The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted..

The Marriage You've Always Wanted
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Happy Valentine’s Day! Let’s celebrate by talking about marriage today! The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted- sounds nice, right? Would make a wonderful book title too. Well Gary Chapman already beat you to it 😉

You guys probably already know I’m a big fan of Gary Chapman from this post. Well his book The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted is just as good as The Five Love Languages, if not better. Actually, I think they’re both great in their own way.

One thing I love about his books is that they are written for any couple. For instance, he will make reference to couples having a hard time and write things specifically for you, but he also writes plenty for the couples in a good season in marriage. And he does both effectively, I think– I’ve been in both of those spots in my marriage– to the extreme of each actually.

Clint and I haven’t had much time to sit and read this book together at night, with so much going on, ya know–life. But I recently read this book and Clint has been reading a chapter here and there when I leave it out for him. Now that I’m finished, he’s going to read the rest of it.

The book covers almost any subject you can think of though and gives you that eye-opening DOH! type of advice just like the love languages. You’ll go, well of course, why didn’t I think of that? Well, maybe because you aren’t a trained Christian marriage counselor, ya think? 🙂

Another thing about Chapman, is that he never avoids the topic of sex. I know society has made sex so dirty, that we’re taken back when we here a Christian leader mention it. But Chapman always points out that it is an extremely important aspect of a healthy marriage and that we as Christians need to get over that stereotype and enjoy intimacy with our partners.. just saying.

Each chapter is sort of broken down into a general idea or specific topic, such as in-laws or sexual intimacy, and then at the end of each chapter there is a mini “assignment”. I like to highlight the parts in the chapters that really speak to me and then answer the questions directly into the book. That way, when I want to look back through at another time, if I wanna be lazy I can just read the highlighted. For instance, I love this…

"Doing right, responding to others as God would respond, expressing love, being patient with imperfection, and having a realistic appraisal of yourself-- these are the things that bring true fulfillment to a marriage."

So now here’s your chance to read The Marriage You’ve Always Marriage– I’m giving away a free copy to one of you!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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If you don’t want to wait for the giveaway, you could just go ahead and purchase it now.

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God’s Not Dead

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I was not compensated in any way or even asked to do this review, I simply wanted to share my thoughts on it. All opinions expressed are solely my own. 

Happy Monday everyone! Hopefully your weekend went by a little slower than mine did. I still feel like it’s Friday of last week. I want to announce the winner of the Unstoppable DVD today and share with you about another movie I saw recently. I rarely even watch television or movies, so it’s been strange watching so much of it lately.

LAURA D. 

is the winner of the Unstoppable DVD. I will be contacting you. 😉

So.. have you heard of the new movie coming out called God’s Not Dead? Since we don’t have cable and I don’t watch much television, I had not seen any previews until we went with the Youth at our church to a concert in Mobile, AL recently and saw the trailer for it. You can view that here…

Doesn’t that make you want to watch it? Well it certainly got me interested! A few weeks ago, I got invited to a pre-screening for it as a blogger. I RSVP’d immediately and asked my friend Jennifer if she would like to come along with me. That is so unlike me too, because I generally stay in my comfort zone and only do things with family. 

I’m so glad I asked her, because it was the first time in a very long time that I have had any girl time with someone other than Shaye or my mother in law and we had a BLAST. And the movie was just as wonderful as the trailer makes it look!

I get so tired of the movies you see nowadays. It’s always a break-up make-up comedy or a hero comes to the rescue with a happily ever after ending. That’s one of the reasons I don’t even like to watch movies. Of course, with Christian movies not being the norm, especially in our theaters, I was excited to see what God’s Not Dead was all about.

Without giving too much away, a college student takes on his professor in proving that God is NOT dead. You see believers and non-believers in several walks of life including those who have always believed, new believers, ones who have turned away, and those who have never really heard the Gospel. The examples of faith in this movie will certainly be eye-opening to believers.

GodisReal

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Not only that, I think this movie will be a great witnessing tool. Like I mentioned in my Unstoppable post, I’m a skeptic. I ask questions and I don’t like the “Because I believe” answers to hard questions. In terms of Creation, this movie will answer so many questions that -I hope- will either shape your faith or help you to defend your faith when the time comes.

