Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ways to Encourage #10 - Volunteer Your Time

This is the last suggestion I have for the "Ways to Encourage" series. This one focuses on volunteering our time to help others.

Places to Volunteer Your Time 
1. Serve in the church of your choice.
  • Music (Singing or Instrumental)
  • Worship Team
  • Teaching / Preaching
  • Leadership
  • Nursery
  • Children’s Ministry
  • Senior’s Ministry
  • Ladies Ministry
  • Men’s Group
  • Youth Group
  • Kitchen help
  • Library
  • Yardwork Janitorial services, Maintenance
  • Various committees: Flowers, Hospitality, Missions, Christian Education, etc.
2. Serve in a community organization
  • Boy Scouts / Girl Scouts
  • 4-H Club
  • Food pantry
3. Serve in a school setting
  • Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
  • School Cafeteria
  • Classroom help
  • Plan events for local Homeschool group
4. Be part of a mentor program.
  • After-school program
  • Big Brothers / Big Sisters
5. Christmas
  • Fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child (Franklin Graham’s ministry)
  • Choose a child from the local Angel Tree
  • Donate to Toys for Tots
6. Those who enjoy writing, develop articles for:
  • Christian magazines
  • Newsletters
  • Blogs 
7. Those who are musically talented, begin a music ministry.
  • Local church
  • Travel to other churches
  • Conferences
  • Community events
8. For MORE ideas, check out these websites:
I know there are TONS more opportunites that I haven't listed, but I hope I've at least given you some ideas to start thinking about.... and, I pray this entire series has been a useful tool to encourage and inspire you with ideas on how to reach out to family, friends, neighbors, and the community.

No matter what you decide to do, always remember to have fun with encouragement!

Galatians 6:9-10 And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Interview with Mukkove Johnson - Christian Author

I'd like you to "meet" a new friend of mine, Mukkove Johnson. She is an author of Christian children's books, and also a new member of the Gabby Moms program of which I took part in last year. Mukkove and I swapped books recently. I sent her the book I wrote about Communion, and she sent me the book she wrote called, "Christmas is About Jesus," which is a devotional to be used during the advent season.

If you have young children, this is a great book to use with them. The book uses the symbols of Christmas, from candy canes to Christmas carols, to help parents keep their children focused on the Lord. It consists of color photos, Scripture references, and a short devotional for each day from December 1st through the 24th.

Here is an interview with Mukkove, so you can learn more about her, and the book, in her own words:

1. Tell us about yourself, Mukkove.
I have lived in Alaska since I was about 9, so it is home. My husband and I married in 1994. We love this state, our home, and our community. We have 3 children in our home and one in heaven. I educate our children at home and where ever we go. I love to create things of beauty and process my thoughts through writing.

2. Tell us about your book. (What is it about; age of your audience; etc.)
Christmas is About Jesus: An Advent Devotional was published in 2009 by Tate Publishing. It is written for families to read together each day of December. Each day shares a way that common sights of the season can remind us about Jesus. Each devotion is short enough to hold young ones attention and has a picture for them as well. Written into the devotions are questions to engage every member of the family. I hope the devotions give families a ground work to teach their children what they believe.

3. Tell us a little bit about the publisher.
Tate Publishing was founded by Christian authors Richard & Rita Tate because of frustration with their experience with traditional publishing. I found them by what I like to call a “divine internet search”. After several attempts of researching the options for publishing my book – all shut down by information overload – Tate came up at the top of the search. I visited their site and read their statement of faith. I knew this was where I wanted to pursue publishing.

4. Is this the first book you’ve had published?
Yes, Christmas is About Jesus is my first published book. It was a far different experience than I expected. Marketing has been even more surprising than publishing. I’m always learning and trying to balance my calling to homeschool with the efforts to help families find my book, what I hope is a useful tool.

5. What inspired you to write this book?
I wrote this book when my children were preschoolers and they still enjoy it now as they are all double digits. I began to think about traditions from my childhood and how they reflected or didn’t reflect what I wanted my children to know. I knew I could not keep my children from our culture, so I decided to influence what they would think when they encountered the culture.

6. How do you see this book being used?
Our family reads one devotion each day, usually at breakfast (that way if we miss we might get it at bedtime). I made ornaments to match each devotion. My children take turns hanging up an ornament each day. After reading the devotions when we see the things out in the store we talk about how they can remind us of Jesus.

Ideally I would like to see families read each devotion together and use it to fuel discussions as they go about their daily activities.

7. Are there more books in your future?
One for sure, though I hope to have as many more as I can write to be useful tools for families discipling their children.

Easter is About Jesus: Family Devotions for the Easter Season is going through the publishing process at Tate right now. It will be released in 2012. There are several options to stay informed. My website: Kove’s Cove, Facebook, and Kove’s Blog. At each of these you can sign up for my newsletter.

8. Do you have additional resources or suggestions?
I have made printable coloring pages and ornaments to match each devotion. I also post additional activity ideas each day of December on the Christmas is About Jesus blog. Ideas include simple crafts, songs, websites, videos, service projects, and more discussion questions.

9. Where can we buy your book?
Tate Publishing
Kove’s Cove
Christian Books Distributors

10. Is there anything else you would like to say that hasn’t been covered already?
As a Christian author I want my writing to help parents carry out their calling in Deuteronomy 6:7, you “impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk [or drive] along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (NIV)

I love to hear from parents about how they are using Christmas is About Jesus and if it has been helpful to their family. I welcome comments on my blogs or personal messages in my email:

Thankyou for sharing with us, Mukkove. It has been a pleasure getting to know you, and I look forward to using your book with my own children this coming Christmas.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Verses for Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

As we think about those we love, let's not forget the ONE who loves us most of all - our Heavenly Father... the One who sent His only Son to die for us... the one who will never leave us or forsake us... the One who wrote the greatest love letter of all - The Holy Bible!

