Just Open The Door – Book Review

Have you ever read something that resonates with every part of your being?  Something that you can so relate to that you’re surprised you didn’t think of it?

Just Open The Door by Jen Schmidt is that kind of book.  True hospitality is about serving others, whether we want to or not, and she definitely has all her ‘eggs’ in the right basket for it.

With our noses buried in cell phones and computers, we are missing some of the greatest experiences of life.  That of face to face conversations that help us know those around us, their needs, wants and desires.  The nuances that come with face-to-face conversations simply don’t show in techno-babble.

As Believers hospitality allows us to be purposeful in our walk with others.  We can encourage others, disciple others, and even bring others into the fold, simply by sharing a cup of coffee and sincerely listening and loving on them. Don’t worry about that spot on the carpet or children making to much noise or messy hair.  It is what it is!  All that really matters is God, His Word, and relationships.

Expecting nothing in return is a characteristic of the hospitable personality.  A bag of groceries, a box of diapers, $20 in an unopened envelope show the heart of Jesus to another person.

Adoption might be the ultimate act of hospitality.  Just as God adopts me into the Forever Family I am to ‘adopt’ others into my earthly family.

This book is jam-packed full of ideas for living out hospitality as God intended us to.  I highly recommend reading it over and over.

Here are my top 5 quotes from this book:

  • Your unique gift, your untold story, your broken and mended heart, your fierce love, your brave authenticity–all these intricate threads woven together create a tapestry He wants to use to unveil His love to someone who needs to experience it.  You are the one who can meet the need of another today if you just open the door. (pg. 77)
  • “For me, taking up my cross daily included terrible suffering.  For you, your suffering may be in the form of doing small duties that are distasteful to you.  It may be having what you don’t want or wanting what you don’t have.  That may be your cross today.”  (pg. 52)
  • We can’t let our circumstances keep us separated from the community we need. (pg. 131)
  • Taking tea together reminds us to mimic Jesus’ pace.  He was never too busy.  He was never in a hurry.  Frantic was not a part of His vocabulary.  He lingered. (pg. 154)
  • One of the purest forms of compassion is found in hurting when someone else hurts. (pg. 190).

Never underestimate the power of a cup of coffee and a listening ear.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Broadman Holman Publishers, Inc. 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.”

Freedom

Many hymns are embedded with powerful truths.  One that comes to mind is a phrase in America the Beautiful that says: Oh, beautiful, for pilgrims feet, whose stern, impassioned stress a thoroughfare for freedom beat across the wilderness.  Katherine Lee Bates, who wrote these words near the turn of the 20th century (115 +/- years ago), was not only referring to settling the wilderness of this country but perhaps, the wilderness of so many hearts and lives.

I can’t help but think of the many missionaries around the world whose feet are stressing (or hardening) the path (thoroughfare)  to true freedom.  Their passion is so strong they are willing to give up their entire selves to insure the freedom of just one other person.

Psalm 33:12 says: Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.  Imagine the power that the United States would be blessed with if we were to get rid of the other gods worshipped in this country and make Him the One and Only leader of our lives.  As another phrase of this well-known song says:  May all success be nobleness, and ev’ry gain divine.  Oh, Lord, make it so.

Ah, Lord, God, grant us the ability to believe so passionately that we too will make our lives more about others.  Thank you for the social and political freedoms we have in America.  Help us not take this for granted.  What a mighty God we serve.  

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

10 Ways To Build Lasting Friendships

When I was in my younger years I often wondered if I would have Best Friends later on in life. Guess what? I do. I have incredible friends in a range of friendships from bare acquaintances to BFF’s.

Have you ever met someone and immediately said to them you’re going to be my best friend.  Of course not!  Being a friend is a deliberate process.  It’s about spending time together. Getting to know one another. Sharing ups and downs and in-betweens.  Supporting them, praying for them, sharing with them, accepting them… That’s what grows strong friendships.

It’s nice to have friends that share interests and hobbies.  However, if we surround ourselves with exact copies of ourselves it gets really boring.  One of my BFF’s shares few commonalities with me, except a desire to grow closer to our Jesus.

