Is judging an Act of Selfishness?


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Is judging an act of selfishness? I review books for a Christian publisher. I would say that 98% of the books I end up loving to read and have reread them at least once. Even though I don’t always agree with 100% of what is said, I don’t discredit the whole book. I guess that’s where the saying “Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water” came from! However, I am constantly amazed at the comments from people on a book if they don’t like one thing in it and bash the author or make rude comments about it, sometimes to the point that it degenerates into a chaotic frenzy. If you don’t care for something, just try to be positive, state the negative, and be done. We are so quick to judge something or someone by one instance. Respect for others is a matter of character and a call to humility.

We’re not the only ones to suffer this malady. The disciples judged the woman who poured out costly perfume on Jesus. Martha judged Mary. The Pharisees were always judging others based on their perception of holiness and missed what holiness was all about. We have to be careful that we hold our personal convictions as sacred and, well, personal. If we force them on others it becomes not a conviction but an overinflated view of our opinions.

Just as the handpicked disciples of Jesus were made up of all kinds of different personalities and characteristics, we are all different and He loves us all! We are not perfect, He sees our flaws and our errors but constantly endeavors to transform our character flaws into useful tools and strengths.

So yes, when we judge others it is a selfish act of using our narrow-minded yardstick to measure others. It is based upon our own personal head space where all kinds of thought processes take place.

Martha found herself rebuked. Not for performing her personal service to God, but for judging Mary in her personal adoration. Jesus defended the extravagant act of a woman over the disciple’s objections, calling it an offering acceptable even above giving to the poor.

God designed us all. Just like He designed and created the many birds, the fish of the sea and beautiful landscapes. From the snow topped mountain, to the bottom of the ocean floor there are a vast number of differences, not only in beauty but in the contrast that reflects His handiwork–so are we created.

It sure makes my selfish judging look mighty ugly. I’m reminded of my propensity to selfishness, to judging, of pride, and all other human limitations that I experience not to cause me to feel hopeless but to empty myself of me so I can be full of Him.

The Berenstain Bears’ Book of Prayers


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The Berenstain Bears’ Book of Prayers, a Book review

Made out of hard pages, this book is perfect for preschoolers to handle and will last for years to come as they learn to read. Rhyming prayers make them easy to remember and say as children learn to talk to God in their own words. From rise and shine prayers to prayers expressing frustration or fear; from praise and worship to bedtime, little ones will grow up knowing that there’s so many opportunities to offer prayer to God.

Two of my favorites:

I’m learning something new, dear God

It’s harder than I thought!

Please help me to work hard today

And practice what’s been taught


God, thank you for forgiving me

No matter what I do

Please help me make good choices, Lord

I want to follow You

 @Worthypub  #BerenstainBears #BookOfPrayers

While My Child Is Away


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While My Child Is Away…My Prayers for When We Are Apart, A Book Review

This book is excellent. I could say it’s an excellent “read” but actually, it’s all prayers. Prayers for your children. I’ve read “prayer books” before and usually I end up thinking that the author must have kids a lot more behaved than my kids, because my prayers have been pretty desperate for my children. As a single mom for most of my kid’s growing up years, I felt the need to be both dad and mom to my kids which meant priest of the home, go-to person, homework helper, advisor, emotional supporter, financial supporter, etc., etc! A lot of prayers went up in our behalf. Some prayers didn’t actually have words, they were just groans that I prayed God would interpret!

When my kids were hanging around the wrong crowd. When my kids were at school, out of sight and I was at work, in meetings and sometimes even traveling. When my kids were liking boyfriends, girlfriends, talking on the phone, wanting privacy and all of those lines that you don’t know where to draw or when to cross. I feel like I have experienced it all. So when I read THIS book, I half-way expected it to be a little shallow, a little like holy children prayers, or mother’s well-articulated prayers in behalf of her almost-angel kids.

Don’t get me wrong, it is well written, but it is also real. The desperate prayers of a mother who has to let her children walk away from her sight and physical protection. The earnest and very deeply felt prayers of a mom that feels inadequate when it comes to covering her kid’s emotional, spiritual and soul-level needs. This is not just some pretty “oh, that’s so sweet” type prayers and “now I lay me down to sleep” but a plea to God to make up for what we seriously lack. A request asking God to help us to know how to trust Him to protect them when they are away from us. A heart’s cry when they are no longer living under our guidelines, or involved in situations when we can no longer follow them or hover over them, or watch from a safe distance, ready to pounce to their aid.

