Thursday, September 21, 2017

GIVEAWAY: Matthew West "All In" Music CD

All In - CD available September 22nd

Matthew West wrote his new album All In with the goal of encouraging himself and his listeners to get up off the sidelines of our faith and really live it out – to go all in with our time, all in with our families, and all in battling the fears that may be holding us back from becoming all God made us to be.

I really enjoyed this contemporary Christian music CD. It has catchy, upbeat tunes with lyrics that point towards a great God - a God who encourages, a God who strengthens, a God who saves, and a God who uses people in all walks of life.

Here are a few quotes from some of my favorite songs on this album (The first 4 songs also have links to the official lyric videos on You Tube)...

Quote from the song ALL IN I step to the edge and I take a deep breath, I'm not turning back around 'cause there's no turning back now. I'm going all in.

Quote from BROKEN THINGSThe pages of history, they tell me it's true, that it's never the perfect, it's always the ones with the scars that You use...  If its true You use broken things, then here I am Lord, I am all Yours.

Quote from MERCY IS A SONGThere is a light for every soul, no matter where you've been, just come on home, let all God's children sing along, Hallelujah, chains are gone. Mercy is a song.

Quote from AMENEvery time I look back over my shoulder, I can see the life He saved me from, Thank God.

Quote from THE SOUND OF A LIFE CHANGING I'm no Billy Graham, but I come as I am, and you know that you can too. I'm telling the world about amazing grace, telling the world about a God who saves, does anybody wanna feel alive today?

Quote from THE BEAUTIFUL THINGS WE MISS:  I don't wanna look back someday and find, everything that mattered was right in front of me this whole time. Open up my eyes Lord, keep me in the moment just like this, before the beautiful things we love, become the beautiful things we miss.

Quote from YOU ARE KNOWN: To be known is to be loved, and to be loved is to belong, and you belong here in the arms that won't let go.

Enter below to be included in a random drawing next Thursday night, September 28, 2017, at 8:00 p.m. Central Time. Only one entry per mailing address. Continental US only.

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 on the same blog, 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.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

BOOK: "Sprout's Journey" by Carolyn McIntosh

It's time to go on an adventure! All you have to do is read this new book, Sprout's Journey, written and illustrated by my niece, Carolyn McIntosh. This is her debut book as an author and, inside, she shares the experiences of a girl by the name of Sprout. It is similar to Pilgrim's Progress in the way that Sprout meets many different friends and foes along her path. Some of them include:  Complacency, Ego P. Ride, Shimmer of Hope, Humble Inspiration, and Good News. She encounters many obstacles along the way, as well as encouragement and hope, which are all meant to help her grow in her faith.

Carolyn writes:  "Sprout's Journey is about a girl who has been a Christian for awhile, but is just now choosing to follow the path The Creator has set before her. She is named Sprout because she is still in the process of growing."

This would be a great book for pre-teen and teenage girls, as it includes many of the thoughts and feelings young girls face. However, there are many great insights that anyone could benefit from. For example, in chapter one, Sprout meets Humble Inspiration, a man who had been on the path for quite some time. He gives her information about how The Creator can help her on her journey by saying to her:

"First... you must trust The Creator one-hundred percent. Then, once you have committed to doing that, you must understand who you are in Him."
"You see, young Sprout," the man continued as he pointed towards the horizon, "The world is full of lies. I can already see how they have burned your heart as the sun burns skin. It wasn't meant to be there and it causes great pain and suffering. That is why you must read The Book and learn the truth."

Humble Inspiration turned, looked Sprout in the eye, and warned, "Do not believe the lies. You have to understand that The Creator is good."

"Second," He continued, "you must believe with all your heart that The Creator has a plan and that He will not leave you. Even when the path becomes tough and you feel like quitting, you mustn't settle for less."

You will also find various quotes and Scripture references to back up the content in the book, so it might even be good to use in a Sunday School or youth group setting.

Order your copy today on Amazon. It is available in paperback or Kindle formats.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Photo of the Week #26: Looking Up

JJ is wearing special glasses as he watches the moon's shadow slowly moving across the sun.

I love this picture of JJ.

He, along with thousands of others, were among the onlookers of the 2017 Solar Eclipse this past Monday. We were in Harrisburg, IL, when this picture was captured. It is full of awe and wonder, along with anticipation for totality to take place.

Once totality hit, the sky darkened to the level of sunset and everyone in the park clapped and cheered. We all removed our special glasses and were able to look at the eclipse without hurting our eyes. It was beautiful. It only lasted a couple of minutes and, unfortunately, I didn't get any really good pictures of the eclipse itself. But, I'm happy we were able to take part in seeing this rare event. It was a sight I will not soon forget.

David, and two of our friends, looking up as the total eclipse took place

These two pictures also remind me of how we should be looking up and watching in anticipation for the time when the Lord will descend from heaven with a loud trumpet call, and will take those of us who believe in and trust in Him for salvation to be with Him forever. Many refer to this event as "The Rapture." We won't know the day or the hour but, one day, He WILL be coming to get us. Are you ready?