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If you are an Atheist–you’re going to want to see this movie.

If you are Agnostic– you’re going to want to see this movie.

If you are struggling in your faith– you’re going to want to see this movie.

If you are a believer– you’re going to want to see this movie.

If you are alive– you’re going to want to see this movie.

They are currently booking theaters for the March 21 opening weekend. You can visit the website here to see if one has been booked in your area. They did stress at the pre-screening that the more tickets sold on the opening weekend, the more likely it will stay around the following weeks. It will be in our area and I’m hoping our church will get a large group together to go.

What do you think of the preview? Is GOD’S NOT DEAD something your family will be seeing?

 

Unstoppable: Review & Giveaway

Unstoppable Review & Giveaway
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Most of you probably know Kirk Cameron from the 80’s where he played Mike Seaver on Growing Pains or maybe from his role in the 2008 film Fireproof. Honestly, until I saw Fireproof, I didn’t even realize Kirk Cameron was a Christian.  Recently, Clint, Shaye and I were at the movies and saw this trailer for UNSTOPPABLE.
If you’ll remember, this is the movie that was apparently being “banned” on Facebook. I think that turned out to be some kind of mistake, but anyhow. Sadly, we weren’t able to make it to either of the showings, so when I got the opportunity to receive a copy and review the movie, I was really excited. Here’s a little more information:  
Inspired by the death of Cameron’s close friend who succumbed to cancer at the age of 15, Kirk Cameron takes viewers on an inspiring and hope-filled visual journey to better understand the biggest doubt-raising question in faith: “Where is God in the midst of tragedy and suffering?”

Going back to the beginning—literally—Kirk investigates the origins of good and evil and how they impact our lives … and our eternities. UNSTOPPABLE will prompt audiences to consider the role that pain and suffering has in our lives, as they affirm their personal views on faith, and encourage conversation starters about God, suffering, and hope.

In theaters for only two weeknights (Sept 24th and Oct 3th, 2013), UNSTOPPABLE: A Live Event with Kirk Cameron sold a staggering 260,000 tickets and reached a theatrical gross of over $3.2 million dollars. In just two nights this independent project sent a loud message – audiences want thought-provoking and meaningful entertainment.

Like that says, Kirk Cameron narrates scenes from the “Beginning” giving you some Genesis 101. Because of this, I think Unstoppable is great not only for mature Christians, but new believers and non-believers as well.

I will say though, it didn’t come straight out and answer the questions about why God allows bad things to happen to good people or where He is in the midst of these things. Instead, Kirk Cameron gives numerous instances in the Bible where these type of things happen and pointed out how we view those things today or how they shaped history. 

I’m a skeptic. I ask questions. Maybe it’s a generational thing or maybe it’s because of my upbringing but I don’t like the “Because I believe” answers to hard questions… yeah, you know what I’m talking about. I don’t have faith because my parents told me to and I’ve never thought to think differently — I have faith, because I ask those hard questions and have come to believe through answers that I was confident in and that were biblical, I guess you could say. I explain this because, the main idea I walked away with from this movie is that you have to trust. He knows what He’s doing, and you have to trust Him. That isn’t exactly an “answer” I would normally be satisfied with, but with the way Kirk Cameron presented it (all biblically-based), it makes perfect sense to me.

The film is Dove Approved for those 12 and older. There are a few scenes that probably wouldn’t be appropriate for children younger than that, so I think the 12+ is suitable. The DVD was released this week on January 28, so you can go the the official website http://unstoppablethemovie.com and buy a copy today… or you could scroll to the bottom of this post and enter to win a free copy. 🙂 Giveaway ends February 9, 2014 @ 11:59 PM.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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To Santa or Not to Santa?

Santa Picture 2013
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I don’t want a heated debate with anyone and I don’t want any rude comments, but I am seriously considering Not to Santa. Originally, Clint and I discussed it before kids and both agreed that we didn’t see anything wrong with our children believing in Santa. Now that I actually have a child, I think about things a lot differently, though.

Actually, until I read an old friend’s Facebook post about why she chose not to teach her children about Santa, I hadn’t even thought twice about that particular subject. She made very valid points though, and when I shared those with Clint, he almost agreed. Then, I guess he went back to reality and said he didn’t think there was anything wrong with Santa.

