Thursday, December 6, 2012

What's in the Bible?

We LOVE "What's In the Bible?" LOVE it. If you haven't heard about it, just go to their website and look around. Ask your friends. Read Amazon reviews. You will wonder how your kids learned anything about the Bible before these DVD's. Okay, maybe not, but they really are good.

Narrated and performed (as in every. single. puppet. and voice!) by Phil Vischer of VeggieTales fame, each DVD is chock full of Biblical information. Some of which I never knew, and I've been in church since the womb.

Right now is a great time to make a purchase from the "What's in the Bible?" store. You can save 30% when you spend $30 or more. You will NOT regret it, and your kids will love it.

Here's the coupon:


Just a disclaimer...if you click the coupon above and make a purchase, I get a little bit of commission, as I'm a "What's in the Bible?" affiliate. But don't think that's why I'm recommending these DVD's. I'm an affiliate because I believe in them!

Buying Butter is No Laughing Matter

Unless you're shopping at Kroger.

I'm not sure my if feelings should be hurt or not...

*snort*

 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Feed the Need

How did a weekend that started out with a car overheating and a sick dog turn into wonderful? I'm glad you asked.

Since 2010, the Thanksgiving after Momma passed away, my little family has served at what our church calls Feed the Need. We prepare over a thousand meals to give to families so that they can have a great Thanksgiving meal. After that first year, we were hooked and have looked forward to it every year since then.

This year was no different, so Thursday morning at 2 a.m. when Jonathan woke me up having to go out because of tummy issues (I will keep the graphics out), I was concerned our day might be messed up. Then at 4 a.m. when I begged Sound Man to take him out as Jonathan was hovering over my ear nearly having apoplexy to be let out, I was more than concerned. And, at 6:15 a.m. when he threw up on my bed, I was sure the day was ruined. Two more upchucking episodes and I knew the three of us weren't going to be able to go. Michael graciously volunteered to stay home with J-dog, even though he REALLY wanted to be there  with us. He said since he only had one working arm (he had surgery two weeks ago today), it would be better for four hands to go instead of just three. Bless his heart.

So, Kiddo and I loaded up my chocolate chess pies to add to the bajillion other pies to be placed in the containers and headed out. We had almost reached the elementary school where all the cooking, plating, and boxing takes place, when my car decided to overheat. Panicked, I called Sound Man and told him what was wrong. He calmed me down and told me it would be okay to drive the short distance to the school and not to worry about it until after we were finished. If he needed to bring water later, he would.

Amazingly, my car's temperature went back to normal just a few minutes after letting it rest, so we were able to make it to the school with no more issues. After we got there, the controlled chaos that is Feed the Need took over all thought. And to add to it, this year we added worship to the mix. To say that made my heart happy would be an understatement.

Pies were cut, cranberry sauce was cupped, rolls were thrown, food was plated, containers were stacked...well, here...this shows much better how it went than I can say with words...
 

You can see Kiddo at :22 being handed a stack of containers (he's wearing a black shirt), and you can see me in several places (that's my gravy ladle at :34 - hee hee), but the one I saw right off was the scene where we're singing and I have my hand raised. Oh, what joy to hear that many people lifting their voices to thank the only One worthy of our praise!

It was all worth it. The sick dog, the overheating car...it almost stole my joy, but I didn't let it. Oh, and by the way, Jonathan was fine after we left and Michael brought us water for the trip home and we had no more issues. Funny, huh?

We were able to share Thanksgiving dinner with some friends of ours and finished off the day happy and full (of more than just food!). I can't wait until next year!

I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with happy memories and that you made new ones, as well!

  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My Favorite Shops

Several weeks ago I wrote a post about buying handmade for the holidays, and started to put all my favorite shops in the post. Then I realized that made for a LONG post, so I decided to put them all in a new one. By suggesting these shops, I have either made a purchase from them, received a gift from them, or really, really WANT something from them. Heh.

First, my Susie Harris sign is one of the first things you see when you walk in my home, and I absolutely adore it. Susie is a friend and a precious lady, and she would be happy to customize a sign just for you. Don't let my sign fool you...she has ALL kinds of signs, from family name signs to sweet nursery signs. Check her out!
Second, if you know me personally, most likely you've seen my Starry Designs robin's nest ring on my right hand. It's my favorite ring at the moment, and I would LOVE a pendant from them, too. So pretty! The ring is made from wire, so when you wear it for any length of time it forms to your finger just right. I love it!

