GrowingForChrist

Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

See the Newsboys in Concert with Adventures in Odyssey


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Want to be entered for a chance to win a free trip for four to hear the Newsboys, the award-winning Christian music band, in Dallas? Sign up to be a part of the movement to protect religious freedom for future generations: Bring Your Bible to School Day! Students from kindergarten to college will be bringing their Bibles to school and sharing God with their friends on October 6.

By completing the information on this page, you’re automatically entered to win the chance to see the Newsboys with Focus on the Family and Adventures in Odyssey. Don’t miss out on the chance to see a fantastic band with your family!

Plus Sign Up for a Free Two-Week Trial of Odyssey Adventure Club

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Getting used to a new school isn’t easy, especially for someone as paranoid as Buddy Norman. In “A Predicament of Biblical Proportions” he envisions wacky worst-case encounters with townsfolk who seem like mobsters, snoops and fairy-tale tyrants—until he gets to know them. He’s also a little confused about Bring Your Bible to School Day. What’s it about? Should he participate? See Odyssey through Buddy’s eyes in this witty celebration of religious freedom.

Listen to this story through a two-week trial only on the Odyssey Adventure Club.

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Commit to Bring Your Bible to School October 6


Celebrate religious freedom with other students across the U.S. on October 6—Bring Your Bible to School Day! Students from kindergarten to college will be bringing their Bibles to school and sharing God with their friends in just a few short weeks. Sign up to be a part of the movement to protect religious freedom for future generations.

By signing up, you’ll receive a free guide with tips, downloadable posters, sticker and T-shirt designs, information on your legal rights, and other fun, interactive activities.

You’ll also be automatically entered for a chance to win a free trip for four to hear the Newsboys, an award-winning Christian music band, in Dallas!

Plus Bring Your Bible to School Comes to Adventures in Odyssey

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Getting used to a new school isn’t easy, especially for someone as paranoid as Buddy Norman. In “A Predicament of Biblical Proportions” he envisions wacky worst-case encounters with townsfolk who seem like mobsters, snoops and fairy-tale tyrants—until he gets to know them. He’s also a little confused about Bring Your Bible to School Day. What’s it about? Should he participate? See Odyssey through Buddy’s eyes in this witty celebration of religious freedom.

Listen to this story through a two-week trial only on the Odyssey Adventure Club.

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To the friends and family of the new widow


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My last post was to the young widow and there will probably be a part two but now I want to focus on the friends and family of the young widow, there will probably be a part two to this as well.

These are some things to do and not to do – I stress not because you cannot bombard the young widow with questions, inane requests or questions. What you might consider helpful, to the young widow, usually is not. Remember our loss is different than if you had lost a parent, grandparent or even a child. Each loss is unique and with that I’m going on what helped me.

So the top of my list would be gifts – money and/or gift cards. I cannot say how much gift cards to restaurants, grocery stores and/or gas cards helped me in those first weeks and months. Giving a Pizza Hut gift card means I could go online order a pizza or two and soda, have it delivered and never once have to leave my house. Gas cards for the many trips to the funeral home, church and cemetery we’ll be making over the next several days and weeks. Grocery gift cards allow a friend to pick us up stuff without having to worry about giving them money and change, etc. and when we feel like going to the grocery we don’t have to worry about our check book dwindling – this was a MAJOR worry until I could access my husband’s bank account and began receiving benefits in March (3 months AFTER his passing).

Set up a Take Them A Meal or a Meal Train. Again this is something that tops my list! Meals that we don’t have to plan, prepare or think of. If you can include enough for leftovers for lunch and maybe even breakfast, even if it’s cereal and some milk. Don’t forget toilet paper and paper towels! Seriously, this is stuff I couldn’t begin to think we needed let alone wanted. If the person’s church or their children’s activities director isn’t setting something up – do it! Even if you don’t know them well, if you find a new widow isn’t having food brought to her house, set it up! The nice thing is even if you can’t make a meal and take you can have food sent, a little costly, but well worth it and appreciated. One friend who lived quite a distance from me order a Bob Evans take out meal, I ran in real quick to pick it up. All was paid for and it was home in minutes for dinner and leftovers for lunch the next day.

To go along with the second idea – DO NOT call, text or email the widow asking what she wants or needs. I had absolutely no, zero, nada, idea of what I needed let alone what I wanted. There should be 1 – one, uno, contact person. If the person who is setting up the meal train, they should find out what meals the family enjoys, allergies and list those on the site so that those signing up to take a meal does not bombard the widow with these questions. If there can’t be one contact person then a friend or family member needs to be appointed point of contact or even two people. Trust me, we have enough to deal with with having to pick out an outfit for our husband, making sure the details are correct, writing the obituary, meeting with the funeral director and the cemetery people which are usually two separate meetings, and taking care of the children.

