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Author Archives: Family Christian

  • The One Thing To Remember If Your Life Feels Small ...

    Posted on January 7, 2015 by Family Christian

    Alicia Bruxvoort JANUARY 7, 2015

    The One Thing To Remember If Your Life Feels Small ...
    ALICIA BRUXVOORT

    "Who dares despise the day of small things …" Zechariah 4:10a (NIV)

    Laundry frames the end of my day. Stacks of clean underwear and yet-to-be-folded T-shirts, drifts of unmatched socks and mountains of wrinkled jeans.

    Upturned baskets are scattered across the living room like tiny tables awaiting a tea party. But I’;m not in the mood for a midnight soiree; I’m drinking from my own deep reservoirs of self-pity.

    I’m exhausted and the voices of discouragement in my head rise above what my heart knows to be true.

    What did you do all day?

    Why don’t you ever get anything done?

    You’re never going to have time to do something that really matters.

    Dishes and dirt, tantrums and time-outs — some days, a mother’s life can feel so small.

    I rub the palm of my hand over those crumpled jeans, trying to press out the unwanted creases that sprouted in the dark of the unattended dryer. If only I could smooth the ragged edges of my soul in a similar fashion.

    "Sometimes I just want to do something bigger than all of this …" I tell my husband, as he joins me on the floor and begins stacking the folded laundry into piles.

    I imagine you’ve felt the same at one time or another. You don’t need to be a mother to feel discouraged by the daily grind. Whether you’re running errands or running a business, planning a meal or planning a merger, the everyday mundane can seem trifling and insignificant.

    My man sits beside me in silence, weighing his words. Finally, he murmurs, "Just because what you’re doing feels small, doesn’t mean that it is."

    I’m tempted to discard his comment like I dispose of ratty socks, but then I remember the scene that had unfolded on the driveway earlier that afternoon.

    The kids had designed a racetrack on the cement with squiggles of pink sidewalk chalk and then lined up their scooters for a friendly competition. I launched the action with a wave of my hand and stepped back to watch the race. Wheels squeaked. Kids squealed. And then a shrill cry halted the fun.

    My 10-year-old laid sprawl-eagle on the ground, surrounded by a smorgasbord of broken scooter parts. Blood oozed from a gash in her knee, and her blue eyes brimmed with tears.

    "What happened?" I asked as I ran to her side.

    "I don’t know …" Hannah mumbled as she surveyed the collection of bolts and screws, rivets and spokes that dotted the driveway. "My scooter was just missing one little piece …"

    She dropped her head in chagrin. "Something fell off my scooter right before the race began, but it was just a small thing, so I didn’t think it was important."

    As I lifted Hannah to her feet, her little brother began gathering the scattered parts in a bucket. With an ornery grin, he presented the pieces to his sister and declared, "I guess that small thing was really a big deal after all."

    While there’s no mention of a scooter race in the age-old book of Zechariah, God’s message in today’s key verse rings with a familiar echo straight from my pink-chalked driveway.

    "Who dares despise the day of small things …"

    God first spoke these words to the children of Judah as they prepared to rebuild the temple, one small brick at a time. I think He realized that they might grow discouraged in the daily grind, that the monotony of laying bricks day after day might eventually feel insignificant and trivial. But God knew that those little bricks would one day create a big opportunity for worship if His children remained faithful to the task.

    Like the children of Judah, we, too, have a choice. We can measure the significance of our lives by the size of our accomplishments, or we can trust God to use our small offerings for His great glory.

    As for me, I think I’ll ask God to renew my passion for this ordinary, laundry-folding-carpooling life that I live. ’Cause there’s a broken scooter in my garage that reminds me that the small stuff just might be a big deal after all!

    Heavenly Father, please forgive me for trying to measure my significance by the size of my accomplishments. I want to serve You with all of my heart in big ways and small ways. Give me fresh passion for my daily grind and help me to glorify You in all that I do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters ..." (NIV)

    Galatians 6:9, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (NIV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Sometimes big change begins with a small yes. Lysa TerKeurst’s devotional, What Happens When Women Say Yes to God Devotional, will encourage you to live for God in big ways and small ways.

    Visit Alicia Bruxvoort's blog today for more encouragement and a small giveaway.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    Take a moment to thank someone who has blessed or encouraged you in a small way this week. Your small gift of gratitude could make a big difference!

    Do a heart check! Prayerfully consider your attitude toward the small tasks that comprise your days. Invite God to give you a new passion for the small stuff in your life.

    © 2015 by Alicia Bruxvoort. All rights reserved.

