“God is patiently transfiguring all the notes of my life into the song of His Son.” ~Ann Voskamp~
Archives For September 2011
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” ~II Corinthians 4:7~
Why do we love stories like The Frog Prince and Beauty and the Beast? Because in the midst of our shallow, looks-obsessed culture, something deep down in our hearts calls out to remind us that a person’s true beauty is hidden inside. We would know this if only we trained our eyes to see past the outward shell and focus on what lasts for eternity.
Megan’s Secrets, by Mike Cope, tells the story of an incredible soul named Megan, who came to the world in the type of physical body many would overlook. Megan was born with a rare genetic syndrome, which left her mentally disabled and gave her an asymmetrical face and growing weaknesses in her kidney, heart, and lungs. She blessed her family for ten years.
Reading Mike’s tender description of Megan’s short life and incredible impact on those around her was a heartbreaking and beautiful experience. For many adults, Megan challenged their materialism, anger, hunger for power, and lack of concern for others. Meeting Megan and Mike through the pages of this book inspired me to take a deeper look at the folks around me and try to see them for who they really are.
Here’s a small taste of Mike’s testimony to his cherished daughter: “Megan’s simple-yet-profound life taught us that God is a heart specialist who looks deeper than accidents of birth.
On the day she died, Diane and I were leaning over her praying for her, telling her we loved her, and assuring her it was all right to go . . . The moment she took her last breath in the pediatric intensive care unit, my mother stood up from her chair behind us and began singing Megan’s favorite song:
I may never march in the infantry,
Ride in the cavalry,
Shoot the artillery.
I may never fly o’er the enemy,
But I’m in the Lord’s army.
Later it hit me. Megan had been preparing us her whole life with her simple little song. It’s like she’d been telling us that there were many things she’d never do, but we shouldn’t worry, because she’s in the Lord’s army. There’s a little grave outside Abilene that bears her name, the dates of her abbreviated life, and then the words, ‘I’m in the Lord’s army.’
This tiny minister taught me more than I learned in ninety hours of graduate school. She taught me that God will use my brokenness to His glory. She reminded me that the power is God’s, not mine. She made me remember that we are often fascinated with things that may be impressive from the outside but which may not be that important to God. She taught me that what really matters has to do with the heart: keeping promises, seeking justice in a brutal world, learning to see those in greatest need, and living with courage, joy, and unconditional love.”
Mike shares four major secrets on which he elaborates with Bible teaching, others’ personal stories of love and loss, and quotes from great thinkers. What are Megan’s secrets?
- God is a heart specialist
- Weak is the new strong
- Life together is our only hope
- The end is not the end
Then Mike leaves us with this beautiful poem by John O’Donohue
~On the Death of the Beloved~
Though we need to weep your loss,
You dwell in that safe place in our hearts
Where no storm or night or pain can reach you.
Your love was like the dawn
Brightening our lives . . .
Whatever you enfolded in your gaze
Quickened in the joy of its being;
You place smiles like flowers
On the altar of the heart . . .
Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,
We know our soul’s gaze is upon your face,
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement . . .
May you continue to inspire us:
To enter each day with a generous heart.
To serve the call of courage and love
Until we see your beautiful face again
In that land where there is no separation,
Where all tears will be wiped from our mind,
And where we will never lose you again.
If you have suffered a terrible grief, lost your first love for the folks who people your world, said good-bye to cherished dreams, or know someone who has, this book can offer inspiration and healing balm. Follow this link to purchase Megan’s story. ***Thanks to the B&B Media Group for providing my review copy.
Giveaway: Since I’ll be leaving for the ACFW Conference Wednesday morning, I’m planning for this to be my last September Giveaway Post. At the end of September, I’m giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card. If you leave a comment on this post, I’ll enter you in the giveaway one more time. If things go well at the conference, maybe I’ll give away two gift cards
Reality shows have taken our culture by storm. Probably all of us have whiled away an hour or two watching a real life person cook a meal, decorate a room, compete in a talent contest, raise a family, or plan a wedding. The other day, I even watched a young woman have a baby. (It was tastefully filmed, of course!)
In the first chapter of The Chocolate Diaries, Karen Scalf Linamen compares life to a popular reality show. Here’s what she says . . .
“Unfortunately, when I watch the Food Network, the programs that seem to best represent my life are part of a series called Chopped. In every episode up-and-coming chefs compete for ten thousand dollars by whipping up extravagant dishes in thirty minutes or less. The timer starts as each chef is given a basket containing three or four ingredients that must be included in the dish.
I’m not talking about flour, sugar, and eggs. These chefs have to create dishes using zany combinations such as . . .
- Oranges, grapefruit, and bacon!
- Or apples, shrimp, and peanut butter.
- My favorite episode is the one where the chefs are asked to create an appetizer with chocolate and sardines. A tasty chocolate-and-fish appetizer. You should see the looks on their faces.
And then the timer starts.
Now that’s real life.
After all, you and I are given a limited amount of time on earth. (Sure, it’s longer than thirty minutes, although we’re never sure how much longer. Thirty years? Sixty? Ninety?) Then we’re given a variety of zany ingredients with which to make something of our lives. Inevitably, some of the ingredients are things we don’t want and may not even know how to handle.
Just yesterday a woman was telling me about her pending divorce. Through tears she said, ‘It’s not what I thought I’d have to deal with in my life.’ I’ve had that same feeling. My guess is that you have, too.
