Summer Time Reading: Books I Recommend

Summer is here and it’s hot. Hot and humid! Too hot to rush around, it’s time to slow down. Time to live life at a more relaxed pace…we wish!

Whether you are at the beach, the lake or the kiddie pool in your backyard, find a shaded area, put your feet up, have a cold refreshing drink at hand, relax and enjoy a good book.

Here is a list of some of the books I have enjoyed reading, they are not in any particular order. Please note; I am NOT being paid to recommend these books, I have genuinely read and enjoyed each one.

First let me say, no book or devotional should ever replace your daily reading of the scriptures. We need God’s word in us daily if we want to grow in our Christian walk. Scripture is not just words on a page, it is food for our soul, meat to our bones. It’s nourishment…don’t skip a meal, this is not the time to diet.

That said I highly recommend The One Year NLT Chronological Bible, the flow is easy to read.

Here they are 20 thought provoking, encouraging, enjoyable books.

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

Extravagant Worship by Darlene Zschech

Run to Win by Christine Caine

A Life Unleashed by Christine Caine

Here Comes the Bride by Sue Angel

Words That Change Everything by Karen Jordan

Without Rival by Lisa Bevere

Driven By Eternity (Revised & Expanded 10th Anniversary Edition) by John Bevere

Dressing the Wound: Give Yourself the Gift of Forgiveness by Vickie Petz Henderson M.D.

The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson

In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day by Mark Batterson

100 Days of Favor (Devotional) by Joseph Prince

Mark Of The Lion series by Francine Rivers, 3 books in the series…A Voice in the Wind. Echo in the Darkness and As Sure as the Dawn. (Christian Fiction)

Checking Into Faith by Ian Green

Be Real: Because Fake Is Exhausting Rick Bezet (my pastor)

Real Love In An Angry World by Rick Bezet to be released on Amazon July 4th (I got an early copy)

Marley & Me by John Grogan (get the tissues ready)

When Wallflowers Dance by Angela Thomas

Now it’s your turn, what books do you recommend? Need book title and author. Leave a list in the comment box either on this site or on my gracelaceandpolkadots Facebook page.

Until next week

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

 

 

 

Father’s Day: Simple Pleasures

He stooped over his cane as he walked, his once sprightly gait was now slow, but steady. I watched from a short distance away, he was determined the rising incline of the bridge was not going to win. Not that day, or any day soon.

It didn’t matter the bus he needed was already at the stop, he couldn’t go any faster even if he wanted to. The bus would have to go without him even though it would be another hour before the next.

The man I call dad, the man who use to carry me on his shoulders when I was a child. The man who worked double shifts down the coal mine to provide for his family. Now moved at a much slower pace.

Each time I visit home I notice the changes in my dad. His muscles are not what they once were when he mined for coal. His face a little thinner, his hair though still plentiful is not as bushy as it use to be.

Time Waits For No Man or Woman

Time ages us, it moves on whether we want it to or not. We may not notice the subtle changes in ourselves but believe me they are happening; to all of us.

My dad will be 91 years old this year, he has seen much in his life time. The days of his youth shepherding sheep and helping in the family vineyard took a turn when World War ll came to his part of Europe. He exchanged his shepherds staff for a gun, fighting to protect the freedom that was soon to be taken away.

Moving to Wales after WW ll meant learning a new language (English) and a new craft; coal mining, way below the surface where the sun doesn’t shine. A job he would do all his adult working life, one far removed from shepherding sheep. A job in which he lost friends due to caving in of the rock wall, a risk he took everyday in order to put food on the table.

He didn’t seek riches or position, rather the simple pleasures of life; family, friends, food and good health. These are still important to him. When my four year old grandson took the journey over the pond to visit his great-grandfather a few months ago the one thing they did together was to walk hand in hand down a country lane to feed a horse…picture that a 4 year old and a 90 year old walking together enjoying a simple pleasure. No generation gap there!

