Monday, October 20, 2014

Third Annual Climb-a-Tree Contest

by Sally Matheny

Climb-a-Tree (but not this one!)
For the past two years, I’ve hosted a Climb-a-Tree contest. It all began after reading a report that 1 out of 3 children have never climbed a tree. Are our children becoming too comfy on the couch? Or is it the parents? 

Maybe it's the fears of all the “what-ifs.” Don’t let worry keep you in a sanitized, cushioned bubble.   

Fun and adventure await you at the base of a tree—not to mention a slew of learning and confidence building opportunities.

I almost decided to forgo the contest this year until a friend’s child approached me and asked about the next tree-climbing contest. We don’t want to disappoint, so here’s the announcement for the third annual Climb-a-Tree contest!


Who: Parent-Supervised Children (ages 5 and up) and Parents

How to Enter:   Easy—send me a photo of your kids in a tree. List their first names only. They’ll be entered into the drawing for a prize.  The winner will be awarded a cool, outdoor toy based on the child’s age.

However, this year, I’m increasing the rewards.

For every teen and adult who is in a photo (in a tree!): Your name will be entered into a drawing for a $5.00 gift card from Starbucks. (Because I figure some of you want to get in on the fun, too.)

Deadline: Send me photos via this blog, or post them on my facebook page. All photos are due by 6:00 p.m. (EST) on Monday, October 27, 2014.

If you don’t want to post a photo, but would like to enter the contest, just private message me and I’ll add your name to the drawing.

We’ll announce the winners on this blog on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014.

Here are things to remember:

Be safe!

Avoid this.
Posion Ivy




            









                                                       And this.
Poison Oak












Use good judgement and you won't need this.





Take this challenge at your own risk. Follow the safe Guidelines for Tree Climbing.



Angry Phone Calls





I don’t want any of these.











Or these.


Lawyers


















Having fun outdoors!




This is what we want to see! 










Be adventurous! Get outside and have fun together!





Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Family’s Phenomenal Zip Line Adventure

by Sally Matheny

    
    
The Gorge Zip Line Canopy Tour
      Imagine viewing the beauty of 14,000 acres of protected forestland, at 30-35 miles per hour, while clutching two, small handlebars. 


     It’s not bike riding.

     It’s zip lining—the fastest and steepest zip line in America—and it is a phenomenal adventure for the family.

    

     The Gorge Zip Line Canopy Tour located in Saluda, North Carolina provides 1,100 vertical feet of zip line, 3 tree-mendous (easy and smooth) rappels, and one fun, swinging sky bridge.

     My husband, known for his fear of heights, zipped the Gorge several months earlier with his co-workers. He loved it so much he wanted to treat our son, two daughters, and son-in-law to a day of zip lining. He also thought it would be good for me.

     Due to a recent health issue, I spent the summer learning physical therapy exercises for my feet and how to pace myself. I’m thankful for the progressive healing, but zip lining still sounded like a stretch for me. My walking compares to that of a chicken’s with a little less swag.

     Nonetheless, my husband had faith I could do it. Our girls were excited and eager for a fun challenge. However, our ten-year old redhead and our sweet son-in-law were quiet, deep thinkers en route to the zip line.

     I don’t know if it was the unusually cool weather or our nerves that made our knees joggle as our guides cinched up our harnesses.

     The heights didn’t concern me. It’s knowing there will be no opportunity to go to the bathroom for four hours. No medical condition exists, it’s just knowing there will not be a bathroom that makes me think I have to go. After three trips, ensuring there is nothing left in the bladder, I am ready to zip.

    Harnessed in and triple-tethered with carabiners to a steel cable, one has to feel safe, because “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Right?

     Right. The guides said we could trust the zip line. Although the weight limit to zip was 250 pounds, the cords construction could hold thousands of pounds.
My Family's Phenomenal Zip Line Adventure

     Our kind and patient tour guides give instructions. I understand them now, but I wonder if I’ll remember them when I'm speeding across treetops faster than a hummingbird.

