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Made Me Grin!

When an author opens the long-awaited box containing her book… we only hope that readers will find the same value inside its covers that we invested as we wrote.

So it’s a very grin-worthy day when a reader leaves this type of happy review. 😊

I’ve been on a grand search my whole life—the search for authentic friendship. Michele Howe’s book, Navigating the Friendship Maze, identifies the complexity of this expedition and assists the reader to find her way through this difficult puzzle in life. She shows how friends can help us draw closer to God, and how God can help us draw closer to friends. I especially like the end of each chapter where she provides specific takeaways, prayers, and action steps. As I read through the book, I identified friends through the years who made me grin, and friendships I’m sure made God grin as well. I look forward to reading through the book again, taking time to work through the suggested assignments. Since I’m in a new season of life, the book will help me enrich current friendships and make new ones.

—Kathy Carlton Willis, God’s Grin Gal, inspirational author and speaker

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We All Need (Strength for All Seasons)

Forget about Super Sunday or Black Friday… I’m currently experiencing a Thrilling Thursday. 😍

Below is my upcoming prayer devotional to be released in August 2019. Here is the cover and it will be made in the easy-to-hold-in-your-hand… flexisoft material. So excited!!!

Check it out at CBD.com.

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People — The Vehicle God Often Uses to Get Us Where We Want to Go

I smiled when I looked at this photo of how-to prepare a winning cheese spread. I really smiled when I noted the author’s little arrows pointing to various elements of this yummy looking appetizer. But the term, “vehicle” cracked me up. I never considered a cheese board a vehicle before…but in truth, it is just that. An object that moves that delicious food nearer to me. 

When we hear the word vehicle we think of something that moves something (or someone) from one spot to another. 

Our automobiles are our primary vehicles for getting us where we want to go.
Our two feet can also be the vehicles that move us from one spot to another.

Planes.
Trains.
Automobiles.

All of these move us forward, backward, or around and around in circles.

But there’s an even more powerful vehicle at work in our lives every single day. One that God uses to help direct the path our lives take.

Consider this verse:

The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. Proverbs 21:1

As I was studying Trusting God this week, I took particular note of how this specific verse plays out in the lives of people (and how God works in people’s hearts and minds in ways that influence and affect us).

Jerry Bridges applies this passage in this way —

How shall we respond to the fact that God is able to and does in fact move in the minds and hearts of people to accomplish His will? Our first response should be one of trust. Our careers and destinies are in His hands not the hands of bosses, commanding officers, professors, coaches, and all other people who, humanly speaking, are in a position to affect our futures. No one can harm you or jeopardize your future apart from the sovereign will of God. Moreover, God is able to and will grant you favor in the eyes of people who are in a position to do you good. You should then look to God in prayer in all those situations where some aspect of our future lies in the hands of another individual. As Alexander Carson said, “If we need the protection of men, let us first ask it from God.”

This verse (and Bridges’ explanation) comfort me in a big way. Knowing that God can and does work on my behalf via influencing others in positions of authority over me for my good…is a very good thing because God (unlike people) always seeks the very best for me (and you.)

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Brand New Magazine – Brand New Review

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Hope by the Book is a brand new magazine that every reader will relish digging into review by review…page turner by page turner…book by book.

Excited to be featured in this terrific new endeavor!

Hope by the Book’s review of my new book. 😊

In this engaging book on friendship (the good, the bad, and the toxic), Howe helps readers navigate the labyrinth of relationships to find authentic friends that edify and point to God. She spends time defining Biblical friendship (and why it’s essential), discussing the kind of friend every woman needs, and coaching women on how to become a lasting friend to others. Each chapter is short and sweet, with thought-provoking personal stories, Scripture, quotes, reflections, and prayers. She also includes a ‘take-away action thought’ in each chapter, as well as ‘focus on friendship’ questions that make this a great choice for both small group study and personal reading. Easy to read and meaningful, there is much treasure to be mined here for readers who simply want to pan for gold or readers who want to dig deeper. (HENDRICKSON PUBLISHERS, May, 160 pp., $14.95)

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Thankfulness – It’s a Beautiful Thing

I have a friend who is my ultimate example in the “giving thanks” department since she consistently expresses a grateful, thankful heart no matter what she is experiencing.

Since we have been friends for over thirty years, I’ve watched her react to good times…bad times…and everything in between times.

I also remember that she passed her habit of expressing a grateful spirit to her children…and it showed. My friend’s five children remain to this day some of the most thankful young adults I know. And it still shows.

As I sit reflecting upon how my friend has influenced my life, I recognize that she has taught me many lessons that have challenged my thinking, challenged my way of living, and challenged my default response mode.

