The Beginner’s Bible – Book Review & Giveaway

The Beginner’s Bible – Book Review & Giveaway

What better time than the Christmas season for a fun book review and giveaway! When I received word that The Beginner’s Bible published by ZonderKidz was available for review, I immediately grabbed the opportunity! I’m excited to share my review of The Beginner’s Bible, help you with some Christmas shopping and give away a new copy to one lucky reader!

My first encounter with The Beginner’s Bible was about ten years ago! My oldest son was three years old and I was in charge of a large nursery ministry. At that time, I was always seeking new ways to bring The Bible alive to little ones. Sometimes it was necessary to have an  ‘on the spot’ lesson filler. Any other nursery or preschool teachers out there feel me? You may have your lesson planned to a T, but then… there’s a 15 minute gap, service runs over, or you simply need an extra element!

The Beginner’s Bible was my go-to lesson addition! For teachers, you can simply utilize your planned lesson, then grab The Beginner’s Bible to compliment the story, topic or series! It is full of topic by topic stories from Genesis to Revelation. I absolutely love that it is formatted as a story. Each story gives a Bible reference and brightly colored character pictures! The words are large enough for a teacher to read and show to students!

From a personal aspect, what I love most is how this application for reading the Bible and learning at a young age has continued in my own household. Times and seasons have changed since my first encounter. My oldest son is now 13 and utilizes a teen Bible. Over the past few years our family has grown! We’ve added two more boys, ages 2 and 3! They absolutely love being read to and love bright pictures!

The Beginner’s Bible fits the need personally as a busy family! We can simply pick it up, choose a topic, and read! Easy to follow words in phrases that little ears can understand. Again, there is always a Bible reference so, if desired, you can simply open your Bible and read more! You want a story on ‘The Burning Bush’, it’s there. A story on ‘The Battle of Jericho’, it’s there. A story on ‘A Fishermen’s Net’, it’s there. And so many more!

Big brother is now a big helper when it comes to reading with the boys! He recalls his days in preschool where we utilized The Beginner’s Bible and is excited to share those memories with his brothers!

Busy moms, nursery teachers, pre-school teachers, and even those looking for a Christian gift for a little one, The Beginner’s Bible is a great addition for under the Christmas tree this year! To purchase a copy for yourself, it is available on most major websites as well as Amazon.

So…let’s get to the exciting stuff! I have one brand new copy of The Beginner’s Bible to giveaway to one lucky winner! Simply follow the steps below to be entered to win!

If you would like to enter the giveaway please follow these steps:

  • Like the post on Facebook
  • Share post on Facebook
  • Subscribe to my website (if you are already a subscriber, yeah! Please simply follow steps one and two)

I will draw a winner on Saturday 12/8/2018 and announce it on Facebook!

Lastly, thanks again to The Blythe Daniel Agency for this amazing opportunity!

Merry Christmas from us to you!

Heida

Finicky Ficus Fig Fruit

Finicky Ficus Fig Fruit

Nope, not bad words, but you read that that right! I absolutely love to play with words and today’s topic will hit all these areas! While I finished sweeping today’s lunch droppings, I found myself standing next to my finicky ficus tree. I felt a rush of emotions, thoughts, memories and the simple reminder that it needed water. I grabbed a few cups full of water and proceeded to give it some care. Today I am writing about this Finicky Ficus, Figs and Fruit…grab a coffee, or drink of choice, a tissue and enjoy!

The finicky ficus came into my life during the toughest decisive moment a wife will ever have to make, planning my late husbands funeral. Sigh. I recall reviewing the various flower and plant based catalogs at the funeral home. I paged through them one at a time asking Father God to show me what to pick to honor Bill. In all honesty, I was completely dumbfounded that this was the process…seriously, flowers, at this time?!? However, I pressed forward. I had an overwhelming sense that it was not to be bouquets of flowers, rather two very large plants. One was a peace lily (seriously the biggest one I’ve ever seen) and the other was my ficus tree. Unfortunately, the peace lily did not make it through several moves and replanting. However, finicky ficus has remained.

As I reflect on this past week, besides our roller coaster of kid sickies, I have had background noise.

My heart, head and soul are keenly aware that Bill’s birthday would have been Wednesday 2/7. One of our favorite things to do was celebrate birthdays, Valentines Day and our anniversary…two of which are in February. Then you add Connor’s birthday in just a few weeks and WHAM… February is a big month! The first few years after Bill’s passing I could barely breath. Each day came and went…so very aware that the next day was either closer or further away from the next big date. However, as our lives have transformed over the past few years, breath has come back into my lungs. But this finicky ficus…

Do you have a ficus tree? If you do or have had one, you know that it is sensitive!

