Tuesday, June 28, 2016

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Would A Worm Go On A Walk?

For ages:  4-7

“Would a worm go on a walk, if you could lead him down the street? Would he wear his tiny tennies, if he had four worm-sized feet? Would a worm go on a walk? NO! No matter how he tries, worms weren't made for walking, and they don't like EXERCISE.” 

These are the beginning lines of the humorous and imaginative picture book, Would A Worm Go On A Walk? by Hannah C. Hall. With creative poetry, and the adorable illustrations by Bill Bolton, this sweet book will teach young children that animals are uniquely created by a loving and wise God. None of them are the same, and they are not like people, but God created them to be just the way they are. He also created people, which is His most special creation, to be just the way WE are. He loves all of His creations and, as it says in Genesis 1:31, "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good."

This would be a fun addition to anyone's home library. I don't have young children anymore, but I read this book to my teen-aged special needs daughter, and she enjoyed it. She and I both smiled at the illustrations, and laughed at the silly lines. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hannah C. Hall is the author of best-selling children’s books, including God Bless You and Good Night and God Bless Our Christmas, as well as an award-winning blog, HannahCHall.com. Hannah lives in Prairie Grove, AK with her husband, Josh, a worship pastor, and their four children.

For a chance to win a copy of this book, please fill out the entry form below. Entries will be accepted until Saturday, July 2, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. CST. One entry per mailing address. 

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor, Propeller / FlyBy Promotions, in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

10 Ways to Find Strength in the Lord

When I am praying for someone who is going through a difficult time, I often pray, “Lord, give them the strength they need to make it through this time.” While this prayer is good, and God understands what I'm asking, I have come to believe there is a better way to pray for them. I was reading some verses recently, and realized that, if we are Believers in Jesus Christ, we already have the strength we need to get us through the difficult times, because the LORD is our strength. But, just like King David in the verse below, sometimes we need to FIND that strength.
1 Samuel 30:6 - David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God. (NIV)
Instead of praying for God to give someone strength, I have now started asking, “Lord please help them FIND the strength they have (or can have) in You.” When we lose sight of our strength, the troubles of this world can easily discourage us and weigh us down. It is one of Satan’s tactics of silencing our witness for the Lord. So, when we are discouraged, we may need to change focus in order to FIND our strength once again.  

How do we FIND our strength in the Lord? 
Here are 10 ways:
1.  By trusting in Him, and not in our own understanding of things.
Proverbs 3:5 - Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. (ESV)

2.  By believing that all things work out for the best for those who love God.
Romans 8:28 - And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
3. By waiting for the Lord.
Psalm 27:14 - Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! 

4.  By praising Him. Even when things are hard. Why? Because He is our God and is worthy of our praise. Praising him, with our words and with our songs, helps us to focus on HIM and on the love and care He has shown us.
Psalm 145:3 - Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.

5.  By thinking about the things that are worthy of praise. Refuse to dwell on the negatives.
Philippians 4:8 - Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
6.  By giving thanks. You don’t have to like your circumstances, but you can choose to focus on the positive things surrounding them, and to be grateful to God for His unconditional love and care for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 - give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

7. By giving your burdens/anxiety to the Lord. Let Him carry them. You have to CHOOSE to do this. He won’t carry them for you unless you place them on His shoulders first.
1 Peter 5:7 - Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
8. By setting your mind on the things above. By realizing this is not your permanent home.
Colossians 3:2 - Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

9.  By persevering, realizing our sufferings are helping us to grow in our Christian walk.
Romans 5:3-5 - but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
10.  By running the race set before us, looking forward to the finish line.
Hebrews 12:1-2 - Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

A few more verses about our strength in the Lord:
Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Isaiah 40:29 - He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.

Isaiah 40:30-31 -  Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Psalm 46:1 - ...God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Isaiah 12:2 - “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”

Sunday, June 19, 2016

My Treasure Box

The word of the week is TREASURE
: something that is very special, important, or valuable

On my 8th birthday, I received a special gift from my dad (and I believe my brother might have helped with it, too). He made me my very own keepsake box with a hinged lid and a LOCK. It was the neatest thing. I was able to hide my special "treasures" in my box and didn’t have to worry about my friends or family taking them out without my permission. All these years later, I still have this box; and, inside of it, are some of the things from my childhood that I thought were worth keeping.
  • My name tag from one Summer when I was at Camp Good News - the Christian camp our family attended and worked at in Minnesota 
  • The tool I used to make latch-hook rugs
  • My first pair of glasses that I never liked wearing
  • A game of Jacks I played with on the front sidewalk
  • A harmonica I tried learning how to play
  • Some friendship pins that were given to me (It was the "thing to do" back then for your friends)
  • A souvenir pin from my first commercial flight - it was when Mom and I went to Washington state for my Uncle Ed's wedding.  
  • A favorite comb I used
  • A pencil collection
  • A raccoon tail I purchased as a souvenir when we went on vacation in Minnesota
  • Bubblegum trading cards from Star Wars, E.T., Gremlins, and 21 Jump Street 
  • My kindergarten hand print that hung on my wall for many years
  • My key and key chain collection 
  • The handmade wooden microphone I always loved to sing into (another gift from my dad, also for my 8th birthday)
These are sweet little treasures that I stored up as a kid. They are fun mementos to have and to look at once in awhile; but, when I think about it, I realize my true treasures are not material things (although I would find it really hard to get along well without my computer these days!), but the things that mean the most to me now are my faith in the Lord (which I hope is evident for all to see), my family, and also my memories.

