Each New Day Is A Gift — Wordsmith’s Desk

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“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24) _______ Each new day is a gift. The tomorrow talked about…is the yesterday to be. There are new opportunities and challenges with each sunrise. Maybe choices you made yesterday could have been better. Today gives you another chance […]

via Each New Day Is A Gift — Wordsmith’s Desk

back roads to Belonging – Book Review

It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review simply because I needed to give myself a break from the bazillion thoughts that were roaring around in my head from all that I had been reading. However, here we go again. I have just completed a powerful book that has had and will have an impact on my choices in the days ahead.

My thoughts as I read through Back Roads to Belonging, Unexpected Paths to Finding Your Place and Your People by Kristen Strong

Have you come to the end of yourself, realizing you simply can’t do it alone? Do you know you are loved even when you’re left out or determine a different path? Knowing God’s unending love is more a winding road than a straight line. Sometimes little ‘bunny trails’ are necessary to find the purpose He intends. There will be many sharp corners in our lives but only our Savior can smooth them, and straighten the road to home.

Sometimes I get myself into the comparison trap. Yes, everyone does it but there’s a big catch in doing it. Comparing myself to others takes me further away from actually belonging. My heart needs to be centered on connecting with others not becoming just like them.

Finding a quiet place, to hear God’s voice, as I travel my own unique back road is of the utmost necessity for my growth as a Christian. Especially so as God has called me to a new place and people. Let me be honest with you, I kicked and scratched (not physically) and fought and dragged my feet through the whole route. He did not give up and I finally gave in. I had to deal with the truth that there are some people in our lives who are simply not for us. Just because they’re church members does not make them safe or beneficial. I needed to learn, the hard way I might add, that my comfort in a certain group was keeping me from walking the road He intended. This book has been a huge help in dealing with these issues and deciding the way forward. (Thank you, Kristen!)

One of the exercises in this book is to make a list of belonging (pg. 107), In working through this list I was amazed and delighted at the boost to my sense of belonging. So here’s mine:

I am a much-loved Daughter of the KING, wife of Ray, sister to Stella, Ruth, Rick & Joyce, loving and crazy aunt to 29 nieces and nephews, Bible teacher, and friend to/of Spirit Sisters, part of the church fellowship at Living Hope, sister-in-law to the Bungard Family, part of the Hallock Community …

One last thought from the book that will have a profound effect on my forward journey.  We all find ourselves alone from time to time (Yes, Jesus is ALWAYS there!) on our personal back road. (Yes, Jesus is ALWAYS there!)  There is something we can do about it. We can use what we know and combine it with what we enjoy (paraphrased from pg. 191) to encourage others on their own back road journey.

Blessings to you and yours on the way!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revel, a division of Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Think On This – – Noah

What was happening while Noah was building the ark? The people of the known world were going crazy. Sin was rampant.

Did Moses ‘just’ build the ark or was he also busy trying to get the mockers and scoffers to believe and understand?

Are we destroying ourselves again? Chaos, sin, violence, corruption, perversion…

Save our sons and daughters, friends and neighbors… Come quickly, Jesus!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Read more in When Life Doesn’t Match Your Dreams by Jill Eileen Smith

Mended — Book Review

Several weeks ago I received an invitation from Blythe Daniel to review and launch a book she and her mother had written. To be honest I was a bit hesitant because my own mother and I did not have a good relationship. (To be honest, we didn’t have a relationship.) My hesitancy came because I’ve really wanted to understand and forgive her and  I’ve not been able to do so. Plus, she passed away several years ago and it’s hard to rebuild a relationship with someone who isn’t here. But…

Through reading Mended I’ve come to understand a bit more of the person. This book contained some of the most healing words I’ve ever read. Most importantly, we are only responsible for the words we’ve said and the things we’ve done. We cannot and should not let ourselves think we can fix everything. Nor should we make ourselves totally responsible for the healing that must take place. We can only handle what is ours.

Forgiveness is a huge part of mending any relationship. We can always choose to forgive even if they don’t deserve it. Jesus did!

