Joys of Summer?

lavender and daisiesI admit:  Summer is not my favorite season.

Not when it’s so hot and humid there are heat warnings. When I dread the relief of thunderstorms because most all of them all summer have meant water in the house and power outages that keep us bailing our sump pump and spending the weekends at Home Depot trying to solve this water issue.

HOWEVER, determined not to overlook the gifts of summer, I started a list. After you read mine, will you add a few items of your own by commenting, please? Let’s not let ourselves fail to appreciate the abundant gifts specifically of summer.

Abundant Gifts of Summer

  • fresh fruit: watermelon, ice cold on a summer day; cantaloupe, Michigan peaches, strawberries, and my favorite, blueberries–especially when picked fresh on an outing with a friend, or given to me by my son who thoughtfully bought 5 packages on sale because he knew they were my favorite fruit
  • garden produce, especially zucchini (I make a mean Italian-style fried zucchini dish) and tomatoes (the only time to eat them is in season, in my opinion)
  • flowers: the amazing variety of color and shape
  • light before 6 a.m.
  • air conditioning (a godsend when it works)
  • warm gentle rains (I do remember one, anyway, that was lovely)
  • the color green
  • birds and their songs (I saw a bluebird–only the second time I’ve seen one in my life. He was gorgeous!)
  • pools and lakes and oceans to swim in

And …? What particular gifts of summer are you thankful for?

Let Us Never Forget

I received this email from Paul Galloway today, Memorial Day USA, and I agreed with every word of it.  So I thought I’d pass it on. Thank you, Paul, for expressing it so movingly and simply.

Today is a American holiday, “Memorial Day”. On this day we remember those who have given their lives while serving in the armed forces.

I fear that a great many Americans (perhaps even a large majority) only see Memorial Day as an extra day off from work — a three day weekend of entertainment and recreation.  This lack of gratitude — this irreverence for things sacred — is distressing to me. . . .

I for one would just like to publicly say “Thank You” . . .

To all the wives who have lost husbands,

To all the husbands who have lost wives,

To all the children who have lost mothers and fathers,

To all the parents who have lost their dear children (I can’t imagine your pain),

To everyone who has lost a sister, brother, aunt, uncle,  grandmother, grandfather or dear friend,

And especially to all the men and women who have sacrificed your lives, giving up everything you hoped and dreamed for in your future . . .

To all who have given so much so that my family and I can
continue living under the banner of freedom . . .

Thank you.

Yours is a debt I can never repay, but I promise I will never forget nor take for granted your sacrifice for your
country, and for me.

God bless you and your families!

Paul Galloway
Cheney, KS

Update on My Child in Haiti

I got word from Compassion International that the area in Haiti where my child, St. Hilaire Germima, lives was “moderately affected” and no deaths reported. Thank God! And thanks to all who prayed for this dear child and her family. I am so relieved they are as safe as can be expected under the circumstances. There were only minor damages to the Child Development Center in that area. I still can’t send letters, but I can pray! And that’s most important.

Please continue to pray for relief work in Haiti, and for St. Hilaire and her family. Again, I am impressed with Compassion. Check out their blog for what they’re doing and how they do it. You can donate to the Haiti earthquake relief effort here, and any gifts before March 1 can be claimed as a tax deduction on your 2009 taxes. (Yes, it’s that time of the year again.)

And thank you to those who helped me raise funds for Haiti through getting some of the publishing coach products I put on sale . Your reward will be an everlasting one, and I can’t help but think you’ll also be blessed with what you do with what you bought.

Thankful for … the Source of All Good Things

This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for so many things. However, as I reflected upon what I’m most grateful for, I’d have to say one thing: the Holy Spirit.

It simply blows my mind on a daily basis that God actually dwells inside those who welcome Jesus into their hearts, that center of our being that contains everything we are and that is, I believe, the “place” where we meet God.

It is truly Jesus with us, as promised in John 14.

The Holy Spirit, as God’s actual presence, does so much for us. He makes Jesus real. He comforts. He guides. On a daily basis, he guides my steps in many ways: by opening up God’s Word and making it real and applicable to me. (I never cease to be amazed at how living the Bible is. If you want a taste of what I discover, sign up for Abundant Gifts from the Word, my free email daily devotion.) I can’t tell you how often I hear some message several times over a period of a few days–perhaps through the Bible, and then something I hear on the radio, or something I read in an email, or even a piece of music.

God speaks in so many ways (I wrote a whole book on it, in fact: Knowing the Voice of God), and it is exciting to hear his voice speaking to me. But it is the Holy Spirit speaking, leading, healing.

So this Thanksgiving, I thank and praise God for the most amazing gift: the Holy Spirit, the Source of all else that’s important.

My Valentine’s Day gift to you …

abundant-gifts2.gifIn honor of Valentine’s Day, Iwould like to give you a way to increase the love in your life.

The love that will increase is your sense of God’s love for you. Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions will open your eyes to the kinds of gifts God has been giving you, out of love, that you may not have been noticing.

When you read how God “shows up” in my life and the lives of others who share their stories, it will give you a sense for the kinds of gifts you can look for in your own life.

Here’s what some readers have said about “Abundant Gifts“:

  • “So many of these stories touched my heart. I hated to have the book come to an end. I plan to reread it again as the new year starts. It is hard not to read the whole book in one sitting, but it is set up as a daily devotional and I savored it by reading just one story a day. I also believe, as the author shows in some of the stories, that God has a sense of humor. I have given several copies as gifts.”-R. Arthur, Charlton, New York
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  • “The stories never cease to encourage. It’s one of those books you can read again and again and pass along to those who need to know that God is always there and working even when we don’t always see. You are a wonderful writer!” —Francine Rivers, best-selling author

If you haven’t already “tasted” sample stories, I invite you to do so here.