Third, if you know anyone who has a thing for birds like I do (what, you didn't know I have a thing for birds? I guess it is kinda hard to tell. *snort*), you've GOT to check out Got Crow Creations. Sound Man gave me a little Tufted Titmouse for Christmas the same year he gave me my Susie Harris sign. It was a very good year. :)
Is that not the sweetest thing ever? She makes all kinds of birds, and all of them are so sweet, even the vultures. Yes, I said vultures. You've got to see them. She makes every bit of them from felt, aside from the nest, of course. She hand makes most, if not all, of those as well.

Now onto shops that I haven't bought from, but I know their products are worth buying. I met Dee from Red Letter Words at Relevant (now called Allume) in 2010, and I so enjoyed getting to know her and her husband Tim. Red Letter Words is a sponsor of the conference, so the attendees were the lucky recipients of some RLW greeting cards. Of course, none of us wanted to use them as cards...we all planned on framing them and putting them up on the walls at home!

Dee has some of the most beautiful Scriptures and sayings inspired by hymns and the like. If you need a special piece of art for your home, or if you need a unique gift idea, take some time and browse her shop.

Another shop that I'm dying to purchase from (or maybe get a gift from? Hint hint, hubby dear) is Krafty Kash. She sells THE coolest, hand crafted, one of a kind jewelry from vintage dictionaries, maps, Bibles, and sheet music.

I lurve her stuff, and she's always putting new items in the shop.Definitely in my wish list this year. She will even custom make a pendant for you.

One more (for the moment, anyway) shop and I'm done. I love Kijsa Studio's Etsy shop. There's so much to see! My favorites, however, are her burlap pillows. One of these days I'm going to have her do a "Mississippi State of Mind" pillow. Or maybe just ask for one for Christmas (this post is quickly becoming a very public Christmas list, no?). She does custom orders and can put just about anything on a burlap pillow. Browse her shop and you can tell she has a great sense of humor!
I also love her Compassion Crosses. Each one is a wooden cross with a decoupaged map of different areas of the world. One would be perfect for a couple who are adopting from another country (she can also add on the back of the cross, "For this child I prayed..." LOVE that!), or for someone who has served in that part of the world. 

These are just a few of the shops I'd recommend for Christmas shopping (along with my little shop, of course. Heh.). Not only do you get to stay in and not have to face the crowds, but many shops will offer free shipping and other coupons on their Facebook pages and such. Check them out and 



Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Song, Some Tears, and Toast

The first time I heard Chris Tomlin's World Edition of "How Great is Our God," I cried. Anyone that knows me is not shocked. The thing is, every time I've heard it since, I've cried. Again, this would not come as a shock to anyone who knows me. 

To say I was toast after watching the video would be a grand understatement. Just something about the different languages and cultures coming together in worship of our Great God...it just does something to my soul. 

Enjoy.



Monday, October 22, 2012

Slow-cooker Mexican Chicken (and the potential yumminess within)

We love Mexican food. I mean, luh-huh-huuuuuve Mexican food. So many have expressed interest in my Mexican Chicken recipe, I thought I'd go ahead and post it here. First of all, it's not mine; I got it off Pinterest, and here's the original post from Food Gawker . However, we've made some adjustments and I thought I'd share my version here.

First of all, I changed mine to Mexican Chicken, because for some reason I don't like the name "Salsa Chicken." Maybe it's because it's so much better than salsa...or maybe it's because I when I think of salsa I think of tomatoes. Bleh. Don't be hatin'. If I could like them, I would. Do you know what it's like living in the South and not liking tomatoes? I feel like a traitor. But I like grits, so that redeems me.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Chicken. First, here's the recipe:

 Mexican Chicken

3 lb bag frozen chicken breasts (not thawed)
20 oz jar salsa 
1 pkg taco seasoning (I make my own using this recipe here)

Place chicken in slow cooker (Let me say here that I use an oval 6-qt slow cooker. If yours is smaller, you may have to adjust the amount of chicken you use), sprinkle taco seasoning all over chicken, then pour salsa over chicken. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours until it can be shredded easily with a fork.

That's IT! How easy is that? Throw three things in the crock pot then enjoy! Ah, I'm telling you, it's my
favorite thing, EVAH.

Now, here's where you can have fun with it. We've used this chicken a number of ways, and all of them are scrumdiliumptious. We've made burritos, nachos, and quesadillas with it so far. Each batch is enough for two meals (for our family of three - and I have a 12 year old boy, so adjust to your fam's eating habits. Hopefully they are not quite as bottomless-pit-ish as my son's.), so we do one thing one night, then another thing the next. Here's how we do each one.

