Jeff's Missions Trip to Portugal

It's an honor once again to be selected to be keyboardist for the Metro Big Band's Missions Outreach to Portugal.

Project Objective: Since the Metro Big Band under the direction of Camp Kirkland has been to Portugal a few times, the respect for this group has also grown. The group will hold concerts in cooperation with local churches who are church planting to give the projects more visibility in these communities. There will be time for workshops with local musicians as we are trying to begin a community orchestra among local churches. Concerts in public venues will also help the local IMB missionaries as they try to make in-roads in local communities.

Project Highlights: Prayer walking will target neighborhoods, when possible, before concerts. Interacting with local musicians (mostly students) through workshops and concerts will help new church plants to build relationships in their communities.

It will be an honor getting to know Portugal’s diverse people, the culture and how we can support them. The cost for this Music Mission Project is $3,090 and includes air and ground transportation, accommodations, breakfast, insurance, Project Development, entrance fees and a GMP Travel Leader.

I am continuing to reach my goal and I’m so grateful for all of you as you may consider helping me raise all the funds needed in this very unique missions endeavor.

Three ways you can give:

1. Go directly to the Global Missions page, and select “Jeff Duffield” 

in the
"Participant" drop down box menu. 

 

2. Send a check to “Jeff Duffield” with “Global Missions” in the memo to:


Jeff Duffield
1307 Westlawn Blvd. #1001
Murfreesboro, TN 37128

OR USE PAYPAL!

 

 

Fall 2019

 
The Fall challenge of 2019 - sharing, laughing and encouraging, never ever grows old. It goes way beyond the music, the humor, and what happens on stages or platforms. >> Performers, singers, speakers, preachers, communicators, connectors broadcasters -- let's ALL take on the urgency of being nothing more than a loudspeaker filled with the anointing of the gospel. That is MY mission; that is the call. Bring it on! 
For more info on each event, click here.

Valued Highly

What’s your net worth? I guaran-darn-tee you—your earthly assets will never determine your value. God’s formal promise assures us in writing) that certain conditions will be fulfilled, especially the healing of a broken heart. That’s His promise of quality and durability; the assurance of intrinsic value is placed upon you. You are His prized possession. #embracethis #youarevalued #heseesyou #undone #lent #fast

The Slightest Things

Out of the mouths of those who soon realize, there’s more to life, comes the greatest disappointment: Fame and fortune does not bring happiness. In my journey of downsizing and minimalist living, I’ve also been under conviction, that I can do more.....with less. How I approach new opportunities of speaking, writing books and making music is also being tested and tried. Minimalism is not a radical life style. It forces you to think about what’s really important. What I put on my merchandise table at my events, is even under deep scrutiny. What do women/men really need? What is the truth as to why I sell my books and music? We recently “test-marketed” a concept that gave our audiences a chance to freely take my book and CDs. No price tag. No minimum payment. Take them even if you have no money; give them away. Ironically, people handed us more money as an offering or donation, than what we would have charged for each item. Doubled. It’s the “value system” at work. Is what I have to offer in ministry, a value to the listener? I hope so. And maybe because the Duffields are living minimally, people take notice.... taking note too that the more we value time with our family, friends and churches around the globe — instead of things — the more effective we can be. It translates. It takes a major form of vulnerability to present yourself in ministry as only needing what God provides. But I’m there. “And My God will provide ALL my needs according to His riches in glory.” I recently had two Columbia jackets stolen. Gone. And I found a way to stay warm with another coat that I had in the back of the closet. I’m content with that one.

inHERitance Living Slides From Sue's "Dancing Queen" Conferences

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She Put the Fun in Functional!

The last Monday of the month of January is considered to be "National Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day!" What a rejoicing day for this abnormal crazy - who will celebrate the strangest things in life! "The primary purpose of bubble wrap is to protect fragile items either in shipping or storage. People also get enjoyment from popping the bubbles in bubble wrap..", says the article. No duh. The popping  of the bubbles is more than enjoyment, it's pure ecstasy as far as I'm concerned. Our UPS Store here in town has a huge roll of that "plastic sealed air" out in the open. It must be three feet tall and three feet wide. I really do have to restrain myself from attacking it.

Today, I finished packing away some lingering fragile Christmas dishes (don't judge, I know it's Jan. 28th), and of course I wrapped them in bubble wrap. I was honoring the day without knowing it! I had to step on a few sheets, just to hear that "pop, snap - crack", and now I feel so relaxed and stress-free. LOL.

So, truthfully, bubble wrap is both functional and "fun" at the same time. Right? Right. It really does describe me when it comes to what I do for a living. It's pretty cool that "fun" is in the word functional too. It's almost like it's a license for me to be fully sanctioned, official, useful and practical, but also having a merry-making, entertaining time.

In The Humor of Christ, Elton Trueblood argued, "There are numerous passages (in scripture) . . . which are practically incomprehensible when regarded as sober prose, but which are luminous once we become liberated from the gratuitous assumption that Christ never joked. . . . Once we realize that Christ was not always engaged in pious talk, we have made an enormous step on the road to understanding."

I am serious....serious about conveying to all, that living for Jesus is serious business; to be His eternal image-bearer. I love the humorous, satirical sting when Jesus said “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness..” (Matthew 23:27) The Pharisees and scribes needed some serious bubble wrap therapy, I'm thinking. Their neatly packaged rules and rituals needed releasing.

