Sunday, September 25, 2016

3 Ways Jesus Dealt With Stress



The word of the week is STRESS
: a state of mental tension caused by problems in your life, work, etc.
This past Summer has been stressful for me and my husband, as we have encountered one stress after another. Nothing really huge, just lots of “little” things that have continued adding up. I don't always share about everything we go through, and its not because I want everyone to think my life is perfect. (Its not. Trust me, its not.) It’s just that I don’t want certain parts of my life to be an open book to the entire world. It's just not necessary, or even beneficial, to share everything - at least not to me. But, you can be sure there are days I have wanted to scream at the top of my lungs due to stress. In fact, I actually did scream like that a few weeks ago when I just couldn't hold it in anymore. It surprised my family, and made the cat run away, because I just don’t do that. But, it was how I dealt with my stress that day.

How do YOU deal with stress? Do you scream into a pillow? Punch a wall? Growl at the dog? Pull your hair out? Blow bubbles in your milk? Take a bubble bath? Listen to uplifting music? Withdraw to be alone? Sing in the shower? Go for a walk? Play an instrument? Write in a journal? Pray?

How do you think Jesus dealt with stress? Yes, even Jesus had stress in His life. The difference is that He ALWAYS handled it in a healthy way.

Here are three ways I found that Jesus dealt with stress:

1.  HE WITHDREW TO SPEND TIME ALONE
Luke 5:16 - But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

2.  HE PRAYED WHILE HE WAS ALONE
Matthew 26:36 - “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’”

3.  HE ASKED FOR SUPPORT FROM HIS FRIENDS
Matthew 26:37-38 - “He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’”

The next time I am feeling overwhelmed with stress, it is my plan to remember these healthy ways Jesus dealt with stress, and try to follow His example. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: The Afters "Live On Forever" Music CD [GIVEAWAY CLOSED]


Most of the songs on "Live On Forever" (the new CD by The Afters), are upbeat and contemporary. Some of them are a little “rockier” than I personally like, but the majority are along the same lines as Phil Wickham or The Newsboys. So, if you enjoy those types of music, you will probably like The Afters.

It is important for me to be able to know the lyrics of the songs I listen to, and there weren't any lyrics included with the CD. That was a bummer, as I had a hard time at first trying to figure out what the songs mean. But, I did eventually find the lyrics on the WEBSITE. After reading them, I still had trouble understanding some of the the meanings. However, I came to the conclusion that the main theme of the album is to bring hope and encouragement to Christian Believers.

My favorites on the CD are: Battles, Wake Up My Heart, Live on Forever, and Eyes of A Believer. Here are some snippets of the lyrics from these songs (and you can also watch two of the songs on You Tube when you click on the titles): 

A song about "standing up against fear and knowing God is always with us,” explains lead singer, Josh Havens. “It’s one of the takeaways we hope people get: ‘Don’t give up to fear.'"

You surround me on every side
Your love is my armor I fear no evil.
Darkness runs from your light
So I won't be afraid, I won't be afraid.

You're going before me
And oceans are parting
You're fighting my battles.
When my feet are failing
And my heart is shaking
You're fighting my battles.
Fighting my battles...


WAKE UP MY HEART
A song about desiring to be closer to the Lord

I wanna love all the things that you love.
I wanna see everything through your eyes.
Won’t you wake up my heart for YOU.


LIVE ON FOREVER
A song about how this world is not our permanent home, and how we will live on forever.

We are not where we belong
We have a hope we're gonna live on
Forever, forever, forever


EYES OF A BELIEVER
Anything’s possible with God by your side.
Whatever battles may come, you know He’s already won.


Enter below for your chance to win a copy of the "Live On Forever" CD. Entries accepted until Saturday, September 24, 2016, at 8:00 p.m. CST. One entry per mailing address. Must be 18 or older.



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, September 18, 2016

Four Ways to Please the Lord


Colossians 1:9-12 - For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

The word of the week is PLEASE
: to make (someone) happy or satisfied

How can you live a life worthy of the Lord, and PLEASE Him in every way? In other words, how can you make God happy? First of all, the ultimate way to please Him is by accepting Christ as your Savior, trusting in Him to forgive your sins by the work He did on the cross. But, what about after that?

