Please Help Me Launch My New Book

I am so excited to finally share more details with you about my new book, At The Well.  It is a book for Christian singles, taking them on a journey through Genesis 24 – the story of Isaac and Rebekah – where God reveals the most beautiful blueprint for finding love and pursuing marriage.  You can read more about the book here.

Now, I realize that here at Celebrate Every Day With Me, our readers are primarily MOMS!  So, while I know this book may not apply to you directly, I am guessing that some of you have kids who fall into the Christian single category or you have intentions of talking with your children about seeking God when looking for a husband or wife.

Whether this is you or not, I really need help for a successful book launch.  Would you consider joining my launch team?  Being a part of a launch team means reading a pre-release PDF copy of the book, writing a review and sharing about the book.  Then on launch day (February 4, 2018), you’ll post your review on Amazon.  Don’t worry, we will lay everything out to make it as simple as possible!

Click here to join the launch team and start reading At The Well before everyone else!

Starting The Year Off With “Seek Him First”

(This post contains affiliate links.)

Happy New Year, Friends!  It’s great to be back with you.  I love the new year because it feels like a wonderful, fresh start (which is funny because it’s just a flip of another page on the calendar).  But even so, the new year creates a great opportunity to re-prioritize, make goals, and find inspiration and focus for what is most important in life.

Have you been thinking about goals or things you want for 2018?  Mine include being present and focused with family, publishing a new book and growing deeper in my relationship with the Lord.

With this last goal, I am so glad I read my friend’s new ebook, Seek Him First:  How to Hear From God, Walk in His Will, and Change Your World.  I first got to know Jennifer Hayes Yates through Self-Publishing School where we have been accountability partners for the last six months.  Jen has such a heart for the Lord and for others to grow in their faith.

In her latest book, Seek Him First, she shares from her own experience what seeking God first and above all has meant in her life.  With relevant Scriptures, real life stories and heart to heart talk, Jen will not only show you what quiet times can look like along with different Bible study methods, but she will also motivate you to jump in and get started (or dig deeper).

The book is an easy and enjoyable read, and I love the questions Jen asks at the end of each chapter.  The questions will get you thinking and focusing on how you can grow and what comes next.

If you have been:

  • struggling with having a consistent quiet time with God
  • wondering if you are hearing from God
  • desiring to know God’s will for your life

. . . then, this book is for you.

Jen is an engaging writer and she continually points you in the right direction.  The pages ooze with her love for God and I loved reading the book.

If you’re wanting to get a fresh start with the new year and grow deeper in your relationship with the Lord, be sure to check out Seek Him First.  For a short time, it is ONLY 99 CENTS!  Then, it will go up to regular price.  So don’t wait too long.

Learn more about Jen at her website, JenniferHYates.com and don’t forget to leave a review for her book on Amazon.

“Looking For Lovely” – Do You Need to Read This?

(This post contains affiliate links.)

Last fall, my cousin called and shared with me about a book she read in an afternoon at the pool.  It was Looking For Lovely:  Collecting the Moments that Matter.  She absolutely loved it.  Well, any book that she loved would be enough to make my list and one that she read in an afternoon . . . jackpot!

Now, I didn’t read this book in a single afternoon.  It was my “waiting book” for when I was waiting at my daughter’s dance class, at doctor’s appointments or in the school parking lot.  Do you have a book like that?  This was perfect!

This was the first book I had read by Annie F. Downs.  She also wrote Let’s All Be Brave, Speak Love:  Making Your Words Matter and 100 Days to Brave (which just released this week).  Annie has a fun, relational writing style.  She is real, vulnerable and yet funny.  She is open about her struggles and her growth.  The book is full of great stories that take you through Annie’s journey of searching for lovely.

Looking for Lovely is an enjoyable read.  However, there were days when my Type-A self lifted my nose out of the book and asked “What is this book about?”  But as I kept going, the reveal came and Annie tied it all together beautifully in the end.  The book is a journey of finding God in the everyday moments, of walking with confidence the road before you and picking up on the things God is trying to teach you.  It is what everyday living is made of.  But most of all, it is about perspective.

