Thursday, April 30, 2015

REVIEW: "Go Ahead and Like It" by Jacqueline Suskin

Let's see.... What do I like? Here are just 20 things I can think of...

I like:
  1. Sunsets
  2. Tigers
  3. Music boxes
  4. My cats
  5. My family
  6. Snuggling on the couch
  7. The sound of a loon call
  8. The smell of rain
  9. Muffins and Coffee for breakfast
  10. Taking a nature hike
  11. Watching the birds
  12. Organizing
  13. Taking pictures
  14. Blogging
  15. Watching a clean movie
  16. Taco salad
  17. Going to the zoo
  18. Burning candles
  19. Campfires
  20. Sitting on the porch and waving as people go by
I know there are more, and I hope to take the advice of Jacqueline Suskin in her newest book, Go Ahead & Like It, by writing down and keeping a record of the things I like, the things that make me happy, the things that encourage me, and the things that help improve my attitude when I'm having a bad day.

PROS:  This book is definitely not boring and I've never seen any other book like it. It is full of pictures, has a unique design, and uses fonts that mimic handwriting or an old-fashioned typewriter. There are lists of "likes" from anonymous people, and ideas to help us brainstorm into making our own lists. It is "an inspiring prompt for daily appreciation," which basically means the book helps teach us how to count our blessings. I am always appreciative of books that help me do that.  

CONS:  Unfortunately, there is at least one annoying and completely unnecessary word in the book that I do NOT like. It is a word that rhymes with truck. To be fair, the author did not write it. It was included in one of the lists by an anonymous person. Overall, this is a nice, easy-to-read gift book that can help its readers notice and celebrate the "little" things in life that bring us so much joy but, because of that one word, I most likely would not give a copy of this book as a gift (unless I blacked out that word and explained why there is smudge on one of the pages).

NOTE:  I received this book from Blogging for Books for the purpose of this review.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Christy Nockels "Let it be Jesus" Album [Giveaway CLOSED]

 A new worship album by Christy Nockels has just been released. I had not heard of her before now, but she has been a worship leader for many years and currently serves on the worship team at Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a very nice voice that is easy to listen to.  I listened to the album while I was doing some Internet searching and found the music to be soothing and worshipful. For more information, check out these social media links:

You can preview or purchase the songs on iTunes today! Or, enter below for your chance to win a physical copy of the CD. Giveaway ends Saturday, May 2, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. CST, and the CD will be mailed directly to the winner by FlyBy Promotions.

"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, April 26, 2015

Encouragement Challenge #17: 2015 Pay It Forward Day

This Thursday, April 30th, is the official International Pay It Forward Day for 2015.

There is a website devoted to this day which gives suggestions for things you can do. Simple things like paying for someone's coffee, or more elaborate things like paying for someone's groceries.

For this week's challenge, find an idea on the website above (or think of your own idea) and choose a way to "pay it forward."

Friday, April 24, 2015

My Most Popular Blog Post So Far

Five years ago today, I wrote what is currently the most popular post of this blog. To this date, it has had the most amount of views out of any other posts. You can check it out here:

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Good Memories of a Good Man

April 23, 1984 was a sad day for our family. It was 31 years ago today when my sister's husband, Carl, was killed in a truck-train collision shortly after their 2nd child was born. I was 14 years old, and I remember the various emotions I felt - shock, disbelief, anger, grief, and incredible sadness, especially for  my sister, Judy. But, on this anniversary of Carl's death, I don't want to focus on the pain we all endured. Instead, I want to focus on the good memories we have of Carl - the things that make us smile. This post is especially for you, Judy. We all loved Carl, and we all love YOU.

FROM DAD: He was a dedicated man to the Word of God. He loved Jesus. He told me so.

FROM MOM: He was soft (like my dad). Never spoke mean. He was a tender man. He loved Jesus. He had a gentle spirit yet was a hard tough worker. He cared about others and showed it. 

