Tuesday, April 4, 2017

It's Been A While - Let Me Give You Something Smurfy!

When I was a kid, one of my favorite cartoons was the "Smurfs". I loved watching it and to this day I even catch myself occasionally humming the "La-La-Lalalala-la-lala-lala" of the theme song. My favorite? Brainy Smurf... maybe it was the glasses or just a bit of an insight into the nerdier side of myself, but he was for sure my favorite - totally smurfy.

(Side note: The spellcheck function recognizes the word "Smurfy" which is just absolutely amazing. Moving on.)

The one thing that I think has struck everyone though over the years as odd though is that there was only ever one female Smurf. There was Smurfette, the beautiful blonde-haired blue-skinned token chick in the sea of dudes. Why? Why was there only ever one? WHERE ARE ALL THE OTHER FEMALE SMURFS???

On April 7th - we will finally have our answer in the new Smurf movie "The Smurfs: The Lost Village": "In this fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette and her best friends Brainy, Clumsy, and Hefty on an exciting and thrilling race through the Forbidden Forest filled with magical creatures to find a mysterious lost village before the evil wizard Gargamel does. Embarking on a rollercoaster journey full of action and danger, the Smurfs are on a course that leads to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history!"

In just a few short days, our old familiar Smurf friends will be finding the answer that an entire generation has been seeking. I for one am pretty excited to see how they handle finding an entire village of female Smurfs - and am interested to see how Papa Smurf handles an Alpha Female counterpart.

For more about this movie, check out their website www.smurfsmovie.com where you'll find a synopsis of the movie, lots of activities, downloadable desktop wallpaper, and much more. If you have little ones that you might be bringing to the movie, you can make an entire family activity day around the resources on the website - color in a few of the downloadable coloring pages, head out to lunch and view the movie at your local cinema, and then come home to enjoy some Marshroom Houses or Smurfberry Pie (available in the "Recipes" section).  If your kids are a bit older/artistic, there's some directions available on how to draw the Smurfs. Want to talk about the movie with your kids? Here's a link to a discussion guide: Discussion Guide

There's so much available for this movie that you can have a Smurftastic time no matter what Smurfy thing you decide to do! And let me help you out with this - I have 2 tickets to giveaway to one lucky winner!! There are 3 ways you can earn an entry:
  1. Comment below with something you LOVE about the Smurfs? Brainy's cheekiness? Hefty's "muscles"? Gargamel's cackle? Papa Smurf's odd resemblance to Santa Claus? Whatever it is about the Smurfs - share it below!
  2. Share this link on Social Media and comment below that you did (if Twitter, add your username). 
  3. "Like" Danielle's Brain Bits on Facebook and comment below that you did. 

I'm totally Smurfed for this giveaway you guys - we're finally going to find out where all the other female Smurfs are!!!

Oh - the giveaway closes Thursday April 6th at noon and winner will be announced by midnight on Thursday. The movie opens on Friday, April 7th and the winner will be emailed codes to buy tickets through Fandango that will be good from April 7-16th only.

Have a Smurfy Day!

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Album Review: Kari Jobe's "The Garden"


Can I just tell you guys how excited I was when an opportunity came up to snag a copy of Kari Jobe's latest release "The Garden" to review? I LOVE Kari Jobe's music - her version of "Revelation Song" is one of my favorite songs to blast in the car and worship to when I'm alone. Her song "Healer" is one I first heard at a girls' youth retreat and is one that has spoken to my heart and helped me to see where God can heal even the deepest of wounds and hurts.

So when the CD arrived in the mail in that bright yellow bubble mailer, I ripped it open and the next day excitedly popped it into my car's CD player (much to the complaints of my kids who would rather be listening to an audiobook or their own worship CD). Over the following week, I listened to it several times and wanted to share some of my thoughts with you about it.

And also offer you a chance to win your own copy - but that's later.

If you haven't heard Kari Jobe before, let me just tell you that she has an absolutely hauntingly beautiful voice. You can hear her passion for singing worship in every note that she sings, hear the feelings that are coming from her heart with each lyric. Her latest songs are just as beautiful as those that have come before it; her voice carries through the peaceful music and the lyrics are incredibly reassuring. Each song is a reminder that God is with us, God wants to heal us, God loves us, God lifts us up, God is faithful. One of my favorite verses from the title track says "I can see the ivy / Growing through the wall / 'Cause you'll stop at nothing / To heal my broken soul"; the entire song is full of lyrics like that, reminding us that God wants to be there for us and help heal.

