Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Win a copy of Tiffany Bluhm's She Dreams

Scroll down to enter!
For the next two weeks, my blog team will be reviewing She Dreams by Tiffany Bluhm, published by Abingdon Press. Learn more about the book, then enter to win a copy of your own. I'm giving away a book at the end of the tour. 

About the book:

Say yes to the dreams God has planted in your heart. 

Every woman was born to dream—to live a life of beauty, passion, adventure, and purpose. No matter how big or how small they are, our dreams push us to become women of courage, grace, and grit. God in His goodness breathes new dreams within our hearts and revives the dreams that have died, inviting us to trust Him as we dream impossible dreams that only He can bring to pass—because God not only gives dreams; He fulfills them.

In this six-week study we will look at Moses’ journey to live out the God-sized dream given to him, exposing the ancient wisdom and truth God offers for every woman with a dream beating in her heart. With timely truth and encouraging accounts of God’s heart and hand in the life of Moses as well as in the lives of ordinary women, author Tiffany Bluhm will dare you to dream the impossible dreams the Lord is stirring in your heart, reclaim any broken dreams, and trust God for the victory. Throughout the study you will identify:

- The role of prayer as you grow into your dreams.
- The importance of obedience as you pursue what God has for you.
- Why your dreams are a blessing not only to you but also to others.
- How your failures can be a gift that help your dreams become a reality.
- The life-changing love, power, and wisdom of the Dream Giver.

Get ready to discover the role you are designed and destined to play as you partner with God for the impossible!

In addition to the book, there is a Bible study guide with leader helps and DVD available.

About the author:

Tiffany Bluhm, author of the She Dreams trade book and Bible study, is a speaker and writer who is passionate about helping women come to know their value and purpose because of a loving, redeeming God. In a style that speaks to women right where they are, she shares insights from a life spent chasing after Jesus while walking alongside women from suburbia to the inner city, jails and brothels, and the slums of Kolkata. Tiffany speaks regularly at conferences and events, and writes for a number of websites, print publications, and popular blogs, including the YouVersion Bible app, Deeply Rooted Magazine, and ScaryMommy.com. She lives in Tacoma, Washington, with her husband and two sons, and blogs at TiffanyBluhm.com.

Learn more at www.SheDreamsBook.comShe is also active on Facebook (@TiffanyABluhm) and Twitter (@TiffanyBluhm)

Monday, April 29, 2019

There's a reason why we don't do outdoor events

Last week I worked on canvases for Derrick Days here in Corsicana this past weekend. I added a new quote from Dr. Seuss into my collection. 

This was going to be the only spring event we did since it was home (we're going to try one more this coming weekend). It's the only outdoor event we ever do, and this weekend was a good example as to why.

When we unloaded, Dad wasn't going to get out the weights at first. "I don't know if we'll need them," he said. I said that I thought we need some kind of weights. So we got the flat weights. During set up, some of our stuff was blowing terribly bad. Whole displays were falling over. The tent was blowing up. Dad had to go for the cinder blocks. 

The booths across the street had to give up on their tents. 

Even with the cinder blocks, we were having to zip tie everything in place and hold down the tents in gusts of wind. Dad was about ready to pack it up and go home. We finally had to take the covers off the top of the tents to so the wind wouldn't try to carry them away. We had to put up part of our merchandise that usually sells well. 

We did ok, but not as good as we might have if we got to put out the merchandise we wanted to. There was a lot we couldn't get out.

Dad says this was probably the last year of Derrick Days. It's horrible to have to depend on the weather.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

We Are One in the Spirit

Another throwback video until my turn to teach again next week. Yeah, all these kids are definitely taller than me now.

We are One in the Spirit

By Peter Scholtes
Used by permission. CCLI # 1132191

We are one in the Spirit,
We are one in the Lord,
We are one in the Spirit,
We are one in the Lord,
And we pray that our unity
Will one day be restored,

And they’ll know we are Christians
By our love, by our love,
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians,
By our love.