  • When to Weigh Your Words

    Posted on January 6, 2015 by Family Christian

    Karen Ehman JANUARY 6, 2015

    When to Weigh Your Words
    KAREN EHMAN

    "The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil." Proverbs 15:28 (NIV)

    One of my favorite Saturday morning pastimes is going to the Farmer’s Market. The scene at this huge building filled with goods from far and near is a delight to my eyes. And on one weekend morning, God used apples to send a clear message about my words.

    Rows of vendors line the marketplace floor. Colorful fresh-cut flowers. Bright raw veggies. Aromatic fruit. Handmade soaps and lotions. Woven textiles and dried herbs. For me, there is no better way to kick off my weekend than to stroll through the market, making fresh purchases for the upcoming week.

    Whenever I pick apples to make homemade pie, I opt for the Michigan Northern Spy variety. They are the best for my family’s favorite dessert, "Spies for pies," my mother always taught me.

    While selecting my apples, I make sure to weigh them on the farmer’s old gray metal scale to ensure I have enough for a pie. (That would be just shy of three pounds per pie, if you must know!)

    One by one, I place the apples onto the scale. When I get close to the three-pound mark, I have to choose the perfectly sized apple for the final one; one that will make the dial on the scale read exactly three pounds. It takes a couple minutes, but by carefully weighing, I’m sure to have the perfect amount of apples for my flaky and tasty pastry.

    And so it is with our words. If we want to ensure we have a pleasant outcome, we need to weigh our words carefully. Especially — as today’s key verse instructs — when giving someone an answer.

    Before we answer a child’s request, we must think through what is really best for our son or daughter before we start to speak. Answering too quickly can lead to a sticky parental situation.

    Before we answer a co-worker or family member who might be upset with us, we need to consider our response cautiously, selecting phrases that will convey the truth, but also promote understanding and peace. Speaking without weighing our words first may escalate the situation emotionally, causing an all-out verbal battle.

    At times we may be asked a question that needs a gentle and tender response — instead of a quick and thoughtless reply. (This is definitely easier said than done!) We need to sort through the options in our minds as we invite the Holy Spirit to give us just the right combination of fruitful words.

    If we are to pursue righteousness, we must heed the advice of today’s key verse in Proverbs 15:28, "The heart of the righteous weighs its answers …"

    Notice it says "the heart." It doesn’t say the mouth.

    Sometimes, by the time the words are starting to tumble out of our mouths, it’s too late. When I don’t first pause to pray and ponder in my heart, hurtful words come out of my mouth. In order to avoid causing heartache and even regret in the future, I’ve learned to contemplate words secretly in my heart. Which means running my thoughts through the grid of Scripture, before I ever let the words escape from my lips.

    Back and forth. Back and forth. Searching for just the right … and righteous … fruitful combination.

    Are you ready to carefully weigh your words today? The result will be a delightful offering, pleasing to you, to the hearer and to God.

    It might even be more wonderful than my famous apple pie a la mode!

    Father, today I will need to speak many words, both in person and online. Help me weigh my words carefully in my heart before I ever let them escape my lips. May they bear much fruit for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Proverbs 13:3, "The one who guards his mouth protects his life; the one who opens his lips invites his own ruin." (HCSB)

    Proverbs 25:11, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Have you ever said words that were permanently painful because you were temporarily ticked off? Learn what to say, how to say it and when to say nothing at all in our upcoming Online Bible StudyKeep It Shut, with Karen Ehman. The study starts January 26. Register today!

    Purchase the book through Proverbs 31 Ministries and receive a free, 10-day devotional on Tempering your Tongue! The first 1,200 copies will be signed by Karen as our gift to you!

    Visit Karen’s blog where she is giving away a Keep It Shut bundle that includes a Kindle Fire Tablet.

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What percent of the time would you say that you carefully weigh your words before speaking? Is it closer to 100% of the time or closer to … well … never? Be honest.

    What are some questions you can learn to ask yourself before giving an answer to someone? Are there any helpful phrases to keep in your mind that will help you weigh your words? If so, jot them down her.

    © 2015 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

  • Hope for the Messed-Up Life

    Posted on January 6, 2015 by Family Christian

    James Merritt JANUARY 5, 2015

    Hope for the Messed-Up Life
    JAMES MERRITT

    "Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.’" John 4:13-15 (ESV)

    Have you ever messed up so badly that it left you believing God wants nothing to do with you? If your answer is "yes," then you’re in good company, because we all have. We’ve all made poor choices and bad decisions. A bad decision can cost you your marriage, job, friendships and even your peace of mind.

