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Lunch with Lexington Authors: Slice of Heaven Part 2 of 2 on Road Trip to Lexington…

Could there be anything better than being in a fantastic bookstore (Joseph Beth Booksellers in Lexington, Kentucky), while eating in their café, with amazing authors?

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Few things thrill me more than soaking in conversation with fellow wordsmiths.  With these gals, we never lacked for a thing to talk about.

But the best thing about this group is they ALL love the Lord and talk about what God is doing in their lives, their ministries, or a book or Bible study that’s helped them in their walk of faith. I simply sat and soaked it all in.

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(Clockwise from left around the table is Yours Truly, Jan Watson, Kelsey Ach, Laura Leavell, Nancy Sleeth and Dr. Pam Stein. Notice we had Liz Curtis Higgs’ new Christmas book, The Women of Christmas—Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna for party favors and had Jan signing her newest novel Tattler’s Branch.  We’re going to talk about Jan’s book in just a minute!)

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Allow me to share some insight into these fascinating gals:  On the right in the front is my good friend, Dr. Pam Stein.  Pam and I’d just dashed over from Lexington Christian Academy (LCA) where her son, John, had spoken powerfully on prayer. (click on…”Seventeen year old preaches w/power” to hear more…).

The icing on the cake is Pam and I are about to be related as our son , Gordy, is marrying her daughter Lauren! (Woo-hoo as they holler here in Kentucky!)

You also must know, for those of you with upcoming weddings (which seems to be about every other person I encounter lately) that besides teaching at the Dental School at The University of Kentucky, Pam and Lauren have a new, fascinating website regarding weddings.  Check out:  www.thelocalbride.com

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Next to Pam in the middle, on the right is my buddy Nancy Sleeth.  You’ve heard me speak of Nancy and her book,  Almost Amish, as well as her husband Dr. Matthew Sleeth, who wrote 24/6, and let’s not forget their awesome ministry, Blessed Earth. (www.blessedearth.org )

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This summer Nancy and I realized we are exactly three months apart age-wise and have many things in common.  However, were she to enter our home, she’d give me “what for” as my Mother used to say, because I’m so far from being Amish.  Let’s just say I aspire to be Amish-like.  (By this point Nancy is rolling on the floor laughing.)

Almost Amish Sleeth

Next to Nancy, at the end of the row on the right, is sweet Laura Leavell.  Laura’s Mom, Sherry, is one of my dear friends and I’ve been blessed to meet the Sleeths thanks to Laura, because she works for Blessed Earth.  Laura is a ten-talent gal. Besides helping the Sleeths, she juggles many more brilliant balls in the air.  She’s wise beyond her years.

Across from Laura on the left side is Kelsey Ach.  Kelsey and I met thru’ a number of connections.  A graduate of LCA and Georgetown College, she’s only in her twenties, but amazingly, she’s about to get a book published! (I thought this opportunity to meet some of these authors would be fun for her.)   Be on the lookout for her and her book, A Beautiful Darkness—Finding Jesus in the Middle of a Sexual Revolution.   Checkout her website: www.couture31.org

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Next to Kelsey, in the middle of our row is my friend and mentor/guardian angel, Jan Watson.  I can’t say enough about Jan.  Funny she’s wearing butter yellow, because it’s highly appropo’ to tell you that the year I met her, Nancy Aguiar and I had ventured over to Lexington to the Book Fair Joseph Beth was hosting.  We were also scheduled to have lunch with Paula Deen.  Yes, the Butter Queen.

Well, Nancy and I ate with Paula and sixteen hundred others.  Small detail.

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But that day, precious Jan was about the only welcoming author, willing to chat with us and willing to entertain the thought of running over to Louisville to speak at our Book Club.  (Which she’s now done several times and is a favorite of Book Club.)  www.janwatson.net

Jan’s writing career is highly unique.  A nurse for thirty-plus years, devoted Mom to three boys, and dedicated wife to her dear husband (who’s now in Heaven), Jan had had a  story in her heart and mind for years.  Her husband encouraged her to enter a writing contest.

Never mind that it was Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writer’s Guild Writing Contest.   Never mind that SHE WON, which translated into a book contract with Tyndale Publishers!