May your Valentine’s Day be filled with love–of all kinds!

You’re Invited to a Special Event on Unleashing Leadership Potential

Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands One of the things I “do for a living” is work with publishers and authors to get the word out about their books through something called a “Virtual Book Tour.”

I’d like to invite you to one I’m doing in just a few days.

If you’re a leader of any stripe (parent, educator, church leader, community leader, manager, etc.), tune in on October 28 to listen to my interview with Nancy Ortberg, author, speaker, teaching pastor, and business consultant.

As is typical with Virtual Book Tours, you can ask Nancy Ortberg questions ahead of time. So go ahead–ask Nancy any question you have on how to unleash leadership potential—in yourself or others.

Nancy will answer questions—perhaps yours!—in the upcoming Virtual Book Tour that you can attend via your phone or even computer. Rather than driving somewhere to a physical book tour to hear Nancy talk about her new book, Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands: Lessons in Non-Linear Leadership (or missing it altogether because it’s not in your town), you get to hear her either live, or later via replay—from the comfort of your own home!

When you sign up, you’ll also get an excerpt from the book to get you started.

Christmas in August–How to Get a Free Book

Abundant Gifts - 2nd editionWhen I worked as an editor at Campus Life magazine (many moons ago), August was the month Christmas was on our minds. That was the month we worked on the November/December issue.

I don’t know why, all these years later, I’m thinking of this. Maybe it’s because I have two teenagers of my own.

Anyway, I got to thinking how it might be fun to have a little “Christmas in August” sale.

Here’s how it works: When you buy a copy of Abundant Gifts, I give you a book! (As in give–gratis.)

The book will come from my “grab bag.”

You can specify whether you’d like it to be fiction or nonfiction. (Do it in the “special instructions” part of the order form, or if you send a check, in the note and email you send me.)

You can also get more specific, but I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to do more than send you a fiction or nonfiction book.

It’s kind of like the gifts God himself gives us. We know they are coming (because he’s so generous), we can even ask for what we want, but he reserves the right to decide what we get.

So click on this link and get yourself some added inspiration from Abundant Gifts, or give it and/or the free book to a friend. If you want to sample 5 stories from Abundant Gifts, click here.

And if you don’t like the grab bag book–oh well, I bet someone else will! Pass it on. “Freely you have received, freely give.”

Note: I don’t know how long my supplies of either Abundant Gifts or the grab-bag books will last, so if you’re at all inclined to accept this fun offer, now’s the time. Two books for less than $20 (including the shipping), and one of them signed by the author … I don’t know, seems pretty good to me!

Easy and Meaningful Gift Idea

Abundant Gifts coverSomeone just sent me an idea for giving a very meaningful gift.

She said one of her favorite gifts was sent to her by a friend who had just moved away. The gift was a devotional book that the friend was also planning to read in the coming year. The accompanying note said, “Even though we’re apart, we can always be ‘on the same page’.”

Isn’t that a wonderful idea?

Do you have any friends or family who live apart from you? Why not give them a copy of Abundant Gifts, and let your loved ones know that you will be reading it every day along with them. It’s a wonderful way to stay connected on both an emotional and spiritual level.

To make it even more special, you may order a signed, personalized copy from me. I’ll even gift wrap it! Find the details here.Подаръци

Can We Be Thankful for the Things We Don’t Want?

This Thanksgiving I’m going to conduct a spiritual experiment of sorts.

It’s typical to give thanks for the good things in life.

I want to go further. I want to be as grateful for the hard things, the seemingly “bad” things–the things I don’t like about my life, even the things I hate and wish would go away.

The things I call in Abundant Gifts “disguised gifts.”

You see, in my years of attempting to live “the Abundant Gifts way,” I have developed a theory of how things work in the spiritual realm.

My theory, in a nutshell, is that when we, in faith, receive even the difficult, unwanted things in life as a gift, that somehow triggers that thing to become a blessing eventually in some way.

I don’t think that all things automatically or necessarily turn out for the good. The Bible says that God works all things together for good “to those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

In other words, to those who live by faith.

It’s difficult to express how this might work. I don’t want to say that our faith “allows” God to turn a curse into a blessing, exactly. Yet I wonder if that is somehow how it works.

There are definitely things in my life I do not welcome. Yet, in faith, I recognize that I probably do not see the big picture. How often, in retrospect, do you experience some thing that was not pleasant at the moment, but later turned out to be a gift in some way?

So now, at this moment, though I do not see the blessing in some of my circumstances, I believe that it’s possible for God to turn it into something good.

So I will thank God for everything, good or not apparently so, this Thanksgiving. I will wait, in hope and faith, for the “bad” to transform into blessing.

I’m very interested in your response. Should we give thanks for all things? Post your comment on the blog by clicking “comments,” please.

Free eBook Journal–A Way to Keep Track of All Your Blessings

Happy Thanksgiving!

As you begin to count your blessings, I’d like to remind you of the free Abundant Gifts eBook Journal that you can use to record God’s goodness in your life.

Why not start a new tradition, this Thanksgiving, of recording God’s many blessings?

You can record it for yourself. You can ask family members and/or friends–whomever you will share Thanksgiving with–to write in it at the beginning or end of the meal.

Or you can use it as a family journal, asking each member every evening what were the blessings of that day.

The Journal is available in a Word doc file format that you can write in from your computer, or print out and write in it by hand. It’s also available as a PDF file you can print out and write in.

There are 31 pages, and you can keep reusing those pages by printing out fresh ones. I give other suggestions for keeping a gifts journal in the beginning of the eBook.

Get it now, and Happy Thanksgiving!