Thursday, November 19, 2015

What’s in Your Attic? What the Items You Save Say About You

by Sally Matheny

Attic Stairwell by Van Gogh, courtesy of wikimedia
I’m thankful for many things, however, I have too many things.
Are you a collector?  I’ve reduced my collections. My Santa figurines are long gone, and my angel assembly has reduced to three or four—if you include the one that sits on top of the Christmas tree. Although I’ve held onto my collection of teacups, I no longer scour second-hand shops for another lovely addition. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized these things take up too much room and too much time dusting. So, I stopped collecting these things. Sounds liberating, doesn’t it? It sounds like it. Yet, I still cringe when I look in my attic. I’d die if you saw my attic right now. Even though, I stopped collecting items years ago, I still have too much stuff. I’m not a hoarder, but maybe I’m holding onto some things which I need to let go. This week I went to the attic and considered long and hard why I’ve saved the items I have.  Perhaps what I am learning will help you determine what the items you’re saving say about you.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

How Do I Prodigal-Proof My Child?

by Andrea Merrell

How Do I Prodigal-Proof My Child?
The number of prodigals in our society has risen to epidemic proportions. According to recent statistics, eighty-eight percent of children raised in an evangelical Christian home will leave the church by the age of eighteen. Most will turn away from authority, parental values, and biblical teaching, losing their potential, their health, and their destiny—sometimes even their life.

Without exception, everywhere I go I meet someone in the middle of a crisis with either one or more of their children. These are the questions I am most often asked:
           * Is there hope?
           * What can I do in the meantime?
           * Is there a way to prevent this from happening to my younger children?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Praying for the Prodigal

by Sally Matheny

Praying for the Prodigal
by Andrea Merrell

Do you have a wayward child? Perhaps one that grew up attending church, yet later walked away from his faith?  Praying for the Prodigal is a book that offers spiritual encouragement as well as practical advice. And, who better to write this book than the mother of a prodigal son and a prodigal daughter.

Andrea Merrell shares heartbreaking stories of her teens spiraling down dangerous paths. They became distant, not sharing where they were or whom they were with, even to the point of not coming home at all. Between the time spent in the magistrate’s office and the hospitals, Andrea and her husband were carrying heavy burdens—financial, emotional, and spiritual.

She also shares the difficulties she and her husband had of carrying those burdens alone--secretly from friends. Andrea says, “If I learned anything in those dark days, it is that God is loving and faithful. His Word is true and prayer works.”

Thirty prayers, accompanied by scripture, provide parents a guide to get them started. Practical advice is offered, including how to set boundaries, how to stay calm, as well as a helpful parent-survival checklist.

At the end of the book, the prodigals, who finally returned home and to the Lord, share their thoughts and suggestions.

This is a book that every parent would benefit from reading.  It will impart wisdom to those just beginning their parenting journey and offer hope to those who are waiting on their prodigals to return.

This week, I have a special, two-part post. Andrea Merrell, the author of Praying for the Prodigal, kindly accepted my invitation to guest post on my blog. Please be sure to read Andrea's wonderful post, "How Can I Prodigal-Proof my Child?"

Monday, November 2, 2015

Young Couple Made a Wise Decision Before Announcing Engagement

by Sally Matheny

Young Couple Made a Wise Decision
Before Announcing Engagement
Not long ago, I wrote a post encouraging young couples to seek godly counsel, or work through a Biblical workbook, before setting a wedding date.  
Since my husband is a pastor, we have several copies of a Bible study workbook titled, Before You Say I Do, by Norman Wright. He uses this book when counseling young, engaged couples.
Much to our delight, several months before our daughter became engaged; she and her boyfriend, Samuel, asked if they could have a copy. Even though they both regularly talk to their pastors, they wanted to work through the book together while they were away at college. It took some finagling, but they squeezed the study in between their classes and work schedules. 

Since my post,  Get Engaged? Before You Set the Date, There’s One Thing You Need to Do ranks in the top ten of most viewed posts; I thought you might like to hear from Emily and Samuel about their experience of working through the Before You Say I Do book together. Here is our conversation.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Fourth Annual Climb-a-Tree Contest Winners

Sally Matheny's Fourth Annual
Climb -a-Tree Contest
We had many participants in our fourth annual Climb-a-Tree contest! Thanks to all of you who sent me photos of yourselves perched in trees. I received them via various forms of media. Some I could not transfer from their original source to post here. And a few of you preferred them not to be posted publicly, which is totally cool.

