Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mary's Song

By:  Victoria L. Stankus


Joseph and I had a long way to go.
We traveled both day and night.
But when we arrived in Bethlehem,
There were no empty rooms in sight.

I didn't complain, but trusted God
To find us a place to stay.
Soon, there was this stable
Filled with plenty of nice warm hay.

It is here where my song was born.
Jesus, God's son, I did bear.
The thought of this babe as a king
Is almost a bit of a scare.

But, as I look in His eyes,
I see beautiful sparkles of love.
I know He is not just my son,
But also the Father's above.

The birth of the king is shown by a star.
Some shepherds followed it and came.
When they arrived, they worshiped Him
And praised His holy name.

I’ve wrapped the babe in swaddling clothes
And laid Him in a manger.
There He will be plenty warm
And kept away from danger.

Now, as I watch Him sleeping,
There’s a song that fills my heart.
And, my baby boy is the melody
That made the music start.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

My Experience With The Gabby Moms

At the end of 2010, my friend CARIE introduced me to TEACH Magazine, which is now called Eternal Encouragement. The publisher, Lorrie Flem, was beginning a new program called The Gabby Moms, where specific mom bloggers would read and review one of Lorrie’s products each month. I was thrilled to have been accepted into the program, and my first review for them was posted in January 2011. If you’ve been following my blog at all this past year, you’ve most likely read one of my reviews of her products, and have seen how much they have been an encouragement to me.

I am very glad I joined the Gabby Moms. Being involved in the beginning phases of a new program definitely has its pros and cons; but, overall, it has been a very rewarding experience for me to be a part of it. However, after much prayer and thought, I decided not re-join The Gabby Moms program for 2012 - mostly because of time constraints. I have been very busy this past year with various activities and commitments and, quoting my Dad, “I want to be exhausted for the Lord, but I don’t want to be burned out.” While it is important for us to remain faithful in service for the Lord, it is also important to remember our PRIORITIES. Here is what Lorrie Flem has taught me about priorities:
As wives and mothers, the list of our responsibilities is long and it can be difficult to sort them all out. But the truth is they are clearly laid out for us in God’s Word and are not decisions that we have to make. It is all spelled out for us in Scripture. Look in Titus 2, Proverbs 31, 1 Corinthians 11, and 1 Timothy 5 to see just what our priorities are to be. Our priorities are to be:

• My husband
• My children
• My home
• My parents, in-laws, extended family, church, friends, and neighbors
• My outside ministries
This past year, with all of the craziness in doing for the Lord and doing for others, I think my outside ministries became a higher priority for me than anything else, and I intend to remedy that. So, I have begun to condense my commitments into only a few. That way, I can concentrate more specifically on the commitments I have, without getting stressed out; and I also want to be sure I don’t neglect those first five priorities!

If you are considering being a Gabby Mom in the future, or you are new to the program for 2012, I think you will find it to be a truly rewarding experience. Lorrie’s materials are very thought-provoking, and I have definitely learned a lot from her this past year. Just remember to keep your priorities straight as you serve the Lord in this way, or in any other capacity.

NOTE: In 2012, I will still be involved with Eternal Encouragement Magazine, but in a different way. I have been asked to be one of the columnists for the new online version of Eternal Encouragement. I'm very excited about this opportunity, and feel honored to have been asked.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

God Gave Us You - Book Review

I’ve always enjoyed the cute little “polar bear” books written by Lisa Tawn Bergren. This book, “God Gave Us You,” is no exception. This chubby little board book is great for young children to handle while looking at the pictures, either before or after Mommy or Daddy read the words to them. It's a great book to snuggle up on the couch and read to your little ones, telling them how their entrance into the world was a gift from God.

Just to note, the beginning of this book has a page where some of the wording may need to be adjusted in order to fit each child. The book seems to be geared towards a firstborn child, as Mama Bear says, “Your papa and I were alone, and we wanted a baby.” But, if needed, the “alone” part can be left out, easily changing the wording to, “Your papa and I wanted a baby.”

Overall, the pictures in this book are adorable, and it is a very sweet book to share with the little ones in your life. Even my 8-year-old son enjoyed the book.

I received this book free of charge from WaterBrook Multnomah
Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.

You can find out more about this book at the

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ways to Encourage #3 - Share Your Goodies

Today, I want to mention a third way we can be an encouragement to others. With the Christmas Season under way, this is a good one to be used especially during this time. However it does NOT (and should not) be reserved only for this time of year...

 It it always a very special treat for me and my family when someone unexpectedly knocks on our door to bring something homemade to share with us. It has happened to us during the Christmas season, and it has happened to us during a time when we needed some special encouragement. 

Several years ago, during a particularly hard January, one lady we knew from the church baked us a loaf of homemade bread and brought it to us, along with a hug. It was nothing fancy; just a simple (but I must say, YUMMY) loaf of homemade white bread. It was the thought that really counted. When someone takes the time to bring something to you in this way, it means they are thinking of you, and that they care. It is a special form of encouragement that should never go out of style.

As you (and maybe your children along with you) are making "goodies" to eat throughout the year, be sure to make some extra and share them with friends and neighbors. At Christmastime, you can include a Christmas card or a friendly greeting; but, it is also nice to mix things up a bit and share some goodies during  different holidays in the year. Maybe make some cookies or candies for Valentine's Day and share them with others. Or, you could pass out Easter bread or some other homemade treat to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior in the Spring. You could also dye something green and pass it out on St. Patrick's Day. What about something with red, white and blue for Independence Day? Or a loaf of pumpkin bread, or pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving? The possibilities are endless! But, the best one of all (because it is least expected) is when you give to others for no special reason. At these times, you can attach a note that simply says, “Just because we care."

Have FUN with Encouragement!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ways to Encourage #2 - Personalize Your Greeting Cards

Yesterday, our family received our first Christmas card for this season! It was fun to get our first card, and it was nice to know some friends of ours were thinking of us. Not only that, but these friends made the card personal by adding a few photos of their family, and also writing a simple note at the bottom of the card. The note said, “This year has been richer because of your friendship.” It was just one, short sentence, but it meant a lot to me to know we have made a difference is these people’s lives. It was a simple act of encouragement to us on their part.

Of course, you don't have to send Christmas cards to let someone know you are thinking of them. You can do this with Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Birthdays, Anniversaries, or Just Because. But, sending cards (of ANY kind) really does help to bring a smile to someone's face. Happy 

When you DO send out cards, it will mean so much more to the receiver when you write a little note of encouragement in it as well. Make your cards personal by telling your friends and family how much they mean to you.
If your funds are limited, you can make your own cards. There are many different software programs you can use to help you with this, or just simply fold a piece of paper in half two times and use pen or marker to decorate it and add your sentiments. If you have children, you can get them involved by having them decorate the cards with sequins and glitter, or simply draw a picture. 

Another way to save on cash is to hand deliver your cards, if your friends are local (and you can add a hug into the mix as well). If they are not local, feel free to send cards and letters through e-mail also. E-mail may not be quite the same as a physical card, but it is still something to let others know you are thinking of them.

Here are a few different places online where you can send a FREE “electronic” greeting card to your friends and family, and can add a personal note to most of them at the end...

Have fun with encouragement!