Monday, December 4, 2017

Review: Adored - 365 Devotions for Young Women

I've been volunteering with my church's youth ministry off and on since 2008 (I took a few years break because we had kids and well... that happens sometimes). If there's one thing that I've learned over those years, it's that sometimes our raw, core feelings are not that different the older we get.

I'll get to why that's important to this review in a minute.

When FlyBy Promotions asked for folks to volunteer to review Adored - 365 Devotions for Young Women from Zondervan, I jumped on it. I even asked if I could do my giveaway during our middle school girls' youth meeting rather than on the blog (and they said yes - so I did, and one of our sweet girls is going to get a copy in the mail). I was so excited to take the opportunity to review a book that could have a positive impact on young women.

I got the book in the mail and was absolutely drawn to the artwork on the cover. It's simple and doesn't have that "I'm clearly trying to draw in teen girls!" look about it (you know what I mean - the loud designs... yeah... see... you know) which is refreshing. The cover is solid and while the book is thick it's a manageable size; this is a devotional that a girl can carry in her bag easily without it getting to clunky.

I "adore" this cover design - so inviting!

Once you get into the devotionals, one thing I absolutely love about this particular one is the invitation to write notes below the daily reading. I find that often there's just blank space or you squish in the margins, but this book is really encouraging the reader to take a minute and write a thought or two about what has been read. Each reading has an accompanying scripture which is wonderful because it encourages the reader to crack open a Bible alongside the reading and potentially take a deeper dive into the verse of the day and its content.

The daily verse is a great anchor and reference for the readings.
A place to write notes? Don't mind if I do! 

(In fact - if you're looking for a good Bible to use alongside this, might I recommend the Illuminated ESV Bible which I reviewed last week? Incidentally that's exactly the Bible that I used alongside this wonderful devotional - so I can honestly say that they definitely tie well together.)

So for the devotionals... here's why what I said earlier is important.

The devotionals are simple, straightforward, and easy to relate to. They are written in down-to-earth language and with a tone that comes off as conversational and approachable. I clearly did not have 365 days to review the whole book, but I selected a few and I have to say that it's the kind of real talk that a lot of teenagers need. The readings are thought provoking of how we should live our lives covering topics of how God loves us and sees us to free will to consistency of character to generosity and more.

As I read through these, though, I realized that the simple language and the thoughts of the devotionals - while geared towards "young women" - are really applicable to any women on this side of the technology age. There are a couple of readings that really hit chords in MY life, and I'm 37 (which some would argue is "young", but that's neither here nor there). While I do highly recommend this devotional for the teen or college age young woman in your life (or if you are a teen or college age girl) - I would also recommend this for any woman who is busy and sometimes just needs a quicker devotional that's quick, easy to read, and challenges your thinking.

To get your own copy of this wonderful devotional (and a free 7-day download sampling so you can try before you buy), head on over to the Adored Devotional home page. This would make a wonderful gift for that young woman in your life that you may be mentoring, a great grab for a youth group Christmas swap, or maybe you've been looking for a good devotional for yourself. Definitely consider this one in your searching - it's worth the look.


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. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Review & Giveaway: Illuminated ESV Bible

So you know those fancy journaling Bibles that people have been posting on social media over the last several months?

Well... I had an opportunity to review one, and of course I jumped on it.

I received my Illuminated ESV Bible (Art Journaling Edition) and was immediately struck by the beautiful gold design on the outside. I'm sure there's a fancy art word for whatever it is - embossing? - but it's gorgeous.

It also came in a matching slide-out box.
In full disclosure, I recycled that thing.
I'm not a fan of them. Those and dust covers. Don't understand them at all.
The volume itself is a good, hefty what I call desk or table Bible. It's got a nice hardcover and while the pages have that characteristic what I call "Bible-thinness", they weren't so thin that I was worried I would rip one of them if I turned them the wrong way. This is actually pretty important to me because I'm a known clumsy person who tends to rip/spill/otherwise unintentionally break things - so feeling like I could read it safely in my kitchen where little hands are often pulling on me.

Once the Bible is opened, reader is graced with a 9-pt Lexicon font - so be aware if you are the kind of person who prefers a large-print Bible that the larger size of the book is not indicative of the size of the font. All pages leave margin space for journaling and most pages feature the illustrations/designed verses of Dana Tanamachi whose work has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Google, Target, and Time Magazine (among others). You guys - it is gorgeous. I'm not going to lie: even though this is technically a journaling Bible, I have zero desire to write in the margin and rather gently highlight key verses instead so as to not tarnish the gorgeous drawings with my doodles.

