It is 2:43 a.m. this morning as I write this post. I woke up and could not get back to sleep so I decided to get out of bed, light a virtual fireplace, and do some work on this blog.
There is a new page on the menu – “Holiday Helps.” It is filled with various articles, websites, music and book recommendations to help you get through the holiday season. There is something on this page for everyone, whether you are grieving or just stressed out from all the chaos.
There is also a sub-page, “Joy Filled Recipes” that contains links to unhealthy but extremely delicious recipes.
I will add to the pages as I find more resources or recipes that you will enjoy.
I did not start Ann’s book until several years after it was released. I thought it was just another fluff piece of chick-flick type literature. However once I turned the first page, Ann’s words hit me hard. I realized this was definitely not going to be a fluff piece of work but was going to have a lot of weight and substance to it.
Ann makes me think, and think deeply which satisfies the introvert in me. Always looking inward to see how I can better myself. I’ve even had the pleasure of being on her book launch teams for The Broken Way: A Daring Path Into The Abundant Life and The Way of Abundance: A 60-Day Journey Into A Deeply Meaningful Life.
I can’t think of a better way to get through the Christmas season than to do this Bible study – especially since I am in retail. I need all the help and encouragement I can get.
This is my gratitude journal – well one of them. I have a smaller one on the side table in the living room that has over 800 entries.
These 2 pages in my red journal were completed this morning. Entries were also highlighted and washi taped because that’s just what I do – make my journal colorful.
I have been working on this book a long time and will admit to not being as diligent as I should be in writing down moments for which to be thankful. The color of the pen I use varies throughout my journal.
You might be wondering what was #1,000 on my list well, it was a driver at work rescuing a lamb that was stuck on a fence.
The people he was delivering to were not home and the lamb had been there awhile. He unstuck him and the lamb immediately started eating some grass.
So rest assured, the Lamb of God is alive and well.
Quotes About Giving Thanks
The quote I have inside my journal.
Lest you think this being thankful and counting gifts is some New Age thing, it is not. I also have this reminder on my computer.
So are you asleep or are you truly woke to a thankful life filled with wonder and joy?
When I attended GriefShare there were two videos dedicated to counting down the top 20 lessons one learns while going through grief. God’s sovereignty is their number one lesson and it is that lesson combined with a few things going on in this wild, wacky and wonderful world that inspired this post.
Contrary to popular opinion, it does not take two to make a baby. It takes three – man, woman and God; a different type of Holy Trinity.
If God wants there to be a baby, then a couple will have a baby. Just think of how crowded the world would be if a man and a woman had a baby every time they made love. That does not happen because God does not want it to happen. He wants men and women to experience the pleasure of love making and not always have a baby.
When Joe and I married we decided to leave the decision about having children up to God. If He wanted us to have them then we would. However God knew our future, He knew the marriage would only last 14 3/4 years. So He decided we should not have children.
Instead, He blessed us with a golden fur child we named Rommie. We had some great times together as a family before Joe passed away. Rommie and I had some wonderful times together before she joined Joe in heaven 4 years ago. We were so thankful God brought her into our lives.
Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:16 New International Version (NIV)
He also knew you, the moment you would burst forth in this world and how your life was going to fit into the the grand plan He had set in place.
He knew your trials and tribulations, your highs and lows and your successes and failures. All this He knew long before you were born.
Not only did God know everything about you before creation,He LOVED and STILL LOVES you despite your shortcomings.
Since He knew us and the moment of our birth, it also means He knows the exact moment we will move to heaven. We can not do anything to lengthen our lives.
There is nothing I could have done to stop Joe from moving to heaven. His move was predestined – just as the date of my move was written in stone before God created earth and heaven.
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.
Psalm 116:15 New International Version (NIV)
Thy Will Be Done
So often we rage against God for thwarting our plans. We act as if we are in charge and God is our personal genie at our beck and call. He is to do as we say and not function according to His will.
But that is not the case.