Here are four ways we can please God, found in Colossians 1:9-12:
1.  By bearing fruit through good works. God created each of us to use our gifts and talents for good. Think about what YOU are good at. Are you good at singing, writing, sewing, baking, woodworking, or mechanics? Do you like to encourage others with your words, be a good listener, or just sit and hold someone's hand? Make a decision to use the gifts you have been given to bring a blessing to others. Ephesians 2:10 - For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

2.  By growing in the knowledge of God. Are you spending time reading or listening to God’s Word, learning what it has to say and how it can be applied to your life? 2 Peter 3:18 - But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
3.  By allowing Him to give us the strength we need to endure the struggles of this world. Do you understand that in this world we WILL have trials; but realize God is there to give you strength and to help you through the difficult times? John 16:33 - “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Psalm 46:1 - God is our refuge and strength,  an ever-present help in trouble.

4.  By joyfully giving thanks to God in all things. Are you giving thanks in ALL things? You don’t have to be happy about what you are going through, but you can be joyful when you realize the trials you are facing are being used to develop your character and are helping you grow closer to the Lord. All things work together for good. Romans 8:28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
James 1:2-4 - Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 

So, here's some food for thought:  Are you pleasing God by doing these four things? Are you doing good works? Are you studying His Word? Are you allowing Him to give you strength? Are you joyfully giving thanks in all things? If not, why? We all have room for improvement, so take some time today to consider what you might need to do to set these four ways in motion.  



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: The Biggest Story CD & DVD [GIVEAWAY CLOSED]

 

My 13yo son had a dentist appointment in a town about 30 minutes from home. So, on the way there, I popped in the CD of THE BIGGEST STORY. It's a short 26-minute audio book, written and narrated by Kevin DeYoung, that was originally a children’s picture book. We were able to listen to the entire book on the way to the dentist and, as it came to an end, my son asked, "Is that it?" He had been listening, he was interested in it, and he wanted to hear more. I also enjoyed listening to it. So, even though the book is geared for ages 5-12, it can definitely keep the interest of ALL ages.

FYI:  The book highlights key parts of the Bible, starting with Creation and ending with Christ. It is educational and informative, and would be a great book to share with anyone who is not familiar with the "stories" in the Bible, or in how they all come together to teach us about God's redemptive plan for mankind.

I have not seen the picture book, but I did watch the animated version of this book on DVD. The illustrations on the DVD come from the picture book, drawn by Don Clark. They are colorful and artistic, and are helpful for those who prefer using visuals to help them learn. Personally, I think I preferred the CD over the DVD, but it is nice to have the option of a DVD.

Consider picking up a copy of either the book, the CD, or the DVD. Or, you can enter below for your chance to win a copy of both a CD and a DVD. The giveaway ends Saturday, September 17, 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, September 11, 2016

15 Years Ago On 9-11-01


15 years ago today... 

I was home with my husband who was off work that day. Our 3-year-old daughter was at school. David turned on the news and watched as the 2nd plane flew into the World Trade Center. He called me in see what was happening, and it was an unbelievable sight.


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

REVIEW: "Voiceless" Theatrical Movie

I was recently given the chance to screen the new theatrical movie, Voiceless, a film that tackles the controversial pro-life vs. pro-choice debate. In the film, a young war veteran returns home and becomes a community outreach leader. He puts his job, and life, on the line to stand against an abortion clinic that has opened up across the street from his Philadelphia church.

PROs:
1. The premise of the movie is about getting the church involved in making a difference in the pro-life/pro-choice debate. One man cannot do it all, and shouldn’t have to.

2. The topic was presented in a way that both sides of the issue were addressed.

CONs:
1. The plot was dragging in several places.

