January 19, 2015

New Proverbs 31 Online Study: “Keep It Shut” {w/Giveaway}

Have you ever wounded someone you love with your words?

Have the words of others provoked retaliatory words in you?

My answer to both is a resounding YES! That’s why I’m so excited to share a new book by my Proverbs 31 sister and friend, Karen Ehman. Keep It Shut. It’s clever cover drew my attention, but it’s the words that fill the pages that have spoken to my heart.

And the really great news! It’s our next Proverbs 31 Online Bible Study. We begin January 26th and run through March 6th. We would love for you to join us. To learn more and sign up, click here.

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I feel as if Karen’s message was written just for me, and I bet I’m not alone. In fact, the verse she opens her post with is one my husband and I have committed to live by through our nearly 28 years of marriage. How I wish I had her book when I walked down the aisle in May 1987. I would have saved myself many moments of grief and regret.

Below please find a message from Karen that gives you a glimpse into her heart and the powerful message of her book:

“In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Ephesians 4:26–27

I wrestled with several plastic grocery bags as my purse swung wildly from my shoulder. I was trying desperately to free up a hand to open the back door that leads from our garage into the kitchen. Tired from a long day of errands and appointments, I just wanted to get into the house, put the groceries away, and then collapse on the couch.

As I fumbled with my keys and stepped up onto the landing that leads into the kitchen, I nearly tripped and broke my neck. I also broke out into a horrible rant as I saw the reason for my near trip and fall.

“Kenna! Mitchell! Spencer! You kids get out here right now and take care of these shoes and boots. I am sick and tired of how you all just toss your shoes here with absolutely no regard for what I’ve told you. You know your shoes go on the rug. I don’t want to ever see this junk lying here again. You hear me? You are all so lazy! Now I said get out here … right now!”

My kids heard me all right. So did half the neighborhood.

I have a major pet peeve about the shoes, sports cleats, boots, and flip-flops that collect in our garage. First, I’d prefer that each family member have only a pair or two there. (That day there were about nineteen, and only four were from my husband and me. The other fifteen or so were from our three darlings. Yes. Crunch the numbers. That’s five pairs each!)

I also prefer that shoes be lined up neatly in a row on the lovely industrial rug that is strategically placed just to the right of the landing for my clan’s convenience. I’ve even timed out how much longer it takes to actually place said pairs of shoes neatly on the rug instead of kicking them off haphazardly. Just three seconds!

But my kids couldn’t seem to get with the program and so? It made me angry. This wasn’t the only time a domestic dispute broke out. There were other shouting bouts as well. Sometimes they were over issues of outright disobedience when I had specifically instructed a particular child to clean up a mess they had made. Other times it was over an accident: spilled grape juice on the light-colored carpet, too much laundry soap in the new front-loading washing machine, a screen door left open and now there were mosquitoes in the house. Many normal mishaps of childhood.

Although on the one hand it felt good to vent my anger, on the other hand it made me gulp in guilt for barking so angrily at my sweet children. Later, after the shoes were straightened and some even put away, I felt God tap me on the heart, prompting me to apologize to my kids. I fought it for a while, arguing that the kids were the ones who should be apologizing to me.

It was then that I felt God clearly say, “Mind your own sin, sweetheart.”

Ouch. Yes, my kids’ disregard of instructions wasn’t right. Children should obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1). But when they don’t? Well, I couldn’t recall a single verse that then grants parents the right to holler and scream, giving all of the neighbors who were trying to eat their spaghetti supper both dinner and a show.

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I apologized to my kids that night before they went to bed. I asked them to forgive me for my angry mama mouth. Then together we strategized about how we could remedy the whole footwear fiasco in the garage. I realized that part of the reason I was always badgering my clan to get with the program was that there was no good program for them to get with in the first place. The industrial rug just wasn’t cutting it. So we cut the rug. With a trip to the department store and some nice wire shelves, we found a solution to the footwear conglomeration.

We compromised. I didn’t get my entire desired neat-as-a-pin plan, but the modified version still worked better than the industrial rug. As a result, I no longer badger my poor kids about their shoes. My vocal cords aren’t so sore, and the neighbors can now enjoy their dinner in peace.

And I learned that day a very valuable lesson…

Don’t say something permanently painful just because you are temporarily ticked off.

And now for the “Keep It Shut” Giveaway! If you’ve ever said, typed, or texted words that were permanently painful because you were temporarily ticked off, leave a comment and share your experience and why you would like Karen’s book to help you “keep it shut” next time. We’ll choose one comment to win a copy of Keep It Shut. Check back at the end of the comments THIS FRIDAY for the name of the winner.

Blessings,

December 8, 2014

Just Another Trip to Target {w/ 2 Giveaways!}

Ugh! Another morning facing my long to-do list.  I’m so not in the mood to grocery shop. To stop by the cleaners and the bank. To fill up my car with gas. To run by Target. All those people. Cranky people. Coughing, sneezing people. The parking. The lines. The money draining out of our bank account with every swipe of the card. And how can I get it all done before Bo gets home from school?

Can you relate? If you are joining us from my Proverbs 31 Devotion today, welcome. I am so thankful you stopped by!

Thankfully, God met me in the midst of my pity party. He reminded me of something I had learned in Bible study just the day before. So I whispered a simple prayer…a prayer that transformed my ordinary day into a most extraordinary day. Something only our God can do!

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If you want to read more of the story, click here to read my Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today devotion.

By  inviting God into my ordinary day, He showed up in such an extraordinary way. A simple invitation extended through a simple prayer is all I needed to escape my pity party and see God at work in my midst.

And it’s all you need too, sweet friend.

