Blessed: Living a Grateful Life

How much tea can one pour from a pot without refilling it? No matter the capacity of the container, sooner or later it will empty of it is not replenished.  The same can be said of the compassion of women.  As wives, mothers, friends and community members women often work selflessly and tirelessly to meet the needs of others while neglecting their own need to be nurtured.

Ellen Michaud has focused her life on celebrating and supporting strong women who support others.   Her latest book, Blessed: Living a Grateful Life, Michaud invites her readers to explore and enjoy the everyday blessings that surround us.  Replenishing our own reservoirs of strength needn’t take weeks or days or even hours.  A few moments spent here and there truly noticing and appreciating our family, friends, community, and environment can fulfill us in ways no vacation ever can.

Each chapter in Blessed is a story unto itself complete with refreshment for our souls and lessons on embracing our blessings.  Each reading is a two to three page vacation from our own daily stress.  I have enjoyed these readings every morning either with or in place of my daily devotional.

About the Book:
Sometimes we just need to stop for a moment and absorb the quiet moments in the world around us–to take a deep breath and appreciate the things in life that make us thankful and bring us joy. In this heartfelt collection of her online columns from Diane, the flagship magazine of the Curves women’s fitness center organization, author Ellen Michaud reminds us of the everyday blessings that surround us, but we all tend to overlook.

Entries include:

  • Summer in a Jar: On a 200-acre farm known for its Jersey cows and prizewinning cheese, two women harvest a cornucopia of produce that looks like it came from the Garden of Eden. Although the visit was intended to pick up ingredients for “one of the finest salsas in the near world,” the end result is a view of a fertile valley, the rich smell of vegetables freshly tugged from the earth that speaks to the soul, and the natural rhythm of friendly conversation.
  • The Teapot: During a snowy winter storm, the author pulls her great- grandmother’s worn silver teapot down from a shelf. As she polishes the teapot’s tarnished surface, she contemplates its long journey over an ocean and through the generations. As she discovers engraved hallmarks that lead to a deeper understanding of its 200-year history, her appreciation for the women who traveled with it grows.
  • Welcome Home: As an Airbus 321 begins its descent toward the coastal lights of Los Angeles International Airport, the pilot makes an overhead announcement that stills the restless and rustling passengers. What follows are moments of contemplation about the sacrifices of soldiers and, how regardless of one’s politics, there is still a shared sense of love and respect for those who fight for our freedom.
  • The Courage to Change: After a lifetime of self-built barriers, the author’s 88-year-old aunt overcomes discouraging memories and years of grief to prove that it’s never too late to open yourself to new experiences, take risks, and start over.
Ellen & Meggie -- photo by Peter Chin

Ellen & Meggie photo by Peter Chin

About the Author:
Ellen Michaud is an award-winning author and editor who lives high in the mountains of Vermont. Her work focuses on women’s stories, and has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Ladies Home Journal, Health Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Men’s Health, Readers’ Digest Magazine, and Prevention Magazine, where she was the editor-at-large for six years. Today she not only writes for these and other media, she is also an online columnist at MyCurves.com.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Ruby Mansuri of FSB Associates.  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.”

What’s in Grandma’s Attic?

I just finished reading two of the sweetest books. They would make great read aloud stories for early primary school children, or even starter devotional type reading material for an upper elementary aged child.  Arleta Richardson teaches Biblical lessons and precepts as she brings the past alive with her wonderful storytelling skills.  I was totally charmed by both, In Grandma’s Attic, and, More Stories from Grandma’s Attic.

~*~

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

 

Today’s Wild Card author is:

 

 

and the book:

 

In Grandma’s Attic
AND
More Stories from Grandma’s Attic

David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Arleta Richardson grew up in a Chicago hotel under her grandmother’s care. As they sat overlooking the shores of Lake Michigan, her grandmother shared memories of her childhood on a Michigan farm. These treasured family stories became the basis for the Grandma’s Attic Series.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


Remember when you were a child, when the entire world was new, and the smallest object a thing of wonder? Arleta Richardson remembered: the funny wearable wire contraption hidden in the dusty attic, the century-old schoolchild’s slate that belonged to Grandma, an ancient trunk filled with quilt pieces—each with its own special story—and the button basket, a miracle of mysteries. But best of all she remembered her remarkable grandmother who made magic of all she touched, bringing the past alive as only a born storyteller could.

