About the Children’s Picture Book on Abortion & an Apology to the Author

by Sally Matheny

There's a children’s picture book, Sister Apple, Sister Pig, causing a great disturbance among conservative Christians. 

The theme of the book is abortion. Thankfully, this book is only available online and isn’t readily available in your child’s library.

I read the free e-book. Then I read reviews and interviews. I can see why the response was so intense.

What makes people angry about the whole thing is:

The author, Mary Walling Blackburn, presents the topic of abortion in the form of a children’s picture book. 

While she says it is meant for adults, not children, it is still formatted as a children’s book and the main character is three years old. It’s dedicated to “Little Friends.” By all publishing standards, it looks like a children’s book. Abortion is not an appropriate topic for a young child.

Interviews found online with the Ms. Blackburn reveal many unsettling and bizarre opinions. She likes to express them with a scholarly vocabulary. But Christians find her words profane and offensive.

Ms. Blackburn is an assistant art professor at a Methodist university.
Perhaps that’s where the worst sting lies. She works for an educational organization that supposedly claims to be a denomination of the Christian faith.

I don’t know what Ms. Blackburn’s relationship with Christ is.

All I know is if you disagree with the Bible, then you disagree with God. If you promote things that conflict with his Holy Word, then you’re encouraging people to turn away from God and face an eternity separated from his love and saving grace. And where Jesus is concerned, you’re either for Him, or against Him. It’s that simple.

However, the intention of this post is not to blast Ms. Blackburn as some folks have done.

Neither do I intend to praise her. To avoid any confusion, I want to be clear—I do not agree with her stance on life. Neither do I support her work.

However, what I’d like to do is offer a sincere apology to Ms. Blackburn. Allow me to explain.


Is Your Teen Stressing Out? Assure Them They Have What It Takes

by Sally Matheny

Is Your Teen Stressing Out?
Is your teen feeling overwhelmed with school, relationships, or work? 

Transitioning into young adulthood can be stressful. How can parents assure their teens they have what it takes?
Moreover, how can parents help, but not too much? 

In an article on USA Today’s website, "Teens Feeling Stressed, and Many Not Managing It Well" , psychologist, Michael Bradley commented on the level of parental help:

"Some parents set out on a mission to get rid of stress in their kids, but the fact is, some degree of stress is very therapeutic and an appropriate amount of stress is what helps us become strong. The hard part is what's appropriate. We do know the more we try to mitigate all stress in our children's life the less resilient that child becomes and they feel hopeless about their own future." [i]

Numerous articles, such as this one, point to the symptoms, and the reasons, for the anxieties teens face. Helpful suggestions are offered on how to curtail the stress, such as cutting back on activities and minimizing negative factors.
However, I suggest Christian parents counsel their teens to add more to their lives. That’s right—more. Allow me to explain. 
The following suggestion is presupposing your teen already has a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. If he doesn’t, this is a great time to explain our need for Christ. However, this post is addressing teens who already have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Teens become anxious about the uncertainties of life, especially when it concerns their future. Whether that’s the prom this spring, or making education choices for a career ten years from now. Quite often we hear young people express, “I don’t know what God wants me to do with my life!”

Parents can encourage their teens by looking at 2 Peter 1:

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; 
and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to 
self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 
and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, 
they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive 
in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 
2 Peter 1:5-8 (NIV)

Ask your teens what they think God means by faith, goodness, and knowledge. How can we increase these? Will something have to decrease in order for this to happen?
What does self-control, perseverance, and godliness look like in their day-to-day lives? In what ways can they strengthen these qualities? Discuss how that affects others around them.
Talk about examples of brotherly kindness and love we show at home, at work, and at school. Which area do they find it most difficult to show love? Why? Brainstorm for ways to help show more kindness and love to people.
Based on scripture, what do they know about God’s love? Encourage them to make a list and post it as a reminder of the magnitude of His powerful love.
At some point in this conversation, a slight eye roll or a heavy sigh may take place. It’s okay. Just tell your teens the same thing Peter told his “children.”

