There are many lessons we learn in today's new normal. Some of the lessons are easy and others require much thought and processing in our minds.
As you think about the past few weeks and the multitude of changes, how do you see yourself in the weeks to come? Yes, these are times of unknown. Yes, life will not go back to the same. Yes, we need to accept this change. Yes, you can!
You have the strength, ingenuity, ability, and power to move forward with hope, joy, and curiosity. Don't focus on the negative and unknown, focus on the excitement and possibilities of new things. Some days will be easier than others but the way in which we react, model for those watching where we put our faith. I have faith in a God that knows what tomorrow will bring and I need to trust Him as I anticipate the new normal. Who do you have faith in?
You have the ability with faith in God
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Do you have a favorite Jazz artist and/or song?
Share in a comment below...
I have a new appreciation for going out and looking for the place that seems to beckon or call us in for lunch or a drink. During our time of COVID-19 restrictions and the encouragement to shelter-in-place, the only table most are sitting at...the kitchen table. How can we experience a new meal or location when going out might put us, and the ones we love, at risk? What if we invite someone in?
Wait, hold the phone! No one can come over either. Yikes! These new times are unlike anything most of have experienced. We might not be able to invite a real person over for dinner or tea BUT if you could invite ANYONE, yes, anyone, over...who is it?
Who is the first person you want to have dinner or coffee with once restrictions are lifted? Who is the one person you wish you had the courage to invite over but haven't? If money and location weren't an issue, WHO is joining you at the dinner table? Why?
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
for the LORD your God goes with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you."
Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV
Who can you imagine joining you at the table?
In this fun book, find out everything you ever wanted to know about this iconic snack food:
-Learn the origin of the very first pretzels and the meaning of its shape
-Explore the history of how pretzel baking evolved
-Local pretzel folklore, trivia, and true stories
-An interview transcript ~ Julius Sturgis’s grandson
-Step-by-step directions on how to twist pretzels
-Some of the Sturgis family’s favorite pretzel recipes
"You've probably already gathered that I'm an author, but my work as a wordslinger is just a small part of the big dream Jesus put in my heart long ago- to live in a world where the good news of Jesus Christ has been shared with every single person in every country, group, tribe, and village.
Every day, I do my humanly best to obediently live, write, and give my life in a way that ultimately serves that God-glorifying purpose. What could be a more worthy calling than that?!...But what do I REALLY want you to know about me? Well, I love Jesus with all of my heart, and I want you to know His perfect love in your heart, too!"
To read Jill's full bio ~ click here.
I'll be honest, if it wasn't for meeting Jill last year at the Montrose Christian Writers Conference, I would have missed the opportunity to read this amazing little book. I am so THANKFUL for the conversations Jill and I shared and for her obedience to write the stories God's placed on her heart. I plan on investing in her other books. As I read Twisted: Mindful Pretzel Consumption, I felt as if Jill was sitting in the living room with me. Her writing style is warm, engaging, and encouraging.
First and foremost, I learned a lot about the history of pretzels and kept interrupting my daughter to share the cool facts I learned. Although the pretzel started in Europe more than 1,400 years ago, it made it's debut as the hard pretzel I LOVE during the Civil War. There are facts and myths shared. There are actual pictures dating back to 1861, sharing how the Sturgis Pretzel factory has evolved over the years.
If you are a history buff, you'll enjoy this book for the many tidbits of information. If you enjoy eating pretzels as a snack, you'll understand their taste isn't the only wonderful thing about them, they are a treat and symbol of something better. For the bakers out there, the last few pages share some of the Sturgis Pretzil recipes. In less than seventy pages you'll learn history of a family dedicated to more than serving the community with delicious pretzels, they serve God and bless others through it all.
Click here to visit her store!
What pretzel recipe will you try today?
There are two in the book I hope to try today.
If you answered yes to any of these questions then you'll want to read both of these books. Make sure you read The Child Finder first though. There is so much I'd like to share with you but then it could be a spoiler for the first book and this one, so you have to read it for yourself.
I will share my favorite paragraph in the book, yes, I have one entire paragraph that captured my attention so much that I bent the page down. (Yikes!)
