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Saturday, January 24, 2015

My Bridal Devotional for a Precious Couple

I'm giving a little devotional at a bridal shower this afternoon for a dear couple at our church and I thought I'd practice on you. Here's what I'm thinking...

Amber, we are all here to celebrate you and your upcoming marriage. We are thrilled to be a part of this special time for you. I can still remember the very special time of my bridal showers some 44 years ago. About that time, Larry and I heard a definition of love  that we have remembered all these years: love is a choice for the highest good of the Beloved. There are four important words in that definition: love, choice, highest, and good.

And those four concepts are included in the most famous Bible verse of all: 
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life."
God loved. God chose to give. God chose what mankind needed most of all for their highest good.

Have you ever paused after reading the first nine words to think of the many possibilities that could have come next? In fact, the world thinks there are other words that should come next. For instance:

"For God so loved the world that He gave...

  • good health
  • wealth
  • prosperity
  • true friends
  • perfect marriage
  • no problems
  • no hassles
  • no car accidents
  • peace among all mankind..."

Aren't those the kinds of things that people think of as love? Don't people say that if God is really loving, He wouldn't allow bad things to happen?

But do you know what the real need is for humans that shows God's true love for our highest good?

Do you know the highest good that God could give to show His love?

A solution for sin. That is the Gospel. God giving the very best thing to bring the greatest good, the highest good, because when we deal with sin, then we are closer to living the happiest possible on a sinful earth. And we have heaven thrown in as icing on the cake! And it's all because Jesus died on the cross for those sins.

But unfortunately, there is still sin in this world and that's why we are here to support your marriage, Amber. Yes, to rejoice with you, but also to stand by you as your marriage is assaulted by sin both without and within.

We want to encourage you to fulfill the true definition of love that God revealed to us in John 3:16. You see, "highest good" in marriage, can mean different things depending upon the circumstances and the person involved.

Let me give you two examples.
Years ago, I heard the idea of asking your spouse what their definition of love was. Now I thought I knew Larry's but I decided to ask anyway. I knew he valued most what most men value but hey, I'll ask. So I did and Larry replied, "My definition of love is what you're doing right now." I was surprised because we weren't near the bedroom. 

What were we doing? Larry was laying on the living room couch while I sat at the end of the couch with his feet in my lap as I massaged them and we watched Monday night football. Larry loves his feet massaged and loves to watch football.

I don't! Football is boring and my feet are so ticklish that no one can touch them. That is not my definition of love and so since I don't value either of those things, I have a hard time choosing to do them. But the definition of love is choosing the highest good. And from Larry's perspective, massaging his feet and me watching football with him is for his highest good.

But here's another example. This morning I felt I needed to call Larry's attention to a less than godly reaction he was having over several weeks. I truly believe I chose the highest good in loving him that way. I also was careful to follow the biblical principle of speaking the truth in love. I am blessed in that Larry agreed with me and actually said that he woke up convicted of the same thing. I was just confirming it. I am blessed with a godly husband who is open to the Spirit's rebuke.

You see, loving by choosing the highest good might both be pleasant and unpleasant. Choosing the highest good is about your Beloved's good, not what might make you feel happy. 

Choosing the highest good takes lots of wisdom and being led by the Holy Spirit. And Amber, this is what we want to support you in. We commit to pray for you that you will grow in your selflessness so that you can choose the highest good for Rod. Because sometimes it seems to require sacrificing what you think is your own "highest good." 

I hope that you'll always remember this definition of love: "Love is a choice for the Beloved's Highest Good." May the Spirit of God empower you to love Rod in that way because that is the way God loves you. God loves you perfectly but you won't love Rod perfectly. I sure haven't in 44 years of marriage, but we all can grow more in making that choice.

That's what I'll say. Then I'm going to give her these two mugs. The phrase "Love is the choice for my Beloved's highest good" written on it. I hope it'll be a blessing to have those mugs to remind her of what I said. 

(The mugs above come from Starbucks. You buy them without the writing and then use special pens to decorate. Then you "cook" them in the oven like a kiln. They make great gifts! Don't worry, I don't get any kickback.)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Where Do Your Reactions Come From?

DRUM Roll...The winner of the book Give-away for Fur Elise, is....Sherry Martin. Sherry, please contact me at Kathyspeak AT aol DOT com with your mailing address. You get to read Peggy Sue Wells's wonderful book.

