My Book is Finally Here!

We’ve waited all year for this, and the date is here at last! 

Where: Barnes & Noble 

8620 E 71st, Tulsa OK

When: Saturday, November 19, 2016 

10am-2pm

What: Total Publishing Multi-author Book Signing Event, including ME!!!!!

Come celebrate with me, and get your copy of Wisdom–Better than Wishing.

See you there!

A Minute Of Wisdom


Need a moment to unwind from the day? Need to be reminded of what really matters?  Want to get better at driving that 2-legged car you’re living in?

Starting 5/2 at 6pm CST, join me on Facebook Live each weekday for a minute of wisdom from the book of Proverbs. 

Win a Proverbs Print

Artwork copyrighted by Joy Books, www.vintageverses.com
Artwork copyrighted by Joy Books, http://www.vintageverses.com

March is over, but I encourage you to keep working on incorporating wisdom into your life until Godly thinking and behavior is your very nature. Just because you’ve read Proverbs once doesn’t mean you’re done. Pick it up again and again. Meanwhile, if you liked any of the artwork I posted by my mom Joy Books, here’s your chance to win a free print. Click on the title of your favorite blog from the month of Proverbs and do two things when it opens:

1. Comment with the date or description of the Joy Books Proverbs print you’d like to win, and

2. Share the blog link with your friends.

We’ll give away a print to each of the first 10 people.

Check out her stores for lots of other neat stuff:

Hand Written Calligraphy, Vintage Hymn and Art Prints:   www.VintageVerses.com
Quilt and Embroidery Patterns and more Art Prints:   www.BeeJoyfulQuilts.com
More Patterns www.etsy.com/shop/primandpropercottage
Mugs, T-shirts and fun stuff:  http://www.zazzle.com/joybooks

I’m going to slow down a bit as I prepare for a class I’m going to teach, but I’ll be around. See you soon!

Proverbs 31: Painting the Sunset

Artwork copyrighted by Joy Books, www.vintageverses.com
Artwork copyrighted by Joy Books, http://www.vintageverses.com

This is one of my all-time favorite chapters of the Bible. We have already seen that the characteristics of the wise are applicable to both men and women. This chapter is no different, so don’t skip today, boys. 

 Before we look at it, I want to say something to the ladies:
Some women cringe at this chapter, as though it’s an impossible to-do list or the Christian man’s version of a Cosmo model, more competition for us ordinary chicks. 

 Please, of all the truths you can grasp as a follower of Christ, grasp this one: you are LOVED. You are ENOUGH. God knows we’re kids, and we’re learning to walk and chew gum at the same time. You are LOVED and you are ENOUGH. You are enough because Jesus gave all He was to carry you all the way. God, being perfect, doesn’t cut the truth in half to protect our insecurities. He shows us perfection, but not to point out our flaws, just to show us how cool it is. Today, if you’re tempted to abuse yourself for being imperfect, reject that temptation. Instead, be a painter who paints the sunset on a flat canvas with watercolors just because it’s so amazing she has to capture some of it. 

So what makes the Proverbs 31 person all that and a bag of flax? I love it so much, I’m just going to let you read it for yourself. Click here

 
Lord, touch us today with Your tender affection and show us how we can enjoy Your company and find ourselves changed for the better.

It’s old, but I love this song as much today as I did at 18.

Proverbs 30: God’s God, We’re Not, but He Likes Us Anyway

Photo by Joy Books
Photo by Joy Books

 

Proverbs 30:1 I am weary and worn out, O God. 2 I am too stupid to be human, and I lack common sense. 3 I have not mastered human wisdom, nor do I know the Holy One.
Oh my. The principal lesson learned by every wise person is that we never completely get it. That shouldn’t stop us from seeking to understand more and behave with wisdom and self-control. This month, as we’ve read Proverbs for what hopefully will be the first of many times, I pray you’ve grown in your understanding of God and of humanity. I hope that you are not intimidated but excited about God more than ever. He’s pretty smart, and He wants to teach us so that life can be abundant. But when you have moments such as Agur had in Proverbs 30, remember verse 5: Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.