Burritos: 
You will need flour tortillas, cooked rice, Mexican melting cheese (NOT QUESO FRESCO!!! Don't ask me how I know this. Just trust the all caps and exclamation marks.) or Pancho's white cheese dip (do other areas of the country have Pancho's dip besides around Memphis?),  and any other fixin's like extra salsa and/or sour cream. We fix regular white rice, and when it's almost done, we put some of the juice from the crock pot and let it cook in to give the rice a not-so-white flavor. Then we throw everything on a tortilla and slather it with more white cheese. MMMmmmm.


Nachos: You will need the same as burritos, minus the rice and tortillas. Oh, and add lettuce. This is the easiest thing to fix. Just throw some tortilla chips on a plate with some chicken, top with your melted cheese and other stuff (maybe not quite so much sour cream...I think this was Kiddo's plate), and enjoy.



It was the second meal after last night's quesadillas. The quesadillas were something new we hadn't tried yet, but I got the idea after craving saut├Ęd onions and bell peppers. So, I asked Sound Man what he thought about buttering some tortillas, slapping them in a skillet, and putting chicken, the craved bell peppers and onions, and some cheese (again, the Mexican melty kind) in them. He thought it sounded righteous.

In a word - yummalicious. I mean, this picture is from my husband's phone because we couldn't be bothered with getting the camera before stuffing our faces with this awesomeness. They were heavenly.


So, do yourself and your family a favor and make this chicken. Don't just do what I did here, make up your own take on it! I'd love to hear what you come up with...'cause I'm sure I'll be stealing it from you.

Happy eating!


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Parenting from the Overflow by Teri Lynne Underwood

Several weeks ago my friend Teri Lynne invited me to read and review her book, Parenting from the Overflow. I was happy to do it because I love her and wanted to help any way I could. I also knew it would be a great book.

I wasn't wrong. Parenting from the Overflow isn't really a parenting book. I mean, how many of those are out there? A bazillion? Not that we don't need them, but this book is different. Read what Teri Lynne has to say about her book here.

As mothers, we are the model our children learn from (if that thought isn't enough to frighten you, I don't know what is!). If we live our lives trying to figure this parenting thing on our own, we're going to end up frustrated, confused, and exhausted.

Parenting from the Overflow shows that it's possible to parent from the overflow of what God is doing in our lives. If we're allowing the Lord to move in us as He wants to, then we will use HIS model to parent from.

Something Teri Lynne said in the book brought me to tears (and it was just in the Introduction!).

"But in the midst of all this parent-learning and child-rearing, 
I pray I never lose sight of the 'better part' . . . 
and I will never get 
so focused on being a parent I forget I am also a child.

My heart is set on being a child who first sits
 at the feet of her Father, 
who calls out for His guidance and leans on His Word. 
And as I focus on being the child He created,
I am certain of this:
He will give me the wisdom to parent the child 
He has entrusted to me."
(Parenting from the Overflow, Introduction, p. 9, highlighting mine)

Oh, that I would learn to sit at the feet of my Father and learn to parent the way He parents me! I long to be the daughter who looks adoringly at her Abba (translated from Aramaic as "Daddy") as He patiently teaches me from His Word.

Parenting from the Overflow is broken into three parts, the first using the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 to show the "Fruit That Overflows" from a life lived at the feet of the Father. The second part is filled with characteristics we will model to our children as we live out of the overflow of what He's doing in us. The last section is Bonus Content that has everything from how to resist "parenting publicly" (Facebook, anyone?) to learning how to get the most from your quiet time with the Lord and delving into Scripture.

All throughout the book there are questions and challenges she asks us to tackle. Some are easy to do...some, not so much. Which is one reason why I think this is such a great book!

I have not had the chance to really sit with this little book like I've wanted to. Almost every page had something in it that I wanted to really contemplate and "suss it out," as they say in Australia.  I can't wait to do that!


  

As part of the celebration of the launch of Parenting from the Overflow, Teri Lynne is graciously giving a PDF copy away to one Butterfly Genes reader! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment letting me know why you'd like the book. That's it! Easy-peasy. Of course, if you wanted to Tweet, Facebook, or any other kind of social-media-made-up-verb, go right ahead! I know Teri Lynne would appreciate the exposure!  

If you would like to purchase a copy, she has a PDF version for $5, a Kindle version for $5, and a  
print version for $8. How's that for a bargain! These are my affiliate links and by clicking and making a purchase you are being gracious enough to send a little commission money my way.

But even though I was given a copy of this book by Teri Lynne to review, and though I get a small commission from any book sold from my blog, this review and my opinions are all my own. I wouldn't support a book I didn't believe in, and I surely wouldn't put it on my blog. So trust me when I say this is something I believe in!

Now leave me a comment to enter to win! The giveaway will end Friday, October 26 at 11:59 p.m.

 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

As the Holidays Approach...