There is a reason the Lord’s Prayer contains the line
10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.(Matthew 6:10)
It is because God is in control. His will is perfect and better than ours – always has been and always will be. Even Jesus knew His Father was in charge.
Our birth and death are not the only things God alone controls. He also reigns supreme over the climate and the weather.
Weather is defined by m-w.com as: “the state of the atmosphere with respect to heat or cold, wetness or dryness, calm or storm, clearness or cloudiness.”
I am writing this on a balmy October morn here in Northeast Ohio. Balmy is not a word we use to describe October weather. When this post publishes the state of the atmosphere will be fall-like and not balmy.
If I Ruled The World balmy weather would continue till January (need 6 weeks of 32 or below to keep the insect population under control).
But I do not control the weather. Temperatures will fall, as they normally do this time of year resulting in windows being closed and wearing long sleeve fleece tops instead of my silky sleeveless ones.
The falling temps will eventually result in scenic views such as:
If humans could change the weather us Northeast Ohioans would turn a steering wheel and send all the Lake Effect Snow to Michigan. The folks at the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA) would turn a steering wheel and drive all hurricanes out to sea.
But we can’t send our snow to Michigan and hurricanes can’t be driven out to sea by humans. Only God can steer snow and hurricanes. He is exceptional at controlling the weather because He created it.
24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
Matthew 8:24-27 English Standard Version (ESV) Emphasis Mine
Climate is defined by m-w.com as: “the average course or condition of the weather at a place usually over a period of years as exhibited by temperature, wind velocity, and precipitation.”
Any climate change is a result of God, not man.
If God wants Ohio to be an arid zone, then He will change it. If he wants Texas to be covered in ice, then so be it. The climate is His and His alone to control.
Ever since God created the earth, it has gone through heating and cooling cycles. Cycles that last longer than our life span.
Nothing we do will stop Him from implementing His plan. He is weaving all our light and dark moments (both individually and collectively as humans) together and one day we will see His finished project.
The Only Climate We Can Change
We can only change the climate of our hearts. How? Pray, Love God, and Love your neighbor.
if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 English Standard Version (ESV)
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Matthew 22: 37-40 English Standard Version (ESV)
Under New Management – Not New Ownership
This world was created by God and given to us to manage. Have we managed it well – sometimes yes and sometimes no.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
Genesis 2:15 English Standard Version (ESV)
Do we pollute the air more than we should – yes. Do we litter more than we should – yes. But God already knew how we would manage the world.He already knew about our use of petroleum, coal and natural gas and knew we would raise cows for our dairy and meat needs.
He knew because He gave us the knowledge and talent to be creative and invent technology that would help us thrive and prosper generation after generation.
Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures.
Psalm 119:90 New International Version (NIV) Emphasis mine.
Quit trying to put yourself on the same level with God. We answer to Him, He does not answer to us. He owes us no explanation for anything that happens including earthquakes, hurricanes, lightning strikes, and untimely deaths.
The Bottom Line
We will be fine despite littering, polluting, farting cows and other things. The climate will continue to go through cycles and we will live the exact number of years God predetermined before creation.
So work on changing the climate of your heart, taking care of the planet and all of God’s creatures great and small but remember
Ever since Joe’s passing I’ve been rediscovering and/or reinventing who I am. The first step was upgrading from film to a DSLR camera, the next step was reading books, then came unemployment followed by LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and blogging. That is what widowhood is all about – moving forward with creating a new life while not forgetting the old one.
History always fascinated me and was my best subject in school. Once I got out in the working world, my love of history did not occupy much of my time. My interest was slowly been rekindled over the past few years but has intensified this summer. History brings me joy.
However, in school I do not recall getting much of an education about Christianity’s role in our founding. My teachers may have casually mentioned it. So I did some research on Amazon about Christianity and our founding. Dr. Stackhouse Jr’s book was one of the search results and I found the title intriguing.
His book is packed or should I say stacked with quotes from and information about the founding fathers and their faith. There is so much information I found this post hard to write because I want to include everything.