They Were Young Once

Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:2

When we look at an elderly man/woman, let’s remember he/she has lived and probably seen more changes in his/her life time than we may see in ours. Give honor to our elders, be courteous, be kind, be patient, be respectful. Remember they were young once and one day you and I will be the elderly.

I pray when I am 90 years old that I will continue to enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Hopefully there will be a 4 year old great-granddaughter or great-grandson in the picture.

Until next week

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

 

From Fear to Freedom

 

She couldn’t see him. He was there one moment and gone the next.

My daughter had signed her first born up to join swim team. The same team she swam for as a child. It was his first time to join a summer sports team and he was an excited four year old. She drilled him about listening to and obeying his coach but this particular swim practice he saw something that looked like fun and followed suit…he saw some older boys jump into the pool and thought he would do the same; they could swim, he couldn’t.

My daughter was sitting with the other moms, one eye on her one year old daughter and the other on her son. Various age groups with their coaches were in the water and several life guards were on duty.

Suddenly! She thrust her one year old on the lady next to her (insert shocked lady) and took off running down the side of the pool. Fully clothed she jumped into the water, her little boy was sitting at the bottom of the pool. He was new to swimming and for the most part held onto to his coach or the kick board when practicing. He didn’t possess the knowledge of how to push himself up to the surface. He needed to be rescued.

Physically he was fine. Mentally, he experienced nightmares, waking up crying in the middle of the night. Once I knew about the nightmares I did what any other born again, bible believing, praying grandmother would do. I took authority in the name of Jesus over the fear. As far as I was concerned it was not going to have a foothold in my young grandson.

The thief comes only in order to steal, and kill, and destroy: I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10 Amp

Fear is not of God and not how He wants us to live. I’m not talking about healthy parameters, such as, don’t play with fire or jump out of an airplane without a parachute. Our enemy has come to kill, steal and destroy and fear is just one of his tactics.

As born again believers in Christ we have the same spirit that lives in Jesus; that of peace, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Jesus came that we may live free in His truth, free from the lies of the enemy. It’s time for us to believe what the word of God says and not just read it like a story book.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 NIV

We don’t have to remain in a state of drowning at the bottom of the pool of fear. Our rescuer has come! The price has been paid for our freedom, through the sacrificial blood of Jesus.

We don’t have to live as a shackled Christian: We can live free.

Until next week

My apologies dear reader, I missed last week. I had a post written but it just didn’t sit right with me and, I am not about publishing posts for the sake of getting something out there. I want the posts to be source of encouragement to you in your walk with the Lord.

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance.

How has knowing God’s truth set you free? Would love to hear your story, please feel free to share in the comments.

P.S. My grandson is back on swim team this year and now swimming without a kick board.

 

 

 

 

When You Lose Sight of Your Calling

I wanted to purchase a pair of wide legged linen pants, so why was I trying on not one but two pairs of skinny jeans? It was the colors that caught my eye; a cool shade of aqua and a happy red to be precise. The jeans felt comfortable, but looking in the mirror I could see they were not a good fit at all.

I continued my search. I found a pretty summer dress in green and navy with a tad of white and oh, a cute floral blouse. Back to the dressing room I went, decided I didn’t like the blouse after all, but I did say yes to the dress and a pair of leggings.

I can get distracted by pretty things especially anything with small Polkadots and, yes I did pull a few items of clothing with Polkadots off the rack.

Stay focused! I told myself. Linen pants, linen pants I repeated to bring my mission back into view.

It took me three hours to buy one pair of linen pants. Plus another hour to visit a new children’s store in town where I purchased some clothes for my three grandchildren…going to that store was not part of the day’s plan. Can you say DISTRACTIONS.

Losing focus when shopping can lead to impulse buying i.e. dress, leggings and kids clothes. Losing focus on God’s plan for our lives can cause us to run impulsively in many directions other than the path we are called to walk.

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Proverbs 4:25 NIV

Stay Focused!

