I sometimes think we've turned the life of faith into some kind of religious X Games. When we think of people of great faith,we think of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace, or Corrie ten Boom, who sheltered Jews and was ultimately imprisoned in the concentration camps during World War II; or maybe we even think of someone we're acquainted with who has made a radical life change in order to enter a mission field or work in inner-city ministry.
As inspiring and even intimidating as these examples are, I think we need to remember that God can also use acts of everyday courage and day-to-day faith. He honors the person who decides to love someone that others find unlovable. He exalts the individual who commits to being honest, no matter the personal consequences. He loves those who trust Him with their finances, even when things are tight and the future is unclear. He takes joy in the single mom who goes to one more job interview, even though she's already heard "no" over and over again, because she is determined to improve her situation in life. These, too, are acts of faith that delight the heart of our Creator.
It’s that season again. A time when parents and teachers around the nation sigh with relief and students cheer for freedom. I’m talking about graduation season.
These days, when I check into my social media accounts, the feeds are flooded with adorable pictures of glowing faces and proud families. There’s an endless parade of quotes motivational enough to make a fish believe it can climb a tree. “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” “Dream BIGGER!” “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.” “You can do anything!”
If you’ve read my blog before, you know how apprehensive I am about those types of inspirational lines. Placing so much emphasis on the outcome while ignoring the journey can unintentionally result in paralyzing pressure. I do believe everyone has amazing potential, but our journeys happen one step at a time. In my own life, I’ve found that setting goals, dreams, and high expectations is not a problem. My struggle has been with the thankless, mundane, and unattractive details of every day life. I’ve spent countless days wishing for my dreams to come to pass while begrudging my daily responsibilities. But I’ve learned I can’t have one without the other.
My heart is to encourage people through their daily grind. Yes, you can achieve great things. But more importantly, yes, you are amazing and you can do wonderful things today, right now. These seemingly small decisions, and the actions often overlooked, are the building blocks of your character. They are what will ultimately define you.
A few weeks ago, Family Christian sent me a copy of Pete Wilson’s What Keeps you Up at Night?: How to Find Peace While Chasing Your Dreams. To say I enjoyed the book is an understatement. I believe every graduate should have a copy of it! The book explores the concept of appropriate goal setting by examining our dreams and God’s plans. It tackles the subject of criticism, whether of self or from others and the crippling effect it can have on an individual. It emphasizes the importance of everyday action.
Pastor Pete Wilson encourages young readers to reflect on their faith in an imperfect world. He discusses in depth topics such as trust, failure, surrendering, fear, and passion. The best part is that the book draws the reader in to deep metacognition. It doesn’t just state concepts; each chapter ends with review points and reflection questions. Readers don’t just absorb information, they are encouraged to think for themselves and determine how they will respond to the information learned. There is also a call to action, so that readers can put their new knowledge to practice.
The goal of this book is to lead readers to a life of peace. As I read the book, I often found myself shouting “YES!” in agreement. Whether I lived out his wisdom during my younger years or learned from my mistakes, I can attest the lessons he teaches will guide readers to peace. The road is long. There is more sacrifice than glamour. But the truths spelled out in this book will provide insight, wisdom, and encouragement along the way.
Family Christian wants to give one of my wonderful readers their very own set of VeggieTales comics. See entry form at the bottom of this post.
A few weeks ago, I received the brightest, happiest package in the mail from Family Christian. It was the first two volumes of the new VeggieTales Super Comics set for me to review. I could barely open the package before my kids swiped them out of my hands and were off to their reading corners to devour the books, but really, who better than the kids themselves to check these out and give their honest (and critical) opinion?
Last night I interviewed my oldest, Joakim, who is seven years old, going on thirty-seven. This is what he had to say about the books:
What did you think about the books?
They were really fun. I liked them because I learned a good story through fun. They teach good lessons in a fun way. They were very entertaining.
What kind of lessons? Can you give me an example?
Like, being brave, and trusting in God, and sharing, and the folly of pride.
What was your favorite story?
The League of Incredible Vegetables.
What was it about?
It was about trusting in God in a super difficult but powerful and Godly way.
Do you think other moms should get these for their kids?
Because I think kids would have a lot of fun with them. Like I mentioned earlier, they teach good lessons through fun. For kids 3 and under, some words would be hard to understand. For older kids, it’s pretty easy and pretty cool.
How are these different from the movies?
You know, they kind of exaggerate it with the words. (He explained to me that they had additional content not shown in movies.) They explain the story in more detail. The pictures are clearer and newer-looking.
Would you gift this to a friend?
If someone gave these to you as a gift, how would you feel?
