Stay on Course

The Captain’s Corner

The last five years during my career as an airline pilot, I flew back and forth from Philadelphia to seven cities in Europe. International flying across the north Atlantic brought a different set of procedures and practices that were required to operate the plane safely and efficiently. It was critical that both the assigned navigation route and the course were maintained. This was accomplished through on-board computerized guidance systems. However, these systems were cross-checked every thirty to forty-five minutes by the cockpit crew to make sure that the plane was where it should be!

Similarly, God has not left us without His help. Look at Psalm 119:105 (NKJV): “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” We need guidance for everyday living as well as future guidance for the path ahead. God has promised to instruct us in the way we should go (see Psalm 32:8).

Just as the crew in the cockpit continuously cross-checks the plane’s location in order to stay on course, you can go daily to God’s Word for His guidance as you seek His will for your life.

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Of Jewelry Boxes and Birthdays

Joe and I are continuing our focus on accumulating less and appreciating more. The very act of decluttering has become an element of not only the things in our home but also the mind-set that affects every area of our lives. When our minds are not scattered in every possible direction, we think more clearly. When we are not trying to accomplish eight different tasks because we think we have to say yes to everything, we do with a joyful sense of accomplishment the three things we’ve chosen to do. When we create of our home a haven in which our spirits are refreshed, we are prepared to serve, help, and encourage others. Experiences, not items, are the gifts that we want to have fill our home.

If you’re reading Petals of Promises (the 365-day devotional Joe and I co-authored), you may have seen that my birthday was this past Monday (since that day’s entry made mention of that fact). My dear husband is both generous and thoughtful, so I lovingly reminded him early on that in our “experiences, not items” gifting to each other, I did not want a birthday present this year.

Imagine my surprise when my husband walked in with a signature gift box from our favorite jeweler!

However, I must pause here to make a confession that most women will find unbelievable. I may even lose credibility with some of you…but I was honestly a little miffed that he had bought me jewelry. I don’t need jewelry; I’m a minimalist in my wearing of jewelry (after years of wearing lots of jewelry…and big jewelry, at that); and we are supposed to be focusing on experiences, not items. So in that “nth” of a second when I pulled open the satin bow, I mentally prepared myself to have a right reaction and also to come up with a gracious way to tell him to please return whatever it was I was opening. Yes, I’m serious.

However, as the process of unwrapping the outer cardboard box and opening the inner jewelry box continued, I lifted the final lid and literally squealed with delight, declaring, “Best gift EVER!” when I realized that the inner jewelry box was empty!

You see, we keep an empty jewelry box on the main floor so that when we take off our rings for any reason, we always know right where they are and don’t have to worry about losing them or accidentally washing them down the drain. Last month, the box broke, and it was one of those little, insignificant things that didn’t really matter in the big picture, so I let it go and determined that yes, I could walk upstairs to use the other box we keep handy up there, or I could even still use the broken box if needed.

But Joe knew it mattered to me. He listened. He cared. And he gifted me with the perfect birthday non-gift: an empty jewelry box!

There are so many spiritual illustrations that we can draw from this that I’m not sure which one to settle on. But I do know this: sometimes nothing is the greatest gift that God can give to us. He listens to our heart’s cry. He hears our innermost longings. He knows our sincere needs. And then God, Who loves us with an everlasting love, gives us what is best for us. Trust Him. Wait for Him. Learn to squeal with delight when the box is empty.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6, NKJV).

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This Is Your Captain Speaking….

The Captain’s Corner

Public address announcements (“PA”s) from the cockpit to the passenger cabin are both frequent and required in airline flying. As Brenda often says, “Informed people are happy people.” This is especially true when flights are delayed, diverted, or out of the normal routine. As a pilot, my practice was to make PAs true, simple, and clear. If the flight was delayed, I would apologize and would stress what we were doing to get back on schedule. Naturally, I expressed gratitude to the passengers for choosing to fly with us.

Think about God’s special announcements, as recorded in the Bible. For example: God told Adam the new conditions under which he must live, because he had sinned against God; His promise to Noah at the ark; God’s plan for Moses as revealed at the burning bush; His commission of Joshua to lead His people. In the New Testament, God made special announcements to Joseph and Mary; to the shepherds, regarding Christ’s birth; and to John, regarding Christ’s return.

Do we have any “announcements” from God today? Yes! It is His complete love letter to us via His Word, the Bible. Second Peter 1:3–4 (NKJV) states:

“As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

Proverbs 22:20 (KJV) further reminds us that He has: “written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge.”

Therefore, we can ask God to open our eyes, “so that [we] may behold wondrous things out of [His] law” (Psalm 119:18, KJV).