Focused on Jesus and focused on what He has placed in our hands to do. It’s so easy to be distracted, to lose sight of a goal especially when it is seems far off.

We get involved in too many things and neglect the one thing the Lord has asked us to do. Whatever it is stay focused. Spend time in His word and in prayer. Listen and be alert to His direction. If you get distracted, refocus! We don’t always realize the significance of what the Lord has placed in our heart’s to do and, we may never know until we are home with Him.

Proverbs 4:27 tells us “Do not look to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

 

What distracts you and what helps you to refocus? Share your thoughts in the comment box.

Until next week

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

 

When the Greet and Meet Time at Church Freaks you Out

“Turn and greet your neighbor.” A simple request heard in churches every weekend.

For some this request is greeted with dread.

Not everyone in a church meeting wants to acknowledge, let alone shake hands with the stranger next to them. The very thought can send them running to hide in the restroom.

Most times I am happy to greet those around me with a simple hand shake, just don’t ask me to high-five or fist-bump…not happening!

Then there’s hugging. Did you just squirm in your seat? Did the very thought of hugging someone you hardly know cause you discomfort? Me too.

Last Sunday I sat in a different seat to my norm finding myself next to a lady I have never met. I said hello and gave a friendly smile when she first sat next to me. Then came the time in the service when we were encouraged to turn to our neighbor and greet them. I extended my hand in friendship and she graciously responded.

Then it happened!

Holy embraces all around! Romans 16:16 msg

She pulled me a little closer wrapping her arms around me as she informed me ” I’m a hugger.” Honestly I didn’t have time to pull away. There I was, embraced in a hug with a total stranger…are you cringing?

If that had taken place a few years ago I would have stiffened like cardboard, held my breath as I endured the torture and made sure I avoided her in the future. I no longer respond to that degree, though I still have a little hesitancy, a little awkwardness, a little embarrassment but a lot more grace.

It is only as I have responded to God’s love for me, accepting His warm welcoming embrace have I slowly become more comfortable with accepting and showing affection to others.

Whatever church gathering you attend I’m sure the leadership would want you to feel safe. It’s okay not to shake hands, high-five, fist-bump or hug. It would be sad to stop attending church all because you dread the “greet and meet” time.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7

Set your own boundaries, you know what you are comfortable with. In the meantime allow the One who loves you unconditionally to draw you into His warm embrace. Let the Lord melt away your fears and break down your walls. Let Him fill you with His presence and grow you in His grace.

Maybe you will never be a hugger, and that’s okay. A warm friendly smile and a welcoming hand-shake can say “I’m glad to have met you today.”

I was glad to have met the lady next to me even if she was a hugger. We spoke after the meeting (not about hugging). I found out she was visiting from out of state and this was her first time at my church. She had shed a tear during the service and told me how she wished she had a church like this one in her home state. I’m glad I didn’t push her away.

To those who are comfortable with the “greet and meet” time. Let us be mindful of the people around us, may we respect their boundaries…you can usual tell from their body language. One last thing, I do not allow men (other than my husband) to hug me full on no matter how long I have know them and definitely not a male stranger.

Are you a hand shaker, high-fiver, fist-bumper, hugger or a hide in the restroom woman? Share in the comments, you may be surprised to find you are not alone.

Until next week

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance

 

 

She Desired to be a Great-Grandmother

Photo Credit: Helena Davies

I live 4,269 miles away from my mother (I googled it). A large pond A.K.A the North Atlantic Ocean separates us, so jumping in the car and popping over to Mam’s house on a whimsy is out of the question. Trips to see mam and dad take planning, airplane tickets and time off work.

It has been 26 years since I last celebrated Mother’s Day in the flesh so to speak, with my mother. I’m not saying it has been 26 years since I last saw her, just that we have not shared that day in person for a long time. We talk on the telephone every Friday with extra calls on birthdays, Christmas and Mother’s Day. I know the day will come when I will miss those calls…assuming she passes on before I do.