Lost. You can be lost even when you've been found. You can make the wrong turn in life even if you're surrounded by people who love you. That was what suicide was, Naomi figured. It was choosing the final exit instead of another path. Not because you wanted to hurt anyone, but because you feel too hopeless to find your way home. There was more than one kind of suicide, too, more than one kind of leaving. How many people spend their entire lives not even knowing that they already left?"
The Butterfly Girl, Rene Denfeld, pg. 95
I opened the garage door with gusto and looked "over" my car. I looked back to my Dad and he said, "Look down." through his laughter. I was not laughing.
As a child, our family experiences a bad fire and lost a barn, garage, and part of the house needed an overhaul in the 80's. It was during the clean up after the fire that I found the other car you see in this picture. As the equipment worked to dig and move dirt for clean up and preparing to build the new garage and fix the house, I found this treasure. I remember washing it in a bucket and asking to keep it. I'm not sure why it intrigued me, or why I've kept it into adult hood but here it is. I like the memory and instead of returning these to the back of a drawer, they are on the bookshelf.
What do these have to do with "starting"? I didn't drive this red convertible out of the garage and have yet to own my childhood dream car. Now, as an adult, I don't want a convertible If I had my choice, I'd choose the Chevy Tahoe or a Subaru SUV. I started with the dream and landed with reality. The second car represents a few of the vehicles I owned: they weren't one's I'd choose but they fit in the budget and transported me from point A to point B. Life is about starting and moving forward.
We need to start somewhere, let our kiddos start with dreams and grandiose thoughts. They are our future and better role models of reality than watching other adults.
What are your dreams and desires? What are your goals? Don't be afraid to aim high and take chances. Whether you choose the new convertible or the old race car, the most important thing for your to do is jump in the driver's seat and START.
What do you plan to start today?
What is holding you back?
A few weeks ago I talked about how I try to not only "give up" something but I try to start something new, or renew a habit that I've let go. Last week was Holy Saturday and instead of gathering for an "upper room" prayer service.
A week later, Easter ham left overs are far and few between but the solitude and new normal continue. While sitting here and reflecting about the differences of this Easter and year's past, I looked down. I contemplated how this year's Lent and Easter, while different for us, are more similar to the first Easter. I wear a few bracelets every day, today, the cross left an impression on my skin. This made me think of the holes in Jesus hands and feet, evidence of God's ultimate sacrifice...His Only Son.
How do others know I believe in Jesus? How would strangers know who my faith is in? Am I witness of Jesus' love and faithfulness? A week after Easter, do you still acknowledge the ultimate sacrifice? What does your life reflect to show this?
As you reflect on Good Friday and anticipate Easter morning, what is the greatest prayer on your heart?
As I watched some Juggling the Jenkins videos one day, I came across one of her more serious videos and I learned there is a serious side to this uplifting and humorous woman. I'm not sure how, I think it might have been a pop up add for her book, High Achiever: The Incredible True Story of One Addict's Double Life. I enjoy reading and especially to read someone's testimony or life story, when I looked up her book and read the blurb, I ordered it. I'm thankful I did. Like most people, our lives have been touched by an addict in some way.
I like to learn and expand my knowledge base, while gaining a better understanding for things I don't have personal experience with. My friend, Patrick, has a podcast, We Live on A Planet. Although I've been friends since we were in grade school yet I was unaware of the secret battle he had for years. I felt like a bad friend for not noticing and have apologized to him. After reading this book I learned a valuable lesson, addicts are clever and ingenious at hiding their addiction.
Tiffany Jenkins shares with overwhelming honesty and integrity. I felt as if I sat in the jail cell with her, found myself yelling at the book, as if the other people could hear me. I laughed at times and cried because of her pain, and then for my own reasons - addiction is a beast and disease. It has the ability to transform the most wonderful people into someone they never thought they would be, and worst yet, hold them hostage in this person they don't want to be BUT, they, you, can OVERCOME THE ADDICTION!! IT IS POSSIBLE! DON'T GIVE UP!
When Tiffany Jenkin's world crashed, she didn't run or play games with the courts. She owned up to everything and welcomed help in rehab. She CHOSE TO LIVE free of addiction. My friend chose freedom too and said the intense rehab he went to was worth every minute. I share this with you because I also know a woman who advocates for loved one's of addicts. Michele Weidenbenner, is an author, blogger, and podcaster advocating to help loved one's of addicts to know they aren't alone and how to be there when their addict is ready for help.