So step inside the attic of Richardson’s grandmother. These stories will keep you laughing while teaching you valuable lessons. These marvelous tales faithfully recalled for the delight of young and old alike are a touchstone to another day when life was simpler, perhaps richer, and when the treasures of family life and love were passed from generation to generation by a child’s questions and the legends that followed enlarged our faith. These timeless stories were originally released in 1974 and then revised in 1999. They are being re-released with new artwork that will appeal to a new generation of girls.

Product Details:

In Grandma’s Attic:

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781403790
ISBN-13: 978-0781403795

More Stories from Grandma’s Attic:

List Price: $6.99
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; 3 edition (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9780781403801
ISBN-13: 978-0781403801
ASIN: 0781403804

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

In Grandma’s Attic – Chapter 1

Pride Goes Before a Fall

“Grandma, what is this?”

Grandma looked up from her work. “Good lands, child, where did you find that?”

“In the attic,” I replied. “What is it, Grandma?”

Grandma chuckled and answered, “That’s a hoop. The kind that ladies wore under their skirts when I was a little girl.”

“Did you ever wear one, Grandma?” I asked.

Grandma laughed. “Indeed I did,” she said. “In fact, I wore that very one.”

Here, I decided, must be a story. I pulled up the footstool and prepared to listen. Grandma looked at the old hoop fondly.

“I only wore it once,” she began. “But I kept it to remind me how painful pride can be.”

I was about eight years old when that hoop came into my life. For months I had been begging Ma to let me have a hoopskirt like the big girls wore. Of course that was out of the question. What would a little girl, not even out of calicoes, be doing with a hoopskirt? Nevertheless, I could envision myself walking haughtily to school with the hoopskirt and all the girls watching enviously as I took my seat in the front of the room.

This dream was shared by my best friend and seatmate, Sarah Jane. Together we spent many hours picturing ourselves as fashionable young ladies in ruffles and petticoats. But try as we would, we could not come up with a single plan for getting a hoopskirt of our very own.

Finally, one day in early spring, Sarah Jane met me at the school grounds with exciting news. An older cousin had come to their house to visit, and she had two old hoops that she didn’t want any longer. Sarah Jane and I could have them to play with, she said. Play with, indeed! Little did that cousin know that we didn’t want to play with them. Here was the answer to our dreams. All day, under cover of our books, Sarah Jane and I planned how we would wear those hoops to church on Sunday.

There was a small problem: How would I get that hoop into the house without Ma knowing about it? And how could either of us get out of the house with them on without anyone seeing us? It was finally decided that I would stop by Sarah Jane’s house on Sunday morning. We would have some excuse for walking to church, and after her family had left, we would put on our hoops and prepare to make a grand entrance at the church.

“Be sure to wear your fullest skirt,” Sarah Jane reminded me. “And be here early. They’re all sure to look at us this Sunday!”

If we had only known how true that would be! But of course, we were happily unaware of the disaster that lay ahead.

Sunday morning came at last, and I astonished my family by the speed with which I finished my chores and was ready to leave for church.

“I’m going with Sarah Jane this morning,” I announced, and set out quickly before anyone could protest.

All went according to plan. Sarah Jane’s family went on in the buggy, cautioning us to hurry and not be late for service. We did have a bit of trouble fastening the hoops around our waists and getting our skirts pulled down to cover them. But when we were finally ready, we agreed that there could not be two finer-looking young ladies in the county than us.

Quickly we set out for church, our hoopskirts swinging as we walked. Everyone had gone in when we arrived, so we were assured the grand entry we desired. Proudly, with small noses tipped up, we sauntered to the front of the church and took our seats.

Alas! No one had ever told us the hazards of sitting down in a hoopskirt without careful practice! The gasps we heard were not of admiration as we had anticipated—far from it! For when we sat down, those dreadful hoops flew straight up in the air! Our skirts covered our faces, and the startled minister was treated to the sight of two pairs of white pantalets and flying petticoats.

Sarah Jane and I were too startled to know how to disentangle ourselves, but our mothers were not. Ma quickly snatched me from the seat and marched me out the door.

The trip home was a silent one. My dread grew with each step. What terrible punishment would I receive at the hands of an embarrassed and upset parent? Although I didn’t dare look at her, I knew she was upset because she was shaking. It was to be many years before I learned that Ma was shaking from laughter, and not from anger!