One thing I loved about this book was that I felt like I knew Annie.  It was as if we just chatted for hours at the coffee shop or ventured on some fantastic road trip, spending hours together in the car.  Don’t you love when an author makes you feel this way?  It is a gift.

Should you read it?  Yes.  You’ll enjoy Annie’s stories and be blessed by her perspective of looking for lovely in the everyday and in the trials of life.  You’ll be inspired by her growth and relax a little more when facing a challenge because you know to find the beauty in the situation.

I’d love to know if you read Looking for Lovely.  Please share your thoughts below.

 

What Else Has Been on My Bookshelf Recently:

 

How to Help Your Kids Memorize Large Portions of Scripture

memorize Bible verses

Nearly five years ago a deal was struck.  My kids had been wanting pets but my husband, never having owned an indoor pet himself, was not eager to introduce hair, odor and more chaos to our home . . . especially when we were planning to build a new house.  Thinking he could postpone the inevitable, he told the kids they could get indoor pets if they memorized the book of James.

Between trying to sell our house, living with my mom and building our house, it was an easy thing to put off.  But once we had been in the house over a year, the kids became more interested in working to get their pets.  My son wanted a hamster and my daughter, a dog.

It took them about four months to memorize James.  They were allowed to split the book which meant that my daughter memorized chapters one and two, and my son learned chapters three, four and five (53 and 55 verses, respectively).

When taking on such a task, I knew they would need help.  They would need it to be accessible.  They would need to be able to measure their progress.  They would need my listening ear with verses in hand and they would need lots of encouragement.

Here is what we did and how you can help your kids memorize large portions of Scripture:

 

Print the passage.  I printed the book of James and cut out each verse.  (I found copying and pasting from Bible Gateway into Word was the easiest and then formatting the passage into two columns.)  Knowing the wear and tear the slips of paper would take, I also laminated the verses.  I love laminating!

Figure out a good spot to hang the verses.  For us, this meant the kids’ bathroom mirror, knowing that they are in there at least twice a day when brushing their teeth.  It became a habit to learn a verse while they were brushing.

 

Progress at their pace.  Only one verse went up at a time.  Then, when they felt they were ready, I added another verse to the mirror.

Work on verse to verse flow.  Even though they were only working on a verse at a time, it was important to regularly read through the entire passage so as not to forget what they learned but also prepare for that final delivery of their passage.

Once each verse is learned, print another copy of the passage and keep it as a full sheet.  After the kids had learned every verse, they began to take their (full) sheets of James around the house with them, capitalizing on different opportunities to work on the flow.

Help them connect verses by underlining key words.  If I found a word that started two consecutive verses, I underlined it and drew little dots connecting them.  (I did this with the verses on the mirror and on the full sheets.)  Try this with repetitive words, antonyms, similar concepts or even a particular style of composition such as a series of questions.  Think of how you can help their little brain to visually connect what they are learning.

Know that the brain remembers best in short, separated bursts of study.  I didn’t have the kids ever spend a significant amount of time polishing their passages in one sitting.  Short bursts not only work well for the brain, but also for their encouragement and sanity.

I shared this story about my college days in order to demonstrate the point:  In all four years of college, I never pulled an all-nighter studying for an exam.  In fact, I never even had to stay up late studying and this is how.  About a week before an exam, I would read through my entire class notes.  I would do this once a day.  As it got closer, I may have added in a second read-though.  The result?  By the end of that week, I had such a good handle on the material, I didn’t even take long to study the night before the test.  That little time each day working on my notes allowed me to learn it fully and without the stress of last minute studying.

Read a good portion or all of the passage before going to bed.  I was amazed when my kids would read one of their chapters through once before bed, things just seemed to click better in a morning recitation.  You’ve probably heard how the brain processes all kinds of things while we sleep.  I think that in polishing memorization and getting that flow of verse to verse, a brief read before bed is invaluable.

Encourage, Encourage, Encourage.  It was certainly more than once that my kids, particularly one of them, grew quite discouraged when thinking about how far there was to go in memorizing over 50 verses.  This is natural and normal!  It is a great opportunity to encourage your sweet babes in continuing on what they started, in perseverance and not giving up!  This is lifelong lesson and skill to develop.