In a song that's more of a sung prayer, Jobe cries out for God's help in the third track "Heal Our Land". This is by far my favorite song on the album, I honestly cannot get enough of it. The lyrics "Spirit of God / Breathe on your church / Pour out your presence / Speak through your word / We pray in every nation / Christ be Known / Our hope and salvation / Christ alone" is a prayer that God come down on his nations and help us to heal. We are living in a time of worldwide and nationwide division, and this song is an incredibly timely prayer. I'm not saying that this would be an awesome song to sing in church - but John Emery, if you're reading this, may I put this one in for consideration for worship one day? (wink wink, nudge nudge)

From the heartfelt "Miracles" to the passionate "The Cause of Christ", this album is well worth your investment. If you don't believe me - give it a listen. You can preview and grab yourself a copy on iTunes (click here) or Amazon (click here) or listen to the album before you seek yourself out a copy on Spotify (click here). I've already added the entire album to my Worship Music playlist on Spotify because it's truly amazingly beautiful. Or - if you'd rather - enter to win a copy below!

Here's all you have to do to enter to win a copy of Kari Jobe's "The Garden". It's SUPER easy and everyone can have up to 5 entries!

1. Like the blog on Facebook (and comment here that you did/do).
2. Share this post on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest and comment here that you did (bonus entry if you share the link to your share post).
3. Comment below with your favorite worship song - title & artist (bonus entry if it happens to be a Kari Jobe song).

That's it! Contest closes on Sunday, February 12 and winner will be announced/contacted on Monday, Feburary 13 on the blog's Facebook page and be sent a copy of "The Garden" by FlyBy Promotions soon after.

You guys - get this album. You won't regret it.


Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Reflections from a Non-Marching Woman

So, maybe it's how I'm wired - I'm not really sure - but I am not of the opinion that large-scale marches are effective. I feel like activism is more effective in smaller, life-impacting, more personal doses. The concept of a small viral contagion growing and spreading - but more of the positive than the negative. Meetings, conversations, small acts of kindness, respectful debates - those avenues (and ones similar) have always seemed more effective to me.

For example: My cousin was at the march in Washington yesterday. He posted a video of a guy there giving out free hugs. THAT is the kind of activism I'm talking about - small acts of kindness that know no boundaries. Are you a woman? Have a hug. Are you non-white? Have a hug. Are you white? Have a hug. Are you LGBTQ? Have a hug. Do you have a disability, either visible or silent? Have a hug. Are you a person? Have a hug - no wait, have 2 hugs. Are you a person who is also walking a dog and may I pat your dog on the head or scratch your dog under the chin? Have a hug.

We need more free hugs. At the mall, street corners, hospitals. Just cheerful people in open spaces giving out hugs in a non-creepy, just happy-go-lucky way.

Anyways - it's gotta be how I'm wired. It really does. But marching-level activism just isn't my cup of tea. I am more likely to figure out how to be active in my sphere - and in my immediate sphere, I have a daughter that we are teaching and raising to know that she can be and do WHATEVER she sets her mind to, whatever she feels passionate about (and those who know Evie know that I probably couldn't hold her back even if I wanted to). We are teaching both of our children that kindness, love, helpfulness, compassion are the hallmarks of being a human and that UNCONDITIONAL love are what being a Christian is about. We do not judge others, we do not act in unkind ways, we do not bully, we do not hate. We repent when we hurt others and we forgive when we are hurt.

Having said that...

The level of solidarity that was displayed yesterday cannot be overlooked, no matter that others may try to do or say. There were no reports of violence (that I saw), and it was exactly what we expect peaceful protesters to do - even if just seeing the crowds in pictures made my anxiety level go up to a thousand, it's amazing to think that so many people of so many different background came together to stand up for what they believed in.

But - If the argument is that 3 million more people voted for Clinton than Trump, then why wasn't it more? Where was this energy 6 months ago? Why wasn't there more outcry as scandal after scandal was unsurfaced within the DNC? People took to social media - a medium that frankly has become so numbing to people that they just unfollow those who overpost political arguments they don't agree with. It's rather uneffective anymore. I saw some video of Hilary rallies - the energy looked like milk-toast compared to the energy level of a Trump rally. It was like golf claps versus a Raiders game. Seriously. This is coming from someone who could not get behind either major candidate - I just was shocked at the differences in the energy of the supporters.

So all of that to say: I hope that this level of peaceful protest and activism can be lived out daily in the lives of every American. A great way to changes lives is to be a change in the life of someone else. Maintain that energy, because there's midterm elections in 2 years and another presidential race in 4. I think that part of the reason that Trump won - honestly - is because we didn't see that level of energy from those who opposed him until it was too late. No one protested until after he won because everyone was convinced that Hilary was going to win, that it was in the bag. Then election night happened - and whether we agree with it or not, the electoral college is how we are set up to operate. It's not going to change any time soon so we need to work with what we've got as far as that goes. If you want to make a difference in someone's life, if you want to actually sway someone's opinion - you need to be in their life as well as in their newsfeed. You need to have that energy before it's too late. Those of you who attended rallies yesterday worldwide and posted pictures talked about the impact of seeing other people come together and the positivity and desire for love and equality and non-judgement that was displayed.