We will walk with each other,
We will walk hand in hand,
We will walk with each other,
We will walk hand in hand,
And together we’ll spread the news
That God is in our land… (chorus)

We will work with each other,
We will work side by side,
We will work with each other,
We will work side by side.
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity
And save each man’s pride… (chorus)

All praise to the Father
From whom all things come,
And all praise to Christ Jesus,
His only son, And all praise to the Spirit
Who makes us one… (chorus)

Saturday, April 27, 2019

And just like that, softball season has come to an end

After the Mildred Lady Eagles won district, we really believed they would go far in the playoffs. The first round was this week.

The bi-district rounded started Wednesday night in Waco. It rained and poured all day long. My parents and I thought there would be no way they could play. I texted Peyton at one point. The game originally was supposed to play at 6:00 (I think). Then, the game got pushed to 7:30 PM. Peyton said that if the rain was supposed to end at 8:00, they might be able to start at 10:00 and get the game in by midnight.

I knew that I would have to drive over there, and I hate to drive in the rain. I really thought the rain was over the roads. We decided to play it safe and stay home. I kept checking with Mom and Dad to make sure this was our plan. About 11 PM, I saw a post that they had played and lost. And I saw the picture above. Peyton (on the right) hit her first high school over-the-fence home run, and I missed it. I was so mad at myself. I couldn't believe I missed it.

On Thursday morning, I called to break the news to my parents, feeling guilty because I didn't want to drive over there.

It was a best of three series, so it was back on Thursday night. All of the parents and grandparents from our team pointed out how we missed it. It turns out the rain stopped right about game time and they got to start just a little later than planned. It was an all turf field, the only way they could have played.

In a close game where we led (barely) the whole game, we lost in the last inning. Like that, softball for the season came to an end way too soon.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Looking for blog reviewers for Between Us Guys


Between Us Guys:
Life-Changing Conversations for Dads and Sons

By Joel Fitzpatrick

Click here to request a copy.
By signing up to receive this book, you are agreeing to:
1. Post a review on your blog or website within 30 days of receiving the book.
2. Post your review on the New Growth Press website as well as other consumer websites (Amazon, GoodReads, etc.)
3. Share your review via your social media accounts.
4. Email your review link to audra@newgrowthpress.com so that we can share your review via our social media accounts as well. 

About the book

New book provides fathers with tools to have gospel-centered conversations with their sons about every aspect of life.
This easy-to-use, life-changing book for fathers and sons gives readers the tools to have important conversations with boys about life, faith, and being a man. With a conversational and captivating tone, fathers and other caregivers are guided into having gospel-focused conversations with boys about a wide range of topics from social justice and friendships to money, anger, and more.
Dads are given an incredible opportunity to be one of the primary influences in their children’s lives for the gospel. By inviting conversations in every arena of life, fathers pass down the message of Christ to the next generation. As a youth and family pastor and father to a young boy who’s entered into many of these conversations, Joel Fitzpatrick knows it’s important not to shy away from difficult subjects.
But he also knows dads and other caregivers need help in how to have intentional conversations with boys about God, themselves, and what difference knowing the gospel makes to their everyday life. Fitzpatrick invites fathers to share with their sons how the gospel shapes all aspects of life, including how they treat women, people from other ethnic groups, and much more. Specific, practical help is given to dads through suggested activities, God’s Word, and insightful questions.
In a world where television, the internet, social media, and gaming culture have taken away from quality time spent between fathers and sons, Between Us Guys urges readers to lean in to important conversations with the grace and knowledge of Christ.
Want to learn more about the book?
Click here for the press kit.
Click here for the author Q&A.

Between Us Guys: Life-Changing Conversations for Dads & Sons
By Joel Fitzpatrick
May 13, 2019 / Retail Price: $15.99
Print ISBN: 978-1-1948130-32-5/ eBook ISBN: 978-1-948130-33-2
Religion/Christian Ministry/Youth

About the author

Joel Fitzpatrick has served as an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America with a focus on youth and family. He received his MDiv from Westminster Seminary California. He is the co-author of Mom, Dad . . . What’s Sex? and contributed chapters to The Sinner and Saints Devotional: 60 days in the Psalms.

