wise

You can find Bob at Eagle Brook Church in Centerville, Minnesota. He’s the Senior Pastor there and Get-Wise is his third book. www.eaglebrookchurch.com

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Allow me to tease you with some terrific tidbits while strongly suggesting you procure a copy of this most excellent book at your earliest convenience.

The endorsers give you multitudes of reasons to read this: John Ortberg, Jud Wilhite, Lee Strobel, Shauna Niequist, Bill Hybels, and Wayne Cordeiro (Don’t miss a post hugely inspired by Wayne. He says it like it is.).

I love what Shauna wrote: “Reading Get Wise feels like having coffee with someone who knows more than you and wants the best for you.”

Coffee Cup On Wood Table At Sunset Or Sunrise Beach

One of Bob’s many talents is the gift of storytelling. He grabs you from the get-go and tells on himself more than once. You’ll laugh your head off while learning how to make wise decisions. He clearly has coined, “It’s not a mistake unless you learn from it.”

Here’s how the book’s set up, so you can either read it straight thru’, or pick and choose your topics:

Bob says, “Part 1 looks at the value of wisdom, how to acquire it, and why the wisdom of a man who had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines can be trusted.” (!!!) See what I mean about his humor???

Part 2 is where a wise life begins and why decisions about your heart, mouth, and feet are foundational to the rest of your life.”

Part 3 focuses on relationships, on the critical decisions you’ll need to make about sex, fools, friends, and revenge.”

Trust me, you’d be a fool NOT to read the chapter on fools! It’s the best!

Part 4 brings eternal wisdom to the three most critical decisions you’ll need to make about your family:

How to begin well,

How to build intimacy, and

How to raise great kids.” (Oh how I wish I’d had this book when we were raising our boys…)

Part 5 addresses the top two decisions you’ll need to make about your work, the area where most of us spend forty years of our lives.” Think about that for a minute!

 The benefits alone from reading this book will entice you to dive in:

Benefits of Reading Get Wise

Each of the fifteen chapters are loaded with sound advice. Any time an author uses Scripture to back up his points, I’m sold. Bob is a master at this.

Plus, there’s a set of Discussion Questions at the end of the book. They’ll help you and your Small Group, or Community Group or Bible study group respond immediately to each chapter’s lessons.

My first of three favorite parts comes from Chapter 4: Wise Heart. Proverbs 4:23 tell us, “Above all else, GUARD YOUR HEART for everything you do flows from it.”

Red heart in the hands

Bob reminds us that the heart is “the center of your life. It’s the core, the source, the place from which everything else flows. It’s like a deep well that keeps you alive…It’s the inner spring that sustains your life.”

Bob poses a killer question:

“When God examines your heart, what does he see?”

He also reminds us of Solomon’s eye-opening parallel: “A good place to start is to look at your mouth and feet.” (Oh my….) “…often what you say and where you go reflect the condition of your heart.”

So after you’re fairly flattened by that earth shattering thought, Bob graciously shows us HOW to get a wise heart. This book is amazing!

My second favorite part comes from Chapter Six: Wise Feet. This chapter centers around Proverbs 4:26 “Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm.”

Woman Walking Along A Rural Path

Round two of questions: “What are your well-worn paths? Your paths will predict the outcomes in your life.”

“All it takes is a pair of wise feet that walk away from something destructive and toward something constructive.”

That reminds me of a great visual from Max Lucado’s book, Turn-Remembering our Foundations. He suggests when encountering a temptation to simply TURN and go in the opposite direction. To literally turn away from whatever it is…defining “repent”.

Turn

My third favorite part of Bob’s book is from Chapter 11: Wise Beginning. Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”

You must read how Bob and Laurie’s marriage began. Nothing short of comical. In spite of several poignant disasters, their marriage did not derail.

But…. (ahhhh you knew that was coming…) Bob shows us a couple of crucial findings:

“Whom you marry will affect every part of your life for the rest of your life….

Marriage is less about finding the right person and more about becoming the right person.”

Quitting isn’t the answer. Bob teaches: “Anybody can quit. It takes people of strength and WISDOM to say, ‘We’ve got a problem. But divorce is not an option, so let’s get some help and beat this thing.’”