I’m not thinking that there is anything “wrong” with Santa, I would just rather focus more on other things I suppose. Like, I don’t like the idea that Santa brings all the biggest, baddest, coolest gifts. Mommy and Daddy worked hard for those gifts and instead of getting any Thanks out of it, it’s all going to some imaginary guy. Clint says that’s selfish, but I still feel that way.

Also, I know as a child that Santa’s existence was always a hot topic on the school playground. If we let Lucas believe in Santa Claus, he may start questioning his existence because he hears other kids questioning it. And then, what if that leads him to question Jesus’ existence. That seems like a logical tie-in in a child’s brain to me.

Not only those two things though, but Christmas has become so commercialized. I don’t want that for our family. I guess since we’ve started on our debt-free journey, all the overspending I see associated with the holidays really disturbs me more too.

I can only hope that Lucas will be a thankful little kid like Clint was. Clint got everything he ever asked for but still appreciated every single thing. I got most everything I wanted, and still wanted more. I still have a hard time working against my selfishness now.

Maybe I’m reaching here, but I just want to protect and facilitate his salvation and appreciative personality traits to the best of my ability and in every single way possible.

I think Clint and I have decided to sort of split the decision down the middle, but haven’t made any definite decisions yet. We agreed to wait until next year to really decide, since he won’t remember this Christmas anyhow. I *think* we will probably tone down the commercial aspect of Christmas every year and do our best to teach the message of Christmas as a Christian one.

Like I said, these are only my opinions. If you celebrate Santa or even a Leprechaun or Bunny Rabbit on Christmas, those are your parenting choices.

Do any of you have similar views? Do you teach your children believe in Santa? Are there any traditions in your family that would make Christmas and Santa easier to not be so commercialized and more of a Christian celebration?

I’m Not Thankful For The Things I Have..

Our Thanksgiving
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Thanksgiving this year was amazing! Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. Mainly, because it isn’t centered on gifts and spending money on a bunch of unnecessary things. It’s just about being with family and eating a bunch of good food.

I told you Monday, I would be sharing our Thanksgiving festivities today. Everything worked out so much better than I even thought it would. God is good!

And let me apologize now. First off, this post is going to be longer than usual. I’m really excited about everything that we did, so I want to share it all with you and not leave anything out. Also, I’m writing this post on very little sleep. Our youth group at church had a lock in for Thanksgiving and I volunteered Clint and I to chaperone. I’ve been up since 5:30 am Thursday morning. I did sleep for 2.5 hours this morning, but will be heading to work shortly. That should be a fun productive day at work. Last night, we went as a group to our local outlet mall and handed out hot cocoa and literature to the Black Friday shoppers. The Youth enjoyed it and the 200 cups went QUICK!

But let’s back up to Tuesday. Through our church, Brother Robby has started a thing where he picks up about 20 turkey from a local homeless mission. Church members then volunteer to cook them and Brother Robby delivers them back to the mission for the homeless to eat on Thanksgiving. We didn’t participate last year, but this year we volunteered to do 2. A co-worker of mine was very interested in helping, so she cooked one for me. That was the first turkey I have ever cooked and it was surprisingly really good!

Now for the thing that I, personally, was most excited about. Let me give you a little back-story though. About 5 years ago on a Thanksgiving night, Clint and I were driving home from our day full of Thanksgiving meals at both of our families and were stuffed. We passed a homeless man walking by the Interstate overpass on the Highway and my heart sank. I got emotional and told Clint that I just hated that here we were with full bellies and that man is struggling to carry all of his belongings on his back, in the cold, and most likely with an empty belly. This was before this early Black Friday stuff they do now, so there was barely anyone out. I told Clint that we should go back to his parents’ house and make that man a to-go plate of some of our leftovers and bring it to him. It sounded like a great idea, but then the negativity took over. We thought, well he would probably be gone by the time we got back, he may be dangerous, we were ready to get home, etc. Basically, we were just being selfish in a perfect opportunity to share with this man after it being laid on our hearts.