When we respond to people and circumstances, it feels like there's not too much going on at the base of our motivations. We are just responding because that's what the situation calls for. 

By Mister GC at freedigitalphotos.net

But wonder if there's something more that is motivating us? Couldn't that be significant?

For instance, I don't like it when something happens that makes me feel like someone thinks I'm not telling the truth. I've always prided myself in telling the truth and being dependable. Therefore, isn't it reasonable for me to get upset when someone says something that makes it seem like they don't believe me?

In our new book we share the premise that what we are hearing or experiencing brings a reaction (that may not be very holy) because it contains a "Message." It's not always what is actually being said or experienced that creates our reaction, it's the Message we believe we are hearing that comes along with it. 

But many people believe, "I don't have any choice but to react that way. That's just the way it is."

When we explain that there's a "Message" attached to it that is creating their ungodly reaction, it's hard for them to see that. 

But let me give you an example.

I'm a senior citizen. I qualify for getting the senior citizen rate at the movies. I love paying less! 

But let's say (this is fiction!), one day when I stand at the ticket counter and say, "Senior citizen's rate please." The ticket gal replies, "Oh, I don't think you are a senior citizen, you sure don't look like it. I'll have to charge you the full price."

What is my reaction going to be?

It could be anger that I'm not being believed. She's telling me I'm a liar. I'm mad!
It could be joy. "Yippee! Someone thinks I look young! Someone thinks I don't qualify as a senior citizen. It's my lucky day!"

Which will I choose? Won't I react based upon which "Message" I choose to focus on? Will I focus on the Message that I'm a liar or will I focus on the Message that I look young? Of course, there's a strong possibility I'll have conflicting feelings: I'm mad and I'm glad. But which will win out? How will I react toward the ticket counter girl?

Answer? Whichever "Message" I receive at that moment. It might not even seem like a conscious choice but you and I will "hear" some Message of some sort. We may think our "feelings" at that point control the situation but listen to what author Lysa TerKeurst writes:

"When someone else's actions or statements threaten to pull me into a bad place, I have a choice. I do. It may not feel like it. In fact, it may feel like I am a slave to my feelings--but I'm not. Remember, feelings are indicators, not dictators."

And we believe that feelings indicate what Messages we are believing. And wrong reactions are based upon Messages that are lies.

Interestingly, even though the ticket girl's belief about me isn't true, I could still choose joy based on wanting to consider myself young. (I'm responding based upon a lie!) I might even pay the full price in celebration! 

TWEET this: My responses are based upon my beliefs, whether true or not.

This example, I hope, shares an interesting perspective. The truth about how I interpret life is based upon my beliefs (whether true or not). It's not just that, "Oh, this is the only way any one would respond. I'm not responsible for my reaction. I didn't choose it, it's just there."

The next time you respond to a situation in a way that you know doesn't honor God, stop and ask yourself, "What Message did I think was being communicated to me or about me?" You may find an interesting answer.

If you do, share it as a comment. That way I can learn and so can my readers!

Friday, January 16, 2015

"Never Ever Be the Same" Facebook Launch Party--Win Prizes!!!!!

The book authored by Larry and I, Never Ever be the Same: A New You Starts Today, is officially "born" and we are celebrating our latest book birth.

I'd like to invite you to the Never Ever Be the Same Facebook Launch Party. Here are the prizes:

(1 Grand Prize) 1- Kindle Fire HD 6
(2) 1- $100 gift certificate for Leafwood Publishers website
(3) 1- $50 gift certificate for Leafwood Publishers website
(4) 1- Copy of my book Partly Cloudy with Scattered Worries
(5) 1- Copy of Larry's book, Men of the Bible: Smart Guide to the Bible
(6) 1- Copy of my book, Counting to Ten Isn't Enough
(7) 1- Copy of my book, Why Do I Put So Much Pressure on Myself?

Each prize is awarded to one person. One person can win only one prize.

The winner of the Grand Prize of the Kindle Fire HD 6 is awarded to the person with the most points. The person with the second number of points will win the $100 gift certificate. And so on in order.

  • After fulfilling a task, make a comment on the event page and I'll keep track of the points you earned. 
  • Earn points in this way:

5 points for every copy of "Never Ever" bought/already bought (e-book or print)
3 points for subscribing to my blog at www.KathyCollardMiller.com (go to that site and then alert me on event page)
3 points for subscribing to my monthly e-newsletter (Instant message me with your email address)
2 points for each tweet (message will be given to you on event page)
1 point each for following Larry and I on twitter: @LarryMiller and @KathyCMiller
1 point for every 5 FB friends you invite to the party.