As I was emailing a customer back and forth on Etsy about a change she wanted on a tassel, it hit me that she made the decision to purchase something handmade. She could have looked in any store, either on foot or online, but she chose to find what was perfect for her from someone who could customize the item.

As the holidays approach, keep in mind that purchasing gifts from handmade sellers not only helps them support their families, it also gives you the opportunity to customize the perfect gift.

If you need any help with finding the perfect gift, browse the shops that Butterfly Genes has liked on Facebook, or ask me for a recommendation (you can email me at butterflygenes (at) yahoo (dot) com. You can also go to my Etsy page and browse the shops I like. I started to put all my favorite shops on here but it just got to be too long! Never fear, I will add a new post with that information soon!

I'm not silly enough to think that a tassel is the perfect gift for everyone (though I wish it was!), but more than likely you'll find what you're looking for without having to traipse the mall this Christmas season. Just my two cents' worth. 
 
(P.S. - All these tassels are custom orders either in progress or finished product. What can I make for you?)

 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pin Peeves

WARNING: THIS IS A VENTING POST. IT IS NOT WARM AND FUZZY. ANYONE WHO WANTS WARM AND FUZZY NEEDS TO GO HERE.


I heart Pinterest. Oh, but I do. In fact, I'd rather be on Pinterest than Facebook. Because, as you know,
And soon I'll start posting about my favorite pins. But I've finally gotten so tired of the same old problems on Pinterest I had to post about them. They are my "Pin peeves." This list is pretty short, because hey, I'm a pretty tolerant person when it comes to this kind of stuff. And because I know I've probably committed a few more than I've got listed here. Heh.

If you are on Pinterest, and I'm sure you are, and you see yourself committing one of these Pin sins (I just made that phrase up, by the way...aren't I clever?), please know I'm not judging, I'm educating. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

Here we go...

1. (My MAIN pin peeve) - Pinners who don't check the pin before repinning (say that five times without spitting). Meaning the pin links to an entire blog, or flickr, or tumblr, or some other annoying thing. If you wonder why this is annoying, you don't pin, do you? Seriously, I get aggravated when I want to check something out, only to have to search for it on an entire blog. If I can't find it after a few seconds, I google it and usually come up with the correct post. I then pin it from there. Now, I still haven't mastered the art of Pinterettiquette. I don't know if I should tell the original pinner they've pinned something incorrectly or not. Most of the time I don't. I've already spent too much time finding the correct pin!

(Side note here: I JUST - as in seconds ago - clicked on a pin to have this very thing happen...it took me to a picture. No blog, not even a Flickr or whatever. These faulty pins make me want to go all "Oh-no-you-di'int!" on some poor, innocent person. And then when I pin it correctly {like I just did a second ago because thankfully the picture had a watermark on it} I want to be all, "THAT'S how you pin, baby! Booyah!" Ahem. Maybe I need a Pintervention. *snort*)

Moving on...

2. - Pinning a post that does not have the original tutorial, craft, or whatever. I click pins all the time that take me to a "best of" or "favorite pins" post, which makes me have to click on another post to find what I'm looking for. So, I do the same thing as in the first issue...I find the correct post, then pin that.

Here's 2.1 - Pinning something that's a copy from another pin, and the original pin (more importantly, the original crafter, chef, DIYer, etc.) doesn't get the credit. It's harder to catch these, but I've seen it done. Like when someone says, "I saw this on Pinterest and had to try it...." without acknowledging whoever had the original idea. Give credit where it's due! Put yourself in the original person's shoes.

And finally...

3. - Pins with cuss words in them. PEOPLE. PLEASE. I have seen so many hysterical pins ruined with a nasty word. I don't talk that way, and I sure don't want to read it (nor do I want my 12 year old looking over my shoulder and seeing it). As evidenced by Tim Hawkins, you can be funny as all get out and not use crude language (p.s. - 2:25 and forward are the laugh until you pee parts). I know this one will never be eradicated, but it's a pin peeve, so I had to put it on here.

See, I told y'all it was a short list. And I'm glad I finally vented. Next time someone peeves me on Pinterest, I'll just hop over here and read this and feel much better.

Maybe.


 

Friday, July 27, 2012

I'm a Bad Blogger

I'm a bad blogger. There. I said it. It's what I've been feeling for a looooong time. See how long it's been since I posted? February? I thought it was January but what's a few days? I've allowed some things to creep into my life that have sidelined my blogging. Since one of them is caring too much what people think about me, I'm going to list them here, not caring who wants to read it. If you find yourself here, I hope to give you some encouragement. If you don't, go have a Sonic Rt. 44 Diet Coke in my honor.

