Tag Archive | liz cowen furman

When Women Wonder If They Can

black bear front

Dawn Wilson asked me to be a guest on her blog; Upgrade with Dawn. Here is the link to the article that resulted from that invitation.

If you have ever wondered if you can do something God has called you to do, this ones for you!

 

http://www.upgradewithdawn.com/blog/2015/5/19/when-women-wonder-if-they-can.html

What I didn’t have time to log in her interview was how many times we failed at so many things before we succeeded. We were several years in the red, endless improvements that I didn’t know how to fix had us so discouraged at times. But what we learned is that perseverance pays off.

We were determined to make it work. Author Andy Andrews said that a person who doesn’t have a decided heart finds a way out when the going gets tough but a person who has a decided heart finds a way where there is no way.

So the thing that really matters is that we never give up!

 

black bear 2014 3

 

We leave at dark thirty in the morning tomorrow to Dubois to open the motel, the thought of it makes me excited…and tired. We WILL perservere, will you?

Guest Author Interview with Mary Englund Murphy

 Greetings! My Women’s Bible Study is currently studying Joseph, Beyond the Coat of Many Colors, written by my writer friend Mary Englund Murphy. We are loving it!

Below is an interview with her regarding the study. Check it out if you are looking for a Bible Study for your group. Leave a comment and one blessed person will receive a free copy. 

  • Joseph is such a well known Biblical figure; there must be numerous books and Bible studies on him. What prompted you to write this study?

There are a many books, but few Bible studies devoted entirely to his story. Several authors include a “Joseph” chapter, but few studies are entirely devoted to him.

  • Your title is intriguing “Joseph: Beyond the Coat of Many Colors”. What does your subtitle suggest?

I spent four years studying and writing about Joseph and I was amazed at the new insights I gained when I put my preconceived ideas aside. Many of us who were raised in church have what I call a Sunday school or flannel graph view of Joseph and therefore we miss many of the treasures that are found in a deeper study of his life. We often visualize him as a little boy dressed in a multi-colored striped bathrobe. This Bible study goes way beyond all the preconceived notions about Joseph.

  • Give us a brief overview of Joseph’s story for those who may not be familiar with the Bible?

Joseph’s story is found in the Old Testament portion of the Bible. He was the eleventh, and favorite, of the twelve sons of Jacob and was literally despised and hated by his brothers. When Joseph was seventeen years old, his father gave him the famous coat. The brothers plotted to murder Joseph but ended up selling him to slave traders. He spent thirteen years as a slave and a prisoner in Egypt until Pharaoh heard that he could interpret dreams. When Joseph gave Pharaoh God’s interpretation he was promoted to second in command of the nation. Joseph saved the country from famine and eventually was reunited with his family and brought them to Egypt.

  • Okay, so Joseph had a few very trying years, but look how it all turned out for him – wealth, prestige, honor, a wife and children, and he was restored to his family. Anyone could make it through a few difficulties with all that in their future, right?

That’s exactly what I was referring to previously. We tend to view Joseph from an overall perspective – the favored child, the multi-colored coat, some conflict with his brothers, a few rough years in Egypt, then promotion to wealth and prosperity. Sometimes we think he persevered with virtually no emotional issues, but the Scriptures indicate that he did he have challenges with the same things we struggle with like shattered hopes and depression. Joseph was a great man but he had feelings just like the rest of us.

  • The term “blended family” is used to describe families that have step-children and step-parents or half-siblings or step-siblings. How do you see Joseph fitting into those categories?

Joseph’s father Jacob simultaneously had two wives and two concubines, and all four women produced children. Though culturally acceptable, there were jealousies and conflict galore. Joseph’s family gave new meaning to the blended and dysfunctional family. This Bible study addresses many of those issues.

  • In this area, you can relate to Joseph. Tell us a little about your family background.

I was born into a broken/blended home. My parents were married a total of 10 times. I’ve had 3 stepfathers, two stepmothers, and 21 step, half and adopted brothers and sisters. In fact, my own family background is one of the primary reasons I decided to write about Joseph; I can relate to him in so many areas.