    But, if you’re willing to admit you’ve messed up, you’re a prime candidate for an encounter with Jesus. In fact, He specializes in ministering to messed-up people. One of the many things I love about Jesus is that He gravitates toward those who are typically ignored, ridiculed, hated and rejected.

    One of the greatest examples of this is found in the book of John. In chapter 4, Jesus encounters a woman at a well. This nameless woman meets Jesus while she performs one of the most mundane tasks in her messed-up life — drawing water out of a well.

    She quickly learned a lesson we all need to know as well — the mundane can become momentous when we let Jesus clean up our mess-ups and radically change our lives. Jesus wants to clean up our mess-ups so much that He will break down every possible barrier to do so.

    For example, to meet the woman at the well …

    Jesus overcame a cultural barrier. Jesus traveled through a region that His people — the Jews — would always avoid. Jesus saw culture, not as a barrier to compassion, but as a bridge to ministry.

    Jesus overcame a moral barrier. This woman carried a terrible reputation. Her past put her in the category of a Hall-of-Fame sinner. She had been married five times and was now living with a man who wasn’t her husband. With this track record, everyone in her community knew her, and no man would dare to speak with her in public. No man, except Jesus! Jesus engaged with this woman, and we see her fess up to her mess-up.

    We live in a culture that teaches us to hide our mess-ups and call them anything except the sins that they are. Jesus demonstrated through this woman that He will forgive us when we are willing to confess our sin to Him.

    Jesus is not intimidated by our past. He sees beyond our failures and offers us a faithful future. You can’t do anything so bad that it will cause God to love you less.

    If you’re reading this today and feel like Jesus wants nothing to do with you, I want you to know that He will break every possible barrier to reach you. Jesus is so serious about the task that He left heaven and came to earth to restore anyone who is willing to be cleansed. Today, you can meet with Jesus, bring Him your mess-ups, and allow Him to clean you up.

    Heavenly Father, Thank You for loving me so much that You destroy every possible barrier that could keep me from You. Help me to quickly fess up to my mess-ups, so that I can receive the wonderful forgiveness that is only found in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    Lamentations 3:22-23, "The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (ESV)

    RELATED RESOURCES:
    Just like the woman at the well, if we took the time to really live with Jesus, we might be surprised by what we’d find. For hope and encouragement for your messed-up life, you’ll be encouraged by 52 Weeks With Jesus by James Merritt.

    To learn more about Dr. Merritt, visit touchinglives.org.

    Enter to WIN a copy of 52 Weeks with Jesus by Dr. James Merritt. In celebration of this book, Dr. Merritt’s publisher is giving away 10 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select 10 winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, Jan. 12.}

    REFLECT AND RESPOND:
    What barriers have you built in your mind that cause you to believe that Jesus is not near to you?

    What mistakes have you refused to fully give over to Jesus? Give them to Him today and trust that He has forgiven you.

    © 2015 by James Merritt. All rights reserved.

  • How to Motivate Kids to Clean

    Posted on January 2, 2015 by Family Christian

    how to motivate kids to clean
    Are you looking for ideas to keep your home organized this year? Once you find the best routine for your family, the next hurdle is how to motivate the kids to clean! Trying to get the kids motivated to help can be frustrating, as it frequently breeds a case of the grumps. Here are six tips on dealing with grumpy kids. Before we get started on how to motivate your kids to clean let’s talk about having grace with yourself. It’s a new year and you are gung-ho telling yourself, “This year will be different!” The year starts of perfectly then *BAM*! Life throws a curve. Your routine is in a spiral and you never truly gain the previous momentum. This leaves the feeling of another failed New Year’s Resolution. This year start slowly and steadily embrace a new viewpoint for your old resolution.

    Adopt this philosophy: Keep the clutter moving and the laundry fluffed!

    how to motivate kids to clean 2
    You live in your home, so focus on keeping it fresh and clean. Striving for a model home when you live with kids will only lead to frustration.

    Motivating the Kids

    I have found two tools that help motivate kids to clean. One is using a point system to earn prizes from the treasure box. The other is a chore card. I’ll explain both!
    Point System
    chore cards pointsMy kids earn a Pohl Point (since our last name is Pohl) for every chore they complete.
    Download Point Printable here
    I give bonus points when they work with a positive attitude, without being reminded, or after helping a sibling. However, they pay me points for poor work and grumbling attitudes. At the end of the week and after they have earned X amount of points they get to choose from the treasure box. My kids are super motivated with this method and yours will be too!

