Category Archives: Books

Devotional Books for 2018

For better or worse, 2018 is right around the corner. That means it is time to start thinking about what devotional book (s) to use next year. Every morning I sit down and read devotions and say a prayer. Sometimes the prayers are long and sometimes they are short.

The following are the books I am using in my morning devotions this year.

A New Classic

The Psalms of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms, Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller. (Tim is founding pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.)

IMG_20171025_190009458.jpg

I saw his book at my local Barnes and Noble last fall and decided this would be my main devotional this year. (I sometimes read shorter devotional books in addition to a year-long one).

Each day consists of a Psalm or part of a psalm, Keller’s explanation and a prayer based on the Psalm.

Today’s reading was Psalm 116:1-11 

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
    he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
    I will call on him as long as I live.

The cords of death entangled me,
    the anguish of the grave came over me;
    I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    Lord, save me!”

The Lord is gracious and righteous;
    our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the unwary;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.

Return to your rest, my soul,
    for the Lord has been good to you.

For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
    in the land of the living.

10 I trusted in the Lord when I said,
    “I am greatly afflicted”;
11 in my alarm I said,
    “Everyone is a liar.”

These verses are about:

  • calling on God even when your emotions are out of control,
  • spending your life calling on him, which means trusting in him and nothing else for your salvation,
  • orienting your whole life to prayer, worship and living consciously of God at all times.

The prayer Keller wrote is about admitting we can’t handle life and the sooner we admit it, the sooner we will know peace by calling on God.

My Highlights From Today’s Devotion

The following words or sentences are what I highlighted in my book:

  • “…but he trusted God even when his emotions were out of control.”
  • ‘”I will call on him as long as I live.”‘
  • “…-to trust in him and nothing else for your salvation”
  • “…orient your whole life to prayer and worship.”
  • “This means to live conscious of him at all time”
  • “Love the Lord, for he listens.”
  • “I can’t handle this life.”

I am excited to finish the book as it means I will have FINALLY read through an entire book of the Bible. At my age, that is not good but I guess better late than never.

Songs of Jesus will give you a better understanding of the Psalms – one day at a time. You will not regret reading this book.

A Classic Devotional

The other devotional book I am using is the classic Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings, L.B. Cowman, Edited by Jim Reimann (Editor of My Utmost For His Highest) Updated Edition

IMG_20171025_185952493.jpg

I’ve read this book before but it has never spoken to me like it has this time.

Each day has a scripture and then a reading written by numerous of authors. These devotions make me think. They are not light and fluffy.

Some the daily readings contain poetry:

A little bird I am, 

Shut from the fields of air, 

An in my cage I sit and sing

To Him who place me there;

Well please a prisoner to be, 

Because, My God, it pleases Thee. 

 

My cage confines me round, 

Freely I can not fly, 

But though my wings are closely bound, 

My soul is at liberty;

For prison walls cannot control

The flight or freedom of the soul. 

(From October 12th Devotion)

Streams In The Desert was originally published in 1925 and has enriched the faith of millions of people, including me.

I highly recommend both books for your use in your devotional reading for next year, and the next, and so on and so on.  As you can see, they have become victims of my sticky notes. There are the usual pen and highlighter in the books as well.

IMG_20171025_190033061.jpg

 

Oops…I cut off the sticky notes sticking out of the top of Tim Keller’s book.

 

Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while working as a call center team leader, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of golden retrievers and an amateur photographer.

What I Would Tell My Younger Self

IMG_20170911_223921948

This post is inspired by Holley Gerth’s Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely for which I was blessed to be a member of her book launch team.

In chapter 5 Holley talks about if she could go back to her elementary school, she would look into her younger self’s eyes and tell her

“You’re going to be okay. Actually, you’re going to be quite wonderful.”

That got me to thinking what would I tell my younger self if I could go back to elementary school.

Now you have to be very, very, very careful what you tell young children as they are very, very, very, impressionable. I know. I was very impressionable and had words said to me that should not be said to anyone of any age.

I am going to put a different twist on Holley’s idea and say what I would tell myself at the following turning points in life:

  • elementary school self
  • 18-year-old self the night before graduation
  • 22-year-old self the night before college graduation
  • the night before my wedding self
  • the returning to work self the first day back after Joe’s passing.

My Elementary School Self

What I would tell myself the night before I start first grade. This is the most difficult because I would not want to freak my young self out, but there is an important life-changing, life-shaping event that will happen in a year. I need to instill confidence in her and not destroy her self-esteem.

  • Never forget Jesus loves you.
  • Love everyone
  • Be Kind to everyone
  • Pray
scan0012_honkytonk2

“Honky Tonk Woman”

Oh, and 1 + 1 = 2 not 11.