And how about this for some Jesus-comedic-relief - He told the religious leaders they were completely blind by missing the whole point of being a God-follower: “You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” (Matthew 23:24). Now that's funny. Straining out a gnat would have been hard work for anyone—but impossible for the blind. And what could be more ridiculous than swallowing a camel? Hilarious. This strange and pithy statement undoubtedly caused laughter to  erupt, and possibly even a smirk by the Son of God.

Jesus put the "fun" in functional in those instances, delivering truth while tuning them up. So, I'll wrap this up by saying, "For those of us who are full of hot air, step and pounce on all those air bubbles and release the tension, the tautness and pressure - and dance on, my friend! Set yourself free from religious bondage - it's National Bubble Wrap Day!" (and that's a wrap..)

August Devotion

#AugustDevotion 🏖 My thoughts always turn to how the sun, sea, sand and warm temperatures (to me) are pure reflections of God and His inner workings within me. Approaching my 63rd birthday soon, and I don’t quite know how that all happened. In my heart and brain, I’m still that awkward lanky-frolicking master pinball player, stubbing my toes on uneven boards of the boardwalk. I can still hear and feel the ocean and salt in my ears. I am grateful for God’s protection over the decades, (like an SPF of 1 million) but I’m even more grateful and humbled that God gave me some pretty special kids. They’re adulting now, and I live vicariously through them, but who would know — that the sand never really leaves your toes?! Their kid-voices still resonate in your head! Thank you Lord, for not withholding any good thing from me. And when the tumultuous waves of aging hit the shore and I must run to keep from being knocked to the sand, thank you again, Lord, for your promise of being my eternal shield and shade. #instaphoto #instadevo #beachlife #beachumbrella #adulting #thefutureisnow My photo: #SeaIsleCityBeach 7/2016

We Held Hands

The man holding my hand on the left is my Pop Pop Link. He was born on January 29th, 1904. We are walking 7th Street in Salem, New Jersey around 1957. My Pop Pop holding my hand was my favorite. Later, as he grew older, he was stricken with dementia, and it was my turn to hold his hand. Last week, while parking my car at #Costco, I noticed an elderly man crying and stumbling while walking, trying to navigate cars in the parking lot. He caught my eye. I followed him for a few minutes, then stopped my car and approached him. “Hi sir. Are you lost?” (with broken English he says — “I’m lost. I can’t find my wife.”) So I say very calmly, “It’s okay. We’ll find her.” I reached out my hand and for the next forty minutes we searched for her - inside Costco, all around the cars, and in and out of the building. We finally just sat and talked. He told me about his daughters, his Romanian descent and his love of Cadillacs. “Oh, I love Cadillacs too. Do you have a Cadillac?” (His eyes lit up like stars! He then shouted, “I remember! I have a blue Cadillac!” So I stood up from the bench and said, “Alexandru?? (I think that’s his name) Let’s go look for your car.” We started to walk, and THIS time - he grabbed MY hand and said, “I see it! I see it!” And sure enough, at the exact time we got to his navy blue Cadillac, his wife arrived with her cart. I hugged Alexandru, told his wife what had happened (she said she ordered him to stay in the car while she shopped—not a good thing). So then I merrily skipped off to go buy a moose-sized bottle of Fish Oil. After all, that’s the whole reason you go to Costco, right? Yep. To buy quantity discounts of all good things, but some things you really don’t need.....but then, just maybe even help a new friend — but holding hands is a must. My take is:
1️⃣ Be aware.
2️⃣ Be willing to help, and ask calming questions.
3️⃣ Call local authorities and First Responders if you see someone who is lost.
4️⃣ Take the time to see through and problem-solve.
5️⃣ Smile and walk away feeling good about yourself, when you take the time to help. ❤️ “I miss you, Pop Pop, but I saw you today in Alexandru. We held hands.” #eldercare #dementia #dementiaawareness #seniorcare #alzheimers

Voice!

Remember the days in many U.S. churches where this was how the week’s Sunday #worshipset list was announced? Yeah. Those days... No glitzy social media promotion announcing the “set list”. No drama or worship war with the band on stage. We actually held a Hymn book. Congregants sang, and actually heard themselves sing. Sundays felt more like community than a Broadway show. And you never heard people say (to the pastor, as they exited) “Wow. That worship team ‘killed’ it today.”

Now, before you get your pants twisted in a knot and think I’ve fallen off an archaic cliff, I’m VERY excited when MUSIC is part of #contemporaryworship. The key word there is #music. Remember: WE (the #boomers) were the first to introduce the “new” worship band form back in the early 70s. So, I’m #allin with real music that edifies, encourages, and is both vertical & horizontal in form. But something burns deep within me shouting, “I’m less interested in your form, or supposed finesse, or intense #worshipband rehearsals (where, God forbid, there would be a move of God —changing the set list in the actual “performance”, as some say). I travel to over 150 churches a year or more, with a vast differential of traditions, culture, style, mood, mission—with mega-music done well, to minimal music emphasis done marginally, to some with very limited musicianship.