Here we go:

1. Caring too much what people think - (Am I hearing an echo?) When I first started blogging in 2008, I loved it. I mean, I luuuuhuuuved it. It was fresh, it was funny, it made me laugh, and it made other people laugh. No, I don't think I'm a comedian and I would flop at stand-up, but I have some pretty funny stories just because I'm a klutz. But somewhere along the way, I stopped writing for the enjoyment. I started editing my posts to say what I thought people wanted to hear. I wasn't transparent, and I HATE the way I feel when I'm not transparent. I can't stand it when people I'm around hide behind masks, and I can't stand it even more in myself. I stepped back and realized I didn't even know who I was as a writer anymore.

2.  Wanting recognition -  I wanted to be a part of group blogs like (in)courage (among others) and. I felt like a writing failure because I wasn't invited to join any writing group. I wanted to be acknowledged for what I wrote on my own blog as well. When I didn't reach X amount of comments, I felt like I was a failure.  If I had so many comments on a post, then that post was successful. If I had none, then it was a failure. I would tweet my posts, facebook them, you know...just like everyone does. But I started doing it not because I had a message I wanted to get out there, I did it because I wanted someone to recognize me.

3. Not being as "spiritual" as I wanted to be - There are so many great bloggers out there who know the Word of God. They are called as writers to help us understand it and make it come alive. I knew the messages in my heart, but every time I tried to write them down, they all sounded so flat and boring and nothing even I wanted to read, much less expect anyone else to read. I think I was writing what sounded like what other people were writing, not what I was supposed to be writing of myself.

4. Not having a "vision" of where I wanted my blog to go - Why do I need a "vision"? When I started writing in 2008, my vision was, admittedly, a little unrealistic. I wanted to be the next Pioneer Woman. Heh. So...that didn't work out. Just like the billion other PW wannabes didn't work out. But my realistic vision was just to write about what I enjoyed. Birds, my family, silly stuff, crafty stuff. And then, my vision got so lost in trying to be a million things to a million people. Trying to please all of the people all of the time...we all know how that works out.

This pretty much sums up where I've been. See yourself here? Well, I can't tell you how to get out of it, but I can tell you to listen to the Lord and He will give you direction. If there is one thing I've learned over the past few months is that He is trustworthy and He WILL give you direction if you listen, read the Word, and seek wise counsel.

Hopefully I will be able to post about the things going on in my life and the life of my family soon. But honestly, I don't know if I will. I may lose my followers, I may never get another comment. But it's not about that to me anymore. It's about writing what I want, when I want.


That's not saying I WANT y'all to leave me. I love y'all muchly. So, if you want to hear my rants and silly stories, I hope you'll stay tuned.

Just don't hold your breath.

Friday, February 10, 2012

"Trust Me," He Says



I've never participated in Lisa Jo's "5-Minute Friday" link up, but when I saw today's word, I knew I had to.

GO

Trust is the one word that keeps cropping up in my mental vocabulary. Trust God with this. Trust God with that.

Trust God with the mouse that is wreaking havoc on my state of mind, leaving little presents on my desk, ottoman, dining room floor...ugh. Yes, I know that I'm like a bajillion times the size of that thing, but...can you spell out the sound for when you shiver the big, whole body shiver? If you can, please let me know how it goes, because I sure would love to write it. right. here. *shivers*

Trust God that He will give clear direction on what we're supposed to do with Kiddo's school next year. Problems that keep coming up seem to point to putting him in school, but is that my fault or his? Or is there any fault at all? And if we put him in school, should we wait until the volatile years of junior high are over and the only-less-slightly volatile years of high school have begun? Will he be ready for college if we keep homeschooling? Tim Tebow was! Ugh. I don't know.

STOP

And I didn't even get to the Trust God with our finances, which is the biggest one of all. The one that looms the largest over our home. I guess the lessons I'm learning by reading through the Old Testament again are as timely as they always have been."Trust Me," He says.

I trust you, Father. Help me trust you more.

Want to read what other bloggers have to say about that little 5 letter word? Head over to The Gypsy Mama and visit with others who have their own trust tales to spin.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Clubhouse Magazine (for tweens) Review

My review "week" continues...(I told you I had a lot!)
Clubhouse Magazine, one of Focus on the Family's printed resources, is one of the best investments I've made for my son's spiritual growth, even if it's "just" a kid's magazine. Through the articles, fiction stories, "Adventures in Odyssey" clips, and more, my now 12-year old son learns more about the world of a tween-ager from a Christian world view.