See? Isn't it pretty?
While I would not call this a portable Bible (unless you carry a backpack everywhere you likely aren't bringing this to church), it's definitely one that's well suited to the prayer journaler, the person who sits at a table with a cup of coffee to read scripture, or someone who just appreciates an absolutely stunning Bible.

If you're interested in purchasing one of these beauties for yourself or as a gift for Christmas, they are available at Amazon in a few different colors as well as a leather edition (fancy!). Alternatively, I'm giving one away here! Entering is SO SIMPLE - everyone can have up to 2 entries to win. All you have to do is:

- Share this post and comment here that you did so AND/OR
- Leave a comment below with your favorite verse. 

That's it! Entries will be accepted until December 2, 2017 at 12:00 PM and a winner will be notified by December 4, 2017 at 12:00 PM.

For more information about this gorgeous Bible visit

Happy Thanksgiving!


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.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Two Steps Behind

Sometimes when you're a parent, everything can seem like a blur. Days can seem like endless cycles... Clean the playroom, go to the bathroom, eat your dinner, get ready for school, is it bedtime yet, you need a bath, stop annoying your sibling, don't ask me about getting a pet again, yes we can read a story, yes you can color as soon as you clean the playroom, please only jump off the couch to the mat one person at at time - and stop doing it until the playroom is clean or you'll bust your face and break your toys, oh hey it's bedtime, please be still so I can brush your teeth, get your pajamas on, say five things you're thankful for, pray, tuck in, didn't you just go to the bathroom - why are you up, collapse, sleep, repeat tomorrow.

And that was just the evening.

You go ahead and splash... I'mma sit in the garage and stay dry.

But sometimes parenting affords you the opportunity to just slow down and watch.

This summer we took a lot of outings. We went to our favorite seashore state park, we went on hikes on local trails, we checked out the aquarium, we went to our favorite indoor playground, we visited the Clydesdales.

Those of you with kids know that there comes a point when the reality hits you that your children are no longer completely dependent on you and with this comes a whole range of emotions. Some parents feel freedom at no longer constantly needing to feel strapped to a dependent being. Some parents feel sadness at the loss of the baby days, the snuggles and baby smells and stretchy little baby fingers and squishy baby faces. There's a whole litany of feelings that come along with realizing that your kids are entering "the next phase".

There was a point as I was following my kids ride their bikes one day that it occurred to me that I was taking a lot of pictures this summer of the BACK of my children. Behind them while they rode their bikes, behind them while they balanced across rocks, behind them while they led the way through the woods. From a bench while they climbed play structures and slid down slides. From the shore of the lake while they splashed around in their floaties, ready to get up and pull them in as necessary. The moments in which I needed to direct, to guide, to reign in, to make sure they were immediately at my side are diminishing. My children require the guidelines and rules of whatever activity we are doing, to be reminded to go to the bathroom, provided food for the occasion.

At five and three, I went from needing to be integral to their activities to being two steps behind them at all times. Close enough to intervene, far enough to allow independence.

Swimmies on, Mom's watchful eye 20 yards away...
The feeling that I felt at this: Amazement.

Here are these beings that just a few short years ago required me for everything. And little by little they learned new skills and built on those skills and got stronger and faster and formed opinions and desires and have their own motivations - and now here we are.

I follow them on foot, power walking as they pedal along in front of me. I remind them to stay on the path as they lead the way on beaten paths in forests. I stay close by as they climb rocks, ready to reach out a hand or grab them when they need support.

I am amazed at how they have grown, how they have developed, and how they no longer need me to the same degree to do certain things. And while I long for the day when I no longer hear the words shouted through the house "MOM - I NEED MY BUTT WIPED!!!", I rest in these moments when they straddle between relying on me and relying on themselves.

As they continue to grow, I know that the gap between needing me and not needing me will do the same. That they will learn to properly wipe their own backside, to walk themselves into school, to make their own snacks, to get up on their own without waking me up, to go out with their friends alone, to drive, to go to college, to become their own people with their own lives.

Because yes, I've already made it clear to them that they will not live in my house when they grow up. We've compromised and they can live next door. In their own house. But not here.

Take flight, kiddos...

Here's the thing - as our kids grow, as WE GREW... their parents - OUR parents - were always two steps behind them. Those two steps look differently as they grow. Now I walk behind their bikes and wait on benches at the park. Soon it will be waiting on a bench at the mall while they do their own Christmas shopping and "Meet me back here in 45 minutes". Then it will be reminding them that all they need to do if they're ever in a situation they aren't comfortable in is to pick up the phone and I'll come and get them. Then it will be telling them what finding a job is like, what relationships are like. Relaying my experiences, drying tears, driving to jobs, bringing chicken soup to college dorms (if they live close).

Helping them when they move into their first home, have their weddings, and start families.