2. There were several scenes that were not necessary. Some of them showed the main character seeing a psychologist after his discharge from the military, helping him debrief from active duty. Others showed him confronting his anger issues. These scenes did not fit the plot line or the main idea of the movie. They weren't necessary because they didn’t add anything to the point of the movie.

3. Instead of using the above scenes, I think it would have been better to add more scenes about the importance of prayer, where the church members (and the main character) are praying about the clinic across the street and how God wants them to make a difference.

Overall, the movie didn't really keep my full interest, but it was not a bad movie; and I believe it could be a good tool to use in churches as a discussion starter on the topic. 
 
The movie will hit theaters on October 7, 2016. Here is a link to the trailer:



 
 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Enjoyment of Life


The word of the week is ENJOY
:  to take pleasure in (something) : to have or experience (something good or helpful)

I came across an e-mail I sent out to family and friends back in March of 2006. It gave me a chuckle as I reminisced about how our son, JJ, enjoyed life as an energetic 3 year old. I hope it reminds you to also enjoy life, and to especially take time to enjoy your kids and/or grandkids. These past ten years have flown by quickly as JJ went from 3 to 13 in the blink of an eye.

SUBJECT: The Energy of a 3-year-old

Good Morning! This e-mail is intended to let you know what our little JJ has been up to lately, and to hopefully bring a smile to your face as well.

Let's see.... Where do I start? Well, besides the usual jumping off the couch, chasing our poor cat around the house, tormenting his sister, and literally running in circles, I'll just list a few of the things I remember him getting into this past WEEK alone...

1. He hasn't been wanting to go to bed at his usual 8:00 bedtime lately. So, one night, after we put him to bed, he snuck out. David found him lying on the bathroom counter playing with the soap and water in the sink. The water was running in a pencil thin line so that we could not hear it!! (Smart kid, huh?) He loves to play in the water, but didn’t want us to find out where he was.

2. Another night, we found him in his sister’s bed. They were talking and playing and laughing with each other. It was really cute, but it was past 9:00 p.m., when they both should have been asleep. We have learned that we still need to keep the gate across JJ's bedroom door to "lock" him in at night. Hopefully, we will be able to remove the gate before he is 18 years old! 


3. Yesterday, we caught him and EL playing in the bottle of bulk enzymes we give to EL at meal time. These enzymes are a very fine powder and even the slightest breeze can make them fly all over the kitchen. We had quite a time getting all the enzymes off the counter and floor.

4. Also yesterday, I caught JJ just before he started to mark up one of my books with a pen. This is not the first time he has done this. One book that he marked up awhile back was one that belongs to the church library! We try to keep pens out of his reach now, but sometimes he still manages to get hold of one. When he isn’t marking up a book with one, then he and EL will take turns making "zebra stripes" all over their arms and legs instead.

5. I went to the grocery store one day last week when JJ was taking a nap. David was home with the kids (I think it was on Saturday). When JJ got up, he went looking for me, as he always does. Then, David had to go looking for HIM because he couldn't find him. Finally, he found JJ out in the garage, barefooted and with no pants on. It was COLD out there, too!

6. While I was in the shower one morning, the kids found a bottle of hand lotion on my night stand and decided it was time to give their stuffed animals a “bath” as well. They have done this same thing with liquid soap, also. At least they like their toys to be clean, right?

7. One afternoon, the kids were playing in EL's room and I found the sheets off of the bed, and the mattress half-way on the floor. They also had the dresser half emptied with clothes spread all over the floor as they were trying them all on. What a mess! At least they were being creative and were having some innocent fun. 

8. I took JJ to the Hospital to get some blood drawn at the lab (to test him for allergies). While we were getting registered, JJ sat on my lap, looked at the lady across from us and said, "Mommy, her nose is big!" I wanted to hide! Thankfully, the lady understood that kids do not have any sense of discernment and will bluntly talk about what they see. She was very nice about it and agreed with JJ about her nose being big.

Well, I guess that's about it for now. I could probably write an entire book about all the things JJ does to "keep us on our toes."