What's missing is the celebrity gossip of other "teen" magazines, as well as photo layouts of not-so-modestly dressed young girls trying to look "hot." Nor does Clubhouse constantly try to hawk mindless products that cause discontent in my son's heart. He gets that enough from watching television. I love that I don't have to worry about it coming from his favorite magazine.
My son tells me what he likes best about the magazine are the "Average Boy" stories (in his words, they are "HILARIOUS!"), but he says he likes everything in the magazine. When asked why this magazine is better than a secular magazine, he says that Clubhouse has funnier jokes than other magazines he's read, and it doesn't talk about the earth being "a billion, trillion, gazillion years old." We love the art of exaggeration around here. Heh.

How refreshing to invest in a magazine that actually cares about my son's spiritual growth instead of wanting to make money off of him or make his heart discontent with what he has already been blessed with. He doesn't know that he's "supposed" to be all into girls at his age. He doesn't know he's "supposed" to try to figure out life without God. On the contrary, Clubhouse emphasizes our need for the Savior. I love that!

If you have a child between the ages of 8 and 12 and are looking to add to their reading material (or if they complain EVERY DAY they don't get anything in the mail. Not that I know anything about THAT one. Ahem.), Clubhouse Magazine is a great option.

Right now you can get it for just $14.99 for a year subscription from Christianbook.com in partnership with Focus on the Family. That's $1.25 an issue! Well worth the small investment.

If your kids are younger, we also loved Clubhouse Jr. Magazine (also $14.99), geared toward children ages 3 to 7. Same kind of content, just made where younger ones would be interested.

AND, since I'm on the subject, all three of us love reading Thriving Family, Focus on the Family's parenting and marriage magazine. It has great reviews of new books, movies, and music (secular as well as Christian - Kiddo loves these); not to mention the other relevant articles and regular features that Sound Man and I like. At a price of ZERO dollars, what have you got to lose?

If you haven't checked out these resources yet, I encourage you go now!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

And the Winner is...

Bonnie! You've won the One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge by Tony Dungy. Yay! I'll be sending your certificate for your free copy soon!

Thanks for entering, girls! I wanted to give each one of you a copy! MUAH!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Music Inspired by The Story

I'm not sure I would necessarily call this a review. I'm just going to tell you to go buy it. HA!

No, really. Go buy it.

I found out about Music Inspired by The Story a few months ago. The Story is a Scripture-based "experience" of the Bible (not a translation, not really a paraphrase), written as one sweeping story that tells about God's love for His people.

Each song, written by Nicole Nordeman (lyrics) and Bernie Herms (music - and who happens to be married to Natalie Grant) takes you through one "chapter" of the Story on a very personal level. Adam and Eve's story, for example, gives the listener a glimpse into what it must have felt like to know they've broken the Creator's heart.

"If I could, I'd rewrite history
I'd choose differently
If I could, I would
I'd leave out the part
Where I broke Your heart
In the garden's shade
Fix the mess I've made
If I could, I would..."

So heartbreaking, but it makes the coming of Hope that much more wondrous!

The songs that move my soul are "Good (Adam and Eve)," sung by Matthew West and Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer; "Be Born in Me (Mary)," sung by Francesca Battistelli; and "Alive (Mary Magdelene)," sung by Natalie Grant.

But my favorite songs to listen to just for ear candy are "Born for This (Esther)," sung by Mandisa (man, she kicks tail on this song!); "Bring Us Home (Joshua)," sung by Michael Tait from Newsboys, Bianca Callahan from Group 1 Crew, and Lecrae; and "Move in Me (Paul)," by Jeremy Camp.

One of the more poignant moments is when Todd Smith of Selah sings "Broken Praise (Job)." My son was the first to connect the dots. After the tragedy of losing their newborn daughter, Todd and his wife Angie have gone on to minister to thousands (Angie is a blogger, author, and past speaker at the Relevant Conference). While listening to the song and reading over the CD cover, Kiddo said, "Wow...Todd Smith is singing Job's song. How fitting." I love those moments when he gets it. I hadn't even thought about that connection.

For the price of a regular CD, you get two discs with a total of 17 songs on it, all of them taking you from Creation to the Second Coming, and not a bad song in the bunch.

If you haven't gotten the message, I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Freeset: Redeeming Lives by Giving Purpose

There are times I liken myself to an ostrich with my head in the sand. If I don't know the bad stuff that's going on in the world, it's really not happening, right?

No. It's not right. It's irresponsible. If I'm not aware of issues that need my attention, how else am I supposed to do anything to help?

Did you know last Wednesday was National Human Trafficking Awareness Day? I couldn't believe this issue was being brought to my attention yet again; I was first confronted with it at the Relevant Conference.