Nevertheless, punishment was in order. My Sunday afternoon was spent with the big Bible and Pa’s concordance. My task was to copy each verse I could find that had to do with being proud. That day I was a sorry little girl who learned a lesson about pride going before a fall.

“And you were never proud again, Grandma?” I asked after she finished the story.

Grandma thought soberly for a moment. “Yes,” she replied. “I was proud again. Many times. It was not until I was a young lady and the Lord saved me that I had the pride taken from my heart. But many times when I am tempted to be proud, I remember that horrid hoopskirt and decide that a proud heart is an abomination to the Lord!”

***************************************

More Stories From Grandma’s Attic

Chapter 1

The Nuisance in Ma’s Kitchen

When Grandma called from the backyard, I knew I was in for it. She was using her would-you-look-at-this voice, which usually meant I was responsible for something.

“What, Grandma?” I asked once I reached the spot where she was hanging up the washing.

“Would you look at this?” she asked. “I just went into the kitchen for more clothespins and came back out to find this.”

I looked where she was pointing. One of my kittens had crawled into the clothes basket and lay sound asleep on a clean sheet.

“If you’re going to have kittens around the house, you’ll have to keep an eye on them. Otherwise leave them in the barn where they belong. It’s hard enough to wash sheets once without doing them over again.”

Grandma headed toward the house with the soiled sheet, and I took the kitten back to the barn. But I didn’t agree that it belonged there. I would much rather have had the whole family of kittens in the house with me. Later I mentioned this to Grandma.

“I know,” she said. “I felt the same way when I was your age. If it had been up to me, I would have moved every animal on the place into the house every time it rained or snowed.”

“Didn’t your folks let any pets in the house?” I asked.

“Most of our animals weren’t pets,” Grandma admitted. “But there were a few times when they were allowed in. If an animal needed special care, it stayed in the kitchen. I really enjoyed those times, especially if it was one I could help with.”

“Tell me about one,” I said, encouraging her to tell me another story about her childhood.

“I remember one cold spring,” she began, “when Pa came in from the barn carrying a tiny goat.”

“I’m not sure we can save this one.” Pa held the baby goat up for us to see. “The nanny had twins last night, and she’ll only let one come near her. I’m afraid this one’s almost gone.”

Ma agreed and hurried to find an old blanket and a box for a bed. She opened the oven door, put the box on it, and gently took the little goat and laid it on the blanket. It didn’t move at all. It just lay there, barely breathing.

“Oh, Ma,” I said. “Do you think it will live? Shouldn’t we give it something to eat?”

“It’s too weak to eat right now,” Ma replied. “Let it rest and get warm. Then we’ll try to feed it.”

Fortunately it was Saturday, and I didn’t have to go to school. I sat on the floor next to the oven and watched the goat. Sometimes it seemed as though it had stopped breathing, and I would call Ma to look.

“It’s still alive,” she assured me. “It just isn’t strong enough to move yet. You wait there and watch if you want to, but don’t call me again unless it opens its eyes.”

When Pa and my brothers came in for dinner, Reuben stopped and looked down at the tiny animal. “Doesn’t look like much, does it?”

I burst into tears. “It does so!” I howled. “It looks just fine! Ma says it’s going to open its eyes. Don’t discourage it!”

Reuben backed off in surprise, and Pa came over to comfort me. “Now, Reuben wasn’t trying to harm that goat. He just meant that it doesn’t … look like a whole lot.”

I started to cry again, and Ma tried to soothe me. “Crying isn’t going to help that goat one bit,” she said. “When it gets stronger, it will want something to eat. I’ll put some milk on to heat while we have dinner.”

I couldn’t leave my post long enough to go to the table, so Ma let me hold my plate in my lap. I ate dinner watching the goat. Suddenly it quivered and opened its mouth. “It’s moving, Ma!” I shouted. “You’d better bring the milk!”

Ma soaked a rag in the milk, and I held it while the little goat sucked it greedily. By the time it had fallen asleep again, I was convinced that it would be just fine.

And it was! By evening the little goat was standing on its wobbly legs and began to baa loudly for more to eat. “Pa, maybe you’d better bring its box into my room,” I suggested at bedtime.

“Whatever for?” Pa asked. “It will keep warm right here by the stove. We’ll look after it during the night. Don’t worry.”

“And we aren’t bringing your bed out here,” Ma added, anticipating my next suggestion. “You’ll have enough to do, watching that goat during the day.”