Since then, I have told Clint and his mother that I want to go out one holiday and feed the homeless in our area. We do have some missions in our city in the “downtown” area, but they are about 4-5 miles from the Interstate. My idea was to try and reach those people that may be new to the area and hadn’t made it down to those missions, those maybe too proud to go to a mission, those who may not be physically able to make it down there, etc. We are just so blessed for all that we have and I want to share that physically and emotionally with these people and let them know that they can come back up from where they are and that it is worth it to do so. I want them to know that even though they aren’t sitting around a table with family that loves them eating their meal, that we love them and God loves them.

So that has been my vision for the last 5 years or so and every year I’ve heard from different people that it’s too dangerous or would take too much from everyone else’s “holiday” to help. Last year we started talking more seriously about doing it with our Sunday School class at church, but I was pregnant at the time so we really didn’t push it. This year, though, it was happening! We got a late start planning things, but we asked anyone we could think of if they knew where camps may be or the best time of night or day to find the homeless. We also collected socks at church to give out, which our church members were very generous in. We did get some suggestions, but none of them ever really seemed to work out. So a few days ago, Brother Robby went driving around and walked into a homeless camp he found and talked with a guy about our plans. He told him we would be back on Thanksgiving, to round up as many people as he could.

On Wednesday, Michelle (my mother-in-law) and I took off work. My mom and little sister came and helped, and we cooked all day to prepare for Thanksgiving. We fried 4 turkeys (with Robby’s help), had 1 roasted turkey, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole and banana pudding. Brother Robby’s wife, Jennifer, prepared dressing and 2 pecan pies. We made enough to feed 50 people!

Thanksgiving Plates For Homeless Packed Up - Copy

Thanksgiving morning, Clint’s parents, my Dad & little sister, Brother Robby and two others from our Sunday School class, Brandy and Heather all put together 50 to-go plates and loaded up to feed those at that camp and whatever else we had left to whoever we could find. When we got to the camp, there were only 3 men to feed. They spread the word, but the mission around the corner was giving out to-go plates, also. Brother Robby spoke with those 3 men about the Gospel and prayed for them and we left them 6 boxes and socks.

Thanksgiving Homeless Camp

Then, we drove over to the mission and spoke with the people running it. They were giving out boxes to people who had pre-registered. We left them 16 boxes for anyone who may come in looking for a meal who had not known to pre-register. As we were taking the food out of the truck, we were sort of bombarded by those who were outside and gave out 20 boxes there. After that, we gave one man a ride and just started driving around looking for anyone walking the streets. We found one guy, Jason, and asked him if he’d eaten and he told us he was just worried about his kids eating. We gave him 3 plates and lots of socks. I’m not sure if he lived in a house or not, but he made the comment that he lived right through some woods in the alley. Jason was a believer, but was upset with God and sort of felt like he had been abandoned. Brother Robby talked with him for a long time and prayed with him.

Thanksgiving Passing Out To-Go Plates to Homeless Jason - Copy

Next, we loaded up and headed north to Walmart. You normally will see homeless hanging out around certain places in the Walmart parking lot and we checked all of those. We found one man sitting in front of a closed down Office Max with a broken leg and another sitting at a stop sign about 100 yards from away. We brought the man with the broken leg a plate and plenty of socks and a sweatshirt. He wasn’t aware of some of the cold shelters in Downtown, so we told him about them and just talked with him for a little while. I enjoyed talking with him, he was so appreciative and polite it just warmed your heart.

Passing Out Plates to Homeless on Thanksgiving Office Max

We walked across the street to the man at the stop sign next. We were coming up behind him and called out to him before we got too close. He set a little book down and took the food and thanked us for it. He noticed the New Testament on top of the box and told us he was excited about that and motioned to his little book, which was a devotional. We gave him some pants and socks and he got teary eyed thanking us and talking with us. He’s been homeless for 20 years. Before we left, he shook Dad and Robby’s hands, hugged me and thanked us again. As we were telling him bye, another man rode up on a bicycle and we offered him a plate. He got socks, a sweatshirt and a plate of food too.

Passing Out Plates to Homeless Around Walmart

Next, we drove down a road that backs up to railroad tracks where there used to be a bunch of homeless that you could see from the Highway. About a year ago, they cut back a bunch of the woods though and you don’t usually see them nearly as much. We drove down this road grown up with trees and at the railroad crossing found 2 men getting warm in the sun. They had a camp through a small opening in the woods, very well hidden from view. We talked with them for a little while and gave them food and socks. They said the others that stayed there were Downtown for the food the missions give out.

