Friday, April 29, 2016

Nichole Nordeman - "Slow Down"

Nichole Nordeman, a contemporary Christian singer and songwriter, has released a brand new lyric video for her song “Slow Down” which features footage from the members of FlyBy Promotions (that includes me!). I’m excited to share this new music video with you, because....

#1 - It's a touching video that shows key life moments of children across the country and highlights the desire of every mother and father today, that time would “slow down” so we could breathe in and celebrate these milestones in our children's lives.

#2 - Our son, JJ, is in it! Watch closely and you will see two short clips of him near the end of the video, one at 3:31 and the other at 3:46. He is on his bike both times. The first one is when he first learned to ride a bike. The second one was several years later (during the Summer of 2015), when he was riding his bike in a much different way.

Check out the video here. I think you will like it...

And, if you are interested, here's a link to Nichole's album on iTunes: THE UNMAKING

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

REVIEW: After the Boxes Are Unpacked

A few months ago, due to my husband's new job, I was certain we were going to have to uproot our family and move to a new town. So, I became interested in doing a review of this revised book, After the Boxes Are Unpacked, by Susan Miller

As of now, we haven't made a final decision on whether or not we will be moving. I am hoping things will work out that we won't have to move because the to-do list of re-locating is incredibly overwhelming, and the adjustment process is stressful on the entire family. But, if we do end up moving, I will be using some of the tips/advice given in this book to unpack my "survival box." To be more clear, the "survival box" is a list of suggestions given at the end of a chapter that can help you alleviate loneliness, express your love for your husband, be more organized, help your children through the adjustment process, and put your focus in the right place... just to name a few.

It's really hard to pinpoint the most helpful tip I learned from this book, because there are so many; but I love the Scripture references that are included, and the encouraging tone of the book. I like how the author stresses the point on page 39, "A life change like moving is not easy. But God doesn't always want to make it easy for us, for it's in those stressful times that we grow closer to Him. Sometimes God allows us to go through an experience for the powerful lessons we could learn no other way." 

So, for those of you who have recently moved, or are planning on moving soon, this would be a good book for you to get. The advice the author gives is given out of her own experiences of moving, and it can help lead you in the step by step process of (1) letting go, (2) starting over, and (3) moving forward.
Deuteronomy 31:8 - It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (ESV)

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, and I have expressed my own opinion.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Run On, Sojourners

I have moved around quite a bit in my lifetime (i.e. relocated due to job changes and other situations). And, because of that, I have often felt like I don’t really belong anywhere. Like I’m an outsider. Like I have no place to really call my home. But, I love this song (below) by Buddy Greene that reminds me this world is not really my home anyway. I am a sojourner here, and I’m only running this race for a little while. 

The word of the week is SOJOURN
: a period of time when you stay in a place as a traveler or guest
Let me encourage you to carry on, fellow sojourners. The Lord is with us and will help us finish the race set before us. All of the fighting, all of the immorality, all of the sickness, and all of the struggles of this world are only temporary. Someday, it will all be made right when we, as Believers in Christ, reach our home in Heaven. Until then, persevere. Allow the Lord to help you through the difficult times, and continue being lights shining in the darkness.

Click on the song title to see/hear Buddy Greene sing this song.

Words by Gloria Gaither, Music by Buddy Greene

It's not home
Where men sell their souls
And the taste of power is sweet
Where wrong is right
And neighbors fight
While the hungry are dyin' in the streets
Where kids are abused
And women are used
And the weak are crushed by the strong
Nations gone mad
Jesus is sad
And I don't belong

I don't belong
And I'm going someday
Home to my own native land
I don't belong
And it seems like I hear
The sound of a "welcome home" band
I don't belong
I'm a foreigner here
Singing a sojourner's song
I've always known
This place ain't home
And I don't belong

Don't belong
But while I'm here
I'll be living like I've nothin' to lose
And while I breathe
I'll just believe
My Lord is gonna see me through
I'll not be deceived
By earth's make-believe
I'll close my ears to her siren song
By praisin' His name, I'm not ashamed
'Cause I don't belong