Verbal, emotional, and sometimes physical abuse was part of daily life for me. I was a hostage in a very controlling situation and truly felt I was the person at fault. It wasn’t until I left home for college and had very limited contact that I was able to put the situation into some sort of focus.  Through these words of Helen McIntosh I was able to reach a level of forgiveness that hadn’t been possible before: When we are the victim and need to forgive someone who has hurt and offended us… They may never even apologize or make amends. They may be deceased or in jail or another place you can’t reach them or oblivious to their offense. But we remain their prisoner until we let the offense go. pp.94 Letting the past go and committing to not dredging it up again has given me a kind of peace that has freed me from the pit of my mother’s words and actions and my own self-condemnation.

For me, this book was worth every word. Did I regress into the bad memories? Sometimes? Did I have moments of clarity when I started to understand? Yes! Can I move on and begin to understand the person behind words and actions? Yes! Can I forgive? I have to! There’s really no other choice.

Thank you, Blythe and Helen, for these incredible words! I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to rebuild (or build up) any relationship. It’s truly powerful and worth the time.

Consider these Words that are gems of light scattered throughout the book:

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength. Isaiah 30:15

Words kill, words give; they’re either poison or fruit–you choose. Proverbs 18:21 (The Message)

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Harvest House Books and Blythe Daniel. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

 

 

A Praying Marriage

Do you want the best possible relationship you can have with your spouse? Try praying for and with them.  So, how do you do that?

Set aside part of your daily prayer time to intercede.  To know and name his/her struggles you’re going to have to communicate those to one another.  Talk about what your goals are as individuals and as a couple.  Find out what challenges they’re experiencing.

In your prayer thank God for them. Thank God for the person they are, for their provision, for their love.

Ask God to show Himself in and through them.  Support them in their daily walk.

Be willing to change so that they can grow.  If you’re part of a problem they’re having give it to God.  Humble yourself!

So, what happens when you pray for your spouse?  It connects both of you with and to  God.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

 

 

 

 

 

Need/Want Haiku

Want Haiku

I have all I need!

God. Ray. Family. Friends. Food.

What more could I want!

 

 

Running From Mercy – Book Review

Jonah didn’t get it.  Like us, Jonah thought he was in charge, he could control his life, he knew what was good or not so good for him.  What he didn’t realize was this was not about him. pp. 28

How many times have you read this story?  What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you see the name Jonah?  I’d bet it’s the fish.  But you know what? Jonah is not about the whale.  It’s not about what’s going on inside the fish.  It’s about what’s going on inside of Jonah.  Surprised at that?  I was.  We want it to be about the whale because we don’t want to face our own fickleness which is so much like Jonah’s.

Am I saying we’re fickle Believer’s?  Yes, I am.  When life is going as planned (by us) and we’ve achieved a measure of success (Jonah was a known prophet.) we can start believing we can control our own lives and destiny.  We can’t!  That’s part of what this story is about.  Jonah had to learn (the hard way) that once he committed to being God’s servant it was no longer about him.  It’s all about God’s mercy! ALL!  Even for someone as fickle as Jonah.  Someone who thought he had it all together.  Someone who knew God intimately, heard His voice, helped others understand Him.

What Jonah didn’t recognize in himself was his sinful nature.  He thought everyone else was sinful. (i.e., the Ninevites) He certainly didn’t want to be in contact with that kind of sin.  So he ran away.  He didn’t get that you can’t run away from God.  But he certainly tried.

We all know that God is the God of many chances.  When He sets His sights on one of us He never gives up.  That’s how I see the story of Jonah.  God would not give up!  From the pit (in the hold of the boat) to the prison (in the belly of the whale) to the palace (maybe the home of Shalmaneser lll) God pursued him.

I’ve studied the book of Jonah several times, with different authors, and let me say this is the first time I saw myself in this Old Testament parable.  I’ve never grown tired of this story and I hope I never will.  God will continue His pursuit of you and me.  My fervent prayer is we will hear Him and respond so we don’t end up in a giant fish.