Of course Ma was right. As the goat got stronger, he began to look for things to do. At first he was content to grab anything within reach and pull it. Dish towels, apron strings, and tablecloth corners all fascinated him. I kept busy trying to move things out of his way.

From the beginning the little goat took a special liking to Ma, but she was not flattered. “I can’t move six inches in this kitchen without stumbling over that animal,” she sputtered. “He can be sound asleep in his box one minute and sitting on my feet the next. I don’t know how much longer I can tolerate him in here.”

As it turned out, it wasn’t much longer. The next Monday, Ma prepared to do the washing in the washtub Pa had placed on two chairs near the woodpile. Ma always soaked the clothes in cold water first, then transferred them to the boiler on the stove.

I was in my room when I heard her shouting, “Now you put that down! Come back here!”

I ran to the kitchen door and watched as the goat circled the table with one of Pa’s shirts in his mouth. Ma was right behind him, but he managed to stay a few feet ahead of her.

“Step on the shirt, Ma!” I shouted as I ran into the room. “Then he’ll have to stop!”

I started around the table the other way, hoping to head him off. But the goat seemed to realize that he was outnumbered, for he suddenly turned and ran toward the chairs that held the washtub.

“Oh, no!” Ma cried. “Not that way!”

But it was too late! Tub, water, and clothes splashed to the floor. The goat danced stiff-legged through the soggy mess with a surprised look on his face.

“That’s enough!” Ma said. “I’ve had all I need of that goat. Take him out and tie him in the yard, Mabel. Then bring me the mop, please.”

I knew better than to say anything, but I was worried about what would happen to the goat. If he couldn’t come back in the kitchen, where would he sleep?

Pa had the answer to that. “He’ll go to the barn tonight.”

“But, Pa,” I protested, “he’s too little to sleep in the barn. Besides, he’ll think we don’t like him anymore!”

“He’ll think right,” Ma said. “He’s a menace, and he’s not staying in my kitchen another day.”

“But I like him,” I replied. “I feel sorry for him out there alone. If he has to sleep in the barn, let me go out and sleep with him!”

My two brothers looked at me in amazement.

“You?” Roy exclaimed. “You won’t even walk past the barn after dark, let alone go in!”

Everyone knew he was right. I had never been very brave about going outside after dark. But I was more concerned about the little goat than I was about myself.

“I don’t care,” I said stubbornly. “He’ll be scared out there, and he’s littler than I am.”

Ma didn’t say anything, probably because she thought I’d change my mind before dark. But I didn’t. When Pa started for the barn that evening, I was ready to go with him. Ma saw that I was determined, so she brought me a blanket.

“You’d better wrap up in this,” she said. “The hay is warm, but it’s pretty scratchy.”

I took the blanket and followed Pa and the goat out to the barn. The more I thought about the long, dark night, the less it seemed like a good idea, but I wasn’t going to give in or admit that I was afraid.

Pa found a good place for me to sleep. “This is nice and soft and out of the draft. You’ll be fine here.”

I rolled up in the blanket, hugging the goat close to me as I watched Pa check the animals. The light from the lantern cast long, scary shadows through the barn, and I thought about asking Pa if he would stay with me. I knew better, though, and all too soon he was ready to leave.

“Good night, Mabel. Sleep well,” he said as he closed the barn door behind him. I doubted that I would sleep at all. If it hadn’t been for the goat and my brothers who would laugh at me, I would have returned to the house at once. Instead I closed my eyes tightly and began to say my prayers. In a few moments the barn door opened, and Reuben’s voice called to me.

“Mabel,” he said, “it’s just me.” He came over to where I lay, and I saw that he had a blanket under his arm. “I thought I’d sleep out here tonight too. I haven’t slept in the barn for a long time. You don’t mind, do you?”

“Oh, no. That’s fine.” I turned over and fell asleep at once.

When I awoke in the morning, the goat and Reuben were both gone. Soon I found the goat curled up by his mother.

“Will you be sleeping in the barn again tonight?” Ma asked me at breakfast.

“No, I don’t think so,” I said. “I’ll take care of the goat during the day, but I guess his mother can watch him at night.”

Grandma laughed at the memory. “After I grew up, I told Reuben how grateful I was that he came out to stay with me. I wonder how my family ever put up with all my foolishness.”