Stop Divorce Indicates Warning Sign And Annul

Finally, Bob gives us two “ingredients” for locking in a wise beginning. (I’ll give you one of two, hoping you’ll go get the book to find out the rest!)

Bob realizes, “Through all our arguing and uncertainty during that first year, our faith in God was the ONE CONSTANT that held us together. He adds, “Make sure you BOTH have a holy reverence for God as your NUMBER ONE PRIORITY.”

Remember last week Stuart Briscoe reminded us about seeking FIRST the Kingdom….by experiencing, expressing, and extending the Kingdom. He helped us “clean our clocks/calendars”, while Bob helps us clear and clean our heads/minds for wisdom.  Spring Cleaning at its’ finest!

Go get some wisdom!

‘Til next time…

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When Your Prayer Life Needs a Boost…(You’re INVITED to a fun discussion of “Before Amen” by Max Lucado at Book Club Monday, 4/25, 6:30-8:00 p.m.)

Ever start praying only to discover you’re making your grocery list or adding to your to-do’s list??? Distractions-a-plenty bust up a prayer faster than you can yell, “Help!!!”

Satan’s M.O. is distractions. He specializes in keeping you from prayer because prayer makes him run. You’d think we’d be more mindful of that little fact. (As I’m typing on my laptop, incoming emails pop up in the corner of my screen, just as a petite irritating example!)

Unplanned Detour

I have a new little prayer journal that’s so portable I throw it in my purse or my Bible study bag. But….it gets buried and forgotten because of so many other things. Frustrates the tar outta me. Can you relate?

If you can relate, seems you and I are in good company with none other than well-known author, speaker, and preacher Max Lucado. He begins his book Before Amen—The Power of a Simple Prayer with:

“Hello, my name is Max. I’m a recovering prayer wimp…distractions swarm like gnats on a summer night…When I pray, I think of a thousand things I need to do. I forget the one thing I set out to do: pray.”

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Confession: Before I buy a book, I look for several things. Right or wrong, I judge a book by its’ cover. (!!!) See above how pretty this one is???

Secondly, of course, I consider the author. No challenge there. Think I’ve read every book Max has ever written.

Thirdly, I look at the endorsements. Never mind Max has seven pages of twenty-two stellar endorsements ranging from George Strait to Christine Caine. Can you say, “Variety”???

Kathie Lee Gifford, another of the endorsers, cracks me up. She says, “A new book by Max is like going back to your favorite restaurant. You know it’s going to be delicious because it never disappoints…” You go, Kathie Lee. I’m in your camp. (For proof, checkout another post on another one of Max’ books:   Grace—More than We Deserve, Greater than We Imagine)

Serving dishes. Food restaurant.

One of Max’ many gifts is writing so readers of any age can understand. He reminds us of the Disciples’ request to Jesus, “Lord, teach us how to pray!” Doesn’t that make you feel better, that the Disciples, who spent the most time with Jesus himself, asked Him how to pray?

Jesus’ life exuded prayer. He went away by himself many times to pray, sometimes spending all night long in prayer. (Mark 1:35, 6:46; Luke 6:12)

Max reminds us:

“Jesus prayed before he ate.

He prayed for children.

He prayed for the sick.

He prayed with thanks.

He prayed with tears…”

Jesus answered the disciples with what we know as the Lord’s Prayer. (Luke 11:1-4) Here’s a formula we all can remember:

Max dubs this “the pocket prayer”: 

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What’s so cool about this short-n-sweet prayer is Max parallels it to the Lord’s Prayer. In each of the nine chapters, he takes the prayer apart, phrase-by-phrase, showing us how to apply it to our everyday lives. More importantly, it’s something we can all remember!

Bonus: There’s a Study Guide at the end of the book for Bible study groups or Small Groups that’s excellent. It further expounds on each chapter with Scriptures to look-up in four sections spelling out the word “prayer”:

Personalize, Reflect, Abide and Yield.”

Please join us Monday, April 25th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Middletown United Methodist Church for our last Book Club Meeting of the season. I’ll be sharing sweet tidbits from Before Amen before we dive into discussion.