Repeat Chorus

I belong
To a kingdom of peace
Where only love is the law
Where children lead
And captives are freed
And God becomes a baby on the straw
Where dead men live
And rich men give
Their kingdoms to buy back a song
Where sinners like me
Become royalty
And we'll all belong

Yes I belong
And I'm going someday
Home to my own native land
Where I'll belong
And it seems like I hear
The sound of a "welcome home" band
Yes, I'll belong
No foreigner there
Singin' a sojourner's song
I've always known
I'm going home
Where I belong
Yes I've always known
This place ain't home
And I don't belong

Sunday, April 17, 2016

There's A Time to Laugh (So, Here's A Look at My Crazy Side)

I enjoy being around people. However, most people who meet me say I am quiet and reserved, and sometimes find it harder to get to know me. I am not really a shy person. I’m just not very outspoken, unless I’m in a smaller group of people and I feel comfortable enough to let my guard down. There are a few people in my life, however, who have been able to see me “let loose.” For example, my immediate family has had the “privilege” of seeing me suddenly hop off the couch and dance wildly to a song I hear on the radio or TV. It’s a fun way to release tension, and also to connect with my kids. It makes us all laugh, and laughter is good.

LAUGH : to show that you are happy or that you think something is funny by smiling and making a sound from your throat

My husband was sneaky recently, and happened to record me goofing around with our son, JJ. There was a time when I would have been too embarrassed to share this video with anyone. But, I am actually going to share it with you. Why? To prove that I do have a crazy side, and to press the point that life is too short to not let loose and have some fun once in awhile. Even in the Bible (Ecclesiastes 3:4) it says there is a time to laugh, and a time to dance. So, go ahead, be crazy. Let off some steam. And, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and let others see your crazy side once in awhile as well.

But, just so you know, I seriously doubt I will re-enact this for you if you see me in person. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

REVIEW: 8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids (+ Discount Code)

Are you interested in receiving practical tips to help you build a stronger relationship with your kids or grandkids? Are you a busy parent (or grandparent) who doesn't have much time to sit and read a thick book full of non-essential information? If yes, then check out 8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids by Todd Cartmell. It is a little book with big advice that won't take up too much of your time.

The 8 tools listed are:  Talking, Listening, Influencing, Connecting, Teaching, Encouraging, Correcting and Leading. Then, for each of the 8 tools, the book includes 5 short chapters (a total of 40 chapters) that are easy to read, and short enough to read only a few pages at a time and come away with some helpful information.

I have been reading the book a little at a time and have been impressed with what I have read. The author doesn't tell parents everything we are doing wrong. He simply shares personal stories and gives gentle suggestions (tools) that can help us develop a stronger relationship with our children.

In the introduction, the author says: "If you are a parent who talks and listens to your kids, influences them with the power of your words, connects with them, teaches and encourages them, corrects them, and leads them through your example, then I believe you will change the trajectory of their lives."

It is not a devotional book, as there aren't any Scripture references to focus on at the end of each chapter; but, it is based on the Biblical principle to "train up a child in the way he should go." (Proverbs 22:6) So, the tools in this book are helpful in equipping parents to be the kind of loving and nurturing parents God wants us to be.

A DEAL FOR YOU: From April 15th through May 15th, you can get 50% OFF this book when you order from MOODY PUBLISHERS. You must use this discount code when you checkout: GREATKIDS16 

Also, along with your purchase (for a limited time), you can receive access to download the "Hearts At Home Essential Workshop Collection for Parents."  Just fill in THIS FORM at the book's website.

Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC, and Moody Publishers, for providing this book for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own. 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Three Kinds of Relationships with God

The word of the week is RELATIONSHIP 
: the way in which two or more people or things are connected

A couple of years ago, during the month of April (Autism Awareness Month), my family and I attended a special church service especially for parents of autistic children. The speaker, Dr. Paul Kingsbury, was addressing special needs parents; but I think his topic can be applied to any of us. He  spoke about how we all have a relationship with God in one of three ways:
  1. a close relationship
  2. a distant relationship
  3. a non-existent relationship
He went on to say our relationship with God will determine our outlook on the trials/storms we go through in life. I wholeheartedly agree with this.

Out of the three relationship types listed above, I would say I fit best in the first category. I don't claim to have all the answers, and I know there is always room for improvement, as any relationship takes work to keep it thriving and healthy. But, my desires and my focus are to do God's will, and to allow Him to work in and through me. I go to Him when I am struggling, I thank Him when I'm not, and I try to praise Him at all times. That is what I consider a close relationship.

Keeping that in mind, my relationship with the Lord is what has helped give me the strength I need on the hard days. He listens to my cries, gives me wisdom to know what to do when I don't have the answers, and can help me be at peace in the middle of a storm. I am so thankful I don't have to try and handle things on my own, because I know I couldn't do it.

Throughout the years, many well-meaning friends have tried to encourage me and my husband by saying things like,"God gave you a special needs child because He knew you could handle it." While I understand what they are saying, and I'm grateful for their kind words, I don't believe that is true. To "handle" something means you can manage or accomplish it on your own. But, there is absolutely NO WAY I could handle raising a child with special needs without help (or even a child without disabilities, for that matter!) But, I'm thankful to have a relationship with a God who CAN handle it - a God who has been there all along to help me, and my husband, accomplish His will for our lives.

What about you? What kind of relationship do you have with the Lord? If it's non-existent, check out WHY WE NEED SALVATION for information on how you CAN have a relationship with Him. If it's a distant relationship, what is holding you back from becoming closer to Him? Start right now by talking to Him about your struggles, or by giving Him thanks for your blessings. He's waiting to hear from you.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

What To Do When Your "Boat" is Filling Up

The word of the week is CARE.
: to feel interest in something : to be interested in or concerned about something : to feel affection for someone
Have you ever felt like Jesus didn’t care about you? I’m pretty sure the answer is yes to that question, and I want you to know you are not alone. Take a look at Mark 4:35-41. The disciples and Jesus were on board a small fishing boat. It was dark, and Jesus was asleep after a long day of teaching. He was so tired that He continued sleeping through a fierce storm that came up. As the boat was filling with water and was on the verge of sinking, the disciples feared for their lives, so they finally woke Him up and asked, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" They didn’t think Jesus was concerned about their circumstances, and they were annoyed that He was sleeping through the storm. But, what they didn’t realize at the time is how Jesus was using this storm for their benefit - to help strengthen their faith.

It’s the same with us. We all have times when our faith is weak, and we wonder if God cares about us. When we are in a situation that seems humanly impossible to solve, we might ask questions like:
  • Where are You, God?
  • Why aren’t You helping me?
  • Don’t you care about me?
These are the questions that come when we are overwhelmed by our circumstances; when we don’t have the answers; when our “boat” is filling up with water and we feel as if we are sinking. These storms of life are not fun to go through. They are scary, they are frustrating, they are hard. But, they allow us to see our personal weaknesses in order to identify what we really need.
  1. We need to remain faithful, because the Lord sees the bigger picture.
  2. We need to trust the Lord and call out to Him for help.
  3. We need to take hold of His hand, and be willing to accept His help.
  4. We need to ask Him to calm the storms (or to at least calm US and help get us through them).
Cast your anxieties on Him today, because He does care for YOU.

Mark 4:35-41 (NASB)

Matthew Henry Commentary: When Christ seems as if he slept in a storm, he is awaked by the prayers of his people; when we know not what to do, our eye must be to Him (2 Chr. 20:12 ); we may be at our wits’ end, but not at our faith’s end, while we have such a Savior to go to.

Jeffrey E. Miller:  Mark is showing that the closer one’s proximity to Jesus, the safer he is from even the most perilous of danger. A soldier in the Persian Gulf War one said, “Safety lies not in our distance from danger, but in our nearness to God.” The fear of the disciples was unfounded.37 Had they listened to Jesus’ words they would have known that He had said, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” He didn’t say, “Let us go to the middle of the lake and be drowned.” They should have been saying to the howling wind and raging waves, “We have no fear of you, for you can do us no harm. Christ our mighty Savior is aboard!”