Here is my best shot at a general overview with some quotes scattered through out.
The title of the book comes from Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson proposed seal for the United States, which is on page 98 and the book’s cover.
They Had A Dream
The founding fathers had a dream, a dream of a country where man was not under the rule of tyrannical leaders imposing taxes on it’s citizens. A country of the people, by the people and for the people where man was free to choose and create his own destiny.
They Had Faith
But bringing this dream to life was in going to be what most would say is an impossible dream. However our founders had the faith to know that nothing is impossible with God.
But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Matthew 19:26 King James Version (KJV)
Their faith in God is the one thing that I quickly noticed when reading in the book. It was a strong faith, a passionate faith, a faith unlike what we see and experience today. These men KNEW their Bible and applied it to everyday life.
Our faith today is sterile, sanitized and bleached out. It’s too formal, to routine, to bland in fact it is down right too establishment-like. But that is a subject for another post.
The Apostle Paul talks about submission to those in authority in Romans 13 as God put them there. It is generally interpreted as blind obedience to whoever is in authority.
However, Puritan minister Johnathan Mayhew (1720-1766) of the West Church in Boston gave a sermon on Romans 13 where he stated obedience to whoever is the ruler applies ONLY when the leader is being kind to his people. If he is imposing things, like taxes on tea, he is not being kind. Since he is not doing God’s will, we have a duty to rebel against the tyrant.
If it be our duty, for example, to obey our king, merely for this reason, that he rules for the public welfare, (which is the only argument the apostle makes use of) it follows, by a parity of reason, that when the turns tyrant, and makes his subjects his prey to devour and to destroy, instead of his charge to defend and cherish, we are bound to throw off our allegiance to him and to resist.
Johnathan Mayhew Rebellion To Tyrants Is Obedience To God Daniel S. Stackhouse, Jr. PH. D. pg. 13
Mayhew’s sermon was given on the 51st anniversary of King Charles I’s execution after the English Civil war of the 1840’s.
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (emphasis mine)
Matthew 22:37-39 King James Version (KJV)
Obviously imposing taxes or other nasty things on people is not loving your neighbor as you love yourself. Therefore we the people have the right to rebel against tyrannical rulers.
There were even sermons about politics preached from the pulpit in the pre-revolutionary war years. Sermons about God being almighty, powerful and the ultimate ruler. Understanding this puts into the power of kings and queens into perspective as they are mere mortals like the rest of us.
Knowing God is the almighty gave them courage to boldly proceed with the fighting for our right to be free from England and the tyrannical rule of King George III.
The Country’s One Foundation
American historian Henry F. May best explains the answer as to why Christianity played a role in our founding:
A great many people believed throughout the period that the religion of the Bible, understood best by simple people, was the safest foundation for all essential truths.
On the whole, various forms of Protestant Christianity served the emotional needs of most Americans better.
Henry F. May American Historian and Margaret Byrne Professor Of History University of California, Berkeley Rebellion Against Tyrants Is Obedience To God Daniel S. Stackhouse, Jr. PH.D. pg. 43
Christianity is about a loving God who wants a relationship with all of us because we are his children. However, we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. He sent Jesus down to rescue us because God knew we would never be able to work our way up to heaven. Our good deeds towards others prove we are saved by God’s grace.
It is that simple. And that is how I like my religion – simple. No fancy, foo-foo, frilly religion for me. Foo-foo belongs on evening and wedding gowns. Life was hard back in the 1700’s and is still hard now, therefore religion needs to be simple.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…
The Declaration of Independence Rebellion Against Tyrants Is Obedience To God Daniel S. Stackhouse, Jr. PH.D. pg. 60
The words were discussed and discussed until everyone could agree upon them because:
The Declaration had to be acceptable to all of the American People “if Congress expected them to live by it and die for it.” wrote Rod Gragg.
