Today, I’m sharing Christena’s Stephens review of “Gratitude: The Art of Being Thankful.”
For the past year and a half, I’ve been putting together a little gift book on the subject of gratitude. It’s a compilation of devotions, prayers, scripture, quotes, and lists of things to be thankful for. Before you think that I did this to teach you something, or because I think people aren’t thankful for what they have, let me assure you that I did this for myself as much or more than I did it for anyone else. I wanted to think about all the things I have to be thankful for. I wanted to remind myself of what I have. I wanted to jot down verses and quotes that I could whisper to myself in the middle of the night or when bad times come. I wanted to list those things that I sometimes take for granted and open this little book once in awhile to refresh my memory.
For many years, we have lived in a country that has been prosperous and blessed. But I think we forget just how much we do have. It’s only when we experience some kind of loss or someone close to us does that we tend to think about our blessings. Often we think of blessings as “big things,” but sometimes it’s the little things that make us stop and think. Like the time a tornado swept through our town and left a lot of people without electricity. Suddenly, we couldn’t brew a cup of coffee, use our hair dryer, or turn on a light. If you’re a coffee drinker, like I am, you were fretting the next morning after the storm because you didn’t have that cup of coffee to start the day. You either had to do without it, drive to a restaurant or fast food place that still had power, or maybe hook up a generator for a limited power supply. And then Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on the Texas coast,and we watched those people suffer great loss. And it wasn’t just our state or country, but all over the world, people were losing their homes and sometimes family members as a result of storms or some other tragedy.
All of these situations made me take a second look at how blessed I am,and I wanted a record of it. I wanted to write down my thoughts about these blessings and what I had to be thankful for. And I wanted to share those thoughts with others. The result is a little 90-page book titled, “Gratitude: The Art of Being Thankful.” I hope it will bless you and maybe you will make your own list of what you have to be thankful for.
If you’re looking for your next book to curl up with in the hammock or need something to take to the beach this summer, then I recommend, “Political Dirty Trick” by my friend, James Callan.
After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing. He has had four non-fiction books published. “Political Dirty Trick” is Jim’s twelfth release. He has agreed to share an excerpt with us so here’s a taste of what you’ll be getting with this new book.
She crept into the room, a mere shadow. No sound. No trace of her presence. The small flashlight she pulled from her pocket produced only a slight glow, hardly noticeable from across the room, invisible from outside. But it revealed the major objects in the room: a desk, two chairs. And the Mondrian. She studied the painting for a moment. Why would
anyone pay big bucks for this nonsense? With a canvas, a paint pallet and a bottle of vodka I could produce the same thing in an hour or two. Would anyone pay me three hundred thou for it? Not a chance.
No one was in the house, yet she moved with care to lift the painting off the wall. Lighter than she expected and only about three feet square. She turned and glided out of the room. Except for the missing painting, nothing had been disturbed, not even the dust. She made her way down the short hall and into the kitchen, headed out the way she came in.
A noise, ever so slight, came from the back door. A key slipped into a lock.
The owner, at a campaign rally, shouldn’t be home for another hour. Light flooded the entry room and she heard footsteps coming toward the kitchen, toward her. The room was still dark, but her eyes had become accustomed to the low light. Her mind raced as fast as her heartbeat. She started forward, then stopped. Back toward the study would leave her exposed in the hall.
The only other exit was a door on her left. She opened it. A pantry. She slipped in, and eased it shut just as the kitchen lit up.
The person walked as if familiar with the house, confident of the surroundings. Leather soles. Heavy. Probably a man. He hesitated. She held her breath. What if he opened this door? Her flashlight was too small for a weapon. The muscles in her body tightened like a boa constrictor.
The person moved on, headed down the hall. She waited, mentally counting off the number of seconds she had taken to reach the office. Please let him go into the living room.
She waited ten seconds, eased open the door. Light spilled from the study. She stepped out of the pantry, painting in hand. Before she could close the pantry door, she heard leather shoes pivot on hardwood floors. Now the steps had more purpose, as the man started back. She looked at the lights and the distance to the back door and took the only safe route: back into the pantry. She had just closed the door when the man reentered the kitchen.
The bright lights had destroyed her night vision and now she could see nothing. But she could hear. The man stopped, and began punching numbers into a telephone.
