The Book That Brought Me Home

by Sally Matheny

     Not long ago, I was asked to participate in a blog hop for the on-line magazine, Books Make a Difference. I am to share how a particular book has made a difference in my life. The problem lies in narrowing it down to one book! 
     Books have influenced my whole life.  But one particular turning point occurred when I was thirty years old.  

      My life brimmed with children—twenty -eight kindergarten students during the day, and my own two toddlers at night. In addition to His Holy Word, God used another book to drastically change that number of children, and to reroute my life.

      Even though I loved teaching kindergarten, my little girls continually begged me to stay at home with them. I, too, longed to devote more time to their momentary childhood.  However, my husband and I were living paycheck to paycheck. The first time I brought the topic up with my husband he said, "What? I don't know if we can pay our bills on one income!"
     I picked up the book, Women Leaving the Workplace, by Larry Burkett (Moody Publisher, 1999). It was the book that brought me home for good.

     Burkett is well known for his successful financial advising. Writing with a Christian worldview, he did a superb job offering spiritual counsel and practical advice for women considering coming home full-time.  
     For months, we followed several of Burkett’s suggestions. We practiced living solely on my husband’s income. That meant selling our new car in exchange for a used one. We ate out less often and practiced Burkett’s envelope budgeting system.
     We talked with our girls about the possibility of me leaving my teaching job. If I "came home for good," we would not have money for many extra things. I'll never forget how I felt when our four-year-old replied, “Oh, that’s okay, Mommy. I don’t need anything.  All I want is you.”
     Women Leaving the Workplace helped equip us to take a leap of faith and be obedient to what God was calling our family to do. We were amazed! Not only were we able to pay our bills, we were able to save, give tithes and offerings, and still enjoy a few treats along the way. The time at home provided more precious moments with the children and opportunities to teach their tender hearts.
     The encouragement and guidance this book offered made a difference not only in my life, but also in the lives of my husband and our children.
     Besides budgeting, the book contains a chapter on how to transition back into the workforce.  At one time, I worked part-time as a church secretary and my children were allowed to accompany me. However, after our oldest completed second grade, God called us to a new adventure—homeschooling!
    Books were influential in that decision as well, but that’s another story for another day.

Share with us. What book has made a difference in your life?


How Billy Graham’s Life and Death Influenced Me

by Sally Matheny

Billy Graham Influenced Lives
(flickr photo)
I spent most of the afternoon watching the motorcade transporting the body of the evangelist, Dr. Billy Graham.
On roads I travel often, the procession went from Black Mountain to Charlotte. My daughter and her family were blessed to be in the crowds lining the streets.  
Fire trucks parked at the overpasses and hung American flags from their ladders.

Red heart balloons floated heavenward as the hearse passed by.
I only meant to spend a few minutes watching the televised procession. But, just as it has happened numerous times before, God has an amazing way of proclaiming His love for people through Rev. Billy Graham. So much so, it was too difficult for me to pry away from the television.

Millions of people will join Rev. Graham in heaven because of his obedience to proclaim the gospel, and their decision to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
A multitude of tributes and testimonies will present themselves in the days and years to come. 
Many will share how their lives were changed by the words of Rev. Graham. I know his life, and his death, have influenced me.


Who Should We Honor This President's Day?

 by Sally Matheny

Who Should We Honor This President's Day?
(pixabay photo)
It first began as a day of recognition of America’s first president, George Washington. 

Then, it included Abraham Lincoln. Some folks still cling to those two, but others use the day to celebrate all of America’s presidents…well, at least the ones that represented their political views.
In a time when some people are wanting to tear down statues and monuments, who should we honor on President’s Day?


5 Ways to Create the Best Valentines for Children

by Sally Matheny
One Way to a Child's Heart
(Pixaby Photo)
Valentine cards covered the floor the night before the big day. With my second grade class list in hand, I would spend at least an hour deciding which little sentiment best fit each of my classmates.

Valentine’s Day was always a fun day at school. After constructing card holders out of pink and red construction paper, students would scrawl their names in big letters across the front. No one wanted to be overlooked. Everyone hoped for a fat folder at the end of the day. 

The folders were taped to the front of the desks. Later, the students would weave through the desks, placing valentine cards in the paper pockets.

Usually there was a party with white frosted cupcakes topped with red cinnamon hearts, chips, and strawberry Kool-Aid. The teacher gave each student a box of conversation hearts.

At some point in the day, everyone tried to see who could find the most words in the word “valentine.”

Finally, we would open our valentine cards. What a treat it was to read the colorful cards. They made me feel happy, liked, special.

After school, as soon as we got home, my older sister and I dumped all our valentine cards out on the floor and went through them again. 

We greatly appreciated the friends who attached candy to their cards. Of course, my sister still had candy displayed with her cards, all lined up in neat little rows. In front of me sat a hodgepodge of perforated poems mingled with empty wrappers.

It wasn’t uncommon for me to hang on to those valentines for months. If a special message was written, I may still have it.


The Christian Faith of Rosa Parks

by Sally Matheny
Christian Faith of Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks said, “As a child, I learned from the Bible to trust in God and not be afraid. I felt the Lord would give me the strength to endure whatever I had to face.”

In honor of what would have been Rosa Park’s 100th birthday, the Henry Ford Museum initiated a National Day of Courage on February 4, 2013. Many gave tribute to the bravery of the former Alabama seamstress, who on December 1, 1955, chose to disobey the unjust segregation law by refusing to give her bus seat to a white man.

What many history books and public speakers fail to mention is the Christian faith of Rosa Parks. Her faith in Jesus Christ was integral with the choices she made in her life—some of which changed the lives of millions.


Get Engaged? Before You Set the Date There’s One Thing You Need to Do

by Sally Matheny

Get Engaged? Before You Set the Date...
Are you thinking about getting engaged?

Apparently, many guys think Christmas and New Year’s Eve are great times to bend a knee and propose to their sweeties. Studies show December is the most popular month for engagements. 

Did you recently get engaged? 

Congratulations! But before you set the date, there’s one thing you need to do.

Seek Premarital Counseling

Seek Christian counseling. This bit of advice may challenge your way of thinking, but it’s worth considering, especially if it can help save your marriage down the road.

Most Christian pastors require four to six premarital counseling sessions with the couple. It is common to see these sessions take place one or two months before the wedding.

This is where I think a change needs to occur. By that time, most of the wedding details are set, sealed, and delivered. Invitations are mailed, venues secured, food and flowers are ordered, and non-refundable deposits made.
How many brides do you think would suggest a longer engagement, to work out some relational issues, if all those wedding arrangements are already in motion? Perhaps premarital counseling should begin before a wedding date is set.
Discuss difficult issues. Communicate personal convictions and goals. A caring pastor will guide you to think about things you may have never considered before. 

Be Brave and Wise 

If the counseling sessions cause you to question your readiness "for better or for worse, until death do you part"—then be brave and wait. 

Perhaps you think you’ve waited long enough. You believe there’s nothing love can’t solve. You say, “You can’t be prepared for everything. Sometimes you have to take life as it comes.”

There’s some truth to that. But consider this. The average couple is engaged for thirteen to eighteen months before they say “I do.” There are a zillion things to do when preparing for a wedding. So much time is invested in coordinating colors, locating the perfect venue, and securing the best wedding cake baker in town.

Shouldn’t godly counsel have as much, if not more, consideration than color swatches, when preparing for a life-changing event?

Prepare for Satan's Fastballs
Shortly after the wedding, Satan will throw his first fastball at your marriage. 

Will what you learned from watching all those Say Yes to the Dress shows be helpful then?

Will the wedding photographer, the florist, or the 
musicians be there for you during the challenging times in your marriage?


100 DAYS TO BRAVE Book Review and a New Year's Challenge

by Sally Matheny

100 Days to Brave

In what area of your life do you crave courage? If you’re like me, you’re feeling a tug in a certain direction but, for whatever reason, you’re lacking the confidence to move forward. Have I got a book recommendation for you!

100 DAYS TO BRAVE, written by Annie F. Downs, is a compilation of devotions for “unlocking your most courageous self.”

How good is this book? Well, let’s just say I read one hundred devotions in thirty days. The devotions build on one another and unfold like a story. Downs intrigued me so I couldn’t stop reading after just one devotion a day.

The one hundred devotions cover eleven areas:

Brave Enough to Start
Brave Enough to Be You
Brave Enough to Believe God
Brave Enough to Dream
Brave Enough to Work Hard
Brave Enough to Love Others
Brave Enough to Face Change
Brave Enough to Persevere
Brave Enough to Pursue Healing
Brave Enough to Serve
Brave Enough to Be Where You Are
Brave Enough

The author includes personal experiences in most of the devotions to illustrate a point. She bravely exposes our fears and offers helpful encouragement on how to maneuver past them.

Encased in a beautiful hardcover, each devotion is about 400 words in length. Each begins with a short scripture and ends with a call to action.

I highly recommend this book. While men would certainly glean encouragement from it, I believe it is best suited for women. Even though the author writes of her experiences as a single Millenial, all ages of women will enjoy and benefit from her book.

Now, a challenge for you.

While you’re mulling over your list of goals for the new year, will you pray about those areas where you need courage? Ask God to help you follow through with whatever it is you just know you’re supposed to do.

Ask others to pray with you. I think this is where I’ve failed in dealing with my own fears.

Facing serious health issues requires courage. We often don’t hesitate to ask for prayer in those situations. There are many other personal battles that call for bravery. Why do we hesitate to ask for prayer in other areas of our lives?

Are we afraid to reveal the thing we feel led to do? For if we give it a voice, then we may have to actually follow through with it! It may be difficult. There may be repercussions. We may have to change.

Whew! Scary, isn’t it?

Let’s dedicate time to prayer, specifically about this THING. What is it for you? Say it—out loud. What fears have immobilized you? Why? Expose them for what they are.

Want us to pray for you? Share your request for bravery below or send it privately through the Contact Page.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.


What Does Christmas Look Like in Your Home?

by Sally Matheny

What Does Christmas Look Like?
(Pixabay Photo)
Christmas is almost here. At the moment, my kitchen sink is full of mixing bowls, spatulas, and various splashes of colorful icing. 

The den floor begs to be vacuumed. Again. 

Good news! Laundry no longer rests on the treadmill. Now, wrapping paper, boxes, and gifts weigh it down. Ah…Christmas at my house. 

What does Christmas look like in your home?

Never mind the mess. We’ll gradually take care of that. Surely!