Late August 2016 I had the pleasure of spending eight days on vacation with my mother, who was then 86 years old, on Jersey, a British island just off the coast of Normandy, France. We had a wonderful time sightseeing the island and learning its history. This was the first vacation we had gone on together in 39 years and one I will always cherish.

Time flies so quickly and is gone before we know it. My mother turns 88 in November (my father 91 in September). Her hair use to be golden, now it is a shimmering white. Her walk use to be fast, steady and sure, now she walks slow and careful with the aid of a walking stick. This woman, my mother is made of grit, she may have slowed down but it has not stopped her sense of adventure.

At age 83 she made the long and tiring journey on her own from Wales to Arkansas to see her two month old first great-grandchild. While here I remember her sharing with my Pastor’s wife her desire to see her first great-grandchild before she died and, now that was accomplished she was ready to go.

Summer Williams   Photography

Since then she has seen him at 15 months and 4 years. Not only did she see her great-grandson this April she also met his sister, her great-granddaughter for the first time when my daughter and family visited Wales.

Wherever we come in the order of family, great-grandmother, grandmother, mother or child it is good for us to take time for each other. To cultivate relationships, something my daughter is very intentional and good at. Family is a priority to her even though she has a full time job and other interests she still reaches out to all the generations in the family.

Honor your father and mother so that you’ll live a long time in the land that God, your God, is giving you”.       Exodus 20:12

Maybe physical distance separates you from your mother, maybe it is emotional distance. Find a way to reach out and bridge the gap this Mother’s Day. We are all getting older flying second by flying second, that is not only true for your mother but true for you also. Bridge the gap today.

Until next week

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance.

What is the one thing that stands out to you about your mother? Share in the comments, look forward to reading about your mother.

 

 

 

 

Nurses: A Peculiar Breed/Celebrating Nurses Week

Hey everyone just incase you are not aware May 8-12th is a special week in the health care industry. It’s Nurses Week!So I write this post in honor of nurses here in the US and worldwide

Nurses are a peculiar breed, we eat and sleep at odd times of the day and night (depending on the shift). We talk about body parts and things excreted from the body while we eat our lunch, the grosser the better. Our sense of humor is a little different to most people and friends and family shouldn’t expect sympathy from us when they complain about aches and pains (we have seen far worse)….like the doctor said, ” Take two Tylenol and call me in the morning.”

We get excited over a juicy vein; I was at a July 4th celebration a few years back, a band that my neighbor knew from her younger days was playing and she wanted to get closer to see her old idol. We moved right in front of the stage, I don’t know the name of the band but I do know the lead guitarist played exceptional well. While my neighbor swooned over her idol, I couldn’t help but notice the awesome veins in his arms as he skillfully played. You would have to have poor eye sight not to stick those veins in one go.

Nurses learn to hide their emotions. When a patient is suffering they don’t need a nurse falling apart sobbing over them. They need a nurse who is level headed and takes action. I use to think I lacked compassion until I learned that compassion is not a feeling (empathy). Compassion is seeing a need and taking action to help that need.

That is exactly what nurses do. They see a need related to their patient, whether it be a physical, mental, emotional or spiritual and they find a way to help them. They are the patient’s advocate, they speak up for the patient and help connect them with the appropriate team member.

The Good Samaritan (read Luke 10:30-35) was compassionate, he saw a need and did what was in his power to help. He gave first aid to the victim on the side of the road, then took him to the Inn where he paid the Innkeeper to take care of the man until his return. My guess is the Innkeeper was too busy looking after his customers to tend to a sick person, so I wonder who he would of hired to nurse the gentleman back to health? Someone with nursing skills?

If you know a nurse (other than me), please take a moment out of your busy schedule to send them a note expressing your appreciation of their service.

Do you have a LPN or RN as a family member or friend? Perhaps you have been a patient and a particular nurse stood out to you? Would love to hear from you in the comments.

We can all be compassionate, see a need and go into action.

Helena

Looking to Jesus. Living in His Radiance