FROM DANIEL: Having no brothers while growing up, I was excited to have a brother (-in-law).  Carl spent time with me playing games (i.e. Checkers) and talking.  I always enjoyed his company and fellowship. I also remember how Carl had a giving heart and wanted to share with others. When I had my first vehicle, I wanted a passenger side rear view mirror.  He took me to a box in a garage and said I could have any mirror in the box.  I found a set that fit my model and attached them.  It was exciting to see the rear view from both sides of the car, and each time I looked through the mirrors, I was reminded of my brother (-in-law) and his love for me and our family.

FROM ME:  When I was 11 years old, I became a sister-in-law for the first time. I was so excited for my sister to get married. Carl was a handsome, young man who was quiet and kind. He had a tender heart and a good sense of humor. I don't remember any specific words he said, but I do remember some actions. I remember how he liked macaroni pasta with plain tomato sauce on it. I remember him teasing me like a big brother would. I remember him helping my dad do some work in Grandma's yard. I knew, by his actions, that he loved my sister, he loved his two children, and he loved our entire family.

FROM AMANDA (A newly born baby when Carl died):   I don't know much. I do know that he didn't like cigarettes and he was really big and strong.

FROM RYAN (2 years old when Carl died):  One story I remember Mom telling me is how Carl lifted and held the car so mom could change the tire.  One of my cousins told me he could lift out an engine with his hands and put in a new one and make it look easy.   I always wanted to be strong like that.   I do have a memory of him around Easter - he was teasing me.  There were two big peeps bunnies - one yellow one pink. I wanted the pink one and he said that one was his or moms or something like that.  That memory has faded a lot. I also kinda remember sleeping on him,  also running around in my diaper and the ground was all soggy. We were at the trailer and he was doing something with a black plastic hose.  Another was him using a big orange chainsaw and I remember my uncles all standing around talking.  These short memories are kind of like really short visions or movie clips. Wish I could remember more but I'm thankful for what I can remember.  

FROM JULIE M. (Family friend): Carl was a handsome young man, crazy in love with Judy.  I will always remember his eyes that had the sparkle in them, his dimples, and his lovely smile that would fill your heart with love every time he smiled at you.  I will never forget the day of his accident..... probably one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life, to go console Judy and their babies, Ryan and Amanda. Love Judy with all my heart. Thankful she found love again with Darren.

As you can see, Carl was a blessing to our family and we thank God for the time we had with him here on this earth. We are thankful for the good memories we have of this good man, and we  look forward to seeing him again someday when we reach our home in Heaven.  

Philippians 1:3 - I thank my God 
every time I remember you. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Encouragement Challenge #16: Encourage A Bereaved Spouse

My sister lost her first husband, Carl, in the month of April (1984), only 3 years after they were married. He was involved in a truck-train collision, and left my sister with a 2-year-old son and a newborn daughter. It was devastating to her, and to our entire family. 

Ironically, the month of APRIL is known as Worldwide Bereaved Spouses Awareness Month. For years, I never wanted to talk to my sister about her first husband. I was afraid it would cause her to be too depressed and I wanted to spare her that hurt. But, I have since learned, sometimes, a bereaved spouse NEEDS to talk about their loved one. They need to remember the good times, and want others to share their good memories as well. 

I recently found a website about BEREAVEMENT AWARENESS. Here is the description on the website for Bereaved Spouses Awareness Month: The Bereaved Spouses Awareness Month's purpose is to promote support for bereaved spouses. Often people don't know what to say to or do for grieving spouses. So sometimes, they turn away and do nothing. We encourage people to turn back and begin to reach out to bereaved spouses by giving them someone who will listen to them without advising them; a shoulder to cry on; and a hug when appropriate and needed. Basically, we want to inspire people to "be there" for the bereaved. 

The website gives suggestions on reaching out to help the bereaved. If you know someone who has lost a spouse (and, I think we ALL do!), please choose one of these suggestions for this week's  ENCOURAGEMENT CHALLENGE.

Some of the suggestions are:
  • Be available to them through a visit in person, by phone, and/or by mail. Send them a card telling them you are thinking of them. Listen to them, as they need to talk about the person who died. Let them cry if they need to.
  • Include the griever in your life.  Invite him/her to join you for meals, special occasions, church, etc.  
  • Show your love with a touch on the shoulder, a warm hand shake or a hug.  
  • The best thing to say is "I'm sorry for your loss." If you knew the person who died, share a memory or a heartfelt compliment about him.
  • Offer to pray with them.  