Here’s her first novel which was published the year Jan turned sixty years old…

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Never mind she recently released her seventh novel!  Every single time I read her novels, I say, “Okay, this one is your best!”  And then I read the next one and say the exact same thing.

While she’s currently working on her eighth novel, I’d like to share some highlights from her seventh, Tattler’s Branch. But only enough to entice you to read it…

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Jan is hysterical funny in a dry wit kind of way. Her characters readily come off the pages to greet you, some of which you love, and some you’re ready to call the authorities on.

An animal lover, Jan sprinkles critters throughout her novels for your entertainment and attachment.  Her real-live dog at home, Maggie, is a “terrific terrier” like our Gracie is.  That phrase could be an oxymoron.  I suspect Maggie’s influenced more than a few of these novels.

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I love how Jan uses Scripture and prayer to help her characters cope.  In Tattler’s Branch, Sunday school lessons and Scripture memory play a big role.  Her main character, Doc Lilly, reveals her love for and need of God’s Word, a great lesson for every reader.

One favorite part comes in a letter written to her Mother where Lilly says, “Just as I’ve watched you do in moments of travail, I cling to Scripture for solace.”  Another is “The Word.  His Word, brought the Lord so near, it frightened her, but at the same time delighted her.”  Love that!

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Page-turning suspense, including a murder, set in the hills of Kentucky, are just about all this Kentucky girl needs for a lovely afternoon of reading.  Jan’s medical background makes her book all the more real and full of intrigue as well.

Only in the hills of Kentucky would Jan offer, “She packs a grudge like a ten-dollar mule!” Or, “His Daddy had been tough as groundhog leather!”

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And about her bad guy, appropriately named Shade, Jan writes, “Like a snake hiding under a riffle, he was waiting to strike.”

(Okay, so not-so-smart me thought the above sentence was a typo’ and I wondered why a snake would hide under a rifle, as in a gun. Then I looked up “riffle” for those of us who don’t know, that according to Wikipedia,  it’s a “short, relatively shallow and coarse-bedded length of stream over which the stream flows at higher velocity and higher turbulence than it normally does.”)

One more element Jan includes, which totally convicted me of God’s love for everyone, even those as slimy as this atrocious man named Shade, is when Doc Lilly offers the Gospel to him.  One of many beautiful elements in this conversation includes, “The ground at the foot of the cross is even.”  Why do we forget that?

What transpires because of  Lilly’s Godly love for Shade, regardless of his treatment of her, is unbelievable.  It’s an only-God-could-pull-this-off moment.  And the stunner-of-an-ending?  Well, you’ll have to read it to find out!

Bravo, Jan!  Another out-of-the-ball-park book! If you want to read more about Jan check out this article!

Thanks to ALL you girls:  Pam, Nancy, Laura, Kelsey and Jan for a fun time of fellowship and lunch.  Only grave error on our part was we didn’t partake of some sinful chocolate dessert.  Next time!

‘Til next time!

(This post is dedicated to all my lunch buddies that day!  Thanks for joining me and for your time.  Always a blessing!  Big hugs from Louisville!!!)

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Is It Possible to Have Lunch with Ann Voskamp and Breakfast with Matthew and Nancy Sleeth?

Yes, yes, and yes to LOADS of opportunities to meet and hear incredibly gifted authors and preachers at the North American Christian Convention (NACC), from July 9th to the 12th, right here in Louisville, Kentucky! (www.gotonacc.org)  ‘Tis time to get this on your calendar!

The Women’s Ministry portion of the convention has two exceptional offers which include the opportunity to hear Ann Voskamp speak at the Ladies’ Luncheon on  Thursday, July 11th, from 12:00-1:15 p.m.  Ann is the author of the best-selling book, One Thousand Gifts—A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.  (A  must-read for us all.)

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I was blessed recently to trek downtown with my sweet friend, Judy Russell, to taste what we’ll be having at the luncheon.  You will be delighted in so many ways, not to mention the piece de resistance, the chocolate mousse cake! Chocolate and more chocolate!!! (Hey, I’m not beyond bribing!!!) Add to that the chance to hear Ann speak and you have a win-win scenario.