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Choosing (and Using) Wisdom in 2018

Words will play a vital role in 2018. You will hear them, read them, write them, speak them. You will use them to demonstrate love, concern, instruction, and even anger. You will utilize their power to help form and strengthen relationships. You will call upon them to encourage you and to help you encourage others.

Words matter.

Perhaps that’s one reason that for more years than I can count now, I have chosen a “Word of the Year” prior to the start of the calendar year. It’s a word that I draw from throughout the year to keep me on track, to help me make purposeful choices, and to cling to when the words around me are calling more loudly than the desires within me. Choosing a Bible verse to memorize and to embed in my heart helps to strengthen my resolve to live out and find strength from that year’s word. It reminds me that everything I do should draw me closer to the God Whose Word is a “lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105, NKJV).

Recent years have focused on words like deliberate, hope, and abundance. Last year, Joe joined me in this annual ritual, and we chose the word serve.

This year’s word? Wisdom.

This year’s verse? “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12, KJV). (The photo in this post is one that I easily created on picmonkey.com and that I printed as a 20 x 30 photo and framed for our wall…for Joe’s Christmas present!)

We are asking God to help us remember that every day and every choice matter. Our desire is to use wisdom spiritually, emotionally, financially, physically, and socially in 2018.

We’d love to know what word you’ve chosen for 2018. Feel free to leave a comment (or send a reply if you’re a subscriber) and share it!

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go do my first daily reading from our new devotional book, Petals of Promises. (And yes, we are truly using this as our devotional book this year!)

Happy New Year from the Hendersons!

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Remembering My Friend

Two years ago today, our family friend Joe Henderson called my mom to let her know that his dear wife, our friend Betty, was no longer suffering because of her heart disease. She was now with her Lord. When Mom shared the news with me, I excused myself for a while and headed upstairs to my office to grieve in the way that I knew best—through my writing. Below is the original blog post that resulted and which I shared that day. Her pastor later read this as part of her Celebration of Life Service, which my mother and I were unable to attend due to poor weather conditions in our area but which we watched, amid tears, via livestream. Today, Joe and I remember Betty, together, with great love for her and with gratitude for her life.

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She had a bookshelf that held special treasures and favorite books, and she used it as a room divider in her small apartment, separating the sleeping area from the “living room.” As we sat on the floor and ate popcorn out of plastic bowls that evening, which also left an indelible impression on my young mind, she told me about her boyfriend, and I was enthralled with her stories of their long-distance romance. I was ten years old, and she, in her late twenties, was my babysitter for the evening. During her daytime hours, she served as my father’s secretary at the church.

That’s when it began: life touching life; mentoring by example; soft-spoken, powerful leadership; the Titus 2 relationship of an older woman teaching a younger woman.

I was an elementary-aged child, but she wrote personal greetings in the fronts of the books she gave me—notes that reminded me that she was thinking of me, had chosen this book specifically for me, and that always included a Scripture verse or a promise straight out of the Bible.

I was a pre-teen, yet she chose me—me!—to be one of the guestbook attendants for the wedding ceremony when she married the boyfriend she had let me giggle with her about since that “girls’ night” in her Indiana apartment.

I was a teen, but she wrote me postcards from the travels she enjoyed as she and her husband, an airline captain, saw sites I longed to someday see. She always signed her letters, her post cards, and her notes with, “Love, Betty.” And I knew she meant it. She lived that love by her actions, her words, and her encouragement through both.

I was a young adult with the sorrow of a lost love, and she wrote me a most precious letter, focusing my thoughts heavenward and reminding me that my amazing God loved me with an everlasting love.

I was a writer with a dream, and she sent me a book that she did not know I wanted but that she knew I would enjoy, and she wrote in the front, “I hope this will encourage you in your own writing…because you can!” And I believed her.

I was a Sunday school teacher for the women in my church, and she mailed me a copy of her brand-new, hot-off-the-press Bible study for women. And yes, she included a handwritten note in the front, thanking me for being her friend. How overcome I was with gratitude. And how overwhelmed I was that she thanked me. But then, she always turned the attention to the other person—always.

I was a woman in my fifties and suddenly unemployed, questioning what God wanted me to learn, and she sent me cards filled with His promises, truths about His unfailing love, and a check to help me over the rough spots.

I was grieving my father’s inevitable departure from this earth, and she sent me Facebook messages, cards, and loving notes with sweet memories that reminded me that a life lived for Christ leaves a thumbprint a mile wide. And in so doing, she shouldered my weary soul.

I was wiping away a tear at the dinner following my father’s funeral and burial, and as she honored me by allowing me to sit next to her at the table, she simply reached in her purse, handed me a clean tissue, and said, in her sweet middle-Indiana drawl, “We love you, honey.”

I was praying for her this morning to be healed from her ongoing medical struggles, and she was. She is now healed for eternity, with the Lord she loved, served, lived for, and died for.

My precious lifelong friend Betty Henderson left “forever lessons” in the hearts of hundreds, if not thousands, of people over the years. She would have been the first to have said that she wasn’t special; she was just willing to say, “Whatever You want, Lord. I’ll do it.” And she did.

And I will miss her, but I will honor her by striving to honor our Lord as she did: with my desires, my words (written and spoken), and my life.

Countdown to Christmas – Day 12

The little brown bags I’m using in the Countdown to Christmas aren’t big enough for today’s surprise! In fact, today’s gift is not for Joe…or for me.

It’s for YOU!

Joe and I are thrilled beyond even the happiest of Christmas cheer to share that we have co-authored a 365-day devotional book on the promises of God, and it is available as of TODAY!

Containing 365 promises from the Bible (and over 400 total verses*), Petals of Promises makes a great Christmas gift, birthday gift, “Happy 2018” gift, or a “Just Because It’s Tuesday” gift for your family, your friends, and you! Click the photo, the title, or here to learn more and/or to purchase your copies!

From the back cover of the book:

“This year, this month, this day, this moment. Each is a gift from God. The Bible contains numerous promises from this gift-giving, promise-keeping God, and they, like all Scripture, can teach us, correct us, and guide us (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17). This year-long devotional book contains daily readings written by husband-wife authors Joe and Brenda Henderson, each using his or her own perspective when sharing the various promises of God. The daily entries are brief, encouraging, and based solely on God’s promises in Scripture.”

Merry Christmas from the Hendersons!

*Includes use of: Amplified Bible, English Standard Version, King James Version, New American Standard Version, New King James Version

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Suggested Scripture reading today in the Countdown to Christmas: Luke 12 (or listen to it here via BibleGateway.com)

Luke has 24 chapters. Even though some are QUITE long, I love to read the 24 chapters of Luke on the days leading up to Christmas and then re-read Luke 2 on Christmas day!

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Countdown to Christmas – Day 6

Joe and I are enjoying our “experience-focused” Countdown to Christmas. (If you missed the last post, which talked about this, you can read it later, here.) Oh my heart, I wish you could see Joe when he comes downstairs in the mornings for breakfast and hurries to open his little brown paper bag to see what that day’s experience will be! A trip to Starbucks for some signature hot cocoa before heading over to the airport to watch the planes was probably Joe’s favorite so far!

This exercise in soaking in the simple joy of shared experiences has been wonderful for me in all areas of life! I find that I’m focusing less on “stuff” and enjoying the process of preparing for gift giving even more than in years past. Though I should always shop, create, and plan this way, I realize that I’m choosing to take the time to think: “What hobby or interest that this child has could we encourage with this or that gift?” “What could we provide for that friend that would uplift her spirits or be a reminder to her of our friendship and God’s grace?” “How can we share the love of Christ with this individual through the gift that we give to him or her?”

I wish I could say that I always shop or plan that way, but I don’t. However, in my intentionality regarding focusing on what matters, I was recently reminded of these words from Scripture:

“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2, NASB).

It’s putting the joy back into what can otherwise seem like the mindless and obligatory spending of money. I want my life, my days, my moments—my gift giving—to have eternity’s values in mind.
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Here’s what I’m giving to some of my younger friends (and several of my older ones too):

The eleven-year-old owner of The Bowline Soap Company is a child entrepreneur who creates some of the most delightful soaps I’ve ever seen or used, and they are a huge hit! Their fragrance is delicate (not overpowering at all), their price worthy of their quality, and their lasting power second to none. I have put them in some little unmarked boxes under our tree so that when guests come, they can choose a box from under the tree! Kids of all ages love opening these soaps and using them! So moms who have a hard time getting your kids to bathe…buy now and thank me later! And ladies, here’s a little secret for you: the donut soap is incredible for shaving your legs (sooooo creamy)! The Whipped Dreams takes so little I think I’ll never use up and entire jar. And the new little Massage Bar in Cranberry Orange is ingenious! I love it, and it makes a great gift for both men and women! You can purchase from Bowline Soap Co. by clicking here.

Suggested Scripture reading today in the Countdown to Christmas: Luke 6 (or listen to it here via BibleGateway.com)

Luke has 24 chapters. Even though some are QUITE long, I love to read the 24 chapters of Luke on the days leading up to Christmas and then re-read Luke 2 on Christmas day!

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Countdown to Christmas – Day 1

No, I probably won’t be posting daily. You’re welcome. But yes, I—rather, we—will be sharing occasional pre-Christmas-related posts, including some of our favorite new gift-giving ideas (which include our new favorite books)!

Did you ever have an Advent Calendar? I still remember a dear lady in our church, “Grandma” Pauline, giving me one of those pictures of a Christmas scene with numbers printed on little openable “windows.” I would open the various windows, revealing a pre-printed message of joy for the holiday. As I recall, I could hardly wait to run downstairs each morning and open the next window for that day’s message!

Since that time, I’ve secretly wished to have a little countdown picture for my wall. Since I felt a little silly getting one, I passed by them in the store. Now, however, there are fun ways to create your own Advent Calendar or Countdown to Christmas. Pinterest is loaded with ideas from the more difficult to the super easy, and I’ve pinned (collected) several ideas on my Christmas board. Many of those are for parents and children, and to be honest, I’m a bit too lazy to saw tree limbs, paint them with chalkboard paint, drill a hole in them, stain a board to hang them on, hammer in hooks for them to hang on, and then think of what to write on them! (Ha-ha!)

Joe and I are trying to focus on experiences rather than accumulating more stuff this year, so I decided to create some fun memories with simple everyday experiences while fulfilling my desire to have a Countdown to Christmas! So this morning, Joe’s breakfast plate had a simple, small, brown paper bag that contained a handwritten note. Along with a few mushy-gushy-heartfelt words of admiration, I included a gift of designated time to read out loud to him from a new book we’ve just started reading. Tonight’s “reading” will take place by the fireplace and the Christmas tree.

Simple. Free. Special.

Oh. And here’s what we’re reading: The Song of Sadie Sparrow, written by a dear friend and probably one of my greatest mentors and encouragers in editing and writing, Kitty Foth-Regner. We are loving it so far!

Suggested Scripture reading in the Countdown to Christmas: Luke 1 (or listen to it here via BibleGateway.com)

Luke has 24 chapters. Even though some are QUITE long, I love to read the 24 chapters of Luke on the days leading up to Christmas and then re-read Luke 2 on Christmas day!

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CYBER WEEK SALE – Bible Study Books

Click this photo to download a sample chapter!

Now is the time to order your Bible study books for Christmas gifts and Spring Bible study groups! And we’re going to make it worth your time and effort to do so!

Today (Monday) through 11:59 p.m. Thursday night (November 30), Choosing to Change when Change Happens is available at a QUANTITY DISCOUNT via the button below. The study currently sells for $9.99 per copy on Amazon and via other distributors. HOWEVER…

Order via the button below during our CYBER WEEK SALE, and you can order a set of 10 books for $70.00 ($7.00 each)! These will be shipped directly to your home or church (allow 2-3 weeks for shipping), and you will have them in plenty of time for gift giving and/or for your Ladies’ Bible studies!

This is a one-time special and will not be available again until Summer 2018!

(A sample chapter is available by clicking on the photo of the book cover!)

Quantity




Feeling Blessed the Day after Thanksgiving

It’s either an obsession or a display of wisdom—I’m not sure which. But when I clear the table from one meal, I generally go ahead and set it for the next meal. This began because Sunday mornings inevitably seemed to be rushed, and if I could come downstairs and enter the eating area with one task already completed, I felt like the day was off to an orderly start. So I started setting the table in our little breakfast nook to prepare it for the next morning. That soon spilled over to the table where we eat our other meals and even into the dining room, the location where we share dinners with guests.

We currently have guests staying overnight in our Christmas Room (the name of our guest room, because it is decorated for Christmas year round). I want their mornings to be quick and easy so that they can head over to be with their family members in town, so as soon as we all finished breakfast this morning, Joe helped me set the table for tomorrow’s breakfast for four.

I walked back into the kitchen a few moments ago, and tears began making their way down my cheeks. I was overwhelmed by the simple fact that we know that, Lord willing, tomorrow morning we will have food to eat, a nicely decorated table at which to sit, and a warm home in which to do it. How many people around the world and even here in the US don’t know that. In fact, some dear woman my age may be wondering if she should have eaten the last clementine she found by the side of the road, because now she doesn’t know if there will be anything to eat for supper—let alone, breakfast tomorrow.

There’s no doubt about it. We are blessed. Not because of where we live, who we are, what we do, or what we have.

We are blessed because of God’s grace and mercy to us. And He rightfully expects us to steward those gifts well and to express gratitude to Him for them. The psalmist did this extremely well in Psalm 103:2–5 (ESV):

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

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As you’re online to do your Christmas shopping,
remember to stop by Amazon.com (or click the title below)
to purchase your copy/copies of Brenda’s Bible study for women:
Choosing to Change when Change Happens

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