The core of wisdom is knowing where and in Whom wisdom lies. God is God and God is good.

Lord, thank You for not being a snob. We are so grateful for Your patience and the moments every day, where You show us that You’re incomprehensibly above us but love us and want our company. Help us to rest in You when we grow weary, and to get right back up and keep going when we need to practice the skills we’ve been building. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Proverbs 29: Can’t Fly when I’m Flapping my Jaw

Art copyrighted by Joy Books, www.vintageverses.com
Art copyrighted by Joy Books, http://www.vintageverses.com

Proverbs 29:13 The poor man and the oppressor meet together; the Lord gives light to the eyes of both.

If you didn’t read yesterday’s blog, please do so. I’m going to keep this one short, to give you time because it was long but worth the read.

FOR TODAY…
Proverbs 29: 1 He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing…9 If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet…11 A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back…20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him…22 A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression.

Ya think God’s trying to say something in Proverbs 29? We’ve all been there, maybe at work, visiting our in-laws, or at family counseling perhaps. We feel attacked because we thought we were doing things perfectly and someone corrects us. Are you the type to make a snappy come-back? An angry counter-attack? Or do you leave the presence of the person who’s correcting you and tell every person you meet about the whole vicious thing, going on about how you do everything right and are abused and misunderstood? I hate realizing I’ve flapped my jaw when I shouldn’t. It’s better to listen, glean the productive input from the rest, and prove ourselves capable of even greater things.
Lord, guard our tongues this week. Remind us that You are our defender and the One who brings us favor. With You in charge of our life paths, we don’t have to fear what others think of us, but we can certainly accept notes on how to go from super to stupendous.
Ha—made you grin! Now keep that; you’re cute when you smile 🙂

Mission of the Month: International Justice Mission, an Interview with Cassy McKenzie

Cassy McKenzie

Proverbs 28:2 When there is a moral rot within a nation, its government topples easily, but wise and knowledgeable leaders bring stability. 3 A poor person who oppresses the poor is like a pounding rain that destroys the crops. 4 To reject the law is to praise the wicked; to obey the law is to fight them…27 Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to poverty will be cursed.
This month’s ministry has impressed me for several years, and I’m excited to share my interview with Cassy McKenzie, one of eight Regional Vice Presidents in the National Student Leadership Program of the International Justice Mission.
If you haven’t clicked on the links from Proverbs 17, make sure you do, but I’ll give you the rundown: The International Justice Mission works in communities around the world, addressing injustices such as property grabbing, incarceration without due process, sexual and physical abuses, and all kinds of human trafficking. According to UNICEF, as many as two million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade, and that’s only one of the many injustices that IJM is working to eliminate. I’ve read articles in Compassion Magazine, seen IJM’s high ratings on Charity Navigator, and watched their videos, but nothing beats first-person experience.
Cassy McKenzie, IJM National Student Leadership Program
I was studying musical theatre, and halfway through my freshman year, I went to the Passion Conference in Atlanta. I thought, “Oh, I’m going with my college friends at church—this will be fun!”

I had no idea the kinds of injustice that go on.
The Passion conference had several nonprofits who shared what they do, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what I’d learned from IJM—modern day slavery, human trafficking, citizenship rights violations, embonded labor… My heart broke—I had a quarter-life crisis. I started praying about it. I looked online and saw that they have over 150 chapters at colleges. I thought, Well my college doesn’t have one. I was wrestling with the idea and making steps to see what that would look like, to start a chapter.
It was a God thing. One of my oldest friends from school messaged me and said, “Hey, I’d like you to meet my girlfriend Abby, because she went to the conference.” I met up with her for coffee—like a blind friend date. We sat down and about 10 minutes into the conversation, she says, “So what was the biggest thing you took away from the Passion Conference?” I don’t know how to answer that—I just looked at her and said, “God just spoke to me on so many levels, but I really have this heart’s desire to start an IJM chapter at CNU. What about you?”

