Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Week Fifty-One - The Times they are A'Changin'

Beside the Well
            2018 is almost finished.  My word for this past year has been “increase.”  And truly, the Lord has increased so many areas. The church saw the extension completed, new families joining, and increase in spiritual growth and discipleship.
            The Lord blessed by moving our son, TJ and his family to the mission field of Spain, and granting all our family health and safety throughout the year.
            Our ministries here with the college and sponsored missionaries continue to grow, and the Lord graciously keeps His hand of blessing upon our lives.
            Beside the Well has grown a bit also.  A few folks were able to get the website to allow them to be followers, and some have asked to be added to the email list.  That was amazing.  I need loads more, though!  Hint! Hint!
            I’ve been added to the guest posts for The Guild of Baptist Writers on Facebook.  I find that remarkable!
            I have been approached about getting 50 Bible Words published.  This is a compilation of the blog posts I did a few years back based around Bible word studies.  Please pray that works out through this coming year.  They have been edited and edited; hopefully, they are ready.  I’ll let you know!
            My second Reba and Katherine story, Grandpa’s Gift, came out in December. If you haven’t got a copy, please do! And if you would leave a comment on Amazon, that would help, too! 
            And I signed a contract with Upbury Press in London for another children’s book, There’s a Hole in My Sock, which should come out in 2019.
            That’s the increase, now let me share with you the things that are a’ changin’.
            Tom and I will be taking a furlough from January to July 2019.  We plan to visit family and get some much needed rest as well as report to as many churches as possible.  We covet your prayers for safety as we travel and for the Lord’s provision of our needs.
            With Beside the Well, there will also be a change.  I hope to continue while we are away, but to change the format just a bit.  Years ago I wrote a series on Bible Women.  For the first several weeks of the New Year, the blog posts will be based around these lessons.  I think you will enjoy them!  And, Lord willing, toward the end of the time there will be an EBook that you can download which will be an extended version of these blog posts.  They make great lessons and come with an outline and Bible references for those who want to do more research.
            Thank you to all of you who read my blog, recommend it to others, and send me messages of encouragement.  It is much appreciated.  I love to write and share what the Lord teaches me.  It is my prayer that as we go into the changing times of 2019, we will hold the Lord close, keep our eyes on our Saviour, and know the blessing of His hand upon our lives.  Meanwhile, I hope you have a very happy Christmas and New Year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Week Fifty - Christmas Self-Care

Beside the Well         
            I love Christmas!  I love the smells, the music, the family, the hustle and bustle, the gifts, the food, everything about it I love, except for one thing.  I don’t like how it sometimes leaves me feeling.
            I tend to approach Christmas with the idea that it should look like it does in magazines.  The family well dressed, the turkey glowing and surrounded by perfectly roasted potatoes and steaming vegetables, the house adorned with beautifully coordinated decorations, and everyone happy and smiling right through to bedtime.  With over sixty years of Christmases, I’ve yet to reach that goal!
            I usually find myself lagging and growing weary as I try to create the perfect Christmas.  I spend the next day trying to recover, which is hard here in England because Christmas is a two-day event!
            Several years ago, I came across a book on self-care.  It was rather humanistic, but it had some good thoughts that I have found helpful when I face pressured times, especially these seasonal ones that come with my preconceived expectations.

            1) Plan ahead.  Don’t think it will all just miraculously happen.  Think the day/event through.  Have a plan B and be prepared so you can enjoy the holiday.
            2) Don’t overextend.  You are probably the only one with expectations of perfection.  Be realistic and settle for what you can manage without killing yourself. Your family is much happier with a cheerful mother than a fancy meal anyway. 
            3) Plan some happiness for yourself.  Getting Martha-syndrome is easy!  So, build into your plan some little breaks and treats for yourself.  Pace yourself!
            4) Notice when you get grumpy.  Don’t slough it off.  Stop, and have a cup of tea.  Take ten minutes away in a dark room or a comfortable, quiet place.  Put on some happy music.  Pray. Don’t let a lousy temper ruin your efforts.
            5) If you need a hug, go get one!  Don’t be too proud to ask.  And, don’t be too stubborn to give one!  Take time for hugs, they make the holidays much sweeter.
            6) Practice thankfulness.  When I was growing up, there was a TV show called, My Three Sons. One phrase from the show has always stuck with me. The sons were fussing and fighting among themselves, and the dad said something like, “If you aren’t thankful for your family, God can take them away.”  It has always reminded me to look at the people in my life and to be thankful for them, even the ones that are no longer around the table, for they hold special memories of times past.

            Self-care is essential—especially during the holidays.  I hope you have a wonderful time, and that no matter what your Christmas looks like, it will be full of the knowledge that your heavenly Father cared enough for you to send His only Son to that manger bed.  That is the most special thing about Christmas—don’t lose sight of it!     

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Week Forty-Nine - Choose Peace

Beside the Well
            I’ve been jotting things down for years.  I have odd notebooks full of sermons and lesson outlines that once blessed my heart, incomplete lesson ideas of my own, brief thoughts jotted in my journal, and precious scraps of paper in old boxes. Around my desk, I have post-it notes with more words of encouragement, and old reminders that help to keep me on track.  It can be like a trip down memory lane to read back through them.  They hold so much of the wealth and history of my spiritual journey.
            Last week, I was cleaning out one of those old boxes and came across a small spiral notebook with several gems.  One read, “Peace, like love, is a decision, not a feeling.”
            Peace is a decision?  A choice? Yes. I choose to relax, or I choose to keep driving myself into a tizzy.  I choose to stop guilty, accusing thoughts, or I revel in my pity-party.  I choose to stop that condemning self-talk, or I believe every lie I hear.  I choose to be happy and cheerful, or I continue walking around under a dark cloud.
            These are all my decisions.  My circumstances need not be the determining factor for my choices.  I know that to be true because I have read the testimony of those who were in prison, concentration camps, and under persecution whose hearts were still joyful and positive.  It was a choice they made contrary to their circumstances. They chose peace.
            The Apostle Paul said he had learned to be content no matter what his state. (And he wasn’t talking about Missouri!)  He knew it was within his power to choose his mental and emotional frame.
            Also, tacked up around my computer, is a sign that reads, “You have a choice, each and every day.  I choose to feel blessed.  I choose to feel grateful.  I choose to be excited.  I choose to be thankful.  I choose to be happy.”  Good words—I read them every day!
            But I must have forgotten about them when I emailed my editor a few weeks ago.  I was recounting to her some of my hindrances in writing and used the word mediocre. That prompted her direct response that gave me a renewed emphasis.  She reminded me to watch my self-talk. 
            “What we say to ourselves, we tend to believe, even if we know it isn’t true.”  Then she said, “Avoid sentences that state, “Must,” “have to,” “should,” or “need.”  These terms restrict motivation.  Instead, replace them with “I get to,” or “I want to,” when you talk to yourself.  These terms heighten motivation.” (Debra Butterfield -
            So, what did I do?  I wrote those little phrases on a post-it note and put them up around my computer! I am using them to change my thoughts and words from “I have to get this done, “ to “I want to accomplish this.”  And from “I have to do this,” to “I get to do this.” 
            And you know what?  That one simple change is proving very effective in creating peace and joyful motivation in my heart and life. 
            How are your choices working for you?