His Example of Living While Dying

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Perspective.  Outlook.  Enjoying Life.

Faith. Trust.

…All things I want you to be thinking about for the next few moments.

There is a book called, Fly a Little Higher by Laura Sobiech.  It is the story of Laura’s teenage son, Zach, who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer, and how God used him to reach millions around the world.  It is the story of how he spent his final three years living while dying.

I can’t imagine being a mother with a child diagnosed with cancer.  If you ever thought your typical mom-day was challenging, just think how difficult it would be when facing the death of one of your children.  Heartache.  Utter heartache.

When you read this book, you are taken through the journey of Zach’s diagnosis at age 14, his surgeries, chemotherapy and treatments to fight his cancer.  You will cry.  Maybe even sob.

There were times when I read late into the night after Dan had fallen asleep and I remember at least once trying not to shake the bed with my sobs.  This book will break your heart but not in a way that means you shouldn’t read it.  Because in all truth, you should read it.  As much as it is difficult to read, it will awaken a spark within you.  A spark that will make you think differently about how you handle your own challenges and trials.

Zach’s outlook on life was nothing short of inspirational.  Even when things took a sharp turn for the worst, Laura said,

“He confronted the future, then left it there and came back to the present where he had a life to live and enjoy.  I really loved that about him.  As his mom, it made me proud.  As a human, it inspired me.”

And this from a teenager?  I was amazed throughout the book that Zach was able to maintain such an outlook.  Obviously, he had his down moments, but they didn’t characterize those three and a half years.

It has really made me ponder my own attitude.  In the midst of trial, stress or the unknown how often have I mentally put life on hold or been consumed with the situation and stopped living?  When life isn’t easy, can I still enjoy the moments?

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So much of it comes down to trusting God for the details and the bigger picture.  It is the only way to find peace and joy in a trial.  Laura’s faith is so very encouraging as she surrendered her son’s future into the Lord’s hands.  She prayed:

“Okay, Lord.  You can have Zach.  I want him, but You see a bigger picture.  If Zach must die, please just let it be for something big.  I want it to be for something big.  Just one soul changed forever.”

God did use Zach for something big.  Before dying at age 17, he wrote and produced (in only a way God could have orchestrated) the famous song, “Clouds” which hit #1 on iTunes in Spring 2013.  A Soul Pancake documentary about him and his family went viral with over 13 million views.  His music and life touched so many and his example of living while dying continues to inspire others.

So I ask:  in the midst of whatever you are facing, how are you living?  

Check out this Book Trailer for Fly a Little Higher:

Grab the book and connect with  @LauraSobiech on Twitter and the Zach Sobiech Facebook Page.

 Disclosure:  I received this book at no cost.  This post contains my affiliate link.  Please see my Disclosure Policy for more information.  

Celebrating Your Familly on Valentine’s Day

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There are so many cute ideas for Valentine’s Day.  Sometimes, I want to try them all.  And then I get my sanity back and realize simple can be better.  It is completely ok to not add to your family’s already existing traditions, whatever the holiday.

Here is what my family does for Valentine’s Day:  Each February starts with our Mail Boxes.  Then, on the day itself, there are the chocolate chip cookies that I make and the sweets that Dan buys.  Sounds like enough, right?  Yep, it is.

But there is one thing I will be adding this year.  

10 Things I Love About You

Simple, sweet, heart-shaped love notes.  Little messages that tell my family what I love about them.  Add some strawberry milk and we’ll be all set.

So let me encourage you to keep it simple, but meaningful.  Have fun and celebrate your spouse and children.

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Want to really be a blessing to your husband this Valentine’s Day?  Check out our 5-day Praying God’s Word for Your Husband series.

What are your family’s Valentine’s Day traditions?

A Sad Goodbye & The Legacy You Leave

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I shared this in last Saturday’s newsletter.  Thank you for your prayers during this time.  

This week, we said goodbye to a very special man.  Dan’s uncle went home to be with the Lord on Thursday.  He was a pastor for 40 years, an individual Dan looked up to greatly and the man who married us over ten years ago.

You simply never know what a day will hold.  Over the last year, he had many serious health challenges, all of which he had pulled through.

But on this particular day, Dan’s uncle woke up in the morning and went about the usual activities. He simply tripped on a blanket and fell, hitting his head quite hard on the wall.  The impact caused a brain bleed which proved to be unstoppable.