Freeset, one of the sponsors at the conference, gave out keychains signed by the women working at their India-based company. Because I was so busy getting stuck in the elevator, enjoying the snow, and talking to my roommates until the wee hours of the morning, I didn't really get what Freeset was about. When I got home, looked up who signed my keychain, and watched this video, I finally GOT IT. And was shocked. I never knew the numbers of women just in Kolkata who were victims of the sex trade until I watched this. But that's not the end of the story, if Freeset has anything to say about it. Please take a few minutes to watch. It will break your heart; it will give you hope.

The last scene with the crayon-box array of saris makes me tear up every time I watch it.

Back in December, Kristi Griem, a blogger who works with Freeset contacted me and wanted to know if I'd be willing to do a review of a Freeset bag. Hmm, let's see...a bag of my choice, made by a woman whose life has been given back to her and her family, designed to be as unique as she is? Yes, please! (Please forgive the awful lighting...it was nighttime and this was the best shot!) I chose a Farmhouse Jute Bag in Earth Brown, and I love it! I compared it with another jute bag I have and this one came out the winner in my opinion. The Farmhouse Bags are made from a sturdy laminated jute material, meaning they have a kind of plastic backing on the inside of the bag, keeping it much sturdier than if it was regular jute. They each have two gusset pockets on the inside of the bag, one on each end, as well as an internal purse with velcro closure. Have I said I love it?

My favorite thing about these bags, though, is the recycled sari material they use for the front of the bag as well as the inside of the handles. Isn't that gorgeous? Each bag is unique...just like the woman who made it. No, I don't know who sewed this bag together, but I know that her life will never be the same since coming to work for this company.

If you didn't watch the video, PLEASE watch it now and find out more about Freeset. YOU can make a difference by purchasing a bag or a Freeset t-shirt.

You know, Valentine's Day is right around the corner. Why not send a little birdie to your husband or boyfriend and let him know you'd like one of the many (did I say many? I mean MANY) bags to choose from in Freeset's line, or maybe a unique tee. You will be giving purpose to women's lives, aiding them in their flight from the most heinous trade there is...human life.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review Week - The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge

Today starts a whole week of reviews on Butterfly Genes. I had so many to do I thought this would be a fun way to do it. Some of them have giveaways, some don't. Even if it doesn't come with a giveaway, I either think you ABSOLUTELY need to know about the product or I'm completely enamored with it. Or both.

My first review is one I've been excited about since before Christmas. I am a reviewer for Tyndale House Publishers, and was excited to get the chance to review Tony Dungy's new devotional, The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge.
Here's what the Tyndale Blog Network (for whom I review books and other media) had to say about Mr. Dungy's new book:

"The coach's newly-released book, The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge is a devotional specifically designed to challenge and encourage you on your own path to living an uncommon life. It's difficult and takes integrity, honor, and commitment. However, Tony and his coauthor Nathan Whitaker both know that accepting the challenge to live with meaning and purpose is worth the effort. Including 365 reflections from these #1 New York Times bestselling authors and the chance to join the growing online community of those who are already taking the challenge, this book is your invitation to spend regular time with the Lord and dare to be uncommon every day."

I ended up not being the only one reviewing it in my household. Because it's written by my son's favorite former NFL coach, I decided to give it to him for Christmas and get his opinion. I'll give you my first impressions then his take on it.

When I first received it, I was immediately impressed with the format. The book takes you through seven themes, repeated each week: Core, Family, Friends, Potential, Mission, Influence, and Faith. Each day of the week fits into one of these themes, but you don't have to have read the previous days to step into the devotional whatever day you start reading.

Flipping through the devotional I stopped at random days to read, and enjoyed each day that I read. Tony and Nathan aren't afraid to take on hard topics. There are devotions on keeping your guard up against the enemy's attacks, failed leadership in our lives, and standing strong on sexual purity. Lessons that I want my son to learn early on...not to learn from his own mistakes. Of course, he has his daddy and me to learn from and lean on, but let's face it, it sounds a lot cooler coming from his favorite coach.

So, what does Kiddo say about it? When I asked him, he immediately said, "Best devotional ever!" He's used several over the past few years, but as a young man about to enter some of the hardest he will experience, I think this one will prepare him well. It's the most consistent he's been with any devotional he's had, reading nearly every day since January 1.

Kiddo says Tony's style of writing is like he's having a conversation with the reader. To him, this makes it more personal than the other devotionals he's read. He also likes the fact that sports stories and characters are woven into some of the devotionals. Not to the point that people who are not die-hard sports fans would be turned off, just enough to make Kiddo want to read more. The fact that each devotional is only one page long is also a plus for my I-get-bored-with-too-much-serious-stuff son.