“So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them…I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live…and I will make every effort to see that…you will always be able to remember these things.” 2 Peter 1:12-15 (NIV)

Teens Need Parents Refreshing Their Minds and Hearts
No matter what teens may say, it means a great deal to them when parents show they care.
There's not a one-size-fits-all answer for reducing stress. Occasionally, teens may need a little parental guidance in time management and decision-making. Ultimately, they need godly, loving parents refreshing their minds and hearts.

Assure them if they increase in God’s ways, there is no need to stress out. Everything is going to be okay, because they have what it takes.
Does your teen have what it takes?
Do you?

[i] Jayson, Sharon. “Teens Feeling Stressed, and Many Not Managing It Well.”USAToday.com. Web. 2014/02/11


Winners of Paige Snedeker's Books and Art Magnet

by Sally Matheny

"Summer in the Artic" by Paige Snedeker
Woo Hoo! I've drawn three out of the fifteen names in the hat and here are our winners:

SOFIA AND HER MORNINGSTAR book : Lexi of Indiana

CAMO'S JOURNEY book : Shannon W. of N.C.

"Summer in the Artic" Magnet: "Minivan Ministries" of America

Congratulations! I'll need each of you to privately contact me with your mailing addresses and I'll get your prizes in the mail!

You can use the contact page or private message me on my facebook page.

Thanks to all who participated in the giveaway and to all those who helped share Paige Snedeker's stories of hope.

Growing Up with Precious Moments: Book Review of Precious Prayers Bible

by Sally Matheny

Precious Prayers Bible
In the 1970's and 80's, I grew up with Precious Moments art--from cards and books to clothing and dolls. When I got married in 1989, a Precious Moments bride and groom graced the “Just Married” sign on the getaway car. There’s something endearing about those characters with teardrop eyes. They are still popular today.

I am delighted to post a review of the Precious Prayers Bible recently released by Tommy Nelson Publishers. The copy I have is the NKJV but it’s also available in KJV.

This would make a beautiful gift for a child or even as a baby gift for when the child grows older. Sam Butcher’s pastel drawings accompany various scriptures, Christian poems and prayers on forty-eight pages interspersed throughout the Bible.

A sampling of those includes The Lord’s Prayer, the Beatitudes, and Charles Wesley’s poem, “Gentle, Meek, and Mild.”

I like the three sections included at the beginning of the Bible—About the Bible, How to Start Reading the Bible, and Getting to Know God.

At the back of the Bible, there are two reference sections. One includes scriptures on the ministry of Jesus; the other is on the miracles of Jesus. There are four, simple maps included at the end as well.

The only thing I would have liked to have seen included that was not was a concordance. Or at least another reference section of scriptures children can look to when needed for certain situations such as when they are sad.

Overall, I like the Precious Prayers Bible. The popularity of Precious Moments art may vary among readers, but the truth of God’s Word will always stand the test of time.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. 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 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


CAMO’S JOURNEY Book Review with Book & Art Giveaway

by Sally Matheny

Camo's Journey by Paige Snedeker
Author and illustrator, Paige Snedeker, released her second children’s book, Camo’s Journey in January 2017.

In a recent interview, Paige said it took about six months to write the book and over a year to illustrate it. 

That’s amazing considering she’s only twenty-three years old, legally blind, and unable to use her hands due to a rare degenerative disease. Amazing, indeed.

The first thing I noticed when I received my autographed copy of Camo’s Journey was the size of the book. It’s not your typical 32-page picture book. The 8 ½ x 11, hardcover book encases fifty-two pages! 

The pages on the right side contain the story and pages on the left are full-color illustrations.

Let’s talk about the beautiful illustrations first, then the story.

Paige used vibrant watercolors and acrylics when she painted the illustrations using her mouth. With the assistance of her art teacher, Paige used an assortment of brushes, balloons and sponges to create various effects. 

Then, she instructed what shapes she wanted cut from her paintings. Using a grid system, Paige expressed where to place items on each page.

The colorful illustrations coincide perfectly with Paige’s charming story about a little, green gecko named Camo.

The timid gecko is called on a mission. He has several barriers to overcome and he often questions if he is the right one for the job.  

He struggles with several things including a fear of the unknown and a fear of being too small to make a difference.

A dear friend, Sofia, encourages Camo in his journey. Sofia is a character from Paige’s first book, Sofia and Her MorningStar.

A magnet with this beautiful artwork by Paige is one of the giveaway prizes!

I’m not going to tell you the ending to Camo’s story. You’ll have to read it yourself to find out what happens. I’m sure there’s someone in this story with whom you, and your child, can relate.

The book was written with a Christian worldview. It does not specifically mention the name of God but references Him as the “Light.”

Paige dedicated it “to all the kids who are seeking their gifts.” I believe Paige has found hers.

I recommend you buy this book for the little ones you know. The story is suitable for all ages but I think the target audience is for ages 5-9.

I’m not the only one who likes Paige’s work. The back cover of Camo’s Journey holds endorsements from award-winning author, Michelle Medlock Adams and Joni Eareckson Tada.

Paige is a talented writer and artist. She's also generous! She's donating some great giveaway prizes--a magnet with one of her beautiful artwork pieces on it, and two of her books! Woo hoo! Thank you, Paige! 

I want to help get the word out about "Paige’s Projects", a non-profit
organizationso here are the rules for this giveaway.

Paige Snedeker
You have up to four chances to enter. For each of the following tasks you do, your name will go in the drawing.

Visit Paige’s facebook page and leave a comment or “like” her page.

Visit Paige’s website Paiges for God’s Glory.org.

Follow Paige on Twitter.

Readers, you must let me know in the comment section below which of these things you did so I’ll know how many times to put your name in the drawing (1-4).

It can be as simple as typing- “I did fb, website, and Twitter.” 
(If this was the case, then I'd know to put your name in three times.)

The drawing will be on Friday, March 3 so make sure to check back and see if you won!

A Rare Gem with a Rare Disease: An Interview with Author/Illustrator Paige Snedeker

by Sally Matheny

Paige Snedeker illustrates her books with her mouth.
Today's post has a double purpose. One is to raise awareness about rare diseases and how they affect people. February 28 is "Rare Disease Awareness Day."

The other purpose of this post is to highlight a young woman who suffers from a rare genetic disease but who is determined to shine stories of hope for others.

You may have heard of Paige Snedeker. She's a rare gem and she guest blogged for me last week. You can find her guest post, “Trials and Purpose,” here.

Paige is a talented author and illustrator. A great deal has happened since writing and illustrating her first book, Sofia and Her Morningstar, which released in 2013.

One milestone occurred in the fall of 2016. Paige finally received a diagnosis of the rare neurodegenerative disease she has dealt with for over twenty years. She and her brother, Tyson, have Brown Vialetto Van Laere Syndrome (BVVL). Tyson’s twin brother passed away when Paige was nine years old. He also had BVVL.

B2 (riboflavin) therapy has begun and we’re all praying for good results. However, Paige isn’t the kind to sit around and do nothing while she’s waiting.

She wrote and illustrated a second book, Camo’s Journey. It released in January 2017.

Today, I’m honored to interview Paige about her writing and illustrating journey.

Paige, share with us how you began your writing journey. 

When I was in middle school, I believed I could never be a writer, but I loved to write stories so much. My imagination was so big and overwhelming.

When I started high school, my teacher encouraged me to write. It was very difficult. At the time, my grammar was not very good, and I was scared to write because of that.

I did not have the opportunity of taking any writing classes until after I graduated from high school. I became really serious about my writing when I attended my first Florida Christian Writers’ Conference.  I still attend this every year.

Sofia and Her Morningstar
What inspired you to write your first book, Sofia and Her Morningstar?

I always wanted to help people through my writing. I want people to know that they have been created for a reason and that they should be happy with who they are.

What inspired you to write Camo’s Journey?

After I graduated, I wanted to become a detective, so I started studying for college. 

Then, one day I found out about the writers’ conference from one of my favorite authors. 

After I attended it, I learned that God wanted me to continue writing. I wanted to share my story with others. I was able to do this through my characters in Camo’s Journey.

I read where it took you five years to complete your first book. About how long did it take you to complete the second one?

After I attended the first conference, I started writing Camo’s Journey. It took me six months to finish writing it. Then I started the illustrations. That took more than a year. I had bad illustrators’ block. Ha-ha!

