Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Nurturing Strong & Courageous Sons and Daughters

by Sally Matheny

Strong and Courageous
Photo by pixaby.com
Too often, we hear heartbreaking stories of youth, raised in Christian homes, choosing to walk away from the Truth of Jesus Christ.

It’s frightening.

As Christian parents, we find it difficult to contemplate the possibility of our children living, and dying, without the hope, the peace, and the eternal joy that comes only through Christ.

What can parents do when the Enemy silently creeps into our children’s lives and captivates their attention with lies and deception? What can we do to help them avoid unnecessary distress in their futures? 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

“365 Devotions for Peace” Book Review, Author Interview, & a Giveaway!

by Sally Matheny
365 Devotions for Peace
by Cheri Cowell

As soon as I saw Cheri Cowell’s name on the cover of 365 Devotions for Peace, I selected it for my reading. I had never read Cheri’s writing before, but I heard her speak at a Write2Ignite Conference last year. Impressed by her speaking, I was eager to read her writing.

Each of the 365 Devotions for Peace is between 150-200 words in length. I found their brevity a nice accompaniment to my daily Bible reading. However, I thought about those battling in the middle of a crisis. Some of life’s torrential storms delay a lengthy basking in God’s Word. This book is perfect for those brief moments of respite.

Each devotion begins with one verse of scripture. Scriptures are taken from various versions of the Holy Bible—NIV, NCV, NASB, NKJV, MSG, and The Voice. 

A devotion follows and ends with a one-to-two-sentence prayer.
Fifteen areas are covered including: Peace with God, Peace at Home, Peace Within, Peace in Times of Trouble, and Peace for the World.

If you know someone who is searching for peace, this book would make a lovely and thoughtful gift. Perhaps you’ll win the copy of Cheri’s book I’m giving away this week!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A Movie Review of Faith Flix Film: Providence

by Sally Matheny

Providence movie releases February 2016

Imagine watching a movie but instead of hearing the dialogue, we must cultivate it ourselves.  Although we all view the same scenes, each of us insert something unique to the story. We create conversations based on our own past experiences and knowledge. A kind grandmother in one scene expresses familiar words of love and wisdom because we’ve heard those words from someone significant in our own lives. Or we have hoped and dreamed of hearing them.

Such is the case in the the Faith Flix Film, Providence, set to release February 12, 2016. Screenplay writer, Sharon Wilharm, and her producer-husband, Fred Wilharm, are known for their award-winning, independent films, such as The Good Book, which I reviewed in March 2015.  Both The Good Book  and Providence stand out from the crowd as they speak volumes about the Christian faith—and without saying any actual words. Both are modern-day, silent movies, except for the music soundtracks.

Providence is a family-friendly movie encompassing a rich story of God’s divine power to bring people together, despite our own shortcomings.

Have you ever had a time of miscommunication, misunderstanding, or mistiming? Disappointments and missed opportunities have a way of pulling us into a melancholic party for one. 

However, the story in Providence shows God is able to pull something wonderful together out of our seemingly fragmented lives.

A failure to communicate can stall your love story.
(Actors Stacey Bradshaw and Josh Allen)
Providence is described as a redemptive romance. After the opening scene of a bride with second thoughts before her wedding, we view a flashback of her past. We see how the relationships she had with her parents, her grandmother, and her friends have affected her life.

When she is a teen, she becomes friends with a boy who secretly holds a key object from her past--a key that, at one time, was dear to her heart.

An entertaining story unfolds sharing the wonders and awkwardness of their high school years. Their friendship grows. But due to communication failures, the relationship they both longed for doesn’t happen. They go their separate ways. For forty years, they each wait for God to send them a soul-mate. 

Later, a tragedy and challenging life events produce second chances for several relationships. Does everyone grab their second chance?

You’ll have to watch the movie, Providence to find out!

I recommend you watch this movie. The acting is excellent and the film is well-crafted. I love the soundtrack. My favorite songs were “Paperdoll” by Jaclyn Brown, “I Will Fight,” by Caleb Allen, and “Walking Stories,” by Jilian Linklater.

This movie reminds me God is a God of love, forgiveness, and thankfully, second chances. But we can’t take those second chances lightly. Every choice we make affects our love stories and our life stories. Our actions and the words we choose to say--or not to say. As in Linklater’s song, “Walking Stories,” she sings, “We’re all walking stories—what’s yours going to say?”

Rachel (Juli Tapken) and Mitchell (Rich Swingle) have their
first date forty years after first meeting.

Check out more information, view movie clips, and hear songs from the soundtrack at:

www.providencemovie.com and on the Providence Movie’s facebook page.