Letting go and letting God be God is perhaps one of the most difficult things a mother has to do when it comes to her children. Watching them grow and mature, walking in a different world than they have ever experienced, experiencing situations and circumstances that they haven’t been in before now tends to turn our worlds upside down and inside out. We know God is the only One who can do what we can’t from those points on, and we think we trust Him, but it’s so difficult to put it into practice when there’s all kinds of “what if?” questions! God understands. God not only understands our children better than we do, He understands US better than we know ourselves.

Through these prayers that Edie Melson prayers over her children, of all ages and different circumstances, you will echo her words and you will hear God’s voice speak through the pages. She will put your heart’s deep feelings into words that resound in God’s ears.

@Worthypub  #Stop2Pray  #Pray4MyChild

Before & After


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Nearing the anniversary of our house fire 2 short years ago causes me to reflect yet once again on what’s important in life. Although I lost everything I owned in this world, minus the few clothes we had packed in a suitcase (we were away on a trip), my husband, Mike and I saw so many people extend their hands and arms and surrounded us with love and devotion. The biggest things for me were my mother-in-law’s hand-made quilts, my grandma Jordan’s quilt pieces that I had yet to put together, my grandmother Scott’s homemade, home-stitched crazy quilt, countless hankies from my mom, grandmothers and mother-in-law and my kid’s school pictures and artwork, including the many Christmas ornaments that my kids had made throughout the years, our wedding and honeymoon pictures and memorabilia, and my many beloved books. (OK, well I could go on.) My husband grieved over losing his dad’s and his granddaddy’s guns, his granddad’s tools, old coins collected for many years and of course the same sentimental things that I cherished as well. My family has since given me some old things that they had treasured (returned to me) and my mom rallied my extended family and I received Christmas ornaments from many states that first Christmas to put on my “sad” tree. I’m grateful.

I have “decorated” my home with odds and ends that I have collected the past 2 years from friends and loved ones and I’m grateful. My friends have lovingly put together a recipe book, angel figurines and given me other such small things but mean so much to me more for their thoughtfulness and love than anything. I’m grateful.

Recently I have begun to feel the excitement and creativity that comes with healing. Although through other diverse circumstances, we have moved and moved again, I can happily say that I’m beginning to feel the stirring of settling in a nest of my own once again. My walls were empty for a long time. I couldn’t get myself to feel anything except “usefulness” for the items that now belonged to me. Gone were the things that I could lovingly smooth with my hand and say where it came from, who had given it to me or where I had acquired it. Only memories remain now. Some days I think of an item and as it appears in my mind’s eye, my memories are wistful and sad that it is gone forever. Some days I think I have a certain item but upon further futile search, I realize that it must have been before the house fire. Thus, a landmark has formed. Before fire and after fire.

Yes, some things can be replaced. The things that cannot be replaced though valuable–beyond price– are still in the memory banks and hopefully will never be withdrawn. I’m grateful.

Today, although I may be feeling quite wistful, I am not in grief. I realize that if I put stock in all of those things, I may become “tethered” to my grief and it will keep me tied and I won’t be able to move on. Like a death, a divorce, you never get over that kind of grief. The love you harbored, the sorrow you felt, the ties that were broken in two will remain with you forever. But you can move past it because you aren’t tethered to it. It doesn’t keep you bound. There is pain. There is grief. There is sorrow. But I realize as I heal, that just like the pain of loved ones that have gone to be with Jesus, one day…we will look up and see Him and the pain will be gone. One day, faster than we can imagine, we will see those loved ones and our joy will be overflowing. The THINGS of this world will pass away. The sorrow will be gone. The sadness will disappear. But our souls will be living on in an endless moment called eternity. I can’t wait for that day and long for it to come. Like the Apostle Paul says, eye has not seen, ear has not heard, and no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Corinthians 2) Lift up your head, your redemption draws near!!


Solitude. Who’s the Loser?


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Words wound. Thoughts, impressions, suspicions can hurt all in themselves but when someone places the impression into words- the misgiving becomes real. The thought becomes tangible. It may be better than what was originally believed or it could be drastically worse. It can even be severely different than what was suspicioned and it can cut to the core of one’s soul.

