Tuesday, September 27, 2016

With All Due Respect Book Review and Giveaway

by Sally Matheny

Book Review: All Due Respect
Nina Roesner, the executive director of Greater Impact Ministries, Inc. has teamed up with co-worker, Debbie Hitchcock, to write With All Due Respect:40 Days to a More Fulfilling Relationship with Your Teens & Tweens.

I’ll be giving away a copy to one of you readers this week! 

There's something for everyone for a variety of topics are covered. A sampling of the forty chapter titles are:

Communicate Respect Early
Take Care of the Temple
Use Humor When Things Get Hot
Be True to Your Word
Coach Your Kids on Navigating Conflict
Separate Your Identity

Two of my favorites are Talk Your Kids Through Disappointment, and Deal With the Person Before the Issue.

While I appreciate the one or two scriptures at the beginning of each chapter, I don’t think the overall content is “scripturally saturated” as stated in the beginning of the book.

However, the content is good, and written with a Christian worldview.

Each chapter opens up with a scene illustrating some type of situation or problem. The authors use the dialogue between characters as a tool to teach parents how to respond in certain situations. In some parts, the dialogue sounds like it’s coming from a Christian psychologist more than a parent, but nonetheless, it’s helpful. Each chapter closes with a prayer for the parent.

This book is not a Bible study. But rather a resource for parents, specifically moms, on how to communicate effectively with their tweens and teens during life’s stressful moments.

During those difficult times, if you struggle with controlling your emotions, speaking before thinking, or acting rashly, this book will challenge you to pause and pray first. Then, it gives you a springboard of ideas on how to offer guidance as you begin a healthy conversation.

Want to win this book?

Every person who has subscribed to this blog, or is following it by email, will have their name entered into the drawing. If you’re already doing one of those, you don’t need to do anything at all.

Otherwise, you can find the “Subscribe to” button and the “Follow by Email” section over there to your right. Thanks and I can’t wait to see who wins. I’ll announce the winner on Oct. 3, 2016.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers 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

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Why Christians Are Afraid to Speak Up & How to Squash Those Fears

by Sally Matheny

Photo by Pixabay
Why are some Christians afraid to speak the truth of Jesus Christ when they are at school, at work, or even at church? 

I believe it boils down to three fears. Fear of rejection, fear of persecution, and fear of inadequacy. How do I know? A few of them have crept up on me, too.

Let’s consider our “what if” fears and talk about ways to squash them.

Fear of Rejection

You’ve heard these—maybe even said a few.

“What if kids stop talking to me, because I’m talking about Jesus?”

“I could be ostracized in the group.”

“If I talk about God, won’t people say I think I’m better than everyone else?”

We may see eyes roll, hear snide remarks, or feel as if we’re invisible. We may be denied access to the popular group at school. Overlooked for a job promotion.

Former friends now



d i s t a n c e.

Rejection may lead to persecution.

Fear of Persecution

“The kids will make fun of me if they know I’m a Christian.”

“If I speak the whole Truth, they’ll say its hate speech.”

“No one will respect me. They’ll think I’m a fanatic. I might even lose my job.”

Persecution to most American Christians means being singled out, harassed, perhaps bullied.

Persecution to Pakistani, Asia Bibi, meant a beating for sharing her faith to Muslim women. Imprisoned for violating subsection C of Pakistan’s 295 blasphemy law - blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad, she was sentenced to death. The death sentence was not carried out, but she’s been imprisoned since 2009. Even though she is sick and misses her family, she will not renounce her faith.

Asia's story takes our perception of persecution to another level.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Parents Raising First Responders: Compassionate Children

by Sally Matheny

photo by Sally Matheny
Martin Luther King, Jr. gave an intriguing perspective on the story of the Good Samaritan. He said, “The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was, ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But the Good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

Have you ever considered the Good Samaritan as a first responder? He wasn’t certified, emergency personnel. The priest in the story certainly wasn’t like NYFD chaplain, Father Mychal Judge, who went to assist those in need when the World Trade Center was attacked.

Due to the terrorists’ assaults on September 11, 2001, almost 3,000 people died. That death toll included over 400 first responders, including Father Judge, who came to the rescue.