God’s Word says in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV),

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

And Deuteronomy 4:29 (The Message) says,

But even there, if you seek God, your God, you’ll be able to find him if your’re serious, looking for him with your whole heart and soul. (emphasis added)”

But even there.” Even in your disobedience, your complaining, your whining, your pity party, if you cry out for me, you will find me.

Oh, thank You, Jesus, that you love us no matter what!

Prayer is a tremendous force in this world. God invites us to seek Him. To talk with Him. To engage our hearts with His. We need only accept the wondrous invitation He’s extended.

And when we’ve breathed our prayer, that’s not the end of the matter. GOD RESPONDS! And His faithfulness changes things. It opens doors, changes hearts, heals wounds, pours out blessings, and transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary!

Will you join me this Christmas season in praying for God to come into your life ordinary and do the extraordinary?

On one of your ordinary days, pray this simple prayer:

Heavenly Father, I invite You to show up in my ordinary. I want to see You in my midst. I want to experience You in my ordinary day. I want to hear Your voice, sense Your leading. I want to be used by You in the middle of my tasks on an ordinary day. Show up in all Your glory, Lord! I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Now for the Christmas Giveaways!I love giveaways.

So first giveaways from me…

First, I will choose two comments to win a signed copy of my new book Living So That and a $25 Target gift card. Please leave a comment by Friday sharing EITHER 1) an ordinary to extraordinary experience you’ve had,  or 2) your simple prayer asking God for an extraordinary experience! I’ll announce the winner on my next post. 

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Second, If you’d like a sneak peek at Living So Thatclick here for my free Five Day Devotional, “Five Days to a Faith-Full Life.”

Now the giveaway from my publisher…

All this week, I will be hosting our InScribed Studies (Thomas Nelson Collection of which Living So That is a part) Facebook page. In celebration of the birth of Jesus, InScribed Studies is having a 25 Days of Christmas giveaway! Each day between now and December 25th, you can enter to win lots of fun gifts, including our books, DIY crafts, jewelry, and special presents picked out by our authors (that includes me!). All you need to do is click here, like our page if you haven’t already and register. Be sure to let me know if you are visiting from the P31 devo in your comment! 

Blessings,

November 12, 2014

Living So That Lesson Four: Trials Come So That

“It was June of 1986, just days after my college graduation. I walked into my apartment to find an armed, masked man standing at the top of my stairs. The afternoon he spent in my apartment transformed my life forever.  For days and months following my attack, I wept before God, shaking my fist, asking God, How could You sit on Your throne in heaven and allow the horrible things that man did to me? Night after night I lay in my bed, tears soaking my pillow. Questions plagued my mind. Why didn’t You protect me? Why didn’t You warn me? Why did You abandon me? Well-meaning friends would tell me that God had a purpose, that He would bring good out of it. I knew they meant well. But how could they utter such ridiculous statements?” [Excerpt taken from my book, Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner: The Transforming Power of God’s Story]

I believed with everything in me that despite all the well meaning words from my friends and family that no good would ever come from what happened to me that day. There would never be any purpose in the vile acts that man committed against me.  And that belief guided my life for the days and months following my attack. In fact, that belief landed me on a mat upon which I sat for years.

You see, when I was raped, I was unfamiliar with the Bible. Oh, I had read it now and again, but I did not know God’s Word. I had no idea that the Bible had the answer to every question I asked God. And some of those answers were found not only in one place in Scripture, but were truths and promises spoken by God over and over again.

Once God equipped me with the Truth, understanding, healing, hope and finally transformation came. My trial…my test…became my testimony.

Sweet friend, being equipped with Truth enables us to face our trials from an entirely different perspective. We see our circumstances not through the lens of our pain and the fog of our emotions. Instead, we see them with a fresh view…through the lens of God’s love, His character and His Word.

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How I wish I had that perspective in June of 1986. But I am certain if I had, I would not be writing these words today.

My heart beats with great anticipation for this lesson and especially for you to meet a dear friend and hear her story, so let’s begin!

Video Lesson

This week I’m replaying a November 2012 video of an interview I did with a woman I loved like a second mom, Bobbie Wolgemuth. In fact, I call her my spiritual mom. I shared her story on my blog a few years ago.  To read it, click here.  At that time, I asked friends and family to pray for Bobbie as she went through chemotherapy for Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer.  When she came to visit her two daughters that year, I knew it was a divine appointment for me record her powerful story.  She is a living example of how to not only survive but to thrive, even in the darkest of times, with JOY and HOPE.

It’s now November 2014 and a few weeks ago my precious Bobbie passed through the heavens to be with her Savior. The words she spoke in this video carry even more meaning today. I pray her words…and especially her closing song… bless and encourage you.

This Week’s Memory verse

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

This Week’s Prayer

This week’s prayer is from Psalm 62:1-8 (NLT):

I wait quietly before God,
for my victory comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will never be shaken.

So many enemies against one man—
all of them trying to kill me.
To them I’m just a broken-down wall
or a tottering fence.
They plan to topple me from my high position.
They delight in telling lies about me.
They praise me to my face
but curse me in their hearts. Interlude

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress where I will not be shaken.
My victory and honor come from God alone.
He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me.
O my people, trust in him at all times.
Pour out your heart to him,
for God is our refuge.

This Week’s Homework:

Read Chapter Four of Living So That. The schedule below is a suggested schedule. If something different works better for you, use it.

Each day answer the questions in your assigned reading (Going Deeper questions are optional).

Wednesday: Read Part One (Why Does God Allow Trials)

Thursday: Read Part Two (God Is All Sufficient)

Friday: Read Part Three (That You May Believe)

Saturday: Read Part Four (Confident Faith to Endure)

Sunday: Read Part Five (The God of All Comfort)

** And don’t forget to share your Call to Action for last week for a chance to win a copy of Marilynn Chadwick’s book, Sometimes He Whispers, Sometimes He Roars. **

Blessings,