As we stare into the kitchens of our lives, we see all sorts of ingredients we didn’t ask for . . . We can even become convinced the we’ve been given such bitter ingredients that nothing can ever make our lives sweet again.
After all, it’s hard to imagine even a skillful chef making something palatable out of a childhood hurt, a mistake from long ago, baggage from a difficult marriage, or lingering disappointment. But this philosophy suggest that the ingredients are more important than the life they produce. Don’t believe it!”
Back to me: I love reading stories of how God brought various fellow travelers through the tough times in their lives and met some amazing people through Karen’s book. Their personal testimonies bolstered my strength and renewed my hope. Some of the anecdotes Karen shares made me laugh out loud—which is an effective joy-inducer. I learned from the many practical suggestions about how to handle day-to-day stresses or make life fun no matter what our circumstances may be. And I especially loved the Chocolatherapy generously sprinkled throughout the pages, including yummy recipes like Grilled Chocolate Sandwiches (featuring heavy cream) and Microwave S’mores.
If you know someone who needs encouragement, this little book would make a great gift! I’d feature it in a basket with some special kinds of chocolate or with the ingredients of one of the recipes. You can grab a copy at this link. ***Thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah for providing a copy for me to review. I already have plans to pass it on to a friend.
Giveaway: This is a September Giveaway Post. At the end of September, I’m giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card. If you leave a comment on this post, I’ll enter you in the giveaway. If you rate my review, I’ll enter you twice!
Rate my review: I reviewed this story for the Blogging for Books Program. If you rate my review, it opens the way for me to choose another book and enters you in two giveaways. Rating is a two-step process. 1. Rate my review here.
2. Check your email account for a message from Blogging for Books and click their link to verify your email. 3. Let me know that you’ve verified your email, and I’ll enter you again in the giveaway or simply say, Thanks! 4. Also, if you rate my review, you’ll be entered in a giveaway by WaterBrook Multnomah. They’ll choose one person who rates my review to receive a copy of the book for themselves.
Before you go, check out my favorite recipe from the book . . .
Three-Minute Chocolate Cake in a Mug
1 large coffee mug
4 tbs. flour (not self-rising)
4 tbs. sugar
2 tbs. cocoa
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
3 tbs. milk (my sub strong coffee)
3 tbs. oil
2 tbs. choco chips
1 tbs. chopped pecans
Small splash of vanilla
Add dry ingredients to mug and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Pour in milk and oil and mix well. Add chips, nuts, and vanilla, and mix again. Put mug in microwave and cook for 2 minutes. (Depending on strength of microwave, cook a little less or a little longer.)
“The brave never die though they sleep in dust. Their courage nerves a thousand living men.” ~Minot J. Savage~
“Who kept the faith and fought the fight. The glory theirs; the duty ours.” ~Wallace Bruce~
This is the mural that greets me each morning when I enter Upton Lake Christian High School. A student’s mom created the scene. Amazing, isn’t it? As if the vistas I take in as I drive the Taconic Parkway aren’t enough, this painting reminds me of the beauty God surrounds me with. He’s so good!
“All creation proclaims His glory” is the theme we’ll build our year around. Psalm 96 shares this so well. I especially love to soak in these verses . . .
Let the heavens rejoice,
Let the earth be glad;
Let the sea resound,
And all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant,
And everything in them;
Let all the trees of the forest
Sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for He comes,
He comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
And the peoples in his faithfulness.
My classroom is all ready for students, and hopefully, I am, too! We teachers are praying that God will help us bring Him glory in each lesson, each activity, each book that we read. And that our students will want to join that chorus of praise with all that they are.
Any of you who are like-minded might say a little prayer for our school today. If you feel like leaving an encouraging comment, that would be great!! Blessings!
I’ve always been fascinated by the kind of men and women who decide to become cops. These are the folks who work hard to prevent crime, even to the point of performing daring acts of rescue and self-sacrifice.
But once an illegal act occurs, another side of the cop personality comes out. That’s when police officers follow a careful procedure, a series of steps that helps them solve the crime. They fit the aberrations of human behavior into some kind of manageable form, which provides evidence for prosecutors to use.
Actor Jerry Orbach, who played Lenny Briscoe on Law & Order, first won me over to become a fan of police procedurals. More recently, I discovered the Precinct 11 Series by Jerry Jenkins, which features a great lead character named Boone Drake. Boone is a Chicago cop, who has had to overcome a life-altering tragedy. His story begins in The Brotherhood, where he learns that God can change the hardest of hearts—including his own.
The Betrayal, which picks up where the first book leaves off, shares a harrowing adventure. The woman Boone loves is being framed, and Boone’s life is in danger. He struggles to investigate in spite of the injuries he received at the end of The Brotherhood. Though he’s physically handicapped by his unhealed wounds, his inner man is stronger this time around. His new-found faith helps him win the day against all his enemies.
This series offers fast-paced action, an everyman hero, and a touch of romance, all tied together with a tough cord of faith. If this type of story is not your style, I bet you know someone who would love it. These books would make great gifts for the men in your life, from high school age on up. And Christmas is just around the corner!
***Thanks to the Tyndale Blog Network for providing a copy of The Betrayal for me to review. Follow this link to pick up the book for yourself or for that special action-loving guy in your life.
Giveaway: This post is the first September Giveaway Post! This September is a special month because I see my high school students again and then I’m off to the ACFW Conference in St. Louis. (Can’t wait!) To celebrate, I’m giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card at the end of the month. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below.
“God’s gifts put man’s best dreams to shame.”
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning~