Want a Good, Long Life?

Do you want your good days to last forever? And your bad days to get over quickly?

How do we sustain a good life for the long haul?

The secret to a long life may be complex and dependent on many things.

But the secret to a good life doesn’t have to be a secret.

Read it all here: “How Do You Live a Good, Long Life?

Love Life No Secret Psalm 34

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We’re studying Psalm 34 this month at Do Not Depart. Will you join me there?

sharing with Lori, Rachel, RandomosityDebbie


But Are You Different Enough?

Are you different enough?

You’re probably quite different from your spouse. In more than one way.

But are you different enough?

Instead of viewing your relationship differences as negatives, what if you used them to your advantage?

Here are 5 ways to use personality differences to build up your relationships, not tear them down.

Read it all here:
“Are You Different Enough? 5 Ways to Use Differences in Your Relationship”

Your goal isn’t to become exactly alike, but to sharpen each other’s uniqueness.

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I’m writing today at Beth Steffaniak‘s blog, Messy Marriage.

Will you join me there to see 5 ways we can use our differences?

You can find the whole series, “Lessons Learned in Marriage” at Beth’s blog.


sharing with Holley, Kristin, Patricia, Mary, Diane,
RonjaMeghan, Char, Kelly

5 Links, Books, and Things I Love – November 2018

What was a highlight of your October? What are you looking forward to in November?

1 Second Everyday

[If you can’t see the 1 Second Everyday video, click here]

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5 Things Around the Web

1. Why You Can Be a Kinda Contemplative Christian
by Ed Cyzewski

“It is far better to begin imperfectly, to be ‘kinda contemplative,’ than to have no silence, no centering, no attempts to reach God in the stillness of our souls.”

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2. The 17 Phrases that ‘Scare’ Introverts the Most
by Jenn Granneman


#9, 11, 17 . . . a lot of these made me laugh because they are so true for me.

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3. Why Can’t More Than Four People Have a Conversation at Once?
by Corinne Purtill

“It’s called the ‘dinner party problem’: A table of four or fewer people may happily converse as one, but a party of five or more will splinter fairly quickly into separate conversations of two or three or four people each. What is it about the number four?”

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4. In a Breaking World, We Can’t Handle Knowing So Much
by Cameron Smith

Information overload. I feel this exactly. Do we have to know everything?

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5. Year 40 – Moses Lost in the Desert

Moses - Lost in the Desert - GPS

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5 Things with Words

1. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Voted America’s Best-Loved Novel   


I loved the Great American Read series this summer/fall. While To Kill a Mockingbird is not my all-time favorite (and #2 Outlander wouldn’t make my list at all!), I’m good with the remaining top 10. It was fun being reminded of favorite books and discovering new ones to read, such as The Prayer of Owen Meany. I’m almost finished with it.

See the full results here.

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2. How Many Books in Your Home?
by Naaman Zhou

How many books are in your house? Even if you’re not reading them, just their presence might make you smarter. So they say…I’m not sure myself.

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3. Why Are We Still Teaching Reading the Wrong Way?
by Emily Hanford

Kids can learn to read when they’re taught properly. So why are we not using the proven methods every time?

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4. 10 Solid Gold ESL Teaching Tips to Maximize Your Students’ Talking Time
by Ryan

But these tips aren’t just for ESL. They are good tips for ALL of us in our explanations and conversations.

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5. Four Books I Recommend to Bring Us Together 

Books bring us together with people we would never meet otherwise. Here are four books I recommend from what I finished this month.


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5 Things I Love

1. Done! #Write 31 Days

This is the last year for #Write31Days with Crystal. I decided on a new theme at the last minute—Handmade: Find God in Your Story. It about wore me out keeping up. But I’m glad I did it.

THANK YOU to all who commented on the three questions a day throughout the month, either here on my blog or on Instagram! I learned so much about you and your walk with God.

You have encouraged my own faith!

Handmade - Finding God in Your Story_tw

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2. Great American Read

great american read

While we were killing time in Nashville waiting for a Rob Bell talk, we stumbled across a book fair. And a PBS booth with The Great American Read!

Jeff’s pick, The Alchemist, ended up coming in at #70. One of my favorites, The Book Thief, was #14.

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3. Liz Hurley Ribbon Run 5K

We finished the Ribbon Run again!

Jeff volunteered for the fun job this year of holding the grandbaby while we did the race.

I walked for Christi, the daughter of one of my best friends. Christi was diagnosed with breast cancer this year and went through chemo. And now appears to be cancer-free, praise God!

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4. Hurricane Michael Cleanup

Jeff and I got to go to Panama City, Florida, last week to do cleanup work with our PAR disaster relief group. It was difficult to see all the destruction. But we were blessed to meet family after family who are doing their best to get back on their feet.

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5. My Favorite Bee – First Halloween

bumble bee

My favorite little bumble bee and Winnie the Pooh, too. We were so glad Morgan and family got to come up for our family’s Halloween Party again this year.

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5 Things on the Blog

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What was a highlight from your October? What are you looking forward to in November? Please share in the comments.

previous Links and Books

Hurricane Michael Aftermath – Get Close – Day 31 of Handmade


Sometimes you have to get close enough to see. With your own eyes.

To touch with your hands. To hear with your ears.

So you can feel with your heart.

I’m in Panama City, Florida, this week. But not on vacation.

We did that a month ago. Stayed on the beach. Played in the water. Ate fish at night.

Hurricane Michael Visits

Then 2 weeks later, Hurricane Michael visited Panama City, Florida, too.

Now we’re back getting closer to this place than we’ve ever been before. Now we are in homes and in neighborhoods and meeting people who live and work here year round.

And they are hurting. Around Panama City and further east is a war zone. So many beautiful trees were broken off or ripped from the ground and became missiles in roofs and windows and vehicles. Homes.

So as we get our hands on the mess, we are closer to Panama City than we’ve ever been before.

It’s Personal

No longer will the wait staff at our favorite restaurants here be nameless faces. The staff at the condos will now be more real to us than ever. The cashiers at the grocery stores will be personal to us.

The people will run into around town might be one of our new friends.

Because this is more to us now than a vacation destination. This is somebody’s home.

And it’s personal.

Please don’t forget the survivors.

Keep praying. They want that. They need that.

Three Questions

Here are our three questions of the day:

(1) If you could travel anywhere you’ve never been, where would you go?

(2) Do you have a favorite vacation spot from your childhood or currently?

(3) Who do you think God wants you to really see that you’ve previously overlooked?

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What are your answers? Please share in the comments.

My answers

(1) Probably Europe

(2) Anywhere with a good beach

(3) The people in front of me this week in Panama City

Get the whole Handmade series here

Handmade - Finding God in Your Story

Hear A Different Voice – Day 30 of Handmade


She was trying hard to get the verbs right.

He is tall.
I am tall.
They are tall.

It was a struggle. English is a difficult language to pick up as an adult.

Hear a Different Voice

But we kept working through our ESL lesson together.

I’m brand new at teaching English as a Second Language. This was only my second week. I was discovering there were many words I take for granted that she couldn’t understand.

Between her minimal English and my minimal Spanish, we were struggling to communicate.

A Different Tongue

When we speak different languages, it’s sometimes easier to just ignore each other and walk away.

And different languages don’t have to be tongues like Spanish and English.

  • Our different language may be Christianese.
  • It may be technical work jargon.
  • It may be a series of private sayings within a family.

Within our own subcultures, these languages work. We can communicate well when everyone knows the same words.

But once we step outside our boundaries, we have to broaden our vocabularies.

Learn someone else’s language. Then teach them yours. Do it with intention. Do it with frequency.

The English lesson with my student may not have been super successful that night. She eventually called in her 8-year-old daughter to help translate and bridge the gap.