In building strong, lasting friendships there are a few things that really don’t matter.  Age is one of them.  Yes, people of our own age share similar likes and experiences but those of other age groups have much to teach us.  Friendships cross many boundaries. Things like status, education, marriage, distance, can be overcome when two people say let’s be friends.

There’s a beautiful contemporary Christian song that points to the fact that God gives us our friends.  God Gave Me You by Dave Barnes really says it all.  Check out these lyrics:

God gave me you for the ups and downs

God gave me you for the days of doubt

For when I think I’ve lost my way

There are no words here left to say, it’s true

God gave me you.

What does God say about friendship? Check these verses out:

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. Proverbs 27:5-6

So, here are my 10 Ways To Build Strong Friendships:

10-ways-to-build-strong-friendships

There’s a Kroger commercial that ends with a woman saying, “My momma always said if you want to have a friend be one.” Nothing more needs to be said, does it?

Not all of my friends are women.  My husband of more than 40 years has been my friend for more than 50.  Men add a richness that is unique in its own way.  Don’t count them out.

Blessings to you and yours!
 
Marie

Before I Saw You – – Book Review

Sometimes I read for the pure joy of immersing myself in a good story on a quiet afternoon.  At least, that’s what I thought I was going to do when I picked up Before I Saw You by Amy K. Sorrells.  Guess what?  Not so!  The power of grace is so prevalent in these words that I was amazed at how easy it was to include it in a fiction story.

Life is hard!  God is good!  Life is about letting go and letting God.  Cliches? Yes (and no, they are not used in the book).

If anything, life is about choices.  Some easy. Some hard. Some based on what we know. Some based on what we don’t.  We always have a choice.  Throughout the book, the main character is reminded to trust God for the answers.

Life is about decisions that often affect more than the person making them.  It’s evident throughout the story here and about life in general, for everyone.

Now, I know I’m being quite vague in this review but, I’m trying to keep from spoiling this great read for you.

Relationships are really what life is about and this book is full of the twists and turns, good and bad, that all relationships take.  A drug-addicted mother, a woman-child who hasn’t had the benefit of a good life, a sickly baby, a bully boyfriend, an unplanned pregnancy, an unexpected turn of events, and choices, so many choices…

I highly recommend adding this to your summer reading list.  It’s definitely worth your time!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. 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.”

5 Thoughts On Developing A Lasting Marriage

June is the month of weddings and I wanted to give a little advice.  Here are my five thoughts on developing a long-lasting marriage.

  • Don’t expect your spouse to be the same year after year.  We all grow and change.  I’ve been married to the same man for over 40 years.  Neither of us is the same as we were then.  It’s been rather fun to meet a new person, who shares my bed and house, every few years.
  • Never stop talking, laughing and crying, together!  Life is tough.  There’s no way around that. Weathering the storms and celebrating the high points is all part of it.
  • Always (!!!) support one another.  Let no one say anything about your spouse that is demeaning, degrading or discrediting.  Stand up for one another!
  • Marriage is not a game!  Scorekeeping is unacceptable.  If you’re feeling that your spouse is not keeping up their end of the bargain.  Tell them.  Talk it out.  None of us have billboards on our foreheads that tell the other what we’re thinking.  Most of the time all you have to do is ask.  Try it!
  • Be kind, thoughtful, forgiving and loving.  Long marriages sometimes evolve into taking advantage of the love you have for one another.  We’re all going to do and say dumb things from time to time.  Get over it and get on with it.

Here’s a then and now picture.  Enjoy!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Recently, this post was sent to me on my FB page.  It is so true of our marriage and I hope of yours, too!

