Saturday, October 31, 2015

Friends of the Heart . . . Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides


The cover of our book, Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides, shows two women in a convertible with the passenger waving her hands in the air, sort of doing a seated victory dance. We thought it would be fun to mimic the cover while seated in Janine’s jeep. So here we are, waving our books, saying, “Hey, this is a good book. Check it out! Maybe someone you know would like it for Christmas.”

I now wish we would have titled the book something else—maybe Joy for the Journey—because the word “guilt” has a negative connotation. Maybe you don’t give the book as a gift because you’re afraid the recipient might think you’re trying to tell her something. But “Guilt Trips” offers a daily pick-me-up that gives a woman something positive to think about she connects with God each day. The book puts the emphasis on grace rather than guilt.

From the Preface:
            Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides happens only by the grace of God, so this book is organized around the acrostic of G-R-A-C-E representing:
            G – God
            R – Relationships
            A – Acceptance
            C – Challenges
            E - Emotions
            Life is not perfect. We long for peace, yet we face challenges and changes. We feel responsible to promote harmony, and then when conflict arises, guilt sets in. We feel we’ve failed. We want to pull the covers over our heads and drop out.
            But God—through his grace—makes a way for us to go on. Rain falls, but the sun rises. Day follows night. Spring follows winter. We grow in grace and faith as we confront our challenges.
            So we can throw off the covers and face the world with confidence. We are not alone. God offers us his divine love and protection. That is what this book is about. On these pages we share stories of how God has made a way for us by his grace and pray that you accept that grace to meet your own needs. (End of Preface)
           
Have a Blessed Thanksgiving. I am thankful for each one of you who receives my monthly blog.

You may order our book at Amazon.com or from our website: www.friendsoftheheart.us.

Sincerely,

Shirley

Upcoming Engagements:

November 8, 10:30 a.m. – Presenting the book of Philippians at Locust Run UM Church, Thompsontown.

P. S. Feel free to leave a comment to suggest books you recommend for Christmas gifts. Just scroll to the bottom of the e-mail and click on my name, which will take you to my blog with a Comments box.



           

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Book Review: The Mind Connection

The Mind Connection:
How the Thoughts You Choose Affect Your Mood, Behavior, and Decisions
by Joyce Meyer

According to author Joyce Meyer, our attitudes originate in our minds. To change your attitude, take control of your thoughts. She writes, “A bad attitude is like a flat tire. If you don’t change it, you won’t go anywhere.” With plenty of scripture to back up her points, Meyer discusses how an attitude is something you choose. Of course it takes effort, and Meyer devotes an entire chapter to “The Power of Focus.”

Meyer encourages readers to plan ahead, to think through a day before it begins, so they are alert, prepared to face challenges. I found her focus on how our thoughts influence our actions toward others especially interesting. I never considered how much my thoughts about people determine how I treat them.

Our thoughts also affect our physical and emotional health. Worry is a complete waste of energy and time, according to Meyer, and creates stress. And she goes on to suggest ways to deal with worry and fearful thoughts that rob us of energy. They also affect our walk with God. Citing Jeremiah 1:5 to assure us of God’s love for us, she writes “You are not loved because you are valuable—you are valuable because you are loved.” I like such “sticky statements” that Meyer sprinkled throughout the book.

Controlling our thoughts means shutting down undesirable thoughts. For instance, if you want to lose weight, don’t think about food all the time. Meyer discusses seeing things from God’s perspective and reflecting God’s thoughts in our speech because words are containers filled with power—either negative or positive.

Each chapter ends with a listing of its main points, something I found helpful for review. And Meyer ends the book with a list of steps for regaining control of your thoughts and preventing mental overload. There are also notes for those who want to trace her writing to original sources.

All in all, a good read, something I found helpful and hope to apply in my own life.



Thursday, October 1, 2015

Four Ways to Reach Across the Aisle



Dear Friends,

This month I’ll share with you an opinion piece I wrote that ran on PennLive’s Op Ed page on August 19:

As my parents sat on the back porch after farm chores were done, they discussed with neighbors the merits and faults of presidential candidates of all parties. They sometimes voted across party lines.

Today social media serves as the back porch, but along with thoughtful discussions, I read vitriolic remarks. Some call those who hold a different political stance stupid, idiotic and worse. On television, politicians resort to name calling.

Where has civility gone? Surely we realize no one person is all right or all wrong. Surely each party has something to contribute to build up our country. Surely we can disagree without questioning each other’s intelligence.

It’s a strange world we live in. God must at times just shake his head. We sing “We are One in the Spirit” on Sunday morning, and then on Monday morning we skewer those who do not share our philosophy of life.

I appreciate a country where we are allowed freedom of speech. But should freedom offer a platform to offend? Just because we can say anything doesn’t mean we should say anything. Will our legacy be one of hurtful remarks or thoughtful dialogue?

Makes me long for a better place. Then I realize, I am responsible to make this world a better place. We am called to live according to the principles of our faith.

Proverbs 16:23 reads, “From a wise mind comes wise speech; the words of the wise are persuasive.”

That tells me to choose my words with care, to answer with wisdom and grace, because such answers may shed glimmers of truth on areas of disagreement. If we think before we speak, others may think more seriously about what we say.

Let’s reach across the aisle to shake hands rather than to punch words:

1.      Remember the people we address are real people. Among them are friends and neighbors, people babysit for us in emergencies, people who cheer for our kids. Show respect.

2.      Remember to speak with grace. Anonymity emboldens. And we need boldness to stand up for what we believe. But there’s a difference between being bold and being brazen. Remember the Golden Rule. Speak to others as you would have them speak to you. Show compassion.

3.      Remember there is always more to an issue than meets the eye. We can admit we do not have all the answers and ask questions. We can say “in my opinion” and talk about how our position will bring positive change rather than simply kick at another’s position. Show humility.

4.      Remember to find something good to say about those of other parties. Acknowledge something to agree on. Affirm that others are sincere, tenacious, hard working. We live in a great country. Rather than tear down our countrymen and women, let’s build them up. In so doing, we become “menches,” authentic humans who can respectfully differ and sleep with a guilt-free conscience at the end of the day. Show integrity.

Feel free to add your suggestions in the “Comments” section. If you receive this post by e-mail just scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the link.

Have a blessed month.

Shirley

Upcoming Engagements:

October 8, 12 Noon – Shirley at Front Royal, Virginia, Christian Women’s Club.
October 10-11 – Friends of the Heart leading retreat for Church of God conference in Cambridge, Maryland.
October 18, 6 to 8 p.m. – Friends of the Heart at “Coffee with a Purpose” at Stone Valley Church, Hickory Corners, “At Any Age, At Any Stage: Celebrating the Christian Life.”