  • You recently received some good news in regard to your Joseph Bible study. Can you share that with us?

“Joseph: Beyond the Coat of Many Colors” won the 2012 SELAH award for best Bible study. This book is my heart of hearts so it was especially meaningful and a true honor.

  • Many of the books and studies about Joseph focus on grace and forgiveness. Can you talk about some of the other things we can learn from his life?

His story is a wealth of information on raising children, dealing with jealousy, disappointments, peer pressure, sexual purity, employee/employer relationships, and what to do when you feel like God doesn’t care.

  • Is this study just for women?

Definitely not! It can be used for individuals, group Bible studies, and Sunday school. I recently heard of a couple who co-taught it in their couple’s class. You can do the study in eight weeks but I recommend taking it slow and more in-depth.

  • What primary message do you want people to take away from this study?

To understand God knows the end of your story just as He knew the end of Joseph’s. Don’t give up; remember God is working in your life with purpose just as He did in Joseph’s. God isn’t finished with you yet.

  • Where is the study available?

At your local book store or http://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Beyond-Following-Through-Character/dp/0899573339/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_1

A New Chapter

Glorious Autumn in the Mountains

Unbelievable that a whole summer has passed by and we are once again looking into the face of autumn. What a face it is this year, glorious russets, reds and yellows splashed against the dark emerald of evergreens. Several times in the last weeks, my breath was taken away by the views on my daily drives. However, this year the autumn is more meaningful to me for some reason.

We recently took son #2 to college (http://www.calbaptist.edu/about/) in California, a LONG ways from home. It was an emotional ride and I am just now beginning to see the reason it was so hard.

When we took our first son to college we took him to the first university I attended, just paces from the dorm I stayed in and loved 30 years ago. His choice in a college was just an hour or so from home.  (http://www.colostate.edu/). So, I did not feel like he was really leaving, just getting a new room in my “other” home. Also, Ft. Collins is on the way to our little motel so I would stop and visit as I went by often.

On the other hand, California is a fer piece from family and hearth. And, it is California, with earthquakes and so many people, twelve lane highways careening at a break neck speeds, and, and…well you get the idea.

In the weeks after we returned from the drop off, I was at our motel alone. Micah (son #3) and Mom-in-love Muff had gone home for school to start and Dave was holding down that fort (poor guy) while I finished the busiest month of the motel and closed her down for winter. I had some time to think and muse on the last 20+ years with my family. The weather was turning to fall, which for some reason always makes me long for home and the days when our kids were young.

Satan attacked with a vengeance, whispering in my ear the lines any mother post launch of a child dreads to hear. Questioning my parenting, our home environment and how we raised them up. For two weeks, I was devastated. I listened to those lies; because in every lie of the enemy there is a thread of truth dating clear back to the garden with Eve. He brought events to mind that I regret over the years and a parade of things I wish I had done differently flashed in my mind, even in my dreams.

Finally, my good friend Charlene called to check on me. I shared with her what was happening. She was there for most of those years and knew the inside story of most all the stories. She immediately identified it as an attack from the enemy. She pointed out that our boys had parents who love them and cared for them. She said we provided all we could and reminded me that GOD will use anything that we did wrong to grow them into the men He will call them to be. She reminded me that GOD is in control not me. She pointed out that most importantly we introduced each of them to JESUS, lover of their souls. What a gift that conversation was. We prayed, and after she hung up, I prayed again. I asked GOD to use any of the things we did wrong, any generational curse we kept going to stop with this generation. I was exhausted, not just from the 16-hour workdays at the motel, but from the emotional roller coaster I had just ridden for weeks.

Autumn is in full swing here and I am back at home. Seeing the beauty GOD creates, I noticed that the backdrop of the dark colored evergreens makes it more beautiful. I am praying as I have for years that our boys remember the good things about their childhoods. I remembered that hidden in the colors of fall and death of the season is the promise of spring and a new chapter in our lives.

The truth that life is but a breath and we are here for such a short ride is becoming more and more obvious to me these days. I am thankful for friends He has placed in my life to help me ride the waves and for the dear children He entrusted to our care so many years ago. AND- I am in constant prayer for ALL OUR CHILDREN, yours too. :0)

Check out this video by Trace Adkins and if you still have babies at home…enjoy every minute. These are the memories you will cherish in years to come.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBDN8yWyNYU

Keeps us humble!

Parenting…it really does keep me on my knees…which is a very good place to be!
Ok. So here is a not so funny antidote about living our lives out before everyone...I failed the other day.

My two sons were in the living room wrestling…if you have boys you may know the drill. The dog barking furiously to help… It always starts out fun, wrestling around on the living room floor, then someone gets their arm bent the wrong way or head bonked on the couch too hard and it turns into WWIII.
Maybe not at your house but almost always at ours.  :0(

I was in the kitchen, trying to make dinner and 1000 other things at the same time. I had asked them to stop several times and when they didn’t, I got angry. Instead of doing the mature thing and going in there to make them stop I proceeded to yell at the top of my lungs about obeying.
At that same moment our dear pastor appeared at our door to pick up his jugs of Kangen water and obviously heard the rucus. He stuck his head in the open screen door and said, “Hey Matthew, get off your brother and help me with these jugs will you?” 
Mortified would be an understatement. Well, having kids has done a wonderful thing for me…it keeps me humble. :0)
May GOD bless you today!

Guest Author Interview Elaine W. Miller

1. Did we ALL marry idiots? What caused you to name a book, We All Married Idiots: Three
Things You Will Never Change About Your Marriage and Ten Things You Can.

Years ago during an argument with my husband I thought, I must have been an idiot to marry
this idiot! Then I burst out laughing realizing that makes me an idiot too! Later I learned the
word “idiot” is derived from the Greek word “common man.” Well, aren’t we all common man?
In fact there was only one uncommon man—Jesus Christ. When we look to our spouses to
fulfill needs that only Christ can fulfill, then husbands and wives become dissatisfied with their
marriages. So yes, we all did marry idiots; and so did our spouses.

2. What is the purpose of We All Married Idiots?

With the divorce rate around 50% for Christians and non-Christians, my heart is broken for
marriages. Too many couples give up too soon for too little reason. They enter a second marriage
only to realize, Ugh, this person is an idiot too! My purpose is to change that divorce statistic.
We All Married Idiots will help couples enjoy marriage as God intended. One were their mate is
esteemed as a gift to treasure not as an idiot to tolerate.

3. Tell us about your marriage?

Dan and I have been married 41 years. Our first years of marriage were rough. I packed his
bags numerous times because I was looking to him to fulfill needs that only Jesus could fulfill.
I wasn’t happy, so I thought (as many unhappily married people think), perhaps I married the
wrong person. I shudder thinking what my life would have been like had I successfully thrown
away this wonderful man who I love with all of my heart.

4. Did your marriage face a crisis and how did it turn around?

Our marriage is a miracle, really. One August afternoon I knew it was over. I had hit the wall.
It was that day I realized I couldn’t do this thing called marriage in my own strength and I
surrendered my life and my marriage to Jesus Christ. Wow! God did a miracle and filled my
heart to overflowing with love for Jesus and for my husband. Dan came home to a new wife.
I had never felt such love! I realized that day my happiness does not come from a husband or
children or material goods. Happiness comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ

Elaine W. Miller interview questions

5. Is this a book just for newlyweds?

The three things you will never change about your marriage and the ten things you can teaches
couples to esteem their beloved as a gift to treasure, not as an idiot to tolerate. What marriage
couldn’t benefit from that! We All Married Idiots was written for every marriage . Newlyweds
will start out on the right path as they discover wisdom that I wish I had known in the early days.
Those in struggling marriages will learn why they struggle. Those in ho-hum marriages will
learn to view marriage as an adventure given as a gift from God.

6. What are the three things you will never change?

The first is the idiosyncrasies. We all have peculiar habits and do little things that annoy. We’d
like to change our spouse’s idiosyncrasies, but honestly that is not what we promised on our
wedding days. I’ve been to a lot of weddings and never heard this vow, “I promise to make a
mental note of everything you do that annoys me and remind you of it as long as we both shall
live.”

The second is sin. We all married sinners. Why would we do that? I love Elisabeth Elliot’s
answer, “There was no one else to marry!” We all sin and sin inflicts pain. There will be times
you and your spouse will hurt each other.

The third is the differences. Men and women don’t think the same. We have different ways of
solving problems.

I promise you there is conflict in the marriage of two idiotic sinners who don’t think alike. We
can’t change the struggles, but we can change how we respond when the idiosyncrasies, the sin,
and the differences arise.

7. Why will this book strengthen marriages?

We All Married Idiots teaches husbands and wives to stop concentrating on the three things
they will never change and focus on the ten things they can change. Too often couples spend the
majority of their conflicts trying to change the three things they will never change. Talk about
hitting a wall!

8. What makes you a marriage expert?

I’m not! I’m an idiot! I am not an authority on marriage, but I know Someone Who is and He has
written a great Book. God created marriage as a gift to us. He is The Marriage Expert and every
day I talk to Him and study the best book on marriage ever written—the Bible. We All Married
Idiots looks at marriage through the eyes of God instead of the eyes of man. My husband and I
have lead numerous marriage retreats and counseled many hurting couples. We know the hurt

and frustration of a marriage gone wrong and the joy and blessing of a marriage gone right.

Elaine W. Miller interview questions

9. What is your best piece of marriage advice?

Oh there’s so much good marriage advice. In marriage we need to examine ourselves. Funny.
I’ve read through the Bible seven times searching for a verse that says, “Examine your spouse.”
It’s not there. But the Bible does say “examine yourself.” Couples are too quick to point the
blaming finger at each other rather than ask God to point Your finger at me and show me what I
am doing wrong.

Another word of advice is to give up your life and your marriage to God and hold on. Don’t let
go. The problems you have today could be gone in five or ten years. I just don’t love him or her
anymore is not a reason for a divorce. You don’t feel love today, but you could fall back in love
next week or in three years. Marriage is not a sprint. It is a marathon. Husbands and wives grow
up, mature, change for the better. Keep running towards the goal God has for your marriage.
Of course, if you are in an abusive situation, I advise you to flee to a safe place and receive
professional Christian counseling.

10. Why do you think there are so many divorces?

With the divorce rate at around 50 percent for Christians as well as non-Christians, it’s pretty
clear there are a lot of people thinking they are married to idiots and that someone else will
fulfill their needs and make them happy. It isn’t long before they realize in a second marriage
that, “Ugh! That person is an idiot too!” We live in a self-centered, self-seeking world. We want
a good marriage and we want it today. We are too quick to throw a marriage away in search of
one that will satisfy.

11. What factors do you see influencing marriages towards divorce?

Marriage is like running a marathon. It takes hard work, diligence, discipline, positive influences.
To motivate themselves, marathon runners watch videos of runners completing the race. How
committed would they be if racers filled their minds with runners falling and never completing
the marathon? Is that what we do when night after night we watch television shows depicting
marriage after marriage failing? The world portrays marriage negatively. Couples fighting,
belittling each other, divorcing. Married couples on television rarely have a sexual relationship.
Love making ends as soon as the wedding rings go on. How sad. I believe these negative
portrayals are influencing us to believe that marriage doesn’t work. It is a lie we must not listen
to. God intended marriage as a blessing, but the world has distorted God’s plan

12. Why did you write We All Married Idiots?

I tried to give up on my marriage, but I was married to a man determined to hold on and to
glorify God. He was committed to me for a lifetime. What a great guy and an amazing man
of God! I can’t imagine my life without him. Realizing what my life would have been had I
divorced him makes me shudder. I wrote We All Married Idiots to save marriages from the pain
I inflicted on myself and on Dan. I wrote to glorify God and to change that awful 50% divorce
rate.

We All Married Idiots is a great tool for individual study or couples to study together. I’d love
to see it used in small-group home meetings where you invite your neighbors to study it with
you. Think about it. Fifty percent of our neighbors are headed for divorce. We could change that
statistic by reaching out to them with a We All Married Idiots small group. The questions at the
end of each chapter are not threatening and do not require a theological degree to understand. As
one reviewer said, “This is the most accessible Christian book I have ever read.”