For all of you so eager to call it quits and throw in the towel on your relationships because everything isn’t “perfect”…here is some food for thought. Lifelong commitment is not what most people think it is. It’s not waking up every morning to make breakfast and eat together. It’s not cuddling in bed until both of you fall asleep, peacefully, at night. It’s not a clean home filled with laughter and lovemaking, every day. It’s someone who steals all the covers (and snores!). It’s slammed doors and a few harsh words, at times. It’s stubbornly disagreeing and giving each other the silent treatment until your hearts heal…and, then…FORGIVENESS! It’s coming home to the same person, every day, that you know LOVES and CARES about you in spite of (and because of) who you are. It’s laughing about the one time you accidentally did something stupid. It’s about dirty laundry and unmade beds WITHOUT finger pointing. It’s about helping each other with the hard work of life! It’s about swallowing the nagging words instead of saying them out loud. It’s about eating the cheapest and easiest meal you can make and sitting down together late to eat because you both had a crazy day. It’s when you have an emotional breakdown and your Love lays with you and holds you and tells you everything is going to be okay…and you BELIEVE them. It’s about still loving someone even though, sometimes, you make them absolutely insane. Living with the person you love is not perfect
…sometimes it’s hard, but it’s amazing and comforting and one of the BEST things you’ll ever experience!

(This article is from Hopewell Baptist Church page on Facebook.)

 

 

The Full Armor of God – – Book Review

Are you starting your day fully dressed or …?  Do you consider these verses in Ephesians 6 when you’re selecting from your wardrobe, or are they the furthest thing from your mind?  Christa Crawford, in The Full Armor of God, suggests we really need to be more mindful of these six parts of our wardrobe.  After all, satan is.  He watches and loves it when we are not conscious of what we’ve left out of our selections.  

Here are some truths I discovered while reading through this excellent book:

  • We are to wear the belt of Truth because the evil one constantly bombards us with lies.  “Satan can’t stand that God loves us.  He hates God and wants to hurt Him, so he attacks those He loves: you and me.” (Quote from page 27)
  • The breastplate of Righteousness is directly related to what we know about the sinless character of God.  It covers the most vulnerable and valuable part of our body and soul, the heart.  The more we know of who Jesus is and what He wants us to be the better protected we are.
  • The shoes of Peace are designed to keep moving us forward.  “We aren’t meant to perish in the storms (of life) but to learn dependence on His abilities to see us through.” (Quote from page 57)
  • Ms. Crawford’s words on the shield of Faith remind us that we are not alone or unprotected in this battle.  “If life’s hurts get to a point we can no longer hold up our own shield, we should ask those with faith to encircle us like the Roman soldiers and create a wall until our strength is restored.  Our Father didn’t leave us without protection.  He gave us His Son, and He gave us each other.”  Check out Ecclesiastes 4:19-12 (Quote from page 68)
  • The helmet of Salvation is all about what Jesus did for us.  He is our Savior.  For Jesus, there was no half-way.  It was either all or nothing.  When we consciously put on the ‘hat’ that matches the outfit we’re saying look out evil, I’ve got this and you can’t take that away from me.
  • The sword of the Spirit is the only weapon we’ll ever need.  His weapon of choice?  A book.  Not just any book.  The one He’s breathed His words into.  Every answer we’ll ever need is there for us.  It’s so simple.  Just read it!!!

So let’s take action!  Make it a part of your daily dressing routine to put on the belt of Truth, the breastplate of Righteousness, the shoes of Peace, the shield of Faith, the helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit.  I guarantee, it will change your day!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from BookCrash. 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.”

Inclusive Or Exclusive

 

God’s Word is very clear about this subject.  Just as God includes everyone we are to do the same.  It does not matter whether we are male/female, rich/poor, educated, beautiful, young/old …

Look at James 2.  It’s really clear on the issue.  We are to welcome and love everyone who enters our ‘meeting’.  We are to be inclusive, not exclusive.

God loves us all the same.  So, if we’re truly trying to become more like Him, then, we are going to stop the favoritism game.  There’s a great song out right now by Mandisa, We All Bleed The Same, that says it all.  “…if we’re going to shout, let love be the cry.”

And so, in response to all he has done for us, let us outdo each other in being helpful and kind to each other and in doing good. (Hebrews 10:24) 

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Sharing this post with many other awesome bloggers at  5-Minute Friday.

Words of Grace – Book Review

This is certainly not just another devotional.  It’s better than that.  It’s full of thoughtful, inspiring articles that drew me closer to my God.  It led me to a deeper level of thought on what the Word is trying to say.

