Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays, next to Christmas. I love hearts, love the powerful color red, and love the cute decorations and cute Valentine gifts I buy our kids and grandkids.
One decoration I bought myself was a Snoopy holding a pink heart, which reads, “Happy Valentine’s Day.” Snoopy is so cute and funny–and he’s a writer!
I also love chocolate, and the day is a perfect excuse to bake brownies for our family so I can have some and today I made some for work, too, and some chocolate drizzled popcorn!
For some people, Valentine’s Day isn’t a happy day due to death of their loved one, separation or divorce, being single and alone, or being sick or injured in the hospital or at home. One kind thing you can do for someone who’s single and/or feels lonely or is hurting in some way is to buy them a gift, take them out to eat, or to do something special for them on Valentine’s Day.
One example of this is that our daughter Leah’s boss and his wife bought her a huge, adorable, soft, pink dog and two boxes of chocolates for Valentine’s Day last night at work. This was SO thoughtful and made her so happy–love it! What a great, generous thing to do!
Today think of someone who you can bless with Jesus’ love.
Valentine’s Day reminds me of God’s love for you and me, how He gave His only son Jesus and Jesus died to save us from our sins and so we could live forever with God in Heaven. You and I are Jesus’ Forever Valentine.
Today as you spend Valentine’s Day with your family and friends, remember that God loves you so much! Jesus paid the price for your life with His precious blood. Reflect on that kind of amazing love.
Have a happy, blessed Valentine’s Day!
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved.”–Ephesians 2:4-5
Do you love writing? Do you want to write a book? Joseph Epstein, essayist short story writer, and editor, said at the beginning of the new millennium that 81% of people want to write a book and that statistic likely still holds true!It’s time to write YOUR book!
I started a new, part-time job outside the home this year, so I’ve been extra busy and blogging hasn’t made the top of the to-do list.
But I decided this weekend to just sit down and blog, and wanted to share about my Serene September Writers’ Get-away I hosted and spoke at in fall 2018. Four Christian women writers attended, and it was so fun that we want to do it again this year!
The venue for this writers’ retreat was at the Bethany House in Butler, Missouri.It’s about an hour south of Kansas City, MO. This is a beautiful, fully-furnished house with three bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms in a quiet neighborhood, that has been completely remodeled inside and out.
It is a relaxing, quiet place to pray, refill, and be refreshed. The women and I love it!
You can sit outside in a big rocker on the wrap-around porch, make some popcorn and enjoy a chick flick on TV in the living room, watch the birds with your coffee in the morning in the sunroom, or sleep in late in the master bedroom, queen bedroom, or upstairs bedroom decorated in a children’s theme, which is where I prefer to stay because it’s so cute and comfortable!
The sunroom is my favorite room. I love sitting in there in the morning, drinking my coffee, journaling, and watching the birds. The sun comes streaming in through the windows.
It is so peaceful. I’ve stayed at the Bethany House several times overnight just to be alone, think about my life, and pray. The owner of Bethany House has pretty decor like this candle and angel below to set a tone of serenity and prayer for the house’s atmosphere.
I love buying gifts for people and bought the ladies attending a gift bag, each in different colors. I included goodies like a journal (to jumpstart their writing!), Sharpie ultra-fine, black pens, sticky notes, hand lotion, a little bag of tissues with sayings on them like “Seize this moment” and “Find your fearless,” chewing gum, and a Dove chocolate bar. They loved them.
I used my daughter Leah’s violin music stand to set my teaching notes on and we used used the formal dining room as our classroom and to eat. Both worked perfectly!
On Friday evening, I taught the first session of the retreat. Then we went out to eat supper at the local Mexican restaurant, El Charro–fun! When we came out of the restaurant, we saw a beautiful night sky!
Afterward, the ladies made popcorn and enjoyed the chocolates I’d brought them for the weekend, and stayed up watching chick flicks in the living room and talking. I think this set the right tone!
The next morning, I fixed the ladies breakfast (scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, yogurt, coffee). They were free to sleep in as long as they wanted!
Two of the ladies have a house full of kids, so they really needed this time of R & R!
The house has all the amenities of a nice hotel–including little shampoos and other toiletries and soft, white robes!
One of the attendees, my friend Liz, generously brought bagels from Einstein Brothers in Overland Park, Kansas, as she and her friend Simmie drove together to the retreat. She bought a variety, but one unique kind is their bagel with red onion, tomatoes, capers, and cold-smoked Nova Lox salmon. Delicious!
One of the attendees, Missy, and I talked prior to the retreat and I asked her to share a devotional on Saturday morning in the sunroom after breakfast. It was so good and she did a great job!
