Sunday, July 31, 2016

Look Out... for the Interests of Others

The word of the week is PURPOSEFUL
:  having a clear intention or aim

A Christian brother mentioned in church last Sunday about how we often don’t realize how much people think or care about us until we are noticeably going through a difficult time. But, what about when our struggles aren’t quite as noticeable? Some of us are more vocal than others about the challenges we are facing, but I believe EVERYONE is going through something that could use the prayers and support of others. So, don’t you think we should be looking out for each other on a regular basis, for ways to lift each other up (encourage each other), even when our struggles aren’t quite as evident?

I would like to challenge you, for at least this week, to be PURPOSEFUL about looking out for those you come in contact with. 
  • If you see someone working hard and/or doing a good job at something - whether they are in the spotlight or behind the scenes - make it a point to send them a quick note of thanks, or compliment them personally about their work. 
  • If you see someone who isn't smiling - make it a point to let them know you care and give them something to smile about (maybe share an encouraging Bible verse with them). 
  • If you see someone who is smiling - make it a point to return the smile, give them a hug, or find some way to compliment or encourage them. Even though they are smiling, you don't always know what kinds of struggles they are facing, and your encouragement could be the blessing they are longing for. 
In other words, make it a goal of yours to notice people around you, and then act on encouraging them in some way, even if there is no outward evidence that they are going through a struggle. Look out... for the interests of others.

If you need to, you can write out the verse above and put it in a place where you will see it every day this week. It will be a reminder to be purposeful about encouragement - because life is hard and we ALL need to know there are people who care.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Do you have a family with a mix of skin and/or hair colors? Do you have children who are as different from you as the night is from the day (whether they are biological or adopted)? Do you have a disabled child who often feels out of place because of his/her differences? If YES to any of these questions, then I LOVE YOU JUST BECAUSE, by Donna Keith, would be a good book for you to get. Basically, it is good for ANY family that has young children who simply need to know you love them for who they are.

This book is the 3rd in a series of board books inspired by the interracial family of the author's daughter. I love the adorable illustrations, and the Bible verses included on each page. Not only can  it help your little ones understand it is okay to look and/or act differently than the others in your family, it also teaches them what God's Word says.

Here's an example from one of the pages in this book:

"I know my brothers think that fish are quite a special treat.
To me, they're yucky," Panda says. "I want bamboo to eat!"
"Bamboo it is," says Mama, "for the panda we adore.
It's part of who you are and makes us love you even more."

Christ accepted you, so you should accept each other.
This will bring glory to God. ~ Romans 15:7

If you want to remind your kids you love them "just because you're you," this is a cute book to pick up and read with them as you snuggle on the couch.

Enter below for your chance to win a copy of this book. Entries accepted until Saturday, July 30, 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, July 24, 2016

People Out There

 The word of the week is LIGHT
: something that makes vision possible : a particular illumination : something that enlightens or informs

It was 1:30 in the morning, and I had insomnia. I’m not exactly sure why I couldn't sleep. Maybe it was due to the stresses of college, or to the fact that I had been questioning my existence in this world. It was a common pity party for me during that time. So, as I sat and sulked on the bed in my small Chicago dorm room, I looked out the window and noticed Franklin Square in the distance.

Not a very pretty sight, really, compared to other parts of Chicago; but maybe that was a good thing. It helped me focus my attention on the darker corners of the city, the parts that needed more light; and as I began to think and pray about why I was there in that dark city, my heart was redirected off of myself and onto others. I looked out at the darkness, then saw the small lights shining in the distance. The reason for my existence became more clear as I  realized, as Christians, WE are the light of the world. We need to be shining our lights brightly to help illuminate the darkness.

THAT is why I was there.
In fact, that is why we are ALL here - to shine our lights for the glory of God.

Here is what I wrote about that night...

By: Victoria (McIntosh) Stankus, April 6, 1989

There are people out there.
Real people.
Lonely people.

It is dark out tonight.
Dark in many ways.
There are a few lights shining brightly in the distance.
The light is so small compared to the darkness.

The American flag flies freely on top of Franklin Square.
It symbolizes the freedom of the people.
But, yet, they are not free.