     The excitement escalates as we line up at the first platform, which the guides call “The Fluffy Bunny.” Awww…who can be afraid of a fluffy bunny?

     
     Amazingly, the somewhat timid 10 yr. old is instructed to go first. He climbs on top of a tree stump. His knees bend, straighten, and bend again. He leans forward and back again. Still not off the stump, the family begins to cheer him on.

     “You got this. You can do it.”

     A second hesitation and suddenly he steps off the platform.

     A high pitched, whizzzzzzzzzzz….zip.

     There are no screaming or crashing sounds. The guide at the end radios the line is clear for the next person. Oh, good, he made it. What? It’s my turn? If the timid one can do it, surely this will be a breeze for me.

     You know that stump can be very deceiving. It appears to be 12-15 inches high but when you step up on it, it feels more like 20-25 inches.

    I’m clear to go. I bend my knees but my feet don’t move. Bend, straighten, bend, straighten. Oh, good grief. Why couldn’t they choose another adult to go first? I’m delaying everyone’s fun. Then, I hear the cheers.

     “You got this, Mom. You can do it.”

     Swaying for a moment, I finally just lean forward and step off. I am like that pig in the commercial who hangs his head out the window yelling, “Whee! Whee! Whee!”  I love it!

     By the time the whole family reunites on the second platform our knees are still shaking but our eyes are brighter and our smiles bigger. That is until the guides tell us the next zip is named “The Hawk that Ate the Fluffy Bunny.”


Zip Lining is exhilarating!
     
     We continue to root for each other and hug every tree together. With each zip, our apprehensions evaporate in the cool, fall air. Zip lining is exhilarating!

     Before we know it, three and half hours fly by. After eleven, fabulous zips, we arrive at the end of the tour.

     I hope our family is able to do this again. Zip lining is fun! It's also empowering. We squashed doubts and fears. Together, we learned how to soar.

     The hardest part? Leaning out and taking that first step of faith.

     The coolest part?  Even though it may be eighty feet off the ground, I trust the strong, narrow cable. And, even though I can’t see the next destination, I know it’s straight ahead. All I have to do is hold on, lean forward, and trust.

      Another amazing addition is the precious people I have encouraging me—those behind me, and those before me in my journey.

     Now, because of my experience, I can encourage you. Be strong and courageous. Gather your family and inspire them to stretch beyond their comfort zones.  Don't just tell, show them with God nothing is impossible.


*****
Rappelling & Rejoicing
Post Note: I highly recommend The Gorge Zip Line in Saluda. The staff is very friendly and well trained. The zipping did not aggravate my health issues. You’ll need to determine what works for you. I didn't think it was a jarring experience due to the self-braking system. Nor are you on your feet for long periods. The only parts that were sore after the trip were my arms and hands from hanging on so tightly!


Congratulations to the Winner of Max Lucado's Children's Book!

Congratulations to the winner of Max Lucado's children's book, The Christmas Story for Children. 

Our winner is Melissa L. Williams! Melissa, I've contacted you by email requesting an address in order to mail you the book.

Thanks to all who entered. Check back for more book giveaways, soon!

Monday, October 6, 2014

"The Christmas Story for Children" Book Review and Book Giveaway

by Sally Matheny
The Christmas Story for Children


     This month’s book review includes a free giveaway of the book so be sure to enter in the Rafflecopter box below!

     The Christmas Story for Children, collaboratively written by Max Lucado, Randy Frazee, and Karen Davis Hill is a picture book published by Zonderkidz
     
     Immediately, the story draws readers into a journey. A journey of ordinary people God set aside for His extraordinary purposes.    


    This beautiful story begins with God’s chosen, the Jewish people, and ribbons its way to Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. Typical Christmas storybooks end shortly after the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ. However, The Christmas Story for Children gives more.

     
     Midway through the book, it tells how God’s exceptional Son lived an ordinary life as a child. Then, one day he left his ordinary life to do “amazing and marvelous things…”

     The second half of the book reveals Jesus’ baptism experience at the Jordan River and how “the ordinary ended and the spectacular began.”