As our children learn skills, we too are learning. We are learning what it's like to raise up and let go, all the while providing an appropriate safety net for them to fall into if they need it.

When they need it.
Right behind you guys...
We are learning what it looks like to always be two steps behind.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Review & Giveaway: "Glory Song"

I'm going to start this review by saying that if you start your CD with a powerful worship song that will hold up to a Sunday morning worship, you're probably going to get a decent review from me on the rest of the album.

This is indeed the case with the new Matt Redman release "Glory Song", whose opening track "All Glory" immediately had me thinking about how awesome it would be to hear our church's worship band playing it before a weekly message. The chorus "All glory to the Father/ All glory to the Son/ All glory to the Spirit/ The Spirit of our God/ As it was in the beginning/ And will be in the end/ All glory to Your everlasting name" is catchy and immediately engages you into the rest of the tracks. There's not a single song on this CD that I did not enjoy, and indeed the only "questionable" part of anything is the random rap in "Gospel Song" that didn't seem to fit with the rest of the music on that particular track - but even that wasn't intolerable, just a little strange.

My favorite tracks on this CD are the well-placed "Questions (You Are Faithful)" and "Still I Will Sing" on tracks 8 & 9. I absolutely love the sentiment behind "Questions" - "In all of our questions/ All of our searching/ When we are wrestling/ You don't let go". This song is a wonderful reminder that no matter what season of life we are in - good, bad, tragedy, celebration - God is there. When we have fears, doubts, anxieties, or are blind to God's presence - He is still there. That song ends and the upbeat "Still I Will Sing" comes on, and the table turns from God's being there for us to a song of praise for Him no matter what the storms of life are. "Sing in the battle/ Sing in the blessing/ Sing through the shadows/ Shout with the heavens/ I won't be silent, no/ I won't be silent/ Still I sing, still I will sing" - no matter what the season of life is, this song is a reminder to praise God and know that He is still there for us. Also worthy of mentioning is track 7's "It Is Finished", a song worthy of an entire congregation's voices on Easter Sunday. "No more condemnation/ You had the final word/ There's nothing that can hold me/ There's nothing now to dread."

I'm going to openly admit now that I've listened to these three songs on repeat several times already. It's actually pretty amazing that I even listened to tracks 10-13 at all - but I did, and they're also good.

Want to hear some of this CD yourself? Take a listen to "Gracefully Broken", a song about surrender to Jesus.

If you're wanting to purchase and download a copy of "Glory Song" for your own listening pleasure, you can do so on iTunes by clicking here. If you're old-fashioned and want a hard CD copy, it's also available on Amazon (and Amazon digital download). If you're thinking "Danielle, you said you'd be giving away a copy - maybe I can see about maybe winning that first" - yes. Here's how you do that:

1. Share this post on social media and comment below that you did so (add your username if Twitter/Instagram). (1 Entry)

2. "Like" Danielle's Brain Bits on Facebook and comment below that you did so. (1 entry)

3. Comment below with your favorite Matt Redman song AND/OR the song on "Glory Song" you're most interested in hearing simply based on the title (can be found on the iTunes link above). (2 entries)

Each person can have a total of 4 entries possible - so earn those entries! Giveaway closes at 9:00 AM on Wednesday, October 4 and winner will be drawn and notified no later than 3:00 PM on Wednesday, October 4.

Good luck and happy listening!


“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, September 24, 2017

Moana is Missing...

Anyone who knows our family knows of our love of Walt Disney World. I wrote a post last year on how incredibly magical it is there and right now our family is in the throes of entering the home stretch to our next trip. I just spent 2.5 hours of my evening fine-tuning our dining reservations (or "ADRs" for those that use the lingo) and plotting out our desires for our "FastPass+" preferences. As I was going through our list of desires for lines we wanted to shorten the time we waited in, I heard these little voices in the back of my head asking me "Mom, when we go to Disney World can we meet Moana? And Maui?"

With the popularity of this movie, one would assume that the answer to this question would be "Sure, why not. Let's wait the 20 minutes in that line for a 1 minute meeting because gosh-darn-it, it will make you happy." However: there isn't a spot anywhere in Walt Disney World that you can meet Moana.

There was a brief period of time when the movie was released for home viewing that you could meet Moana at the "One Man's Dream" attraction/Walt Disney Shrine at Disney's Hollywood Studios. That stint ended in April 2017 when Disney stopped promoting the Moana release and started promoting "Guardians of the Galaxy 2", inserting a meet with Starlord and Baby Groot in place of the headstrong teenager turned wayfinder (sorry... guess I should have warned you about that spoiler). And so, the star of the movie that was the source of the biggest earworm since "Let It Go" was left with nowhere to meet her - that is unless you are heading to Disney's Aulani Resort in Hawaii.