I had never met Missy in person or heard her speak before, but I am led by the Holy Spirit and my gut. Neither have ever led me wrong!
I’m so glad that Missy shared! It was anointed by God!
I taught several hour-long sessions during the weekend retreat, but I also gave the ladies some needed free time to be alone to pray, think, write, or to talk with each other. On Friday and Saturday night I went home to sleep, since I live right here in town and that gave the ladies more privacy.
The sessions included these topics: Why do you write, Getting Started, Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing, Writing Tips, and Resources that I use each time I write a book (I’ve written 17 and am about to write my next one. You can find out more about my books at my Amazon Author Page at http://www.amazon.com/author/bethmjones.
This retreat was intense with a lot of information for beginner writers, but we also took time out for FUN! That weekend was near my birthday (September 20) and Liz’s was that weekend (September 23) , so we decided to celebrate both of ours that weekend.
I brought cupcakes and Liz and I gave each other a gift. I loved the Paparazzi earrings and necklace that Liz got me! They have such cute jewelry for just $5! The ladies sang happy birthday, too!
I felt led by God to also offer Holy Communion at the writers’ retreat. This may sound unusual, but I desire to put God first with everything I do. He is the one who has given us this gift of writing, and I feel it is important to dedicate the writing of our books, blogs, and everything we pen to Him, for Jesus’ glory.
I ended the retreat by answering any questions they had about writing. I encouraged them that I’d be first in line to buy their books!
One of the ladies, Missy, emailed me this after the retreat: “We leave for vacation in Angel Fire, NM for the next six days and I have plans to write and take photos for my book project (an inspirational “coffee table” type book about all that I have learned “In the Valley” of this year) while I am there! I can’t wait to just start!”
Another lady who attended, my friend Liz, has written an exciting adventure novel and a devotional book on the Lord’s rest, both which she plans to publish soon. I’m so excited for her!
Before the retreat, I also prayed for God to give me a Scripture and a song for each lady there. We concluded the retreat by praying for one another. This was one of the most powerful parts of the retreat, where the ladies and I received prophetic words for each other. We were all ministered to and cried! God is so good!
I brought a few visual aids to the retreat for the teaching times, such as my Cinderella glass slippers (this is my signature speech) and the Curious George monkey that was a gift to me years ago when I attended renown speaker Florence Littauer’s CLASServices speaker/writer retreat. She said always be curious!
For my birthday, my family gave me some fresh beautiful red roses and sunflowers, which are my favorite kinds of flowers. They made such a gorgeous centerpiece in the sunroom!
The ladies loved looking at them all weekend!
If you’d like me to speak at your women’s conference, retreat, or event sharing my powerful testimony or about writing your book, I’d love to come encourage you and your friends. You can contact me here at my website.
One of the ladies at the retreat, Missy, gave this testimonial:
“Thank you for all of your planning and prayer and preparation for the amazing retreat this weekend. Your passion for encouraging women to find and follow God’s calling to WRITE is simply contagious. Your willingness to be transparent, genuine and compassionate toward each of us was a blessing. Every detail was covered, everything we could possibly have needed was provided for, and every question we had was answered. You went above and beyond to ensure that we were thoroughly blessed, carefree and able to remain focused on what God was speaking to our hearts this weekend. Saying “Thank you” doesn’t seem like enough! I have buried this dream for long enough. Because of this weekend, I am moving forward with three projects immediately, and I came home with a list of up to 20 additional writing projects to work on in the future. How amazing is that!”
Liz shared her experience about this retreat: “Beth had a great writing retreat in a lovely retreat center. She paid attention to a lot of little details, which added to our experience and had some great teaching time which was helpful. I personally needed more time to write. But I ran into some personal snags which kept me from writing. The rooms were great and the food was great, too! Loved it!”
Several years ago I stopped making New Year resolutions, because, let’s face it, they were broken the first month (sometimes the first week!)–like walking again or eating healthier! I heard about instead, creating a #oneword and a Scripture verse(s) to go along with it.
When I began to do this, I no longer felt condemnation that I was breaking my New Year resolutions so quickly. I also discovered that as I earnestly prayed to God about this matter, the #oneword always turned out to be a prophetic theme for the entire year.
For example, my #oneword in 2018 was JOY. At times, last year was anything but joyful! There were many hard times. I have cried a lot the last several years, more than I ever have in my entire life.
We all have stress and battle worries–relationship problems. Business or ministry challenges. Health issues. Financial struggles. But joy is a choice. You can be joyful even in adversity or a major crisis! Joy is not the same as happiness.