One of his nine children posted this on Facebook:

“To the child of God, there is no such thing as accident. He travels an appointed way. The path he treads was chosen for him…..when as yet he had existence only in the mind of God” A.W. Tozer

Dan’s uncle was 84 years old.  He and his wife had been married for 65 years.  What a beautiful picture of faithfulness.  I was told early on in the day, his wife kept asking if this was her beloved’s crowning day.  Isn’t that just beauty in the moment of trial?  An eternal perspective for sure.

On this crowning day, he didn’t suffer.  He didn’t linger.  But he did leave an incredible legacy.

It was seen in the 74 family members who journeyed to the hospital.

It was heard in the faith-filled hymns that were sung in that ICU room.

It was felt in the comforting comments made by friends.

It will continue in the memories shared at services and this legacy of love and faith left by one man will forever leave its imprint most of all because of his love for Jesus.

I can’t help but think about my mother-in-law at this time and the reunion that has taken place in heaven.  This was her husband’s brother and her sister’s husband.  (Yes, two sisters married two brothers.)  She passed nearly nine years ago and left her own lovely legacy

What kind of legacy will you leave?  Will it be the one you intend?  … This is what I am thinking about it.

“Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his saints.”  Psalm 116:15

 Til we meet again, Uncle Paul!

Unplug Your Kids: Connect the Family

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Have your kids ever entered the room to ask you a question and found you completely absorbed in your news feed on Facebook to the point where you didn’t even hear them talk?  Have you found it easy to sit with your kids at play and rather than enjoying watching your kids and listening to their in-depth imaginative story lines, you grab your tablet and catch up on Instagram or Pinterest?

When my kids think back to their childhood, I do NOT want them to picture me with my phone always in hand.  I do not want to be glued to my device to the point that any time I have a spare moment, I am reaching for my phone to occupy my mind.  I am not saying it is bad to answer that email when it comes in, to keep up to date on your friends’ lives, but the question is how much does technology invade on your living.  

It comes down to boundaries.  

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What are your boundaries for using technology in your home?  Do you have teenagers who are constantly looking downwards (and I don’t mean to check out their cute, painted toe nails)?  Since my kids are young and have had relatively little exposure to technology (only being allowed to play games on my phone for maybe the equivalency of an hour a month), they are not joined at the hip to phones, tablets and pc’s.

And since living at my mom’s, I seem more often to forget where I’ve put my phone rather than carrying it everywhere like I did at the last house.  And I’ll tell you it is somewhat of a welcome change . . . well, except for yesterday when I missed a phone call from our builder.  But it was worth the snuggle time I was having with my daughter on the couch.

One of our house rules (obviously for my husband and I) is no phones at the dinner table.  If we are eating together, emails, messages and calls can wait.  It is important to unplug and connect with my family.  

And I want to do it more.  

This Thursday, inspired and sponsored by Carrom, a 100 year old family game manufacturer, is Family Game Night.  It is an evening to Unplug Your Kids and Connect the Family.  Put aside your tablet.  Go put your phone to bed for the night.  Close the laptop.

Family Game Night
Thursday, October 16   6:00-10:00pm

Spend the evening connecting and having fun as a family.  Smile.  Laugh.  Go ahead and be a little competitive.  Enjoy the time together.  Who knows, maybe you’ll start a new tradition.

Will you join me and families across America?  I will be tweeting and posting a picture at the beginning of family game night, but going offline after that.  Hope to hear on Friday that you had a wonderful and meaningful evening!

What are your household technology boundaries?  

*Carrom was a sponsor at Bloggy  Conference.  They were delightful to speak with and my family loved playing their games.  Thanks, Carrom, for reminding us of the importance of connecting as a family.  Follow them on Facebook.

The Rhythm of Rush & The Best Yes

This post is part of Lysa TerKeurst’s “The Best Yes” Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers.  To learn more and join us, Click Here

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Let’s talk schedules.  Do you feel beyond busy?  What is your everyday schedule like?

Mine is crammed, filled to the brim and non-stop.  I’d like to say this all relates to the unique situation of selling our house.  But, even in my everyday non-selling/non-moving life, I know I try to fit in way too much.  How about you?

“The decisions you make determine the schedule you keep. The schedule you keep determines the life you live. And how you live your life determines how you spend your soul.”  Lysa Terkeurst, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands

 

Everything we say yes to is a no to something else.  Sometimes the no is clear.  Sometimes the no is less obvious.  Here are some of my yeses that become nos to other things.