But all of us —in the seats or pews —are crying out for the same thing: Let everybody sing! Let the walls be filled with voices! Let’s be less impressed with style, and hunger more for Holy Spirit-filled anointing in our music. While in Haiti, watching young orphans sing till they were exhausted and out of breath with euphoria, reminds me again, “This has nothing to do with state of the art sound systems, theatrical PowerPoint or commercialized songs that are limited. This is God's child, using her very first instrument to praise her God. Her. Voice. “Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises!”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭47:6‬ ‭NLT‬‬
I’m returning to my roots for 2018 —lifting MY voice, to Lift HIS Name. #worshipleader to #worshipper #hymnsandspiritualsongs #EVERYBODYSING

Sole-savin'

Thanks to TEVA® for making such a durable and long-lasting sandal. I've been able to trek in these things for over nine thousand miles, I figure. My calculations are correct since they've scaled mountains, rail trails, hiking paths, state parks, rainy streets, as well as muddy roads in Bermuda, Mexico, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Philippines, Haiti and Malaysia, and even New Jersey! They are at least twelve years old and are simply my go-to foot-gear for everything rocky, messy, difficult and disgusting.

On missions trips they survive trudging through a human waste terrain of filth I can't even describe or care to. I feel sorry for them, actually, as I hose them down before packing them in a zip-lock bag for the plane ride home. I don't normally talk to shoes but I do recall saying out loud, "You got me through another difficult road, Tevas.. I apologize for what you had to endure."

Once while camping, I left them outside the tent and some crazed critter dragged one of the sandals to a wooded area. I was determined to find that right Teva, and hopping hilariously on my left Teva, I did! There are teeth marks permanently imbedded in the front of the sandal to remind me of that weird episode. They also survived icky algae and water-logged leaves that find their way every year at the bottom of my pool. Slimy things have never been a favorite to feel, so wearing them as I submerge gives me the comfort and security I need. It never occurs to me that slime and creepy things could gather on TOP of my feet -- hey, as long as the bottom of my tootsies are safe, I'm good.

To say that I've got my money's worth out of these is an understatement. The irony is when I opened the box twelve years ago or so, I noticed that there were two left shoes. Bummer. And since they were a gift, I didn't have the receipt. So I contacted Teva and they sent me a brand new pair. A right one and a left one. Matching. New. Pretty. Nice.

But now they are severely worn, with faded straps and fuzz in the velcro. I can't part with them. Ever. Too many memories; too many faithful miles of protection while sharing the gospel on missions trips. I glued the bottom with super glue to prevent the spongy plastic from coming apart. They're good for another nine thousand miles, I think, if my feet can keep up with them.

When you simply can't part with something because it just has too many memory-bank moments, take notice. There's something sacred about rugged worn-out shoes anyway. And if they could talk, mine would probably say, "Whew. If we had any idea where you were gonna take us, we would have stayed in that box, hoping someone with a less aggressive life-style would buy us. But since we ventured with you and you keep entrusting us with the power to protect you, we're all in. Your sole's prepared."

Ephesians 6:15 "For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared." (NLT)

Scrounger!

“One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish…”. Or in my current sphere, “One fish, two fish, Sue ate, bad fish!” Yikes and yes. I ate bad fish last month on the road somewhere. Now I’m blue, or at least I was. Somewhere in the process of the quest for good seafood, I hooked an uninvited parasitic microsporidia. Sounds worse than what it is, but still, it’s knocked me for a loop. “Green eggs and ham woulda been better, Sam-I-Am.” And my liver would have stood up and applauded.

Seuss-isms aside, I am grateful for every healthy ingested morsel of food, but, as I was told (progressing countries aside) not all prepared food in U.S. restaurants are “clean”… Hmmm. Ya think? Shoot. I dined in Haiti many times, plus Philippines and other foreign countries, but never came home this sick. Thankfully a dear friend suggested I see her daughter who is a homeopathic guru. She has me on a biological warfare regimen of natural remedies. As with everything I do and everything I am, I seem to always do it royally but always portray the humor in it all. And maybe that’s part of the healing process too. So, don’t feel sorry for me. I’m not “floundering." I'm actually laughing. 

I went to the Container Store in Nashville to buy a soft-pack mini-duffle to keep all this homeopathic chemistry set in one location. I also have charts and graphs to keep me on schedule. One of the surprises to all this is how disciplined I CAN be when I want to be. Hmmm. Amazing. Treating the cause and not just the symptom takes longer. Much longer. One friend suggested I should check myself into a clinic and have them just flush out my system over a period of five days, with (get this) …salt water. Then I’d for sure grow gills. Instead, I’ll be the best home patient, pretend I’m feeling okay with a stiff upper lip and just take lots of naps. Bland food has been my best friend too these days. “Stay away from spicy and rich foods, Sue.” Yup. Doin’ that. “Did you eat sushi? Is that how you got this “thing, Sue?” Nope. I stay far away from raw fish. Trying to pinpoint the exact culprit has been a task. “Was it the shrimp? The grouper? The oysters? The Maryland Crab? (Oh, God no - not the Maryland Crab!! Surely it wasn’t THAT… Maryland crab is the heavenly nectar of ocean/bay sustenance of life!) 

In the mean time, I just pray health over my pancreas and adrenals, that they just totally ignore that irritating parasite and just go about doing their job. Parasites in fish are a common natural occurrence, I’m told. Especially farm-raised fish, which is why I stay away from Tilapia. I seriously ask before ordering, “Is it wild-caught?” I’m waiting for the next smart aleck waitress to tell me, “Yes ma’am, we “wildly” caught it at the farm.” And as it turns out - I literally “bought the farm” in my love for fish and paid a huge consequence for it. 

