26.8.16

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




19.8.16

Sharing the Son Means Leaving the Shade

by Sally Matheny

Enthusiasm fresh as the morning
My enthusiasm glittered with the morning sun. It was my first time 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 communication. 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. Thankfully, 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 quietly ate. 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)






14.8.16

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"? 

8.8.16

Got Gumption?

by Sally Matheny
Gumption. It can mean practicality, common sense, or downright guts of courage. A recent visit to the roller-skating rink presented several cases of gumption.
It had been two years since our last visit. Not much has changed. Same disco ball. Same glow-in-the-dark, neon-splashed carpet on the walls. 

The new items were the “walkers” for beginning skaters.  Little kids hunched over and gripped the handles. They looked like they were practicing for a future Sr. Citizen Roller Derby!


The person who came up with the idea of the walkers, made with PVC pipe, connectors, and wheels, was wise. Whomever decided there should be an additional charge of two dollars to rent one, was a genius.

One could say they had a lot of gumption. There were two more people at the skating rink that greatly impressed me with their gumption.