Thursday, October 27, 2011

God Makes Lemonade ~ Created by Don Jacobson

Has life handed you a few lemons?  Some much larger than others, I bet.

Well, Don Jacobson has compiled a collection of "true stories that sweeten & inspire" in his book God Makes Lemonade.  In this collection, Don (who is the former president and owner of a major publishing company, Multnomah) has given us several true, short stories written in the words of the people who experienced them.  Each story is unique, though they all share the quality of reminding us how God truly does turn some very sour life situations into a sweet, refreshing drink of Living Water when we need it most.

Some stories will make you laugh, many will make you cry (or at least get a little moisture in your eyes)...but all do remind you that you are not alone in the trials you face in life.

From a story of a father who learned to show love and grace to his son after initially belittling him for his uncontrollable bedwetting problem, to stories of dire financial straights and the strength that came through enduring those times and learning of God's loving provision first-hand, to stories of unexpected and unwanted health issues, to a story of twins who share a unique bond that is miraculously enhanced through a life-threatening many true life events and lessons...straight from those who have lived them.

If you so choose to read this first installment of a planned series, you may discover that you even know someone who has written in it (as I do!).  You may even feel led to submit your own story.  Additionally, by purchasing this book you will be benefiting the LemonAid Foundation which is a foundation that directly supports single mothers ~ a group of people Don Jacobson and his wife Brenda are passionate about helping.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer

Unexpected interruptions in life and schedules...truly the story of my life.

In writing Life Interrupted: Navigating the Unexpected, Priscilla Shirer has practically written much of the story of my life.  And she has never even met me!  How is this?!  Apparently my life situations and struggles are not quite as unique as I once thought.  What a comforting realization.

Of all of the books I have read in the past few months, I would say this one speaks most specifically to me.  As a matter of fact, I believe that you may discover the same for yourself if you so choose to venture into the waters of Jonah's story as told by Priscilla.

Jonah's story may be a bit familiar to most who have read the Bible or even heard Bible stories throughout their life.  However, I have never read nor thought of Jonah's story in quite the way Priscilla Shirer presents it in Life Interrupted.  For probably the first time ever, I actually found myself identifying with Jonah rather than judging him.

Have unexpected, even unwanted interruptions come your way causing your life course to be frustratingly altered?

Have you had a very large virtual fish swallow you in order to force you back on a path or mission you were trying to avoid and even run from?
Then I share with you something Priscilla says on this matter,
“…No matter how remote and relaxing, nothing fills the void of the abandoned purpose. Nothing feels the same anymore when you’re running from God.” 
Have you made a mess of your life in the past? 
Then, I echo a quote Priscilla shares by a lady named Carol Kent when she says,
"My mess has become my greatest message."
If you can say yes to any or all of the above, you may identify with Jonah more than you think.  And you will definitely identify with Life Interrupted.

Additionally,  I would like to leave you with an encouraging and true reminder from Priscilla,
“When we respond to our second chances by obeying Him with new determination, entirety, and abandon, His Word and work can do amazing things through us, enough to spill over into second chances for lots of others.”
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher from B&H 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.”

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Content as a Turtle in a Sewage Canal

In the New Orleans area, our two most common road dividers are "the neutral ground" (a.k.a. the median) and canals.

If you don't know your way around the city and especially its suburbs (Metairie, Jefferson, Kenner, etc.) you are highly likely to become frustrated with the amount of canals you run into when you think you can head in a certain direction and find your way.  Once you come upon one, you have to creatively maneuver your way around it through a series of turns and u-turns.  (Can you sense that I speak from experience?!)

So, though I have had many newcomers' days of driving frustration in learning the lay of the land in this town that I love, I think I can now safely say I have mostly got it figured out...mostly.

My current frequent work-day commute takes me down the famed "West Esplanade" (rhymes with lemon-ade, by the way...and yes, it is the one mentioned in the song "New Orleans Ladies" by LeRoux...go ahead...sing it now, I know you want to...).

What do you think is the main divider of this busy road?  Yep---a canal.

As I am scurrying along with traffic to and from work, I often glance (or gaze if traffic is backed up) at the activity in the canal.

Life is happening in that algae-covered, murky basin.  I guess those egrets, speckled ducks, and turtles didn't get the memo about their sub-par living environment.

Turtles are often lined up on rusty pipes sunbathing in a peaceful contentment I actually envy.  Occasionally one or two will take a dive into the dark abyss to cool off then come and perch themselves back in their sunbathing spot.

Egrets glide along low near the water then alight on some of the same rusty pipes.  Not an apparent care in the world.

Red, black, and white speckled ducks waddle along the grass right near the busy road then make their way to the inviting water as well.  I think I've even seen some chickens hanging out with them, too.

You know, I have learned a lesson from those canal-dwellers and I think you can as well.

No matter what our life circumstances and surroundings, contentment is the only way to go.  The peace that comes with being truly thankful for our many unrecognized blessings and with trusting our Maker, Jesus Christ, to protect and provide for us---that peace is unexplainable and unmatched.  That peace comes with contentment...or maybe it's the contentment that comes with peace.  Hmmm...which came first---the canal chicken or the egg?

Do you have the contentment of a canal dweller?  

Pray today for that peace that is indescribable.
You may just find yourself pleasantly surprised by it once God brings it to you.  
I can't explain it, but it is true and real.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, 
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, 
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, 
whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

I am not saying this because I am in need, 
for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. 
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, 
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 
But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

Keep your lives free from the love of money 
and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you; 
never will I forsake you.”

So we say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. 
What can mere mortals do to me?”

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.

The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.

The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; 
its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, 
because they trust in you.

"But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, 
will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you
I do not give to you as the world gives. 
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." - Jesus