Monday, May 4, 2015

Date Your Mate

by Sally Matheny
May is Date Your Mate Month
Are you married? Did you know May is “Date Your Mate” month? It’s essential we put caring for Biblically based marriages at the top of our lists. Christians, our marriages are influential testimonies to the love and power of God.

Perhaps you already date your spouse on a regular basis. Fantastic! Or perhaps you’re like me, and you find date nights just don’t come around often enough.  Let’s put aside all our excuses and brainstorm for some ideas on how to make date nights happen.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Chiming In With Humility and Grace

Chiming in with humility and grace
After several days of cold and rainy weather, a sunny afternoon enticed me to sit on the back porch. Enveloped in the warm rays of sunlight, I closed my eyes. A faint, peaceful ting-ting stirred from the metal, wind chimes.

Burdened for a Christian family struggling to find peace, I began to pray. I did not know all the details, but apparently years ago, their miscommunication hurt some friends' feelings. The family has sought forgiveness but the offended friends will not give it.

The most troubling part is the miffed ones are professing Christians as well, yet they will not let go of their grievances towards the family who upset them.

Oh, Lord, please give both families peace and restore the broken relationships. How can Your people harbor anger and resentment towards one another for years?  Help us to see this does not glorify your Son and the sacrifice He made for us all.

Lord, no matter what the situation, remind us that through Your power and strength we can forgive others. Protect us from Satan convincing us otherwise.
A gust of wind suddenly caused the ting-a-ling of the chimes to crescendo. I opened my eyes to see the metal tubes bumping crazily into one another. Yet, no matter how forceful the wind, each chime continued to produce pleasing sounds.

I sat listening, pondering how the chimes never ring a sour note. High, middle, and low tones work in unison to produce beautiful harmonies.
Oh, dear friends, God can do that. He created each of us with unique characteristics and yet the abilities to complement one another. Just as the metal chimes are bound together, so also we Christians are united by the love of Christ.

Trials will come as surely as the wind blows. Let us bear with one another and work together to produce a beautiful offering to our heavenly Father.
As soon as trouble begins to brew, address it with prayer and wisdom. Pray for a heart of patience, humility, and grace. As the storms press hard against us, only through love and forgiveness will we be able to orchestrate a magnificent concert of praise.

Imagine the songs of a multitude!
(The Singing Ringing Tree)

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”   Colossians 3:12-17


Announcing the Winner of Lee Strobel's Book!

Congratulations, Diane Estrella! Your name was drawn from the honest hat. Let me know where I should mail Lee Strobel's Case for Grace for Kids book. I hope you enjoy the book.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Book Review and Giveaway of “Case for Grace for Kids”

by Sally Matheny

New York Times bestselling author, Lee Strobel, along with Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse editor, Jesse Florea have pulled together eight, true stories that exemplify grace.

Published by Zonderkidz, the target age stated for the book is for those age eight to twelve, but I think the book tends to lean towards the older youth. I’d definitely not limit it to twelve-year-olds. High school students will find the stories pack quite a punch.

Be sure to read at the end how you might win this book.

Not all of the stories are about kids. Some cover the experiences of college students and older adults. But they all show grace through various forms—from receiving it to learning how to give it.

Monday, April 13, 2015

April is Month of the Military Child: Interviews with Seven Super Kids

by Sally Matheny

April is the Month of the Military Child
Did you know the military community makes up 1% of the American population? One percent. Wow. My gratitude for America’s military grows every day. I also appreciate the families of those service members. Military spouses and children also serve our country.

Did you know April is the Month of the Military Child? More than 2 million children have a parent in the military. Today, I salute all military children by sharing interviews I had with some special military kids I know.


Serving his country since, 1991, Jeff is a Master Sergeant in the United States Army, stationed in South Carolina. Jeff and his wife, Kristina, are blessed with three children: Haley (21), Brett (13), and Ben (9).


When asked what’s most difficult about being a military kid, both boys said the times they missed their dad. Haley added, “The most difficult thing for me, as an older military kid, is knowing that my mom has to go long periods of time without having her husband by her side.”


However, Haley says there are benefits to being a military kid.” I really enjoy being able to travel to other states while my dad is on active duty.  As a family, we have the opportunity to travel in ways most will never know. Flying on Air Force planes and being able to interact with other soldiers and pilots is a great experience.” 


Brett agrees and says riding in the cockpit of a military plane during takeoff and landing has been one of his favorite things. While some kids may find it challenging, nine-year-old Ben says he likes meeting and making new friends.


Stationed in Texas, Matt is a Major and the Brigade Chaplain for the 1st Calvary Division Artillery. He and his wife, Jennifer, are blessed with four boys: Hayden (14), Carson (12), Bailey (11), and Parker (5).


The boys also said missing their dad when he is deployed is one of the most challenging things as military kids, especially when it’s someone’s birthday or Christmas. Carson and Bailey add that moving is difficult because they have to leave good friends behind and make new ones.


The thing military kids find the most challenging on some days can turn around and be the most rewarding thing on other days. 


Hayden says he likes making a lot of new friends.  Bailey chimes in, “We get to stay in one place for three years and make a lot of friends at that duty station.” Carson also adds, “We get to live in a bunch of different places. Even though it’s hard to leave our friends behind, moving is good because we get to see other places.”


I asked the kids from both military families if they do special things for their dad (or mom, because she is serving our country, too) to make things easier on them when their dad is away for a length of time.


Ben and Brett say they try to help around the house more. Big sister, Haley adds, “As the oldest member of my family, I find it especially important to show my dad support for choosing to serve our country.  If there is anything I can do to take added stress off both my mom and dad, I try my best to do so.  They deserve it.”  


Carson drew pictures and mailed them to his
Kids Draw Pictures for Their Parents in the Military
dad when he was in Afghanistan. Hayden sent videos of their soccer games. Bailey made texting videos and showed his dad things in his room. And little-man Parker said he gave his dad some of his toys.


Jennifer adds the boys have taken on a lot more chores around the house, especially as they grow older and stronger.


The last question I asked the military kids was if they participated in any special events offered for military kids.

Haley says, “Over the course of several years, there has been one event offered for military kids which I remember best.  It was a day dedicated to Army and Navy children.  This event was on the base of Fort Jackson and was outside.  There were shooting demonstrations, games, water activities and food that was hot off the grill.  I really enjoyed [it].”


Brett adds, “ ‘Narmy Day’ is when the Navy & Army get their families together. We also sent treat bags with sailors as they were leaving airport for their next stop before deployment and went to see them off.”


Ben agreed. “Narmy Day, concerts, Army Family Day and little activities on base such as a penny fair have all been fun. There’s also a water park on base.”


Haley, Brett, and Ben have lived off base. Hayden, Carson, Bailey, and Parker have always lived on base. Their mom said they think of every activity as military related. Still, they mentioned they enjoy their youth group, CYS (Child and Youth Services) sports, movies on the lawn in Texas and the gym in Colorado.


I thoroughly loved hearing from these military kids. They have wonderful parents raising them to love God and their country. Sometimes I think we forget the sacrifices our military families make for all the families in America.


I challenge you all to reach out to our military kids this month and express your appreciation for how they serve our country. The majority of them don't live on military bases, so many of you will find them in your own community.


Please continue praying for and cheering these kids on because as eleven-year-old Bailey said,

“When I encourage Dad, it encourages him to fight for our country.”


 

A big thank you to Haley, Brett, Ben, Hayden, Carson, Bailey, and Parker. Gift cards are on the way.