My 18-Year-Old Self 

The night before my high school graduation I would say:

  • Don’t give up the flute. Take lessons in college. Start a hobby career as a flute player for weddings, cocktail parties, and other social events. Keep track of your clients and stay in touch with them during the holiday season. This is called networking and you will be ahead of the rest of society if you develop good networking skills now.
  • Change Your Major. Instead of setting your sites on being a teacher, major in Library Science with a minor in creative writing. Make sure you do not lose your conversational writing tone.
  • Stop being a people pleaser. Instead, live to please God.

img_5652

My 22-Year-Old Self

The night before my college graduation I would tell myself:

  • Stay grounded in the Bible. It will always be your manual for living fully and loving bravely.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. You need to be grounded in gratitude as it will help you get through life.
  • Learn how to apply makeup and keep up with the trends. Teaching people how to apply makeup is a vital skill now and in the future. If you work in retail, push to get into the makeup department.

IMG_20170613_210512465

 

The Night Before My Wedding Self

I would say:

Love, Live, Laugh, Dance, Hold Hands, Snuggle, Kiss A Lot

shelby-deeter-193590

You waited a long time for marriage – cherish it.

  • Keep doing small things for him. It’s the small things that matter, like making Tuna Casserole.
  • Live by Elizabeth Barret Browning’s How Do I l Love Thee poem:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

 

My Newly Widowed Self

Here is what you need to do to thrive:

  • Write, write, and write. No one but you has to see what you write – not yet anyway. Hone your writing skills but keep the conversational tone.
  • Get some career counseling. Start and figure out what you would do if you were laid off.
  • Go back to school. I know the thought of term papers makes you want to puke but go back to school anyway.
  • Trust God. I know it is easier said and done, especially when times are tough but you have to do it.  He really IS your shepherd.
  • Keep praying and keep writing in a gratitude journal. This will help keep your mind focused on God and what is right in your life.
  • Get Back to photography, and reading. You enjoyed these hobbies before you got married, now get back to doing them again.
  • Eliminate the word “survive” and “okay” from your vocabulary. Focus on thriving instead. Surviving means treading water and okay means mediocre. You need to thrive and not survive.
  • But most of all:

BE KIND

Life is not going to get any easier. As a kid, you always knew life would be a struggle and your gut instinct was right. So no matter how hard life gets be kind to others as you are not walking in their shoes and don’t know what battle they are facing. Being kind will help keep your heart from hardening.

Remember no matter how hard the rest of your life will get:

Life is beautiful2

 

Now It’s Your Turn

That’s the advice I would give myself throughout different turning points in my life.

What advice would you give yourself?

 

Hands Photo by Shelby Deeter on Unsplash

All other photos by Michele Kearns

Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely by Holley Gerth

Let’s be the HEROINES in our own wild, imperfect, glorious stories. Never the understudy for someone else’s. 

Holley Gerth

Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely

Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely is a collection of stories from Holley Gerth’s life packed with encouragement. This is Holley’s best book yet because of how vulnerable she is in sharing personal stories.

Every chapter beings with a powerful quote from other author’s such as Madeline L’Engle, Ann Voskamp, Kaitlyn Bouchillon and the late Kara Tippetts. Then Holley tells a story about a certain time in her life. Events from childhood to college to marriage through the present are told in a conversational tone with faith,  wisdom, and encouragement being woven throughout.

You will read stories about, a paddleboat, bone in a chicken, infertility, and depression among others.

Time Machine

Her stories transported me back in time to my childhood and while I didn’t have a paddleboat,  I had a saucer sled. My friends and I had plenty of fun with that saucer sled during the summer when using it with a piece of rope and a chestnut tree.

Holley’s words show you how you have already lived fully and love bravely, what you need to do now is figure out how to get back the fierceness you had that got lost in the business of everyday life.

Never Too Late

While all the quotes Holley chose to begin the chapters are excellent and contain their own wisdom, it is the quote at the beginning of the epilogue that spoke to me the most:

It’s never too late for a happily ever after.

Lovelle Gerth-Myers

Holley’s daughter

Lovelle is right. It really is never too late for a new beginning. The story Holley shares about Lovelle’s adoption proves it.

Holley’s book gives you the support and encouragement to get out there and live fully and love bravely. Whether you are widowed, divorced, or just feeling lost, this book is for you. Because you are already a fiercehearted woman, a heroine of your own God-ordained story,  you just don’t realize it yet.

Remember, your happily ever after is waiting.

Fiercehearted Manifesto

Here is what Holley wrote about fiercehearted women on a plane one day that became the inspiration for her book.

22277465_489441574787838_6188947890992316416_n(1)

Disclosure: It is a blessing to be on Holley’s book launch team and be a part of a wonderful team of women. You too will be blessed by reading Fiercehearted. After you do, go out and fully and bravely live and love so you too can say “it’s never too late for a happily ever after.”

FYI: I had a hard time writing this review because of all the words and phrases running through my head. I finally decided the words belong to several posts and not just one. So there will be more posts based on the subjects in Fiercehearted.