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

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

In addition to the discussion, we’ll be having all kinds of FUN:

Potluck Supper – Please bring a dish if time allows.

Extra Special Door Prize valued at over $50.00!!! If you bring a friend, you and your friend will be entered in the drawing!

Bring any books you may have you’re no longer wanting for a Book Exchange! Take home a new book for summer reading! (Books not taken will go to the church’s annual Book Drive for Veterans.)

Finally, the BIG REVEAL for next Fall and Spring’s selections will take place with a couple of HUGE announcements, special guests, etc.!!! You do NOT want to miss this!

I’m excited to see you on Monday, April 25th! Pick up your phone RIGHT NOW and call a friend to come with you!!!

‘Til next time!

(Not to worry, we’ll return to our Spring Cleaning series soon!)

 

 

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Add a Side of Community with that Burger…Love for Friends (Part 4 of 4 in the Month of Love)

Doesn’t everyone love a good burger every now and then? Our family discovered Five Guys and Fries a few years ago.

Clearly novices, we all ordered cheeseburgers, not realizing that their regular burgers are double burgers. No one complained (!!!) and we were some sweet kind of happy. Peanuts in the shell to munch on, followed by juicy burgers, and a Titanic-sized side of fries….Oh my…

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Fellowship plus great food is the best combo’ you can order. While being with family can be super swell (We talked about family last week), this week I’d like to talk about the power of COMMUNITY in friendships.

I’m blessed to have a group of friends known as “The Yayas.” Kathy somehow assigned this moniker to us after finding a lovely gold plaque for each of us with this definition: “A group of three or more women whose hearts and souls are joined together by laughter and tears shared through this glorious journey of life.”

yaya plaque

One of the Yayas, fellow dog lover (!!!) named Susan, gave all of us an awesome book for Christmas, Nobody’s Cuter than You: A Memoir about the Beauty of Friendship by Melanie Shankle. Friends, do not miss this book! You’ll laugh and cry and howl, shaking your head thinking, “I cannot believe she’s sharing this, but I’m so glad she did!!!”

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You don’t want to miss Melanie’s blog, either: www.thebigmamablog.com

She serves up “everything from soup to nuts” as my Mother used to say.

Melanie’s book takes us down Memory Lane to show different aspects of her twenty-five year friendship with Gulley. They do life together.

Melanie’s gift of writing draws you in so you feel like you’re in her family room watching it all transpire. (Sidebar: Melanie wrote an equally funny book on marriage.)

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One of a gazillion hilarious antics include Melanie conning Gulley into watching Frozen.  Wait til you read Chapter Four.  Does she love it like most of us???  Not tellin’….

This hugely tickled me as my friend Mary and I seemingly are the last two adults on the planet not to have seen Frozen.  Thanks to my cousin Bonnie, she lent us her copy.  One afternoon, we hunkered down in Mary’s basement and watched it.  We felt guilty…should we be watching a movie on a beautiful afternoon???  We got over that pretty quickly and became engulfed with Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Hans and Kristoff among others… We simply had to  “let it go.”

One funny discovery is Melanie and Gulley realized road trips are one of their ultimate favorite activities. Now they take their children on road trips, all together, and you don’t want to miss these adventures.

The Yayas took a brief road trip recently when Kathy’s daughter got engaged. The Engagement Party was in Columbus and we decided we must, simply must go. It’s not every day one drives two hundred and fifteen point three miles to Columbus, Ohio from Louisville, Kentucky for a party and back.

Lo and behold, we were blessed with one of our Yaya children to accompany us. Translation: Us old chicks snagged a chauffeur. (Poor Megan was pregnant too, God bless her.)

These six sweet-special-n-southern Yayas met when our oldest children, now nearly thirty years old, were in first grade at Dunn Elementary School. Those were the days.

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(Pictured left to right are Jayne Combs, Denise Seiz, Kathy Daniels, above her is Susan Bugh, then Bev Fleece and finally Yours Truly.)

Who knew we’d attend weddings and funerals together? Even the trials knit us that much closer together.

We’re a picture of Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

There’s beauty and comfort in Community.

The plot blissfully thickens as our Yaya children are having children. No one has discovered grand parenting like the Yayas. While only two of the six Yayas are grandparents so far, we are all the best adopted Great Aunts on the planet. Just sayin’…And, as Melanie and Gulley always tell each other, “Nobody’s cuter than you!”(thence the book’s title), the Yayas are always telling each other, “YOU are the BEST!”

Melanie tells us her book “is about all the friendships we as women develop over a lifetime and the influence they have over who we were, who we are, and who we will become.”

Gulley’s the main friend Melanie talks about, and you’ll love becoming acquainted with Jen and a couple other of her friends. Jen endured a prodigal season, but then shared with everyone how she found her way back to Christ. In doing so, she got Melanie to go with her to a Bible study.

Melanie says, “by watching these people live their lives, I learned what it means to seek God’s will….ultimately they pointed me closer to not only Jesus but also to my dear husband.”

After reading Max Lucado’s No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, Melanie says her favorite part is from Max’ recounting of the Prodigal Son:

Whatever you have done,

Whatever you have become,

It doesn’t matter.

Please come home.”

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Melanie adds, “So I came home. And God, in return, lavished me with a scandalous amount of grace as He filled my life not only with wonderful new friends who encouraged me and loved me, but also brought Gulley right along with me as she began to develop a real relationship with God too.”

Melanie says her five years at Texas A & M were what she needed and clearly what God knew she needed. She said, “God knit my heart together with the people He knew would hold my hands as I walked the path of the Prodigal Son.”

Friends, this is a beautiful visual of Community!

On that note, we’ll close for this week as we have a different aspect of Community to talk about next week plus another book. (Imagine that.)

Meanwhile, cherish your friends and thank the Lord for giving them to you. I always maintain, “Friends are cheaper than therapy.”

 ‘Til next time!

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Mind Your Mind….

Filled to the brim with excitement, Hubster and I were crossing the pond for our first-ever trip to France. Flying thru’ the night from Detroit to Amsterdam, most everyone but me slept.

Watching a little virtual map of our plane flying over different countries, logging hundreds of miles in minutes, kept me wide-eyed. Just as we touched down in Amsterdam, a big, beautiful orange sun was rising over the airport! While it was midnight back in the States, it was six o’clock in the morning in Amsterdam. Wow.

amsterdam

Clueless as to how to find our next gate, some sweet soul showed us how to enter different checkpoints en route to our plane to Marseilles. Suddenly, we came upon a very familiar landmark: Starbucks! And what before my wondering eyes did appear, directly across from Starbucks, a very large chocolatier!!! What a welcoming sight!

eliz in front of chocolate store

We had plenty of time before our next flight departed, so we plunked ourselves and our carry-ons down for a big ole’ comforting cup of coffee. Like little children on Christmas morning, our adventure was already unfolding.

Amsterdam’s airport is a melting pot of passengers from all over the world. John and I sat back and took it all in. The clothes, the accents, everything was fascinating.

Even the moving sidewalk…this lovely female voice, in a sing-song manner, repeated over and over, “Mind your step…..Mind your step…..Mind your step.” We Americans would’ve just hollered, “Watch where you’re goin’, already!!!”

The newest book by Max Lucado, Glory Days: Living Your Promised Land Life Now brings up another way of thinking from “Mind Your Step”, to “Mind Your Mind”….

Glory Days

One of many favorite chapters is Chapter Fourteen, The God-Drenched Mind. Don’t you want your mind to be God-drenched??? This chapter centers around Joshua 14:6-15.

The good news? Max helps us readers with ways to equip our faith and our minds.

The bad news? He opens with, “You’ll never have a problem-free life.” That’s okay, tho’, because surely by now every single one of us knows this!

Max points out that “The Lord” is referenced nine times in this passage alone. We know that any time anything is repeated in the Bible, it’s significant.

Max asks, “Who was on Caleb’s mind? Who was in Caleb’s heart? What caused him to have a different spirit? He centered his mind on the Lord.”

Watch this…Max gets personal: “What about you? What emphasis would a transcript of your thoughts reveal? The Lord? Or the problem? The economy? The jerk?”

