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.
video

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.


Monday, January 9, 2012

The Case of the Exploding Potato

Remember this pic?
I was baking sweet potatoes for dinner one night and had an extra regular potato, so I thought I'd just throw that one in, too. Well, sweet potatoes normally take longer to bake than regular ones (for me, anyway), and I didn't take that into consideration.

As I was checking them, I had just barely touched my oven-mitt clad hand to this one when suddenly, "KA-BLOOM!" the crazy thing EXPLODED. Got potato all over the inside of the front of the oven and around the door.

I was so shocked I just stood there for a minute. Sound Man heard the noise, came in and saw the mess and immediately went into clean mode. I knew I had a choice to make. Cry about it (it had been an AWFUL day), or laugh. I decided I had had enough to cry about that day so I laughed. I mean I LAUGHED. One of those loud, make you cry and nearly pee your pants laughs. I was bent over laughing while Sound Man was grumbling and cleaning up the mess. I told him to lighten up. It was quite funny. For me, anyway. Hee hee.

I'll be checking the potatoes a little earlier from now on. *snicker*

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I'm BAA-AAACK!

It's been a month. A MONTH since I posted last. Truly, I needed the break. December was crazy busy, and I needed time to rest and regroup. And browse Pinterest. Most of these I'll post about later, but I did want to give you a glimpse of what's been going on around our place.

Some of this:And working on some of this (you know I had to get on the bandwagon at some point, right?):
And learning about this company (review coming soon!):And working on these pretties:And listening to this:Get. This. CD. Especially if you are a Bible in 90 Days graduate. The stories come so much more alive. Post forthcoming.

And I'm still reading this:
grace for the good girl by emily p. freeman
Are you a good girl? You need this book! (As a disclosure, if you click the picture above and make a purchase I will get a small percentage of the sale. This does not influence my opinion of this book. I'd love it even if I didn't make a dime off of it.)

I've enjoyed spending time with these guys (pictured here serving at the Women's Christmas Party I was singing at in the top pic):Who, by the way, have been quite busy themselves: Yes, yes that would be an antler sticking out from the bottom of the freezer shelf. It's attached to more (I'll leave out the gory details), but when your husband kills an 11-point deer, you have to reserve some room in the freezer for it until he can get it mounted. I mean, I don't. Sound man and Kiddo did all this by themselves. All I do is cook it. All those white packages? Money in the bank, as far as I'm concerned. What's in here is what I'm NOT having to buy at the store. Ground meat, sausage, roasts, steaks, tenderloin...we're not a bunch of rednecks that kill animals for sport. My guys hunt to provide food for their family.

Oh, sorry. Didn't mean to get on a soapbox there.

I've also started keeping a little boy on Thursdays. He is 19 months old, and is so precious. Kiddo loves playing with him, too. Jonathan...well, he tolerates him. I'm sure his thoughts go along the lines of, "Who are you and why are you hanging on to MY Momma?" But I caught a rare moment of quiet for the both of them:Each of them looking out the window, waiting for their Daddies. I love this picture!

And I wouldn't be Heathahlee without some pandemonium around here. You know, the moments when you have two choices...cry or laugh...I chose to laugh at this one:Yes, that is an exploded potato.

Then there's this:This would be my dryer. Oh, me.

And finally, I have to share this pic. I took it just the other day and it cracked me up. I love this dog!

It's good to be back!

P.S. Oh! I also had my first International Etsy sale! And it was to my beloved Australia! I squealed!