Pride is wounded. Love is rejected. A place; a position that I imagined I held is now being turned away. I was deceived. Maybe I deceived myself. Maybe the affection I perceived wasn’t even there. Perhaps it was wishful thinking. Something I invented to make myself feel accepted and loved. Stark reality now put into words that hurt my ears as they sink into my understanding.

I had created a safe place but a stranger intruded. What was once warm and inviting, shared with those I love is now dark and cold. I shiver. With my arms that were open wide being turned away; shunned…instead I close them around myself, giving myself an embrace.  Who’s the loser?

Gleaning Between the Lines


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Gleaning Between the Lines–A book review for “Audacious” by Beth Moore

I realized a few years ago that if it is based on the Word of God, that I could glean something from every sermon, even if the delivery was weak or I didn’t agree with each of the person’s points and/or opinions. Once I determined to do this, it has greatly helped me to set my mind on what is true, what lines up with the scriptures and what to decipher as personal opinion.

Having said that, I have gleaned a lot from Beth Moore’s books and have thoroughly enjoyed watching some of her videos. Her words have spoken to my soul and given me new resolve. In her new book, “Audacious”, I have been impressed by several things. The overall premise was basically spot-on in my opinion. However, I was also sorely disappointed. What I feel I gleaned from it were nuggets of reminders of things I have already learned and that boils down to: love God with wild abandon and that will influence you, help you, strengthen you and get you through the best times and the worst times of your life. He is there and your love remains and His love for you will stand ready when everything else has passed. Passed all earthly relationships, favor, jobs, money. Passed all heartache, resentment, disappointment, confusion, trials and storms.

Hopefully this will be a true ‘revelatory’ word for the readers of this book that have not yet experienced this great purpose and vision in life. Some Christians—more than I can probably imagine, have this perception that God wants all of us just to be happy and have great lives. If that isn’t happening the way that they envision, they feel that it must be something that they have done or left undone; to work harder or to be “better”. While God desires for His children to be happy, He is much more interested in our being holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16 “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” NIV) Whatever hail storms it takes to beat off all the veneer we have fooled ourselves with and reveal the true, rich wood underneath—He’s going to allow for our ultimate good. Sadly, like the rich young ruler who could not give up his riches for the sake of following Jesus, (He does not force us into anything) we walk away angry, disappointed, and unhappy. Grieving our lost “treasures” so much that we can’t see that our true treasure is standing behind all that we are wistfully looking at or pursuing, waiting for us to get it out of the way so we can see that he is reaching for us. All we can see is that our arms are empty.

Life’s battles have almost gotten the best of me. I have faced spiritual persecution, experienced cruel people “in the name of God” lie, cheat, abuse and be rude and mean to others who have laid down their lives for the gospel. There were times when I almost gave up hope, almost lost my mind as well as my faith but at the end of the bloody battles, Jesus wrapped me in His arms. This earthly life is worthless if we don’t have hope of a life beyond. That’s what Jesus is preparing us for and preparing for us. This earthly life crucified Him but didn’t defeat Him. He won the victory to give us eternal life. It won’t defeat us either unless we choose this life over eternal life.

This is the audacious vision that Beth Moore speaks about. He is with us in the nitty gritty. He is with us in the mess. He is with us in the mistake. He is still with us after the wrong choice. He never leaves nor forsakes us! When everything is stripped away—He is there.

The thing that left me disappointed with this book is that it seems unedited. Beth uses so many adjectives and metaphors to drive her point home that you almost forget what the original point was! Many, many words (and I love words and tend to be wordy) are used to draw a mental picture, but the mental picture I get is of a cluttered closet. I feel that if someone had greatly edited this book, it would have been a much easier and quicker read. Granted, it would have been much thinner but I feel, more dynamic.

Be audacious to Jesus and you will see that He is always giving audacious love to you. He IS audacious love.

Purchased, Redeemed, Restored: Relationship


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A dusty old rocking chair sat in a thrift store. Paint and veneer peeling, wood scratched and weathered. It had had some serious use in its day. Now, abandoned and alone; for sale to a low bidder. Most pass by the lonely rocker unnoticed. The ones who do notice and give the chair a nudge hear the creak and groan, feel the wobble and uneven tilt and keep on going. It might have been beautiful once but that’s long past. Too much abuse and overuse to be worth anything now.

