Tag Archives: Russ L. Potter II

“Keep it Shut” by Karen Ehman is the Perfect Handbook for the Christmas Season…

Friends!  Have you ever let ugly words fall out of your mouth and then say, “How did that happen?” Followed by groveling, apologizing, and more agonizing repair jobs.

I can remember exactly where I was when I was about to utter something, knowing I shouldn’t divulge whatever it was, but saying it anyway. Mercy.

I’m certain the Apostle Paul and I are going to have some fabulous lightning round conversations when Heaven calls me home. (“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15 NIV) Can he read our minds, or what?

There’s a lovely, hysterical-while-helpful book out you may wish to find, like yesterday. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest it just could be the handbook for the holidays.

The book? Keep it Shut—What to Say, How to Say It, and When to Say Nothing at All by Karen Ehman. (www.karenehman.com She’s got a wonderful website with lots to offer…)


Four pages of endorsements later (!!!), my good buddy, Liz Curtis Higgs, is one of a slew  who  gives a big thumbs’ up. Lizzie says,  “Keep It Shut offers hope for all of us who struggle with controlling our tongues.  Karen’s honest and compassionate advice teaches us how to weigh our words and think before we speak…Helpful, practical, biblical.”

Right out of the starting gate, Karen does a word search in the Bible concluding, “God places great importance on the way we use our speech.  In fact, the words tongue, talk, speak, words, mouth, and silence are used over 3,500 times in the Bible.”  Wow.

One of several great Bible verses Karen gives us is Proverbs 18:21, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (NIV)

Check it out below in The Message:


Yes, well, that should certainly make us think…

Karen bravely tackles tough topics such as gossip, flattery, speaking the truth in love, controlling your anger, etc.  Whereas I’d prefer to flee (brave soul that I’m not!), she urges us to be upfront, honest, and sincere.  Oh dear.  But, and you knew that was coming, thankfully she includes tips which are doable.

One of my favorite tips she offers comes from a section called “Pause before you pounce.”  She says, “Don’t say something permanently painful just because you are temporarily ticked off.”

May we all make note of the permanent vs. temporary point.  This is huge.  I’ve been a perfect example of this when I’m tired.  That’s when my speech gets sloppy, slippery, and  slimy.  (Displaying this book in every room of the house comes to mind.)

Another person I can’t wait to meet and talk to in Heaven is dear Brother James.  His first chapter, especially verses 19-20 tells it like it is: (This is also in Karen’s book.)

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: 

EVERYONE should be
QUICK to listen,
SLOW to speak and
SLOW to become angry,
Because human anger does NOT produce the righteousness that God desires.” (NIV)

In addition to offering timely Scripture, Karen blesses us with extremely handy-n-helpful lists.  A couple favorites are:  “Proverbs’ Top Ten ‘Tweets’ on the Tongue” and “Top Ten Verses to Watch Your Words”. Precisely why I suggest this book to be a handbook for getting thru’ the holidays, or any day for that matter!

As God would orchestrate, I packed a favorite magazine along with a bag full of books to take on a recent road trip to Virginia.  While I was flipping thru’ the magazine, lo and behold I landed on an article, Mind Your Words. Guess who wrote it?  Yes, our author we’re talking about, Karen Ehman.  Is that some God-incident or what? (This is resource #2, and there’s more…)

The magazine?  Oh, here’s another gift idea for Christmas. Check out Life Beautiful magazine. (Below is the cover from the new Winter Issue. Karen’s article is in the Fall Issue.)  It’s the best. (www.lifebeautifulmagazine.com )


Karen opens the article with yet another killer Scripture:

“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” (Psalm 141:3 ESV)

Clearly this message was for me because now enter resource #3 the very same week about the very same topic:  Hello?

Hubster read a devotion from our Married for Life—Inspirations from those Married 50 Years or More by Russ L. Potter II and Bill Morelan. (I shared how this book has helped us as well as our married children this past summer.)


That particular morning, we read about Melvin and Margaret Elliston, married June 12,1944.  Their  two cents’ worth?  “When you get into an argument, take a good long walk to cool down.”