That energy can NEVER be felt in a social media newsfeed. You HAVE to get out there. You HAVE to be the change.

Let this be a starting point. The system isn't going to change any time soon and those who want change need to be active within the system. Find a life, change it. We fear what we don't understand (and yes, that's from a Garth Brooks song... in fact... let me close out with a direct quote...)

"The only answer to the problem is people loving people. That's the enemy of everything that's evil. Ain't no quick fix at the end of a needle, it's just people loving people."

Keep up the energy, keep it PEACEFUL, keep it RESPECTFUL, and be the change you want to see in the world EVERY DAY. Don't wait until it's too late. Be "we the people", don't be "we the newsfeed".

That, after all, is what makes America great.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Book Review & Giveaway: The Beginner's Bible

When my son was born, I began my hunt for an age-appropriate Bible that I could sit and engage with my kids. After much researching and opinion gathering, I narrowed it down to 2 - The Rhyme Bible and The Beginner's Bible - and settled on a copy of The Rhyme Bible. While The Rhyme Bible certainly had a level of engagement appropriate for the under 3 crowd - great rhythm, colorful pictures, and simple language - I was disappointed with the level of detail left out of many of the major stories in scripture. With one of my kids approaching 5 and the other approaching 3, I wanted something that was still age appropriate but more complete in its detail.

I no sooner had thought to myself "I should look into The Beginner's Bible again" then I got an email from FlyBy Promotions asking if I'd like to receive a copy of the latest edition to review.

Well... how about that?

My copy of The Beginner's Bible arrived as I was in the midst of Advent with my little ones and it was the perfect timing. I immediately cracked open to the Christmas story and the first thing I noticed was the the New Testament was clearly separated from the Old Testament. This was something that drove me crazy about The Rhyme Bible; I use that separation in my own personal Bible and find it incredibly useful to have.

The next thing I noticed is that this Bible reads much more like a story and less like a poem. Not only does it read like a story, it provides many more details to the little ones than the Rhyme Bible did. I love this aspect; having the stories of the Bible simplified for the younger crowd is hugely important, but there still needs to be enough detail to offer a complete story that can be impactful and memorable.

To continue on the example of the Christmas story - here is something I really appreciated about this Bible. This was the first time I saw the chronology of Jesus' birth story - from his birth to the arrival of the wise men - completely in line with true scripture. I truly appreciated that after the birth of Christ and the angels delivering the news to the shepherds - they did not skip the presenting of Jesus at the temple and the blessing of Anna and then followed it up with the visit from the wise men later on when Jesus was a child. In almost every other presentation of the story - including the famed movie "The Nativity Story - the wise men arrive as part of the events surrounding Jesus' birth.

The illustrations are very cartoony and the expressions are very well drawn and show the emotions of the stories very well. In the story of when Jesus stays behind at the temple as a child talking to the teachers, when they tell the reader that Mary was distraught that she and Joseph couldn't find Jesus - the drawing shows her with tears and a nervous expression. I love that the illustrations are so in line with the narrative; this is another level of detail that will help to make it stick with the kids in the younger age bracket.

Overall, I am highly impressed with The Beginner's Bible. The kids have enjoyed looking at the pictures while I read aloud, and the illustrations and prose have already started to spark questions and conversations. Usually when I write a review, I can think of something that I can offer as a pro - and for The Beginner's Bible I cannot think of a negative or a con or even a "meh" to offer up. If you're looking for a Bible that does a great job engaging kids, distilling the important stories of the Bible to a level that is great for kids but still is complete, and is a wonderful way to get your kids to start asking questions about God - grab yourself a copy of The Beginner's Bible.

Or... OR...

Enter to win a copy for FREE right here on the blog! 

I'll be giving away ONE copy of The Beginner's Bible to one lucky winner chosen at random. Here's how to enter - you can earn up to 3 entries by doing the following:

1. Share this post and comment below when you've done so.
2. Comment below with the story from the Bible that was your favorite as a kid.
3. Follow my blog on Facebook (click this link) and comment below when you've done so. 

Good luck if you enter - and if you're looking for a great Bible for kids, definitely consider getting this one! Oh - one other thing... entries will be open until Friday, January 6 at at 6:00 PM. I'll be announcing the winner by Sunday, January 8 at 9:00 PM at the very latest, but probably sooner.


For more information about The Beginner's Bible, check out any of the following:

The Beginner's Bible Official Website
The Beginner's Bible - Facebook
The Beginner's Bible - Twitter
The Beginner's Bible - Read more reviews & maybe buy yourself a copy on Amazon


Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:

“Guides Concerning the 
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.