If you turn it, it weeps.

If you move it’s location, it weeps.

If you replant it, it weeps.

When I was doing some research I realized that it is commonly known as the weeping figSome of the other descriptions I noted were this:

The leaves are very sensitive to small changes in light. When it is turned around or re-located it reacts by dropping many of its leaves and replacing them with new leaves adapted to the new light intensity.

The plant is sensitive to cold and should be protected from strong drafts

The fruit is edible, but the plant is not usually grown for its fruit.

Sometimes this weeping turns to full on shedding of it’s leaves. BUT it is resilient. If handled with care and caution it will revive. It needs water, the right amount of sun and possibly some fresh soil. Huh…if you are thinking how I think, there is certainly something spiritual here.

Do you see what I see? It is not usually grown for its fruit?!? How interesting is this! I can’t help but think about Jesus and the parable about the fig tree.

12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry.13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

Mark 11:12-14

I never thought of it this way until now…he saw the fig tree because of its leaves, but it had no fruit. Jesus and his disciples moved onto Jerusalem… then this…

20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”

22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. 23 “Truly[d] I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

Mark 11:20-25

Maybe I should have titled this…The Finicky Ficus Teaches Us About Faith and Fruit …nah…a bit long. But seriously a whole other blog about this! But coming full circle…

So this finicky ficus tree and its parallel to me…

Which each turn, I’ve wept.

With each literal move, I’ve wept.

With my replanting and new marriage covenant, I’ve wept.

I’ve never forgotten, I never will.

I will always take a moment to shed a figurative leaf.

I am strong and resilient. 

I will not allow the pain of the past, prevent my future healing and growth. 

To this I say – February is restored. I can breath. I can take joy in knowing my late husband’s life here on Earth was exactly what it was supposed to be. I can celebrate the newness of love-sick in love with my husband, Tim. And of course…I will be over zealous to continue Connor’s birthday celebration…the big 13 this year!!!

Reflection:

Do you relate to the finicky ficus? If so, how? Do you wonder if those slight moves, changes, etc. were exactly what you needed for the shedding to happen?

Let me pray with you my friend… Dear Heavenly Father I thank you for speaking to us in the small and simple things. Father, I ask for your restorative love to water our hearts and souls. You alone bring healing, hope and grace. Even as the ficus tree has endured sensitivity to it’s outside conditions, I thank you that you bring us back to our roots and truth in You for our full restoration. Amen

As always, with much love, Heida

Hope – Holding On with Great Expectancy

Hope – Holding On with Great Expectancy

The word Hope…tumbling and swirling in my spirit. This morning and all through the day I have been hearing the word Hope. As I sat down to my computer, sipping my lovely homemade latte, I asked God to show me exactly what words to pen about Hope. See I started this blog two weeks ago. At that time and yet again as I start to write my heart speeds up and my mind begins to doubt…’what do I have to say about hope?!?’ And then I hear the Holy Spirit whisper ‘Much…’

Often times the words Faith and Hope go hand in hand and even used as a synonym of each other. Much agreement from me here, however I personally feel a different application when I utilize hope. I tend to feel a deeper personal connection and emotion attached. A quick Bible reference that I found interesting. Utilizing the NIV version, the word hope is found in the Bible 180 times and as suspected the majority of references are in the Book of Job and Psalm.

If you know me somewhat well, you would know that I have the word ‘Hope’ tattooed on my back surrounded by angel wings and Psalm 91. Yup, I am that crazy Jesus girl who has tattoos. I went through a season of life, between spouses, where it was tattoo after tattoo. But even prior to this season the word hope was a drawing inspiration. My very good friend Laurel once told me this and it has stayed in my spirit since. She said while telling me about a prayer experience “When I asked God whom I was praying for He said ‘Hope’…I immediately knew it was you – Heida…He was calling you Hope!”.

I will date this conversation back to approximately 2009 or 2010, several years prior to Bill’s passing. I was just being educated by the Holy Spirit on the various names God has for us with Peace being one of them and now to add Hope? Honestly I received the word, loved it, but did not have the fullness of it.

So back to today. I am engulfed with the thought of ‘Holding on to Hope’. There are multiple references of putting our hope in the Lord or in His word.