She gave me the blankest face. I was like Oh gosh, did I say something wrong? I just met this girl.  “Is everything okay?” Her mouth just opened, and she reached into her backpack and pulled out this IJM College Campus Chapter Starter Toolkit. Her eyes filled with tears, and she said, “Cassy, I have been praying for God to bring someone to walk alongside me to start this chapter. I have been trying all on my own for the past two months and I just can’t do it by myself. Will you please help me?”
This is no joke. Starting a chapter at a university is no joke, red tape, administration, getting things approved. I’m a people person, but God was working in me. We finally got the chapter off the ground in our sophomore year. It was super-intimidating, but God obviously wanted us to do it, so we took it one day at a time and put our trust in Him.
One Saturday morning, I got a call from a number I did not recognize. I pick up half-awake (Cassy mumbles sleepily “Hello?”). Our Senior President’s wife says, “Hi, this is Rosemary Tribble, is this Cassy McKenzie that I’m speaking with?” (Cassy does great voices). “I hear that you’re trying to start an IJM chapter. Is this true? The founder of IJM, Gary Haugen, and his family are coming to CNU today. I was wondering if you’d like to give them a tour of the campus.”
I’m like, “Where do you want me to be? I’ll be there in 10 minutes!”
I keep thinking about that passage Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Those truths are just so real. You know what? I’m not going to be a musical theatre major—I want to just be God’s hands and feet for these people. I switched to Social Work, and I’m double-minoring in Psychology and Philosophy and Religious Studies. I want to be an aftercare counselor with a human rights agency. That’s one of the reasons I love IJM—they’ve created this framework where they don’t just rescue people and hope their problems go away. They lock arms with these communities to mend broken justice systems. We want to prevent this kind of stuff from happening. (They also find resources to provide victims with counseling, education and even relocation when necessary–read the Compassion story linked to my introduction).
We had our first event with Stand for Freedom, and now we’re one of the most successful IJM college campus chapters on the East Coast, which is just mind-blowing to me. My junior year, I became a co-president with one of my other friends. Spring of my junior year, I got an email from Greg Darley, the director of the college mobilization team with IJM. I’m totally fan-girling over here. He asked me to apply for the National Student Leadership Team. I’m like, “Okay but I don’t know what that is.” He said, “Here’s a link, we really think you’d be great for this position. Pray about it, but your application is due in 4 days.” I loved working on my campus, but I wanted to reach so many more students. I didn’t really know how to do that and I’d been praying, “God what’s the next step?” Then I get this email saying, “You should do this.”
What does a college student leader do with IJM?
Our team is comprised of 8 students, and we’re spread out all over the country. I’m the VP of the NorthEast region, in charge of around 40 IJM campus chapters over 13 states, which is crazy. I live off emails, phone calls and Skype sessions. The work of justice is collaborative. You don’t have to be a private investigator busting through brothels in India (although IJM has those). Social change takes everybody. As part of what our team does, we get to visit one of the IJM field offices.
In the first week of August, we went to the field office in the Dominican Republic. I felt so humbled to get to go into an operating community between Santo Domingo and Boca Chica, and we got to work with the field office director, Jessica. She’s incredible. We got to work with a couple of the field investigators there, meeting some of the rescued victims from human trafficking. It was life-changing. Those are the moments that sealed the deal for me. This kind of fulfillment I’m getting from the Holy Spirit through this work—there’s no place else I’d rather be. And receiving the training with my team members set the tone for us to seek deeper knowledge together throughout the school year.
It was like putting on 3D glasses.
We got to minister at a safe house to 27 women who had been rescued from the streets. We went to a couple of the orphanages and just got to love on the kids who’d been abandoned by their moms, who had gotten pregnant and left them so they could go back to their pimps. It was like putting on 3D glasses. Those aren’t just videos; these people have names and faces and stories.
Abby and Cassy’s Formula for Social Justice:
1. Awareness: If people don’t know the basic facts and statistics, they won’t be moved to do something. IJM makes sure their information is credible, and the chapter events such as Stand for Freedom raise awareness of the tragedies that are happening and actions that need our support, such as the Modern Day Slavery Initiative on Capitol Hill right now (Send a message now by clicking  Senator, and  Congressman).
2. Education: Modern-day slavery and human trafficking are so complex. Trauma can impact people so differently—was it their family, their friends, strangers, a boyfriend? What’s their culture like? Is anyone paying attention? What hope do they have?
3. From that education, we emphasize the importance of engagement. I used to hate politics. It’s messy and nobody gets along. College students in particular very much share that feeling. But that doesn’t work, so last year at the Stand for Freedom event, we got over 1000 signatures for the Human Trafficking Prioritization Act, and no one knew that was even a piece of legislation that existed or really mattered. We said to people, “You can stand with us, and you may not be a social work major or even a Christian, but your presence can tell people that these things matter and we care.”
There’s so much brokenness in this world. Yeah, it’s the new trendy thing to talk about trafficking, but thank God that someone’s talking about it and more people are open to hearing about it. I believe that these forms of slavery are going to be ended with my generation, because of the people I’ve met and the work that I’ve seen God do.  What we can do together—it’s awesome.

Yes, Cassy, it is. People get away with things they can do in the dark. If the only people who know about crime are criminals, they can keep it up while everyone else lives fluffy lives, oblivious to the suffering of those with no way to escape or no place to go.  When these things are brought to light, you and I can say, “What? NO! We won’t accept that!” Someone’s existence tomorrow depends on what we do today.
For real change to take place, we can’t have an education that is completely centered on My Career, My Money, My Future. We’re citizens of the world, with rights and responsibilities. But not everyone can change their majors and go work in a mission. We need people who pursue regular lives to be involved, to change the economy, to embed their own circles with awareness and action and prayer. That’s what happened with Civil Rights and with the Abolition movement of old. And as much as we feel like they don’t listen, we have to communicate with our government representatives and use the rights we have to help those who have none.

Lord, thank You for using us to make a difference.

Here’s a song I like: Mercy Me, Crazy Enough

Proverbs 27: Abandonment and Crabs

Artwork copyrighted by Joy Books, www.vintageverses.com
Artwork copyrighted by Joy Books, http://www.vintageverses.com

Proverbs 27: 10 Never abandon a friend— either yours or your father’s. When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance. It’s better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away…17 As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

Proverbs 27: 23 Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, 24 for riches don’t last forever, and the crown might not be passed to the next generation. 25 After the hay is harvested and the new crop appears and the mountain grasses are gathered in, 26 your sheep will provide wool for clothing, and your goats will provide the price of a field. 27 And you will have enough goats’ milk for yourself, your family, and your servant girls. 

 Maybe I have abandonment issues, because I hate the thought of abandoning people. I see sassy Facebook quotes about cutting people out of your life, and I cringe. The most beneficial friendships go through times where we don’t feel a bit friendly, but the Christmas cookies from the neighbor make me glad I gave her an early morning jump start. The fun visits with my bestie blur the memory of the summer that threatened to end us. 

 So why the sassygrams? Well, people can be crabs. Not like Lucy, but like Terry Pratchett describes in Unseen Academicals:

“Oh, that’s crabs for you,” said Verity, disentangling the ones who had hitched a ride. “Thick as planks, the lot of them. That’s why you can keep them in a bucket without a lid. Any that tries to get out gets pulled back.” 

 People may do that, pull us down when we start to rise. When we realize it, we yank loose of everyone and jump for freedom. We need friends who encourage us to succeed, and verses 23-27 tell us it’s okay and even wise to look after our own resources and our own work. 

 It’s Proverbs, the Book of Wisdom, so there must be a balance to maintain, right? I believe there is, and it’s here: 

 1) Take care of yourself. Maintain your values, your relationship with God and your work. If you’re married or have children, take care of what you have at home. 

 2) Pray for God to keep you positive and focused, even when you have difficult times with people. Get excited that God is making you stronger and more capable. Get humble when you lose it. Get happy about unconditional love. Get the point that if God is your Coach, you’ll run this track until you’re good at this hurdle. Even if you ditch all your friends, new ones will put you through your paces. God has eternal plans for you and lots of patience.