The party is not connected in any way to Facebook and only winners from North America can enter or win.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Book Give-Away: "Fur Elise" by PeggySue Wells

Hello readers, I'm so pleased to feature a fascinating novel by PeggySue Wells. And she's offering a copy of her new book to one winner. Read below how you can put your name into the drawing

So That Others May Live
New Novel, Fur Elise, by PeggySue Wells

Für Elise by Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author PeggySue Wells is the gripping story of para-rescueman, Michael Northington, who snaps when his rescue results in the murder of a friend. He seeks refuge on St. Croix until his battle buddies recruit him to track the international murderers. In the midst of adventure, heartbreak, intrigue, and moral dilemma, Michael and an island artist named Elise discover what is most important in life.

My son was preparing for the military while my daughters played in an orchestra. Listening to the exquisite music, I wondered what life would be like for my son and other military spec op soldiers and their families who live by the motto, “So that others may live.” The two topics came together to become Für Elise.

My laptop—affectionately named Mac(Beth)—goes everywhere with me and I write from the stands at the World Barrel Racing competition to a rocking chair on a beach boardwalk. I visited St. Croix before and after Hurricane Hugo, the Oregon coast, and Hawaii while writing Für Elise

One day, at a condo on Hilton Head Island, my computer was open and my son read the chapters where Michael rescues Claire and four orphans from the bowels of a hospital mortuary in China.

“Wow, mom,” he said. “You sure don’t write like a girl.”

Für Elise was a personal goal. I’ve been a news reporter, wrote hundreds of articles, and more than a dozen nonfiction books. I wondered if I could I write a compelling novel. Initially I told the story completely from Michael’s point of view and thought the book was complete. I bragged that I wrote adventures but not romance.

My life coach challenged, “Why don’t you write a love story?”

So I went back and wove in Elise’s point of view. The first chapter I wrote is the last chapter of the book.

One of the themes of Für Elise is to take a piece of paradise with you wherever you go. I wanted to give readers a unique connection with the story so I tracked down a talented artist who creates the type of sea glass jewelry that Elise wears. In a variety of colors and sizes, these mermaid tears are available on my website. In the sequel I’m currently writing, Michael is in South America when an assignment goes awry. The artist is already making spectacular jewelry from ancient pottery and glass found in archeological digs to compliment the second book in the series.

PeggySue says, "I would love to know what you thought of my story! Contact me at www.PeggySueWells.com." 
PeggySue Wells

“A clean thriller that relies on good writing to tell a compelling story,” says reviewer Chris Harry. Elise is hard rock meets classical music. Midwest country boy meets island artist. Driven performance meets grace.

Dear readers, I'm excited about PeggySue making an autographed copy of this exciting book available to a winner. Please make any kind of comment on my blog and I'll draw the winner on Friday, January 17th. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

You Can Respond in More Loving Ways

Would you like to respond to circumstances and people in a more loving and godly way? That is the goal of our new book Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today. Plus, we desire to show you how you can do it at a heart level with pure motivations, not just with gritted teeth and clenched fists.

"From the heart" means we respond out of care for others and trust in God for circumstances. "Gritted teeth and clenched fists" mean we determine "I'm going to do this if it kills me."

Which honors God more? Obviously the first. 

Of course, we don't believe that any of us will have a purely-motivated heart all the time. And it is indeed something we grow in. But it can be done. 

When I first started taking care of my mother-in-law, Audrey, in our home, I was in the midst of beginning to understand my motivations and "why I do what I do." Larry and I were beginning to practice the principles we would later put into our book. We didn't yet know what God was doing. He was preparing us to write this book. He had lots of heart issues in me to work with as future examples. And some of my readers walked with me through those trials and challenges through my blogs. 

I started out hating taking care of Audrey. When we realized she would be coming to our home, I sat on our patio watching the sun set and moaned, "Oh, no, my life is over. I don't want to do this." (If you want to read more about my issues with caregiving, go to the list of topics here on my blog and find "Audrey." If you click there, a list of the blogs about that struggle will come up.)

But over the 2 1/2 years she lived with us, God did an amazing work of revealing my impure motivations because of my wounds from my past. He revealed how I believed lies and choose patterns of behavior in order to try figure out life, and for a large part it didn't include God. In the beginning, I didn't trust God enough to accept the blessings He desired to give through her living with us. But that didn't stop God from pursuing me with love and a call to holiness.