Grandma went back into the house, and I wandered out to the barn to see the little kittens. I decided I wouldn’t be brave enough to spend the night there even if I had a big brother to keep me company!

 

That’s When I Talk to God

That’s When I Talk to God is a wonderful children’s book. It has engaging illustrations and it follows a young girl through her day as she learns about the times and the ways she can talk to God. This book is so good, I wouldn’t limit it to just children. I remember when I became a new Christian I had a lot of questions about prayer. The book would have helped in a straight forward, clear-cut way. I highly recommend it!

~*~

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

 

Today’s Wild Card authors are:

 

Dan and Ali Morrow

and Illustrated by

Cory Godbey

 

and the book:

 

That’s When I Talk to God

David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist,
The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Dan and Ali Morrow are parents of two wonderful daughters. When they’re not writing children’s books, they like to go on adventures around their Colorado home. They are the authors of That’s Where God Is (2010), their first children’s release.

Visit the authors’ website.

 

ABOUT THE ILLUSTRATOR:

Cory Godbey illustrates, animates, and writes for Portland Studios, a creative firm dedicated to telling great stories and pursuing excellence in art.

He has contributed to projects such as Zune Arts, Flight graphic novel anthologies, and has worked with many major publishers.

Recently, Cory was accepted in the acclaimed Society of Illustrators Annual.

Cory seeks to tell stories with his work.

He also likes drawing monsters.

Visit the illustrator’swebsite.

 

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Targeted to children four to eight, That’s When I Talk to God mirrors the day of the typical child, creating an opportunity for readers to put the practices in the story to use in their own lives. Through beautiful illustrations and an engaging, familiar character, readers can relate to That’s When I Talk to God. Children will learn to go to God with their fears, their joys, their questions, and their desires. They will also learn the hows, whens, and whys of praying to the Lord in a way they can easily apply to their own experiences. And adults will be reminded to communicate the benefit, simplicity, and beauty of prayer.

 

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 36 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434700186
ISBN-13: 978-1434700186

AND NOW…THE FIRST FEW PAGES (Click on the pictures to enlarge them!):






 

Refreshment in Refuge, by Gina Burgess

A Devotional

Refreshment in Refuge, by Gina Burgess is a devotional with meat on it’s bones. The book contains 40 readings, some with short stories followed by practical application, some the sharing of personal lessons learned. The theology is sound and the lessons are enlightening and uplifting. If you are interested in refreshing and strengthening your walk with God, this book can help.

The first story in the book gave me pause. It really isn’t very well written, however, the lesson it imparts is outstanding. Happily, the odd story structure is an anomaly and the book is quite easy to engage in. I happily recommend it as your next devotional.

~*~

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

 

Today’s Wild Card author is:

 

 

and the book:

 

Refreshment in Refuge

WestBow Press A Division of Thomas Nelson (February 21, 2011)

***Special thanks to Gina Burgess for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Gina studied journalism in college, took a detour to raise two beautiful daughters, then graduated Magna Cum Laude from Midwestern State University after twenty-five years. Gina’s first love is using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. She is committed to bringing God glory with her writing.

She’s been an editor for several publications, including Lifestyles Editor at her home town newspaper the Picayune Item; a weekly column for Studylight.org; and bi-weekly columns at www.EverydayChristian.com.
She’s a book reviewer for several publishers, and has taught Sunday School and Discipleship since 1970.

Visit the author’s blog.
Visit the author’s book review blog.

 

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A little dog revived with rain, a desperate woman comforted by warm arms, an intimate look at Mary Magdalene’s thoughts the morning Christ arose, and a woman’s unselfish desire are a few of the stories in this volume about living the Christian life. They illustrate some extraordinary paradigm breaks and parallels in living as Christ would have His Bride live. Sometimes everyday living creates a fog over our spiritual enlightenment, dulling our understanding and even our relationship with God. Other times, we get entangled in the worries and cares of the world. Christ’s light will guide us to clear thinking, and He will burn off that fog, just like sunshine. Refreshment in Refuge is a collection of stories and studies of how to make Christ the ruler of our heart, allowing the Son to dissipate the fog of trials and troubles that invade our lives on a daily basis.

