Thursday, August 31, 2017

BOOK: "Sprout's Journey" by Carolyn McIntosh

It's time to go on an adventure! All you have to do is read this new book, Sprout's Journey, written and illustrated by my niece, Carolyn McIntosh. This is her debut book as an author and, inside, she shares the experiences of a girl by the name of Sprout. It is similar to Pilgrim's Progress in the way that Sprout meets many different friends and foes along her path. Some of them include:  Complacency, Ego P. Ride, Shimmer of Hope, Humble Inspiration, and Good News. She encounters many obstacles along the way, as well as encouragement and hope, which are all meant to help her grow in her faith.

Carolyn writes:  "Sprout's Journey is about a girl who has been a Christian for awhile, but is just now choosing to follow the path The Creator has set before her. She is named Sprout because she is still in the process of growing."

This would be a great book for pre-teen and teenage girls, as it includes many of the thoughts and feelings young girls face. However, there are many great insights that anyone could benefit from. For example, in chapter one, Sprout meets Humble Inspiration, a man who had been on the path for quite some time. He gives her information about how The Creator can help her on her journey by saying to her:

"First... you must trust The Creator one-hundred percent. Then, once you have committed to doing that, you must understand who you are in Him."
"You see, young Sprout," the man continued as he pointed towards the horizon, "The world is full of lies. I can already see how they have burned your heart as the sun burns skin. It wasn't meant to be there and it causes great pain and suffering. That is why you must read The Book and learn the truth."

Humble Inspiration turned, looked Sprout in the eye, and warned, "Do not believe the lies. You have to understand that The Creator is good."

"Second," He continued, "you must believe with all your heart that The Creator has a plan and that He will not leave you. Even when the path becomes tough and you feel like quitting, you mustn't settle for less."

You will also find various quotes and Scripture references to back up the content in the book, so it might even be good to use in a Sunday School or youth group setting.

Order your copy today on Amazon. It is available in paperback or Kindle formats.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Photo of the Week #26: Looking Up

JJ is wearing special glasses as he watches the moon's shadow slowly moving across the sun.

I love this picture of JJ.

He, along with thousands of others, were among the onlookers of the 2017 Solar Eclipse this past Monday. We were in Harrisburg, IL, when this picture was captured. It is full of awe and wonder, along with anticipation for totality to take place.

Once totality hit, the sky darkened to the level of sunset and everyone in the park clapped and cheered. We all removed our special glasses and were able to look at the eclipse without hurting our eyes. It was beautiful. It only lasted a couple of minutes and, unfortunately, I didn't get any really good pictures of the eclipse itself. But, I'm happy we were able to take part in seeing this rare event. It was a sight I will not soon forget.

David, and two of our friends, looking up as the total eclipse took place

These two pictures also remind me of how we should be looking up and watching in anticipation for the time when the Lord will descend from heaven with a loud trumpet call, and will take those of us who believe in and trust in Him for salvation to be with Him forever. Many refer to this event as "The Rapture." We won't know the day or the hour but, one day, He WILL be coming to get us. Are you ready?

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 - For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.  (ESV)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

GIVEAWAY: Patterns of Evidence: The Exodus - DVD [GIVEAWAY CLOSED]

Tim Mahoney is the Founder of Mahoney Media Group and Thinking Man Films & Media. In January 2015, he produced his first full feature documentary film, PATTERNS OF EVIDENCE: THE EXODUS. This film took 12 years to develop, and uses a scientific approach to investigate the Biblical account of the Exodus. (FYI:  The Exodus is the event where Moses, who was born Jewish but raised as Egyptian, is used by God to free the Israelite slaves and takes them on a long journey through the desert in order to reach "The Promised Land.") This account of the Exodus has been under attack from many "experts" who say there is no evidence to support it's occurrence. They claim it is just a myth. So, during a "crisis of faith," Tim Mahoney began an investigation. Tim says this about the film:

I spent 12 years asking the question, “Is the Bible true?”  If it wasn’t then what should I put my faith in? What I found was an amazing pattern of evidence that matched many of the events recorded in the Bible. There was a real history that could be seen. For me that changed everything. I encourage you to join me in the ongoing investigation and see the Bible affirming evidence for yourself. 

However, the film is not one-sided. It takes a balanced approach, allowing viewpoints from all sides to be heard in a respectful way. This makes the film more shareable to those with differing viewpoints, and will leave the audience to decide for themselves if the Bible is really History or just a myth.
I personally felt the film was a bit slow-moving, and I actually fell asleep a couple of times while watching it. But, if you watch it when you are not tired, and you don't mind a slow moving documentary, the film is very informative and has a lot of eye-opening moments. It could produce a lot of great discussion among your family and friends! Some of the evidence that was discussed includes:  evidence for the Jews living in Egypt, evidence of the plagues on Egypt, evidence of a mass exodus of the people, and evidence for the conquest of Canaan.

You can purchase a copy of the DVD at the PATTERNS OF EVIDENCE STORE.  And, to get $3.00 off the retail price of $19.95, use this DISCOUNT CODE:  MK1

You can also enter below to take part in a random drawing for one copy of this DVD. Entries will be accepted through Sunday, August 27, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. Central Time. Must be 18 or older to enter. Continental U.S. only. 

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 on the same blog, 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, August 20, 2017

Photo of the Week #25: Illinois State Fair 2001 & 2017 (Cherished Memories)

Last week, we spent EL's birthday at the Illinois State Fair. The last time we were there was 16 years ago, on her 3rd birthday, so I thought it would be fun to post a picture of EL and me 16 years ago in 2001, and then again in 2017. It looks like we were basically sitting in the same place for the pictures. Were were in the food-a-rama, which is the big area inside the fair where you can find many different food vendors, and lots of tables under one roof.  In the background is the Ferris Wheel in both pictures.

We had a good time at the Fair, although I don't think we will be going back anytime soon. It was very warm that day, and I got a bit overheated. It took me a couple of days to get over the feeling of being exhausted. Plus, the food there is super expensive. But, at least we were able to get a discount on admission because of it being Scout Day. David and JJ both got into the fair for free. Then, the kids also got discounted ride armbands. (Instead of $30.00, they were only $20.00 each for unlimited rides, thanks again to Scout day.)

During our time at the fair, we saw several short stunt shows, looked at the exhibits, ate expensive food, drank lots of water and lemonade, went to a "Herman's Hermits" concert and, of course, the kids went on rides. Out of the whole fair experience, I think the kids enjoyed the rides the best. There was one ride (see photo above) where they sat in a car and went backwards in a fast circle. They both loved it and went on it several times.  They also enjoyed the swings (photo below) and went on that ride several times as well.

 For most of the rides, the kids boarded together, although there were times when they separated, like when JJ went on the big swinging boat while EL chose the milder Carousel. Thankfully, the lines were not too long while we were there, so the kids were definitely able to get their money's worth out of the rides. 

After a long, 12-hour day at the fair, we walked out exhausted and ready for bed; but it was a good kind of exhaustion, as we all enjoyed getting away and spending time together as a family. 

As I look again at the picture of 3-year-old EL, it makes me realize how our lives have changed since then, and how fast the time has gone. Soon, JJ will also be grown and making a life of his own; so, times like these with our children are always cherished times. Exhausted or not, it was definitely a trip worth taking. 

Psalm 127:3 - Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. (NIV)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Photo of the Week #24: Our Graduates

Last Sunday, we had a graduation ceremony and celebration for our two graduates. EL has finished High School and received a Certificate of Completion. JJ received his 8th Grade diploma. It was a nice day celebrated with family and friends. A huge milestone. 

For more pictures and details, click over to the newest post on our homeschool Blog:  SONset ACADEMY: Our 2017 Graduates

Psalm 113:3 - From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Photo of the Week #23: Car Show Bonus

Last weekend, we went to a family reunion on David's side of the family. While we were in the area, the "boys" went to a car show in town, and JJ was in "heaven." He loved looking at all the shiny cars, as did his grandfather. While they were looking at one of the cars, the owner noticed JJ's interest and asked if he would like to sit inside. "Ummm... Yah!" was the reply. What a neat experience for him. Most of the time, there are signs that say "Do not touch!" on the cars, but JJ was allowed to SIT in this one! The man was very gracious. He showed favor to JJ, but it wasn't because JJ was someone "special" or because he did something for the owner of the car.  He was simply given this opportunity without doing anything to earn it, except show an interest. 

This is an example of God's grace to us. God gives us his grace for salvation, not because we are someone special, or because we have done something special for Him, but simply in response to our faith in Christ for the forgiveness of our sin. 

Numbers 6:25 - The LORD make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you;