Last week we talked about the importance of putting on the helmet of salvation. We addressed running everything thru’ the Philippians 4:8 filter:

Philippians 4 8

Max offers a show-stopping visual:

“Imagine two cooking bowls. One contains fresh, clean water. The second contains battery acid. Take an apple and cut it in half.

Place one half of the apple in the bowl of clean water. Place the other half in the bowl of battery acid. Leave each in its respective bowl for five minutes, and then pull out the two halves.

Which one will you want to eat?”

Two different apples, fresh and withered. Rotten apple.

“Your mind is the apple.

God is good water.

Problems are battery acid.

If you marinate your mind in your problems, they will eventually corrode and corrupt your thoughts.

But thoughts of God will preserve and refresh your attitudes.

Caleb was different because he SOAKED HIS MIND IN GOD.”

As God would orchestrate, this very week, our Tuesday Bible study group studied two passages of Scripture which bring this thought home as well. Thanks to our “Visiting Queen” of the week, Lynn Reese, she walked us thru’ these, word by word. (We are on Chapter Four in It’s Good to Be Queen: Becoming as Bold, Gracious, and Wise as the Queen of Sheba.)

FINAL-COVER-Its-Good-to-Be-Queen-600x900-267x400

Philippians 2:1-8 talks about imitating Christ’s humility, being like-minded with Him, being one in spirit and of one mind…having the same mindset as Christ Jesus. Therefore, having the mind of Christ.

Philippians 4:6-7 is one we all need every single day:

Do not be anxious about ANYTHING,

but in EVERY situation,

by prayer and petition,

WITH THANKSGIVING,

Present your requests to God.

And the PEACE OF GOD,

Which transcends ALL understanding,

WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS

And YOUR MINDS in Christ Jesus.”

Max says, “We must be deliberate about remembering God, immersing our minds in God thoughts.”

This sentence stopped me in my tracks, “Stare at the mountain less and at the Mountain Mover more.”

Recently, Max Lucado preached at Southeast, sharing more pearls from Glory Days. You can watch his wonderful sermon from 9/13/15 by clicking on this website: www.southeastchristian.org You’ll find him in the “sermons” section.

MIND YOUR MIND!

‘Til next time!

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When Your Day Seems Impossible to Unscramble…(Growing Grateful and Staying There for Thanksgiving Part 2 of 2)

When was the last time you had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?   (Anybody remember Alexander???)

alexander

Last Friday, I had the day-to-beat-all-days for no apparent reason. I kept praying, “Lord, please help me unscramble this.” As the day progressed, it became nearly impossible to unscramble. My only hope was to tuck tail and head home.

I’d run errands from my lengthy list. Each of which should’ve taken ten to fifteen minutes-max, many took over an hour, further frustrating yours truly.

I got stuck waiting on a train.

Rail Crossing

(Use your imagination to add about fifty more cars waiting in line.  I would be forty-ninth….)

I got stuck behind a woman in the Walgreen’s drive-thru’ who had so many prescriptions, they wouldn’t fit in the tube. Thus, she had to get out of her car to retrieve them.

Once back in her car, she remembered she needed to ask the pharmacist a question. Oh, but she couldn’t remember the name of the drug, so had to fish in her bottomless purse to find the name. Then the pharmacist had to look up the medicine and finally tell her “No Ma’am, we are out of it.”

These were only two of ten terribly taxing scenarios testing me this horrible, no good, very bad day.

It was at this very moment a lightening bolt of revelation hit me. I’d already grumbled enough to my poor husband, who’d merely phoned earlier to check on me.

I was also relentlessly grumbling to God–just like the Israelites grumbled to Him when He kept giving them manna. They declared they hated it! (Numbers 21:5 NLT) Sadly, in both cases, nothing satisfied.

The lightening bolt? God gingerly reminded me that only twenty-four hours prior I’d posted a blog about, well, um, yeah, being thankful.

Remember the “Stop and Give me Ten” game? (Please see “Drop and Give Me Twenty” post for more information…..) I began laughing out loud in my car. BEYOND BUSTED…

Thunderstorm

Ok, Lord, I’m listening….Here are my ten immediate blessings:

(I held up my ten fingers, pressing one-by-one down on the steering wheel as I proceeded to rattle off blessings, while still patiently waiting in the Walgreen’s line.)