Forged in Faith – How Faith Shaped the Birth of the Nation 1607 – 1776 by Rod Gragg Rebellion Against Tyrants Is Obedience To God Daniel S. Stackhouse, Jr. PH.D. pg. 60
Dr. Stackhouse, Jr. points out that while Thomas Jefferson (writer of The Declaration) did not acknowledge a personal salvation experience, he agreed with Jesus’s teaching. He was also suspicious of religious institution and their leaders.
[Christ’s] system of morality was the most benevolent and sublime probably that ha sever been taught, and consequently more perfect than those of any of the antient philosophers.
Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Dr. Joseph Priestly Rebellion Against Tyrants Is Obedience To God Daniel S. Stackhouse, Jr. PH.D pg 62
Guess it is a good thing you are not alive today, Thomas. There are a lot of preachers and religious leaders that you would cause you to raise an eyebrow. (By the way, antient is an archaic variation of the world ancient per Merriam Webster.)
“But Wait, There’s More!”
There is more information in this book than I can cover in this blog post – freedom of speech, the Great Awakening, and separation of church and state (spoiler: it does not mean what you think it means) are just a few topics I did not cover.
Being a part of her book launch team is one of the best experiences ever because it feels like a group of best friends gathering on a Saturday afternoon each curled up on couch with a cup of tea.
Scattered throughout this review are bits of my story and the pictures of the current trees in my life.
I first fell in love with Christie’s writing when I read Roots and Sky; A Journey Home in Four Seasons. Her writing is warm, gentle and makes you feel right at home.
In Placemaker, Christie eloquently weaves her story with the story of the trees she and her family encountered in every place they lived from Texas, to Chicago, IL, to Florida and finally to an old red brick farmhouse called Maplehurst in Pennsylvania. A story filled with the beauty and peace of each place despite the challenges encountered.
The book is also about community and belonging, about opening your homes to family and friends even though you just moved in, and it’s about cultivating beauty, comfort and peace whether you are walking though a season of abundance or though a wilderness season.
What is a Placemaker? It is someone who willingly sinks their roots deep, even though they might be there for a short time.
Making and tending good and beautiful places is not a dishonorable retreat. It is a holy pursuit.
Christie Purifoy Placemaker; Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace
Trees first came to mean something special to Christie because of the cover of The Magician’s Nephew one of the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. However, the cover of her copy is not all about trees but somehow they were what she remembered. Guess God was preparing her to write this book even as a child.
Then she discovered that trees spread their roots down and out and feed off one another. They are a community serving one another.
We are to be like trees, sink our roots deep and serve our neighbors.
Sinking roots deep is what Joe and I did when we moved here. We developed wonderful relationships with our neighbors and we have been there walking each other through a garden or wilderness. While there are a few other reasons, my neighbors are the main reason I have never moved – and have no intention of moving.
The trees know waht we struggle to accept; it is right and good to love my neighbor as myself.
Christie Purifoy Placemaker; Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace
A Life of Trees
At first I found myself jealous of how she was able to tell her and her family’s story through the trees that inhabited every place they lived.
Then I remembered, well duh! You can tell your life story through experiences with trees starting with the chestnut tree of your childhood and ending with the maple tree on my tree lawn and the trees in the woods behind this house.
A Wilderness of Discontent
Like all stories, Christie’s contains chapters about grief, loss and walking through her wilderness season in Florida. A season of running out of dreams, not feeling appreciated, and making new friends at church but they all live on the other side of the city.
Like winter, the wilderness is always a promise. God leads us in and, one way or another, he leads us out again. Or, if he doesn’t lead us out, he does something almost more miraculous: he plants trees in the desert, and he causes rivers to flow there.
Christie Purifoy Placemaker; Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace
Yes, God lead Christie out of the wilderness in Florida to a tree-lined driveway in Pennsylvania.
In April 2018 I was writing my 10 Year A Widow series, about the lessons learned since Joe’s passing, I was overcome with tiredness. It was as if someone stuck a straw in me and sucked all the life and energy out of me. It’s what led to reduced blogging and…reduced placemaking. I gave up and this house looks like I’ve given up on it and life in general.