God wants us happy, just as we do our own children. But joy, like faith, isn’t based on circumstances. The joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10) We must choose faith, and we must choose joy.
Usually, the last week of December of each year, I pray about the coming new year, for God to protect and bless me and my family and friends, for His guidance and presence with us, and for a #oneword and Scripture(s) for the coming year.
I ask Him to be mine and my family’s compass, our “true north.” (This expression comes from the great chick flick movie, Message In A Bottle, with Kevin Costner!)
God speaks in a myriad of ways to His children:
primarily through His holy word, the Bible;
by His still, small voice to our hearts as we pray and listen to Him;
from other people, sharing His words of truth and encouragement;
in nature (“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”–Psalm 19:1, NIV);
through signs in the sky, such as the sun, the moon, the stars, etc. (Luke 21:25);
in other signs, such as red cardinal birds, mourning doves, eagles, the wind, a billboard, a car’s bumper sticker, something said on a podcast, radio or TV show, a voice in a crowd, etc. Obviously, we can’t base our lives on these “signs,” but God can speak to His children however He wants to get His message of truth across to us. Sometimes it’s like He needs a two by four to get the message through our thick heads and stubborn hearts!
Just prior to January 2019 beginning, I noticed the words “humble” and “humility” in a couple of different places. First, the words StayHUMBLE were inscribed on chapstick that I’d received in a gift box.
That’s interesting, I thought. The words “humble” and “humility” started popping up like Orville Redenbacher’s Movie Theater Butter popcorn on Facebook posts.
Then I started seeing the words a LOT! A recurrent theme.
Oh no, I thought in dread. Uh oh—wait a minute!That’s my one word for 2019, isn’t it, God?
I knew what that meant (God was going to smash my PRIDE), and heck no, I did NOT want that word! Which is probably exactly why He is giving it to me!
Why couldn’t I get a nicer, easier, funner word like adventures? Or dream bigger? Or overflow, especially in our bank account? Or laughter?
But no. My words are humble and humility! Yes, I know humility is a beautiful, Christ-like virtue and God is doing this for my own good.
You and I know there is just no use fighting God. In the end, He’s going to get His way. Because He’s God!
We can wrestle with Him until daybreak like Jacob did (Genesis 32:22-32), but we’ll walk away with a painful limp. God is bigger and more powerful than you and me, so we might as well submit and obey!
So I started researching the definition of humility to begin preparing spiritually for 2019. (Here goes nothing!)
freedom from pride or arrogance;
a lack of ego;
lowness; an attitude of service;
the quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance;
serving others for their good, as well as your own;
a realistic appreciation of your strengths, as well as your weaknesses.
Synonyms for humility include:
You know, traits that are so unlike me! People who know me well would NOT describe me as demure–reserved, bashful, shrinking. Instead, my sister Maria describes my approach in life more like “a bull in a china shop.”
Antonyms (the opposite) of humility are even more revealing–and alarming!
STOP! Is anyone else getting uncomfortable here?! Well, I sure am. But then it’s my #oneword, not yours–unless God says so!
Remember that pride, and then rebellion, was Satan’s sin. We don’t want to be like the devil, do we? I don’t!
Mother Teresa said, “If you are humble, then nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.”
No doubt that I have some family members, or even friends, who will remind me throughout this year of my #oneword humility and how I am being so NOT humble!
Maybe humility isn’t your strong suit, either. I have good news, dear friend. When we stumble and fall, as we surely will, we can get back up.
That is why Jesus died for you and me; nobody is perfect but Him. He’s teaching us to be more like Him each moment.
You and I can breathe again, and be thankful that God’s mercies are new every beautiful morning. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
This week, I ordered a used copy of Andrew Murray’s book Humility from Amazon to start off the year right and plan to do other studies on this topic as well.
My Scripture verses for 2019, based on these words humble and humility are:
“The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” (Proverbs 15:33, ESV)
“But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6, NKJV. The NLT translation says, “And He gives grace generously.”)
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:6-7, NKJV)
This last Scripture shows me that I need to be alert in Spirit this year. Satan wants to cause destruction in mine and my family’s life, to devour and kill us. I thank God that Jesus Christ is more powerful and the battle belongs to the Lord, who has the victory already!
The great news in all this? If we humble ourselves before God and cultivate a lifestyle of humility, depending on and trusting solely in Him, the Bible says God will give us HONOR and EXALT us! (Good surprises for us, for HIS glory!) Isn’t that exciting?
Do you have a #oneword, Scripture verse(s), and/or theme for the new year 2019? Please share it below with me! And let’s pray for each other this year to walk it out with God’s grace and help!