     This story stays true to the Holy Bible using the New International Reader’s Version and the New Century Version.

     Award-winning artist, Fausto Bianchi, provides exquisite full color illustrations for this 32-page picture book by Zonderkidz. The book is geared for children aged four to eight but older children and adults will find its beauty enthralling. Bianchi produces a fresh artistic perspective of the story. I found myself pondering a great deal over his illustrations, especially on the unusual facial expressions of his characters. 

     The only illustration I question is the angel Gabriel.  His upper body has the appearance of a male but the facial features appear feminine. I’m unsure what Bianchi is trying to express but I found an interesting and satisfying note about angels posted at http://www.compellingtruth.org/angels-male-female.html.

     I recommend this book. The Christmas Story for Children will make a great gift with its beautiful story of truth and distinctive illustrations. 


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255. 

The book giveaway begins at 12:00 a.m. Oct. 7 and ends at 12:00 a.m. on Oct. 14.
If the Rafflecopter is not displaying correctly for you, there are two ways to enter. If you leave a comment about one way you help children focus on Christ, especially during the month of December, then your name goes in the "pot" one time. If you subscribe to this blog by entering your email under the "Follow by Email" button on the right, your name goes in THREE times for the drawing!
The winner will be announced on Oct. 15.


a Rafflecopter giveaway










Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Talking About Life and Death

     by Sally Matheny
Talking About Life and Death

     We were seventeen years old and looking forward to graduation when it happened.

     Our friendship began only a year and a half earlier. Her family had recently moved to North Carolina from Ohio. The school year had already begun. Jan was the new kid without friends and she had cancer.

     Our Junior Civinettes club went to her house to welcome her to the neighborhood and introduce ourselves as her new friends. We were nervous about going because we didn’t know anyone our age with cancer. I knew my boyfriend’s mother had survived Hodgkin’s.  That’s what Jan had so I figured she'd be a survivor, too.

     Jan and I became good friends. We hung out at school and visited each other’s homes. We never talked about cancer or life or death. We didn’t talk about it when her sandy blonde hair began to fall out. She only asked if I’d help her brush off the loose hairs from her sweater.  I did and assured her she looked fine.

     We didn’t talk about life and death when she came to school one day wearing a wig and people began to whisper. And stare. I just walked with her.  

     We didn’t talk about life and death when she grew weaker. She only asked if I’d help carry her books.  I did, and when I couldn’t, I enlisted others to help.  Jan had many friends. She always smiled and made conversation easy for those who dared to come close to her. A teen with cancer is a difficult thing to understand. I tried not to think about it. Jan was fun to be with and I knew she would get well.

A teen with cancer is a difficult thing to understand.

     So, we didn't talk about life and death. Not when we had to stop and let her rest a lot when we played tennis, not when she missed school, not when I drove her to chemotherapy, not when she had to have a hysterectomy.

     I thought life and death were the things people talked about when they got old.

     Except Jan didn't grow old.

     She died.

     Then, I panicked. Because Jan and I had not talked about the deeper truths of life. As nice as she was, I didn’t know if my dear friend believed in Jesus Christ. And then, it was too late.

     Sure, I had considered talking to Jan before. But, I was afraid that if I talked about such things, she would think I assumed she was going to die. I didn’t want her to think that, because I never thought she would die.

     My heart grieved the loss of my friend and ached because I had failed her. The burden became too great. Before the funeral, I talked to Jan’s mom. She assured me Jan was a Christian. Relief came, but not peace. I had still failed my friend. I could have been more encouraging to her during her difficult journey by talking about the hope in Christ we shared. Why had I not prayed with her instead of just for her?

     I was given a bittersweet gift my senior year in high school—a glimpse of how quickly things pass— opportunities, friends, life. No one is guaranteed tomorrow. No one.

Life is fleeting.

Today is the day to talk about the reality of death and the hope of eternal life.