The authors add:  “In the heat of an argument, emotions arise that often are better left unspoken, for thoughtless words can cause frightful damage to a loved one’s heart and soul. And a wound inflicted in an instant may take months to heal.”  That is the permanent vs. temporary train of thought Karen teaches us.

Proverbs 29:11 seals this concept: “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”

Lots to chew on….Let’s close with a beautiful prayer from the first chapter of Keep It Shut:



‘Til next time!


P.S. I just received an email from Ann Voskamp’s blog. Guess who her guest author is from Cyber Monday? Our very own Karen Ehman! Karen is sharing lovely quotes from her newest book Listen, Love, Repeat – Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World.

Anyone reading my mind? Yes, this should be next on our list…Blessings!







Filed under Book Reviews, Life Lessons

Gift Book, Married for Life—Inspirations from Those Married Fifty Years or More, Inspires All Ages…(Plus Petite Travelogue from Gulf Shores, Alabama)

Friends! Run, don’t walk, to your nearest Hallmark store and grab several copies of a nifty little gift book. (www.hallmark.com ) Married for Life—Inspirations from those Married Fifty Years or More by Russ L. Potter, II and Bill Morelan is a fantastic, enlightening discovery.

My friend Mary gave a copy of this book to our newest daughter-in-love, Diana, at a dinner in her honor before she and John Jr. got married. Fascinated by the title, I peeked inside…


Every two pages include quotes, devotional-style, from a different couple who have been married fifty years or more. A snippet of how they met comes with their two cents’ worth on what’s kept them married all these years. The advice concludes with a fitting Scripture.

I was so blown away by this power-packed book, I marched out and bought several copies. One for Hubster and me since we’ve just celebrated our thirty-second anniversary, one for each of our married kids, and one for several different couples who recently got engaged. It’s the perfect gift!

One favorite section is entitled: “Never get too old to hold hands.” This comes from Arnold and Hazel Morelan, married on February 17, 1920 in Iola, Kansas.

Old Couple Holding Hands

They say, “Holding hands is one of the most intimate expressions of love between two human beings. Don’t ever let this beautiful act slip away from you…It requires no words; in fact, no words can convey such a profound message.”

They conclude: “Hold your spouse’s hand throughout your life together; don’t ever let it go until the day when you’ve fulfilled every marriage vow and finally release it from your grasp, placing it lovingly, trustingly into the hand of God.” Tear jerker!

Psalm 73:23-24 ties this together:

Psalm 73 23 24

The Life Application Bible reminds us, “From birth to death, God has us continually in His grip. But far more, we have hope in the resurrection. Though our courage and strength may fail, we know that one day we will be raised to life to serve Him forever. He is our security, and we must cling to Him.”

Our family of eight was recently gathered around a table, eating breakfast in Orange Beach, Alabama, right down the beach from Gulf Shores. We’d trekked there for a week of vacation. (Just to pull that off is like herding cats, so we were beyond grateful it came to fruition.)

LT read us this very quote from this devotional. Now that we all have a copy, my prayer is we’ll continue to enjoy the book post-vacation.

God blessed us with picture perfect weather, a beautiful beach to look at, walk on, sit on, play in, and the most fun lazy river pool you’ve ever seen. It was the solution to beating the heat.

IMG_2403 (1)


I must share about a very challenging team-building activity we tried: Breakout Games— “A Life-Sized Game of Twists and Turns”. (Checkout www.breakoutgames.com ) See if your town has one!

Grab some friends or family and go try it!  It’s a total blast. I double dog dare ya to watch the “launch video briefing” from the website.  It’ll kick your heartbeat up a notch or two or twenty…

Breakout Games currently offers the following options:

Museum Heist,
The Kidnapping,
Island Escape,
Hostage, and
Operation: Casino.

We chose the Operation: Casino. Our kids turned out to be super smart sleuths, solving puzzle, after clue, after lock combination. Hubster and I pretty much watched them at work, all the while being one hundred percent wide-eyed.

Participants only get an hour to solve the mystery. You’re also blessed with a “Game Keeper” who watches your every move from another room and occasionally gives you a hint or two. Jessica was our Game Keeper. She was the bomb, bless her patient soul.

The instant the door closed, a very large clock started the sixty minute countdown…oh my… I had my doubts, but with the kids’ persistence, I’m happy to report we were able to break out with less than three minutes to spare.


Lest any of you are claustrophobic, you’re free to leave the room at any time, especially to visit the loo. Just sayin’…You can imagine our dinner conversation after our big breakout!


We all had “jobs” during our week of vacation, just to throw some more ideas your way…

Each of our newlywed couples had a night where they “got” to cook dinner. We called it a “Cook Off”. (Translation: Mom and Dad have a night off.) Each couple grilled.

We had tilapia tacos one night, steaks-n-potatoes another, and chicken with mozzarella, tomatoes and avocado another, pardon me. We never declared a winner as each meal was so delicious, we couldn’t have possibly chosen just one.


My equally tough assignment (!!!) was to choose a restaurant to dine in on the nights when the kids weren’t cooking.

Any of y’all heading to Gulf Shores may like to know we LOVED The Gulf (www.thegulf.com). They have a fantastic grouper sandwich as well as a grouper salad in a very festive atmosphere.  We ate at a picnic table right next to the beach.

Since Breakout Games is located at The Wharf (www.alwharf.com), we were able to get a table by the marina at The Villaggio Grille. (www.villaggiogrille.com) The Wharf’s development has only been open a few months, so they’re still trying to fine tune things. Good potential.

Craving a good lasagna as Hubster does nearly nightly, we tried Cafe Grazie (www.cafe-grazie.com) another night. The lasagna was good, but not as pretty as the picture.

I had the grouper with pasta and capers which was delicious. Others of us tried a pizza and different shrimp and pasta dishes. Crab cakes were a big hit. After dinner, we walked out onto the docks and snapped some fun photos:




Group picture of all eight of us above from left to right are: Woody and LT, John Jr. and Diana, Gordy and Lauren and Hubster and Yours Truly.  The girls’ photo starts with Diana, then Lauren, me, and LT.  Just warmed our hearts to have our kiddos together.

Sadly our last night rolled around way too quickly. We ventured over to Shipps Harbour Grill (www.shippsrestaurant.com) . Big bonus: you could make a reservation.

We tried nearly everything on the menu: oysters on the half shell (not 100% participation there….); smoked tuna dip (delish, but we all ate too many crackers!), fried shrimp and fish, coconut grouper, island mahi mahi, and a crab and brie quesadilla. Our favorite side dish of the night was the smoked gouda mashed potatoes (oh my—to die for!). Our round table of eight led to some massive sharing. This was a favorite.

Finally, let’s look at one more pearl of a quote from Married for Life. At dinner one night, we loved this, given we were at the beach: “Enjoy the simple things—like looking at sunsets.”

Retirement Vacation Concept, Happy Mature Retired Couple Enjoyin

This comes from Auburn and Louise Roland, married December 14, 1935 in Leicester, North Carolina. They say, “When you and your spouse feel the need to get back to basics, to look beyond the clutter and clamor of this bewildering, complicated world and see what really matters, just go outside together for a moment and gaze upward. No matter what time of day it is, you will witness God’s splendor—…”

“…And when a butterfly floats out of the sky and alights nearby, examine it closely and consider, Who but God could have made such a lovely, ‘simple’ thing?”

Large Tree Nymphs butterfly and flowers

As God would orchestrate, Lauren had just been telling us about a neat connection she has with butterflies. Our gracious God literally sent one her way at the perfect time when we’d been in Naples together a few years ago. (Later this month I’ll be sharing about a new website Lauren’s Mother is launching and you’ll be able to read her whole story. It’s the BEST!)

We also realized Gordy’s had a love for butterflies since he was a small child. We have a great picture of him with three butterflies sitting on one hand one summer day. It “just so happened” it was Lauren who read this particular devotion to all of us. Is God the best, or what?

Let’s close with the Scripture this section offers:

Psalm 113:3 says:

Psalm 113 3

We praise you, Lord.


‘Til next time!


Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Travel