Thursday, September 21, 2017

ONE PROPOSAL FOR AN IMPROVED MARRIAGE

Today, my blog features as article by my Word Girl friend, Lori Lipsky. Lori is a music teacher from Wisconsin who writes and "twitters" poems and short fiction!

For the first time in our marriage, we decided to read a book at the same time so we could discuss it together. Credit for the idea goes to my husband, but I was excited about the plan and in total agreement with our book choice.
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My husband had once asked a well-read acquaintance we both respect to recommend several books that had been most influential in his life. One of the authors this man mentioned was Dostoevsky. We decided to choose Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. I’m a bit ashamed to admit what happened next.

I could make excuses, but the quick truth is my husband read the book right away and then patiently waited for years for me to complete it. I started in several times but got bogged down in the early pages by the long Russian names. Prior to this I had read Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and some Chekhov stories so I’m not sure why I struggled. I guess I allowed myself to be distracted by life and by other books, and I put off the Dostoevsky. As I look back, I regret not making The Brothers Karamazov more of a priority. I eventually purchased an audio copy of the book and completed the novel.

After I finished listening to the book, we shared our impressions with one another. Remarkably, my husband remembered details of the book quite well. Since then, we’ve read or listened to dozens of books and discussed them. We have different tastes, but our interests intersect with authors like David McCullough, Louise Penny, and David Baldacci. When it’s time to order another Audible book, we’ll sometimes collaborate to choose a selection we agree on so we can both listen on our own, but then have the book in our shared reading history.
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Our book talk is informal and brief, but it’s a treat to talk books with my husband. We’ve found discussing books often sparks interesting conversation. Good books teach me more about who I am, but each new book we share helps me learn more about my spouse, too. We’re learning together as a couple. We discuss dreams and ideas. Books get us talking, and in marriage, communication is a good thing.

About the Author:
Lori Lipsky is a writer and teacher. Her poetry and short fiction pieces have appeared in a variety of literary journals and magazines. She lives in Waunakee, Wisconsin with her husband, where she teaches piano at a private music school. You can find her at lorilipsky.com and on Twitter @LoriSLipsky



Saturday, September 16, 2017

GUEST POST: HONORING THE UNBORN

Image result for baby name books“You want me to what?” I said as my defenses exploded in anger. “No way, no how! I purposely never wanted to do that because I knew it would be too painful, too real.” My Abortion Recovery Bible study facilitator assigned us to name our aborted babies and prepare for a memorial service for the babies represented in our class. I struggled for several days with even the thought of completing this task. Eventually, I prayed for the Lord’s help and began looking at baby name books. Through some tears, I decided on names for the son and daughter I never held.


The memorial service was one of the most holy, reverent and bittersweet services I’ve ever seen. Filled with symbolism of the uniqueness of each mother and child, we gave our babies dignity, recognized their personhood, introduced them to the world and released them to God.  Mothers honored their children in special ways such as singing a song, writing a poem, releasing balloons or reading Scripture. Through the truths of the study, the support of the group and this final sacred moment, I was able to connect to these babies as mother and child. Honoring and remembering my children was crucial to healing my heart from the grievous choice of abortion some ten years prior. I have since walked many women through the same study and presided over many of these services. Each time I am deeply touched to watch the intense struggle for healing come to completion as the mothers timidly but proudly call out their babies’ names, announcing their personhood and lineage to the world.

Image result for balloon releaseThe second Saturday of September is National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children. September 9, 2017 will be the forth-annual event. It was organized as a service over the grave of 1500 aborted babies and the movement has spread throughout the United States. Pro-Lifers gather to honor the babies with dignity. You can find more information and a service near you at www.abortionmemorials.com.

Perhaps you have chosen abortion and now regret that decision. One step towards healing is honoring your child. And the biggest step is one towards the Lord, allowing Him to heal you through His Word. The wonderful ladies at Abortion Recovery Assistance at www.piedmontwomenscenter.org can help find a recovery program near you.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

(In honor of Joshua Daniel and Delilah Starling.)

About the Author:
Dana Bridges Stout founded Flourishing Life Ministries to minister restoration to women and direct them to truths that help them accept the Flourishing Life that Jesus offers. Dana speaks, leads worship, writes, and teaches live and online Bible studies. Connect with her at www.flourishinglifeministries.com or Flourishing Life Ministries on FB.
 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

WHERE DOES THAT GRIN COME FROM?

Today I am very happy to host my friend and writing coach, Kathy Carlton Willis, on Writing on the Broken Road. Kathy's had a lot of exceptional challenges in her life--including Hurricane Harvey which recently roared over her homeland of Texas--but she's found a way to keep on smiling. She's got some great thoughts to share!

I’m often asked, “How can you keep grinning despite the challenges in your life? It has nothing to do with me. It has to do with the God in whom I put my trust. Knowing “He’s got this” helps me carry on (in hope) rather than to carry on (complain)!

Grinning instead of grimacing comes from the discipline of thinking on glorious victorious thoughts outside the current stinky situation.

First I get my imaginary lariat out and wrangle those negative thoughts that attempt to defeat me.

Image result for lariat and cowboyWe destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV)

Once I evict those destructive thoughts, I fill the void with healthful and helpful thoughts. Thoughts that line up with the mind of Christ.

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. ...Then the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8b-9 NLT)

If I practice this passage in Philippians, it might look something like this. I’m going to fix my thoughts on what is:

·        True: I remember the extreme way God answered my prayer to provide for our family.
·         Honorable: I’m blown away by the way that writer stays humble when others try to put her on a pedestal.
·         Right: I respect the decision this politician made to choose an unpopular but godly path.
·         Pure: How precious the gift of life is when I see photos of the much prayed for Lyla.
Image result for wildflowers·         Lovely: How beautiful are the wildflowers dressing up that field.
·         Admirable: I see integrity in the choice Russ made to not malign a wrongdoer.
·         Excellent: I respect how she endures through her weight-training routine.
·         Worthy of praise: God’s faithfulness is something I can count on.

Are you having a hard time grinning this week? What will your fix list look like?

About the Author:
God’s Grin Gal, Kathy Carlton Willis, shines the light on what holds you back so you can grow. She’s a popular speaker and writer’s coach. Read her book, Grin with Grace, or find more information at: http://www.kathycarltonwillis.com/.


Saturday, September 9, 2017

WEDNESDAY WORDS: WHEN THE WEEDS NEED PULLING

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 

“Who were those people at your house yesterday, Linda?” asked my neighbor. We were both outside to gather our mail when Pauline called to me from her front porch.

Image result for weedsI flipped through my envelopes. Medical bills. Ron was in his third week of hospitalization. I looked up to respond to Pauline. “Friends from church,” I told her. Pauline, a retired widow, likes to know what is going on in the neighborhood. “They came over to help with a few things Ron will need when he comes home.”

“Looked like they were pulling weeds,” she said.

I nodded my head. “True. My life is pretty full of weeds right now.”

“Oh,” said my neighbor. “It’s good to have friends like that.”

We chatted for a few more minutes, sharing news of our families and Ron’s ongoing illness, then went into our respective houses. I put the mail on the desk to deal with later, thinking about Pauline’s words. It IS good to have friends, but even better to have friends with the hearts of servants. During the seventeen years following my husband’s car accident, I have had plenty of need for friends who will not only come and pull my weeds, but hold my hand.

Image result for garden of edenIn the Parable of the Ten Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus makes it clear that we are to be working in His vineyard and caring for His sheep. In the very beginning of His creation, God placed Adam in the beautiful Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15) and instructed him to care for it. We no longer live in the lush paradise, but our grass still grows and our weeds still sprout. It takes a true servant to kneel and attack the weeds. We tend to feel sorry for the servant who received only one talent and unwisely buried it in the ground, but all the talents God entrusts to us are as valuable as millions of dollars, if we use them correctly.

Image result for parable of the ten talentsEphesians 2:10 says that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” That should make us think about the talents God has given us with new respect. God knew IN ADVANCE what talents we would need in our lives and who could use them. As much as the framers of the Constitution would like to protest, we’re not all created equal. We live in a world of diversity, each expected to use what they have been given. All of us are entrusted with caring for the world God has given us and for each other. And sometimes there are weeds to pull.

Image result for ten talentsThe accident that critically injured Ron and forever altered our lives happened long ago, but on that dreadful night I needed all of the servants with all of their talents. I needed Pastor Lou, who talked his way past the security guards long after visiting hours were over. I needed Deacons Bill Slawter and Joe Kounnas who came with thermoses of hot coffee and prayers. I needed Dr. Joanne Hoffman, who somehow put the parts of my husband back together again. I needed my daughter Bonnie, who has never let me sit through one of her father’s surgeries alone. And I needed my best friend forever, my own BFF, Chris Kyelberg, who not only came and sat with me until the wee small hours of the morning, but has continued to hold my hand ever since.

These are talents God gave. These are talents that were well used. And God had prepared His people in advance, ready to import their gifts to me (Ephesians 2:10). Ready to help with the pesky weeds.

Chris and her daughters and grandson not only cleaned off my weed-choked hill, but put up handrails on the stairs to make it safer for my husband. Later, Chris came back with her daughter-in-law to cut my grass. And other servants from the church have also helped with needed accommodations and medical apparatus, each giving of his own talent. It doesn’t matter if these servants have used one talent or ten. Each gift was immeasurable in value.

Just yesterday, another of God’s servants came to do some more yard work on those ever-present weeds. And Pauline, always on alert for neighborhood happenings, called across to me, “More work on your weeds, Linda?”

“Always, Pauline,” I told her. “The weeds will never stop growing.”


And God will never stop sending His servants out into the world to take care of them. 

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