Until a man walks in one day, runs his hand lovingly over the slats, feeling each crevice of the etched wood. Carved no doubt with love and care, created for a purpose. The man smiles as he sees each nick and scratch, not bare and ugly but in its glory. He worries not about the loose wobble but tenderly sets the rock in motion, detecting the excellent craftsmanship.

The rocker is bought with the asking price. Worthless to the shop owner until the coin was placed in his hand, happy to have made the sale of this long forgotten piece. The purchase complete, the man takes the rocker home. No matter what the price of the rocker was—little or much—the value was not realized while the lonely chair sat dusty in the shop. It took someone willing to cover the expense.

The rocker was placed in the man’s own living-room, cleaned and polished. It was clean. No longer dusty or grimy but with the dirt fully removed, sitting on a nice warm rug instead of a cold cement floor, the rocker was now redeemed. Cleansed from the musky layers of dust, the wood showing so much potential. True, there were deep scratches, big splinters missing in places, but clean nonetheless and redeemed from its discarded, useless life of before.

The man was happy to contemplate the chair sitting in the corner. He could see the potential in his mind’s eye. He could picture the redeemed piece in its former glory as he traced his fingers over the carved back. He loved the chair and was happy to pay the cost and give the chair a new home. As he looked at the nicks and scars, he envisioned the tiny feet that kicked against the arms. He grinned as he saw in his imagination the hands that patted and rocked several generations. However, it wasn’t enough to understand the original purpose. It wasn’t enough to comprehend the events that battered and scarred the wooden slats. There was still work left to be done.

One day, the gentleman knew the time was right to start the process of restoration. If the chair had a mind, it would wonder why it was being removed from the cozy corner. “Why is he taking me off the wonderful, soft rug by the fireplace and out in the cold garage?” “Why am I being thrown from the house, out of sight?” “Maybe he realizes that I can’t be used…I’m broken, bent and wobbly, not fit any more.” Then, the man begins the work. First with sand paper, then removing splintered pieces altogether, rubbing, sanding, causing new abrasions. “Why? Why? Why is he doing this to me?”

Then…the tools. Taking pieces apart. “Now, I’m completely useless! Torn apart, laying here, you can’t even tell I’m a chair!” “I was purchased and redeemed, and now this doesn’t make sense why he has abandoned me! When he does come, it’s to remove more, sand more, open more wounds, pouring stuff in! I was looking pretty good there for a while by the fireplace, in the living room! Why was I banished and torn apart in this manner?”

But the man knows. He knows what the chair was created for. He knows the abuse and use it had gone through. He also knew the true worth even while sitting dusty with a worn price tag, ready for the first taker. He knew the place where the rocker would go, once clean and free of dust and grime. But he also knew the work wasn’t done until the chair was fully restored. He knew what it would take and set the pace of the task. Sometimes waiting for the glue to dry, sometimes re-sanding and filling in cracks, sometimes setting the clamps and leaving it for days. He wasn’t willing to settle at the purchase. He wasn’t ready to leave things as they were even after the redemption, but he desired full restoration for the relationship to be complete. Better than ever before. More sturdy. More beautiful. Functional and fully operational. Shining, loved, restored.

Occasional cleaning would still be done. Nicks and scratches still buffed out from time to time. Relationship. Continual care between creator and the creation.

Capture This Moment


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November 10, 2015. Missouri. The time. The date. The place. As if somehow I can capture this moment and trap it so that it stays. Too many moments pass me by too fast. Too many dates grasp something bad; something good and then run past before I can perceive them, understand them, hold them. They are yanked from me. Just as they come unbidden, they quickly depart leaving me either poignant or wounded. I’m forced to be shocked into reality of the following day or healed, but sometimes I can’t tell which. A conglomeration of both swirl inside me and as I try to make sense of it all, God sends me a message through a friend that I haven’t met and says:

“Be still and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10

Thoughts Like Oceans


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Its “funny” how a thought will trigger the memory that has been put away. Whether a good-feeling memory, or whether a catastrophic event, or even a hurtful circumstance. One word, one smell, one simple thought about something seemingly unrelated and the little leak springs out wetting all other thoughts that follow. Sometimes we can merely patch the little hole and go on. If it’s a good memory, we can dwell on it…let it linger just a bit; savoring the sweet moment.