Source unknown: But source is a genius.

So I look at my sweet children and give them the disappointment that no, they will not be able to meet Moana or Maui and instead will have to be content with just swinging their pretend hooks around and flying like pretend hawks around my kitchen only to end up standing in front of me while swinging their hooks again to turn back into a pretend demi-god and ask if I want to meet them.

This may or may not have happened a few times. And they may or may not have been absolutely content with this answer because it's fun to say "I'm Maui! I'm not going on your boat" and making your sister scream because she's Moana.

I digress.

Disney - I think you've got to make this happen. Let's face it: you like making money and Moana... Moana can make you some serious bank. Set up that meet & greet space, put up a Moana gift shop beside it, and sit back and watch the money roll in.

Where? Where on your obscene amount of acreage should you put this meet & greet? Well... I have a few ideas for you.

Will is sad because this is Stitch and not Hei-Hei. 
1. 'Ohana (Disney's Polynesian Resort): This one is probably the most obvious. Right now, the only character meal at 'Ohana is Lilo & Stitch (with Mickey & Pluto) at breakfast. While this makes sense to have this duo as a primary character draw ("Ohana means family and family means no one gets left behind" - I get it), why not further bank on the Moana Mercantile that you've already set up next door? Character meals are a great way to meet characters without needing to wait in lines - you've gotta eat anyways, right? - and a wonderful way for Disney to make more cash since these meals always cost more money. In this scenario, I would carry over Lilo & Stitch and I would add in Moana and Maui (or Hei Hei). In fact while we're at it, let's remove Mickey & Pluto from the breakfast and just make all 3 meals Lilo & Stitch and Moana & Maui. It keeps with the theme of the resort and gives guests a place where they can meet these popular characters. Plus - who wouldn't want to drink some of that time-honored Disney POG juice out of a souvenir Kokamura cup? AMIRIGHT?

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)
2. The Outpost (Epcot): For as long as Steve and I have been going to Epcot together, we have yet to figure out what this area is besides a place for small children to bang on Bongo drums and to buy a floppy hat if you forgot yours at home or the hotel. Oh - and to buy a Coke (for those who haven't been, there is/was a "Coca-Cola Outpost" sign somewhere in this area). Why not revamp this a bit? Toss in a Kidcot stop, learn about Oceania a little, set up a Moana gift shop, and make an area with a backdrop setup that looks like something from the movie where you meet Moana and/or Maui. For that matter, if you look at the satellite of The Outpost area, there's a "beach" with "boats" across from it already - just replace the canoes that are there with Moana's boat. This could be a simple refurbishment of an area of World Showcase that not many people understand and an easy way to add an area of the world that's not really represented back there either. Since Disney seems to be in the business of renovating areas of World Showcase to fit whatever movies are popular at the movie anyways (I'm looking at you, Norway turned Arendelle and soon-to-be updated France for "Ratatouille") - why not make a better use of The Outpost. I'm just sayin'.

No idea who took this screenshot, but I'm pretty sure it's
from Google Maps. This is the space I'm talking about.
3. Between/Behind the Rafiki's Planet Watch train station & the Maharajah Jungle Trek (Animal Kingdom): If you look at a map of Animal Kingdom, there seems to be a fair amount of dead space kind of along the tracks/path heading up to Rafiki's Planet Watch and the Maharajah Jungle Trek. Maybe I'm wrong and this is some sort of animal training area or extra parking/staging for props or parade equipment - but on the satellite view it looks like a poorly groomed semi-grassy/semi-dirt area. We've got Africa, Asia, prehistoric times, and the fantastical world of Pandora represented at Animal Kingdom - why not use this space to represent the Oceanic part of the world? This could easily be tied into the existing Finding Nemo: The Musical (why not build it a new theater and put a new show in the Finding Nemo space?), maybe a "Return the Heart to Te Fiti" ride, followed by a meet & greet area to meet various characters from Moana (OK... just Moana and Maui), and you know what - since we're all about cultural learning at Animal Kingdom - an area where there's an interactive hula performance at various times throughout the day. And a Dole Whip stand. Because Dole Whips.

While I am sure there are lots of other places you could just stick a booth and a kiosk and let kids meet Moana - I've heard rumors of "somewhere" in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom, for example - why not make this something a little more. Use your imaginations and use the wave (pardon the pun) that Moana is riding on, invite Dwayne Johnson and Auli'i Cravalho to come to the opening and make a big deal out of it. And you know what, if it's in one of these spots invite me along too because I suggested it in the first place - heck,  you can even give me a free Dole Whip.

By the way, Disney. For these ideas of how to showcase Moana in your flagship resort & theme parks...

(Also, you totally knew I was going to do that last bit there. Admit it.)

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 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.