Going along with the previous idea – DO NOT call, text or email to ask what you can do, what can you bring, etc. The majority of us will be in shock, especially if the passing of our husband is sudden and unexpected, we can barely think of what has to happen next let alone what things you might be thinking of. Our world is upside down – literally and figuratively. Contact their church, a mutual friend, a family member, etc but try to keep your contact minimal. Let them know you’re thinking and praying for them by sending a condolence card, on Facebook, text, email or phone call BUT do not ask, at least right away, what they need.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt” UGH! Please, please think before you speak. What you might think is helpful, may not be. I had one person while I was standing in the receiving line tell me I was young and could re-marry. WHAT!? Really? Or he’s in a better place. Yes, but I’m not focusing on that, I want him here with me and the children. He’s not suffering. Sure, but again I want him here! Many of us don’t know what to say, and you know what, it’s okay to admit that. I would have much rather heard, “I don’t know what to say and I’m sorry, you’re in our thoughts and prayers” than some of the “helpful” words spoken.

I’ll leave it at that for now, I’m not saying all these things are true for every single widow across the board BUT these are things that did help or would have helped me in the first days of widowhood. I’m sure there will be another post – things about when to say widow in front of her, talking about her husband, etc but for now this is a start.

 

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To the new widow (especially the young one)


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I received word last night that another husband passed away – he was young, it was sudden and unexpected. Another fellow blogger also lost her husband suddenly the other day. Then there was the friend of my husband. 3 widows in just a short span of time. It seems, like my husband, two were taken by a heart attack and one by a blood clot in the lungs – their wives and children’s lives turned upside down in minutes.

I want to write this to the new widow, especially the young ones, that may still have children at home. I’m not discounting the elderly widow or those young ones without children at home, but with all things there are certain dynamics that come with being a young widow with children at home.

First, there will be a light at the ‘end’ of the tunnel. I know it’s hard to see or even want to hear that, believe me I know. There will come a day when you begin to feel alive again and when that day comes you will also feel guilty. Guilty because maybe that means you’re forgetting him? Guilty because you’re the one still alive? Guilty just to feel guilty.

Please know it’s okay to tell family and friends to leave you alone, to go away. Sometimes you just need that time with your children. As much as our friends and family mean well and love us – it is okay to tell them bye and just BE.

It’s also okay to admit that you don’t know what you or your children want or need. I had so many people, who wanted to help us, ask me what we needed, what we wanted. I honestly couldn’t answer that. The first few days and weeks are a fog, you’re mind is going a thousand a million miles per second – you won’t know if you’re out of toilet paper or if you need milk. That is where your friends and family come in, let them enter your home go through your cupboards, your fridge, bathroom and see what you need. I know to those who aren’t going through the loss of a husband can’t fathom that, letting friends and family go through your house, unthinkable. You are just trying to get through the day, walking with your children and going to the store becomes your unthinkable.

Don’t say you’re okay – I learned that even when it shocked people – admitting I wasn’t okay helped ME. When I finally went to the grocery store for the first time and the cashier asked how I was, I honestly said not good, and told her about Don. She was shocked by my honesty. I’m no longer afraid of being honest – if they can’t handle the truth that is their issue, not yours. If you’re not okay or if you are okay, be honest, it will help you face those feelings.

Make sure to proof read the obituary before letting the funeral home submit it to the paper. I regret this. There were errors in my husband’s leading some to think that we had expected him to pass away – if I had been of sound mind I would have caught that and had it removed.

During the visitation, it is okay to sit. I tried to stand for hours, thankfully a friend and my mom noticed that I wasn’t doing well and forced me to sit. I sat as the hundreds of people filtered through. I don’t care what they thought, some didn’t even know there was a widow! I wouldn’t have done my children any good by passing out in front of my husband’s casket. Sit if you need to sit, cry if you need to cry and even exit the visitation area for a few moments. Don’t worry what others will say – this is about you and your children. I know some didn’t like it that I didn’t make my children stand next to the casket and receive visitors instead I let them ramble around the church with their friends. They’d come up to Don and then leave again – that is what they needed.

Reach out – I wish I had had a younger widow to reach out too – the ones that I know are elderly with adult children. If you can find a younger widow who has walked this road is walking this road (we’ll always be walking this road) that can help. We can know that you’ll want to remember your husband, hear his name, cry. We’ll know that you need silence and someone to just hold you or hold your child(ren) while you hide under the covers. If you don’t know of another young widow, maybe your pastor does or the funeral home or a loss support group.

Grieve your way. If that means you need a support group, join one. If that means you need to stay in and cry, do it. Many well meaning people told me to get into a support group, I didn’t. That is what I needed. I take on other peoples grief and I couldn’t do that and I still can’t. It was suggested for me to go to a widow’s group – I didn’t do that either as most were elderly and I’m in a totally different stage. Maybe some day. If you need a group, if you don’t, both are fine.

Don’t let others tell how you how you should feel – I’ve had some tell me what they’d do in my situation. Ignore them! They don’t know and I pray they never do. If you laugh over a funny memory, don’t let someone tell you you shouldn’t be laughing (there is a time to weep and a time to laugh). If all you do is cry, then cry. If you need to scream, scream. There is no timeline – even though I’m 18 months out doesn’t mean there aren’t times when I think Don will be coming home soon, or waiting for a phone call, and so on. If I hear Toto on the radio.

Basically, grieve your way – you’ve loved this man for years, you’ve had children together and now it’s gone. I won’t lie, you’ll be lonely at night as you search for his body in your bed, you’ll long for another adult to talk to once all the company goes back to their lives, you’ll try calling his cell or work number only to be brought back to reality. You are going to be lonely, if there is a friend or family member who can stay with you, accept it. It’s not the same thing but they can be there.

Lean on the Lord – His presence is there, it may not be a physical, human presence but He is there. He can take your questions, He can take your anger and He will comfort you and your children. I still get angry some days – I question why so and so is still alive and Don isn’t. Why the couple who is divorcing is throwing it all away. I even get jealous – friends kissing their husbands, couples holding hands at events. The Lord can take it – He knows your pain, He knows your children’s pain – He will take it all upon Him, He can’t take it away only His return can spare us that, but He can comfort us.

There is so much more I could write, but I know that one’s mind can only hold so much especially in the time of grief. Please, reach out to me, if you don’t know of any other young widows, I’d love to come along side you and just listen.

 

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Been MIA


This post won’t contain pictures – it’s not because I don’t want it too but because I’m simply trying to keep up with our lives.

June 13, 2016 marked 1 1/2 year of me being a widow – you can read some of my thoughts on that here, I wrote it before the mark. A friend of my husband’s passed away this week – he was 44 and he left behind three children and a wife. There are times the scabs get ripped off and start oozing again. I could not bring myself to go to his visitation, I’ll send a card to his widow and children.

There are times I want to quit everything – church, school, activities, all. of. it! I just want to stay inside, cuddle in my bed and have my children with me and just, BE. There are times that I put on my smiling face because no one wants to really hear about our troubles, my worries for the future and so on. I’m just weary of everything – it’s not so much depression as it is self-preservation.

I want to stop but then I know if I do – even for a moment – things will come crashing down, emotions I don’t want to feel, tears I don’t want to fall, raw pain that I don’t want to deal with. So I stay busy, so busy that by 7 or 8 p.m. I fall into bed exhausted so I can fall to sleep and not let thoughts plague me – of course the nightmares come. So I guess it’s counter-productive.

I’m realizing I haven’t grieved fully.

I’m realizing that I’ve gone through the motions and it seems the more I go through the motions the more numb I become.

I’ve realized what family and what friends I can count on and there are those I can’t, and it hurts. Those that have helped and continue to do so, thank you, that isn’t what hurts. The hurt comes from those who think I should be the one to call, to reach out if I need something. If someone lost a parent, we wouldn’t require them to be the ones to reach out, would we? So why should a widow? There is family who wonders why we don’t come around much – it goes both ways and I can’t be the one to make the effort all the time.

My son recently confided to me that he gets scared when I’m asleep. I guess apparently I sleep so soundly that you can’t see my chest rise and fall. Being the child that found his dad, you can imagine how scary it is for him. So I’ve had to give him permission at any time he gets scared and doesn’t see my breathing, to wake me up. This isn’t an easy feat, my husband hated waking me up too, I’m a heavy sleeper for the most part. I’ve assured him and all of them they can wake me.

That is our lives. I even check on the children more now than I did when they were babes. If I get up to use the restroom in the middle of the night I’ll check on them – and hold my breath until they either move or I see their chest move.

We take for granted we’ll be there in the morning – our lives no longer allow us to do that – sad for me to learn and even more sad for such young children to learn.

We’ve gone through our 2nd Father’s Day and we’re going into our 2nd Fourth of July – my mom is thinking of buying me a grill so we’ll probably do something low key at home. My son doesn’t want to see fireworks, I’m okay with that. My oldest had her 2nd set of ear tubes put in this week and so she’s sensitive to sound. We’ve got smoke bombs and sparklers we’ll do.

We’ve also passed my brother’s 1st birthday, the first one without him here.

One would think that as a social worker and having taken many psych classes I’d know what to do, follow the stages of grief and be healthy. Like nurses making the worst patients, social workers don’t follow their own education either – oh we can tell others the way I’ve dealt with things probably isn’t the healthiest, it will come to bite me in the end, etc, etc. Then again I guess we’re all just trying to make it through whether healthy or not, whether it’s following the grief guidelines or not.

So all this to say is that I’m still here, blogging is still a way for me to express myself, just checking in. Please keep us in your prayers.

 

 

 

 

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FREE 14 Day Trial Is Now Available for the Odyssey Adventure Club!


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Think of ways you can enjoy this summer for free:

  • Hiking
  • Visiting parks in your area
  • Swimming
  • Camping in your backyard
  • Visit a public museum or library

Now, add more fun and imagination to your summer through the Odyssey Adventure Club!

The Odyssey Adventure Club will give you streaming access to more than 800 Adventures in Odyssey episodes plus a sneak peek of exclusive audio and video stories, on-line activities and daily devotions you can’t find anywhere else.

Start a free 14-day trial for your family today and make the summer even more fun!

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Make Your Children World Explorers


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Give your family summer vacation a makeover this year and turn it into a “staycation.” Have your kids forget their summer boredom, turn off their screens, and instead circle the globe with Focus on the Family’s “World Explorers” summer adventure kit!

Throughout the next two months, travel our colorful, diverse world, visiting 27 different countries on six continents. Part of the fun will be figuring out where the next stop is, using five clues that reveal interesting facts about the next country. Once you’ve determined where you’re going, use the games, activities and faith lessons to give your kids a glimpse into that country’s unique culture.

Click here to sign up and receive your free summer adventure kit.

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Don’t Be Bored This Summer!

Now is the time to make sure your kids have the greatest adventure this summer with more than 800 Adventures in Odyssey episodes and non-stop listening fun! Sign up for the Odyssey Adventure Club today for just $9.99 per month at OACLUB.org.

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Adventures in Odyssey Summer Challenge 2016


This summer, you can join Adventures in Odyssey’s Clubhouse Magazine and help children in the Middle East go to school and learn English. It’s Adventures in Odyssey’s Clubhouse Magazine Exercise to Educate summer challenge!

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The Problem

Nearly 7,000 miles away from the United States, there’s a war going on in the country of Syria. Many families have been forced from their homes. Parents have had to leave their jobs, and children have had to leave behind toys and friends.

Many of these families now live in refugee camps in nearby countries. They have tents instead of houses. Clean water is hard to come by. This war has put 2.6 million children out of school – some for more than four years already.

The Solution

Our friends at Focus on the Family Middle East know many families who don’t have the money to buy a school uniform and pay for their children to go to school. They also know people who would love to teach children English in local churches.

You may not have a lot of money to help, but you probably have time, energy and excitement. Here’s what you can do:

1. Go to to Whitsend.org/summer.

2. Print a sponsor sheet and exercise to earn points. You can do it for a week or the whole summer – just remember, the more you exercise, the more points you’ll earn!

3. Ask your family and friends to sponsor your efforts.

4. Beginning in July, tell us how you did and receive a digital bundle from your friends at Adventures in Odyssey and Focus on the Family. The deadline to submit your information is August 31, 2016.

For participating and submitting your information, you will get a free Adventures in Odyssey episode from Album 51. You will also get 101 Surefire Ways to Strengthen Your Child’s Faith – eBook and the audio book of Imagination Station #1, “Voyage with the Vikings.”

Make the most of your summer—exercise for your health and help other kids in need while you do!

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Don’t Be Bored This Summer!

Now is the time to make sure your kids have the greatest adventure this summer with over 800 Adventures in Odyssey episodes and non-stop listening fun! Sign up for the Odyssey Adventure Club today for just $9.99 per month at OACLUB.org.

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Book Review: The Pinecraft Pie Shop book 1: Made with Love by Tricia Goyer and Sherry Gore


love_zpskbjceed3 About the Book:

Lovina Miller should be thrilled. Pinecraft, Florida, has everything a young Amish woman could ask for: sun, sand, volleyball games, and evening singings in the park. But Pinecraft lacks the one thing Lovina desperately wants—a pie shop of her own. She longs for a place to gather with the community and serve the treat she loves.

A young carpenter named Noah Yoder strolls into her life and offers a way to make her dream come true. But before Noah and Lovina can build a shop—and a life—together, they must each face heartaches from the past. Is their new love stronger than their regrets?

You can purchase your copy at Harvest House Publishers.

love2_zpsm6hcjcin About Tricia:

Tricia Goyer is a busy mom of six, grandmother of two, and wife to John. A USA Today bestselling author, Tricia has published over 40 books and has written more than 500 articles. She’s well-known for her Big Sky and Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors Amish series. For more information visit Tricia at http://www.TriciaGoyer.com. Tricia, along with a group of friends, also runs http://www.NotQuiteAmishLiving.com, sharing ideas about simplifying life.

love3_zpsousbu2xi About Sherry:

Sherry Gore is the author of Simply Delicious Amish Cooking and Me, Myself and Pie and is a weekly scribe for the national edition of the Amish newspaper The Budget. Sherry’s culinary adventures have been seen on NBC Daytime, Today.com, and Mr. Food Test Kitchen. Sherry is a resident of Sarasota, Florida, the vacation paradise of the Plain People. She has three children and is a member of a Beachy Amish Mennonite church.

My Opinion:

I’ve read many of Tricia’s book before, such as Where Treetops Glisten and Mom’s Night Out, among others. I have never read any of Sherry Gore’s other books though and that is something I will be rectifying soon. I used to be obsessed with the Amish culture, so much so, I tried to convince my husband to convert but there were some issues and we couldn’t and he wouldn’t so we stayed English. I didn’t quite connect with Lovina like I wanted to, she was single, still at home and all she wants is to open her own pie shop – I could relate to the dream part but not so much some of her mopey attitude. Enter Noah, who has a bad reputation among the Plain People and well I’m sure the reader can figure out what happens next, or can they?

Full of twists and turns, I had a hard time figuring out what was going to happen next because just when I think I figured it out, I was wrong. I like that, I don’t like boring, predictable books and this was not that. Even though I’m not as obsessed with the Amish as I once was I still enjoy a book about them. That said there is romance, nothing risque, obviously but I’m throwing that out there. Lately, when I read romance novels my heart isn’t in it but this one seemed so real it was hard to not want the ending to be what it was and so I could enjoy it without feeling like my heart was being ripped out. A fantastic book if you’re looking for a quick, summer read.

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(c) 2016, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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BookLook Review: Diary of a Jackwagon by Tim Hawkins w/John Driver


About the Book:

Popular Christian comedian Tim Hawkins shares his hilarious perspective on life in the 21st century.

In this wide-ranging, long-awaited book, comedian Tim Hawkins holds forth on everything from family, culture, and music to church, parenting, and education. Readers will enjoy laughing their way through the book, always feeling good about the clean and sometimes inspiring material they are laughing at. Chapters include riffs on marital communication (“marriage needs a challenge flag, like in pro football”) aging (“the diabolical orifice witch hunt”), worship music (“pick the right key, because I’m not Barry White and I’m not a Bee Gee”), and fatherhood (“There are no manuals for parenting. Color-coded warning labels or open-ended prescriptions would be just as helpful.”)

For fans of Jim Gaffigan’s Dad Is Fat and Food: A Love Story, Tim Hawkins’ hilarious first book reveals that for life’s many difficulties, laughter is the best medicine-when there aren’t any pills left.

My Opinion:

My family and I fell in love with Tim’s comedy when we saw him on Bananas, a local Christian comedy place that was aired on one of our stations and has unfortunately gone away – and way before we knew his family were fellow home-schoolers. I’ve also had the pleasure to see him in person at a show, unfortunately my husband and children weren’t with me, so I really, really wanted to like this book! I did like it but not as much as I thought I would – mainly because most of the material in it was stuff I’d already heard, either live or on Bananas. Since Tim also includes songs in his performances, it hard to really get a feel for the song when he’s not actively singing it and instead you’re just reading the lyrics.

I did enjoy the “Tweet Thought” at the end of each chapter and I did enjoy the book but it’s just better to hear him live – if you haven’t then I highly suggest you search out some videos of him BUT read the book first and then go watch. If you’ve already seen him the book will still be funny and your children may look at you like you’ve lost your mind as you laugh out loud every few seconds but it’s just not the same. So while I’d recommend this book, especially if you’d like something clean and wholesome and that you could read out loud with the family gathered round, comedy is much better live.

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(c) 2016, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

I review for BookLook Bloggers

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