The Family Honor Plate…A Fun New Way to Connect with Your Family (A Review)

Are you looking for enjoyable, meaningful ways to connect with your children and family…in a manner that will impact them positively?  I know that family life can get so busy with life, school, activities, and chores that chances to connect on a deeper, personal level can sweep by.  FlyBy/Propeller Promotions and the Family Honor Plate company were kind enough to send us the Family Honor Plate and Table Thyme Discussion Cards to review.  We’ve had a wonderful experience using these…and they truly have provided some neat new ways for our family to connect with each other!

 

 

The Family Honor Plate…

was created by Michelle Weber.  As a mom herself, she realized that she wanted to focus on blessing her family and modeling a positive attitude and spirit with her children.  She developed the Family Honor Plate and the Table Thyme Discussion Cards to provide opportunities and jumping-off points for moms and dads to use with their children…to recognize them, encourage them, and talk about topics and ideas that might not come up in normal conversation but are keys to understanding our kids and how they think and feel.  First, the plate is a cool craft that parents and kids can create and design together.  Then, both the plate and discussion cards (more on those in a bit!) can be used at meals in ways that will bless the whole family.

Weber’s thought process on developing this neat family activity is threefold:

  1.  That Mom and Dad are the examples their children follow and we’re to be their role models
  2.  We can notice when your kids and spouse do amazing things, and link them back to great character traits
  3.  Third, that we can celebrate them by serving a meal on the Family Honor Plate.  And we don’t just stop there, we can use the moments to talk about why their behavior was amazing and how it made others feel.

 

What we received…

was everything we needed to decorate and make our own Family Honor Plate.  The kit includes:

  • A white Family Honor Plate, which has the fruit of the Spirit qualities printed around the inside rim (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control)
  • A paint palette to mix colors on
  • A plate stand for displaying the plate in a special place in the home
  • 3 paintbrushes (and they’re wonderful, high-quality ones)
  • A paint set of 8 colors to decorate and personalize the plate
  • Simple instructions to follow
  • We also received the Table Thyme Discussion Cards, which are set up like a perpetual calendar and provide an interesting conversation starter on each page

 

Creating our own family plate

Jackson and I love doing art together.  Yet as he has gotten older–in high school–it seems like we have more to do in homeschool and less time for art in a day’s work!  So we both really valued and appreciated the opportunity to a) paint together and b) create such a wonderful tool that we can use as a family in our home.  We selected a design (you could paint ANYthing, really, but we chose one that was pictured in the company photos) and began to paint.

The paint colors are rich and the plate itself is a great canvas for them.  The paintbrushes are soft and apply color beautifully.  They were so fun to paint with!  And when we were finished painting, we followed the instructions to bake the plate in a conventional oven to set the paint.  It worked perfectly.  I’m hand-washing the plate just to keep the paint on and the plate in stellar condition, but the paint seems perfectly applied and set.

 

 

 

Table Thyme Discussion Cards

I’m sure we’ve all read the statistics on how good it is for families to eat dinner (and/or other meals) together on a regular basis.  Here are some of the reasons that underline how important meals together can be.  Children and teens who eat together with their parents are more likely to:

  • Eat more healthily overall
  • Be less likely to skip school (yes, there really is a meals together/truancy connection!)
  • Have higher GPAs
  • Have better vocabularies (really!)
  • Helps kids (both younger and older) feel closer to their family
  • and more!

 

Both the Family Honor Plate and the Table Thyme Discussion Cards can provide more ways for parents and kids to connect with each other at mealtimes.  Using the plate to recognize and honor different family members is one way.  But what if you’re looking for some interesting conversation starters?  Table Thyme to the rescue!

This perpetual calendar-ish set of cards (meaning that you can flip the cards over one at a time and get tons of ideas for questions to ask your kids…then flip the whole set over and start again) has questions that are fun, meaningful, and guaranteed to generate interesting conversations.  Here are just a few of the 170+ questions or directions you’ll find there:

  • Look at someone at the table and say something nice about them.
  • Describe a time when you were scared.
  • What is something that made you laugh recently?  Why?
  • If you could create your dream pet, what would it be like?