My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word.
You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.
If we are instructed to put our hope in the Lord, then obviously there is a reason. As the mirror hits my face, I realize that often times I find myself putting my hope in the wrong people, places or things. Next thing I know disappointment, hurt and frustration come walking in like best friends. Then I look back and say ‘Hey, who invited you?!?’. Then I crumble realizing it was me…yet again, placing my hope in the unfulfilling place of whatever…not in the Lord.
My recent disappointment comes from my book proposal. Short and sweet story…the literary agent I was working with is not currently taking on new projects due to family obligations. Honestly, I am very happy she let me know and will get the time with her family that she should have!
On the flip side, this is a disappointment I must process with the Lord. We’ve been ‘processing’ this for about a month now. All puns intended here. I’ve not done much processing because I wanted to bury it. I want to bury the pain. I want to hypothetically bury the book. I have allowed doubt to creep in like a dense fog.  Yup, honest truth, not pretty folks. So this week I’ve allowed the process to begin. I’ve allowed God to whisper to me again…encouraging my next step. At 4:44am on Sunday morning He showed me a rabbit trail that led to a publisher link. My husband has been gently nudging me to get back on the horse, so to speak. He sent me a link last week, at first glance it was a no go. But awakened by the Holy Spirit that morning opened my eyes to information I had not seen.
God will work out the details of publishers and proposals. Today, I am simply basking in the word Hope, yet again. I am creating intentional ‘white space’ on my calendar to complete the work He put in me. And I am writing this blog to say Thank You to my audience, my readers, my friends. You all are amazing and I appreciate your encouraging words more than you know.
I pray that the word Hope inspires you today. What area of your spirit does this apply to the most? What have you lost hope in? What dreams have you laid down that should be picked back up?
Friends I pray with you today that you are energized by Hope and let’s keep clinging on to the Rock that is Higher than all!
In Love, Heida (aka Hope)

Photo by Justin Ried

Talking To Jesus – A Book Review & Giveaway

Talking To Jesus – A Book Review & Giveaway

Over the past month I’ve had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Talking To Jesus: A Fresh Perspective On Prayer by Jeannie Blacker.  I joined the venture of this book with my best friend, soul sister and prayer partner Mary. When I agreed to the adventure of this particular book review, I was asked to ponder some questions such as How does walking next to someone similar to you help you understand God’s love more? Do you feel less alone? More encouraged? Today as I review this book I will also shed light on how invaluable our praying friendship is to me and our families while simultaneously answering these questions. And stay tuned to the end for a chance to win a copy of Talking To Jesus for yourself or as a gift!

As I began my head over heels Jesus girl journey about 10 years ago, I began to see the precious value in Christian friends that shared not only the same beliefs but the same bumps in the road. My husband Tim always says

A burden shared is half a burden

He took heart to this saying several years ago from a friend and he reminds me of it often. I see my sisterly friendships in the same light…sharing each others burdens. I believe this is a spin off of Galatians 6:2 AMP

Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love].

We tend to shy away from the word burden because often times it alone carries a heavy weight. It feels burdensome to think about carrying my own let alone someone else’s. But wow, is there power in agreement.

My friend Mary and I met about 8 years ago at our church. Her and her family had just moved back from Ohio and were looking for a home church. We quickly ran into each other as we both have children of similar ages. It took us some time to get to know each other and both our personalities together, because we are so similar, didn’t lend to immediate connection. However, one night during a women’s retreat we roomed together. We stayed up all night laughing, crying and getting to the bottom of why we were so deeply connected. See, our pasts had a similar trail that are not often disclosed except under certain allowances by the Holy Spirit. Immediately our bond grew and grew and grew.

On November 5, 2012 Mary was one of the first people by my side to walk me through the tragedy of losing my late husband. She was the one who selflessly held Connor through the night so that he could sleep. She was the one, day by day with me, as other tragedies hit. Many others, many many others were as well, but today I focus on her. Often times I have felt like how could I ever repay her (or others) for how she helped me? I realize now that our relationship does not require repayment rather – just keep doing life together.

We sat down this past week to discuss the book and how it has impacted us. Several stories stuck out including The Paralytic and His Friends and The Ruler. Both stories hit the nail on the head individually. The Paralytic and His Friends reminded us about the importance of our friends faith! Because Jesus saw the faith of the man’s friends, he was moved with compassion to heal the man.

They brought to Him a man who was paralyzed, lying on a stretcher. Seeing their [active] faith [springing from confidence in Him], Jesus said to the paralytic, “Do not be afraid, son; your sins are forgiven [the penalty is paid, the guilt removed, and you are declared to be in right standing with God]. Matthew 9:2 AMP

And for The Ruler this story reminds us of the great compassion Jesus has for our children and the deep need for us as parents to move, pray, intercede on their behalf.

18 While He was saying these things to them, a ruler (synagogue official) entered [the house] and kneeled down and worshiped Him, saying, “My daughter has just now died; but come and lay Your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 Jesus got up and began to accompany the ruler, with His disciples. Matthew 9:18-19 AMP

Talking To Jesus is certainly an easy read and wonderful to pick up in the morning with a cup of coffee. You choose to go deep with her thought provoking questions or keep it light an swiftly move through the pages. I really enjoy the newness that is brought to the stories of Jesus and the perspective shift. This book makes for a great individual or group Bible study. If you don’t win the free copy, but are interested in purchasing the book, it is available on Amazon!