I also had the pleasure, this past March, to meet Ann at a conference where she and Liz Curtis Higgs were speaking in Minneapolis, MN.  (to read more, click on….Magnificent Manifesto in Minneapolis…)  She is a profound and sincere speaker.  She was written up recently in Christianity Today for being one of the fifty most influential Christian Women in the country!

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Believe it or not, our other speaker, Nancy Sleeth, was also one of the top fifty most influential Christian Women in the same article!  Nancy’s newest book, Almost Amish–One Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Lifeis delightful.  She spoke at our Book Club last fall and was incredibly encouraging.  You’ll get the opportunity to have breakfast with her on Friday, July 12th.  It begins at 7:30 a.m.

Almost Amish Sleeth

To add further intrigue to that early morning breakfast (We must have incentive to rise so early, huh?!!!), Nancy’s husband, Dr. Matthew Sleeth, will also speak.  He, too, has a new book out (Quite the inspirational pair, aren’t they???), 24/6—A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life. The first chapter will hook you while the entire book enlightens and inspires you to cherish and savor the Sabbath.

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Matthew and Nancy will be speaking on “A Simple Plan that Simply Works.”  You do not want to miss this opportunity!  Look at their company, Blessed Earth, and you can see where their hearts are. (www.blessedearth.org )

Judy and I were also blessed to get to taste our menu for the breakfast (Well someone must take the time to make sure you won’t be disappointed!!!) and it, too, will be delicious!  The breakfast will get your day off to a great start coupled with fantastic teaching and information from the Sleeths.

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Both events, the luncheon and breakfast, are ticketed events.  You can purchase tickets via the North American Christian Convention’s website:  www.gotonacc.org

Please join me and several others at these highly inspirational events. Incredible workshops will also be offered.  Checkout the program line-up on the NACC website.   You will be BEYOND blessed.

The convention’s theme this year is VICTORIOUS:  When Life Seems Hopeless, Read the End of the Story—The Message of Revelation.  Meanwhile, please pray for all of these speakers, all of the details to come together, etc.  Pray for the attendees whose lives will be changed because of the Gospel.  VICTORIOUS!!!

See YOU in July!!!

‘Til next time!

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Brand-New Branches Book Club and Three New Books!

How   ‘bout some REALLY good news?  There’s a “new kid” in town….or rather a new Book Club in Louisville, KY!  Come meet some authors!  Come and discuss some great Christian books!  Bring your friends!  Enjoy treats to eat!

Branches Book Club is a brand-new community-wide Book Club which just kicked off their season October 22nd, 2012.  They will meet the fourth Monday of the month in the Connections Center at Middletown United Methodist Church (MUMC). For their first meeting in October, they read and discussed Karen Kingsbury’s Coming Home.

Their next meeting will be on the 26th of November, from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. at Middletown United Methodist Church (MUMC) where they’ll discuss Almost Amish—One Woman’s Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life by Nancy Sleeth. Nancy will be coming to discuss her book, entertain questions, and sign books that evening!

MUMC’s Women’s Ministry has had the Branches Women’s Ministry for several years, and they are now excited to offer the Branches Book Club!  Two more-than-capable leaders are getting this ball rolling:  Maggie Alcorn and Amy Davenport.  Nancy Tinnell, Associate Pastor, from MUMC is also helping and mentoring these fine women.  She’ll be speaking occasionally as well, and after having sat under her teaching this summer, we are all in for a treat!

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Middletown United Methodist Church
11902 Old Shelbyville Road
Louisville, KY 40243
502-245-8839
www.middletownumc.org

The name ‘branches” comes straight out of Scripture from John 15:5, where Jesus tells us:  “I am the vine, you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit;  apart from me you can do nothing.”

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After recently stepping down from facilitating a book club for seven years, I was thrilled to learn about the new Branches Book Club, and to be able to participate! Plus, learning of some of the upcoming selections AND authors coming is so exciting!  What a slice of heaven! (In Heaven, I can picture us sitting around discussing books parked next to a chocolate fountain!  Well, one can dream…)

Author Nancy Sleeth and her family live in Lexington, Kentucky.  She was just featured on the cover of October’s Christianity Today magazine as “50 Women to Watch”.  How  exciting will that be to have the opportunity of meeting her???!!!  Wow!