I am thankful I have this memory of my dad giving this box to me. But, more than that, I am thankful  for the time he took to MAKE this box (and other little things) for me. I know he did similar things for my brother and sister. He always tried to make time for us. Even when he had a busy work schedule, we knew he would be there for us if we needed him. I am thankful for the way he took time to encourage us, prayed with us (and for us), and taught us about God’s Word and how to live our lives in a way that really matters. He taught us that life on earth is short, so we need to spend our time wisely; he taught us how to have fun and to be flexible when things don’t go as planned; and he taught us that no one is perfect, but we CAN be forgiven.

Thank you for all the things you have taught me, Dad. Thank you for your love. YOU are a treasure to me.

Happy Father's Day to you, and to all the other dads out there who are reading this!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

REVIEW & CONTEST: My Mother's Quilts

Are you a quilt-maker? I am not. I did try my hand at latch-hook rugs for a season, and also did some cross stitching. Other than that, I have never really enjoyed sewing or knitting, or anything like that. But, I do know how much time and work goes into these things, and I admire those who take the time to do it. The finished products are beautiful works of art, and it seems that most quilts usually have a story that comes with them. They are family heirlooms that can be passed down to the next generation. 

My Mother’s Quilts by Ramona Richards is a pretty little devotional book inspired by 30 family heirloom quilts, some more than 100 years old. In 60 devotionals (2 for each quilt), Ramona shares her memories and the lessons she learned from the stories behind each quilt. Each reading provides a Bible verse, a lesson with some encouragement, and a prayer at the end. The book also includes full color photographs of each of the quilts, and comes with an attached ribbon bookmark. It is an especially good find for anyone who loves quilts and the stories behind them but, even if you don't love to quilt, you can benefit from the encouragement found in the book. Here's an example from one of the lessons about the Friendship Quilt, which is featured on page 146 of the book:
"While individual worship and spiritual growth can help grow your relationship with the Lord, it is through community that we receive support and encouragement. Throughout Scripture we are encouraged to gather in His name, not only for worship, but for the strength to be had in uplifting and praying for each other."

CONTEST OFFER! You can WIN one of the quilts featured in #MyMothersQuilts by Ramona Richards. Also up for grabs: loads of other prizes including quilting hand warmers, coloring books, and 25 signed copies of Ramona’s book. Enter now! Winners will be emailed after the contest ends on June 30, 2016. Click the image below to get started!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ramona Richards is an award-winning editor, speaker, author of nine books, and a frequent contributor to devotional collections. An avid live music fan, Ramona loves Nashville, which she’s called home since she was ten. Sensing her mother was near the end of her life, Ramona documented her mother’s stories and lessons behind each family quilt. These stories form the devotions in My Mother’s Quilts. Find out more about Ramona and her books by visiting her online at ramonarichards.com.   

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Busy Week

It has been a busy week of Vacation Bible School, running errands, and taking care of our sweet, old cat, Dutchess. So, I haven't had much time to get a new "Word of the Week" post written. I am working on some new ones, and hope to have them ready for posting soon.

Have a great week!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Saying Good-bye to Our Sweet Dutchess Kitty

Our sweet Dutchess came to us 19 years ago as a 6-week old kitten. I picked out her sister, Aggie, to bring home (who died one year ago this month), and David picked out Dutchess. She was the runt of the litter, and could barely meow, but she survived and I believe she actually outlived all the others in the litter. She has been a very special part of our lives, and we are thankful to have had her as a part of our family.

1997 - Dutchess and her sister, Aggie. Dutchess is on the left.

1997 - Getting a drink from David's cup 

1998 - Playing with a shoestring 

2006 - Sitting on the Scanner. She liked it because it was warm. 

2008 - Asleep with David  

2008 - Chillin' Out with EL 

2009 - Hangin' around with Spiderman 

2015 - Asleep with Me. She loved to snuggle into our bed each night to keep warm.  

2015 - Gettin' loved by JJ 

March 2016 - Morning cuddles with David

June 10, 2016 - Enjoying the fresh air with our kitty the night before she was laid to rest.

We love you, Dutchess. Thank you for being a part of our lives.
We will miss you, and will never forget you.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Focus for the Week: Joshua 1:9

I don't have a "Word of the Week" for you today, but I wanted to share the theme verse for our church's Vacation Bible School for this year - Joshua 1:9, as seen above.

J. Hampton Keathley III writes:  God was calling Joshua into a "very special and difficult ministry, one with tremendous challenges and obstacles far beyond his own skill or abilities. But life for all of us is filled with such challenges so let us not pass over this without seeing the personal application this can have for each of us.

In other words, this verse was written for Joshua, but it can be applied to us all. So, let this be your focus and encouragement this week, as a reminder that, no matter what difficulties you face, you can trust in the Lord for his strength, courage, and provision.

By the way, our VBS starts tomorrow morning, and the theme of the week is Cowabunga Farm:  Growin' With Our Faithful God. The kids will experience life on the farm while learning about God's faithfulness as revealed in the life of Joseph.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Mother & Son The Respect Effect [GIVEAWAY CLOSED]

Ephesians 5:33 - However, let each one of you love his wife as
himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (ESV)

Love and respect are two different things. Ephesians 5:33 teaches husbands to love their wives, and wives to respect their husbands. I have always wondered why God instructed wives to respect their husbands, rather than love them, and have recently come to understand it is because men will not feel loved UNLESS they are respected. It is the same with boys and girls. Girls are young women, so they respond best to love. Boys are young men, so they respond best to respect. This teaching is the basic grounds of a new book by Emerson Eggerichs called, Mother & Son: The Respect Effect. 

A mother can love her son and still not show him respect. She may feel like her son does not deserve respect because of his disobedience or disrespectful attitude towards her. She may believe he needs to EARN her respect. However, this book shares how it is possible for her to address her son's disobedience WITHOUT being rude (i.e. disrespectful).

SIMPLE DEFINITION:  A mother's respect is her positive regard toward her son, no matter what he does. (p. 14)

This is one of the few books I know about that addresses the relationship between a mother and a son. I am only in chapter 3 of the book but, so far, I have agreed with what I have read and have found the book to be a useful tool for moms of ANY age sons. It is easy to read, and full of helpful information that tells mothers how to use "respect-talk" with their sons in order to improve and/or strengthen their relationship. At the end of chapter one, the author says:  
"When a mother does what I set forth in this book, even when she and her son have bad days, her son will respond less negatively. I acknowledge that things may not be as positive as she hopes and prays, but they will be better." 
If you are the mother of a son, I encourage you to pick up a copy of this book. Or, if you would like a  chance to WIN a copy, use the entry form below. Entries will be accepted until Saturday, June 4, 2016, at 8:00 p.m. CST. One entry per mailing address.

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Giving Honor On Memorial Day

The word of the week is HONOR
: to regard or treat (someone) with respect and admiration : to show admiration for (someone or something) in a public way 

The verse above says we should give honor where honor is due. I know the verse is referring to those in authority over us, but I think the premise is still the same regarding ALL of mankind. So, I encourage you to remember this verse tomorrow on Memorial Day - a day when we show our patriotism, and honor the lost lives of our military men and women.

Some people don't really care about Memorial Day. One reason they give is that the deceased don't know we are honoring them, so what's the point? But, from my point of view, it is more for our own benefit than for the benefit of the deceased. It is done out of remembrance of them, just like how you write a note on your calendar that says, "Grandma died one year ago today." You write it down in order to remember and reminisce about the time you had with your loved one. 

Another reason given for not caring about Memorial Day is the belief that war is wrong. But, when we observe Memorial Day, it doesn't mean we are agreeing with our government's decisions and/or the wars that have come about. It just means we are taking time to recognize those who have served and protected us in the line of duty.

TheNational Moment of Remembrance resolution was passed in December 2000, and it asks that at 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day, all Americans “voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of Remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to Taps.”

Below is a version of Taps from the United States Navy Band. Take a few minutes out of your day to listen to it (or another version of your choice), and then take a moment of silence to:
  • remember the fallen
  • pray for the families who have lost loved ones
  • pray for our government, including our current and future President
  • and pray for the Spiritual condition of America 

Our God is a big God. He will listen to your prayers, and He will give honor where honor is due. 


Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Rewards of Parenting

The word of the week is REWARD.
: something given or received in return or recompense for service, merit, hardship, etc.
As a parent of two children, sometimes I ask myself why I continue to do the things I do for them. I think this most often when:
  • I’m showing my kids vacation pictures from 3 or 4 years ago, and they don’t remember most of it.
  • They can’t seem to do a math problem they were doing quite well just a few weeks ago, so we have to start all over again.
  • They can’t seem to remember to feed the cat, unload the dishwasher, or take the garbage out without being reminded.

When these things continually happen, I get frustrated and wonder, “Am I the only one with kids who have such short-term memories?” I know I’m not, but sometimes I can't help but wonder why I should even bother teaching them things, or giving them opportunities to see things they wouldn’t normally see if they are just going to forget about it all! What's the point in trying!?

The truth is, your kids might not remember everything you did with them, or everything you’ve tried to teach them; but they will remember that you cared about them. They will look back on old pictures and listen to you telling the stories of when those events and special trips took place. They will love you for loving them, and for showing your love by spending time with them. And, with consistency and time, they will (by God's grace) eventually grow up to be mature, responsible adults who will finally remember to take the garbage out. It just takes time.

My sister (who has two adult children) recently reminded me, “Being a parent is the hardest yet most rewarding job ever.”  So, keep plodding along, Moms and Dads. Enjoy your children while you have them in your care. Enjoy the hugs, kisses, smiles and laughter. If you allow God to help you through the challenging times, you will be rewarded for your time.