1 – I’m healthy today.

2 – I’m blessed with a TDH (tall, dark, and handsome) husband in a thirty-year-old marriage.

3 – I’m blessed with a wonderful family.

4 – I sorta like our, dog, Gracie. (Kidding, sorta.)

5 – I love it when the Lord “catches” me on something I should know better. (I needed this, thank you.)

6 – John and I are blessed with great friends.

7 – I love my Bible study buddies.

8 – I’m excited Bev’s bringing her chocolate, chocolate chip pound cake to our Friendsgiving. (Like really excited…)

9 – I know I’ve gotta write about this little tirade….but that’s good because I love to write, and perhaps someone may relate.

10 – I’m beyond grateful for your lavish grace, Lord Jesus.

THANK YOU.

Grace Letterpress

So, I promised we’d learn how to grow grateful and stay there this Thanksgiving. Here’s a little help from another favorite author, Max Lucado. This is from his newest book, Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer.

Before Amen

This Thanksgiving Week, I pray we will all attempt Max’ suggestion and go thru’ the entire alphabet, yes, all twenty-six letters, and assign something corresponding for which we’re thankful. (Take this into December…you probably have too many guests to consider this now….but do give it a try when you can….)

Allow me to share a few of Max’ alphabet:

“A – For Andy” (Max’ dog)

“B – Bald spots” (Hey, whatever works!)

“C – Chocolate” (Shocking, this did not come from me, but would match my list exactly for the letter ‘c’.)

“D – Dictionaries” (Love this! Max is a wordsmith, so no surprise.)

“E – Exercises – like this one. This was Denalyn’s idea.” (Denalyn is Max’ wife.)

Alphabetize your blessings.

***Rather than catalog burdens, itemize benefits.***

This is a sure cure for the grumpy spirit.”

Max says, “The next time I make the list, my wife trumps dictionary. Which, by the way, is a lesson of this exercise. A person never runs out of reasons to say ‘thanks’.

To say thanks is to celebrate a gift.

Something.

Anything…

Gratitude is a dialysis of sorts.

It flushes the self-pity out of our systems.”

Excited Boy Running Between Water Flow In City Park

And then, as only Max can do, he gently reminds us that God’s Word repeats over and overgiving thanks is not a suggestion; it is a command…more than a hundred times, either by imperative or example, the Bible commands us to be thankful.”

The opposite of being thankful is being ungrateful. Max warns,

“Ingratitude is a devil’s brew.

IT.

WILL.

KILL.

YOU.” Yikes…

Cauldron On The Open Fire

Max tells of a dear friend of his named Jack. Jack was dying from heart disease. Max went to visit him and said, “Jack, I hear you’re not doing so well?”

“Oh, Max,” he corrected with a weak smile. “Never better.”

“They say you can’t sleep.”

“No, I can’t. But I can pray.”

I just talk to Jesus, Max.

I tell him I love him.

I tell him how good he is.

I tell him, ‘Thanks’.

These are good times for me.

I’m just talking to Jesus.’”

Jack died the next morning after Max’ visit. He died “with a thankful and hope-filled spirit, with gratitude.”

Give THanks

Our minister, Kyle Idleman, expounds beautifully on I Thessalonians 5:18. (See the verse in the above picture.) When you have the time, I highly recommend you watch this week’s sermon, “Grace is Greater Than Your Circumstances.” www.southeastchristian.org

Get those pens and papers out, and write out your ABC’s. Or, if you’re never without your cell phone, make your list on it. (This activity is found in Chapter 8 of Before Amen. Checkout Max’ list and then make your own.) This is well-worth your time. Perhaps in between the turkey and the stuffing….

And don’t just do this once. Keep at it. It’ll enrich your Christmas season, your New Year, and on into 2015…it’ll reframe your outlook.

I pray you and your family have a most wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving!

‘Til next time!

 

P.S. Max’ book on Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine is another excellent book for reframing your outlook..   Click on Lets Give Some Grace for Christmas for more on this book.

Max Lucado Grace

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