Celebrate!  When they are done, celebrate!  Maybe you have given them an incentive to drive them to finish.  Maybe there is a reward shining that light at the end of the tunnel.  Obviously for my kids, they wanted pets and this was their way to earn them.  It was such a sweet trip to the pet store to get my son’s hamster after all his work and we loved bringing home the dog my daughter wanted and surprising her after school.

And in case you wanted to see what happy looks like, here ya go:

Have you had your kids memorize large passages of Scripture?  What do you think would help them most?  

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Celebrating Childhood: How to Protect the Innocence of Your Child

How to Protect the Innocence of Your Child

This is not a post I am eager to write.  However, the fleeting innocence of our children has weighed heavily on my heart for quite some time. And with so much going on nowadays, I felt the Lord’s compelling voice that this is the time.  So grab your cup of coffee and come close.  We need to talk.

Have you noticed that as a nation, our children are growing up too fast?

I don’t mean that time moves quickly; I have other posts about that.  No, I mean that our children are maturing too quickly.  They are learning about too much of the world too fast.  They are exposed at young ages to things beyond their years.  Friends, their innocence is in jeopardy.  What was once playful and fun has become a cultural push to expose our children to mature language, issues and behavior.  All one needs to do is turn on the tv or go to the movies.

I can’t tell you how often I read or hear about parents who are letting their little children watch movies with ratings intended for teenagers.  Parents who don’t mind what is on the TV in the background of their family room because they don’t think their kids are paying attention.  Even the commercials of sporting events parade the inappropriate before the eyes of our children.  What are our kids taking in?

Their innocence is in jeopardy.

Just last week, I had to email my son’s teacher to say that my son was not allowed to watch a particular movie in school and that I would make arrangements to take him out of class.  This movie portrayed drunkenness, immodest attire for a scene and swearing.  Now, it didn’t end up being the movie watched, but it was one of three possibilities for his third grade class.

What I am about to say below is for all parents, but I am speaking specifically to my Christian brothers and sisters . . . to those of you who fall under the name of Christ, who want to follow biblical principles and raise godly children . . . to those who want to keep one eye on who their child is now and the other on what kind of individual they will become.

Friends, our children are being bombarded by content intended for those much older.  Rude humor, immoral choices, and downright sin made to look normal and glamorous.   I was at a marriage conference last weekend that said that married couples in the U.S. are now outnumbered by couples choosing to live together without the commitment of marriage.  I am crushed.  I am sickened for the world that our children will grow up in.  A culture that makes light of the plans and beauty of what God created.  

We are losing our children to the world.  Christian families are losing their children to the world.  It is up to us to provide a firm foundation of faith, morality and family values in a culture that says there are no absolutes, it is all about me and I can do whatever I want.

How to Protect the Innocence of Your Child - James 1.5

So what do we do as Christian parents?

We guard the innocence of our children.  We ask for wisdom (James 1:5).  We make educated choices.  We open our eyes to the deceptive nature of our culture.  We tune our ears to voice of the Holy Spirit.  And then we . . .

Assess

Ask the questions about what your kids are watching on TV and in the movies.  For example:  What is the movie about?  What are the questionable issues in the movie?  Is there content for which my child is too young?  Is the violence age-appropriate?  Are there provocative scenes?  Are women’s bodies treated disrespectfully or men regarded as stupid?

Do your due diligence in investigating a movie.  Read the reviews.  I love Common Sense Media and Plugged In.  Common Sense Media applies ratings to different components of the movie.  It tells you specifically what occurs under each category and even their recommendation for viewing age.  I also like Plugged In which is Focus on the Family’s movie review site.  If you want to quickly know what is going to happen in a movie, check out these sites.

common sense media on phone

Pictured Screenshot from Common Sense Media.

When possible, first preview the movie yourself.  While this may be inconvenient at times (and I have definitely watched children’s movies alone for this solitary purpose), you can watch the film with your child’s age and maturity in mind.  If this is not possible and reviews haven’t yet been posted (usually the day after the movie releases), seek out another parent who’s opinion you respect.  When the live-action Cinderella movie came out, we wanted to see it right away.  But I had heard that the death scenes were intense for young children and could stir feelings of insecurity.  I called my cousin who had seen it the night before and asked for details.  Knowing my child and equipped with information, I was able to make a sound decision and we went to see the film.