I received a copy of this movie free from the producers. 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

Friday, January 1, 2016

A Knot in Time: When Life Isn't Going the Way You Expected

by Sally Matheny

When Life Isn't Going the Way You Expected
Are you discouraged because you thought things would be different by now? While many people reflect on their accomplishments of the past year, we also may focus on our unmet goals. How do we avoid disheartenment when life events didn’t go the way we expected?

Perhaps we thought we’d be farther along in our work. Or we wonder why we can’t go back to the way things used to be. We expected barriers in relationships lowered, and our incomes increased. Our physical health, emotional condition, or social status are not anywhere near the levels of what we had hoped. Like the 1970’s singers in the cornfield on The Hee Haw Show we sing, “Gloom, despair, and agony on me…oh!”

Monday, December 21, 2015

Besides Love, the Best Gift for Baby's First Christmas

by Sally Matheny

The Best Gift for Baby's First Christmas
If God has blessed you with a precious, new life this year, I’m sure Christmas morning will be extra sweet! Your little one already may have a cute stocking hung and brightly wrapped gifts under the tree. Or, perhaps due to his adventurous spirit, all the gifts are well out of reach!

No matter what gifts you’ve chosen, I hope you've considered one spectacular gift you can give your baby, especially for his first Christmas.

You have the power to give your baby the best gift and the positive effects of this gift will last a lifetime. The only thing it will cost you is wisdom and courage.

Besides love, the best gift a parent can give a baby for his first Christmas is the truth. Godly parents want to teach their children about the importance of honesty. Teaching by example is always best.

We want our children to know they can always come to us and can trust us. We build a relationship of trust on a foundation of consistent and reliable truth.
We learned the hard way that it’s much easier to begin with your baby’s first Christmas than when she’s older.

As young Christian parents, my husband and I knew we didn’t want to play up the whole Santa Claus thing. We never said, “You better be good, Santa is watching you.”  We even tried to make subtle hints by saying, “Santa is a fun thing people do at Christmas.” We emphasized the birth of Jesus through our speech and actions. Yet, we still took our little one to see Santa, we put milk and cookies out for him, and there were always gifts under the tree with tags signed by Santa. We thought we could have a nice blend of Jesus and Santa, with the heavier emphasis on Jesus.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Prayers That Changed History by Tricia Goyer: A Book Review and a Giveaway

by Sally Matheny

Prayers That Changed History
by Tricia Goyer
Prayers That Changed History, by bestselling author, Tricia Goyer, is a unique blend of a history and a devotion book. Over the years, during her research of various historical figures, Goyer stumbled upon delightful information that isn’t typically found in textbooks. She compiled her research and shares about the prayer lives of twenty-five notable figures in history.

At the end of this review, be sure to read how you can win this book!

Beginning with Polycarp in 155 A.D. the book progresses through with various folks including Governor William Bradford, Sojourner Truth, George Muller, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 

Each section covers a brief story from the life of the notable figure, followed by sections: “Something to Think About,”  “In His (or Her) Own Words,” and “How He (or She) Changed History.” Goyer goes further with a portion tying the historical account to a scripture passage in “It’s in the Bible.” She wraps each chapter up with how it can apply to “Your Life.”

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

You're B.A.C.K. (Blessed by an Act of Christian Kindness)

by Sally Matheny

Blessed by an Act of Christian Kindess
     Kindness breaks through barriers. One act of kindness can turn a person's day around. Just one thoughtful deed has the potential to open up a whole, new life for someone.  

     This week I'm reposting an article I wrote about this time last year. It prompted an overflowing of two-way blessings. I thought it would be beneficial to post it again.  

     There are many stories about random acts of kindness. One account is of a family waiting until their neighbors went to work. Then, they secretly placed a festive welcome mat at their front door. The children especially liked giving in secret; much like that St. Nicholas fellow did long ago.     

     Not expecting anything in return, not even recognition, keeps the giver humble, and focused on the giving.

    Kind deeds are a great way to help us concentrate on other people rather than ourselves. Children, who are constantly adding to their wish lists, are prime candidates for this type of family project.

     You can find free downloads of cards and tags on the internet to print and leave for the recipients of your random acts of kindness.  
     However, for my family's secret giving, I wanted to create a different kind of tag. I desired to add a twist of faith—something that told about the ultimate act of kindness—that of Jesus Christ. The result is a card that begins: “You’re B.A.C.K.! (Blessed by an Act of Christian Kindness). The card ends by sharing about God's greatest act of kindness and how it isn't random at all, but intentional.

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.