“So, Sue, will you still eat fish once you’re over this thing?” Good question. I actually ate some shrimp last night… and so far, I’m doing okay. I’ll continue to stay far away from farm-raised and stick to wild-caught. And since my mental state needs adjustment too, I find great therapy in name-calling this parasite. 

“You no good creek-chubsucker dog-fishin' son-of-a-mackeral summer flounder fluke eatin’ blow fish yellow-bullheaded sea troutin’ large mouth bass-actin’ Dolly Varden cusk of a scrounger! You ain’t messin’ with me!” 

All said, "In Jesus' name", of course. 

The Patty Duke Flu

     


     The stiffness in my back and over-all body ache isn't fun. I've been on this decrepit bed trip way too long this week. I'm developing this weird kind of ceiling-stare that's quite mesmerizing. I'm counting how many rotations the ceiling fan makes in thirty seconds. There's also a one-second delay of sound broadcast between the television downstairs and the one in my room upstairs.. Both TV's are on AntennaTV® (yeah, we got rid of cable) and are tuned into "The Patty Duke Show". Both TV's are out of audio/video sync with each other and they do this funky echo throughout the house as if Patty and Cousin Cathy are on an excursion inside the Luray Caverns....with ceiling fans.
     Jeff says when I'm delirious with fever-speak, I converse with my mother and Annie. I also have an incoherent dialogue with a supposed hospital nurse. I carry a complete conversation with someone else for an hour but I have no clue who it is. I ask the nurse for a styrofoam cup with ice chips. "That's what my mother always asks for," I say out loud.
      Jeff graciously sits next to the bed in a rocking chair. I don't know how, but he contains his rolling laughter like a champ. Finally my fever breaks a little and I'm back to normal, whatever that is. And thus begins the recap of the night.
     This amusement park of up and down common flu vs. stomach flu symptoms, with Patty Duke and the ceiling fan, has been the norm for me since last Saturday. Let's just list them all, for giggles and guffaws. A dot signifies the ones visiting me this week. The ones without the dot, thank you Jesus, decide to take their visitation elsewhere.

1. Fever •
2. Muscle pain •
3. Fatigue •
4. Cough •
5. Breathing difficulty
6. Sneezing
7. Loss of Appetite •
8. Headache •
9. Nasal Congestion
10. Ear pain •
11. Cramps •
12. Stomach pain •
13. Nausea •
14. Vomiting •
15. Diarrhea •

     "Did you get a flu shot, Sue?" I've been asked this about fifty times.
      No, for some reason, I decided to take on the new and improved pneumonia shot this year instead.
     "Well, no wonder," my friend says. "This strand is awful. Schools are shutting down. Influenza cases like this always happen when there's not enough of frigid cold to kill it all off." So I've heard.
     My grandmother used to say that all the time. Cold winter kills the flu. Warm winters make everybody sick. So instead we're gifted with a few nice days of 70º and I daringly frolic through the park mid-flu-week and walk about fifty feet, then collapse on the bench. I call Jeff to come pick me up in the car. And just when I think I feel better and attempt to do some normal stuff, I inevitably end up plopping down on the bed, counting the rotations of the ceiling fan again. This time I count in Spanish. "Uno, dos, trés..."
     One of the things I preach the most is: "God often uses life's stops... to keep us going." I know my schedule is crazy; I know I push my body sometimes to the limit. But I'm also amazed how God allows the stoppages to refuel me for future and profitable use down the road.
     Psalm 119:133 says, "Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me." And then there's this from Proverbs 16:9 - "We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps."
    Two weeks off to enjoy being home; to reacquaint myself with cleaning, cooking, resting and preparing.  But instead I become best friends with Patty Duke "Lane" and her cousin Cathy. One luxury of being still (besides indulging in retro television) is having time to pray. Praying urgently and intentionally for friends who are reaching out to me right now is an extraordinary gift. No distractions. No control over what I can or can't do - just sincere, focused prayer - for others, on my iPad and computer. This has been the best Rx I could ask for.
     For those who know me and follow my words, you know. Praying for others will bring healing to your own soul and your own body. I've seen it time and time again.
     So I laugh to myself when I think that maybe time off or "time-out" like this would be great to freshen up on my conversational Español. A great idea to help kill the time as I get over this flu. And as soon as I think that, I hear Patty Lane say to her cousin Cathy, "You speak Latin? The only latin I know is Paul Anka!"
     Bless you, my twin-cousin-friend, if you too have had a tough go of it this winter. Remember: "Let no iniquity have dominion over you." And count your blessings while your ceiling fan rotates. You're one step closer to getting better.
Let's sing together:
 "They laugh alike, they walk alike,
At times they even talk alike -
You can lose your mind..."

But we won't! :)

Watermeloncholy No More

Summer. Who’s holding on for dear life like I am?? I do this every year, actually. I anticipate and dream of the crisp fall nights, but I also can’t let go of the hot sun, my rare poolside sitting and… watermelon.

Watermelon. Candy fruit. That’s what it really is. Mark Twain was quoted, “To taste a watermelon is to know what the angels eat.” I wholeheartedly agree.