Fitzpatrick lives in Southern California with his wife and their two children.

Learn more at www.joelfitzpatrick.co and follow him on Twitter (@JoelDFitz).

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Becoming a Whole and Holy Mom

Part 1 of an Interview with Kristin Funston,
Author of More for Mom

(Watch for part two on May 9.)

For working moms, there are performance pressures at work, home, and mind-sets that affect a mom’s ability to feel complete and live more closely aligned with God. In More for Mom: Living Your Whole and Holy Life (Abingdon Press), Kristin Funston encourages women to stop believing the lie that more is needed from them and start living with the truth that more is available for them. She sets forth the beginning steps for moms to reset their spiritual and emotional health, habits and relationship with God.

With real-life talk, humor and biblical truths, Kristin Funston helps hard working moms to look at each day and each facet of their life to discover what happens when they believe God has more for them than what they think the world needs from them. And what He has available is a whole and holy life, just waiting to be claimed–a salvation and day-to-day reality complete just as it is. The pieces of each mom’s life–the work life, mom life, social life, etc.–are mended together through Christ to complete her one whole life, set apart because of Him.

Q: What sparked your own search for more, and ultimately, the idea behind More for Mom?

For a long time, I lived my life from a place of depletion. I was physically and emotionally tired all the time, always feeling like someone was needing something from me, and ultimately just in a state of constant unrest, if you will. I think that’s what drove me to church. I didn’t grow up in church, but I would have called myself a “Christian” at that time, even though there wasn’t really any sort of relationship with God at that point. The longer I went to church, the more I learned about and believed God’s promise of an abundant life, found in John 10:10.

When looking back, I can see that I lived my life for so long from a transactional standpoint—one that is very culturally based in our consumeristic world—a life of giving and receiving—back and forth between myself, others, even God. Life was always a give and take. However, this didn’t line up with John 10:10 in my mind, as it wasn’t giving and receiving from a place of abundance, but of depletion instead. I looked around and saw so many other women, moms especially, living this same way.

When I first pitched it, this book originally was called Embrace the Crazy. But upon diving deeper into the writing process, I realized “the crazy” of our mom lives is exactly how our lives are intended to be on this side of Heaven. The daily grind, screaming kids, and relentless demands of work aren’t supposed to be separated from one another or compartmentalized. All wrapped up together, they complete this life Christ has called us to. They are whole in Christ, and as believers, even holy, in the way we live it out. I feel like as a whole, we should embrace our crazy, but it’s only because Jesus has MORE in mind for us - to be whole and holy. This is the abundant life He promised.

Q: What does it mean to be a whole and holy mom?

A whole and holy mom is, number one, a believer in Christ and what He did for us on the cross. This idea of “wholeness” stems all the way back to the garden with Adam, Eve and the way humans were created. Just like when thinking of “whole foods,” that food is in natural state—the way nature intended for it to be, or pretty close to it. It’s the healthiest form of that food. Adam and Eve were physically, emotionally, spiritually healthy, complete and whole in the garden with each other and with God. Their lives were complete. This is how it was supposed to be, the way nature intended for us to be. When we claim Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, our relationship with our Creator is restored back to a place of wholeness, completing us emotionally and spiritually. Our “wholeness” is based on God’s ability to mend our brokenness and overlook our sin, because of what Jesus did on the cross.

Because we are “whole” and complete in Christ, back in proper relationship with Him, we are, therefore, holy. Holy ultimately means to be set apart. So as believers in Christ’s sacrifice for us, we live a life that is set apart—different—than the way our culture and the world want or urge us to live. This life doesn’t have to (and can’t) be a perfect life, but it is one that’s different. When we follow Christ and live a life worthy of the calling He’s placed on us, God sees Jesus’ covering of us. He sees Jesus’ holiness in place of our sinfulness.

So that’s it. A whole and holy mom is not a perfect mom, but a believer and follower of Christ right here on Earth, who admits she needs a savior.