In the end, God did an amazing work of transformation but I still wasn't perfect. (And I'm still not.) But lies were corrected, motivations were purified, and God was given the glory. In our book, I use several examples of my emotional journey of caring for Audrey. And Larry does too.

If you desire to learn how to find out "why I do what I do," you'll find our book helpful. It really is possible to respond in more loving ways motivated by a (more) pure heart. 

Here are the links for ordering. The e-book versions are already available but the print copy will be released on January 13th. Let me tell you a secret. If you pre-order the print copy, you won't be charged until the book ships. And it's possible that based on sales, the cost could be less expensive than currently listed, but for sure it won't be more. 

Never Ever Be the Same will also become available at your local Christian bookstore. To order online go to:
CBD: http://bit.ly/1AuJZSX

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1BJz3lC

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Why Resolutions Sometimes Don't Work

Have you ever wondered why resolutions don't work? I have a theory. It's because resolutions most often require more "white-knuckling" it instead of changing the desires motivating the behavior we want to change. 

Our new book "baby"
Every action, behavior, and choice is motivated by something. Every action, behavior, and choice comes from a desire for something. Every action, behavior, and choice comes from trying to protect ourselves from something bad or getting something we think will give us pleasure or satisfaction.

James 1:14 tells us, "But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust." This verse tells us there is something motivating us, and when our choice is an ungodly one, it's motivated by "lust." "Lust doesn't just refer to something sexual, but anything that motivates us. We want! We must have! We are looking for self-protection or self-satisfaction.

The important thing to realize is that we are motivated by something deep within us and a resolution tries to change the surface. It doesn't touch us at a deep heart level. Unless we change the deep-seated desire, we most often will fail because we're fighting against a foundation that will resist our best laid plans.

These ideas are some of the ideas my husband, Larry, and I explore in our new book: Never Ever Be the Same: A New You Starts Today. And we really do believe that our book can help Christians get to the underlying reasons of what motivates us, making it clearer how to trust God for a true heart change. From that will come changed behavior.

Do Larry and I claim to have become perfect? No way. But we have seen how God has used the principles in our book to help us more often choose the godly way. I can truly say that God's work at a heart level has made me more secure, patient, and selfless. Larry says (and I agree) that he has become more others-centered, kind, and willing to admit his own faults. 

We've seen a difference in being able to be motivated by trust in God more often instead of our own selfish desires. We are so grateful! And we're so grateful that God has given us this opportunity to share with others.

Our book is currently available in e-book form. The print version will be available online and at your local Christian bookstore on January 13th.

Let me tell you a secret that may save you some money on a print copy. If you pre-order it, you won't be charged until it's sent. And often, based on pre-order sales, the book will cost you less than the price they are listing now--or the "normal" price when it's released. Pretty cool, eh?

If you want to check it out, click on one of these links:

I wish you a blessed 2015. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Are You Feeling Small and Unusable?

Every time I walk past my neighbor's yard, I notice this little tree that produces such big fruit. Who would expect that something little could produce something big? 

I think we all can feel "little" sometimes and wonder if God can produce "big" fruit in us. When we believe the whispers of Satan's lies and don't take every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5), we can begin to feel small and unusable. Or caving into sin can take away our sense of being usable. Certainly when we sin, we need to confess and become cleansed. But sin which is forgiven never disqualifies us from being used by God and producing the fruit of the Spirit. 

In fact, when we consider ourselves "small," then it brings even more glory to God. We know we didn't do it on our own. It was Him working in us, because certainly we couldn't produce it. We aren't capable. It's only God's power within us. 

My friend, Mary, is feeling small right now. Circumstances have required her to move her ailing (and demanding) mother into her home. I know the journey she is about to travel and it'll require God's full power. She knows she needs tremendous patience, wisdom, and direction. She's most likely feeling like she'll never be able to produce big fruit--like my neighbor's tree. It's just too overwhelming. 

But I can tell her from experience, that God will walk with her moment by moment and day by day. Her fruit won't be perfect, but it'll be "big" because God is in this. She can have confidence that what He has called her to do, He has the power and will produce the fruit. It won't be from her gritting her teeth and groaning. It'll be from her seeking Him for everything she needs.

Feeling small? Remember my neighbor's fruit tree. In God's power, you are mighty and strong. Through Christ you can do all things God wants to do through you (Philippians 4:13).