Product Details:

List Price: $17.95
Paperback: 236 pages
Publisher: WestBow Press A Division of Thomas Nelson (February 21, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781449712129
ISBN-13: 978-1449712129
ASIN: 1449712126

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

The Refreshing

The man gave the bolt a final twist and stepped back from under the hood of the car. He wiped his grimy hands on a rag and then stuffed it in his back pocket. He gave a satisfied sigh as he headed to the office and the coffee pot. The coffee was strong and fresh, just like he liked it. Tossing a grin to Gertrude, his part time office help, he said, “Gertie, call Kent Boudreaux and let him know his car is ready and he can pick it up any time today.”

With only a little regret, he set his cup down and headed to back the repaired car from the bay and bring in another to work on. Thank goodness God was good to provide so much work when the economy was so bad. Just as the back wheels cleared the bay doors, one of them ran over something. He didn’t have a clue what it could have been, since it had only been a couple of hours since he’d driven the car in the bay. Then his heart constricted and he groaned in sudden agony.

Alfie’s job was to meet and greet all customers that came into the shop. His throne was the cushioned chair that was next to the desk. Sure it was grimy, but it was comfortable for a small, snowy white, very fluffy dog. Normally, Alfie rarely ventured into the bay area. He preferred the cool office and comfy cushion to the cool, but mucky shop floor. Alfie was the beloved owner of the man and his family. His other job was to give love and happiness to those he loved best.

The man climbed from the car, dreading what he must surely find.

His fear was confirmed when he saw Alfie lying still and flat under the car. Tears welled up, and his heart wrenched again. Suddenly, the bright day darkened to night. The dog must have scooted out the door when he got coffee. Even though he wasn’t allowed in the shop, the dog had obviously disobeyed the standing command.

He cradled the little dog in his arms, unsure of what to do. The lifeless form just lay there; head lolled back and tiny pink tongue slack instead of happily panting. The shop owner sat down in a grease-smudged chair with the dog across his lap. What should he do? How would he tell his sweet wife and those precious girls what had happened to their sweet, adoring Alfie? Finally, he decided to put the dog in the dog food bag, and place him in the dumpster because he couldn’t possibly bring Alfie home to bury; and in this concrete garden called New Orleans, there wasn’t anywhere to bury a pet. He just couldn’t possibly bring the little thing home to bury. His daughters would be inconsolable.

The rest of the day, he worried and fretted how to tell the family they had lost one of their own that day. There was no good way to do it, so he blurted out as soon as he made it home, “I ran over Alfie at the shop today.”

The family mourned, and rain began to patter against their home’s windows. God, it seemed, was sharing the family’s grief.

The next morning, the man found no joy in his morning routine. Alfie didn’t jump all over him, ready to do morning walk, no cheerful clink of food in his bowl. Going to work was a heavy chore. Sighing heavily, all the way to work, he opened the shop for daily work, sans his beloved, tiny, fluffy companion.

The coffee had just finished brewing when the owner of the neighboring body shop burst into the office. “Are you going to tell me why your dog is in the dumpster?”

“Well, Jeb, I know he’s in the dumpster. I didn’t have any place else to put him. I ran over him yesterday.

“No, you don’t understand. Your dog is barking and jumping and trying to get out of that dumpster!”

“What? Are you kidding me?” With joyful heart, the man ran to the dumpster and grabbed up that fluffy bundle of excitement. That little pink tongue was exploring every inch of his face. That little dog had only been knocked out, and the most refreshing rain, that gift from God, had refreshed and revived him. Alfie wasn’t dead after all, he just needed reviving.

a

Today, how many Christians look dead? How many are asleep at the wheel or get knocked silly by being someplace they are not supposed to be? Disobedience breaks fellowship with the LORD, and we can’t afford that when we are to be ready for that great and glorious day the Father looks at His only begotten Son and says, “Go get Your Bride, Son.” Glory!

Paul tells the Ephesians And to you did he give life, when you were dead through your wrongdoing and sins, 2 in which you were living in the past, after the ways of this present world, doing the pleasure of the lord of the power of the air, the spirit who is now working in those who go against the purpose of God; 3 among whom we all at one time were living in the pleasures of our flesh, giving way to the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and the punishment of God was waiting for us even as for the rest. Ephesians 2:1-3 Bible in Basic English (1965)

Paul was talking about how they acted as unbelievers, but I have seen a lot of Believers act just like that recently. The Bride of Christ is sick these days, sick with the evil ways of the world and sick with disbelief. We can be like the Rich Young Ruler and say: These commands I have kept, I have not sinned. But, how many of us have watched a movie lately in which God’s name was blasphemed? How many of us worry and fret, harbor anger, bitterness, jealousy, seek vengeance, are critical of others, controlling, gossip, pray by rote, fudge the truth, go places we shouldn’t go, do things in secret that we’d die if it were printed on the front page of the newspaper? How many pirate music? How many think if it doesn’t hurt other people, it is okay? How many haven’t returned something that was borrowed? How many of us allow work, family, hobbies, playtime come first instead of the LORD?