Have a good week as you serve the Lord through the gift of encouragement.

NOTE:  On Thursday morning, I will be sharing some special memories my family and I have about Carl. So, please check in again then.

UPDATE:  Here is the link to the post about Carl

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Encouragement Challenge #15: Prayers for Autism

APRIL is the official month for "autism acceptance" (also known as "autism awareness.") With how many diagnoses there currently are, I am sure you know a family who has been affected by this disorder.  

Each April, Jack and Rebecca Systema, the founders of  a ministry called CHILDREN OF DESTINY, host a prayer challenge called TURNING THE TIDE FOR AUTISM.  

This week, I encourage you to download and print out (if you are able) the following calendar for the "Turning the Tide" prayer challenge:

It is already April 12th, but you can start the challenge at any time. Take a look at the calendar each day this week, look up the Scripture reference listed, then follow the recommendations for prayer. If you feel led, it would be great if you would continue on to the end of April. Let's all pray for a definite cause to be found, a definite cure, peace for those who are learning to cope with a new diagnosis, and strength for those who are struggling. 

Click these links for more information about Autism and Autism Acceptance Month:

Thursday, April 9, 2015

REVIEW: 10 Steps to your F.I.T: Faith Inspired Transformation

Kim Dolan Leto is one of the most photographed fitness models in America. She has been on the cover of "Fitness," "Oxygen," "Fitness Life" and more. But, throughout her career, there has been one thing that has kept her grounded, and that is her faith in Christ.

She has released a new book, "10 Steps to your F.I.T: Faith Inspired Transformation," that I have had for awhile, but just recently got around to picking up. It encourages women to reach their fitness goals by adopting a healthy view of diet and exercise, and shows how good health is a benefit of glorifying God with our bodies. One of the verses she shares in her book is:
1 Corinthians 6:12, 20b - Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is helpful. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not allow anything to control me... Therefore, glorify God with your bodies. (ISV)
This book has been helpful for me as I try to revamp my family's diet into healthier choices for life. It provides helpful tips on what types of foods to eat. It is not a diet - it is a way of life that needs to take place. Instead of just reducing calories, we need to be eating the right kinds of foods. Foods that will fill us up and give us energy. Foods that are God-made rather than man-made.

The book also shows us how to practice the 5 P's at every meal:   
  • Pause (ask yourself if you are really hungry)
  • Pray (ask God to help you eat the right foods)
  • Portion (be mindful of the amount you are eating)
  • Practice (eating slowly) 
  • Plan (make healthy meals as often as you can and have healthy snacks on hand)

Leto is currently offering a very good deal on a package price which includes this book, a DVD, and more. You can read more about the book, and the package deal at:

NOTE:  I received a copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Grace of God - Inspirational DVD [GIVEAWAY CLOSED]

The movie GRACE OF GOD was recently released on DVD. My husband and I watched it together, and had mixed thoughts about it. For a brief summary, Detective Bill Broadly, who is antagonistic towards Christians, is called to investigate the disappearance of a church’s special fund collection. As he questions the church members, one unexpected church-goer confesses to stealing the funds. The confession is what helps to resurrect Broadly’s views on God.

On the negative side, the movie was a bit disorganized, had stiff acting, and had some scenes that really weren't necessary to the overall plot. Besides that, the subtitle says it is a story of "Easter Traditions," and I feel this is a bit misleading. The story does not mention Easter or any of its traditions. The cover also lists John Ratzenburger as a main character. However, he played a very minor part in this movie.

On the positive side, it is a family-friendly, inspirational film, with some unexpected twists. It has a message of grace and redemption and, unlike other inspirational films I have watched, it has a scene that mentions Jesus' death on a cross for our sins, and shares the complete Gospel message.

You can find it at Walmart. But, if you are interested, you have a chance to win a copy of this DVD by entering through the form below. The giveaway ends Saturday, April 11, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. CST, and FlyBy Promotions will mail the DVD directly to the winner.

"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. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”