    I wanted to fill our treasure box with meaningful and economical items. At Family Christian’s toy department I found a spinning rack with containers filled with perfect little toys that have a positive inscription. The tween area has small buttons, bookmarks, pens, and notebooks that are a great too. Also, I find great treasure box items in the clearance section of the store. I can fill the box for less than $20 and it lasts for weeks!
    treasure box
    Chore Cards
    A chore card an individual card with step by step directions for one particular chore. It’s ideal for kids age 5 and up. You can find the full Chore Card System Packet here. Like a mini laminated tutorial. Each chore in our home has a chore card. The chore cards for my younger kids include pictures. This saves me from becoming a broken record. In the morning I divvy up the chores my kids are to complete and clip them to their clipboard. Typically, I assign one to two chores per person daily. With the directions in hand, literally, my expectations are clear. After completion, the card is flipped over to the backside which says DONE! Then I know to check their work. I also made cards for their morning and night time routines.
    Keep the daily cleaning schedule simple. Set specific things you plan to accomplish each day. To catch the missed messes plan a deeper clean every few weeks. Remember, the idea is to keep things clean and fresh, not perfect. Keep the clutter moving and the laundry fluffed!

    Encouragement for Mom

    When my three girls were under six years old I did my best to keep up with our home. Having a preschooler, toddler and infant the mess would easily get out of hand. I refused to let anyone in my home unless it was perfectly clean. My uptight attitude changed one day when a friend showed up unexpectedly.

    I heard the knock at the door. Perfection turned my stomach into knots as I reluctantly opened the door and presented a warm hesitant smile. She leaned forward, expecting to enter. I opened the door further and through my smile said, “I’m happy to see you…. Would you like to come in?”
    I ushered her to our beautiful sitting area. A formal room we rarely used. Nevertheless, with little effort you could see the pile of dishes that covered the table, the toys that lined the hallway, and mountain of dirty clothes that flowed out of the laundry room. I swallowed deeply and offered her a freshly brewed cup of coffee with a slice of cake. She accepted. I served her the refreshments and plopped down next to her.
    She looked at me with grief in her eyes and said, “I was just diagnosed with stage four breast cancer.”
    I embraced her and silently prayed, “Thank you God for the wisdom to lay down my pride by not turning her away at the door.”
    In that moment I learned, God cares about my clean heart more than my clean house!

    Momma, your day to day tedious tasks make a difference in God’s Kingdom. Contrary to our cultural belief, home is our first ministry, an important one.
    Taking care of our family takes diligence and a willingness to be flexible. It is both rewarding and challenging. Smack dab in the middle of the chaos, diapers, hand-me-downs, temper-tantrums, adolescence, and school – it is easy to be drained and lose sight of the big picture.
    I am often encouraged by, 1 Timothy 5:9-10 NIV.
    No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.”
    First on the list, of life time achievement deeds, is bringing up children. That has always brought me peace and continues to bring value to my ministry as the care taker of my home. I hope it does for you as well.
    Keep in touch! Let me know how you’re keeping the kids motivated to clean.
    Written by Michelle {at} Blooming With Joy {dot} com

  • A Christmas Prayer for the Merry ... and Not-So-Merry

    Posted on December 25, 2014 by Family Christian

    "But the angel reassured them. 'Don't be afraid!' he said. 'I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior — yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!'" Luke 2:10-11 (NLT)

    Editor's Note: Today, and always, we pray you experience God's love through the gift of His Son, Jesus. We wish you a very Merry Christmas! From your friends at Proverbs 31 Ministries.

    Father God,

    We thank You and praise You today for the miracle of Your Son's birth. Thank You for bringing great JOY to the whole world!

    Thank You for giving us the assurance that because You came to us in the form of a human, we who believe in Jesus can know with absolute certainty that we'll spend eternity with You.

    We thank You, Lord, for the many reasons we have been given a merry Christmas. And we rejoice for each blessing. New life. New love. A home. A job. New opportunities. Second chances. And more.

    We know, Lord, that You bring the sun and the moon and set the stars in motion. You tell the ocean where to stop and the snow when to start. And we thank You for the mighty gift of Your creation.

    Thank You, Father, for spiritual leaders and faith-filled friends who keep encouraging us when we are close to giving up.

    And although we have many reasons to rejoice today, Lord, we also know December 25th can be not-so-merry for a whole host of reasons. We pray for those who are experiencing loss this Christmas: relational, financial, spiritual and physical.