I’m sharing a devotional by Twila Belk today. Hope it blesses you.
My writer friend, Linda Burklin, has written a great blog on writers’ conferences. I wanted to share it with you, especially if you’re a new or unpublished writer.
Christmas is . . .
seeing the wonder in a child’s eyes as he hears the Christmas story.
hearing and singing age-old carols as if it were the first time.
reaching out to others who need us.
being content with what we have in life.
spending quality time with family.
realizing that the best gifts can’t be bought.
keeping a bright, positive outlook in the middle of holiday frenzy.
knowing what the season means to you and not what others say it should be.
celebrating in your own way and not allowing what others do to color your festivities.
being grateful for every small gift whether it’s a hug from a friend or a smile from a stranger.
allowing peace to overtake us.
knowing the Christ of Christmas in a personal way
( From the book, Simply Christmas, by Vickie Phelps & Jo Huddleston, available on Amazon)
“In trying times and dark days, it’s not easy to sing. We may lose our song when the world collapses around us, tragedy rears its ugly head, or we feel alone. Our song may take on a different tune. Not so with Mary. She may not have understood everything happening to her or why, but she magnified the Lord with her voice. The Bible doesn’t give any details about Mary during the following six months, after her visit to Elizabeth, up to the time she and Joseph went to Bethlehem. We don’t know what she endured during that time–maybe discomfort, gossip, pain–we aren’t told, but I’d like to believe that always she had a song on her lips, other times, maybe only in her heart, but still a song of praise to God.”
From “Simply Christmas” by Vickie Phelps & Jo Huddleston, available at Amazon
Two years ago, Jo Huddleston and I decided to write a Christmas gift book expressing our feelings about the holiday season. The result is “Simply Christmas.” Some of you already have a copy and know the contents, but for those of you unfamiliar with the book, I’ll be sharing tidbits from the pages from now until Christmas. The book contains stories, traditions, poems, recipes, and devotions. May it warm your heart and give you a fresh outlook on this most hectic of seasons.
From “Simply Christmas”:
Recipe: Tiger Butter
1 pkg Almond Bark, 3 TBSP Peanut Butter, 1/2 cup Chocolate Chips
Melt almond bark in top boiler or microwave. Add peanut butter and swirl together. Add chocolate chips. Do not mix chips, just swirl together gently. Pour out on baking sheet or other large flat dish. Let harden, then break into pieces. Store in plastic container.
Devotion: December 2: The Prince of Peace
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3
Throughout the Bible we find the use of the words perfect and perfection referring to God and Jesus Christ: God is perfect, his work is perfect, his way is perfect, and God’s law is perfect. Living as we are in a world of imperfection, why wouldn’t we trust in God?
Before Jesus ascended, he promised to leave the people a peace that surpassed all understanding. Now, in the Scripture above, Isaiah tells us that God will keep us in perfect peace if our mind steadfastly stays on God and we trust him.
Some call the Bible God’s rule book for us. If so, we can be assured that the things he sets out for us in his Word are for our good. Scriptures tell us that, among other things, God will give us peace if we believe in him and obey him.
Among other beautiful names that the prophets gave to Jesus was the Prince of Peace. Peace: a wholeness and well-being for us and our society. Peace can be ours if we trust in God.
During the season when Christians commemorate Jesus’ birth would be an appropriate time to affirm or reaffirm our trust in God and claim his perfect peace.
Prayer: God, thank you for your perfect peace as our blessing for trusting you.
If you’d like your own copy of “Simply Christmas,” it’s available at amazon
Good advice for the coming days of the season.
As our holiday task lists grow, how will you slow?
The rhythm we keep during this holiday prep time largely determines our ability to be present with ourselves and others.
Turning down the dial on busy may seem unrealistic.
Keeping yourself above water might be a stretch:
The pressure mounts as the household tasks multiply like gremlins. Moms with growing boys know what I mean …
Making decisions about what is necessary and what is not may help reduce your list, but this post is about time with Him.
Some of you may not have the opportunity for quiet time, unless it is in the shower.
Some of you may not have a closet or chair or room that is yours, where you go to be with Our Lord.
Fear not, my friends! In the midst of the coming days, simply look up:
When you step outside to get the…
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I’m sharing this on my blog because of the message she shares.