Because HE first loved us, we should love Him back, and love OTHERS as well. Here are several verses from God's Word that talk about this kind of love we should have for each other:
Matthew 22:37-39 - And He said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, ad with all  your mind.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'

John 13:34 - "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another."

Romans 12:9-13 - Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

I John 4:21 - And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.

I Timothy 1:5 - But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Hebrews 13:1-2 - Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Then Sings My Soul, book 3

Then Sings My Soul, Book 3 is the third book in a trilogy about hymns. The author, Robert Morgan, takes us on a historical journey of the church and how hymns have changed over the years. The book covers these various segments:
  • Biblical Hymns
  • Medieval Hymns
  • English Hymns
  • Ancient Hymns
  • German Hymns
  • Gospel Songs
  • Contemporary Praise

In some ways, reading this book is like holding an actual hymnal, due to each of the hymns in this book being laid out in hymnal form. The difference, however, is the textbook portion included after every hymn which shares about the writer of the lyrics and why the song was written. I have always enjoyed learning about the meaning behind these songs, so this book was interesting to me. 

The author chose several hymns I already knew, as well as many more I had never heard of. But, no matter what era the hymns were written in, they were all so rich with words that express worship of, and praise for, our Heavenly Father. They are great tools in helping Christians around the world to vocalize our emotions through song; and, they are filled with lyrics of faith, bringing encouragement and strength as we sing them (or, even just read them). 

I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in hymnology, or in using hymns as a part of their daily devotions.

Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ways to Encourage #9: Random Acts of Kindness

There are many random acts of kindness you can do for others - too many to list them all here. But, here are just a few ideas I wanted to share:

~ When you are running errands, give a friendly wave to someone just because you can, or give them a nice smile and say, "Have a nice day!"

~ Give someone a hug.

~ Hold the door open for someone.
~ Instead of scowling at a mother with a crying toddler, give her a pat on the shoulder and tell her you understand. Go even further and ask her if there's anything you can do to help. Maybe ask her for a shopping list and help her gather the things she needs while she tends to the child.
~ Pay for the groceries of the person behind you in line, or pay for someone's meal at a restaurant. I personally know of one local family who recently had this done for them. It was anonymous. They, in turn, did the same thing for someone else in that same restaurant.
~ Leave a bag of groceries on someone's doorstep who is in need. Do the "knock and run" sort of thing, if you prefer, so it remains anonymous. This happened to my family when I was young. My parents were involved with Child Evangelism Fellowship at the time and we were down to butter and crackers for our evening meal. We prayed and thanked the Lord for what he had provided and heard a knock on our door. A sack of groceries was there, but no one to be seen. It was enough to get us through until my dad's next "paycheck" arrived in the mail.

~ There is an actual "Pay it Forward Day" that is set this year for April 26th. Here is a website dedicated to this day. It gives lots of suggestions and ideas for helping others: Of course, you don't need to wait until April 26th to bless someone else with an act of kindness.

~ Here is another website that also lists ideas to do for people you know, people you don't know, for our world, and for yourself (Yes, don't forget to treat yourself to something nice once in awhile, too!). This website not only shares ideas, but also has "Smile Cards" you can download and print out for free. These cards are not needed, of course, but they add a nice touch and serve as a reminder to someone who has been "tagged" with a random act of kindness:

~ Here's one more website that "inspires people to practice kindness and pass it on to others." This website even shares lesson plans, crafts, and ideas for getting classrooms or groups of kids involved:
Have fun with encouragement!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ways to Encourage #8 - Use Words of Affirmation

We all love to hear nice things said about us, whether its written or verbal. Here are a few ideas on how to let someone know what you think of them:

1.  WRITE IT DOWN. Send a note of encouragement to someone you know and care about. You can send an e-mail, a note in the regular mail, or hand it to them in person. It can be on a special occasion, or just because.

Here are a few examples of how my family has expressed our love and appreciation for each other through the written word:
~For my husband's 25th birthday, I wrote him a poem that told him how grateful I was to have him in my life. My brother has written poems to his loved ones as well.
~My mother isn't as much of a poem writer, but she has written her heart out to my dad on their anniversary, and she has written notes to her kids, as well. They were usually not in poem form, but completely from her heart.
~In the Christmas of 1998, I typed out 20 reasons why I love my husband and gave it to him as a gift.
~For the Christmas of 2005, I made my own Christmas cards with a tribute for each member of my family inlcuded on the inside. To give you an example, here is the one I wrote for my grandmother:  

Grandma – You are the most amazing person I know and I look up to you very much. I admire your inner strength, your faith in God, and your unselfish acts of kindness. You are compassionate and caring, you have a good sense of humor, and you are someone I know I can trust. I am so proud to have you for my Grandma, and I love you very much. Thank you for everything you have done for us. You are a very special lady.

BUT, WHAT IF YOU DON'T LIKE TO WRITE? Then, find a card that says exactly what you want it to say, and give them that. Or, choose one of these other options...

2.  PICK UP THE PHONE. Call someone and spend some time sharing what you appreciate about the person on the other line.   

3.  SAY IT IN PERSON. Invite a friend over for tea/coffee and spend the afternoon talking, sharing, and really listening to each other in a non-judgmental way. Pray for each other before you part ways.

4.  RECORD YOURSELF. Make a video of yourself sharing all the things you like about the people watching it. Record on a cassette tape or CD, doing the same thing.

No matter how you decide to do it, be sure to share with your loved ones how special they are to you, what you like about them, and how happy you are they are a part of your life. What's the point of waiting until someone has passed away before sharing what you loved about them!

Have fun with encouragement!