Now, conversely, to eat a bad watermelon, is to know what the devil eats. Seriously, I’ve been known to spit out a mutilated slice of hopeful delicious delight, if my mouth is offended in any way. I gag and heave, making weird sounds. There’s nothing worse than a bad watermelon. And you can’t always tell, just by the visual. Some of the most red-acious ones may not always be the sweetest. That’s the irony.

There’s a thousands-year-old breeding history of how we’ve arrived to this red-on-the-inside-green-on-the-outside delectable delight. There’s also completely boring rhetoric that I won’t waste your time reading, but it took many years for the watermelon to take on its familiar red hue. That’s because the gene for the color red is paired with the gene that determines the sugar content. As watermelons were bred to become even sweeter (because that’s what we really want), their interior gradually changed color…and taste. Red = Sweet. Hmmm.

Finally, a fruit fit for the angels! It took several thousand years to get to this specifically glorious hybrid. Today, 100 million tons of watermelon are grown annually worldwide. All shapes, sizes, colors and, uh, tastes. 

I am a watermelon snob. Like I said, I won’t waste my time or my taste buds on a bad one. But if I find one that is perfect, I’ve been known to eat the whole melon in one sitting! (Although now, I prefer the pre-packaged kind that’s already been sliced and diced into handy little finger-food containers.) Yes, I’ve even become that lazy….”Please, someone - please cut it for me!”

I also hear the proclamation of scripture here from Psalm 119:103, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Our words are known to be both sweet and sour at times. That’s just the reality. But the red hue of my Savior’s blood is useful for the repentance of sin and degrading speech. “His blood will make our consciences pure from useless acts so we may serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14 NCV)

Nor more useless acts. No more wasting time ruminating over the ‘bad watermelon’ of life. Move on. Serve the Living God who delights in us, by giving us His son Jesus as a sacrifice. Because the blood of Christ has redeemed us, we are now new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and by His blood we are freed from sin to serve the living God, to glorify Him, and to enjoy His sweet presence forever.

How sweet is that? And maybe to adjust Mark Twain a little bit here, I think it’s best said, “To know Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross is to know what the angels know.” And that’s pretty sweet. Red = Sweet. Amen.

 

A Daughter-Land Awaits Her King



I’ve always loved being called a daughter. And even though my parents are gone, I still am known to refer to myself as Al and Naomi Beatty’s daughter. It’s a statement of honor, remembrance, and high esteem. In while I love being called wife, mother, sister, friend (and sometimes goofball!), I’m overwhelmingly fond of the royal name-call of daughter. In the Gospel of Matthew, the King coming on the foal of a donkey was an exact fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” A daughter-land awaiting her King. Despite the constant rebellion of the daughter of Zion (Israel) against her Father, He promises to restore her and present her with a Deliverer-King in the form of Jesus. “Daughter” implies that God is a loving father. He loves His people, even when they reject Him. By using the metaphor “daughter of Zion,” God shows how He felt for the rebellious Israelites: frustrated, angry, but always with a hopeful eye to the future when the relationship would be restored. He could once again return to them and welcome them into His arms (Zechariah 2:10). On this Palm Sunday of my sixtieth year, this daughter, too, awaits her King. And even when she has gravely disappointed Him, hurt Him or hurt others with a spiritual veneer of positioning or prideful justification, He returns to her again and again. I welcome you, Jesus. This daughter jumps for joy with grateful anticipation of your arrival. “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord – the King of Israel!”

A Green Miracle

     On Christmas Eve, Annie and I spent a few hours in the kitchen baking Mom Mom Duffield’s candy cane cookies. It wasn’t as easy as the recipe suggested, but we tackled it and made a huge amount of red and white batter. We forgot to add the granular sugar in one batch, but then couldn't remember if we added it along with the powdered sugar in the second batch. It didn’t matter. The batter tasted great anyway. And the secret was that crazy almond extract. And even better, we once again possessed that Betty Crocker “Cooky Book”, thanks to Amazon and Annie’s search.

     Before Thanksgiving this year, I lost one of my pretty green peridot and diamond earrings somewhere in or outside this house. Before Mom Mom passed away in 2003, she gave me those earrings and I was particularly irritated at myself for losing one now, after all these years. I wrapped the lone earring in a tissue and carefully stored it in my jewelry box. So, getting ready that Christmas Eve morning, I glanced at the rolled tissue in my jewelry box. I said out loud, “God - this would surely be a great day to find that earring, considering Annie and I are gonna bake “her” cookies from the Cooky Book tonight.” 

     We laughed as we tried to roll out the dough, the white and red, twisting and pinching the strands. Our candy cane shapes weren’t too pretty; more like a fat flat Peter Max creation, but they sure did smell and taste good. I decided to make the leftover batch green and turn them into wreaths. Much easier to roll out and bend in a circle. We laughed and thought, “Mom Mom, no wonder you were in the kitchen for days making these things!” My wreaths baked up to look more like monster truck tires. 

      This was the first year too for me to put lights on my outdoor shrubs around our porch here in Tennessee. And it’s also the first Christmas without our Pop Geo and brother Wayne. Lots and lots of thoughts and emotions for sure. I took a break from the hot kitchen to catch a glimpse of that awesome full moon. Outside on the front yard while I walked across the grass, I saw something shining and reflecting from the lights. It was flickering as if it was on fire. I bent down to see what it was, and behold - there was my earring! My green birthstone diamond peridot earring that Mom Mom and Pop Geo gave me. I ran into the house and shouted, “I can’t believe this! I found my earring!” 