While people poured out to escape the towers, the first responders charged in. Pushing through heavy smoke and ash, they sought out those in need.

Why would anyone risk their life for a stranger? Why endanger your future with your spouse, your children, and your life dreams in order to preserve the future of a stranger?

Intense training helps America’s emergency personnel, fire fighters, police officers and military service members. They are the best first responders when physical danger looms. They have my utmost respect and appreciation.

However, we hear about other kinds of first responders, when rare moments arise and an immediate action is necessary. People pull victims to safety and thwart evil schemes.They step up and speak up.

Some people bravely spring into action while others hang back. Why?

Practice compassion.
Pixabay photo
Are certain people born with a natural tendency towards empathy? I’m sure a thousand scientific studies have already been conducted concerning the topic.

One thing for sure, we’re all born with a selfish nature. 

And we all experience fear.

So, why do some people stop and help, like the Good Samaritan, and others pass by?

It’s obvious when we hang back, it‘s due to some type of fear. Fear of pain, rejection, or the cost of time, money, and emotional involvement.

Some researchers suggest the ones who act, usually grew up taking part in activities which involved empathy. As children, they may have had opportunities to serve in the community, work at shelters, or watched parents be a voice for the oppressed.

If children are encouraged to do the right thing, and to help those less fortunate, then they are more likely to continue to do those things as adults.
On the other hand, if children grow up where everything is centered on their desires and comfort, then it makes sense that they will avoid anything contrary to that.

Sometimes, to do the right thing as a parent, we have to face our own fears of pain, rejection, time & emotional involvement.

Are we willing stop and tend to our children’s hearts, instead of gliding by, hoping they pick up assistance from someone else? Because someone else may teach how to do good things without adding the Reason why we do them. Someone else may add agendas to pollute the heart instead of allowing God’s Word to purify it. Even worse, there may not be anyone willing to stop at all. Too late, we realize what we had hoped would happen “naturally,” or under someone else’s care, did not happen at all.

Are we brave enough to set an example for our kids by lovingly speaking the truth of God’s Word rather than agreeing with a world that contradicts it?

photo by Sally Matheny

God, help us to be the first responders to our children’s spiritual training. Strengthen us to stand firm on your perfect, Holy Word.   By Your grace and mercy, help us raise our children to be God-fearing, yet fearless of the world. Help us instill in them a love for all your people. To be first responders for those in need, especially those in need of You.   Amen.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Are Children Missing Awesome Adventures Due to Others' Fears?

by Sally Matheny

Climbing uphill in the mud is not easy.

“This may be too difficult for you.”

“You might get hurt.”

“Have you been training?”

“It costs too much.”

“It can’t be done.”

“You’ll never finish.”

Have we, or our children, missed awesome adventures because we listened to someone else's fears?

I’m not talking about discernment and godly wisdom. Those are good things. I’m talking about the nay-sayers who naturally gravitate toward negative comments about everything. If you want to donate blood--you’ll probably faint. Pet the horse? Bite your finger off. Get a BB gun—shoot your eye out. You get the idea.

In addition, there are those who fear trying anything new. They never take chances for fear of failure, and feel the need to “protect” everyone else from failing. 

This reminds me of the movie, “Finding Nemo,” where Nemo’s dad declares he won’t let anything happen to his son. Dori, the ditsy, but wise, fish, tells him how odd it is not allowing things to happen to your child. She challenges him to think of how much his son will miss.

Several years ago, my husband and teen daughters wanted to participate in a 5K Mud Run. Two trained for the event but one had been unable to train due to sickness. On such a course, whether someone trains or not, anything could happen.

Every fifteen minutes, a new group began their timed race. While my crew were waiting for their event to begin, I made my way over to the First Aid tent. 

"What's the worse injury you've had today?" I asked.

"A broken arm," replied the paramedic.

"Was that the only broken bone today?"

"Oh, no. Several runners have been to the ER for casts. A few only needed stitches."

Peering over the crowd, I noticed my family lining up for their race. My heart yearned to do the  Mama-thing and rapidly scoot over there to inform them of everything I'd just heard. 

I did scoot. However, I resisted sharing the negative news. I didn’t ask them to reconsider. I just told them to be careful and have fun. 

Why did I not tell them? Because every member of my family had researched this race. They wanted to try it, and I wanted to be their cheerleader.

Each prepared for the race differently. Even though they had read about the obstacles, they didn’t fully comprehend their difficulty until they were experiencing them firsthand. Certain parts of the race were not fun. Some of it was downright nasty, grueling, hard work.

Each team consisted of four members. To complete the course, they had to work together. My family split into two different teams. They knew some of their teammates well. Other team members they did not know as well, but learned quickly how to communicate and help one another.

Why did I send my babies out into this messy, muddy crazy adventure? What could possibly benefit them from climbing slippery, 8-foot walls and swimming in 5-foot mud trenches?

Following through on a dream

Facing a challenge

Working with others as a team

Good communication skills

Realizing you can do more than you (or anyone else) thinks you can

Understanding not everything has to be competitive

How to tackle an obstacle in life

Sometimes life is really hard, and you have to push through.

Don’t give up. Keep going.

How to tackle an obstacle in life

Sometimes life is really hard, and you have to push through.

Don’t give up. Keep going.

Help others along the way.

Completing a difficult challenge makes you feel stronger and more confident for future challenges.

A little dirt never hurt anyone.

Finish what you start. It feels great when you do!

Especially without broken bones. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Winner of the Pumpkin Patch Blessings Book

My regular blog post will come later in the weekend, but I wanted to go ahead and announce the winner of the Pumpkin Patch Blessings Book.

Congratulations to Marcie! I'll contact you soon about the delivery of your book.

Thanks to all of you who shared your fall season favorites with us.

If you missed the review of this book, you can find it here.

Talk to you all soon,


Friday, August 26, 2016

Children's Book Review of Pumpkin Patch Blessings and a Giveaway!

by Sally Matheny

Pumpkin Patch Blessings
Are you looking forward to autumn? I saw an eager, yellow leaf parachuting from a tree yesterday. The apples are almost ripe for picking, and soon the pumpkins will follow. In anticipation of the refreshingly cool air, I’m reviewing a children’s book, Pumpkin Patch Blessings, today. Also, someone will receive a blessing and win a free copy of the book!

Pumpkin Patch Blessings, written by Kim Washburn and illustrated by Jacqueline East, is published by Zonderkidz.

Soft lines and colors fill this fourteen-page, board book. Children will take delight scouring the pages for illustrations of God’s creations—plants, animals, and people. On most pages, there is a dog and a bunny. Children will enjoy searching for them throughout the book.

The story centers around two children visiting a pumpkin farm. Through the story, readers” hear” the crunch of the leaves, “smell and taste” roasted corn on the cob, and “feel” the multi-textures of pumpkins. The rhyming verses recount many more sensory experiences before ending with pumpkin pies at home.

Another feature of the book I liked was the inclusion of more than one ethnic group in the book. 

One additional note, two jack-o-lanterns are inserted on the last page. Nothing in the book mentions, or alludes to, Halloween or jack-o-lanterns. In fact, the whole book focuses on God’s creation. Nonetheless, two small jack-o-lanterns nestle in among the rest of the pumpkins on the last page. Some pumpkins are plain. Others have carved-out circles and shapes with light shining through. 

Overall, children will enjoy this beautiful book. The rich vocabulary makes it a wonderful book for ages 4-6. The durable design and colorful illustrations provide an entertaining book for younger children as well.

Who would like to win this book?

*All you have to do is tell us what part of God’s creation do you enjoy the most during the autumn season. We will announce the winner on Sept. 2!

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

Friday, August 19, 2016

Sharing the Son Means Leaving the Shade

by Sally Matheny

Enthusiasm fresh as the morning
My enthusiasm was fresh the morning we began serving a meal at the project. People slowly filtered into the commons area. My cheerful greetings were not returned. Instantly, I sensed a divide greater than the table of food between us. They had come for the food. Nothing else.

An inexplicable heaviness stifled conversations. Icy silence, as well as sharp tongues, severed most attempts of interaction. It was obvious. We were not welcome.
After helping distribute the food, I retreated under the outstretched branches of a tree, thankful that I’d thought to bring a lawn chair. It provided a secure place to perch and watch the crowd. Most of the missions team stayed under the shady tent. Two or three pastors mingled and tried to chisel out conversations.

Then I saw her.

A young woman, probably in her early twenties, stood off to the side, alone. She was looking around as if searching for something, or someone.

I hesitated. The last woman I had approached, gruffly informed me she was waiting on someone. Perhaps this young woman was waiting as well.

Yet, she continued to stand there, sweat flowing down her face. She hugged her drink and chips in one arm and her hamburger in the other. What was she looking for?

Seating was limited. Most people grabbed their food and hustled back to their homes. Could this woman possibly be one of the few who wanted to sit and stay awhile?

Slowly, I eased out from under the tree’s protection. Would she be like the others and berate me for being there? I was an outsider—different ethnicity, different economic level, different worldview.

“Hi. Are you looking for someone?”

She shyly shook her head no. I didn’t recognize any anger in her face. It appeared to be more like discomfort.

“Would you like to sit down to eat?”

A simple nod yes.

I look around at the few tables provided. No empty seats. I scan the grassy area under the trees. An empty chair sits beside  mine.

“Would you like to sit under the tree? It’s cooler.”

Sharing the Son Means Leaving the Shade

She nods and follows me to the tree. The distance is short, but we don’t arrive in time to claim both chairs. Only my chair is left.

“Here. You can have my chair.”

As she sits down, I introduce myself. She tells me her name. But I could not hear her well over someone yelling. I did not ask her to repeat it.

I smile, trying hard not to be insincerely cheery. “It’s nice to meet you. I hope you like your burger.” I motion toward the tent. “I’ve got to go help serve.”

She smiled with another silent nod.  

As I stood under the shade of the tent, I kept looking back over at the tree. The woman ate silently. A young man, with a mental illness, chattered away beside her but she wasn’t responding.

Something inside told me to go tell her why we were there. We weren’t just giving away free meals. We were sharing the love and hope of Jesus Christ.
But the earlier rejections of the crowd stifled my response.

The crowd dwindled. Only a few remained in line. I decided handing out napkins to folks would be helpful.

“Would you like a napkin?”

A few minutes passed. Another expressionless face approached.

“Would you like a napkin?”

Another five minutes passed before anyone needed my valuable napkin distribution service. This is ridiculous. I should just go talk to her.

I neatly stack the napkins on the corner of the table and turn back towards the tree.

She is gone.

As quietly as she slipped into my life, she slipped out. As well as my opportunity to tell her how much God loves her. And how He gives a joy so great, that she’d have a hard time staying so quiet.

Plant a seed of hope.

And for my silence, I am sorry.

Perhaps she already had a relationship with Christ. I hope so.

I understand when we first meet someone, it’s not always the best time to share Christ.

Although often,

it is.

 ”But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. 
Always be prepared 
to give an answer to everyone who asks you 
to give the reason for the hope that you have. 
But do this with gentleness and respect.”  

1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

College Student: Be a Game-Changer & Beat the Need for “Adulting”

by Sally Matheny

College Student: Be a Game-Changer
When my children were preschoolers, they “beat” me in every game. I made sure they buzzed in answers before me, scored the most points, and reached the finish line first.

Why? Because I did not want them to be upset if they failed to win.

The same took place in other areas. Batches of backward letters were praised, rather, than reshaped. Misspoken words adored instead of corrected. Scored baskets enticed wild cheers at their first basketball games. We did not dare mention the refs overlooking some serious walking infractions.

Why? Because I, like many others, wanted my child to feel successful.

Eventually, we enforced playing games with integrity.  Corrections began to flow into all areas of my kids’ lives. Sometimes they did get upset. There were angry outbursts, tears, and “I quit” attitudes.

For the sake of peace, I almost wanted to slip back into letting them be right, even if they were wrong. Almost.

Which brings me to today’s topic. Have you heard of "adulting"?