Tons of great–and sometimes deep–conversation starters!

Using the plate and the cards at mealtimes

We had an opportunity right away to use our plate to bless and encourage a member of our family.  Our son, Jackson, just had his wisdom teeth out so as you can imagine, his mouth is on the sore and swollen side just a couple of days after surgery.  So here is a shot of his breakfast this morning on the Family Honor Plate; poached eggs (nice and soft!).  He isn’t feeling great overall but loved having his breakfast on this special plate.

 

 

But, you don’t have to wait to use the plate for someone who’s ill or just had surgery!  Pull the plate out when someone has done something amazing that you want to recognize.  Or has exemplified some excellent character qualities or done something kind, or is living out the fruit of the Spirit that is written on the center of the Family Honor Plate.

Using the discussion cards are interesting, fun, and just plain wonderful.  Imagine the creativity that could be initiated from these—or learning cool stuff about your kiddos that they didn’t know!  We’re big storytellers in our house, meaning that we love to share details about favorite experiences.  Honestly, though, there were so many questions in Table Thyme that I’d never even thought of asking my child.  And I was captivated to discover his (and my husband’s) answers!

Some of the interesting questions we discussed recently were, 1) Which of your friends are you the most grateful for? and 2) Which Halloween costume that you’ve worn over the years was your favorite?  I loved hearing Jackson’s answers and thoughts on that.  (I can only remember a couple of my own childhood costumes!)

 

So who would enjoy the Family Honor Plate?

And the Table Thyme Discussion Cards?  People who’d like to…

  • bless their kids
  • hear more about their thoughts and ideas
  • create fun mealtimes
  • model great character qualities
  • help their families get even closer

If any of these sounds amazing to you, visit Family Honor Plate and learn more!

Enjoy!  –Wren

Social Corner for Family Honor Plate

Family Honor Plate website

More about Michelle, owner of the Family Honor Plate

Buy the Family Honor Plate kit here

 

 

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this product.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 

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Wonderful Gospel Tools ~ Let The Little Children Come (A Review)

Recently, Let The Little Children Come and FlyBy/Propeller Promotions sent me a wonderful collection of gospel-sharing tools to use and review, all for sharing the gospel with little ones! I received the Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sample Pack, full of 10 different booklets, bracelets, and tools.

 

 

Do you ever have the opportunity to share the gospel with little ones?

I do–at least twice per year.  In our homeschool coop, which is run from a Christian perspective, teachers share the gospel with their students each semester. And while I’m a former missionary and do have some experience sharing the gospel, I always want to be sure that I’m being as clear as possible, not overcomplicating the message, and covering all the basics. This is especially important with children, who may not have as much experience with the Bible or the teachings of Christ. I’m always looking for vivid, kid-friendly materials to use…and I really love the products Let The Little Children Come sent! They are clear, beautiful, and filled with eye-catching and memorable illustrations while staying faithful to the Biblical gospel message.

 

The Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sample Pack has ten colorful, bright booklets, folding images, and bracelets, all of which can be used to illustrate the gospel presentation to children.  There are “animated” booklets, pop-up booklets, “magic” folding cards, and Wordless books and bracelets.  You could use these one at a time when sharing with one child, or you could order more of the individual tools if you were sharing with a group.  Let me tell you more about each tool I received!

 

 

Animated Tracts

These Animated Tracts are small shiny booklets which tell a particular story related to the gospel.  After the story, each booklet ends with an explanation of how we can receive salvation through God’s gift of His son, Jesus, and a sample prayer which anyone could pray to receive Christ.  The added bonus in the animated tracts is a striped clear and black card which readers hold over the booklet pages.  When the reader slides the card back and forth, the images seem to move!

The three booklets are:

  • The True Story of Christmas, which tells the story of Jesus’ birth
  • Where’s Everybody Going, which tells about the God who made the earth and everything in it, including us; and about the sin that separates us from Him
  • John 3:16, which works its way through this pivotal verse with captivating “moving” illustrations

 

 

I really liked all three of these little booklets!  The stories and verses are simply, beautifully, and clearly brought to life.  The gospel, and humanity’s need for a Savior, are plainly and gracefully explained in ways that anyone—even a child—can understand.  The card which makes the illustrations “move” is fascinating!  Even my teenaged son, who’s very into art and illustrations, thought it was amazing, even though these products are designed for a younger audience.

 

 

Gospel Buttons Flip About

We received two of these Flip About cards (Gospel Buttons).  They are sort of like a little magic trick.  The square cards fold shut then open but consecutively display 4 different pages or sides.

  • One has images only; a heavenly kingdom, a darkened heart of sin, the cross of Christ, and a redeemed and cleansed heart.
  • The second contains a phrase-by-phrase and image presentation of John 3:16.

The Gospel Buttons are very cool little gadgets.  They will really keep the listener’s attention as the gospel is presented.  The only caveat I’d add is that the user should practice a couple of times before the presentation is made, so that the folding and unfolding of the various pages is done in order.  But they’re colorful, fun, and interesting.

 

 

 

Pop-up Tracts

Children love pop-up books.  And these little Pop-up Tracts carry on that fun tradition!  The Lost Easter Egg is a story about an Easter egg hunt woven together with the Bible’s Luke 15 parable of the lost sheep and the shepherd who went to find it.  The Most Amazing House talks about the heavenly home God is preparing for us…but how our own sin keeps up from getting there.  Both these tracts close with prayers we can pray to accept Jesus’ death as payment for that sin and to enter into a relationship with God.

 

 

The Wordless Tools

I’m sure you’ve seen something from the Wordless family of products.  These tools are just as simple as can be, yet they still powerfully communicate the gospel message.  Each color represents a part of the gospel (yellow/heaven; dark/sin; red/the shed blood of Jesus; white/belief and cleansing; green/growth in relationship with God).

The Wordless tools are available as the Wordless Book, a small laminated book with no words, just the colors I mentioned above.  There is also a Silicone Salvation Bracelet, which has the 5 Wordless colors printed around the loop of the bracelet.  Finally, there’s a Wordless Bracelet Kit, which includes the beads, a leather bracelet to thread the beads on, and a small flyer explaining the steps to salvation.  There’s even a sample prayer printed on the other side.

 

Where you can find these awesome tools

This Gospel Tracts and Evangelism Tools Sample Pack I’ve just told you about is available at the Let The Little Children Come website.  There, you can also find these tools for sale individually, as well as lots of other cool evangelism products!  (Follow this link to purchase:  https://www.letthelittlechildrencome.com/child-evangelism-tools/gospel-tracts-and-evangelism-tools-sampler-pack)

In addition, Let The Little Children Come has a Resources page which is full of ideas on how to make your own Wordless evangelism tools, tips on sharing the gospel, devotions, Bible verses, and even a New Believer Follow-Up Book for Children.  So many good tools, available to you for free!

I can definitely recommend these effective–yet still very kind and loving–tools to help you share the gospel clearly.  They are wonderful, and I’m looking forward to using them myself!

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this product.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 

 

The Beautiful ESV “Illuminated Bible (Art Journaling Edition)” ~ Review & Giveaway

Have you ever marveled at the illuminated Bibles or Books of Hours lettered and painted by monks during the Middle Ages or the Renaissance?  These gorgeous works of art use vivid paints and gold leaf to bring letters and Biblical scenes to life.  We can see these today in museums, books or online…but how would you like to own your own copy of today’s version of an Illuminated Bible?

 

 

Today, I’d like to share with you about the ESV Illuminated Bible.  FlyBy/Propeller Promotions sent me my very own copy (free!) to use and review, and they’re also going to be giving a copy away to one of my readers in a giveaway!  Keep reading to learn more and to enter to win!

 

What is the ESV Illuminated Bible?

First and foremost, it’s the complete Bible (from Genesis to Revelation) in the English Standard Version (ESV).  Housed in a slipcase, this hardback Bible is navy cloth over board.  Inside, its smooth, cream-colored pages contain the Scriptures in clear, readable font.  Each page has wide margins.

But then, there’s enormous visual beauty on many of the pages.  The ESV Illuminated Bible is illustrated and lettered by artist Dana Tanamatchi.  The illustrations include:  beautifully hand-lettered Bible verses (over 250 of them in page margins), 50 full-page verse illustrations; 64 full-sized book opener illustrations; and over 100 additional illustrations.  All of these are lettered and designed in gold.

But this Bible is not only designed to bring beauty to the reader’s eyes and Scriptures to the mind and heart.  The wide page margins provide space for the reader to journal and take notes…but also to create art!  Tanamatchi’s verse and book illustrations can be left as-is or the reader can color them in.

One additional bonus that I discovered as I was turning the pages of the ESV Illuminated Bible was that the illustrator, Dana Tanamatchi, included an illustration key for the book opener illustrations.  I personally love to study art and to discover artists’ motivations for their artwork.  Tanamatchi’s musings on her artwork made the lovely artwork even more meaningful to me, as I discovered that she’d illustrated Revelation with a door (reminding us of Revelation 3:20); 2 Peter with lanterns (for the prophetic word “as lamps shining in a dark place), Psalms with a deer (as the deer pants for the water), and so many more wonderful “Word” pictures.

 

How I used the ESV Illuminated Bible

I love Bible journaling; the practice of thoughtfully illustrating Scripture verses.  I find that the process is peaceful and restful for me, plus there’s the additional bonus of the Scripture coming alive even more as I color and illustrate it.

For Bible journaling, I’ve used tempera paint sticks, colored pencils, and art pencils.  With this Bible, I found that coloring pencils worked the best.  The pages are on the thin side so the pencils don’t bleed through very much.  I appreciated that because I still want to be able to read the Scriptures on the back sides of the illustrations!

I used three different types of coloring pencils; art pencils, Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils, and Crayola Twistables.  Of the three, the art pencils and the Twistables were most effective.  For some reason my erasable pencils didn’t lay the color down as well.  The beautiful cream-colored pages might have been just a little slick to take the erasable ones.  But the art pencils (think Primsacolor-type pencils) and the Twistables created beautiful effects.   The colors did mostly turn out on the light side when they were applied to the paper.

So what could you do with the ESV Illuminated Bible?

  • Well, Christmas is coming–and this would make a delightful gift for someone!  (You could even include a set of colored pencils with the Bible!)
  • You could display it on an easel, with the pages opened to one of the gorgeous Scripture illustrations
  • You could use it in your devotional reading time
  • You could do Bible journaling in it!
  • You could even use it during family worship; give everyone some colored pencils and work on it together!
  • And if you’re a person who’s not completely confident in your own artistic ability, the ESV Illuminated Bible will enable you to make beautiful art anyway!

 

You can enter to win!

FlyBy/Propeller Promotions has provided one copy of the ESV Illuminated Bible for one of you to win!  Simply click on the pink “Enter Here” link below.  That will take you to a Giveaway Tools entry form.  Just follow the directions to enter!  Giveaway closes on December 2, 2017.  One winner will be selected from all entries.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

You can also check out the ESV Illuminated Bible on social media

IlluminatedBible.org

Video: https://vimeo.com/237851665

The ESV Illuminated Bible on Amazon

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Win “Alpha/Omega,” the wonderful new CD from Kutless (ends 11/23/17)

Are you a fan of music that would fall into the rock/worship category?  If so, then I have a wonderful giveaway opportunity for you!  FlyBy/Propeller Promotions sent me a copy of Kutless’ newest release, Alpha/Omega.  My family enjoyed listening to it and I have a copy for one person to win!

 

 

Kutless is…

a rock/worship band that formed after members met at Warner Pacific College in 2000.  They signed with BEC Recordings in 2001 (talk about a short learning curve!  They hit their stride very quickly.)  Their combination of meaningful worship music, memorable vocals and fantastic musicianship has made them favorites of fans all over the world.  They even formed a nonprofit which allows them to provide free concerts and outreach events worldwide (for example, in Belarus and Ukraine).  These events have enabled 100,000 people to hear the Gospel…and 40,000 made decisions for Christ.

Their newest album (which someone will win a copy of!), Alpha/Omega, is a mixture of brand-new and familiar cover tracks which you’ll definitely recognize…even if you’re not (before now) a confirmed Kutless fan.

 

On the Alpha/Omega album…

you’ll find 10 songs, some new and some you’ll enjoy hearing new recordings of.  They are:

  • “Your Great Name”
  • “Strong Tower”
  • “King of My Heart”
  • “Cornerstone”
  • “You Are Lord”
  • “Great Are You Lord”
  • “Your Love Awakens Me”
  • “Shepherd of My Soul”
  • “Gave It All” (I Surrender All)
  • “No Wonder” (Roar of the Rugged Cross)

We listened to part of the Alpha/Omega CD during our family worship time one Sunday.  The CD is aptly named; as we read at the end of Revelation, chapter 22 and verse 13, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”  All of the songs on this CD direct our attention to God, to His faithfulness and love for us, to His constancy and presence.  I think it’s a CD that is fantastic for listening to under many circumstances; driving in the car, background music, or intentional listening.

Some of my favorite songs were:

  • “King of My Heart,” where I’m reminded that even when I’m in the dark of a night season, God is still holding on to me
  • “Cornerstone,” which combines the old hymn “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less” with new lyrics.  Jesus is our Cornerstone, and we can rest in Him.
  • “Your Great Name,” which shares who and what God and Jesus are.  Alive, healers, the place where we can find our rest—and worthy.
  • And of course the reprisal of “Strong Tower.”  God is my fortress, the place I can run to in times of struggle or need.

 

And now…someone will win Kutless’ Alpha/Omega!

Just click on the pink “Enter here” below, which will take you to the Giveaway Tools entry form, where you can enter in a variety of ways.  Giveaway closes on Thanksgiving day–11/23/17.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

 

Also, you can check out this video and purchasing info!

Landing page to buy/stream the record: http://smarturl.it/kutles
Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2eNsXwlLvo

 

Enjoy–and best wishes!  –Wren

 

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

 

“Every Mile Mattered” by Nichole Nordeman~enter to win! Ends 8/8/17

Did you know that the amazing Nichole Nordeman has a new CD? FlyBy/Propeller Promotions very kindly sent me her newest, Every Mile Mattered, to review and even better, one to give away to a reader!

 

I’ve noticed that artists–whether they’re songwriters and musicians, or painters or poets–are able to put our deepest longings and thoughts into forms that we can see and hear.  I’ve always thought that Nichole Nordeman is especially gifted at accomplishing this through her words and compositions.  And Every Mile Mattered doesn’t disappoint; Again, Nordeman has spun songs into being that are full of words and feelings that certainly we’ve all felt, or that existed just beyond our ability to think or touch.

Have you ever looked back on your life and thought, “ugh! I wish I hadn’t made that choice!” or, “what was I thinking??”  Then you’ll be especially blessed by the title track, Every Mile Mattered.  You’ll be touched by Nichole’s and (I think this must be her daughter) Pepper’s redux of Slow Down, from her previous CD The Unmaking (which I highly, highly recommend).  Need an encouragement to still and rebuke those unkind thoughts that tell us we can’t do it?  Listen to Sound of Surviving.  And whether you grew up in Tornado Alley or not, you’ll clearly picture the storms and the victory over them in Anywhere We Are.

And then there’s Dear Me, the ode to younger Nichole (and, if I might be so bold to guess, the younger all of us) from a wiser and older perspective.  And the melodious and beautiful You’re Here, which reminds us that we are NEVER alone; that He is always here with us.

Here are some reasons why you’re going to love this CD:

These words from the title track:

Every road and every bend
Every bruise and bitter end
All you squandered, all you spent
It mattered, it mattered

Or what about these, from You’re Here?

You were at the altar, preacher’s hand upon my head
You were in the water, when I came up clean intead
You’re still in my story, when my tears fall upon the dirt
You’re there in the morning, wrapping grace around what hurts

 

 

Some of the sweetest words to my heart were these, from Dear Me:

Dear Me…
You did not learn this in a day or two or three
So ask a lot of questions
But Jesus loves us, this I know
And there are no exceptions

I guess I could say that really, I could write some of Nichole’s beautiful words from every single song on this album, and you would love them.  But these are just a sweet taste for you of what you’ll hear in Every Mile Mattered.

Finally…

Just like Nichole’s last CD, The Unmaking was for me, I believe that her newest CD is destined to become a new favorite.  I need its reminders!  (Even if I do always want to ugly-cry when I listen to Slow Down.  I mean ugly-sob!  How did my boy get so big so fast?)

I need to remember that in the tapestry of my life, when all I can see are the knots and clumps of color on the back side, that God is making something beautiful out of every stitch on the front side.  That He’s using every step I take, every decision, every word, every thought and action, to create my life that has meaning in His eyes.

And if I can do this while listening to one of my favorite artists and to beautiful music?  Perfect.

And now…the giveaway!

One reader will be blessed to win a CD copy of Every Mile Mattered.  Just click on the pink Enter Here! below and you’ll be able to enter to win via the Giveaway Tools entry form.  Best wishes to you all!

Enter here!

 

Also, you can visit Nichole on social media:

Official website – http://nicholenordeman.com

Buy links – ITunes http://capcmg.me/emm?IQid=b
Spotify http://capcmg.me/emm.sp
Amazon http://capcmg.me/emm.am)

In addition, Nichole Nordeman’s book Slow Down will be available for purchase in August!  You may pre-order here:
http://slowdown-book.com

Enjoy!  –Wren

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Your Chance to Win Laura Story’s new CD “Open Hands” (ends 3/22)

Are you a fan of worship music?  If you are, you’ll love Laura Story’s new CD, Open Hands.  Flyby/Propeller Promotions sent me a copy of this lovely new music to review…plus one to give away to a reader!

 

 

Laura Story…

Do you know Laura Story?  Sometimes, you can hear and love songs but have no idea whom they’ve come from.  This is my experience with Laura—until Open Hands, anyway!  You probably know the song “Indescribable,” it was recorded by both Chris Tomlin and Laura Story.  What about “Mighty to Save”–that’s another of my faves.  Her song “Blessings” won song of the year in 2012.  So obviously, Laura is a talented songwriter.  But, that’s not all that she has done!  Laura has led worship at Perimeter Church in Atlanta for 12 years.  She has won a Grammy Award; a Billboard Music Award; several Dove Awards; and even an RIAA Gold certification!  All this since 2008, when she published her first album.  She is even the author of a couple of books, about navigating life through hard moments or seasons while hanging on to God’s hand.

These are her, admittedly, impressive public accomplishments.  In her private life, she’s the wife of Martin Elvington, and they’ve had three kiddos together.  But the struggles they’ve experienced since her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor have provided the inspiration for the songs of her two most recent albums.  How do you live when God doesn’t fix things?  Laura has learned that keeping “open hands” — translated as keeping a loose hold on things & trusting that God’s got it, not holding them tightly and seeking to control them, are just what God may be asking of us.  She says, “I wanted to make an album so that each song I write would be just that seed of hope or that lifeline that someone listens to during that tough moment and thinks, ‘I’m going to choose to trust God, even during this.’”

 

What you’ll find in the songs

Open Hands contains 11 beautiful, thoughtful songs.  Some of them are familiar hymns with new bridges or choruses added, like “Awake My Soul (A 1000 Tongues)” or “For the Love of My King,” which takes from and adds to the old hymn “My Jesus, I Love Thee.”  Reimagined for a new audience, both of these take the vital truths and compositions of the original words and music and add personal vignettes of praise and struggle.  They’re just as beautiful and worshipful as the originals, and I truly enjoyed the new versions.

Story shares the hopes of motherhood in “Give You Faith.”  What do we wish for our children?  What would we desire most to give them?  That they will have faith, and hope, but most of all the love that God has for them, that will never let them go.

In this most contentious of post-election years, Story’s “Grace Abounds” reminds us that in the darkness, in the trials, when we see hatred or terror in news stories; when it seems that there is no hope at all, that God IS there.

I have several favorites on this album; I love the songs I mentioned above.  But one of my best-loved is the song the CD starts with:  “Death Was Arrested.”  You might not imagine that this song is about the Prodigal Son, but it is…even as it’s about us as well!  I am so moved by these words (and the music is perfectly suited to them):

“Ash was redeemed only beauty remains…
My mourning grew quiet my feet rose to dance
When death was arrested and my life began…”

You’ll also find these songs:

  • The song from the title, “Open Hands”
  • “You Came Running,” the story of what God does when our dreams crash down around us
  • “Whisper,” where Story talks about how we can wait to hear His voice
  • “Every Word You Breathe:” we’ll cling to Him and His word, not our experiences or things we’re familiar with
  • “Majesty” reminds us all that God really is
  • “Extraordinary,” about God’s extraordinary love for us

My thoughts

Open Hands is a rich, beautiful, worshipful experience.  We’ve listened to it many times as a family; during morning times when we’re preparing for the day and getting breakfast made and eaten.  We’ve played it in the afternoons when school is over; and in the evenings during quiet moments.  I can honestly say that each time we’ve heard it I’ve loved it more.  The music and words are both contemplative; Story’s not trying to write the next top-10 worship hit.  Rather, she’s writing about the God that she sees showing up over and over in her life (and others’ lives); the God whose grace really is big enough; and the worship He deserves from us all.

Open Hands will bless you; encourage you; and help you to see God in all the portions of our lives.  Get a copy of this CD.  Play it during your quiet times; when you take your children to appointments; as you move through your daily life and tasks.  It will really speak to your heart!

And, you can enter this giveaway to win Open Hands below!

FlyBy/Propeller Promotions has generously provided a CD of Open Hands for one of our readers!  Just click on the pink “Enter here” to go to the Giveaway Tools form to enter.  Giveaway closes on 3/22/17.  Best wishes!

Enter here!

Check out more on Open Hands via social media:

Buy Link: http://smarturl.it/OpenHandsiTunes

http://laurastorymusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/laurastory
https://www.instagram.com/laurastorymusic/
Video links:
Open Hands (Official Lyric Video) – https://youtu.be/AABE–YR1No
Open Hands (Song Devotional) – https://youtu.be/NWWiyFlXdi0

Enjoy!  –Wren

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

 

Kari Jobe’s “The Garden” CD ~ Review & Giveaway (Ends 2/15/17)

Recently my family had the pleasure of enjoying Kari Jobe’s newest worship CD entitled The Garden.  FlyBy/Propeller Promotions provided a copy of the CD for us to review, and also one copy to give away to one of you!

the-garden-banner

 

Where do you go for help, for relief, when you’re in a time of struggle or suffering?  Of course, we know that we need to go to God.  You can look at the Bible’s book of Psalms and know that crying out to God is one of the first things that David and the other psalmists did.  (They’re also extremely honest about what they’re feeling, but I think that’s another post!)

Sometimes, though, the struggle or the suffering goes on after, sometimes long after, we have cried out.  How do we hang onto God when the loss is still there, when our circumstances are still challenging our hearts and lives, when the hope we’d like to feel isn’t really there?

Worship

Those psalmists amaze me.  How many times do they cry out to God about the struggle, but then they end with, “But I will worship the Lord.”  “I will wait patiently for Him.”  What an encouragement that can be–that He is still God even as we are trying to hang onto Him in troubles.

I’ve found that worship music can be another incredible encouragement to me; not only in times of struggle, but in times of joy, happiness, or just normal life.  Kari Jobe’s new CD The Garden is a beautiful and meditative collection of songs (written or co-written by and all sung by Kari) about reaching out to God.  About desiring Him, about our cry for hope and His love in the midst of sorrow, about His presence.  The Garden contains 14 songs that will encourage your soul; comfort your heart; and help you focus on the Lord.

 

the-garden-1The Songs

Kari Jobe’s family underwent a great loss.  When Kari and her sister were both pregnant, her sister’s pregnancy ended in the stillbirth of her baby girl, James Ivy.  In the grieving and heartache Kari and her family went through, she learned that God is there.  That He never left.  That His love is with us always.  And these songs were born out of the pain and the struggle they walked.  In the home Kari and her husband (and son) bought and moved into, the garden was overgrown and they’d been advised to just let it grow for a year.  And one day she walked outside and looked at the messy growth.  And she saw ivy; full, lush, fresh growth.  She remembered immediately her precious niece, James Ivy.  Kari said, “Ivy is the most resilient plant there is. It can grow in the harshest of climates; it can grow in the harshest of situations,” Jobe explains, adding, “I’m standing in this garden. There’s ivy growing, and I just started to realize, ‘God, You’re moving in a way that is different than what I asked for, but You are moving.’ He’s at work and doing things we can’t see.”

The Garden contains 14 beautiful songs, including:

  • “The Garden”
  • “Let Your Glory Fall”
  • “Lover of My Soul”
  • “Closer To Your Heart”
  • “The Cause of Christ”
  • “Here As In Heaven”
  • and more

How our family enjoyed this

We’ve enjoyed Kari Jobe’s singing and her worship songs for some time.  We were so excited to hear this new album!  My husband has listened to it in his car, and we’ve played the CD in our home during family worship and just on our regular homeschool days, at mealtimes or when we’ve finished school.  We’ve all enjoyed it so much.

There is so much in the lyrics that speaks to our hearts.  Kari’s singing is both peaceful and beautiful, as are the musical arrangements.  It is a wonderful reminder that God is there.  That He is loving us, shepherding us through our troubles and sorrows; but also through the good times.  That He is faithful.  And that He is worthy.

Here’s one particular portion of the first song, The Garden, that is so sweet and meaningful to me:

“Then I saw the garden, hope had come to me
To sweep away the ashes
And wake me from my sleep

I realized You never left
And for this moment You planned ahead
That I would see
Your faithfulness in all of the green…”

Because we’ve all been there, haven’t we?  In the times of suffering and sorrow.  Wondering if God was there; if He heard us; if He was listening.  We just can’t always see it…but He’s never left us to face things alone.

 

the-garden-2

There’s much more beauty and encouragement in the rest of this album.

I so recommend it.  If you’d like a beautiful new worship CD; if you need the reminder that God loves you and is there; if you need comfort in your struggles.  You can click through the social media links below to purchase it.

And, you can enter my giveaway for a chance to win your own copy of The Garden!  Just enter below at the pink link, which will take you to the Giveaway Tools entry page.  Giveaway ends February 15, 2017.  Blessings!

 

Enter here!

 

The Garden on social media:

Enjoy!  –Wren
Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.