I recommend this book as a deep and honest look into one addict's double life and look at how she has used the lessons learned to turn her life around, using her gifts for good and to encourage others. Remember not to judge, we don't know the miles someone else has walked. We all have a story to tell, Tiffany's is worth your time.
Have you enjoyed any Juggling the Jenkins Videos?
Which is your favorite?
- The new normal has grown old
- I need to separate home and school
- My mental state of mind is overwhelmed
- I had to figure out how to separate, improve my mental state, and resume some normalcy within our home
I could sit in my comfy chair yet when I looked up, I felt smothered. The piles of school work, textbooks, schedules, work, and my school laptop eliminated any relaxation I attempted. I could read my book but each time I looked up, the clutter confined me. Instead of piles of books to read, Bible studies, or writing projects awaiting and enticing me...the never ending school work was stacked on top of the leisure and relaxation. It wasn't until Friday morning that I had an idea of how to create a healthy balance. The cancelled coffee date was a gift of time and energy, I reclaimed my home and created a work space.
The next project was to clean and reclaim our living room and eating space. My comfy chair is open and a welcoming me again. As I sat in my chair over the weekend, the view was of hope, inspiration, comfort, and relaxation. I spent time reading, writing, blogging, and podcasting. It was wonderful and offered the rejuvination needed. Since we don't know how long we'll be sheltered in place, it's necessary to balance home and work so you are able to maintain recharging when home.
If you have children and others living with you, they are watching you. Model a healthy and productive life in the midst of crisis.
We are all forced to live in this new normal and we each have the choice in how we respond, model, and live the healthiest lifestyle possible. Every couple weeks I reevaluate what is working and what isn't working. Reassess, make the necessary changes. How are you reaching out to help and encourage others? Have you written a note to someone today? Have you called a loved one? Did you do the laundry and dishes? When is the last time you showered? If you can't remember, take a shower.
Some of the routine things you've let go will uplift you in ways you can't imagine. Spend time reading, playing games, and recreating your space. You deserve it!
What are you doing or changing to maintain
a healthy mind and body?
Share your tips in a comment below.
by Juanita Campbell
Bearer of light and love, open my eyes.
Disappointment has been my companion all along the way.
I have been perplexed, my illusions shattered to death.
Where are you?
Walk with me, Lord.
Don’t you realize what has happened; are you unaware?
Everyone knows what’s been going on.
I know that you are mighty in deed and word; do something!
I had hoped that you would rescue me before now.
Open your word to me.
Speak to me of the prophets and all they have declared.
Show me your long time coming in the word.
Don’t get out ahead of me, stay with me.
Break bread with me for the evening has almost come.
In the blessing and breaking and giving of bread,
I see that it is you.
The light has come; the love has been poured out in me again.
It is you, Beloved, bearer of light and love!
You have opened my eyes.
Permission is granted for use in corporate setting.
Copyright © 2011 The Upper Room. Used with permission.
Juanita Campbell Rasmus partners with her husband Rudy in marriage and ministry at St. John’s United Methodist Church in downtown Houston. They have 2 grown daughters. Juanita developed an innovative, therapeutic art program for the homeless, theartprojecthouston.org.
What is your heart's prayer today?
The main character, Naomi, is a recovered child. She is placed in foster care and adopted by her her Foster Mom, Mrs. Cottle. The book shares Naomi's search for missing children on the surface with a couple different story lines happening at the same time. While Naomi looks for a missing girl, she also searches for herself and love. Does she find it? I'd love to tell you but don't want to be known as a spoiler.
I will say this, as I went to write this review, I learned there is a sequel. I've ordered the book and can't wait for it to arrive as it will answer some of the questions I stayed awake wondering about. This is a well written story with suspense, hope, fear, and love. It will keep you up at night, because you'll say, "Just one more chapter.", until it's 4 a.m. Then you'll want to know more. Rene Denfeld doesn't disappoint. I look forward to reading the next book and will share my review for that one too.
Have you read The Child Finder yet?