Best of all, I can pick it up or put it down at any point.  Meaning, it’s not dated so I didn’t feel pressured to read a certain part on a certain day.  I can open it anywhere and read something important about my walk with Jesus any time I want.

It is thoughtfully divided into three categories.  Who God is, how He works in our lives, and how we are to respond to Him.

Here are a few quotes that really spoke to me:

  • “In the realm of morality and money, family and friends, work and play, God has a will and a way for us to live.”  (pg. 13)
  • “What is the message of Good News? God’s favor is on all mankind.” (pg. 25)
  • “We must know, feel, and acknowledge our sin before we will turn to Christ for salvation.  We must turn to Christ for salvation before we will have freedom from our sin.” (pg. 51)
  • Regarding the truth of Romans 8:1 – “You don’t have to justify yourself to others.  Imagine relating to others without being defensive.  You are not condemned, and no one can condemn you before God, so when you interact with others you can focus on truth, love, and edification.” (pg. 87)

I had only one drawback as I read through.  Scott Patty is a deep thinker and with that came sentence structure that was sometimes difficult to read.  But then, that forced me to think more deeply on God’s Word.

I’m sure I’ll be keeping this devotional in my book basket for months/years to come.

What a blessing!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Broadman and Holman 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.”

20 Ways To Practice Lifestyle Evangelism

 

Are you looking for creative ways to show Whose you are?  Here are a few I’ve used.  Add your suggestions in the comments.

Wear a piece of jewelry that invites discussion.

Take a glass of something cold to your neighbor, or the person doing lawn work, etc.

Visit someone in a hospital or nursing home that doesn’t get visitors.

Call to say I’m thinking of you.

Volunteer!

Invite the person who is sitting alone (in church, in a restaurant) to sit with you.

When someone’s name pops into your mind send them an ‘I’m thinking of you’  note.

Follow through when you’ve said you would do something.  If you said I’ll call, then call.

Don’t hesitate to pray anywhere and anytime you’re asked. 

Be sincere in your compliments.  People can always tell when you’re ‘just sayin’.

Ask someone you don’t know (while at the doctors, grocery, or other public places) if you can pray for them.  Do it right there.

Hand write notes to a new member, someone who is ill, recently baptized, …

Choose a missionary to stay in touch with.

Give rides to those who don’t have a way to get to the doctor, grocery store, …

Use your craftiness to help others.  Crochet an afghan, quilt a lapgan, embroider a favorite Bible verse, …

Prayer-walk your neighborhood.  Pray for every home even if you don’t know the person living there.

When you get ready to get rid of your Christmas, Birthday, Anniversary cards put them in a box and keep them in your ‘prayer spot’.  Take one out each day and pray for that person.  Let them know you prayed with a call or a card/note.

Keep a Jar of Joys.  Put little slips of paper in it that tell about good things that have happened through the year. Go through it at the end of the year and give thanks for the joy and delight God has put in your life.

Invite someone who may be all alone to family dinners like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter…

Take a picture frame that you aren’t using.  Put a sheet of blank paper behind the glass.  Write the names of those you want to pray for regularly.  Hang it in a place you see every day.  Mine is above my home/office desk.

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

The Kremlin Conspiracy – – Book Review

Intrigue and lies at the upper levels of world leadership…  Men and women killed senselessly…  Life choices…  God’s presence…

I don’t usually like books of this genre.  But The Kremlin Conspiracy had me from the first chapter.  With well-developed characters and a storyline that simply doesn’t slow down, I couldn’t wait to turn the pages.  From the mountains of Colorado to Russia’s Red Square the action continually transports one into the lives of the characters.

Political upheaval is caused by two presidents, a world apart.  One weak and inexperienced, the other over-confident and mentally unbalanced, put the world on edge with the threat of nuclear war.

This quote from The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky sums up the motive behind the story.  “Above all, don’t lie to yourself.  The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and he loses all respect for himself and for others – and having no respect he ceases to love.”

If you like fast moving, action-packed reading, you’ll love this book!

Blessings to you and yours!

Marie

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale 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.”