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 - For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.  (ESV)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

GIVEAWAY: Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus - DVD [GIVEAWAY CLOSED]

Tim Mahoney is the Founder of Mahoney Media Group and Thinking Man Films & Media. In January 2015, he produced his first full feature documentary film, PATTERNS OF EVIDENCE: THE EXODUS. This film took 12 years to develop, and uses a scientific approach to investigate the Biblical account of the Exodus. (FYI:  The Exodus is the event where Moses, who was born Jewish but raised as Egyptian, is used by God to free the Israelite slaves and takes them on a long journey through the desert in order to reach "The Promised Land.") This account of the Exodus has been under attack from many "experts" who say there is no evidence to support it's occurrence. They claim it is just a myth. So, during a "crisis of faith," Tim Mahoney began an investigation. Tim says this about the film:

I spent 12 years asking the question, “Is the Bible true?”  If it wasn’t then what should I put my faith in? What I found was an amazing pattern of evidence that matched many of the events recorded in the Bible. There was a real history that could be seen. For me that changed everything. I encourage you to join me in the ongoing investigation and see the Bible affirming evidence for yourself. 

However, the film is not one-sided. It takes a balanced approach, allowing viewpoints from all sides to be heard in a respectful way. This makes the film more shareable to those with differing viewpoints, and will leave the audience to decide for themselves if the Bible is really History or just a myth.
I personally felt the film was a bit slow-moving, and I actually fell asleep a couple of times while watching it. But, if you watch it when you are not tired, and you don't mind a slow moving documentary, the film is very informative and has a lot of eye-opening moments. It could produce a lot of great discussion among your family and friends! Some of the evidence that was discussed includes:  evidence for the Jews living in Egypt, evidence of the plagues on Egypt, evidence of a mass exodus of the people, and evidence for the conquest of Canaan.

You can purchase a copy of the DVD at the PATTERNS OF EVIDENCE STORE.  And, to get $3.00 off the retail price of $19.95, use this DISCOUNT CODE:  MK1

You can also enter below to take part in a random drawing for one copy of this DVD. Entries will be accepted through Sunday, August 27, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. Central Time. Must be 18 or older to enter. Continental U.S. only. 

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 on the same blog, 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, August 20, 2017

Photo of the Week #25: Illinois State Fair 2001 & 2017 (Cherished Memories)

Last week, we spent EL's birthday at the Illinois State Fair. The last time we were there was 16 years ago, on her 3rd birthday, so I thought it would be fun to post a picture of EL and me 16 years ago in 2001, and then again in 2017. It looks like we were basically sitting in the same place for the pictures. Were were in the food-a-rama, which is the big area inside the fair where you can find many different food vendors, and lots of tables under one roof.  In the background is the Ferris Wheel in both pictures.

We had a good time at the Fair, although I don't think we will be going back anytime soon. It was very warm that day, and I got a bit overheated. It took me a couple of days to get over the feeling of being exhausted. Plus, the food there is super expensive. But, at least we were able to get a discount on admission because of it being Scout Day. David and JJ both got into the fair for free. Then, the kids also got discounted ride armbands. (Instead of $30.00, they were only $20.00 each for unlimited rides, thanks again to Scout day.)

During our time at the fair, we saw several short stunt shows, looked at the exhibits, ate expensive food, drank lots of water and lemonade, went to a "Herman's Hermits" concert and, of course, the kids went on rides. Out of the whole fair experience, I think the kids enjoyed the rides the best. There was one ride (see photo above) where they sat in a car and went backwards in a fast circle. They both loved it and went on it several times.  They also enjoyed the swings (photo below) and went on that ride several times as well.

 For most of the rides, the kids boarded together, although there were times when they separated, like when JJ went on the big swinging boat while EL chose the milder Carousel. Thankfully, the lines were not too long while we were there, so the kids were definitely able to get their money's worth out of the rides. 

After a long, 12-hour day at the fair, we walked out exhausted and ready for bed; but it was a good kind of exhaustion, as we all enjoyed getting away and spending time together as a family. 

As I look again at the picture of 3-year-old EL, it makes me realize how our lives have changed since then, and how fast the time has gone. Soon, JJ will also be grown and making a life of his own; so, times like these with our children are always cherished times. Exhausted or not, it was definitely a trip worth taking. 

Psalm 127:3 - Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. (NIV)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Photo of the Week #24: Our Graduates

Last Sunday, we had a graduation ceremony and celebration for our two graduates. EL has finished High School and received a Certificate of Completion. JJ received his 8th Grade diploma. It was a nice day celebrated with family and friends. A huge milestone. 

For more pictures and details, click over to the newest post on our homeschool Blog:  SONset ACADEMY: Our 2017 Graduates

Psalm 113:3 - From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Photo of the Week #23: Car Show Bonus

Last weekend, we went to a family reunion on David's side of the family. While we were in the area, the "boys" went to a car show in town, and JJ was in "heaven." He loved looking at all the shiny cars, as did his grandfather. While they were looking at one of the cars, the owner noticed JJ's interest and asked if he would like to sit inside. "Ummm... Yah!" was the reply. What a neat experience for him. Most of the time, there are signs that say "Do not touch!" on the cars, but JJ was allowed to SIT in this one! The man was very gracious. He showed favor to JJ, but it wasn't because JJ was someone "special" or because he did something for the owner of the car.  He was simply given this opportunity without doing anything to earn it, except show an interest. 

This is an example of God's grace to us. God gives us his grace for salvation, not because we are someone special, or because we have done something special for Him, but simply in response to our faith in Christ for the forgiveness of our sin. 

Numbers 6:25 - The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you;

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Wow! The Good News in Four Words

I have not read too many of the numerous children's books written by Dandi Daley Mackall.  But, the ones I have read, I have enjoyed, and I especially like the way they share Scripture with young children in simple ways. Her new book, Wow! The Good News in Four Words is no exception. It is a fun book that helps children (and adults) remember the Gospel message by the use of 4 little words.

  • WOW - presents  the account of Creation and shares God's love for us. 
  • UH-OH - discusses the fall of mankind and how we all sin.
  • YES - talks about Jesus' birth, death and resurrection, and how we can be forgiven of our sins if we say yes to Jesus.
  • AHHH - is about eternal life and the peace we can have with Jesus as a part of our lives.
  • WOW (again) - encourages us to grow in our faith and share the Good News with others.

I really like the note to parents at the beginning of the book that explains these words, and also gives Scripture references to back them up. You can also find more references at the back of the book for those who wish to dig even deeper into the Gospel and God's plan for us. 

The only thing I don't care for is how busy some of the pages are with illustrations. The illustrations by Annabel Tempest are well-done, however, there is just a bit too much on each page for my liking. For some children, that might be great, but for me and my children, "less is more." We prefer few and simple illustrations that are a little less distracting. But, other than that, the book is good and I would recommend it. 

Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Photo of the Week #22: Oil Painting Class

EL is using a "fan brush" to make grass

I love exposing EL to different opportunities, just to see what she will or won't enjoy doing. So, this past week, I took her to an oil painting class. The instructor showed us step by step what to do and, with a little help from me, here is the final product....

The finished painting

She didn't show much interest in it at first but, as we got into it more, she seemed to enjoy watching her blank white canvas turn into a painting. She did really well on making the trees and grass on her own, but needed my help to do the more intricate work. So, a lot of the time, I held her wrist to help keep her hand steady and guided her on where to paint. When she couldn't do something on her own, she made sure to tell me what she wanted in the picture, and where to put it. She wanted the wheel inside the barn, and we couldn't forget about the hay in the top window. She also definitely had to have the squirrel in the tree (can you find it?) and the birds in the sky. She has always loved the living creatures created by God.

Genesis 1:24 - And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. (ESV)

I asked her if she wants to do another painting sometime and, for right now, she doesn't seem to have much interest in doing it again. But, we'll see what happens. At least she had this experience, and we'll have to see what we can come up with next for her to try. Any suggestions? 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

GIVEAWAY: Nichole Nordeman CD "Every Mile Mattered" [GIVEAWAY CLOSED]

Do you have regrets about certain things that did or didn't happen in your life? I know I do. Do you wish you could go back and change things, or make it so something didn't happen? I know I have. I think we all have. I sometimes wish I hadn't had to move around so much when I was growing up. I sometimes wish I had chosen a different career path. I sometimes wish my daughter had never been diagnosed with autism. I sometimes wish my son didn't have Tourette Syndrome. I sometimes wish I had never had cancer. I wish my dad was still alive. And, the list goes on...

But, Nichole Nordeman's new lyric video, "Every Mile Mattered" (from the album by the same name), shares how everything that has happened in my life is all a part of my history. If these things had not happened, yes, everything would be different, but I wouldn't be the person I am today. I wouldn't be the person I was meant to be.

In keeping with Nichole's style of introspective music, the entire album is full of tender songs that help us reflect on our lives - past, present and future. Everyone is on a journey, and every traveler gets dusty and bruised along their path. But, the paths we have taken, or have been forced to take, do not have to ruin our lives. We can leave the past behind, learn from the mistakes we have made, cherish the good times, and focus on the endless miles of God's goodness in our lives - past, present, and future. EVERY. MILE. MATTERS.

Pre-order on Amazon or iTunes and/or enter below to be included in a random drawing for one copy of this CD. Entries will be accepted until Saturday, July 22, 2017, at 8:00 p.m. Central time. One entry per mailing address. Continental U.S. residents only. Must be 18 or older to enter.

On another note: Remember the popular heart-touching song "Slow Down" by Nichole Nordeman? Well, that same song is on this album featuring a young girl, Pepper Ingram. It is a sweet version. And, now, Nichole also has a book called “SLOW DOWN” coming out in August. You can pre-order a copy here:

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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 on the same blog, 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.