    We pray for those who are coping with loving a prodigal and our friends and family members whose hearts are far from You. We pray for those dealing with unemployment and addictions and chronic sickness ... and unending pain and frustrations of all kinds. Thank You, Lord, that You are The Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace, even in the midst of our not-so-merry circumstances.

    Finally, Lord, we ask You to grant us peace. Peace in our homes, peace in our churches, and peace in our hearts, when the world all around us spins out-of-control.

    Help us to stay focused on You, this Christmastime and always. Thank You for loving the whole world enough to send the greatest gift, Your Son, so that we might truly have a very merry Christmas.

    In Jesus' Name,
    Amen.

    TRUTH FOR TODAY:
    John 3:16, "For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." (NLT)

    Luke 2:10, "But the angel reassured them. 'Don't be afraid!' he said. 'I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.'" (NLT)

    1 John 5:13, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." (NIV)

    Psalm 95:1-2, "Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song." (NIV)

    Job 38:8-11, "Who kept the sea inside its boundaries as it burst from the womb, and as I clothed it with clouds and wrapped it in thick darkness? For I locked it behind barred gates, limiting its shores. I said, 'This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!'" (NLT)

    Psalm 72:12-14, "He will rescue the poor when they cry to him; he will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them. He feels pity for the weak and the needy, and he will rescue them. He will redeem them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious to him." (NLT)

    Isaiah 9:6, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (NIV)

    1 Thessalonians 5:23, "Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again." (NLT)

    Prayer © 2014 by Steph Raquel. All rights reserved.

    Proverbs 31 Ministries
    630 Team Rd., Suite 100
    Matthews, NC 28105
    www.Proverbs31.org

  • Passion: The Essential Collection CD and a Giveaway!

    Posted on November 28, 2014 by Family Christian

    Available November 10, Passion: The Essential Collection is a collection of 15 powerful songs, talks and performances from the Passion Movement. Since the first release in 1998, Passion albums have sold over 1.5 million units while introducing the church to worship songs like 'Our God,' ‘Lord I Need You,' 'How Great Is Our God,' and 'God Of This City.'

    The Passion Movement and the messages of founder Louie Giglio have marked the lives of millions of people around the globe, calling people everywhere to live for the glory of God. From its inception, the Passion Movement has birthed new anthems of worship, influencing countless churches and helping to define the current worship climate and establish artists Chris Tomlin, Crowder, Matt Redman, Christy Nockels, Kristian Stanfill and others. Louie Giglio is the pastor and founder of Passion City Church in Atlanta, GA.

    What makes Passion: The Essential Collection so neat and unique is that it comes with DVDs and the CD.  You will get the music and know and love from Passion artists.  However, you get bonus DVDs that have music videos.  Additionally you will get DVDs with discussions from Louie Giglio!  Amazing deal!  You can purchase the cd from Family Christian stores today either in stores or online.

    • TRACK LISTING
      CD
      1. Holy Is The Lord (Chris Tomlin)
      2. One Thing Remains (Kristian Stanfill)
      3. 10,000 Reasons [Bless The Lord] (Matt Redman)
      4. Our God (Chris Tomlin)
      5. How He Loves (David Crowder*Band)
      6. Healing Is In Your Hands (Christy Nockels)
      7. Whom Shall I Fear [God Of Angel Armies] (Chris Tomlin) 8. You Never Let Go (Matt Redman)
      9. Amazing Grace [My Chains Are Gone] (Chris Tomlin)
      10. Better Is One Day (Charlie Hall)
      11. In Christ Alone (Kristian Stanfill)
      12. God Of This City (Chris Tomlin)
      13. Like A Lion (David Crowder*Band)
      14. Waiting Here For You (Christy Nockels)
      15. How Great Is Our God (Chris Tomlin) 

      DVD
      Song Videos
      1. The Lord Our God (Kristian Stanfill)
      2. Let It Be Jesus (Christy Nockels)
      3. Mercy [From Lift] (Matt Redman)
      4. White Flag (Chris Tomlin)
      5. Here’s My Heart (Crowder)
      6. My Heart Is Yours (Kristian Stanfill)
      7. God’s Great Dance Floor (Chris Tomlin)

      Talks by Louie Giglio

      1. Let’s Work It Out (From Passion: 2010)
      2. We Will Carry The Name (From Passion: 2011)
      3. Raise To Life By The Breath Of A Living God (From Passion: 2013)

      4. Crushed By Grace (From Passion: 2014)

       

      Meanwhile our friends at Capitol, are offering an amazing prize package! One lucky person will win the following collection of cds:

      Passion: The Essential Collection

      Passion-Take it All

      Crowder-Neon Steeple

      David Crowder Band-All this For a King

      Tomlin-Love Ran Red Deluxe version

      Christy Nockels-Into the Glorious

      Matt Redman-Your Grace Finds Me Live

      Kristian Stanfill-Mountains Move

       

       

  • Join Us For the #JesusCalling Twitter Party! 11/14 1-2pm EST Over $500 in prizes!