Q: You want to encourage women to stop believing the lie that more is needed from them and start living the truth that more is available for them. What is the more that they are missing out on?

I think the details of the “more” they are missing out on is ultimately going to differ from one woman to the next, but it’s all going to stem back to Jesus. Because doesn’t everything? More life, more love, more joy, more peace, more of all that good stuff—it comes from Him. He is and has the more they are missing out on. Ephesians tells us that God is able to do more than we can even begin to think or ask. However, on this side of heaven, where we moms are asked to give and give and give, it’s hard to comprehend the abundance He has available for us. This giving that’s required of us in our roles as moms, wives, sisters and workers wears us down, distracting us from fully thriving and living in that place of abundance.

Q: What are some of the other lies moms need to let go of in regards to being whole?

First, that our lives are somehow segmented into different areas such as the “mom life,” “social life,” or “work life.” No, our lives aren’t meant to be compartmentalized, but instead work and blend together to create one whole and complete life. Just like ingredients in a loaf of bread, each segment of our life isn’t good on its own, but together make one whole tasty and nourishing loaf. It’s important to note that one whole loaf of bread can feed an entire family. And if Jesus is involved, like in Mark 6, it can feed thousands.

Underneath this umbrella of wholeness also lay lies about our identity. Such as ones that say our worth is based on our work, or we must always be doing or giving to and for others, or even that motherhood is the highest calling from God. I cover many of these in the book, More for Mom, but they all come back to the skewed perspective of how we view our identity and how we were created to be whole and complete in Christ.

Q: What do you mean when you write that our lives are full, but they aren’t whole?

We live in this crazy, busy, modern world. A world that fills our schedules, minds, and desires. We can literally fill our lives with things, people, events, books, jobs, thoughts, feelings and so much more, but we can still be incomplete. This stuff filling our lives doesn’t always complete us. I believe it’s God, number one, that completes us, making us whole, and then His kindness allows us to seal it with the extra blessing of relationships.

Q: You write that we need our brains to create a muscle memory of what whole and holy thoughts feel like. How do we do that?

Having mental muscle memory means we can self-correct when our thoughts, perspectives and mindsets are not at a place where they should be based on our outside circumstances. First, we must learn to feel and know when we are wrong, so we can autocorrect and get our mindsets to a correct place of thinking—the place that is whole and holy. This isn’t a fast process, but there are a few things we can do to begin this training process.

First, we must learn to identify triggers that set us off. These triggers can be recognized easily when we notice them with what the Bible calls “works of the flesh” from Galatians 5:19-21. Whatever happened right before these works of the flesh showed up, that’s the trigger.

Second, once we identify triggers, we redirect our thoughts by meditating on what is good. We line up the thoughts, feelings and words we have next to scripture. A good place to do this is Galatians 5:22-23, in what are called the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. When we look for this fruit in any given situation, we are automatically meditating on what is good, focusing our thoughts on godly things and training our minds to think this way, despite outside circumstances.

Q: What do you hope readers gain from reading this book?

As I’ve mention, for the longest time I felt depleted and exhausted from my life. (If I’m honest, I have to admit that I still feel that way sometimes.) I know I’m not the only one who has ever felt that way or will feel that way in the future. I’m ready for us to give from a place where we can do more than just give; we can give in a celebratory way because we’ve already received more than would ever be enough. This perspective will shape what our daily grind looks and feels like because we’ll finally recognize what it means to be whole and holy in the day-to-day. That’s very churchy language. Basically, I want moms—really everyone—to have peace in their daily grind because of all we have available through Christ.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The changing of a culture starts with those who are living within it.

What do Jeremiah’s prophesies have to do with our world today? 
Jeremiah found himself in a nation known for materialism,
economic crisis, political globalization, and religious plurality.
Does any of that sound familiar?