  • Saying yes to more work may mean additional income but less time focused on my husband and children.
  • Saying yes to that fun activity that takes me away from the house for the umpteenth day in a row means rushing to clean my house for the upcoming party.
  • Saying yes to too many commitments means more stress and less patience toward my kids.
  • Saying yes to selling my house means moving ahead on exciting plans but less time relaxing since the house has to be kept up for showings.

Yeses can be good things.  But they may not always be the best.  I have just started reading Lysa Terkeurst’s new book, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands.  

Does that sound like your life . . . endless demands?  

I’d love for you to join me on this journey of finding the best yes.  Discerning what to say yes and no to and seeking the Lord in our decisions.  I think as we refine this process, it will mean a more fulfilling life spent on what is most important to each of us.

How about you?  Do you want to change your rhythm of rush?

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New York Times Bestselling author Lysa TerKeurst has written a new book about finding your Best Yes. Many call this book “inspiring” and “fabulous.”  I call it a game-changer.  You can grab a copy at here.

Inspiring Young Readers and Three Children’s Bibles Your Home Should Not Be Without

inspiring young readers and 3 children's bibles your home should not be without



This week, we are celebrating Children’s Book Week.  Do your kids enjoy reading? Mine are well on their way, but not without continued encouragement.  So today, I have four tips for inspiring your young readers and three children’s Bibles your home should not be without.

Inspiring Your Young Readers

Create a Book Nook or a Special Spot to Read.  If I am reading to the kids before bed, we all climb into my bed and snuggle up for a couple stories from the Gospel Storybook Bible.  I love getting under the covers with them!

Where do you like to read with your kids?

Try to find a regular spot.  The bottom of a closet, the couch or if you want to go book nook crazy, check out all these fun spots on Pinterest.  A couple years ago, we created this DIY Light-Up Cave of Wonder.  It made for a perfect place for the kids.

Enroll in Local Reading Programs.  Pizza Hut has the Book It Program, one which we think is a delicious way to encourage reading.  And with Summer almost here, libraries everywhere will be starting the summer reading programs, providing encouragement and incentives for reading.

Other summer programs to look into:  Half Price Books, Pottery Barn for Kids, Barnes & Nobles, Chuck E. Cheese (ongoing).

Take Regular Trips to the Library.  My kids love it when we go to the library and they get to choose books to borrow.  Sign up for story-time for your little ones.

Incidentally, please don’t be like me and rack up late fees.  I am usually so good about being on time at everything, but I have failed with this.  Thankfully, one of the libraries we go to sends out an email a couple days before the books are due.  They have saved my life in the book department.

Keep it Interesting and Read Good Books.  Sometimes, I don’t know where to start when searching for great books for my kids.  Talk to other moms and find out what books are their children’s favorites.  Use resources like Redeemed Reader, a Christian site devoted to children’s literature.

And if you have a child who isn’t as interested in reading as you would like, be sure to read this guest post on encouraging your reluctant reader from Emily Whitten of Redeemed Reader.

My Favorite Children’s Bibles


The Rhyme Bible Storybook for Toddlers

Your young children will love this unique Storybook Bible.  Each story is told in fun rhyme and perfect for holding the attention of your little kids.  Its rhythmic wording and simple illustrations draw you into learning the stories of the Bible.  Above is the latest edition of the Rhyme Bible.  (I actually have this one, but the price on Amazon is very high for the older edition.)

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name

This is the most beautiful Storybook Bible I have seen.  When I first read the introduction, my mind was filled with anticipation and my eyes were filled with tears.  Every Bible story recounted connects to Jesus and indeed “whispers His name.”  The stories are beautifully told and point to the Savior.   Your kids (and you, too) will see an amazing connection to Jesus in every story read.  I love it!

Perfect for ages 4 and up.

The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments

This Storybook Bible is incredible in the presentation of Biblical stories and connecting the Gospel throughout the Old and New Testaments.  The stories are told in more detail than the other two storybooks, making this a good option for children six and above (in my opinion.)

Each story includes a “Let’s Talk About” section with three questions related to the story.  Themes of sin, grace, forgiveness and salvation permeate the book.  I feel it is providing a wonderful foundation for my kids (my son, in particular because of his age).

 

BONUS BIBLE – I know I only said 3, but if your children are reading on their own…

At the recommendation of my friend, Christina of To Show Them Jesus, I purchased the Adventure Bible for Early Readers, NIrV for my son.  He loves it and I do too.  He even took it to school for Show & Tell.  