    Posted on November 13, 2014 by Family Christian

    jesus calling

    Do you like Jesus Calling books?  Are you on Twitter?  Do you like FREE prizes?   If you said "yes" to any of these questions then you will want to join us TOMORROW for the #JesusCalling Twitter Party!  We hope to see you there!

    Where: https://tweetdeck.twitter.com or follow along with #JesusCalling
    When: November 14th 1-2 pm EST
    What: Twitter party to discuss the best selling book Jesus Calling
    Prizes: 5 participants will win the deluxe edition of Jesus Calling and a $50 appreciation certificate. 5 other readers will win a $50 appreciation certificate.

    Hosts:

    @mudpiesandtiara
    @Ellenblogs
    @ahhmazingrvws
    @aliciamarie112
    @SimplySherryl
    @CptFussybuckets
    @annesramblings
    @MimiBakerMN
    @PeaOfSweetness
    @spreadingJOY

    So mark your calendars and spread the word and join us on the 14th!

  • Interview with Michael W. Smith

    Posted on November 5, 2014 by Family Christian

    The other day, I had the honor of interviewing Michael W. Smith! Enjoy!

    Kristen Jeffery

    Social Media Coordinator at Family Christian

     

    FC: Hello Michael! How are you doing?

     

    MWS:  Doing great! Thank you!

     

    FC: Well, I know you just released your newest cd, The Spirit of Christmas, so it is only natural that we ask a Christmas question.  Can you share with us a favorite Christmas memory that you have?

     

    MWS: Just growing up in my house…all the kids…. I mean I don’t even know where to start.  We have our traditions. Christmas is a BIG thing at the Smith house.  Just huge!   We’d pull out the Christmas albums every September 1; everyone opens a present on Christmas Eve.   A great Christmas memory is probably when I got my first red, sparkling drum set when I was 7 years old.  You know, I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven!  I’ll never for forget that.

     

    FC: Speaking of gifts, do you have a favorite gift that you received for Christmas?  I know mine was the Barbie Ice cream shop

     

    MWS: Love that!

     

    FC: I did too! Was yours your drum set?

     

    MWS: Probably so.  It was a game changer for me.

     

    FC: I heard a quote from you that in your 31-year career, The Spirit of Christmas is the most unique album you’ve created.  Can you expound on that for us?

     

    MWS:  Well I think it’s unique because of all the people who are on it.  I’ve never actually had as many guest artists on an album in my life, other than the artists that were on the worship album that sang in my choir.  These are people that are stepping out.  I’m singing solos with them and people that are mostly not from my genre, you know Contemporary Christian music.  This is an A Level group of amazing people.  Carrie Underwood being one of them. Bono’s on the record.  I mean it’s just insane.  I’m just sort of pinching myself that we actually pulled it off.

     

    FC: I’m sure.  When I was looking at the list of artists performing with you, it’s going to reach such a huge audience!  You’re hitting all the different tastes that people could have for the different genres of music and different talent it’s just phenomenal!

     

    MWS:  Well I think so.  You know I think we have something really special going on.  Just take me out of the equation and I think it’s just an amazing record, just from what these people brought to the project.  It’s pretty off the charts.

     

     

     

    FC: That sounds amazing! I know I will be picking up a few copies for my family this year.  You’ve got a tour going on this year and some confirmed tour dates for 2015 as well.  Is there anything else you are working on right now?

     

    MWS:  No, I did an exclusive album for Cracker Barrel that I worked on and then Sovereign came out in May and then the Christmas record and it’s just like wow! 3 records in one year for me.  Pretty crazy!

     

    FC: Here at Family Christian we believe strongly in the power of prayer.  In fact, we have a team that gathers daily to lift others up in prayer.  So how can we be praying for you right now?

     

    MWS:  You know what, probably just it’s such a busy, busy time.  It’s pretty non-stop from now till the end of the year, till Christmas.  Just pray for my health, for protection as we travel everywhere. I think just some of those things.  Kristen, business can wear you out if you don’t watch it so please pray that I’ll get my rest and that we will all stay healthy on the road and my family as well.  Thank you very much!

     

    FC: Thank you Michael! Have a blessed Christmas season!

  • How Being Well-Read Makes You Well-Rounded

    Posted on October 31, 2014 by Family Christian

    The Life Of A Page-Turning Adventurer:

    How Being Well-Read Makes You Well-Rounded

    Guest post by: Ciera Horton

     

    I have traveled for miles on a raft down the Mississippi River.  I’ve been on a circus train in the Midwest. I have journeyed into the heart of the Congo with ivory traders, I’ve burned books, I’ve witnessed a fisherman wrangle a marlin on open waters.  I have hitchhiked to the edge of the galaxy, flown to Neverland and back and time traveled to dozens of decades, all while never leaving my house.  I am a traveler, a wandering adventurer, a lover of the mystery of prose and all because I am a reader.

     

    Books were a foundational part of my childhood.  Growing up, I was memorizing Dr. Seuss stories at age two and reading chapter books before the first grade.  This sparked a passionate love for literature and has led me to pursue studies in English and creative writing.

     

    But in our culture, I am part of a shrinking minority.  Believers and non-believers alike increasingly reject the pastime of reading and replace books with gaming consoles and cell phone apps.  Mindless entertainment becomes the sole priority because the gratification is more immediate and the participation is passive.  However, this shift away from valuing books and their influence has detrimental consequences.  Literature not only expands readers’ comprehension of the outside world, but also aids internal, personal development of the mind and heart.  Christians should value reading because being well-read leads to a well-rounded worldview.

     

    With the rising popularity of Kindles, Nooks and e-books, people often turn in a library card for digital downloads they can take with them anywhere.  Much of the debate regarding the declining trend in paper books commonly relates to nostalgia.  Passionate readers assert that nothing beats holding a physical book in their hands — while I agree with this, I believe there is much more to the debate than simply sentimentality vs. practicality.  A study from 2006 with Nielsen Norman showed that the more people read words on a screen, the more they read in the “F” pattern, reading the top line and then scanning down the left hand side for information.  This nonlinear format makes it difficult to concentrate.  When you have an actual book in your hands, the sense of movement in actually turning and reading a different physical page instead of the same tablet screen helps you feel a sense of progression in the text, which aids in memory.  This increased focus and the ability to remember information helps readers formulate enlightened opinions and perspectives.

     

    Furthermore, an exposé in The Guardian illustrated how reading quality literature increases the three major categories of intelligence as commonly recognized by psychologists.  The first is “crystallized intelligence” which refers to the catalog of sensory information you retain.  The more books you read, the more vocabulary you learn and the more apt you are to recall the knowledge you gained.  “Fluid intelligence” means the ability to think critically, to be discerning and to strategize.  The relationship between reading and fluid intelligence is unique because the more you read, the better you learn to think analytically and with greater critical thinking you have better reading comprehension.  The final category, “emotional intelligence”, is perhaps the most telling.  Readers have been shown to have greater ability to interpret and react to their own and others’ feelings.  The journal Science published a study showing that reading literary fiction improves interpersonal relationships and responses to emotional situations.  Perhaps this is because readers have a wider depth of experiences they have encountered from the texts, which gives them discernment, empathy and emotional maturity.

     

    But the most essential part of reading is how it influences our worldview, our particular philosophy or way of looking at the world.  As Christians, we should be acutely aware of what things are filling our minds and changing our perspectives.

     

    Writer Pat Williams says, “We are changed by what we read. Close that book, and you are not the same person anymore. Because of what you just read, your worldview—your understanding, your compassion for others, your ability to engage intelligently with others—has expanded a little. Books help us grow….”

     

    When we read, we become a witness to the narrative of someone’s life, for all books offer us a glimpse into the tapestry of various ideologies and life-shaping encounters.  It is a formative investment of time and during this time we are being molded.  The active undertaking of immersion in the text stimulates our minds as we engage with the words.  While we are suspended in the illusion between fantasy and reality, the way we view others and ourselves is being influenced.

     

    Through Jane Eyre, I gained a greater appreciation for the difficulties that someone can face.  Through Fahrenheit 451, I became aware of the dangers of extreme censorship.  I saw myself as every single March sister from the beloved Little Women and Heart of Darkness opened my eyes to the plights of other cultures.

     

    The way I view my society and the manner in which I interact with others has all been influenced by the words that have filled my mind.  Yes, reading has its cognitive benefits.  But the power of the written word transcends the scientific.  It shapes who we are as individuals.  Quite simply, being well-read makes you well-rounded.  As Christians, we should read well because books are a glimpse into the human psyche, an illustration of the human condition, a reflection of God’s creation.  We should not be satisfied with the simplistic or the passive, but we should be challenged by intellectual pursuits and the joys in the pages of a novel.

     

    So be a page-turning adventurer.   Read and read well.

    Ciera Horton

    Ciera is a unique blend of academic and artistic: she reads Kerouac and Chaucer, paints still life and modern art and loves writing poetry on her vintage typewriter named Ernest.  As a writer and champion public speaker, Ciera enjoys sharing her outlook on culture and life through speaking and writing. You can read more on her blog: www.cierahorton.blogspot.com

  • Sponsorship keeps a future "doctor" healthy

    Posted on October 30, 2014 by Family Christian

    By Eugene Lee of World Vision

     

     

    Six-year-old Belen likes to play with her dolls. Like many young girls in Namotivas, Nicaragua, she models what she sees around the home. She likes to pretend her dolls are sick with a cough and fever, and then help them get healthy again.

     

    “I give them syrup so they can get better,” says Belen, who also has two younger sisters. In this game, her doll’s make-believe sickness is a reflection of her own real-life experience as an underweight, malnourished child.

     

     

     

     

    The effects of malnutrition are often underestimated. Even though many children may eat enough to feel full, the lack of nutrients contributes to weaker immune systems and limits mental and physical development. Undernourished children are more likely to get sick and not perform as well in school.

     

    The World Bank classifies Nicaragua as the second poorest country in the Latin America and Caribbean region, and the World Food Programme estimates that chronic malnutrition affects 22 percent of children under 5[1].

     

    Belen used to be one of them—but not anymore.

    Determined to find Belen a sponsor, Family Christian store manager, Shari Kuiken in Frisco, TX started asking her customers if they’d be willing to change Belen’s life through sponsorship. She finally found a sponsor for Belen in her dear friend and Family Christian customer, Margo.

     

    Sponsorship feeds a growing mind

     

    Through Margo’s support, Belen is able to get school supplies, new shoes, and a backpack. More importantly, her mother is able to attend World Vision nutrition workshops to improve the family’s eating habits. This in turn reduces illness and trips to see the doctor.

     

    “I could say that before she was having a fever or cold most of the time, but now she has improved a lot,” says Telma, Belen’s grandmother who lives with the family.

     

    In these nutrition workshops, called “Common Pot,” mothers learn to cook with more nutritious—and less expensive—ingredients such as soybeans and fresh vegetables grown in community gardens. And to specifically help Belen’s family, sponsorship funds provided Belen’s family with five hens so they can eat protein-rich eggs every day.

     

    “It [the new cooking techniques] can prevent illness with children. This is important to pass on the trainings to the children” says Geraldine, a facilitator of one Common Pot group. Her 9-year-old daughter is also sponsored.

     

    Because of what her mother learned in the Common Pot workshops, Belen’s nutrition has improved and she’s well enough to go to school.

     

    Hope for the future

     

    “I like to read. And I like to study with my dad,” Belen says. One of her favorite stories is Pinocchio and she loves to hear stories about princesses. Her teacher, Francisco, mentions Belen likes to learn about math and Spanish literature. He describes her as very disciplined — on time for class, never misses a day, and always has her homework done. She wants to be a doctor when she grows up, so she already has the right study habits.

     

    “As a teacher, we have a big task,” says Francisco of his students. “It’s to prepare them for the future … we are taking care of those dreams we talk about here and how we accompany them through the path to fulfill that dream.”

     

    Sponsorship has also shown Belen and her family a tangible expression of God’s love. Margo is a very active sponsor, sending letters, photos, and gifts to Belen. Belen is equally active in sending cards—and even drawings back!

     

    Shari explained that Margo would bring the cards she received from Belen back to the Family Christian store to show the team “They always traced her little hand, and we’ve just watched it grow. It’s neat, you know, we always put our hand on it ‘cause it made you feel like you were holding her hand when you did it.” When Shari had the chance to meet Belen, she couldn’t wait to tell Margo that Belen had kept all of the pictures she had sent, “She had a picture of Margo’s grandson that she sent her. He’s four now, and she still has his baby picture with her in her backpack. So, I mean the impact—they really do feel like they’re part of your family.”

     

    “It’s very special that these people who don’t know us personally, really care for us and have this love for us,” Telma says. “I’m really thankful.”


    [1] http://www.wfp.org/content/country-programme-nicaragua-2013%E2%80%932018

     

    Photos and article are by Eugene Lee from World Vision.

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