How many of us have given up on a brother or sister in Christ because he looks dead? How often have we thrown a sibling in the dumpster without thought to the prayers of a righteous man and the resuscitation process laid out by Jesus in Matthew 18: 15-17? Refreshment in the refuge of Jesus is what this book is about. We cannot give up on our siblings because it isn’t God’s plan. He created us and saved us for a mighty purpose. We cannot give up on ourselves because God considered us worthy enough to send His precious Son to pay the ultimate Bride price for us.

Let me paraphrase Luke 8:17, not one thing happens in secret that won’t be found out, and not a single thing is done in the dark which will not be brought to light. But, why would we care more about what could be said of us in a front-page news story than what God thinks of us? How could it matter more than our precious relationship and that refreshing rain from above?

Revive us LORD Jesus, send your refreshing rain of blessings and awaken us from our dead sleep. Help us labor, watch and be ready. The Bride awaits her Groom. Come LORD Jesus and find Your Bride doing the mighty works prepared before the foundation of the world. Amen.

This column was inspired by one of my favorite preachers, Dr. Preston Nix. He is an Associate Professor at New Orleans Baptist Seminary. Preach it, Brother, preach it.

 

More Than a Devotional

Thirty-One Days of Drawing Near to God: Resting Securely in His Delight, by Ruth Myers is more than a daily devotional.  Through her own life experiences as a missionary, Myers invites us to see God at work in the world and in our on lives.  Using scripture, anecdotes, personal reflection and prayer, Myers teaches us just how intimate our relationship with God can be.  This is a 31 day reflective journey straight to the heart of God.

About The Book:

Draw near…

He’ll answer your deepest longings.

Do you enjoy the soul-satisfying intimacy with God you were created for? In this heartfelt devotional, beloved author Ruth Myers invites you to a personal, daily encounter with your first, last, and best love.

Each brief but deeply satisfying reading explores the riches of God’s passion for you and your true identity as one in whom He delights. As you engage your heart with His, you’ll discover anew the joy of hearing Him speak to you individually, tenderly, in life-changing ways that will root you firmly in relationship with Him.

Experience lavish love, astounding mercy—and an intimacy more satisfying than you’d ever imagined possible. Draw near to God, and He’ll draw near to you.

Read an Excerpt:

When I was ten, God (and my mother) used a famous verse about His love to give me my first conscious experience of it. Four years earlier I had gone forward in an evangelistic meeting. The pastor had talked with me about the gospel and I prayed. Soon I was baptized and became a church member. But later on, all I could remember was my baptism.I knew about the cross of Christ and about His resurrection, but I remembered no personal contact with God.

And I didn’t know where I would go if I died. This worried me. So whenever our pastor began preaching on hell, I’d slip out of the service, pretending I needed to go to the rest room.

One night my mother, sensing that something was troubling me, asked me about it. I didn’t really want to tell her about the struggle in my heart, for she thought I was a real Christian. But I admitted my fear concerning my eternal destiny.

In reply Mother did something so simple. She quoted a verse I’d known for as long as I could remember. But as she
spoke, the truth dawned in my heart and I believed: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That night I believed in Christ as my Savior,
and my fear and guilt rolled away. That night, for the first time I remember, I felt God’s love. All this happened in an
instant as Mother quoted John 3:16 (KJV). When she finished, I bowed my head and thanked the Lord that He had
given me eternal life.

“I’LL DO ANYTHING”

When I entered my teenage years, I didn’t know any Christian young people who, as far as I could tell, were really living the Christian life. I had one friend a few years older who loved the Lord, but she seemed rather old-maidish and I didn’t want to be like her. So I decided I wouldn’t follow the Lord closely.

Behind this decision were wrong ideas about God. I didn’t believe He wanted what was best for me. I was afraid that if I gave Him the controls, He would make me do things I didn’t want to do and I’d miss the best in life. In this time of rebellion I tried everything I dared, though sometimes the Holy Spirit blocked me. And I became more and more miserable.