Do you have a favorite children’s Bible?  I’d love to hear!

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  For more information, please see the About Page.  

The Toothless Grin

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The older my children get, the faster I feel time slipping through my fingers.  They are getting so big and learning much.  I think of myself as a mom of little children, but the reality is that this year, my little children will turn 5 and 7.  Sigh.

I penned this poem with these thoughts in mind, facing the gap in my son’s grin.  Loosing teeth, yes, a milestone of one’s childhood.

The Toothless Grin

There is a gap in my boy’s grin
A sign of passing time
For I remember long ago
When he was only mine.

A time when it was he and I
To last the whole day long
No school, no schedule, no teeth at all
Our happy freedom song.

But up he grew without my say
It seemed to go so fast
The play, the fun of two of us
Oh don’t forget the past.

The baby toys, the beating pans
He did it all the time
An now he reads and writes so well
It changes on a dime.

So off to school and off to play
It isn’t just with me
My baby, he is growing up
Big teeth are coming, see?

Those teeth will witness many things
Of life, of love, of friends
And I will think back to the days
When playtime had no end.

We still have many years to go
Lord willing, we will try
To count the days and treasure times
And draw each other nigh.

So peace be to the whole day through
And quiet down our strife
For family time is precious time
To prize throughout our life.

There is a gap in my boy’s grin
A sign of passing time
For I remember long ago
When he was only mine.

 Written by Kristen Summers

Growing as a Parent at the Cleveland Parenting Expo 2014 & A Giveaway

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This content has been compensated as part of a promotion for the Cleveland Parenting Expo.  However, all opinions remain my own.  #parentingexpo

Graduation days.  Do you remember the days?  The pomp and circumstance.  The long robes.  The feeling of accomplishment as you turn that tassel from one side of the graduation cap to the other.  All signs of completion.  You are done.  You took all the tests.  You wrote all the papers.  You passed all the grades.  You are now a graduate.  Your education is over.

Wrong!  Even though we may be tempted to think that education ends with high school or college, when we have children we are reminded that in many ways, education has started all over again.

Children don’t come with text books, manuals or detailed instructions.  How do you take care of that baby?  How do you handle tantrums? What do you do with a teen who wants to show her independent side?   There are the wonderful days of parenting and there are the tough days where all you can do is pry your feet off the [sticky] floor and try to make it through the day.

We all need encouragement.

We all need support.

We can all continue to grow as parents.

That is why I am excited to share with you about the first Parenting Expo in Cleveland.  It is the one event all about parenting.  A two-day family-friendly event, where parents, grandparents, caregivers and educators will have an opportunity to receive up-to-date information on what’s important to them right now – from prenatal care to raising teens.

Don’t miss the giveaway below.  

We are giving away 4 pairs of tickets!

 

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What stage of parenting are you in?  

What can you learn?

At the Parenting Expo, you will find great resources to help you grow in your parenting.  There will be parenting specialists, featured speakers, and great exhibitors with the latest products and services.

Here are some of the parenting specialists and presentation topics:

View the rest of the presentation and parenting specialists here!

In addition, featured speakers include:

  • Jim Tressel, Executive Vice President for Student Success, University of Akron
  • Corbin Bernsen, actor, director, writer and parenting advocate
  • Dr. Geoffrey Putt, Psy.D. Director of Parenting & Family Support Services, Akron Children’s Hospital
  • Dr. Debi Gilboa, MD of AskDoctorG.com
  • Carolyn Stulberg, Founder & Executive Director, Alexandria School for Nannies

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WHAT A GREAT IDEA:   The expo will also feature an indoor playground where you can interact with speakers while keeping an eye on your kids.

The Parenting Expo Cleveland is a great opportunity to learn and grow as a parent.  Not to mention, you’ll walk away with meaningful coupons, giveaways, goody bags full of products from exhibitors, and opportunities to win prizes throughout the expo, plus free activities for the kids.

Details:

Adult tickets are $10 per person when purchased online before Noon, April 25, 2014.  At the door, tickets are $12 per person.  Children under 14 are free.  You can also purchase advance tickets at DrugMart for $10.  Your admission includes:  all events and activities, all workshops and programs, all the exhibitor provided coupons and offers, and eligibility for prizes and giveaways.

Saturday, April 26, 2014 – 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday, April 27, 2014 – 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM

The International Exposition Center
One I-X Center Drive
Cleveland, Ohio 44135

Learn more at the Parenting Expo Website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

The Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hope to see you there!