Out of everything I’ve learned from her…the supreme lesson of all has been to give thanks in everything…

“Give thanks in all circumstances…” 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

I like how Puritan pastor Richard Baxter says it,

Resolve to spend most of your time in thanksgiving and praising God. If you cannot do it with the joy that you should, yet do it as you can…Doing it as you can is the way to be able to do it better. Thanksgiving stirreth up thankfulness in the heart.

My friend is right.
Baxter is right.

The more I resolve to express (and internalize) a thankful heart (no matter what)…the more it (the thankful heart) transforms my attitude (and my circumstances.) Which in turn transforms the ugliest situation into something of rare beauty…and that (the ability to transform trial into triumph) is in and of itself perhaps the most spectacular transformation of all.

So the question is…for what (and for whom) can I give thanks today (right now?)

And, how can I express that thanks (in practical, tangible ways) so that others can be encouraged too?

Out loud.
To others.

Because…

Gratitude is not the quiet game. It begs to be expressed, both to God and to others. “Silent gratitude,” Gladys Berthe Stern said, “isn’t much use to anyone.”

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Two of the Most Powerful Words You Can Speak – Me Too.

Helen Keller, blind and deaf since a toddler, wrote, “Although the world is full of suffering it is also full of the overcoming of it…Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain.”

Often when I am in a group of women, someone is depressed (or knows someone who is) and very often what brings a smile isn’t some flowery platitude…it’s simply another woman speaking out loud these two powerful words.

Me too.

Suddenly, that island of despair and loneliness morphs into a continent of cure…and hope is birthed again.

I’ve seen it happen more times than I can count and still, it amazes me how honesty sparks hope and then healing in another person.

Let me share what counselor and author, Ed Welch, has to say on this topic of depression.

Much has been written on the topic of depression, some worthy of the press received, others not. Sadly, many of the newsworthy articles on this issue pose more questions than they answer. Seems everyone has an expert opinion on the whys and reasons for suffering from this debilitating problem. While not everyone would agree on why a person gets depressed, or even how much of the experience is physically versus emotionally driven, one aspect of this condition is pretty clear. The one who is depressed isn’t the same person he/she once was…and while recognizing this fact, the depressed individual frequently pushes away those closest to them during those times when their need for support is greatest. This paradox alone can be frustrating to loved ones and friends of the depressed person for a variety of reasons.

The now depressed man or woman doesn’t exhibit enthusiasm about anything, what once drove and inspired now lays dormant and discarded. There used to be a “give and take” to the relationship that is now overwhelmingly one-sided. Dr. Welch’s observation that, “…we all shift back and forth between our roles as physician and patient,” is especially telling as caring people continue to give without getting anything in return. It is the tenacious soul who preserves despite repeated perceptions of rejection by their depressed friend.

For those who seek to support and encourage a depressed loved one, Dr. Welch cautions these helpers that they will experience resistance and it will be hard at times to continue pursuing a loving relationship. “Sometimes you will grow weary in loving. We all do. You will genuinely love, but it will seem fruitless or irrelevant. It won’t seem to matter to the depressed person. But know this: your love makes a difference. That doesn’t mean one concerted push to love will snap anyone out of depression.

By itself, your love will not change anyone.” For the depressed, time can stand still, for those observing their emotionally distraught friend, time doesn’t pass quickly enough. They reason that time in abundance has already been spent in this “phase” and they become impatient for life to get back to normal. While no one can predict how long a depressive season will endure, Dr. Welch recommends the following suggestions to gently promote healthy life patterns.

· Encourage daily structure that includes regular times for eating/exercising/sleeping.
· Set up a simple schedule to accomplishing one new specific task each day.
· Offer accountability, check in daily with the depressed person.
· Learn to discern the appropriate moments to interrupt faulty speech or thinking patterns and speak the truth.
· Reassure your suffering friend that you are in it for the duration.

 In close, Welch encourages continued efforts by saying, “…depressed people, like all of us, are aware of kindness and love that is willing to sacrifice. Love always leaves its mark.”

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Book Review: Navigating the Friendship Maze by Michele Howe

Thoughtfully written and gratefully received!

Doodles in the Margin Reviews

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Product Description from Publisher:

Navigating the Friendship Maze is beloved author Michele Howe’s newest book. It will help women of all ages make thoughtful, prayerful choices about the friends they develop and nurture through life. In the Bible, the book of Proverbs makes frequent reference to the invaluable influence of godly individuals upon one’s life—In short, we become like those we spend the most time with! So Michele’s book will help women make wise decisions and cultivate the best friendships that they can.

Navigating the Friendship Maze contains stories of real women who have chosen wisely as well as some who have not; and will include discussions of the principles outlined. Each chapter explores various facets of friendship, such as the three types of friends every woman needs and practical ways to be a good friend. Each chapter also includes a Scripture reading, a brief prayer, and practical suggestions for…

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