      The likelihood that I’d drape Christmas lights on my shrubs this year? Rare. The chances that I’d go outside to see the full moon that night? It’s possible. And the change of the cookie dough to green? Crazy. And the reflection of a flickering green twinkle light revealing my treasured green peridot earring in a sea of green grass? A miracle. A surreal green miracle. Thank you, Mom Mom, for smiling upon us and thank you, God, for showing me how to pay attention, again.

 

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Jesus TOOK the Wheel!

 

 


Trying to drive in the glaring westerly sun on the annoying construction-coned southbound lanes of the North East Extension's Pennsylvania Turnpike, is just about as irritating as reading this l-o-n-g drag-on opening sentence. But I did it on Sunday, and I feel very accomplished. Each time my eyes would start to drift into the shaded eyelid half moon stare, my body would jolt with a surge of adrenaline. "Time to stop...", I said out loud, to no one, but me. "If I can just find a safe place to stop, I'll put my head back for a few minutes and I'll be fine."

And that's what I did. At the rest area. For about two hours.

This type of exhaustion follows every time there's an out-pouring of God moments at a thirty-six hour marathon called a women's retreat. And this time was no exception. About one hundred and eighty women gathered at the beautiful Tuscarora Inn near the Delaware River in Mt. Bethel, PA to experience a hopeful encounter with Jesus and their girlfriends. Some came as far as Maine, Connecticut, Ohio and mostly from Jersey, NYC and Pennsylvania. I came from a history of speaking for over two hundred retreats in about a decade. But this one was particularly special on many fronts.

Women weren't expecting to laugh so much. That seemed to be the eternal conversation starter. Women didn't expect that laughter would do its healing as much as it did. This was talked about over and over. Women enjoyed the fact that their fallible and imperfect speaker was relevant and real, and not so super-sized spiritually, but walking this same journey as they. I heard this over and over. Women, who at first fought as to whether to even attend, thanked me because they just weren't expecting this kind of thing.

What "IS" this kind of thing? The Church of the Lutheran Brethren Women's Retreat covered a vast array of denominations. I mean, it wasn't just CLB women who attended. Like a smorgasbord of culture and beliefs, there were some that came just to have fun. Perfect. They're exactly who I prayed would come. And this "kind of thing" was setting the atmosphere so the Holy Spirit would show up.

The topic and message of the weekend, as invasive as it can get, was called "Serving from the Second Chair". It was my fourth time presenting this message. But again, I felt the inward pangs of conviction and scrutiny, "How can I lead from the second chair, when it seems all I do is war against being first or wanting to be first in everything?"

One young woman named Rebecca reminded me. "Sue, I didn't want to come. I struggled to make it to the first session. But I stayed. I made myself stay. And now I realize that God had something miraculous for me to experience."

So, we wipe away tears and we store up the laughter, and praise God for an encounter that will probably go down as an all-time fave. Many women found Jesus as their Savior. Young women poured their hearts out to God. And the seasoned saints were reminded that our God is real. We laughed, we had spontaneous dance (like a Go-Go girl!) and we begged our heavenly Father to hold us accountable to Him and to each other. One woman expressed, "I really liked the weekend. It definitely wasn't what I was expecting. I'm still learning about this God stuff."

I don't know how everyone drove home that afternoon without passing out! But thankfully, it looks like we all made it home safely. As I awoke from the power nap off of 476, I laughed to myself as I saw signs of bone-tired effects. My hands were still on the steering wheel! I popped them off with a firecracker release and raised them to the air and said out loud, "Dear...God! I even try to drive in my sleep!"

Thank you, Darci. You blessed me.
Bless you, Rebecca. Go with God!
Also posted over at SUEbiquitous!

Chew On This One


Our small town high school football games were always the highlight of the fall. It was a chance for everyone—no matter what age—to come out and support the kids, enjoying both the camaraderie and competition of the surrounding schools. It was also a chance for students, like me at the time, to check out the other guys from neighboring schools. You can imagine my disappointment when my girlfriend called and said, “My mom says we have to bring my baby sister with us to the game.”

Great. This was just what two teenagers needed to spoil a potential fun afternoon— babysitting a four-year-old at a packed football stadium! I had visions of her whining, crying, begging for snacks and killing our dream of checking out the boys on the football team! I panicked about what would happen if—worst case scenario—we lost her or someone stole her!

My fun-filled opportunity turned sour at about half time. The toddler kept complaining that I was holding her hand too tightly. She had to go to the potty at least four times. We sat on the lower level of the bleachers, but still fought the fear that she’d slip off the back of them and tumble to the ground. I was a wreck! The only good thing happening was that our team was winning. With every touchdown, there was elation and screams of joy— fans standing, jumping and cheering. For one second, when we were captivated in the euphoria of the moment, I glanced down beside me and noticed the toddler was gone! My heart stopped. My friend started screaming her name, while I was suddenly translated into FBI mode, feverishly looking underneath the bleachers. Her mother is going to kill us, I thought to myself.

About five minutes later, we found the little girl at the far end bottom of the bleachers. She sat on the ground, face filthy, grinning from ear to ear, and was chewing a wad of something rather large. I grabbed her and picked her up and said, “What in the world is in your mouth?” She responded proudly, “Gum!” When I inquired about where she got it, she replied, quite happily, “Underneaf da seats!”

I was cured for a long time from ever agreeing to take a toddler to a football game! My friend and I ran to the ladies room, washed the girl’s mouth out with water and soap, and prayed that God would somehow protect her from whatever disease and germs she had ingested “Underneaf da seats!”

I wish you could have seen her cute little face as she proudly relayed the story of the treasure she had found that day. She had no idea how deadly that little act of “bubblegum search and rescue” could have been for her. Thank goodness, she never got sick!

Here are some fun things to “chew” on:
1. Taking a baby or toddler to a football game or a large venue with lots and lots of people will insure that you will be “underneaf” stress and pressure for sure!
2. Stay “underneaf” the protection of God. Pray daily for the covering of His Holy Spirit—in your coming and going, and especially in difficult situations when you are totally unaware!
3. Live “underneaf” the grace of God. Carol Kent’s book, Between A Rock and A Grace Place, is an amazing look at how we can discover divine places amidst the tough spots in life.
4. Walk “underneaf” the knowledge that there is no fear in Christ. He is our provider and our strong tower. He is our safe place! I guess we could say, we’re “underneaf” His wings!

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10).

(Originally posted on Laugh Lines, click here! (The Women's AG website) Also, more on SUEbiquitous! too!

Doggy Golf


As I walk the park this morning, I see a young couple trying to play disc golf. Their terrier thinks he is part of the game too. I laugh as I watch. Every time "dad" or "mom" try to throw the disc towards the goal, the dog catapults into a rocket run and retrieves the disc back to their starting position. They keep yelling, "No, Butch! NO! Put it down! Butch! Sit down!"

Now, I'm no dog obedience trainer and I'm especially not an expert on training dogs for sport, but I had to chuckle at this escapade. What did they expect, when their little furry child isn't on a leash? And for goodness sake, this is like heaven for a dog. Of course he thinks he's part of the game!

I'm assuming they think it's unfair to put Butch on a leash. So they let him run around. But the constant yelling throughout the park today, sets another thought in motion for me: "You take your dog to the park, you throw little round discs all around and you expect your dog to not be engaged?" Weird.

Butch saw me as I made the final lap and made a dash for me. Of course, mom and dad are yelling, "Butch - get over here! Butch - NO!" But me being the dog lover, I just bend down and put my hand out as if to say, "It's OK, Butch, I understand you." He sits in front of me and I pet him for a minute. I talk to him, "I'm sorry Butch. I get you. Mom and Dad take you to this awesome park and you're not aloud to be a dog. Just take it in stride, Butch. They'll come around some day."

Parenting is a tough thing. And we all make mistakes and do dumb stuff. But a favorite memory of mine happened when I insisted that my kids NOT play in the mud and the rain, even after letting them play outside. I remember yelling, "Get out of that mud puddle! Don't you dare get dirty!" Yet, I still let them play outside after the storm. Finally, my friend said (since we were at her house), "Oh, just let them get dirty. Who cares. They're having fun. And they'll never forget the day their mother said they could frolic in the filth."

She was right. My kids never forgot that.
Let a kid be a kid. And for sure - let a dog be a dog!

Maybe I'll go back to the park and rescue Butch from his conflicting mixed-messaged parents. I have plenty of new mulch in my backyard he can roll around in. :)

Extended Warranty



I don’t think much about warranties on things. I usually turn down extended warranties just because they are so over priced and not necessary. I did succumb to Apple Care for my iPhone and computer, but that’s only because I’m such a klutz. My technology gear goes with me everywhere I go. So if I fall down steps with my iPad flying or drop a few iPhones in toilets, I’m covered.

But the logic of today hits me like a ton of bricks. I’m debating whether to invest in a really good smoothie-maker machine. You know the one. The one that costs like 3 billion dollars (well, not really), but its claims are stellar. This particular model has a built in blade guarantee for seven years. Seven years. Yes, sev-en.

Forty years ago as a newlywed and homemaker, a seven year warranty claim and bragging rights of being the best of the best smoothie maker (or blender, as they once were called) wouldn’t impress. I mean, really? Who cares about that long of a warranty? Just buy another one or a cheap one when it breaks. I also wouldn’t care, to tell you the truth. But this shift known as “my sixtieth year” (shocking as it is), makes me think, “Wow. If I buy this, I’ll be sixty-seven by the time the warranty runs out!” Ouch.

It’s both sobering and encouraging at the same time. I even find myself thinking, like after buying our new Ford Flex back in May, “Maybe this will be the last new car I’ll need for the road . Great extended warranty and mileage coverage.” Never thought this way before..

These are all new feelings, new territory and a new queasiness, actually. The day you start thinking ahead and predicting where you’ll be in the equation to “how much time do I have left?”, or “what kinds of funds will I have later on?” puts me in a more strategic way of thinking.

Webster’s definition of “guarantee” is: A formal promise or assurance (typically in writing) that certain conditions will be fulfilled. I love that. And here it is in writing, according to Ephesians 1:14 (The Message)

“It’s in Christ that you, once you heard the truth and believed it (this Message of your salvation), found yourselves home free—signed, sealed, and delivered by the Holy Spirit. This signet from God is the first installment on what’s coming, a reminder that we’ll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.”

Talk about a perfect warranty! I didn’t have to pay for this extended guarantee either. It was already purchased for me, a gift. All I have to do is receive it in faith through Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. And the best part of this warranty is: It never runs out. It never expires. I am completely covered. And you can be too. The upgrade is simply amazing!

Summer Sarcasm

"There's always time to write your thoughts
Or "right" your thoughts", she said
For even in the worst of times
And can't get out of bed
It's great to know the sun still shines
And rain will always fall
For all we need is memes & quotes
To remind us of it all
Coma talk, and blah blah blah
Quotes we cannot live without
I guess to some will change the world
But that I highly doubt.
 It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words..
Matthew 12:36 

Doin' it kickin' & screamin'!

I've done this before. Many times, in fact. But I always know, that if you monitor or document what you eat every day, you'll see the real truth. And here's the truth: I'm not dying of hunger. I'm not "dieting"... I'm literally eating good food, healing foods, that (coupled with cardio and workouts) I'm slowily seeing the bathroom scale as a good friend. But better than the scale, it's the overall feeling of wellness. An old guy named Draper, lapped me at the walking park today (he's 75; I'm 60), but I told him it won't be long before he'll have competition!
All I can say is this: Do this. This is the day to start. Even if you've had trouble meeting your health goals before, take the time to (like the Old Testament book Habakkuk 2:2 says), "Write it down." And in our case here, post it every day on MyFitnessPal.
I have 42 pounds to go to my goal. So far, it appears that I'm losing about 8 pounds per month. And that's right on schedule. Thanks My Fitness Pal app - check my blog post there!

So, Now It's PERISCOPE!

YES, we definitely need new ways to use our already app-filled IOS or Android devices! As if we're not on our phones long enough as it is! But this one, I gotta say, is like broadcasting live from wherever you are, and followers have a chance to interact with you while your broadcasting! Crazy crazy... So, the app is only about fourteen weeks old and it's off the charts already. It's a great way to interact with your audience if you're a performer or speaker or a nut-zoid like me! Download the app today (Periscope) and find Sue Duffield... She's there doing something, I'm sure!

Periscope TV!

 

I Changed How I Pray

Ephesians 6:18

"And pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying FOR ALL THE SAINTS.”

     I studied this verse for years, not knowing really why Paul, even in his hardship and imprisonment, would say such a thing. For surely, wasn’t Paul a “saint”? And wasn’t Paul in the toughest place in his life when he said this? Of course he was. But rather than asking for believers to pray for his release or for comfort from God to detox the stress in his life, he instead instructed others to “..pray in the spirit on all occasions….and be alert….and keep on praying for all the saints.

     This one verse has revolutionized how I approach my prayer life. For years, I would (of course) pray for my needs, my kids, my husband, my ministry, my my my…..everything. And for years, I saw the hand of God be slow to answering many of these prayers. Some of our prayers are not prayers at all. They are need lists, rant lists and “to do” lists, as if God is some kind of cosmic bellboy.

     Lee Brace of the Navigators says, “Prayers in the Bible are primarily for praying and interceding for the believers. When Christ is lifted up through believers, He draws people to Himself.”

     I thought about this for quite some time. Except for Jesus teaching us “how” to pray the Lord’s Prayer, there are few scriptures that tell us how we should pray. So, for a few months I did just what Paul said to do - Pray FOR ALL THE SAINTS, that they would be equipped for duty for the cause of Christ, to fight and resist the devil and his tactics, and that by this, those around them would be drawn to Him.. I prayed and listed missionaries, pastors and ministry leaders right and left. I prayed and singled out specific Christians around the world who are on the front lines; those who literally have to choose between life and death everyday.

     Can I honestly tell you? Some of the very prayers that I had prayed for years have now been answered. That’s right. I’m telling you the truth. It’s as if God heard me, because I was interceding for His children; the ones who are spreading truth around the world. I quit praying for my needs, and made it about the needs of others. And all the while I had my focus on scripturally-sound prayers and petition, God has been answering my first prayers.

     Here’s an example: Instead of praying for my son, his new job and his relationship with Christ, I’ve been praying, (1) “Lord, thank you for the co-workers and bosses that surround my son everyday. Bless you, God, for raising up the strong Christians at his work, to be an influence on my son.” (2) “I praise you Father for my daughter. I ask in Jesus’ Name, for a strong, Christ-like man to come into her life; the one you have prepared her heart for. May you strengthen him right now, whoever and wherever he is.”

     Both prayers mention my kids, but both prayers do more than just ask God for personal reasons. I’m asking God to “equip” the saints around them, to be a hedge of protection, to bring living breathing life to the Christians that my children come in contact with every day, as a guide and spiritual influence. I never prayed like this before. And I also have to say, I’ve never seen such miraculous moves of God in my adult kids’ lives - either, ever.

 

     On this National Day of Prayer, be mindful of “how” you pray. Write it down. Ask God to “equip the saints”, to do the work of the Lord. Be ready FOR CHANGE when you change how you pray.

(written for SGNScoops online Magazine)

Special thanks to author/speaker, Cynthia Heald, who changed my life with her teachings and Bible studies.

Also on"SUEbiquitous"

Second Chair Retreat in Ocean City, NJ

Women from all over South Jersey came to share in the joy and hilarity of preparing our hearts for service. I am deeply changed by responses of so many, ranging in ages from teen to...well, let's just say... my age! Powerful words of edification were spoken. Thanks to Fairton Christian Center Women's Ministry for giving me the chance to let God use me. I'll never forget you!

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