All the participants' names were placed in the drawing.
Congratulations to Maria G.'s son, Joseph! His name was randomly selected from the Honest Hat. I'll contact his mom soon to determine the best way to deliver his prize.

Also, our winner in the adult category is Rebecca F.! You'll receive your Starbucks gift card next week.

Thanks to all of you who participated. I hope you had fun. Keep climbing!

Friday, October 23, 2015

“Believe”: A Book Review of the Kids’ Edition (and Who Won the $25 Gift Card!)

by Sally Matheny

Believe Book Review

My husband and I recently finished reading with our eleven-year-old son the kids’ edition of Believe, edited by Randy Frazee. We read one of the thirty chapters each night. The first ten chapters are about key beliefs of the Christian life. The second ten chapters talk about key practices of the Christian life. And the final ten chapters contain the key virtues of the Christian life.

Each chapter begins by asking the reader a key question to ponder. It then presents a key idea and a key verse.  Also, there is a Think About It section before the introduction. Then, actual scripture (NIV) from the Old and New Testaments, present the core truths, followed by three discussion questions.


We truly enjoyed reading this book together. It held my son’s attention with its short excerpts from the Bible. There are blue and white illustrations on almost every other page. The book isn't watered down or fluffed up! It was pure scripture, with a thought to ponder before reading, followed by three great discussion questions. These questions often generated further conversations with our son.

There are versions of this book for ages 4-8, 8-12 (which is the one we read), 13- 18, and one for adults. In a year or two, I’d love to get the teen version for our son.  Several years ago, he made a decision to follow Jesus Christ. We aim to train, nurture and equip him for his journey. Believe is an ironclad tool that will enhance his understanding of the Sword of Truth and how to apply it.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Best Gift My Husband Ever Received for Pastor Appreciation Month (and a Giveaway for Your Pastor!)

by Sally Matheny

Best Gifts for Pastor Appreciation Month
My husband answered the call to pastor his first church in 2004. Eleven years later, we’re still serving the Lord alongside the same sweet family of believers. Nestled in the foothills of North Carolina, you’ll find our little church bursting at the seams with some of the most compassionate and generous people.

October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Perhaps some of you are contemplating ways to bless your minister. Be sure to post a comment at the end to enter the drawing for a gift card for your pastor. And just in case you don't win, I’ll share some suggestions including the absolute, best gift my husband ever received for Pastor Appreciation Month.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Faith, Hope, and Love: An Interview with Joanna Pistorius, Wife of Ghost Boy Author, Martin Pistorius

by Sally Matheny

Martin and Joanna Pistorius
Embrace Faith, Hope, and Love
Several months ago, I wrote a review of Ghost Boy, by Martin Pistorius. Gems of his remarkable life story nestled in my mind. One facet that continued to shine was how faith, hope, and love grew when he met his wife, Joanna. It made such an impression that I hoped to talk more with her. 

Joanna and Martin were on a book signing tour in Norway when I caught up with them. Joanna graciously agreed to talk with me when they returned home to England.

If you have not read Ghost Boy yet, Martin tells an amazing story of going from a healthy twelve-year-old boy to living in a waking coma state, unseeing and unknowing of his surroundings. 

Four years later, his mind slowly wakes up. But his body does not.  

Then, for ten more years, his mind is completely aware—aware that he is trapped inside an unresponsive body and powerless to communicate with others.

You’ll have to read the book to get the whole story of Martin’s incredible journey. Eventually, he is able to communicate and he meets Joanna. Both Joanna and Martin are originally from South Africa. However, Joanna was working as a social worker in England when first introduced to Martin. 

Martin’s sister and one of Joanna’s friends were roommates in England. All three girls were together when Martin’s sister contacted him in South Africa on New Year’s Day in 2008. It was during this Internet Skype conversation that Joanna first met Martin.

Instantly, she was attracted to Martin’s kind heart and infectious smile. The feeling was mutual and their online friendship began.