But we did have fun along the way. We laughed a lot. She tried telling me a story in Spanish about either her husband or her brother. Her speech was so fast I couldn’t understand the details, but maybe I got the gist of it. Body language helped fill the gaps.

I hope in weeks ahead we’ll be able to laugh more when we look back at how far we’ve come.

Because when we learn new words, not only are we picking up a new language, we’re also making new friends.

Three Questions

Here are our three questions of the day:

(1) Did you learn pig Latin as a child?

(2) What foreign languages do you know or are you around?

(3) How has God used voices from others to reveal a different part of his character to you? 

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What are your answers? Please share in the comments.

My answers

(1) Esyay, igpay atinlay asway unfay.

(2) The foreign language I hear the most consistently in Alabama is Spanish. I’ve been trying to learn it for years, but I’m slow.

(3) Spending time in El Salvador and Guatemala showed me how God can inspire contentment in people who live on far less than I could ever imagine. If they can be happy with God in their lack, I have no excuses in my comparative wealth.

Get the whole Handmade series here


Books I Recommend to Bring Us Together – Day 29 of Handmade


We usually associate most comfortably with people who are similar to us.

Even if we want to meet people outside of our culture, it’s not always easy to do if they’re just not here and not available where we are.

Except. . .

Books! They can bring us together in unexpected ways.


Books introduce us to people we wouldn’t know otherwise. And places. And circumstances.

And who knows? We might later use our new knowledge even among the people we already do know.

The four books I finished this month brought me together with other cultures that I don’t live in and brought me closer to God.

Here are the 2 novels and 2 non-fiction books I recommend from what I finished reading in October. Once a month we share our current reading list at Jennifer’s.

Books I Recommend


1. Mudbound
by Hillary Jordan


It’s 1940s in the Mississippi Delta. White city-girl Laura McAllan has had to move to farming country to live her husband’s dream. She befriends a family of black sharecroppers on their land. Each character in this novel has a unique struggle as they are forced to make a life together.

2. Stay with Me
by Ayobami Adebayo


Set in Nigeria, this book travels back and forth in time to tell the polygamous love story of Yejide and Akin. It’s painful at times as Yejide struggles with infertility, and as she learns her husband has taken a second wife.


3. How Not to Get Shot
And Other Advice From White People
by D. L. Hughley


This book is by a black comedian and satirist D. L. Hugley. He writes suggestions for how black people can avoid getting shot in encounters with police and white people. It has some rough language at times, and it is quite funny in places, but the message of danger and injustice is a serious one and it comes through loud and clear in between the laughs.

4. God of Tomorrow
How to Overcome the Fears of Today and Renew Your Hope for the Future
by Caleb W. Kaltenbach


Pastor Kaltenbach writes on a huge range of cultural issues. I don’t agree with all of his biblical interpretations, but I do agree with his tone of love and trust and hope. He invites us to respond to each other with more grace than we have been. He successfully repeats the truth again and again that relying on the God of tomorrow helps us live better today.

My review here of God of Tomorrow


  • A Prayer for Owen Meany
    by John Irving
  • The Last Ballad
    by Cash Wiley
  • Raise Your Voice
    Why We Stay Silent and How to Speak Up
    by Kathy Khang
  • 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
    by Yuval Noah Harari
  • Resist and Persist
    Faith and the Fight for Equality
    by Erin Wathen
  • Remember Death
    The Surprising Path to Living Hope
    by Matthew McCullough 

Three Questions

Here are our three questions of the day:

(1) Have you traveled outside your home country?

(2) Do you have friends who are very different than you in some way?

(3) Has God ever used a book to change the way you view something or someone?

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What are your answers? Please share in the comments.

My answers

(1) El Salvador and Guatemala

(2) Yes, especially in the last 5 years. It’s been eye-opening and soul-growing.

(3) God uses books all the time to teach me new things and change my mind about old things.

Get the whole Handmade series here

Handmade - Finding God in Your Story