Explain

If you have decided that the movie is inappropriate for your child, explain the reasons to him or her.  For that school movie last week, I specifically told my son what was disconcerting to me about the movie.  And you know what?  Once I plainly told him, he didn’t want to see the movie after all.

Last December, my son (my poor son) was invited with an older boy to go see Rogue One the week it released.  Knowing how much he wanted to see this Star Wars movie, I so badly wanted to let him go.  But as I poured over personal reviews from pre-screenings, I became convinced that he was too young to see the movie.  Over and over, I was seeing that the recommended age was 10+ years old and that the violence was war-like and unrelentless.  Some even compared it to Saving Private Ryan without the gore.

Well, he was crushed when I told him.  But as I began to explain the reasons, he demonstrated a maturity and understanding.  In fact, as this sort of thing has happened more than once now, my husband and I believe that he has fortified his trust in us, knowing what is best for him.

Of course, if even the subject matter is something of which your child is unaware, you don’t need to go into detail.  In a recent situation, I told my daughter that the movie simply portrays something that does not please God and goes against the teachings of the Bible.  I didn’t get more specific than that.

Teach God's Word -

Now what do you tell your child when everyone else in their class has seen a movie and they haven’t?  First, I acknowledge that it stinks.  It totally does.  It can feel so lonely.  I remember when I was growing up, having to leave a neighbor’s house because they were watching a PG-13 movie and I wasn’t old enough.  It stunk, but I respected my mom for making the call.

One way I have found for getting around this is to see if there is an option of reading the book (assuming the story line is not your issue).  This is precisely what we did when The Force Awakens came out and we didn’t think my son was ready for the intensity and violence.  I found an appropriate junior novel telling the story . . . and this way he knew what had happened and could keep up on the conversations at school.  Then a year later, he got the movie for his birthday.  🙂

Stand

Having made the hard decision then, stand in knowing that you are choosing your child over your culture.  His welfare over your popularity.  Her growing character over a fleeting 120 minutes.  This world is not our home.  It will never be comfortable.

Standing for biblical truth is not popular, especially in today’s cultural climate.  But do it anyway.  Do what you decide is best for your child and rest in that.

And when you know your child is missing the movie or the activity, create a super fun replacement.  When I told my daughter that we would not be seeing a particular movie at the theater (one to which she was greatly looking forward), she was heartbroken.  But you better believe that we planned the best, most special and incredibly fun evening in its place.

Let them be little. - Article on protecting the innocence of your child.

Being vigilant for our children’s childhood and innocence is no easy task.  

In fact, it is inconvenient.  It is isolating.  It means making the hard choices.  At times, it will require you standing alone.  And hardest of all, it will mean that sometimes your child stands alone.

So is it worth it?

Let me tell you, the rewards will be heavenly.  You will raise children who have a moral compass lacking in our lost culture.  You will raise children who have the discernment to know right and wrong.  You will raise children who see your example of a life lived for Christ . . . the trials, sufferings and glory, and be able to say it was worth it.

 

I would love to know your thoughts on this and how you handle these kinds of situations.  As always, be kind.  We may choose to disagree, but we can still be respectful.

Want to Take it a Step Further?

  • Read this post that I wrote on this topic for The Better Mom with other things you can do.
  • Start a prayer group for your children and schools.  Check out Moms In Prayer.
  • Fight to save filtering.  Read more on VidAngel’s battle and how you can  help.
  • Vote with your pocketbook.  Don’t support films with which you take issue.
  • Download the Movie Screening Checklist below.

31 Helpful Ark Encounter Tips To Know Before You Go

31 Helpful Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go

 

Spectacular!

That is the most fitting way to describe our visit to Ark Encounter in Williamstown, KY.  The 511-foot-long gorgeous, timber structure is awe-inspiring from the moment you arrive and step off the shuttle.  It is incredible to walk through the decks seeing how Noah, his family and the animals might have lived during their time on the Ark.

This life-size re-creation of Noah’s Ark, built to biblical specification, is the largest timber framed structure in the world.  The craftsmanship is amazing and completely impressive.  It is hard to describe what you feel when you first see the Ark.  Not even stepping foot inside, my mom who joined my family on our voyage, said the sight alone would have been enough.