Powerful words in Running from Mercy by Anthony J. Carter:

…He is not going to stop until He gets you.  Goodness and mercy shall pursue you all the days of your life (Ps. 23:6).  pp. 48

God keeps his appointments and has every intention of making sure we do too. pp. 57

If you have people in your life who love you enough to talk to you about your sin, don’t cut them off.  Don’t shut them down.  Don’t blame them.  They are the grace of God to you.  pp. 87

In every church gathered in this world today, people are either changing the gospel, or the gospel is changing them… We must not seek to change God’s Word but seek to be changed by it.  pp.106

I highly recommend this book.  It’s a life changer!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Broadman Holman/Lifeway Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Little Things and Small Stuff

Yes, the little things and the small stuff do matter!  Years ago, it was recommended to me that I meet with my mentor on a regular basis and work through a then-popular book. I did and let me tell you it was very difficult for me to do.  I have never believed the ‘little things’ simply don’t matter.

Suppose you’re given a job to do that requires many small steps but you choose to jump right to the finish.  Tell ya what… it doesn’t work that way.  Quite often it’s because something gets left out that was very necessary to the ongoing process.

For example, I have committed to a healthy eating program.  I eat only those things that are healthy for my body.  Since I have a sensitivity to wheat I am very careful about not eating it.  Refined sugar is an outright no-no.  By eating foods as close to nature as possible I am able to think more clearly, have more energy, and yes, lose weight.  Eliminating wheat and sugar, eating only foods close to nature, exercising, positive thinking, and sharing my journey with ‘helpers’ are all part of the ‘small steps’ in the journey.

As you know, I review books on a regular basis on this blog.  I do not cut corners in this process.  Reading just the title, author, first paragraph, and last paragraph would not allow for a fair review.  I definitely take the long route, read the book, take notes and then share my thoughts.  Many times it’s the little things in the narrative that create a lasting impression.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31-32) is a really good example of how much the ‘small stuff’ matters. Planting a very small seed and allowing it to grow creates a tree that provides shelter and food (more small seeds).  Jesus used these words to help people understand that in the small stuff (the seed) is provision (food and shelter) for all those who take refuge in it.  Yes, the little things matter!!!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Still

This post joins a flashmob of others who are writing for 5-Minutes on one word.  Join us at 5-Minute Friday.com 

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

 

Becoming Gertrude — Book Review

I have a beautiful, wonderful, friend.  She’s someone for whom I had looked for many years.  I have another beautiful, wonderful, friend who has been my friend for more than 40 years.  Both of these women speak caring, acceptance, service, hospitality, and encouragement into my life.  Both of them do friendship in their own way and I can trust them, love them, cry with them, be silent with them, and they know they can do the same with me.

Becoming Gertrude is the crowning touch of a life of relationships and good friendships that have shaped the faith of Janice Peterson.  The pages of this delightful, small book are full of stories that help the reader see how important friendship is in the life of a Christian woman.  Using the character traits mentioned above (caring, acceptance, service, hospitality, and encouragement) Mrs. Peterson shares how her life has been enriched by other women.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book are:

  • Good friends challenge us in the areas where we are weak and encourage us forward.  pp.xxvii
  • Caring for someone isn’t about you–it’s about the other person. pp. 23
  • We must learn to navigate disagreements and life differences with grace, understanding that friendship is more important than being right all the time.  pp. 32
  • Some of us are called in certain ways to serve, but we are all called to be servants, whatever our gifts are.  No one’s gift is more significant than anyone else’s! pp. 47
  • Friendship grows best in intentionality, and hospitality is the warmest kind of intentionality there is.
  • Our friends can be those who fill us up, who build encouragement into our lives so that we can then do the same in theirs and others’.

Bible verses from the Message by Eugene Peterson that support strong friendships:

Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him.   Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.  Instead, fix your attention on God.  You’ll be changed from the inside out.  Romans 12:2

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath.  Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.  Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up.  Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.  Romans 12:14-16

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”