 3) Know that sometimes, it does become necessary to love people from a distance, or to just trust God to look out for them and walk away. Pray first, but respond promptly if God says go. If someone is abusing you, or helping you stay in bondage to a destructive habit, or if you just find yourself repeatedly asking God for forgiveness because you aren’t yet capable of being Christlike around them, it’s okay to walk away.  God isn’t disappointed in you. 

 Jesus ministered to the needy, the crazy and the just plain bad.  He was direct and didn’t let them lie, yet He found a way to be loving. If you need help learning how to keep friendships without losing yourself, I highly recommend Boundaries. It saved my sanity and a longterm friendship for which I’m grateful. 

 
Lord, You set the best example of servanthood and focus. Please guide us as we learn how Your techniques should work in our own relationships.

Proverbs 26: Who You Callin’ a Fool?

Me in 9th grade, school #1
Me in 9th grade, school #1

Proverbs 26:4 Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are. 5 Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools, or they will become wise in their own estimation.

7 A proverb in the mouth of a fool is as useless as a paralyzed leg.

9 A proverb in the mouth of a fool is like a thorny branch brandished by a drunk.

16 Lazy people consider themselves smarter than seven wise counselors.

Ouch! You think maybe Solomon saw his share of fools? A king whose own brother tried to take the kingdom from their father, he also played Supreme Court Justice for his nation. Talk about reality show moments—one time, two ladies who were “professional escorts” brought a custody battle all the way up to the king’s court. He threatened to saw the baby in two and that’s when the lying woman showed her colors. Nowadays, you’d be arrested for saying such a thing, but I can see why he got tired of fools.

What does it mean “don’t answer a fool,” but “be sure to answer a fool?” Let’s take an example we can all relate to.

I spent a couple of weeks in 6th grade yelling insults at some girl named Kathy. I’m not sure why she started it—but I’m sure it was her, right? She told people I stuffed my bra; she called me names. I called her worse names because that’s the year I learned that it was shocking and cool to cuss like a grownup. At recess, in the hallways and at lunch, we made public idiots of ourselves until one day, I couldn’t take it anymore and ran out of the lunchroom crying. She found me a few minutes later and apologized. She “was just joking,” she said. Whatever she was doing, I was extending the stupidity by responding in kind. I subsequently went to 5 different high schools in 4 different states and found a bully in every one. Thanks to Kathy, I refused to respond in kind when the bullies came. I still had plenty of lessons to learn, but I had learned that one.

I confess that I didn’t walk into each new school with a “let’s be buddies” attitude. Instead, I wore toughness like my jean jacket and spiked bracelets, layers that might block the wind and look good but offered no real protection from life’s bullets.  After a couple of years, I realized that all people are chickens when meeting strangers. I got better at breaking the ice and became truly interested in helping people. That led to some good friendships and some real screwups, as I wasn’t always as wise as I believed myself to be. A proverb in the mouth of a fool y’know 😉

So, let’s talk straight:
1. Do you watch shows or hang out with people who handle relationships with wisdom, or do you surround yourself with people or characters who talk trash and respond with fire and futility?
2. Do you ask God for help before you open your mouth? Say this prayer that I have to use frequently: “Lord, help me to say only what You would have me say right now, no more and no less.” Just because something is true or wise, doesn’t mean it would be accepted or useful in this moment or this conversation.
3. Do you frustrate the people who care about you by whining about a chronic problem but responding to all advice with reasons why it wouldn’t work? If there truly is no solution, then stop whining and find some way to appreciate the moment you’re in. But also stop for a second and say, “Well that suggestion might not work, but what if it could—what would have to happen? What could I do to head in that direction?” And pray. God made the ice and the desert, and He gave mankind enough knowledge to transport one to the other. He can probably get you to the place where you need to be.

Lord, eliminate the foolishness from us, one day at a time. Thanks for loving us (and probably laughing) even when we put limits on Your abilities or talk ourselves into sticky situations. We trust You to get us to where we need to be, and we love You.

13 in 9th grade--Vote for Jeff! I'd probably still vote for Jen :)
13 in 9th grade–Vote for Jeff! I’d probably still vote for Jen 🙂