Thank you Christie for reminding me of the importance of placemaking and that it is a holy endeavor. Your book is nourishment my soul desperately needs.
My Favorite Chapter
In the chapter titled Rainbow Eucalyptus and Roses, A Place For Those Who Mourn, Christie writes about her brother-in-law Shawn Campbell’s passing off the shores of Oahu. It is a beautiful, eloquent tribute to Shawn.
You will need tissues.
However, after reading about the last event in that chapter, you will be saying “Only God.” Because only God could have planned and carried out that tree event. It has Romans 8:28 written all over it.
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together[a for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.
Romans 8:28 New Living Bible (NLT)
The Placemaker Effect
Christie’s book will inspire you and cause you to reflect upon not only how you can be a placemaker but how where you live changes you.
So if you are looking for a place to be deeply rooted in peace, start by sinking your roots deep into reading Placemaker.
Thank You, Christie
Thank you, Christie for writing a beautiful, uplifting book. I pray it will encourage those walking through a wilderness and inspire those in a garden season to sink their roots deep and wide where ever God has placed them.
I leave you with one final quote, that sums up why this world needs us to be placemakers.
With God’s help, we can pick up the pieces of an old and dying world, and we can make them new. We can make a place where beauty and peace can take root, flourish, and grow.
Christie Purifoy Placemaker; Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace
The Legal Pad:All links on this post are non-affiliate links. I am a member of the Placemaker book launch team and received a free copy of Christie’s book in advance of today’s release date. However, the one I pre-ordered on July 3rd, 2018 arrives today. 😀
The devotions are not geared towards any religion. There are quotes from authors, scriptures from the Bible and proverbs from other religions. After each quote, there are thoughts from the author and then at the end a one-sentence thought/prayer. I enjoyed reading this book and my copy is now in 2 pieces. It fell apart at April 17th, which is the day I started reading it.
Time For A Re-Read
Since this year is the 10th anniversary of his passing and our 25th wedding anniversary, I decided to read this book again. Now for some reason January – March is much neglected. I do not know why and I’m kind of wishing I did not have this brilliant idea to read through it again because God showed me a different perspective on remarriage.
Today’s devotional is very brief but powerful and deals with the hole left behind by a loved one’s passing.
The quote is:
It is the nature of grace always to fill spaces that have been empty.
Whitmore-Hickman’s thought is:
Not that we can’t tell the difference. Not that we are being disloyal. But if life gives us something else to do with all those impulses toward the one no longer with us, how can we not be grateful? It’s like an extra inheritance -a blessing even- from the one we have lost, going to someone else who needs what we have to give. So we are refreshed by the memory of the loved one, and at the same time offering a gift, creating a new relationship.
The thought/prayer is:
Keep me on the lookout for someone who needs me now.
So the love and commitment I gave Joe in our marriage, needs to be given to someone else, a new relationship, with a new man. I never thought of remarriage that way until today.
Remarriage scares me. I am afraid I would get hitched to a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde type of person. He is sweet and loving until we are pronounced husband and wife. Plus, blending two households is a lot of work. Houses would have to be sold and a new one bought. He would have to get along with Joe’s family as well as mine, then I would have to get along with his family. UGH! Too much work, too much stress.
Yes, I know if the right person came along, all the work would be worth it.
This devotional can be applied to any relationship and not just the loss of a spouse. If you lost a daughter, as Whitmore-Hickman did, then you find an opportunity to “mother” another child. Whether it is through a mentoring program such as Kid’s Hope, teaching Sunday School, or spending more time with the single neighbor lady’s child.
But obviously, I see this from the perspective of a widow and remarriage.
It’s almost 10 years since I first read this book. I loved it then and I still love it and still recommend it. My suggestion is when you give this to someone, keep a copy for yourself and read it together. You could email each other daily or meet weekly to discuss the devotions. I know the grieving person would appreciate having someone walk through the devotional journey with him/her.