Mary and I will keep pushing along in the journey of life. Having a best friend and prayer partner to share with has certainly lifted the load. A perfectly timed text message or phone call can sometimes feel like the lifesaver I need. We both look to the Holy Trinity for our answers and are grateful to seek Him together. Soul Sister, hearts tethered together. I pray Jesus already has or will bring that type of friend into your life as well!

If you would like to enter the giveaway please follow these steps:

  • Like the post on Facebook
  • Share post on Facebook
  • Subscribe to my website

I will draw a winner on Friday 12/8/2017 and announce it on Facebook!

Lastly, thanks again to The Blythe Daniel Agency for this amazing opportunity!

A December To Remember – Finding Joy

A December To Remember – Finding Joy

Today not only starts a new month but it also brings along the fact that it is the last month of the year. As I was scrolling Facebook for a few quiet minutes this morning, I realized a few things. First, that today is December. Second, I haven’t posted in a few days. Thirdly, while recalling my last few days, I realize why I haven’t. Today I am going to take a moment to reflect on what December means to me and a few steps I am going to take to make it a December To Remember.

Depending on how well you know me, you may or may not know that I was diagnosed with PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome) back in 2003. While Bill and I were attempting to understand why I was unable to conceive, several doctor appointments later determined this diagnosis. Without boring you with medical details, one side effect specifically I was diagnosed with is Insulin Resistance. After my own research and living this out for almost 15 years now, I can say I understand how Insulin directly effects the other hormones in your body which then can cause infertility.

Connor was a miracle. Besides being placed on medication to bring my hormone levels under control, we were subsequently diagnosed with infertility issues from the male perspective. Bill and I were told that we were ‘unable to have children’ on our own. Fast forward less than a year and we were pregnant with Connor by July 2004. I am skipping ALOT of details but, God performed the miracle of Connor.

I am reflecting on all this today because this week I was ‘re-diagnosed’ with Insulin Resistance. Under the suggestion of my GYN back in March, I went off the medication. There was a thought that my blood work had been very good during my pregnancies and he would like a 3 month, non medicated, timeframe to re-draw blood. This took some time to ultimately happen because shortly after this appointment I had an appendicitis. Ultimately I agreed and started the de-medication process in late April. I personally was thinking, Why yes! I’d love to be medication free and am in agreement for my healing! I was believing this process and new blood draw would ‘prove’ my healing.

But in my gut I had a feeling things weren’t ok. There were certain ways I was feeling physically and the in my face fact that weight loss was simply not happening regardless of my healthy eating and exercise habits. I woke up early one morning in the beginning of November, just a few weeks ago. I clearly heard the Holy Spirit tell me this…Get your Insulin checked, you have Insulin Resistance, you need to be back on medication. (I know, I know, this may seem crazy that the Holy Spirit talks to me this way, but it’s how I communicate with the Holy Trinity.)

As I started the regimen of medication this week, again, my body has been in torment. I feel sick, irritable, tired, and like a roller coaster. I recognize that my hormone levels have been nuts and as they attempt to regulate with the medication, I was headed on a dangerous path. If my insulin wouldn’t have been put under control, it would have effected other areas of my body including turning into Diabetes. Then I stop to say ask this question in amazement…How loving is Our Father to send His Holy Spirit to tell me to get checked?!?

Often times as Christians we can snub our noses at Doctors or medication. I personally have found myself in that place. But with time and wisdom I can firmly say that God placed them here on Earth for our provision until either Earthly healing is obtained or Heavenly healing is obtained. So for now, I wait. I obey. I will treat my body how God intended it.

So how does this wrap up into a December to Remember – Finding Joy? Bottom line, I refuse to let this crazy havoc that has been placed in my body overarch my December! Today I decree and declare my healing and victory over PCOS. I believe my hormones will go back to their correct levels and that my body, mind and spirit will follow!

So I ask you these questions…What does December mean to you? What declarations can you make for this month that will help you finish this year out as God intended?

Whatever your answer, I come in agreement with you today! The best part about the word JOY is that it is regardless of physical surroundings or tangible items, it truly is internal and from God. This means we can find Joy in all circumstances, if we choose.

16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I am believing for a December that will knock our socks off. A month of Joy and memory making moments. I believe the story of Jesus’ birth will come alive in a new way to our heart and we can be the light for those around us. Thank you God for sending your Son so we can live in Freedom!

December Blessings to you, Heida