Do you have a book recommendation to share?
Before I share my review, here's a snip-it about this talented author. Nancy Mehl's ability to capture your heart, increase your heart rate, and fall in love with the characters is inspiring. As an author, her talent and gift to write is something I could only aspire for in my writing career. After you check out her website, read my review.
including the Road to Kingdom, Finding Sanctuary,
and Defenders of Justice series.
She received the ACFW Mystery Book of the Year Award
in 2009. She writes from her home in Missouri,
where she lives with her husband, Norman,
and their puggle, Watson.
To visit Nancy Mehl's website: CLICK HERE
My husband enjoyed watching me read because he told me, "It must be a good book. Your sound effects are interesting." We both laughed and I went back to reading. If you read series, or trilogies, then you know it's a challenge for the third book and beyond to keep your attention. Nancy Mehl's writing gives enough history from the first two books to read this as a stand alone yet with the background knowledge, you fall in love with the characters deeper with the snip-its from book one and two. I narrowed down the guilty a few times and in the end...I was...???
Yup, I can't say anymore because I want you to read and enjoy the suspense and increased heart rate like I had. Before you start reading, remember to lock your door and turn your ringer off. The little sounds of your house will make you jump if they happen at certain scenes. I highly recommend this book, and entire series. Road to Kindgom is another great series. I'm not an Amish story reader but Nancy Mehl's ability to bring the outside world and suspense into the Amish town captivated me from the first book to the third.
click on the book cover of each below.
If you are a Nancy Mehl fan,
what is one adjective
you'd use to describe her writing?
Here's the challenging part, to find a place where you can distance your mind from your own thoughts, your worries, and your own anxiety. This is not easy. Part of the reason it's so difficult, there isn't a cookie cutter detachment process. Each individual is different, so the response and way to distance oneself and refocus will also be different.
“Cast all your worries upon
him because he cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7
Once you settle in, let go of your worries and troubles. share them with God. He cares.
“The Lord bless you and keep you!
The Lord let his face shine upon you,
and be gracious to you!
The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!”
What are you doing to relax?
Who are you sharing your troubles with?
I was raised in a family who, for the most part, used humor as their medicine. If you've attended calling hours for a member of my family, the laughter and story telling might have made you feel uncomfortable but for us, this is how we cope. For the most part, we try to keep the ugly crying and depression behind closed doors. It's not that we are wearing a mask, instead, we have learned over time that it's easier to laugh and remember our loved ones when we are surrounded by others with a mutual love and respect for the deceased.
What would happen if we never took time in our life to make those memories? What if we collected things, instead of moments. The only thing we would have are tears and regrets. I choose to live in the moment and make memories. As I parent and teach, I strive to leave a legacy. I want others to know it's possible to smile, laugh, and enjoy life in spite of the struggles or challenges the world might throw in one's direction.
I don't know what your personal struggle is today, but as a world and community, recent events have most people focusing on the memory making and the moments, not the things. As you say your prayers today, thank God for the moments you were able to experience and share with others. Thank God for the breath in your lungs, whether it is weak or healthy. As long as you have breath in your lungs, God has a plan and mission for you, I hope you are able to see the journey before you and share the moment and memories with everyone you meet.
What is your favorite moment so far this week?
I labeled the picture and formulated "sentences". My Mom told me when I looked through my baby book as a teen, "you were always writing and telling the best stories, I had to save at least one."
To be an author was my dream. Dad encouraged me yet told me to make sure I "got a real job to pay the bills." My first grade teacher, Mrs. Emerson, on the other hand, she said, "You are a good writer, one day you'll be an author." I think it's the balance of my Dad's practical side, my Mom's dreamer side, and Mrs. Emerson's, reach for the stars mentality that molded me into the person, and author, I am today.
No one ever said, "You can't" or "You won't", instead they promoted the go-getter and dreamer with a touch of reality tossed into the mix. I'm grateful for my parents and the teachers who teamed up to make me into the writer and author I am.
Who encouraged you to channel your inner artist?
I don't know where you fall in this spectrum but here is where I'm at. I'm using this time to get ahead on my blogs, finish my Easter Devotional, spend unexpected time with y daughter, and creating the to-do-list of all lists. This is an opportunity to stay home and get all those things done we always wished we had time to do. Now is the time, what are you waiting for?
If you are a healthcare worker, first responder, politician, working in a grocery store and retail, or unable to stay at home with your kids...THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU ARE DOING TO KEEP US SAFE, WELL FED, AND TAKEN CARE OF. Regardless of where you find yourself during this time of isolation, you are never alone. Instead of focusing all that is wrong, lean on God and trust Him to care for you. He is always with you!
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How have you seen God working in your life today?
Not often, but sometimes, plans change. Last Friday, we had the opportunity to connect with my cousin. I haven't seen him since I was knee high, and my Dad, it was over twenty years. When opportunities like this are available, we seize the moment and catch up with family and friends. We had so much fun, laughed and visited, and look forward to doing this again in the future. With this being said, since we hadn't planned on being out of the house for a few hours, the television turned off and there was no radio. We learned that our pup likes, and possibly, needs the sound on when she's left home alone.
In three years, this only happened one other time and it was when we forgot to leave the radio on. Why do I share this lesson learned? Simple, when you are facing a pandemic and tissue supplies are limited, remember to turn the radio on. I'm not playing down the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I have a choice, as do you. We can live in fear and increased stress levels that will impact our future health OR we can find reasons to smile and to laugh.
In the midst of stress, I tent to laugh and crack jokes. This is my coping mechanism. What is yours? We all have a way we "get through" the tough times, mine, for today, lies on the floor in the remnants of a tissue box. If I'm short on tissues in the days or weeks ahead, I'll cry then. For now, I choose to laugh and spread joy.
What are your coping mechanisms in times of stress?
On some levels, it's the twist and turns that keep us on our toes. We learn from each one. Some we handle the right way, other times, we fail BUT we still learn. I've never weighed my good and bad choices on a scale but there is one thing I know for sure, experiential learning was part of them all.
This week, for T.O.P.'s Tuesday, I thought it would be a good time to share a few things I've learned, or was reminded of, this week:
1) You can 100% and some will still want more
2) You can't make everyone happy at the same time
3) When one thing is crossed off the list, another is added
4) Tomorrow is not a guarantee
5) It's hard to put yourself first
In response to my five reminders/lessons of the week, I have words of wisdom for myself, and you, if you choose to keep reading:
1) Only you can choose to say "no" when you've reached your limit
2) Accept that others won't like it, or understand, when you say no
3) You are the list writer, before you add a new item, ask yourself, "Is this important?"
4) Before you respond or react, how will you feel if it's left unresolved?
5) It's necessary to take time for yourself to avoid burnout (and being miserable to the people you love the most)
My husband usually does this because I struggle so much with it but I did it myself this year. Some of you reading this are thinking, "what's the big deal? It's just moving the clock ahead an hour. Get over it lady!" Well, this is why I did it myself this year. As I work on completing my new book and devotional, "Not Just an Easter Devo", I'm facing fears and accepting the challenges I give my readers.
Don't worry, I don't challenge anyone to change their clock, this is my hurdle to jump, not yours. This is the beauty of writing a devotional.st I have the opportunity to challenge my readers, and myself, at the same time. Although it's not available yet, there are a few lucky readers enjoying it during this year's Lenten season. My negative, I haven't had as much time to write since returning to work and my normal, way-to-busy, schedule. The positive, my readers are asking for the next week's devotionals. I printed them off over the weekend and got them into their hands. Phew...
Here's the deal, part of my busyness comes from not saying "no" enough, and saying "yes" when I know it will stretch me thin. I need to reread the books from earlier in the year, or find a blog that reinforces the, "It's okay to say no", philosophy. It's a challenge because I come from a long line of "puterers". This isn't a real word, unless you are in my family. We like to putter, so a person that putters, is a putterer.
Basically, this means our puttering often is more than the average person does in a day, at least according to my husband and some of my friends. As I face more opportunities to putter, pray I learn to prioritize better and use the word "no" more often. It might be a short, two letter word, but goodness is it hard to use. What's up with that? If you are able to say no to people, share in the comments ways you are able to do this. All the "yesers" and "putterers" anxiously await your wisdom.
Is it easy or challenging for you to say no?
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