There are people out there.
Real people.
Lonely people.
People who need Jesus.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Worth More Than the Birds

The word of the week is WORTH
:  to the fullest extent of one's value or ability

As children of God, we are much more worthy (valuable) to Him than the birds are. So, if He provides for the needs of the birds, why would He not provide for us?

Here’s another story from my brother, Daniel, about God’s provision for our family. This one took place in Manito, IL. Dan and Dad were home doing dishes while the ladies were out of the house for awhile. Here is the story in Dan’s words:

Dad was washing, I was drying. The phone rang, and because Dad’s hands were wet he asked me to answer the phone. WDUK (Havana Duck Radio station) was on the line and said they were doing a game and randomly called numbers. They said the money pot grows until someone answers right. The previous contestants answered wrong, so the pot was something like $25.00. They asked a question, and if I got it right, they’d send me a check.
The question was, “In Alice in Wonderland there was a card that ruled the underworld. What was that card?”
I didn’t know, so I answered in a questioning way, “Was it the Queen of Hearts?”

They said I was right and, after I hung up the phone, Dad started laughing because he said someone was pranking me. But a week or two later, I got a check in the mail from WDUK, and I signed it, gave it to mom, and she bought supper for us that night. If I remember right, this was one of those times Dad was in-between checks again, and the groceries got us through until his next check.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Out of the Blue - solo Piano Music by Cory Lavine

Do you like piano music that has a mix of a classical and contemporary feel to it? If so, then you will enjoy Out of the Blue by CORY LAVINE. I have the CD and have been enjoying listening to the imaginative and peaceful music composed by Cory.

Back in the early 90's, Cory toured with Young American Showcase along with my husband's brother. It was Cory's FIRST MUSIC JOB/MINISTRY, where he helped encourage teens to say no to alcohol and drugs, and to also say yes to Christ. Years later, he ended up in Nashville, where he composed Out of the Blue, his debut album. It is a collection of songs he composed shortly after he had an encounter with someone while working as a bellman. This person encouraged him not to forget why he originally moved to Nashville. After that, Cory was inspired to pursue music again and things started happening from there.

You can listen to Cory's album online here

If you like what you hear, click below to sign up for Cory's newsletter and you will receive a 20% coupon for any purchase on his website. Cory has MP3 downloads and/or physical copies of his CD available for sale. He has also been giving away one CD each month to one of his subscribers, so be sure to sign up here if you want to be included in future drawings:

Thanks for your hard work, Cory, and for blessing us with your music.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

God Provides for the Needs of His Children

The word of the week is PROVIDE
: to make (something) available : to supply (something that is wanted or needed) : to give something wanted or needed to (someone or something) : to supply (someone or something) with something

Following the event that happened in LAST WEEK’S POST, there was a period of 4 days when there continued to be very little food in our cupboards. If you remember, my parents were doing deputation work for CEF ministries and did not receive a regular paycheck. Their income was provided by the support of other Christians, and some weeks were financially leaner than others; but, through faith, God supplied for my family’s needs in miraculous ways during that time.

On day one, we all sat down for supper and were getting ready to eat what was left in our cupboards - some crackers with butter on them (and my sister thinks there might have been a little bit of popcorn as well). We all held hands and Dad prayed just like we always did, thanking God for our meal. Then, he also asked God to provide for our needs. My brother remembers Dad telling us to enjoy our meal, because we didn’t know where the next one would come from. Then, there was a knock on the door. Upon answering the door, no one was there. However, a sack of groceries was left there anonymously. We were all so excited to see how God had provided so quickly. We had enough food for a good meal that night, as well as some leftovers for breakfast the next morning.

Day 2 - At breakfast, we all prayed again before us three kids left for school, asking God, in faith, to provide for our needs. Later that afternoon, some friends of ours called and said they had made too much supper, so they asked us to come over and join them. Of course, we said yes, and had a nice meal with our friends that night.

Day 3 - We all prayed again before leaving for school. That afternoon, my brother and sister received a small check for a paper route job they had. It was maybe around $6.00, which was worth a lot more 40 years ago than it is now. My dad gave the check to them and asked what they wanted to do with it. They said, “Let’s go to McDonald’s!” So, that was our meal for that night.

Day 4 - I’m sure we all prayed again that morning. Later that day, an income check arrived for the amount of $1000. It was enough to provide for our family’s needs for the following month.

God is good, and always promises to supply the needs of His children. Not always what we WANT, but exactly what we NEED.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


Christians, in particular, can feel like we ought not to vent our emotions at God; we prefer tidy prayers like "God, we don't understand, but we trust you" to the chaotic, confused, howling prayers we find in the Psalms. But those songs are in the Bible because we are supposed to express ourselves that way. "How long, O Lord? Will You forget us forever? What are you doing? Can't you see we're in agony down here, banging our fists against our tear-soaked pillows and eating dust for dinner? If you ever loved us, O God, come and fix things! Now!" If God is big enough to be worth yelling at about your situation, He is big enough to take your pain, hear your lament, and somehow use it to comfort you in the confusion. ~ Found on page 54 of The Life We Never Expected  by Andrew and Rachel Wilson
This is a book I am sure I could have benefited from when my daughter was first diagnosed with autism.  Andrew and Rachel Wilson, who have two children diagnosed with regressive autism, discuss fighting for joy, thriving in the midst of trials, grief, healing, prayer, and more. Through it all, they point readers to Christ, the One who promises to make all things new.

If you are a parent of a special needs child, this is a great book to pick up. It is a book of short reflections that reveal the real thoughts and real feelings of the authors. They use their own experiences to help others process the various stages that come with parenting a special needs child.

BUT... even if you don't have a child with a disability, this book can be good for you, too! It is actually good for ANYONE, because it covers things like loss, hope, contentment, and joy. Plus, the chapters are short and easy to read, which is a good thing for all of us busy people.

Enter below for a chance to win a copy of this book. Entries will be accepted until Saturday, July 9, 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, July 3, 2016

A Grateful Child Who Believed

The word of the week is BELIEVE
: to accept or regard (something) as true : to accept the truth of what is said by (someone)

When I was a little girl, around the age of 5, my family lived in Mankato, MN, where my parents were serving with CEF (Child Evangelism Fellowship). They were doing deputation work (appointed to represent the ministries of CEF to others) and did not receive a regular paycheck. Their income was provided by the support of other Christians, and some weeks were financially leaner than others.

One morning, during one of our leanest weeks, our cupboards were almost bare. All we had was three or four pieces of bread, some butter, some crackers, and maybe a little bit of milk.  My brother, Daniel, had asked for cinnamon toast for breakfast. (He and I both loved it while growing up - it was a mixture of cinnamon and white sugar sprinkled over buttered toast). So, my mom toasted the last few pieces of bread and slathered some butter on them. One for Dan, one for me, and one for our sister, Judy. Mom told us to go down to the kitchen and each take one piece of toast. Dan was the first one down. With anticipation, he looked at the toast carefully to see which piece had the most cinnamon on it and, of course, he took that piece. He remembers it tasting great, just like cinnamon toast should taste. He wanted to tell Mom "thank you" for the delicious toast, so he went upstairs to find her. He heard her crying through her bedroom door, and, after knocking, was told by our dad to stay out; so he spoke through the door and said, “Mom, thanks for the cinnamon toast! It was delicious!” When Mom heard what he said, she was even more upset and cried harder. Dan did not understand what was going on. Later, our dad questioned him, asking him why he said that to mom. Dan didn’t understand his question at first, so Dad clarified, asking, “Why did you say thanks for the cinnamon toast? There wasn’t any cinnamon on it.” Apparently, we were out of cinnamon/sugar, so Mom had only buttered the toast; but, Dan had believed he was getting cinnamon toast for breakfast because that is what he had asked for. He sincerely told our Dad the toast looked and tasted like it had cinnamon on it. He was grateful for it, and wanted to thank Mom.

To this day, Dan still says it was the best tasting cinnamon toast he has ever had. Some would say it was just his mind working overtime, allowing him to taste what he wanted to taste. But, I have the belief it was a mighty God who, in his mysterious ways, somehow added the flavoring for a grateful child who believed.

If only we could all believe in that same way.