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A favorite quote from Almost Amish  is about Nancy’s epiphany:  “Few of us can become Amish, but all of us can become almost Amish.”  Nancy takes you through some of the Amish principles and you’ll love taking the eye-opening journey with her.

I was grateful to discover Nancy’s honesty and relieved she didn’t serve up any guilt.  Chew on this quote with me for a minute:  “The Amish have a saying:  ‘A happy marriage is a long conversation that always seems too short.’ And, of course, happy marriages tend to make for happy families.  May all your gatherings with family be part of a long conversation, full of joy, harmony, and faith in an all-powerful Father who loves every one of his children.”  Love that!

Another favorite quote which really encouraged me to be more effortful than effortless towards the Amish way of life was in Nancy’s closing remarks:  “Yet each time we seek out an Almost Amish path, we move one step nearer to the kingdom of God.  Every time we choose the Almost Amish way we come one breath closer to a slower, simpler, more sustainable life.”  Ahhhhh.

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Grab your calendars and ink in Monday, November 26th, from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. at Middletown United Methodist Church. (Yes, I’m repeating myself in case you missed it the first time!) Please either call Kelly McDonald to let her know you’re coming at 245-8839 or you may email her at:  Kmcdonald@middletownumc.org  You may bring a treat to eat and share if time allows.  While Thanksgiving will have just happened, I believe Nancy Sleeth will better prepare our hearts and minds for a blessed Christmas season.
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Another  fun fact?  Nancy’s husband, Matthew Sleeth MD, also has a brand-new book out called 24/6—a Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life. (Quite  the “dynamic duo”, this couple, huh?)

Matthew grabs you from the beginning to  the end.  I found myself totally immersed, and convicted simultaneously.  I soooooooo long to be a 24/6  instead of a 24/7-and-then-some girl.  Great stuff, Matthew.

24/6 reads like a prescription for us crazy-busy-souls. (No wonder he was a doctor first!)  Three phrases from a poem by John David Walt, from Asbury Theological Seminary, found in the beginning of the book, immediately drew me in:  “holy Leisure, guiltless Feasting, Heaven Hugging”.  Sold!

NOT that Matthew’s trying to sell us on this keeping-the-Sabbath idea.  He’s just presenting the Biblical facts.  Oh, and he’s built a great case.  (You’ll love hearing some of his episodes in the Emergency Room while doctoring.  Thankfully none are too knee-buckling for any of you faint-at-the-sight-of-blood types. Uh, that would be me.)

Please pray for the Sleeth family while they’re “birthing” these two new books and juggling other things called “life”!  Checkout their very cool faith-based environmental nonprofit organization they started:  www.Blessedearth.org

Back to Branches Book Club:  If you’ve got your 2013 calendar handy, I’ve got a date in January to give you which has a two-fold fun purpose.  One is you can read and savor over the Christmas holidays, prior to the January date, Liz Curtis Higgs’ new novella, Wreath of Snow.  Enjoy the Christmas season and Branches Book Club will resume on Monday, January 28th, same time, same place, AND…. Liz will be joining us in person!  What a treat!  (More  on her book in another blog entry!)

While I really endeavored to merely tell you about a brand-new book club, I can’t simply “list” books without chatting about them just a tad.  I pray we’ll have fun on occasion doing exactly that in this blog!

Whether the selection is fiction or non-fiction, you’ll learn Biblical pearls of wisdom which you can wear home.  This is putting your feet to your faith at its’ finest.  Embrace Hebrews 10:25 which says, “Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

‘Til next time!

(This blog entry is dedicated to FOUR lovely, smart, talented and courageous gals who stepped up to start this brand-new Branches Book Club.  Having been there, quakin’, shakin’ and then some, years ago, all I can say is:  “Lean on God and He’ll hold you up!” May God Bless and guide and hold Maggie Alcorn, Amy Davenport, Nancy Tinnell,  and their behind-the-scenes computer expert, Kelly McDonald.  You go, girls!!!)

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