As Melissa Spoelstra, author of Dare to Hope: Living Intentionally in an Unstable World (Abingdon Press), writes,Jeremiah was referred to as the weeping prophet because he brought a message that didn’t feel very hopeful. God used Jeremiah as a mouthpiece to tell the people how they had gotten off course. Though there were times when Jeremiah experienced depression and discouragement, he still knew where to turn. When he poured out his heart, God reassured and encouraged him. Jeremiah chose to dare to hope based on God’s faithfulness rather than the trials he and his nation experienced.”

In the Book of Jeremiah, God calls out to His people, continually asking them to place their hope in Him instead of political alliances, material possessions, and people. Spoelstra wants readers to recognize hope-filled living is possible, even in an unstable world.

Below is an excerpt that shares more of the message from Dare to Hope.

Excerpted from Dare to Hope: Living Intentionally in an Unstable World by Melissa Spoelstra, © 2019 Abingdon Press.

My husband and I discovered in our first year of marriage that doing home projects together is dangerous. When we tried to put up a wallpaper border in a bedroom, we had some pretty rough interactions. The root issue stems from both of us being control freaks. We like to lead and direct how things go. This can be a good thing in certain situations like when God has called us to lead, but when we have different ideas about anything from parenting to finances, our controlling natures war against each other. After several decades of marriage, I hope we have made some progress in the area of compromise—at least in the domain of painting walls and organizing the garage.

Being a control freak can get me in trouble in the spiritual realm as well. When life seems to be going as I think it should and God’s instructions through His Spirit and His Word make sense to me, then I don’t have to be daring with hope. However, I find more often that life feels complicated and often God’s instructions take faith rather than sight to obey. It is during these seasons that I must raise the white flag and surrender to God’s way.

The prophet Jeremiah experienced some instructions from God that didn’t follow the rules of logic. God told him to hide underwear, speak bold messages, and identify counterfeits in the lives of the political and spiritual leaders of his day. I can’t imagine what this would have been like when he was first called to deliver God’s message of surrender as a boy of likely fourteen or fifteen years old. Though we might think that Jeremiah and other prophets of the Bible were super righteous, had it all together, and never struggled, the truth is that they were normal people like you and me. Jeremiah got depressed, made excuses, and even did some whining occasionally. But there is something that sets him apart from most of us: his unrelenting commitment to communicate God’s message. You might say that Jeremiah was both deep and relatable!

Although Jeremiah’s words resound from over twenty-six hundred years ago, they echo into our day with uncanny relevance. Our world is rife with greed, poverty, injustice, racism, and oppression, just to name a few of the challenges and battles. So what is our message to the world, and how do we go about sharing that message? To answer that question, we can look to the prophets—whose message, the disciple Peter said, is the light our dark world needs:

Because of that great experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:19-21)

When we pay close attention to the writings of the prophet Jeremiah, we discover that the changing of a culture starts with those who are living within it. If we long to see a turning back to God in our land, then we need to recognize that it starts with us—with you and with me. Not only does Jeremiah’s prophecy matter today; God Himself gives us some direct instructions regarding how we should respond to it. Let’s unpack a few of these together.

Learn more about Melissa Spoelstra and
Dare to Hope at www.melissaspoelstra.com

Read Melissa Spoelstra's Q&A part 1 and part 2.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Win a copy of Susie Davis' Dear Daughters

Scroll down to enter!

For the next two weeks, my blog team will be reviewing Dear Daughters by Susie Davis, published by Abingdon Press. Learn more about the book, then enter to win a copy of your own. I'm giving away a book at the end of the tour. 

About the book

Do you sometimes wonder what you’re supposed to be doing with your life? Do you wish you could find someone a little older who is walking just a few steps ahead who would give you some wisdom and remind you that God is still in control and that everything is going to be okay? Would you like a mentor in your life?

Susie Davis understands the importance of having and being a mentor. In Dear Daughters: Love Letters to the Next Generation, she will help you:

  • Understand God’s will for your life
  • Listen to God’s voice through your daily circumstances
  • Find contentment and peace right where you are
  • Foster friendship and deep connection with other women
No matter your season of life, Susie invites you to join her in pondering things that matter most. And she gently reassures you that you are not alone and that God is still in control.