You're funny, Paige. What do you do when you face writer’s or illustrator’s block?

I try to take my time. I write in my journal to help me process my thoughts and ideas. Also, I go to God’s Word for inspiration. After all, He is why I do what I do in the first place.       

So, did you do anything differently the second time around? Any lessons learned?

As I wrote Camo’s Journey, my writing began to expand. The story became deeper, and I put more of my passion into it.

When I wrote Sofia and Her Morningstar, I was more distant from the Lord. As I grew older, I finally surrendered my heart to Jesus completely.

So, Camo’s Journey is more powerful because it reflects more of what the Lord has done in my life and in my heart.

As for my illustrations, I used more vibrant colors. The artwork has improved as I have gained more experience with the techniques.

Tell us about the various techniques you used illustrating your books.
I have used both watercolors and acrylics in my illustrations, but mostly watercolors.

My techniques include using different kinds of paintbrushes, paper towels, sponges and balloons. Sometimes I use Q-tips as well. We also use textured paper.

I use clenched teeth to hold all of these items. My art teacher will hold the paper in front of me. She cuts out the different shapes and pieces and I told her how to arrange them.

I have also done a couple of stained glass pieces. Working with stained glass is pretty scary, and it challenges me in a different way.

One of Paige Snedeker's
stained glass pieces.

Who has influenced you the most in your writing/illustrating?

My nurse, Pat inspired me the most. I had to go through a lot of personal trials. I will tell you this: other nurses mentally abused me, and I was so broken until Pat came. She showed me that I am an amazing person and that God has given me many talents. She encouraged me to use them without fear. That is why I wrote. She is my hero, and I love her a lot. 

What’s next? Is there a third book in the future?

I am currently working on my third book, which will finish my trilogy. I also have other kinds of writing ideas in mind. But these projects are in the very early stages, so I don’t want to speak about them just yet. 

You also have a blog and want to branch out your speaking ministry as well, right? 

I try to write a blog post every month about something more personal or related to my work. My blog is called Paige’s Pages, and it can be found on my website.

I have spoken in a few places. I have even Skyped with a school in the Bahamas to share my story with the students remotely.

I also want to spread the word about my disorder, BVVL, since it is so incredibly rare. There is a way to help children with this disease, but it is so little known that barely anyone knows how to treat it.

The older an individual with BVVL becomes, the less chance the treatments will have any effects. I have started my treatments in the last few months, and I am getting stronger every day, but my body has already been damaged because of the disease.

I want to continue to share my story with others as much as possible, so I am always looking for more opportunities to speak in local churches, etc.
I want to bring hope and encouragement and tell others like Philippians 4:13 tells us, that, through Christ, anything is possible.

Thank you so much for sharing with us, Paige. You are an encouragement to us all. May the Lord continue to meet all your needs and bless your work for His glory.

You can connect with Paige on her website at Paiges for God's Glory.

You may also want to read a book review of Camo’s Journey here and get in on the special prize giveaways!


Trials and Purpose

by Paige Snedeker

Paige Snedeker

Have you ever asked yourself what your purpose is for this life? 

I have. Every day I wake up, I ponder these questions: 

“Why am I here?  What can I do?”

Being Deaf, legally blind, confined to a wheelchair and with breathing assistance, I can hardly do anything without help from others. My life has changed so much that I now have to depend on other people for everything. 

Sometimes I have felt like there is no reason for me to be here, but Jesus Christ has shown me that there is a purpose no matter the situation.


Designed to Pray: Creative Ways to Engage with God- Book Review & Giveaway!

by Sally Matheny

Designed to Pray
Is your prayer life lacking passion and purpose? Then this book is for you. And if you'd like to learn more creative ways to express your prayers, then this book is definitely for you! 

I’m delighted to share with you about Designed to Pray: Creative Ways to Engage with God, and I’ll be giving away a copy of the book. Do you know why you should be excited?

Because it’s a fantastic book!

Award-winning author, Kelly O’Dell Stanley, incorporates her graphic design skills with her heart for prayer in this eight-week, interactive workbook.

There aren’t any rules in using the book and she encourages readers to feel free to adapt it to suit their styles and needs.