Personally, I believe this devotional is a relevant devotional for anyone, from young teenagers to men and women of any age. Would you like to hear from the author himself? Watch this video:



Thanks to the gracious people at Tyndale, I am giving a copy of The One year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge away to one of my readers! I will send one of you a certificate for a free copy to redeem at your favorite Christian bookstore (or you can send it in to Tyndale if you don't have a bookstore near you).

All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment letting me know you'd like it. That's it! Please make sure I have a way to contact you if you are the winner.

Now, I'd love it if you followed me on Twitter, or liked my Facebook page, or subscribed to my blog, too, but you don't have to. It won't give you extra chances. It will just give me a chance to get to know you. I'd love that!

For more information about Tony Dungy (his other books, his coaching experience, his blog, etc.), visit coachdungy.com. And for more information about Tyndale House Publishers, you can visit them at tyndale.com.

This giveaway will be open until 11:59 p.m. (CST) on January 22, 2012 and a winner will be chosen at random.

Tyndale provided me with a free copy of The One year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge in exchange for an honest, objective review. My opinions (and those of my son) are not influenced by anything but the book itself.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Didja See It?

I loved seeing this commercial Saturday night while Sound Man and I watched the Broncos/Patriots game:



Focus on the Family is offering resources for men and women interested in developing a deeper relationship with God. They are also offering a free Adventures in Odyssey Episode, a Radio Theatre episode and more.

Click here to download these and read more.

You can also enter to win an NFL jersey of your favorite player by entering a Facebook contest! Who would you pick if you won? I'd either get DeAngelo Williams' or Tim Tebow's. DeAngelo played for the University of Memphis and Tim Tebow is...well, Tim Tebow! I can't help it!

And now that NONE of the teams I was rooting for will be in the Superbowl (Broncos, Saints, Packers), this seems like it's the only football thing I might have to look forward to!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Joining a Community Together

I mentioned in a past post I had been busy with our Women's Ministry Christmas party. That makes it sound like it was just our church, when in actuality it wasn't. This past Christmas marked the first (hopefully annual) community-wide women's Christmas event. I can't remember how many churches were represented (something like 15, maybe?), but it was a lot more than I expected.

Our local community arena miraculously had an opening on December 6th, and it was the perfect size. A sea of tables was set up where later six hundred women would gather for what our theme was: "One Night, One Church, One Jesus."

I'm sure some of these churches had never done a women's Christmas party, so even though we were the main ones who organized this year's, I hope in years to come I hope it's more of a collaborative effort. We did have a few churches decorating tables (the ones in the foreground of the picture above were done by a Missionary Baptist Church in our town...don't you LOVE the chairs?), so that took some of the burden off our ladies. Of course, you KNOW I decorated one. Or two. But NOT three. I didn't want to kill myself this year.
I wish I had been able to get a better picture of my tables with the candles lit, but I'm thankful for the ones I did get. I should say the ones that Kiddo got. He was my table photographer. He and Sound Man were also there for another reason:Waiters! We were politically correct and called the guys "servers," and that's exactly what they were. As the ladies were eating a delicious meal of chicken, asparagus, and scalloped potatoes, the men were scurrying around with tea and water glasses, among other dinner-related requests. Kiddo hung pretty closely to Sound Man for the first part of the evening, but as he got accustomed to what he was supposed to do, he got more independent. By the end of the night, he was carrying a huge tray full of desserts around like he had been at it his whole life. I was one proud Momma as I watched him from the stage.

I mention I was on stage because I was privileged to help lead this community of women in worship. As worship leaders, I always say we have the best seat in the house! Watching and hearing six hundred women lift their voices in worship...simply amazing.

My favorite part of any Christmas-themed night is the candle lighting. Each lady was given a candle and holder, and as the women raised their flickering candles the room was bathed in the sweet, soft glow of candlelight. The sight always makes me cry.

Even though each candle was held aloft by one individual woman, together they all created enough light to brighten the room. It reminded me that even though we belong to individual churches, together we could bring the Light to our community if we work together. No matter our skin color, denomination, or church membership, we are all daughters of the King. We need to get over ourselves and our insecurities and our fears and band together to reach others for Him. Our women's ministry has organized a prayer night for the entire community of ladies to come and pray for our area. Someone also created a Facebook page for all of us to share what God is doing within our churches. It makes us feel more like a true community to know that God is working not just in our church, but in the others across our area.

If the world would see us all band together for one purpose, maybe they'd take Christianity more seriously...and take the message of Christ to heart.

What can you do in your community to bring churches together? Are you willing to work with someone of a different skin color? Of a different denomination?

Don't think I've got all this down...I don't. I'm never the first to volunteer outside my comfort zone. But the more we do, the more comfortable we'll become with the idea.

This year would be a good year for us to open our hearts and minds to see how God can use us.