Finally at age sixteen I agreed to attend a Christian conference. There I saw young people on fire for the Lord, and I received a lot of solid Bible teaching. One night I went outside under the trees and prayed, “Lord, I’ll do anything You want me to—even be a missionary,” which was the very worst thing I could think of.

During the next few years God began to deepen my appreciation for His love through “The Love of God,” a song made famous by George Beverly Shea. This song describes God’s love as “greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell.” If the skies were a scroll and the oceans filled with ink, the song says, and if every stalk on earth were a writing quill, we still could never write in full this love God has for us. The skies could not contain it. The oceans of ink would run dry.

Singing those words I truly felt the love of God. I knew that He understands, that He cares, that He is compassionate. I needed this knowledge then, and I still need it every day. But I had not yet learned to let my roots go down deep into His love so that it was a constant influence in my life. I felt His love primarily when I was singing about it with others, but not when I was alone or when things went wrong.

As the Lord worked within me, my desires for the future gradually made a U-turn. I found I wanted to become a missionary after all, and I began preparing for this. A favorite verse became Psalm 84:11: “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (NKJV). As I followed God, I was discovering He knew better than I did how to
satisfy me. Life was getting better, though not necessarily easier.

MAJOR PURSUIT

After I was graduated from high school, I set out for Northwestern Bible School and College in Minneapolis. There
the Lord did more new things in my heart. I’d been having daily devotions since I was sixteen. Often it was the last
thing I did at night, and I could hardly hold my eyes open. Nevertheless, I congratulated myself for being such a good
Christian.

Then the Lord began speaking: “Ruth, that’s not the point at all. I want you to come to My Word because you
want to know Me.” The lesson was reinforced for me by the hymn “Break Thou the Bread of Life” in the lines that say,
“Beyond the sacred page I seek thee, Lord; my spirit pants for thee, O Living Word.” I still wanted Him to teach me the principles I should know from the Bible, but I began going to Him more often with the prayer, “Lord, most of all I want to know You.” Since that request is in line with God’s will for His children, He answered it just as He promised in
1 John 5:14-15.

There was one fellow in school who, more than anyone else, seemed set upon knowing the Lord, and I greatly admired him. Stan had plenty of work and study responsibilities, and between those and his pursuit of the Lord, he didn’t have time for dating. Being a little beyond my reach made him all the more desirable. I learned that one of Stan’s favorite Scripture passages was from Philippians 3. I began to pray over it—and to cry over it, for I was learning that I had to get my heart needs met in my relationship with Jesus Christ and not anywhere else. The passage soon became a favorite of mine as well. Verses 8 and 10 in the Amplified Bible (condensed a bit) read,

I count everything as loss compared to the priceless
privilege—the surpassing worth and supreme advantage—
of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.… For His
sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be
mere rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.…
[For my determined purpose is] that I may know
Him—that I may progressively become more deeply
and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and
recognizing and understanding [the wonders of His
Person] more strongly and more clearly.

Nothing else meant anything to Paul compared to the priceless privilege of knowing this vastly wonderful Person he had met. Back then I didn’t have the Amplified version but I did have Philippians 3:10 in the King James: “That I
may know him.” I began to hear God say, “Ruth, this must be your major pursuit.” He used circumstances to drive me
to my knees and to begin praying along this line. And, as a young single woman, I discovered that the Lord could and
did meet my deepest longing if I let Him be my first love.

My younger sister Mary eventually joined me at Northwestern, and we found a poem, the source of which is unknown,
that we often reflected on and used in prayer:

Purge me, Lord, of my follies; an empty cup let me be,
Waiting only Thy blessing, hungry only for Thee.
Can even the Lord pour blessing into a cup that is full?
Put treasure into a locked hand, be He ever so bountiful?
Empty me, Lord, and make me hungry only for Thee.
Only Thy bread once tasted can ever satisfy me.

Excerpted from Thirty-One Days of Drawing Near to God by Ruth Myers. Copyright © 2011 by Ruth Myers. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

About the Author:

RUTH MYERS and her husband, Warren, are on staff with the Navigators and have served as missionaries in Singapore for many years. In addition to her one-to-one ministry, Ruth is a popular conference speaker. She and Warren have co-authored numerous books, including 31 Days of Praise.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah.  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.”