At other times, the thoughts come like a sudden downpour, filling and attempting to overflow the ditches. It takes a little longer but eventually the rain stops and the water ebbs; the ditches drain into a lake, the sea or the distant ocean, by that time already forgotten.

If you’ve passed through a horrifying experience, a deep agonizing, hurtful situation, a thought can be a wave of the ocean that knocks you down and drags you out; tumbles you around, over and over and you can scarcely catch your breath. You try to get up but another wave hits you in the back before you are able to get your bearings. Do you keep fighting or do you give up to the overwhelming swell? That in itself is terrifying enough. But keep fighting you must as you know that the waves will subside. You will make it back to shore. You will be drenched. You will drag your feet through the soggy sand that sucks every step. You choke up the salt water that burns your nose, your eyes, your throat, but you’re stepping on more solid shore and then on to dry sand. Safe. Drained. Weary. But safe.

I’ve Got a Marriage Tip or Two


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I can’t believe it! My blog is about marriage advice? Actually, yes. Well, a book review about marriage advice: “Four Secrets to a Forever Marriage (Marriage Tips From a Not So Perfect Husband)” by Michael Letney with Karen Hardin.

Wow! This is not your average marriage advice book, folks! I was dubious at first when I agreed to review this book. For so many reasons that I cannot or will not go into right here, basically I am turned off by marriage advice books of any kind. To give you sort of a quick background-catch-up, I am happily married to a perfect husband but (big but) I have been divorced twice. At the time of my second round, I was convinced that people who do not know the circumstances would pretty much think that I am high risk and wouldn’t approach me for fear that it was catching. Even though my dad said that he had been praying for me a mate, and I trust my dad’s fervent prayers, this one was a no-brainer. It wouldn’t reach the heavens. I didn’t want it to reach the heavens. I wasn’t putting myself through that again. But God heard and God answered. It was pretty funny actually. If I had of been praying myself for a husband, he met all the criteria that I would have asked for, had I been asking, which I wasn’t. But I digress…My parents are 60 plus years married. I grew up spoiled, seeing first-hand how two people can completely love one another through thick and thin. I knew it was hard work, and I knew it wasn’t always as easy as it seemed, but I also believed that was what I would have. I didn’t! Twice, I didn’t.

I’ve been to numerous marriage seminars, counseling sessions – couple’s and single (that would be me) counseling groups, recovery groups, and even facilitated and led a few. Needless to say, I’ve been able to categorize what I hear coming across the podium into categories. My categories would be “You’ve got to be kidding”, “You haven’t lived long enough to know”, “I wonder if your wife agrees”, “Wow, where did this couple come from?”…etc. From one who has been through the gambit of marriage problems and back (somber note here: from physical abuse to drug abuse), there’s just something about hearing some things that leave you wondering where people got their credentials. It’s just not real world!

Having said that, I’ve often wondered who would be the perfect person to give marriage advice? The so-called marriage experts who have studied and classified and psychologized? (I’ve read a few of their books.) The “perfect couple” like my parents who are working on 65 years of it? OR…. Me? Why are you laughing? I mean, get real, I’ve been through 2 lifetimes as married with kids, single mom raising kids-twice, and now, happily married with kids and step kids and 14 grandkids! What you are going through, chances are, I’ve been there already! I know what definitely not to do, should do, shouldn’t do, could do, and ideal in a perfect world to do. Ok, so I’m joking, but seriously I have given it some thought. Do we listen to perfect advice from a perfect couple having a perfect marriage experience? Because, that’s just not your average couple! (We go away saying something like, “Well, that might work for THEM, but my mate would NEVER….” Or possibly: “They’ve never lived with my Harry (or my Sally)!”) Right?

Then, I lay my hands on this book. It’s small but packed full of interesting stuff! It’s real. It’s you and it’s me. It’s our sister, or our brother or the neighbors. It’s about transparency, truth, trust and unity. It’s about stuff that has gone through the thrashing and taken a beating and comes out on top. It’s painful and real but amazing and great. It’s healing, powerful and…well, it’s just plain honest. It’s something you can believe in about relationships, commitment and love, even if you need a miracle to get there. I promise! And I ought to know.