Tag Archives: Rick Warren

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…



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!



Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Grandchildren, Travel

Four Fabulous Kinds of Love in February Part 1 of 4: Love for God with Help from Stuart, Jill, and Pete Briscoe…

Ahhh, February. The month of love. Any of you guys out there reading this better have “buy chocolate for ____________” on your calendar…

Gift boxes of gourmet chocolates for Valentine's Day

We gals really appreciate it even if we say, “Oh no, please do not buy me any this year.” Just know we do NOT. MEAN. A. WORD. OF. IT. (!!!)

This month we’re going to have some fun with four different kinds of love:

Love for God,

Love for Spouse,

Love for Family, and

Love for Friends.

We’ll be exploring ideas from God’s Word and from excellent authors who can teach us a thing or two or ten.

Just when I thought our beloved Naples, Florida couldn’t get any better, Hubster and I were blessed with an unbelievable opportunity to enjoy it even more. On Sunday, January 24th, we attended Covenant Church of Naples (www.covenantnaples.com).

Pastor Trent Casto delivered a sermon on ‘The Lion of Hell” which caused each of us to walk out of there with both eyes open, hearts beating more rapidly, and much more on the alert for the prowling lion/thief/father of lies who’s looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) Translation: Major wake-up call!

In addition to being blessed by an applicable sermon, we noticed in Covenant’s bulletin we could return on Wednesday to have “Breakfast with the Briscoes”. As in Jill, Stuart, and Pete Briscoe! For real???


Guessing many of you have either heard of the Briscoes or have read one of their many, many excellent books. Their books cover every topic you can imagine such as Bible studies, women’s ministries, prayer, marriage, family, aging, renewal, children’s books, etc.

Two of my personal favorites are Time Bandits: Putting First Things First (LifeChange Books) by Stuart


And A Little Pot of Oil: A Life Overflowing (LifeChange Books) by Jill


Stuart and Jill hail from England, married in 1958, and praises to our Lord landed in the United States, ministering at Elmbrook Church (www.elmrook.org) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for thirty plus years. They’re “retired”, altho’ still travel and speak everywhere while being in their 80’s! They are still goin’ strong. Stuart said when asked when they were going to quit speaking, “As long as we’re able, we’ll go!”

Their youngest son, Pete, pastors Bent Tree Bible Fellowship in Dallas (www.benttree.org). He, too, has written several books. He is very articulate, clearly loves the Lord, and is fun to watch interact with his parents.

The three of them have an amazing ministry, in addition to all they do via www.tellingthetruth.org. It offers messages that are broadcast all over the world via six hundred radio stations in eight different countries! Their website is a wonderful resource with invaluable teaching. (Podcasts, etc. are available PLUS they have a FREE APP you can download on your phone!)

Let’s get to the questions Pastor Trent posed to the three Briscoes. Each and every one of us can benefit from these.  Consider your love for God in each of these scenarios:

QUESTION #1 – How do you find joy and purpose in your everyday life?

Stuart said we must keep everything in perspective, especially from our human vantage point. He quoted Theologian Dr. Vernon Grounds who said, “aging means diminishing”. We must embrace slowing down, finding joy in each and every stage.

He told us he loves enjoying different generations. He and Jill are blessed with three children and thirteen grandchildren. Each month, he asks his grandchildren for a few sentences’ worth of an update—for their “beings and doings in the last month”. Then he publishes them in “Pappa’s Monthly Round-Up” so they can keep up with one another. Grandparents, take note!

Stuart told us he used to be a runner. One day he was out jogging and became really tired. He slowed to a walk and suddenly realized what he’d been missing: trees in bloom, green, green grass, blue skies, he heard birds singing, etc. He added, “It’s amazing what you see when you take the time to slow down.”

He quipped that in England there’s a trajectory to your life: you start out playing rugby, then soccer, then you just run, then you walk and play golf, and finally you become a bird watcher. We all laughed at this, and yet while Stuart said he and Jill are now birdwatchers, they still were quite spry moving around on the stage, up and down the steps, etc. He may have been fooling all of us!

Bird Watchers

Pete said one lesson he’s learned was that he does not find joy and purpose in success. He pointed us to Galatians 5:22-23 which lists the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

He said, “Joy is a gift from the Holy Spirit. We must be available to the Spirit and receive joy and purpose from Him.”

Jill said when you can’t praise Him for what He’s allowed, praise Him for what He has done. She cited cancer as an example. She doesn’t believe we should praise Him for the cancer, but praise Him for our caregivers, medicine working, family surrounding us, etc.

Praise Him that we find joy in Jesus, within us. There’s joy in serving Him. Look for the invisible qualities of God that are visible in His Creation. She cited Psalm 16:11 which says, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy…”


QUESTION #2 – Each of you are leaders in different capacities. What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned?

Stuart replied that “leaders are intended to lead with followers following—a followship if you will.” He offered three suggestions:

A – Lead them where they are, not where you think they should be.

B – Lead in the direction they’re willing to go, not where you’re determined they should go.

C – Move at their speed, not yours.

IF you’re able to accomplish all three of these, two things will happen:

1 –Rapport is built.

2 –Momentum is generated. As a leader, you need momentum because nobody can steer a stationary vehicle!

Stationary bike

Pete said he loves the opening line of Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life: “It’s not about you….” He said, “As a leader, you must remember that!”

Two levels to consider are “is this working?” and “is this not working?”, all the while remembering it’s not about you! Piece of cake, right???

Pete quoted Bill Hybels’ book Courageous Leadership illustrating the difference between “Capitol L” leaders and “Little ‘l’” leaders. He talked about leaders who are visionary, entrepreneurial, motivational, directional, strategic and managerial. Many audience members nodded recognizing some of their own particular styles.


He admitted, “It’s tough to not get hung up on performance. At the end of the day, people still want to know how well you know Jesus, not how well you perform.” John and I talked about this later and he said, “This reminds me of that saying, ‘People don’t really care how much you know until they know how much you care.’” Amen.

Jill confessed she’s quite the instigator, full of ideas. While this is a gift of hers, putting the ideas all together, coming up with a plan, and implementing it is not. Therefore, she learned to invite help.

When she and Stuart first arrived at Elmbrook, she realized she was the “minister’s wife”, therefore she must surely have a job to do. She gathered the women of the church and asked them to write out what their expectations of her were. (Can you imagine?)

Not surprisingly, their lists, upon lists, upon lists of expectations not only overwhelmed Jill, but she almost instantaneously realized she could do nothing on those lists!

After her cup of tea in a time of crisis (great suggestion!!!), she realized, thanks to the Lord, she’d just chip away a la Ecclesiastes 9:10 and “do unto the Lord”. Even if her efforts were bad, she was trying with all her might and praying harder than ever.

QUESTION #3 – In your own walk in Christ, what is the single greatest discipline a Christian should develop?

Jill suggested three things: prayer, solitude, and silence. No performance. She said, “Jesus will mentor you when you pray to Him.”

Young woman praying in the church

Jill recalls a visit to Viet Nam thirty years ago. They were led to a secret church. After hearing Jill pray, one young gal who’d also risked her life to be there said, “I love how well you know Jesus. I want to know Him like you do.” Jill realized that how we pray suggests how deep our relationship is to the Lord. Now that will make you think!

Stuart believes there’s more than one discipline. He said, “Both dependence and obedience are required.” These produce trust. Let that soak in a minute…

He pointed us to Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20 where He tells His disciples to “go and make disciples of all the nations, teaching them to obey all the commands I’ve given you…”

Pete believes the discipline of knowing who you really are is of paramount importance. He threw us a curve ball. He asked, “How many of you are sinners in need of a savior?” To which we all raised our hands.

He corrected us by saying, “We shouldn’t identify ourselves as sinners, we are saints now, saved by grace. Perhaps we’re saints who sometimes sin, but we cannot mistake our identities…

There’s so much Christ has purchased for us. Knowing Him more today than yesterday should be our goal.”  How great is your love for God?

After the Q & A we had the opportunity to receive two books:

Improving with Age: God’s Plan for Getting Older and Better by Jill and Stuart Briscoe


Experiencing Life Today: 365 Day Devotional by Pete Briscoe


Sadly the morning flew by and it was time to leave. Pete, Stuart and Jill all gave John and me lots to discuss and ponder. We got to meet and speak with each of them and they were positively lovely, engaging and sincere.  Their love for God is contagious.

Take the time to explore their website: www.tellingthetruth.org.   You will be blessed!

‘Til next time!




Filed under Bible Studies, Book Reviews, Scripture

Discover a SURE CURE for Complaining!!! Please Join Us for Our Next Book Club Meeting, Monday, February 24th! We’ll be discussing Joni & Ken—An Untold Love Story

Quick fixes are virtually non-existent.  Clever advertising leads you to believe otherwise.

Take a gander at the number of diet books out there just for starters… Brace yourselves:  perusing thru’ Amazon, I found a  mere eighty-three thousand six hundred and sixty-seven results when I typed in “diet books” found in thirty-two  pages of options.

At recent lunch outings with friends, the two “buzz books” I hear of over and over and over are Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by William Davis, M.D.  I’ve not looked thru’ this one, but a good friend knows a gal who’s lost a lot of weight from taking the book’s suggestions, and according to my friend, “she looks like a teenager”. (Sounds attractive as I watch new wrinkles form across my face each morning….)


The other book is: The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life by Rick Warren, Daniel Amen and Mark Hyman.  Even if you don’t participate in the plan, the book is an excellent resource full of nutritional information, recipes, menu ideas, the importance of Scripture and Bible study, as well as exercise recommendations. Its’ five “F’s” are worth your time:  Faith, Focus, Fitness, Family and Friends.   I have a dear friend who began this regime January first and as of last week had lost eighteen and a half pounds.


I’ve decided while I’m reading it, I don’t necessarily have to participate in it, fearing the multiple times I’d already have derailed the dear ole’ Daniel Plan.  Thence justifying the dark chocolate truffle loaf with raspberry sauce we savored during Valentine Week.

Savvy Spokesperson for diets I shall never be….

We know there’s no quick fix or sure cure for dieting, however, having just finished reading Joni & Ken: An Untold Love Story. I believe their story is a sure cure to quit complaining.  The next time I pitch a complaint (one of my terrible “talents”), I pray I re-think uttering such.

Joni and Ken

Before we get into the book, and promote the next Book Club Meeting about this book on Monday, February 24th (see details near the end of this post), I’d like you to be informed about Joni being nominated for an Oscar for the song she sings for an upcoming movie “Alone Yet Not Alone”.  Sadly, her nomination was rescinded.  Please visit the link below to see her comments.  You may watch her sing the beautiful song, in the below YouTube, which is a miracle in and of itself given her lung capacity challenges, etc.

Comments from Joni Tada:

Now, on to the book!   Joni and Ken is a must-read whether you’re married or not.  To be right there with both of them, thru’ their marriage, their struggles, slapped with adversity beyond anything most of us have endured, is eye-opening.

Can you think of someone you know who’s a chronic complainer?  Nothing is ever just right?  Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh is  a good example of a bad habit.  Being around such downers (or “Basement People” if you recall from the book Balcony People. Click here for my blog post.) is literally a drag.  They simply suck the life out of you.

You won’t find any complaining  in Joni and Ken’s story.  (Questioning God, yes, but they answer their own questions…Another reason to read this book!!!)  Joni and Ken graciously  allow us a sneak peek into doing life as a quadriplegic. Paralyzed from the neck down since 1967, Joni was learning to live life in her wheelchair.  God later orchestrates a meeting between Joni and Ken Tada.  He was a high school history teacher and football coach.  Their unlikely courtship is wonderful to watch.


But how in the world could Ken possibly learn to care for Joni, watch her live with chronic pain, all the while trying to keep their marriage alive? You’ve got to read this to believe it…

In between their ups and downs, you get to travel with them all over the world.  You feel like you’re in the same van or seated behind them on an airplane.

Trouble keeps lurking, however, and just when you think things couldn’t possibly get any worse, Joni receives a cancer diagnosis.  Scans.  Chemo’.  Pneumonia  from the chemo’.  How would one possibly cope with that?

Joni and Ken learn to totally, one hundred percent, rely on the Lord.  Their “aha” moment, from gaining strength which could’ve only come from Christ, is a beautiful part of the book.  They never fail to give God the glory.

Regarding her cancer diagnosis, Joni shares a quote from Alan Redpath, a British pastor and author:  “There is no circumstance no trouble, no testing, that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ, right through to me.  If it has come that far, it has come with great purpose.”  She then told Ken she believed her cancer came with real purpose.

They came to the following conclusion:  “Christians should remember to place their ultimate hope in God Himself, whose love never varies, and who is always trustworthy, always kind, always faithful, and who never misses a single detail.”

Joni firmly believes her battle with cancer was a severe mercy.  Remember the book we talked about a few weeks ago by that title?  Author Sheldon Vanauken believes his relationship with his wife was a severe mercy.  It was his friend, C.S. Lewis, who coined that God-inspired phrase. (See  post on An Extraordinary Love Story…)

9780060688240_p0_v2_s260x420In an interview with Dr. James Dobson in August of 2010, Joni discussed the whole concept of walking with the Holy Spirit.  Galatians 5:25 talks about keeping in step with the Spirit.  She said for her, especially during the cancer, it was about taking “those very small steps with Him.”  Every morning Joni would pray, “Lord Jesus, what would please you today?”

Joni also cites encouragement from a wooden plaque in their kitchen with the words of Isaiah 43:2 carved in it: ”When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk thru’ the fire, you will not be burned.”

She adds, “The fact is, if God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.”

You can find out about Joni’s ministry by visiting her website:  www.joniandfriends.org

You can find out about Joni’s ministry by visiting her website: http://www.joniandfriends.org

Without giving away anymore about the book, if you live anywhere near Louisville, KY, please come join us for our next Book Club meeting next Monday, February 24th, at Middletown United Methodist Church. Bring a friend!

We meet from 6:30-8:00 p.m. in the Connections Center.  Please RSVP to Kelly or Nancy at:  (502) 245-8839.

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

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243

We’ll enjoy discussion on Joni and Ken—An Untold Love Story.  We’ll gain a vast appreciation for the littlest of blessings.  Joni and Ken are so inspirational,  I pray we’ll also glean many of their pearls, plus be cured from any future complaining!!!

Hope to see you on Monday, February 24th!

‘Til next time!



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Filed under Book Clubs, Book Reviews, Life Lessons