13. This book is humorous, but it is also serious. Share something humorous. Share something
serious.

In my chapter “Strip Down” I talk about God’s command in Hebrews 12 to “strip off every
weight that weighs us down.” When God tells us to strip, He means to take it all off. Get rid of it.
Marathon racers wear very little clothes because the weight slows them down. The weight of sin
in our hearts weighs us down and keeps us from effectively running a marriage marathon.

Dan and I were on an airplane sitting on the runway when the pilot told the passengers that the
airplane was too heavy to take off. He asked for two volunteers to get off the plane. I was not
comforted when two of the tiniest ladies on the plane raised their hands. Off they went. If that
airplane had been my heart I think removing my two tiniest sins might get me off the ground but
would not enable me to soar. God wants us to unload all of our baggage. And then our marriages
will take off and soar in the right direction!

14. After a couple reads We All Married Idiots, what changes can they expect in their marriage?

My hope is that couples will change their thinking about marriage. They will see marriage as
a gift from God that He gave to open and enjoy. Then they will esteem their spouse as a gift to
treasure, not as an idiot to tolerate.

15. It’s easy to read a book and not apply what is read. Does We All Marry Idiots help a couple
take positive action towards a better marriage.

Oh yes. We All Married Idiots: Three Things You Will Never Change About Your Marriage and
Ten Things You Can consists of 13 chapters which are the three things you won’t change and the
ten things you can. 3 + 10 = 13 chapters. At the end of each chapter are questions to contemplate
and application and action steps to take re-enforcing the teaching of each chapter.

16. How does your husband feel about being called an idiot?

He’s such a great guy. Honestly, I’m the idiot in chief at our house. I don’t like the word idiot,
but the truth is compared to God, that is what we all are. We have a great God who reconciled
Himself to idiot man through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I pray all idiots out there
will realize that truth and place their trust and faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus saved our marriage. My
husband approves of and supports my writing. If our story can help marriages, then he is happy
to be called an idiot.

17. Is this your first book? Tell us a little about yourself.

I am the author of two other books, Splashes of Serenity: Bathtime Reflections for Drained Moms
and Splashes of Serenity: Bathtime Reflections for Drained Wives.

Married for 41 years, Dan and I are blessed with three married children and eight grandchildren.
We live a beautiful life in upstate New York right on the edge of the Adirondack Mountains. Dan
is an ordained minister and a District Superintendent for our denomination, The Christian and
Missionary Alliance. He oversees 77 churches. We’re blessed to travel to Europe each year as
Pastoral Care Couple to Missionaries in Bosnia. We enjoy a blessed and sometimes idiotic life
together. We like hiking, golfing, skiing, travelling, kayaking and most anything outdoors. God
gave us a beautiful playground. And those precious grandchildren. Oh my! Love them!!!

18. Who is your publisher? How can We All Married Idiots be purchased?

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas is the publisher. We All Married Idiots is available
on line as a print or ebook and at your local bookstore. Autographed copies can be
purchased through my website, http://www.SplashesofSerenity.com or by contacting me at
SplashesofSerenity@yahoo.com.

Life is Short

On Friday we attended the funeral of a new friend. He came to our church a little over a year ago, and we had the pleasure of being in a Small Group Study of The Prodigal GOD (an excellent book by the way) with he and his wife for several lessons a few weeks before his passing. He was by all accounts in excellent health, and only 63 years young.

On Easter Sunday we had a house full of friends and family. Soon after we finished dinner our pastor received the call that this dear man had passed. We all joined together at that moment and prayed for his family. It was the oddest thing; he seemed so healthy and alive. He was in the service that morning thrilled that his whole family was with them for Easter. His wife told me he was beaming all day, so happy to be all together. And then…gone.

The whole week before the service I couldn’t get out of my head how minuscule our life here on the planet really is. We go along acting as if we have endless days and time to do all the things we want and feel called to do. But it is not so. Even if we live to a ripe old age, it’s not enough time. I want to resolve to live as if I had only a week left all the time. Because you never know.

At the funeral several of his former pastors, who had traveled far to be there, got up and shared what an impact this dear one had on them, their lives and ministries. One shared that on the property behind his home there are wooded acres. In the middle is a clearing and in the middle of that clearing is an enormous old oak tree. An ancient tree over 6 feet in girth and huge, with limbs stretching for a long ways.  The canopy rises above the other trees and gives much shade. It is a strong, deep rooted tree that has stood the test of many storms.

He said that is how he saw Dave, the same deep rooted, strength that comes when one has trusted his Savior for all. Storms had come and gone and he only grew in his faith and wisdom. Wow! To be a canopy for others, to be strong and deep rooted and to point all we meet to the Savior who has everything under control. I was moved, and sad that I had only known Dave for such a short time.

Let us resolve to know JESUS more; to trust Him more and to point all we meet to the One who has all under His control. In the easy times and in those weak moments of dark, earthly distress and discomfort I want to point all I meet to my JESUS, the lover of our souls.

Perceptions

The Elm Street House...35 years later.

We went on a day trip to Cañon City, Colorado where I grew up this week hunting for fossils.  We went to the Royal Gorge  Bridge too. http://www.royalgorgebridge.com/

It was a blast! I love Cañon City.

On our trek we went by a couple of my old houses…ugh. Both the Elm house and the Cedar Street houses were trashed, especially the Elm one. Made me sad as I loved that house.

But 35 years later, they have gutted it and made it into a storage shed for hay. I went inside and was shocked to realize the house was probably only 800 square feet total, maybe less even. I remembered it much bigger! But then I was smaller. :0)

The last time I was by the Elm house, a few years back, all the windows were broken and there was trash everywhere. Matthew our middle child was with me and when we left he said, Mom were you guys really poor when you were growing up?

I was surprised by his question. I told him how wonderful my Mom had decorated that house. She planted flowers and a huge garden.  I shared how great it was to walk down to the river to fish any time we wanted. We had pigs and chickens and a pony named Silver to ride, and a hillside where we found shark teeth fossils right there on our property. We had acres to play on and we even discovered and old dump site from probably a hundred years ago on the property…oh the treasures we dug up from there. I remember an old brown whisky jug we found.

For a kid it was paradise…I didn’t feel poor for a minute. Hardly any of my friends were so blessed to have a pony to ride, the whole river to fish just steps away, and a Dad who liked to take his kids fishing. Autumn there was glorious too, all those yellow cottonwoods. We even had fruit trees and a walnut tree.  Heaven on earth.

Maybe we were poor by the world’s standards but my folks did a great job of making what we had seem wonderful. My mother made holidays magic. Looking back, I now know that she worked her buns off to make it special for us. I wonder if I even appreciated all her hard work. I don’t think I even realized it was her. I have thanked her many times as an adult but I don’t know if I did as a child.

I suppose that anyone who looked at the 5 homes we lived in from the time we moved Cañon City when I was in second grade to when I graduated high school 10 years later might think we were poor. But we didn’t know we were. We had food and parents that loved us and in my book that makes a person rich.

So take heart in these tough economic times. If you are feeling like you aren’t able to provide all the things you would like to for your kids…it is probably better for them anyway.

Just love them and spend time with them and do bunches of things together and they will grow up feeling rich. And while you are at it introduce them to JESUS and they truly will never be poor.

I once heard a story about a wealthy man who took his son to their “poor” cousin’s house to show him how blessed he was to be rich. After the visit the father asked his son what he thought. The son said I see what you mean Dad. We have a swimming pool but they have a river that runs forever. We have a fenced yard and they have the woods and acres and acres to run in. We have a big house and they have a big barn full of animals for pets while we have one dog. They really are rich Dad. Thanks for showing me.

One of my Mom’s signature lines while I was growing up was Bloom Where You are Planted and another was When Life Gives You Lemons~Make Lemonade. She had them posted in our home, but more than that she lived them.

 

I guess it is all about perceptions.