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (7)

It has been two weeks since our visit and I have to tell you, I could go back right now.  I want to be walking up the ramps, looking at the cages, hearing the sounds of the animals amidst the thunderstorms.  The nature of the experience, the attention to detail . . . it rivals the quality of a Disney park (and y’all know how much I love and visit Disney World).

On to the tips . . .

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (62)

31 Ark Encounter Tips So You Don’t Miss the Boat

1.  Ark Encounter is 45 minutes south of the Creation Museum.  Many people think that the Ark is right next to the Creation Museum, however it is not.  If you are staying overnight at a hotel, know that there are great options in both areas.  We stayed at a Comfort Inn (with a complimentary breakfast) only 6 miles from the Ark.

2.  Plan your time well and purchase the tickets that make sense for your family.  If you plan on visiting the Creation Museum at the same time, purchasing the combo pass will not only save you money but also keep you from rushing through everything.  I do think that it is easier to process all the exhibits over a couple days.

Ark Encounter Tips

> > If you’re wondering how long you will spend at the Ark . . . We spent about two hours in the Ark itself, and a total of five hours on property (including eating lunch and exploring some of the outside activities).  Keep in mind that the length of your visit will depend on crowd levels.  As to our time in the Ark, we did not rush.  We read most of the information on the first two decks.  However on Deck 3, we did pick up the pace and did not read everything.  Deck 3 had a lot of cool information on validity of Ark history and the science of the flood.  This is where another day could be helpful to truly take it all in.

3.  Because the Ark is new, many GPS’s can’t find the exact address.  Use this address:  220 KY Highway 36 West, Williamstown, KY 41097, or see this page on the Ark Encounter website for exact coordinates.

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (17a)

4.  Get there early!  We arrived at the park about 15 minutes before it opened.  It was not crowded.  We flowed quite well through the exhibits (especially ones with reading).  When were leaving Deck 3 and looked down, we were surprised by the crowds waiting to get into the Pre-Flood World exhibit (photo below).  With all there is to read, it would have taken much longer to move through.   Now with school starting, I am guessing crowds may lessen.  But nonetheless, get there early.

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (42)

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (25a)

5.  They bill the Ark as “family-oriented, historically authentic, and environmentally friendly.”  We found this to be very true.  I liked the blend of reading, visual exhibits and interactive displays.  My kids were engaged at their own levels and enjoyed it all.  Some of the questions answered with Ark Encounter are:   How big was Noah’s Ark?  How did Noah fit all the animals on board?  How did Noah feed and care for all the animals?  How did Noah build the Ark?

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (20a)

 

The Ark Encounter builders held to biblical specifications as to the size of Noah’s Ark.  It truly is amazing.  And for environmentally friendly, it was neat to learn that most of the wood came from a dead forest.  They didn’t kill healthy trees to build the Ark.

Below is a photo from the living quarters.  Noah and his family wouldn’t have known how long they would be on the Ark so they may have brought quite a bit to make the living area comfortable.

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (35a)

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (39a)

6.  Read the biblical account (Genesis 5:32-9:17) before your trip.  This will put things afresh in your family’s minds.

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (1)

7. A shuttle takes you to the Ark.  After purchasing your tickets, you will board the Ark Encounter shuttle and be driven 1 mile to the Ark.

8.  Parking is $10.  We saw signs for the parking fee and it is on their website.  However, we didn’t have to pay on the day we were there.  I am thinking this must be because it was during their first 40 days of opening.  They offered extended hours to visit the Ark and I am betting parking fees were waived while those 40 days lasted.

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (2)

9.  Lockers are available at the Guest Services Building.  Keep in mind that your car is a mile away and with large crowds, it could take some time to catch a shuttle back to the parking lot.  Be sure to throw necessities in your purse or rent a locker for your time near the Ark.  I had wished I didn’t leave my sunscreen in the car while we were doing the outside activities.

10.  Plenty of bathrooms or porta-potties are available.  Regular bathrooms  can be found on each floor of the Ark, in the restaurant and in a building near Guest Services.  The parking lot and other places on property do offer porta-potties.  So if you have a child like mine who has pretty much refused to use a porta-potty since age 2, be sure she goes to the bathroom before catching the shuttle back to your car.

11.  Strollers, wheel chairs and electric scooters are available for rent in the Guest Services building (with the lockers & ATM machine) near the Ark.  You are free to bring your own as well.

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (18a)

12.  Enjoy three decks of exhibits.  There is a lot to see and the Ark has great ramps that won’t leave you breathless in traveling up the three decks.  Elevators and stairs are available in the towers on the backside of the Ark.  Make sure you take everything in, from world-class exhibits, beautiful music (seriously, I looked for a soundtrack in the gift shop) and delicious timber scent filling the Ark.

13.  Free wifi is available.  Check the brochure for network and password info.

14.  Get your hand stamped if you plan on re-entering the Ark later in the day.    

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (11a)

15.  Prepare young children who may be afraid of thunderstorms.  As you enter the ark and during the beginning of your journey, the sounds of thunderstorms are played over the speakers.  My daughter was a bit intimidated.  It would be helpful to let young kids know beforehand.

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (19a)

16.  Check out the Pre-Flood World exhibit.  It offers a wonderful presentation (signage) of creation, the fall of man and beyond.  If your kids are familiar with biblical stories, be sure to read and point out different parts of the stories they will recognize.  The artwork is beautiful.

17.  Take a break to sit and watch a quick movie about the making of the animals seen on Ark Encounter.  My kids loved watching this and it made them appreciate all the work that went into this single aspect of creating our experience.

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (21)

18.  Don’t miss the spot where your kids can go in the cage and you can snap pictures.

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (27a)

19.  If you don’t want to read everything at the moment or want to re-read text later, take photos with your phone.  There were several signs that I wanted to be able to re-read and remember at a later point.  I love the convenience of smart phones.

Ark Encounter snack station (a)

20.  Hungry or thirsty on the Ark?  There is a snack station on Deck 1 where you can purchase an assortment of food and drinks.  Just an FYI, I noticed at least one exhibit on Deck 3 that did not allow food or drink.

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (30a)

21.  Be sure to spend some time with the talking Noah.  You and your kids can interact with Noah by asking pre-programmed questions and listening to his responses.  He talks, moves and looks amazing.  But hey, if your daughter wants Noah to answer ALL the questions, be prepared to spend some time there.

22.  Nursing rooms can be found on each deck if you’re a nursing mom looking for privacy.

23.  Convenient Seating!  There is an abundance of benches throughout the Ark if you or someone in your family needs to slow down and rest.

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (33a)

24.  The door was one of my favorite places to stop.  When the Ark first opened, I had heard Ken Ham on the radio talking about the one door in Noah’s Ark.  Why only one door?  In John 10:9, Jesus says He is the door.  Be sure to take a moment and read the signs in this area.

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (31a)

 

25.  Stop and see the Fairy Tale Ark exhibit.  You’ll walk out with a new take on all the children’s Ark stories.

26.  When you arrive at Deck 3 (via the ramp), there is a beautiful presentation of the Gospel.  I love the careful attention to the most important part of Christianity.

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (45)

 

27.  Don’t miss the gift shop.  Well, technically you cannot miss the gift shop since you have to go through it to exit the Ark.  However, take some time and look around at all the resources as well as fun things for sale, including fair trade items from other parts of the world.  And very soon, the gift shop will have a coffee bar, where they will also sell fudge and ice cream.

I bought a couple t-shirts for $15 each (super reasonable!) and the moment I saw Noah’s rain forecast t-shirt, I knew I had to get it for Dan.  Check it out when you’re there.

Also, when you board the Ark, Ark Encounter photographers take family photos and superimpose different backgrounds.  You can view and purchase the photos in the gift shop.

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (61)

28.  Know what costs extra.  Activities such as the zip lines, ropes course and camel/donkey rides do cost extra beyond admission.  My kids rode the camel and can now cross that off their bucket list.

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Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (49)

29.  Dining at Emzara’s Kitchen.  We enjoyed lunch at the restaurant during our time at the park.  Know that there are NO kids menus here, however there are kid-friendly options.  The lower level has fun animals to look at while you eat or you can head upstairs and sit outside with a fantastic view of the Ark’s bow.  Click these links to see the menu here:  page 1 and page 2.

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (58)

30.  Stop and Visit the Ararat Ridge Zoo.  My family enjoyed petting the goats and walking around seeing other animals as well.   It seems like this will be an area of growth.

31.  Know that more is coming.  With phase one being the construction of the Ark itself, there seems to be much more coming to Ark Encounter.  The website talks about a Walled City, the Tower of Babel, a first-century Middle Eastern village, a journey in history from Abraham to the parting of the Red Sea, a walk-through aviary, and an expanded large petting zoo.  Eventually, they will also offer daily live mammal and bird shows, an extensive interactive children’s area, live entertainment, and many themed restaurants, creative food outposts, and shopping.  We even heard that there will be a fancier restaurant on the top floor of the Ark (taking reservations only).  Doesn’t that sound cool?  Although I do wonder what will be on the menu . . .

Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (67)
What a fantastic, encouraging, faith-building and fun visit we had to Ark Encounter.  I am looking forward to our next trip and eager to see the development of future plans!

 

Disclosure:  I was provided free and discounted admission to facilitate my post.  All opinions are mine.
31 Helpful Ark Encounter Tips to Know Before You Go (1)

 

 

 

Can This New Book Help Your Devotional Life?

This post contains an affiliate link.

Can this New Book Help Your Devotional Life- - Pressing Pause Book Review

I was super excited when I saw this new devotional by Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk called, “Pressing Pause:  100 Quiet Moments for Moms to Meet with Jesus.”  It looked perfect for busy moms and truthfully, I have yet to meet a mom who isn’t busy.

Personally, I have felt so rushed lately.  House projects, work deadlines, school, extra-curricular activities, and a myriad of other pressures and commitments . . . the thought of pressing pause was refreshing.

Pressing Pause Review (1)

Whether you are up many times at night, changing diapers or you’ve moved on to the emotional roller coaster of raising teenagers, I think you’ll love the heart to heart talks these two women bring to the table, all with a focus on meeting with Jesus, finding who you are and what you’re made to do.

The book is filled with 100 encouraging devotionals and I quickly discovered three things I love:

1.  I love that the devotionals all start with Scripture and are filled with good and challenging thoughts to help you in parenting, marriage, your pattern of thinking and spiritual journey.  Each day, you are pointed to the Lord, His Word and His Truth for your life.

Pressing Pause Review

2.  At the end of each devotional, there are thought-provoking questions and a spot to journal your answers.

3.  It is [squeal of joy] hardcover!  How often do you see a hardcover book anymore?  I love holding this book in my hands and running my fingers over the textured cover.  It feels like wallpaper and makes me happy.  (I know, I’m weird.)

The book is incredibly reasonable in price . . . less than $10 on Amazon with Prime and definitely, a book I am enjoying working through day by day.  It is a wonderful addition to my devotional life.

Click here to learn more, read reviews and buy the book.

What are you reading these days?

 

Disclosure:  I received the book free of charge in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

When God’s FAVOR shows up

when God's FAVOR shows up

Oh friends, I have such a sweet story to share with you today.  It is a tale of God’s absolute goodness and favor for His children.  Do you need to be encouraged?  He cares for you and the details of your life.  He is very aware of all that you are facing and is at work, even in the seemingly mundane . . . like the car you drive.

The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day

It was a few short weeks ago on a Monday.  My mom was shopping and running errands about half an hour from home in her little Honda Civic.  After one of the stops, she noticed something was wrong with her car.  Her brakes were feeling very soft.

She decided to drive it to the Honda dealer a few miles away to check the car.  It was only a couple turns on a busy street.  A little risky but she was determined.  The only issue was that it was noon which meant higher traffic as people headed out for lunch.

PROTECTION

She put on her hazard lights, gripped the steering wheel and began to pray.

Prayers that God would clear the road before her.  That He would protect her and take her safely to the dealer.

And He did.

What should have been high traffic during the lunch hour became a Sunday afternoon.  Cars disappeared in front of her.  And the few cars that approached from the rear slowed down and moved into the other lane to gently pass her.  The Lord’s hand was upon her car as He delivered her to the Honda dealer.

Have you ever driven a car as the brakes are going out?  It is a very scary thing…when that brake hits the floor and you are not yet at a complete stop.  I have experienced this once before and it is something I need not try ever again.

Hands trembling, my mom gave the keys to the dealer when she arrived and they put blocks on the wheels of the car.  Her brake line was leaking and she was losing more fluid as the time went on.

For His loving kindness is great toward us,

KINDNESS

As she walked through the dealer, there standing at one of the many service desks, was a man she knows very well from church.  She hadn’t even begun to think about how she would get home and God’s timing was perfect.  Her friend was dropping off his car for service and his wife was just arriving to pick him up.

They graciously gave my mom a ride home.  But friends, I have to tell you… this is where I am struck with the Lord’s care for His children.  Not only did He protect her and clear the road, He gave her a way home.  Isn’t that just the sweetest thing?

And it doesn’t stop there.  You see, the car was 12 years old and she had just begun thinking about something new.

That night, I took my mom up to meet Dan after work.  They were going to head back to the Honda dealer, find out what it would cost to fix her car and talk to a salesman about a new car.  The repair was going to be $3000 (they found other things, too) and a new car was pretty expensive, much more than she wanted to spend.

As for the trade-in value of her Civic, the dealer offered $200 for the old car.  Yep, $200.  Dan suggested looking outside of Honda.

The next day, I drove my mom back to Dan again after work and they visited two more dealers.

Now there is something you should know about my husband.  Buying a car is a conquest for him.  He shops around.  He finds the best deal.  He scours the internet.  He walks into dealers knowing his stuff and usually with paperwork  from another dealer ready to compare and negotiate.

As the evening progressed, it seemed like a Ford was in her future.  However, they too, would not give her more than $200 for the trade-in.  And when Dan pulled out a printout from another dealer offering the same new car they were looking at for $1800 less, the dealer said there was no way.  It must be a student discount or something else for which we would not qualify.  They basically said we would drive an hour and a half to that dealer to find out it was some ploy and we wouldn’t be able to get the price advertised on the printout.

Dan and my mom left and we all continued to pray.  

And my God will supply all your needs

PROVISION

The next morning, Dan called the dealer that was offering the car for $1800 less.  Being about an hour and a half away, we were not going to make the drive to be surprised by extra fees.  The salesman assured us that there were no surprises.  It was indeed the amount on the printout and even had a couple extra features compared to the car my mom test drove the night before.

I had no restrictions on when I had to be back to pick up the kids because it just so happened that my kids were off of school that day.  So we piled in the car and headed to the distant dealer.  Meanwhile, we had the car towed to a local mechanic to get a quote on getting the car up and running.

Because of our pre-arrival conversations with the dealer, all the paperwork was ready.  My mom bought the car for $1800 less than the other dealership.  Worth the drive?  You bet!  God provided this car at an amazing discount and she drove it home.

But again, the story doesn’t end there.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably

 

EXCEEDINGLY & ABUNDANTLY

After we found out that the mechanic could fix the old car for $500, we decided to sell the car ourselves.  The question would be, could we clear enough to cover the repair?  With the dealers only offering a couple hundred dollars, what was the true value of the car?

We picked up the repaired Honda and my mom and Dan headed down to CarMax to sell the car.  I prayed.

I prayed for favor.  I prayed that the Lord would bless her exceedingly and abundantly over all we could think or imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21).  He had already shown us such favor and I prayed He would do it again.  I told my mom that I was praying for $2000, but would be happy with $1500.  Either amount would give her some money toward the new car.

It was a long couple hours.  I waited and watched my phone as I made the kids dinner that night.  We prayed together that God would bless Grandma and give her the perfect amount for her car.

I checked in with Dan to find out how the process was going.

Finally, my phone buzzed and I got this text message:

“God is good.  $2000 exact.”

Can you believe it?  I was so thankful.  Certainly, exceedingly and abundantly . . . and all over a car.  

Dear friend, what are you facing where you need God’s favor?  Pray for it.  Ask Him for it.  He cares most deeply for you.  If He was willing to give His son, Jesus, to die for your sin, will He not help you in all areas that you present to Him?

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave