Wednesday, October 31, 2018

My annual tradition of hiding in my house and turning out the lights

I dislike Halloween.

This is my annual rant. 

I confess: I stayed home from church--the dinner, class, Truck or Treat, the whole bit--because I didn't want to get out and almost run anyone down. It's so bad here in my town. If you don't almost run over people being less than wise, it's getting behind people who are less than wise with kids too old to be beginning for candy hanging off the back of a car or a trailer to get to neighborhoods outside their own. 

Dad needed to bring something over, and it's really dark over here. I had to turn on the light for him which was just inviting someone to knock on my door. I got after him for taking his sweet time getting over here and in. I think he almost ran over someone on his way home. 

At any rate, because I feel the need to share craft photos, these are are two-sided pumpkins. One side says, "Happy Halloween" or "rick or Treat" and the other has "Give Thanks" so that you can use it for two months/holidays. I guess the month count depends on how soon you start decorating for Halloween and for Christmas. It seems like everyone is starting to talk about decorating for Christmas beginning tomorrow.

I can assure you, if I get any decorating in this year, it's going to be a while before I get my start.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Darla Weaver shares a year in the life of her Old Order Mennonite Family

Author of Gathering of Sisters

Once a week Darla Weaver hitches up her spirited mare, bundles her children into the buggy, and drives six miles to the farm where she grew up. There she gathers with her four sisters and their children for a day with their mother. In Gathering of Sisters: A Year with My Old Order Mennonite Family (Herald Press), Weaver writes about her horse-and-buggy Mennonite family and the weekly women’s gatherings that keep them connected. On warm days, the children play and fish and build houses of hay in the barn. In the winter, everyone stays close to the woodstove, with puzzles and games and crocheting. No matter the weather, the Tuesday get-togethers of this Old Order Mennonite family keep them grounded and centered in their love for God and for each other, even when raising an occasional loving but knowing eyebrow at each other.

Over the twelve chapters of the book, Weaver shares the activities and time spent together spread over the twelve months of the year. Together the sisters cook, laugh over cooking disasters, share in the sewing, work in the gardens, swap books, work puzzles together and enjoy time as a family. She even shares some tried and true family recipes that didn’t “flop.”  The rest of the week is full of laundry, and errands, and work that never ends. But Tuesday is about being sisters, daughters, and mothers.

Q: Gathering of Sisters tells about getting together weekly with your mother and sisters. Tell us a little bit about your family.

There were five of us sisters, growing up together with our four little brothers in the white farmhouse our parents built. The nine of us kept this five-bedroom house brimming with life, and crowded with both happiness and some inevitable sadness. We did a lot of living and a lot of learning in that house.

And then we all grew up.

I was the first to leave. On a warm and sunshiny day in September 2000, after the leaves on the lofty silver maples had faded from summer-green and before they wore brightly flaming autumn shades, I was married to Laverne Weaver. It was the first wedding in that mellowing white house we all called home. Four more were to follow in the next several years. Except for my youngest brother, we’ve all left home. Most of us live close, but one brother lives in Alaska.

Q: Why did you decide to make an effort to get together once a week?

That left Tuesdays. Tuesday really was the perfect in-between sort of day to spend with Mom and my sisters. On Tuesday the five us sisters still come home. We pack up the children—all eighteen of them during summer vacation—and head to the farm.

We go early. I drive my spirited little mare, Charlotte, and she trots briskly along the six miles of winding country roads. Regina and Ida Mae live much closer. They married brothers, and their homes are directly across the fields from Dad and Mom’s farm. They usually bike, with children’s noses pressed against the bright mesh of the carts they tow behind their bicycles. Or they walk, pushing strollers over the back fields and up the lane. And Emily and Amanda, who also married brothers and live in neighboring houses about five miles away, come together with everyone crammed into one carriage.

Q: Do all the kids enjoy Tuesdays as well?

The children love Tuesdays. On warm days they play on the slide and the swings in the cool shade of the silver maples, jump on the trampoline, run through their grandpa’s three greenhouses, ride along on the wagon going to the fields where produce by the bushels and bins is hauled to the packing shed. They build hay houses in the barn and explore the creek. The boys take poles and hooks and bait and spend hours fishing and playing in the small creek that flows beneath the lane and through the thickets beside the pasture fence. They catch dozens of tiny blue gills and northern creek chubbs, most of which they release back into the water hole, a deep pool that yawns at the mouth of a large culvert, to be caught again next week. They work too, at mowing lawn, raking, lugging flower pots around, or anything else that Grandma needs them to do, but most often Tuesdays on Grandpa’s farm are play days.

Q: What do you do when you are all gathered together?

Every day is different, yet every Tuesday follows a predictable pattern that varies with the seasons. Winter finds us inside, close to the warmth humming from the woodstove, absorbed in wintertime pursuits which include card-making, crocheting, sewing, puzzles—jigsaw, crossword, sudoku—and reading books and magazines. But as soon as spring colors the buds of the maples with a reddish tinge, we spend more time outside. The greenhouses are loaded with plants, the flowerbeds full of unfurling perennials, and the grass is greening in the yard again.

In summer, while the garden and fields burst with produce, the breezy shade of the front porch calls. It wraps around two sides of the house and is full of Mom’s potted plants and porch furniture. We sit there to shell peas, husk corn, or just sip a cold drink and cool off after a warm stroll through the flowers.

Then autumn echoes through the country, the leaves flame and fall, and we rake them up—millions of leaves. Where we rake one Tuesday is covered again by the next, until at last the towering maples stand disrobed of leaves, their amazing seventy-foot branches a wavering fretwork against a sky that is sullen with winter once more.

Q: How did your sisters react to the news about you writing this book?

The initial reactions varied.

“I suppose you would change all our names,” Mom said after a while.

That was a new thought for me, and one I didn’t want to con­sider. “Oh, no, that would be much too hard. We would just use every­ one’s real name.” Merely the thought of renaming eighteen children exhausted me.

“Oh, yes, I won’t write anything you wouldn’t like,” I promised.

“She will still have to claim us as sisters,” Regina points out, as usual finding a positive angle to the topic. “She won’t make us sound too odd or ornery or anything.”

Regina’s oldest daughter, Jerelyn, who at fourteen has graduated from eighth grade and is again spending Tuesdays with us, considered staying home for the entire next year to keep her name out of the book. But on a whole, no one really objected. Like Laverne and our children, Mom and my sisters are almost used to my compulsive scribbling. Almost.

About the Author

Darla Weaver is a homemaker, gardener, writer and Old Order Mennonite living in the hills of southern Ohio. She is the author of Water My Soul, Many Lighted Windows and Gathering of Sisters. Weaver has written for Family Life, Ladies Journal, Young Companion, and other magazines for Amish and Old Order Mennonite groups. Before her three children were born she also taught school. Her hobbies are gardening and writing.

Monday, October 29, 2018

It began with a lost goat

With Christianity under attack in contemporary Western culture and the validity of the Bible repeatedly challenged, The Word: The History of the Bible and How it Came to Us offers a fresh and fascinating history of the Book of Books – which billions of believers through the ages have embraced as the Word of God.
With the same compelling narrative writing and in-depth research that has earned him acclaim for his works on the Holocaust, the Civil War, the faith of America’s founders, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the American Revolution, and other historical topics, award-winning author and historian Rod Gragg now focuses on the history of the Bible. And he does so with the practiced craft of a historian and the respect of a believer who adheres to the complete and absolute inspiration of Scripture.
The Word provides a sweeping panorama of biblical revelation, preservation and transmission—and the background story of those who devoted their lives – and sometimes suffered death – to translate and transmit the Word of God. In the process, this highly readable narrative likewise follows the history of Christianity and unfolds its unforgettable story with a writing style aimed at the general reader and a level of scholarship that will appeal to history-lovers and serious students of the Bible. A truly unique history of the world’s most popular book, The Word is perfectly suited “for such a time as this.”

The Old Testament
Excerpt adapted from The Word by Rod Gragg ©2018 by WND Books.

Then the Lord said . . . “Write down these words . . .” 
—EXODUS 34:27

The yawning mouth of an isolated cave opens to a vista of the Dead Sea in modern Israel. In 1947, a Bedouin goat-herder dared to go inside Qumran Cave 1, and discovered a biblical treasure—the Dead Sea Scrolls. Source: Library of Congress.
In 1947, three young Arab Bedouin goatherders were searching for strays from their herd among the rugged cliffs near Wadi Qumran, which was located about a mile northwest of the Dead Sea in what is now modern Israel. They approached the entrance to a remote cave, reportedly tossed a rock into the darkness, and heard the clatter of breaking pottery. Later, one of them—Muhammad adh-Dhib—returned to the cave and edged inside, hoping to find hidden treasure. Instead, he discovered a cache of large, cylindrical earthenware jars, which contained “some smelly parchments.” The parchments proved to be treasure of another sort: Muhammad and his companions had discovered what became known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, which have been called “the greatest manuscript discovery of modern times.”

From the cave, the boys removed seven scrolls, which made their way to a Bethlehem antiques dealer, and from there to a professor from Hebrew University and an official of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem. For a while, no one seemed to realize the significance of the discovery—on a trip to New York City, the church official even tried to sell his scrolls through an ad in the Wall Street Journal, which read, “Biblical Manuscripts dating back to at least 200 BC are for sale. This would be an ideal gift to an educational or religious institution by an individual or group.”


Soon afterwards, the importance of the scrolls was recognized by the international scholarly community, religious leaders, and the news media. Soon archaeological expeditions were at work in the Qumran caves—along with more than a few Bedouin entrepreneurs. More discoveries were made in other caves—more by the Bedouins than the archaeologists—and an extraordinary horde of manuscripts was uncovered by 1956, with more caves discovered in 2017. The manuscripts may have belonged to a nearby settlement of the Essenes or another sect, and were hidden in the caves to save them from the invading Roman army during the Jewish war of AD 66–70. Or, they may have been a library. Some speculated that they may have been the library from the second temple in Jerusalem—moved for safekeeping from pillaging Roman troops. The arid conditions of the Dead Sea region perhaps allowed the scrolls to remain exceptionally well-preserved. Eventually, twelve caves yielded almost a thousand manuscripts, including tens of thousands of ancient parchment fragments, numerous examples of secular and apocryphal works, and portions of every Old Testament book except Esther. The Old Testament books date from what is known as the Second Temple period—from five hundred years before Christ to AD 70, when Roman troops destroyed the temple. Although scroll fragments are found in museums around the world, almost all of the Dead Sea Scrolls collection is now owned by the State of Israel, and is preserved and displayed in a wing of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem called the Shrine of the Book.

Since their discovery, the Dead Sea Scrolls have been the focus of continuous study and debate. “Few documents have been more intensively studied, and, indeed, more recklessly interpreted,” observed Edward M. Blaiklock, a twentieth-century classic and biblical scholar. Critics of Christianity rushed to find ammunition to attack the Bible and the faith. The Dead Sea Scrolls posed “a challenge to the Church far greater than was ever presented by Darwin’s theory of evolution,” proclaimed one critic. However, after more than a half century of investigation—scholarly and otherwise—the Dead Sea Scrolls have instead reinforced the authenticity of the Scriptures. The Old Testament scrolls underscored the credibility of modern English translations based on the Septuagint, the Masoretic texts and other ancient sources. Various minor textual questions were resolved from comparison with the Dead Sea Scroll texts, and understanding of the Old Testament text and the New Testament era were both sharpened. The official commentary from an exhibit on the Dead Sea Scrolls in the U.S. Library of Congress in the twenty-first century aptly summarized their value:

The Dead Sea Scrolls, which date back to the events described in the New Testament, have added to our understanding of the Jewish background of Christianity. The fact that they survived for twenty centuries, that they were found accidentally by Bedouin shepherds, that they are the largest and oldest body of manuscripts relating to the Bible and to the time of Jesus of Nazareth make them a truly remarkable archaeological find.

Learn more about The Word at

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Lord's Army

This is the song you make kids sing to get their wiggle energy out. They need to march around the building, not just the table.

The Lord’s Army

I may never march in the infantry,
Ride in the cavalry,
Shoot the artillery.
I may never fly o’er the enemy,
But I’m in the Lord’s Army!
Yes, sir!

I’m in the Lord’s Army!
Yes, sir!
I’m in the Lord’s Army!
Yes, sir!

I may never march in the infantry,
Ride in the cavalry,
Shoot the artillery.
I may never fly o’er the enemy,
But I’m in the Lord’s Army!
Yes, sir!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

I added a new Seuss quote in this week

As predicted, I'm having a really hard time keeping caught up with Dr. Seuss canvases. I sold out last weekend, and sold 3/5 today at a show that was very small. 

I did add in a new quote for my latest batch. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

A Stress Test for Moms

Part 2 of an interview with Debora M. Coty,
Author of Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms

No one is immune to stress, least of all moms. That’s why Debora M. Coty, author of the best-selling Too Blessed to be Stressed series decided it was time to write an edition specifically addressing the stresses and needs in the daily life of moms. In Too Blessed to be Stressed for Moms (Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Publishing), Coty offers empathy, laughs, real-life stories, practical parenting survival tips, and fresh biblical insights to help frazzled moms of all ages hear God’s still, small voice through life’s chaos.

Q: When your kids were young, what were some of the biggest stressors for you as a mom?

One of my most niggling pet peeves is depicted in this little song I wrote one night while staring at the minefield that was my kitchen floor. It’s sung to the tune of “Three Blind Mice.” Go ahead — sing along. Then just try to stop.

“Chunks” by Debora Coty, lyricist extraordinaire

Chunks, chunks, chunks;
I’m standing in the chunks.
Chunks, chunks, chunks,
Everywhere there’s chunks …
Bananas and crackers and pizza hunks,
They’re gooey and sticky and oh so plump;
Can’t tell if they’re from Junior’s mouth or his rump,
These chunks, chunks, chunks;
Chunks, chunks, chunks.

What can I say? It’s not Taylor Swift … but give her a few years.

Q: How do the “shoulds” in a mom’s life cause her more stress? Where does the pressure come from, and how can a mom learn to turn off the pressure valve?

Should is a dangerous word. It’s a stress-filled, pressure-packed slave driver. It ruthlessly inflates the bulk of a mother’s to-do list, often crowding out healthy sanity-essentials with guilt-induced clutter:
·         I should go to that parents’ meeting.
·         I should make the time to bake brownies for my new neighbor.
·         My mother thinks I should cook a big dinner every night like she did.
·         I should clean my house, so the kids will stop writing notes in the dust.
·         I should do more … help more … be more.

But as every mother knows, more isn’t always better. Sometimes it’s just overwhelming. You know, we can be whelmed without being overwhelmed. Whelmed is livable; overwhelmed is strangling.                 We just need to recognize that we truly do have the power to choose which shoulds are potential coulds, then unapologetically embrace the woman our choices make us.

Here are a few suggestions to morph performance pressure from strangling to livable:

1.       Be stress smart. When you’re slammed into a stress mess, take a mom’s time-out. Sit down with a cup of hot tea … close your eyes … tune into Papa God’s heartbeat … feel His peace that surpasses all understanding. Slap guilt to the curb when the tyranny of the urgent attacks; you are important. Everything else can wait a few minutes. I promise you the world will not end while you regroup.

2.       Avoid BOOP (Boiling Oatmeal Overflow Phenomenon). I believe women are like pots of oatmeal; at the beginning of the day, we simmer — little manageable bubbles of stress rise to the surface and harmlessly pop. However, as the day progresses, the heat escalates and the oatmeal boils higher and wilder and meaner until it overflows and spoils everything around it with a nasty, ugly, sticky mess. The key to avoiding BOOP is knowing when to remove the pot from the burner.

3.       Be a dipstick. The Lord puts only enough fuel in your daily tank for you to arrive safely at the destination He routed out for you. All the detours you add will either run you out of gas or land you in a ditch. Check your tank, review your destination, and then engage in the Three Ps: Prioritize, Plan, and Pace yourself.

Q: Why is it so important for a mom to put away her to-do list on occasion and take time for herself? How does this benefit the family as a whole?

The old saying is spot-on: When Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

Q: We live in a world where we are constantly attached to our electronics. How does being so dependent on electronics as adults influence the physical, social, emotional and spiritual health of the children?

Because of our own excessive use of electronic devices in our quest to stay connected, we moms may become unavailable to attend to subtle developmental needs of our children. We’re so preoccupied we assume they’ll somehow figure it out on their own. But it just doesn’t work that way. If we want our offspring to learn crucial life skills in order to become successful adults, we have to intentionally intervene.

Physical: Advances in technology have produced a generation of stagnant kids cemented to their (or their parents’) e-devices. Without the stimulation provided by physical activity (play) that helps develop gross motor coordination, improves nervous system function, builds muscle strength, increases stamina, burns excess energy, and controls weight, we end up with a bunch of tech-savvy marshmallows. Smart, but weak and fluffy. To balance the deficit, arrange physical activity for your child at least three times weekly. If you can coordinate play time with other moms and kids, you’ll earn bonus points in social and emotional development too.

Social: Chronic use of e-games, mind-numbing movies, and addictive social media produces kids who haven’t a clue how to get along with others, show respect, share, be a gracious winner or loser, use good manners, or fulfill the biblical mandate to build others up (“Encourage one another and build each other up,” 1 Thes 5:11, NIV). The best way to equip your child with lifetime socialization skills is to spend face time together, and I don’t mean the electronic kind. Eat meals together as a family, have tickle fests, pillow fights, silly-string wars, designate a weekly family night and play interactive games like old fashioned board games, cards, and outdoor flashlight Olympics. Do something fun together; laugh! Make these happy romps a loving demonstration of how to honor Christ through interaction with others.

Emotional: In this age of constant electronic bombardment of bright lights and loud noise, it’s important that we teach our kids to cultivate silence, productively fill their “boring” downtimes, learn to wait, endure delayed gratification, live in their own thoughts, problem-solve, nurture ideas, and hammer out personal beliefs — all necessary skills for functioning in the real world. We can start preparing our young children to creatively and productively cope with downtime. Delayed gratification can be taught by helping your child set goals and work toward them (i.e. saving money for a new bike or incrementally acquiring skills that take time to master, such as piano) and by scheduling snack times so they don’t graze at will. These are proactive ways to teach patience and self-control. You’re also preparing your offspring for future workplace marketability and coaching them to be financially responsible and live within a budget.

Spiritual: We moms are more than willing to storm the fiery gates of hell to remind the hot mess with the proverbial pitchfork who are children really belong to. But the best way to storm the gates of hell is to storm the gates of heaven. And which petitions could be more effective than those in the Word ordained by the Creator of the universe? “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12, NKJV). So I recommend pouring God’s own Word over your children by the use of Hot Fudge Verses, scriptures tailored as personalized prayers for each specific child. For example: Psalm 3:3 (NIV): “You are a shield around [child’s name]_______, O Lord; bestow glory on him/her [choose one] and lift up his/her head.”

Q: What advice do you have for letting go of Mom-Guilt?

Shame and blame can weigh us down like a suitcase full of rocks. How do we unload? Here are some ideas:

·         Buddy up. Recognize that you’re not the only one lugging those overloaded bags around the airport. Find or form a Bible study or support group of sister-moms; you don’t have to navigate this journey alone. “Resist him [Satan], standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers [and sisters] throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Peter 5:9, NIV).

·         Label your baggage, then lose it. Mom-guilt has many subgroups: nursing versus non, working versus stay-at-home, daycare choice, mode of discipline, DIY remorse, Pinterest inadequacy, birthday party inferiority, pressure to join, to name a few. We even view our child’s sports performance and academic achievement as reflections of our mothering. So, give it some thought. What is the source of your nagging guilt? Own it. Ask forgiveness, if need be. Then drop it. Now leave it down there; do NOT pick it back up. Trust that Papa God can and will redeem your poor mom-choices. It’s called grace. “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast: (1 Peter 5:10, NIV).

·         Shake the mental Etch-a-Sketch. So, you screwed up. Again. Who said you have to be Supermom to prove your worth? Certainly not Papa God — He doesn’t ask for perfection; He asks for humility. And if you’ve been a mom more than one day, you’ve got plenty of that. Don’t let the mistakes of yesterday ruin today. You get to start over! “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is” (Romans 12:2, NLT).

Q: What other books and companion releases are available in the Too Blessed to be Stressed product line?

More than a half-million copies have been sold in the Too Blessed to be Stressed line, and more creative products are coming out every year in bookstores and online (outlets such as Amazon and CBD); even in many grocery stores, airports, and department stores. In addition to the original book, a few of the items are:

·         The award-winning 365-day devotional, Too Blessed to be Stressed: Inspiration for Every Day.
·         Too Blessed to be Stressed 3-Minute Devotions for Women offers short, pithy snippets for women on the go to start the day out with Papa God.
·         The Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook offers more than 100 stress-free recipes, each requiring less than 20 minutes’ hands-on prep.
·         There is a Too Blessed to be Stressed Coloring Book with beautiful images and inspiring scripture to enable you to color your way to calm.
·         Each year there is a new edition of the Too Blessed to be Stressed Planner. It is a purse-sized planner and chockfull of daily encouragement. It is absolutely adorable!

Some of these items are available in Spanish, and even Portuguese. You can find out more about them on my website.

Readers can connect with Debora Coty via her website,, or on Facebook (AuthorDeboraCoty), Twitter (DeboraCoty) and Instagram (DeboraCoty).

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Special orders from this week

Last weekend, we received a couple of special orders. First up: theater masks. Here's my take on comedy and drama. They looked better in better light and dusted off. I think Dad has a better picture.

We didn't have enough college options to cover everyone, so we made up a couple of Angelo State University signs for an order. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Real Change: Becoming More Like Jesus in Everyday Life

Equipping Churches to Understand the Process
of Biblical Change and How to Engage in It
By encouraging Christians to adopt a biblical,
accessible, and practical approach to change,
Christian communities can experience real, spiritual fruit.

Every Christian wrestles with the need for change, and all have hearts that go astray. However, it can be challenging to understand and apply a biblical view of change to our everyday thoughts, feelings, actions, and relationships. God promises to change us to become more like Jesus, but what does that look like? How does this transformation make life and relationships truly beautiful, and how do we have honest discussions about our own struggles in light of how Christ brings comfort, help, and change?

Real Change: Becoming More Like Jesus in Everyday Life (New Growth Press/October 22, 2018), edited by Andrew Nicholls and Helen Throne through the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF), is a six-week, Bible-centered course for church groups and discipleship programs, introducing a simple model for understanding how God changes us to become more like Jesus. Based on the CCEF model of change from David Powlison’s course “Dynamics of Biblical Change,” readers will explore how they can grow to be like Christ in the hardest circumstances through Leader’s notes, Bible study sessions, pointed questions for discussion, and a “self-counseling project” for personal reflection or peer discussion.

“Most of us know there are things in our lives that could helpfully change,” says coeditor Helen Thorne. “But many of us don’t have a Jesus-centered model for working that change through. All too often, even as Christians, we simply try to work on our behavior without looking at what is going on in our hearts. This course helps us join the dots between our hearts and our actions and looks at the true hope Christ brings.”

Coeditor Andrew Nicholls adds that this Jesus-centered model is crucial for the life and growth of the church. “This kind of thinking and praying is meant to be a normal part of church life. As we freshly experience God’s love and grace for our sin, our desires for ourselves pale beside a growing, godly ambition to be like Christ.”

The course is designed for readers to participate in ninety-minute group sessions and, ideally, an hour of personal study. While the study material is designed for use within small groups, it can be used for one-to-one discipleship study as well. No matter the context in which the course is used, Real Change is a flexible course intended for any individual or group of Christians wanting to become more like Jesus. “We’ve seen leaders get together and help [teams] be accountable to one another and provide a framework for training in pastoral care. And we’ve used it in one-to-one settings as the basis of discussions with someone who is wrestling with personal struggles,” Thorne explains.

As Thorne shares, it is important to talk about personal change in a group setting. “As Christians, we are called to be people who share lives and enjoy spurring each other on to increasing Christlikeness. It can be tempting to only share our strengths, but there is something beautiful about working on our weaknesses together. This course doesn’t force people to share more than they are comfortable with, but it helps churches become ever more communities of change as Ephesians/Colossians encourages us to be.”

Nicholls expands on why it’s important to think about biblical change as something God brings. “God is not reluctant to change his children. God knows what it’s like to be me and you, so he both meets us in our situation and rescues us from it. If we think we’re generally fine, then it can be hard to understand why we behave as we do.”

The process of change is often slow, and the course certainly doesn’t promise dramatic transformation in readers’ lives in six weeks. However, Real Change introduces people to the process of change, and it encourages people to engage in it. Over time, both editors are confident this will produce real, spiritual fruit, which is up to God.

About the editors:

Andrew Nicholls, MA, MB, BChir, is a former doctor and pastor who is now Director of Pastoral Care at Oak Hill Theological College, London. He is married to Hilary and they have two children.

Helen Thorne, BSc(Hons), MA is the Director of Training and Mentoring at London City Mission. She is a trustee of Biblical Counselling UK and involved in pastoral care within her local church. She is an experienced speaker and author of Purity Is Possible, 5 Things to Pray for Your City and Walking with Domestic Abuse Sufferers.

New Growth Press publishes gospel-centered Christian books, small group, and children’s Bible resources for discipleship, biblical counseling, and missional ministry. For more information about Real Change: Becoming More Like Jesus in Everyday Life and other releases from New Growth Press, visit

Real Change: Becoming More Like Jesus in Everyday Life
Edited by Andrew Nicholls and Helen Thorne
October 22, 2018 / Retail Price: $12.99
Print ISBN 978-1-948130, e-Book ISBN 978-1-948130-04-2
RELIGION/Christian Ministry/Counseling & Recovery

Monday, October 22, 2018

Boxing and Golf

Because if we get more than one request, and we find shapes in Canton when we go digging for new stuff at Build-a-Cross, we do new things. We've added boxing and golf quotes to our sports wall this fall.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The B-I-B-L-E


The B-I-B-L-E
Yes, that’s the book for me
I stand alone on the Word of God
The B-I-B-L-E

Saturday, October 20, 2018

New options on the sports wall

Because I get tired of doing the same quotes all the time ("Be the one everyone wants to watch, but no one wants to play against" for example), I decided to mix it up a little bit. Actually, the hockey quotes are the same I've been doing, but had a hockey player to add this time. And yes, we sell hockey signs.


Friday, October 19, 2018

Living out a hope that is greater than our dreams

Author of Buried Dreams

Lindsey R. Dennis and her husband, Kevin, had only been married a few months when they found out they were pregnant. Excited and hopeful about the new life she was carrying and the future of their family, they were devastated to learn at their 20-week ultrasound that the baby would not live due to a fatal diagnosis. They would relive their grief again as they buried their second daughter fourteen months after their first. In Buried Dreams: From Devastating Lost to Unimaginable Hope (Abingdon Press), Dennis shares not only her story of grief and loss, but how to live out a hope that is greater than our dreams.

Q: In Buried Dreams, you share about the loss of your two daughters who each only lived a few hours after their births. Why did you decide to write a book about such personal and difficult losses?

I talk to many people who are struggling to know how to walk through the disappointment that has unfolded in their lives, the buried dreams, the loss and pain, and I wanted them to know how hope can rise from even the darkest seasons. I want the reader to see how these dark seasons are instruments in the hand of God to produce in us the hope that doesn’t disappoint. I want others to know this hope and how to persevere in the midst of great pain. And I simply wanted to tell the story of God’s worthiness and faithfulness to us during deep suffering.

Q: You and your husband had been married less than a year when found out you were expecting your first child. What were some of the hopes and dreams you had for your family? What were you most looking forward to about motherhood?

Being older, we were both eager to start a family, and personally, I had always dreamed of having 4 kids. I come from a big family with 3 younger siblings and was excited about the possibility of our family being a big family. Kevin was excited to be a dad, and every kid he meets falls in love with him. I felt ready for a new season of motherhood. In fact, I had it all planned out in my head. We would get pregnant within the first year and then a year after we had that baby try for another and so on and so on. I knew it probably wouldn’t play out the way I imagined, but I still was hoping that would be our reality. I was just looking forward to becoming a mom, having little babies in tow and getting to spend my days caring for them.

Q: Can you share a little about each of your pregnancies? When did you find out about Sophie and Dasah’s respective conditions?

Initially, when we found out we were pregnant with Sophie we experienced a blissful naivety, simply in shock and wonder that we were able to get pregnant so quickly. I was still nervous about having a miscarriage until the 12-week mark passed, then I just assumed nothing else would go wrong. Though I knew there were no guarantees, based on friends of ours who had either lost children or had serious things happen, I didn’t think that would happen to us. We went in to a routine ultrasound at 20 weeks and that is when we found out Sophie’s condition. It was shocking and devastating. Yet only 6 months into marriage and still in wonder at God’s provision of each other, we immediately clung to God’s goodness, trusting He knew how He would walk us through this journey. Our community rallied around us and began to help us celebrate every week that Sophie was alive in my womb, from supplies to make cookies with her to being serenaded on stage by 98° in front of over 15,000 people, every week Sophie was celebrated. It was a painful yet beautiful and celebratory season of cherishing Sophie’s life and inviting others into that.

After Sophie passed away, though still grieving, we were eager to try to get pregnant again. None of our doctors or genetic counselors thought the same thing would happen again, but now our eyes were opened to a whole world of infant loss and all the other things that could go wrong. It was as if I had lost the innocence of pregnancy. I was filled with the struggle of fear and trust in carrying this baby, wondering if he or she would make it. When we walked into our 12-week appointment with Dasah to find out if she had the same condition as Sophie, we were nervous, but hopeful. When our doctor told us she had similar condition, it was as if the whole world crashed around us. I felt as though I couldn’t breathe and that I wouldn’t survive this. In some ways, it felt as though God had abandoned us. This time we didn’t have the same reserves as we did when walking into Sophie’s story. We were still weary in grief and aware of the randomness of suffering. Our community still surrounded us, planning an epic gender reveal party, having a card of encouragement for us every day until Dasah’s arrival, and rallying around us in prayer. However, it was a much lonelier and darker experience. The weight of walking through another loss was heavy, and the hope we could have more biological children seemed broken in two. Not knowing what “family” would mean for us in the future, we decided to have family time each week, doing more normal things to just enjoy being a family and celebrate her life.

Q: How did you cope with knowing you would be carrying a baby for several more months that wasn’t expected to live beyond her birth? How much harder was it for you to go through a similar experience the second time?

I decided to start writing about our journey online and that became an outlet for me to process my pain and speak truth to myself (that I would so easily forget in the midst of my sadness). I found stories on blogs and Facebook pages of others’ stories and ultimately found refuge in God’s word. It was a daily, moment-by-moment battle, and each day brought its own joy and pain. I had to take it a day at a time because if I got ahead of myself or tried to imagine what it would be like to say hello and goodbye to this sweet baby that I was growing to love more day-by-day, I felt I would collapse. I had to trust God would give me strength for the moments He was asking me to walk through now and would ask me to walk through later.

Walking through it a second time was excruciatingly worse. I really didn’t think I could feel any greater pain than what I felt the first time, but I did. Now I knew what it was like to watch my child die, to have to say goodbye to her, and then bury her. The unknowns of what it would be like with Sophie elicited fear but kept some of the pain at bay because I didn’t know what to expect. But I knew with Dasah and it was so hard to keep trusting in God’s grace each day, wondering if the same grace that held us when we said goodbye to Sophie would be there with Dasah.

Writing about Dasah’s story/birth and what followed was quite emotional. I wanted to really be authentic with my readers and go back and relive those moments, even the most painful ones to give truest view I could of how I was experiencing those times. In return, a lot of fresh grief surfaced. Dasah’s story has and continues to be the more difficult chapters of my story to trust God with and you can very obviously see that struggle as I wrote her story.

Q: When you became pregnant for the second time, did the doctors expect the baby to have a similar diagnosis? Were there risk factors or genetics that played a factor in their development?

There really is little research done on Anencephaly and Acrania, and at this time, there is no known gene that causes it. There are some risk factors doctors have identified that may increase the chances of having a child with a neural tube defect, but even those risk factors aren’t conclusive. Neither Kevin or I carried any of the risk factors, so the doctors had no reason to believe it would happen again. In fact, most women who have this happen go on to have (or already have) healthy children. The greatest risk factor for neural tube defects is folic acid deficiency. With Sophie I was not on a high dosage of folic acid, but with Dasah, I was. There is some debate over the type of folic acid to take, but regardless, with both of them my folate levels were normal, so the doctors don’t know what happened to cause their skulls and brains not to form.

Q: Who did you write the book for? Will only those who have lost a child find comfort and hope from reading Buried Dreams?

While my story is a story of losing two children, and more specifically carrying two babies, each with a fatal diagnosis to term, I think this book is both for women who are walking a similar path, but more broadly any woman who has had to bury a dream. That dream may quite literally be in the death of a loved one, or it could be the loss of a marriage, career or any hope for the future. We live in a culture that says, “Keep dreams alive, don’t stop dreaming,” but the reality is that some of our dreams do die, so what are we to do when that happens? How do we ultimately hope for something greater than temporal dreams? This book is for anyone wondering if there truly is a hope that doesn’t disappoint and wants to know how to have that hope.

Q: What is it like to look back at what God has done in those three years of your life and where are you now? How has God been faithful to grow your family in the past few years?

I’m in awe and challenged to remember that there are new seasons of waiting, surrender and even suffering that God is asking me to walk in. They are different then a couple of years ago, but God is rooting the same truths more deeply into my heart. I pray my hope is so much more firmly rooted in Him in 40 years than today. I pray each year He would become more unimaginable and glorious to me. I don’t want to miss what He’s doing to draw me closer to Himself in whatever circumstance He asks me to walk through both now and in years to come.

Today, it’s been more than five years since our journey with loss and grief began. After we lost Dasah, we knew that we weren’t ready to take the risk to become pregnant again. We didn’t know if we ever would be. However, we had always known adoption would be in our story at some point. And like most families, adoption didn’t enter our story the way we thought it would. We began the process of adoption a few months after Dasah’s death, and a year later our son, Jaden, was born and his birth mother choose us to be his parents. Jaden has been the sweetest gift in our lives and brought such joy and life!

After his first birthday we began the conversation of whether or not we would try to get pregnant again. At this point we had done a lot more genetic testing and tried to find something conclusive to base our decision on. At the end of the day, there was nothing conclusive, and we had to take a step of faith one way or another. I was full of fear of walking through loss a third time, but long ago I decided not to make decisions out of fear. Eventually, I realized I might regret not trying again, and when I look at Sophie and Dasah’s lives, I have zero regret about carrying and birthing them. I knew I wouldn’t regret carrying another child that had the same condition if that happened.

We decided to try again and just two months ago on July 2, 2018 Briella Dawn came into the world, fully alive and healthy. Finding out she didn’t have the same condition as her sisters was a different kind of shock, and it was different to navigate pregnancy with a child who could live. We are so grateful for each of the children God has given us so far. Although we can’t understand God’s ways and wish all four of our children were here, we realize that neither of our children would be here without the child that came before them. Our family hasn’t formed how we thought it would, but each of the children He has given us has molded and shaped our family to be one that I hope looks more like Jesus and reflects His heart, glory and worthiness of our lives to whoever is watching.