About the author

Susie Davis is an author, speaker and co-founder of Austin Christian Fellowship. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Will Davis, Jr., and they have 3 delightful young adult children (Will III, Emily, and Sara) who are all married and living their own beautiful life.

Susie’s podcast, Dear Daughters, is full of wisdom and joy, offering women young and old the kind of comfort and companionship they crave.

Aside from family and ministry, Susie is hopelessly addicted to horseback riding, McDonald’s coffee and pink geraniums. She loves bird watching, creek walking and connecting the dots between God and nature. Her favorites include cooking, gathering people at her big French farm table and asking deep questions.

Visit her website: www.susiedavis.org.

She is also active on Facebook (@davis.susie), Twitter (@susiedavis) and Instagram (@susiedavis)

Monday, April 22, 2019

Navigating Stress in College and Beyond

Shelby Abbott helps students navigate
early adulthood with gospel solutions
uniquely applied to everyday struggles

Our modern age—saturated with technology, constant cynicism, streamlined digital communication, heavy negativity, relationship status posts, and instant information access—has shaped the way many young people deal with the pressure points of life. With the unique set of pressures students experience in their transition to college, more young adults are struggling with purpose, relationships, failure, community, and isolation than ever before. Author and college ministry leader Shelby Abbott believes that while technology isn’t itself to blame, it forces real issues to surface in the lives of young men and women.

Abbott’s new release, Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress (New Growth Press, April 22, 2019) aims to confront many of these struggles, big or small, in light of the gospel. With twenty years of experience in college ministry, including performing stand-up comedy for college audiences, Abbott meets readers where they are in a memorable, poignant, and humorous (when appropriate) way—all while unpacking biblical solutions to life’s pressures.

“The topics I’m tackling resonate with today’s college students. There hasn’t been much of a voice shepherding them with the modern variables added to their struggles,” Abbott explains. In doing so, he helps students understand the practical applications of the gospel in the big and small of everyday struggles. “When you begin to unpack the gospel, you discover very quickly that it is a bottomless pit of grace. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the answer to all of our struggles, but it can be difficult to see that when you are in the midst of feeling life’s pressures.”

Abbott doesn’t shy away from difficult topics that are increasingly relevant to college and some high school students such as navigating failure, God’s will, drinking, sex, pornography, finding authentic community, and the fear of missing out (FOMO). Pressure Points divides the conversations into three sections:
  • The Pressure of Finding Purpose: including chapters examining the questions “Does God Even Like Me?”, “How Do I Decide my Life’s Direction?” and others.
  • The Pressure of Relationships: covering relationships with friends, family, dating, community and even enemies.
  • The Pressure of Difficulty: addressing the stressors of spiritual warfare and finding Jesus in the Hard Times.

Abbott’s hope for Pressure Points is to gently guide young men and women toward the good news they read about in the pages of Scripture. “The gospel helps us to understand and know our place in life and hopefully see how relevant it is to any and every one, regardless of what the culture may look like today. What I want young people to see is that the false gods they run to will ultimately fail them because the void can only be filled by the true God in a relationship with Christ.”

Shelby Abbott is an author, campus minister, and conference speaker on staff with the ministry of Cru. His passion for university students has led him to speak at college campuses all over the United States.

Abbott is the author of Jacked and I Am a Tool (To Help with Your Dating Life). His latest release is Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress. He and his wife, Rachael, have two daughters and live in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

New Growth Press publishes gospel-centered Christian books, small group, and kids’ Bible resources for discipleship, biblical counseling, and missional ministry. For more information about Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress and other resources from New Growth Press, visit www.newgrowthpress.com.

To request a review copy of Pressure Points, schedule an interview with Shelby Abbott, or for more information, please contact Audra Jennings, audra@newgrowthpress.com.

Pressure Points: A Guide to Navigating Student Stress
by Shelby Abbott
April 22, 2019 / Retail Price: $15.99
Print ISBN 978-1-948130-34-9
Religion / Christian Life / Family