I would feel happy. I would actually be reading these all day. I would be overjoyed to read these.
After looking through the books, I must say, I have to agree with him. I loved the colorful illustrations that make you feel like you’ve just stepped into the VeggieTales world we love so much. The writing is easy to understand for emergent readers, which helps to build their confidence. Just as the movies have Silly Songs with Larry, the comics have a break for Knock Knock Jokes with Larry, which the kids adore. I would highly recommend these comics as they are full of valuable lessons, some which I had never seen on film before.
I love being able to share these reviews with you so that when it comes time to purchase a gift for a young reader in your life, you have the information you need to select an amazing gift rather than just buying he first thing you can find. I understand most moms are busy and can’t sit at the store to read through all the books. My kids and I love to read and enjoy letting you know our thoughts.
If you have any questions about these comics or any other books featured on my blog, we’d be happy to answer you in the comments. Better yet, how would you like to have your very own set? Enter our giveaway below for a chance to win this for a little reader in your life.
Thank you to Family Christian for sponsoring today's post.
All experiences and opinions expressed are my own.
One of the verses I find most helpful in parenting is Luke 6:45. Simple, yet profound in truth.
"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."
I've taught my children from an early age that what they allow into their minds through their five senses will soon make its home in their hearts. I encourage them to fill their minds with things that are pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy and to turn away or protect their senses from things that are not.
It breaks my heart when I hear parents who sound so defeated when it comes to raising children who love truth. The world screams, "You can't help it, they're going to love sin! Stop trying to fight it!" But, I think they’re wrong. I am THAT mom that guards their children's innocence like a hawk. I refuse to accept that simply because it's 2015 I should lower my standards and just accept a mediocre lifestyle. If anything, looking at our society in 2015, there is more than enough evidence to disprove the ways of the world and countless testimonies to support pursuing a biblical life.
We cannot allow our children to fill their minds with nothing but worthless fantasy and expect them to become mature, responsible, and loving people. If we as parents want what comes out of our children to be a blessing, then we ought to make sure what they're consuming is life.
The Action Bible is just that; an amazing book that teaches the encouraging message about God’s love, sovereignty, forgiveness, and salvation. The vivid images with their vibrant colors truly jump off the page and come to life right before your eyes. You feel like you’ve been transported back in time as you get lost in the story.
When we first received our Action Bible, my 7-year-old son, Joakim, was ecstatic. In his own words, it was “COOL!” Just imagine, up to that point in his life he had experienced the Bible in the form of cute little board books or big fancy books with tiny print and no pictures. At an age when Disney and Marvel are competing hard for children’s attention along comes a book that blows both out of the water. That’s because the illustrator, Sergio Cariello, is a Marvel artist whose past experience includes work on Spiderman, Thor, Captain America, The Avengers, Disney’s Quasimodo, and many more.
Not only are the images dramatic, the narratives are thrilling and easy to read. My son’s understanding of the Bible has grown astoundingly since getting the book. “I know. I read that in my Action Bible,” is a standard response whenever I start a discussion with him about the Bible now and I love it!
Joakim has grown to love God’s word so much, he declared his goal for this year is to read the entire book. I’ve always been careful not to push my children into spiritual matters without their initiative because I believe actions speak louder than words and prayer works better than pressure, so this is not something I’ve suggested. His desire to read the book in its entirety is proof to me how effective the Action Bible is at igniting kids’ passion.
I'm pretty sure he's well on his way to meeting his goal. He can hardly put the book down. He reads it in the car, at the playground, during free time, in the morning while he waits for the rest of us to wake up, and at bedtime until he falls asleep. He devours the stories over and over then comes and asks me questions about what he has read.
The change in Joa has been so remarkable I even bought him the Action Bible Devotional. Now, I don’t have to remind him to have his alone-time, he does it on his own, first thing in the morning. I’m thankful for these tools, which have been instrumental in growing his love for God’s Word. I'm convinced what's coming out of a heart filled with the lessons of courage, hope and redemption from the Action Bible will be something both he and I will be proud of. I highly recommend this book to any parent desiring to ignite their child's love for reading.
Family Christian has been kind enough to offer one of my readers a $25 gift certificate to their stores. You can use it to purchase any of the wonderful tools they carry from books, music, and movies, to beautiful home décor. Stay in touch with all Family Christian has to offer by visiting their Facebook page
You can enter the giveaway below until March 5th with up to 50 chances at winning by completing the entries below.
Hi! I'm Debra, an average girl with an amazing God teaching me about true value. I stand in awe of what He can do with ordinary people who are willing to be used. Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you are encouraged by something you read here today.
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