After that, we rode around behind stores looking down railroad tracks and walking under a bridge and couldn’t find anyone else. We only had a couple of boxes left so we started heading home. Just past the Interstate overpass, we saw a man walking so we did 2 U-turns to get back to him and pulled off on the shoulder. We gave him both boxes of food in a paper box with water and socks. I think he was walking back to the camp we had just come from down the tracks.

Thanksgiving Making To-Go Plates for Homeless - Copy

This was by far, the best Thanksgiving I have ever enjoyed. And you would probably expect me to say that it makes me so much more thankful for everything that I have, but it doesn’t. That’s all just stuff. What this experience made me thankful for is God and my salvation. God laid this on my heart years ago to do. He orchestrated every bit of it. Without Him nudging me, I don’t think I would have gotten the opportunity to meet the people I did yesterday and show them His love. Now, I can’t wait to get the chance to do it again!

What are you most thankful for this holiday season? Did you meditate on that throughout the day yesterday?

Pastor Appreciation Month & A Gift Idea

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Timothy 5-17

Did you know that October is Pastor Appreciation Month? October 13 was also Pastor Appreciation Day. Have you done anything special for your pastor to show your appreciation?

We are extremely thankful that we have a Pastor at our church that is definitely “worthy of double honor”. Clint and I went through a rough patch a few years ago and he helped us through it and we will be eternally grateful to God for placing him in our lives when he did. Sometimes I wonder, what if he hadn’t been the pastor at our church at that time?

Besides that though, he and his wife are great friends to us. We both know that if we have something we are struggling with we can pick up our phones and call or text them and they’ll be there for us.

We’ve always wanted to do something special for him but have sort of never gotten around to it. We’ve thrown ideas around and that’s been the end of it. Recently, since he is human, I felt like maybe he needed a little encouragement and to know how much our family appreciates all that he does. I decided I was going to make him…something. I just wasn’t sure what. I headed to Mr. Google and searched Pastor Appreciation Day and to my surprise it was October 13. What perfect timing, right?

So I started brainstorming and knew I wanted to make something out of wood. I know he used to be some kind of Forestry guy, so it just seemed fitting. I thought a wall plaque or maybe something he could put on his bookshelf in his office would be best. I text his wife and asked her what some of his favorite verses were and she thought it was a great idea.

I hadn’t thought of anything besides that something planked would be cool. I had planned to make a trip to Home Depot or Lowe’s closer to time and pick up some wood for Clint to cut down for me. Then, I was driving home one day and saw a crib all busted up outside of a storage unit. I jumped out and took a side of it–perfect sized slats! Clint sanded the finish off of the next day and then cut them off.

Slats Collage

Then I mixed up some different paint colors I liked and added some water to thin it out and put it on each slat. I didn’t like the first color, but I did like that each slat was a little different.

Slats Painted

So I mixed up more paint and went over them again. I really don’t think it was possible to mess this up, just keep painting over it until you kind of like what you have. Here’s the consistency with the water added.

Paint Consistency

After they were dry, I laid them out the way I wanted (upside down) and glued 3 staggered slats onto the back. Sorry– I forgot to take pics of that part. Hopefully you understand what I’m saying. I didn’t have any screws short enough so we were going to just glue it and get some screws later. I left that over night to dry.

The next day, I grabbed an ugly old paint brush and barely dabbed the bristles in white paint and brushed them across the front of the slats, parallel to them. I loved the way it looked so I kept going. Here is the design I made for the verse we chose of his favorites:

Verse Design

I printed that out on transparency paper and used an overhead projector to project the design onto the plaque on the wall. Impatiently, I used a pencil and traced the outline of every single letter.

Transparency Trace

Last, I used a little brush like this and black paint to fill in all of the letters 2 or 3 times.

Paintbrush

It was EXTREMELY sturdy after we were done, so we decided against the screws. We were very pleased with the finished product and our Pastor seemed to be really pleased too. Here is the photo he posted to Facebook. 🙂

Robby's Picture of Plaque

Have you ever considered that your Pastor is human and probably needs encouragement, just like we do? Have you done anything special to make you Pastor feel appreciated this month?