We are planning on going to the Circus tonight, as there is a small one here in town. Thoughts have briefly crossed my mind about leaving JJ with the clowns, as he would fit in very well with them. But, then, I realize life would be pretty dull around here without JJ to make us laugh, cry, and pull our hair out. He is definitely a very special boy and we are so glad God gave him to us.

Enjoy your day!
Vicky

Our family in 2006

Sunday, August 28, 2016

What Are You Thinking About?

I have been reading in Philippians lately was reminded to take notice of the things I am thinking about. What kinds of thoughts am I dwelling on? Some of these thoughts bring peace. Other thoughts bring discontent. I want to try and dwell on the thoughts that only bring peace.

What are you thinking about? 
Here are some questions to ask about it:

Is it TRUE?
unconcealed, true, true in fact, worthy of credit, truthful
Is it HONORABLE?
venerable, honorable, grave, serious, dignified
Is it JUST?
right; righteous; especially, right in the eyes of God
Is it PURE?
chaste; in a condition prepared for worship
Is it LOVELY?
pleasing, acceptable, grateful
Is it COMMENDABLE?
well reported of, spoken in a kindly spirit, laudable, reputable
Is it EXCELLENT?
good, a gracious act, virtuous, upright
 Is it WORTHY OF PRAISE?
commendable, approved of by God

If YES - then keep on thinking about it. Dwell on these good thoughts and be at peace.
If NO - then do not dwell on these thoughts. They will only bring discontent.


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NOTE: The definitions for the words above came from the Text Analysis of Philippians 4:8, found on BIBLE HUB.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

REVIEW: God Gave Us Thankful Hearts

One of my favorite seasons will be here soon. The leaves will be changing colors, we will be taking field trips to apple orchards, attending Fall Festivals, having campfires, making warm soups, wearing cozy sweatshirts, and doing lots of baking. Yes, the season is Fall (a.k.a. Autumn). The only problem with the Fall season is that the Winter season follows it. Winter is my least favorite season, and I have to try hard to find things to be thankful for during that time of the year.

Little Pup, a sweetly illustrated wolf cub, has the same dilemma in the book, GOD GAVE US THANKFUL HEARTS by Lisa Tawn Bergren. But, Mama Wolf has a conversation with Little Pup about how there's a reason for us to be thankful in every season. She and Papa wolf give him examples of things they are thankful for, and show Little Pup how God wants us to have a thankful heart.

There are no Scripture references included in this book, but there are definite Biblical concepts:
1.  At one point, Mama Wolf says, "The trick to having a thankful heart is thinking about the things that make us happy, rather than the things that don't." That is a concept based on 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.

2.  Papa Wolf says, "God gave us thankful hearts so we could praise him, even when we don't catch fish."  (Hebrews 13:15 says, Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.)

3.  Mama Wolf says, "We can be thankful for how God shows us the way, even when it seems a little scary." (Isaiah 41:10 says, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.)

These are all good reminders for children, as well as adults. So, if you have younger children or grandchildren, this would be a great book to snuggle in and read along with them this Fall season (or any season) of the year.

NOTE:  I received this book from Blogging for Books for the purpose of this review. I have expressed my own opinion.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Ultimate Goal for a Christian

The word of the week is GOAL
: something that you are trying to do or achieve
Francis Chan said in one of his sermons, “Everything I do is going to either bring reward or regret.” Then, he gave one of the best illustrations about our existence here on Earth, and how we all spend too much time thinking about our own comfort and enjoyment rather than looking ahead towards the ultimate goal.


What is this goal he is talking about? The goal for a Christian is to live life in a way that will be pleasing to God, to share the Gospel message with others, and to finally reach the prize of eternal life in Heaven. 

Chan also said “We have one chance at our life here on Earth, and then comes eternity.” So, what are you doing with your time? I ask you to ponder that question this week, and consider how you can spend your time wisely. Try to spend it in a way that will bring REWARD, and not REGRET. That is my goal. That is what I want to try and achieve. How about you?

Check out a short portion of Chan’s sermon here. It is less than 6 minutes long, so please take the time to watch it. I truly believe you will be spending your time wisely by watching it: