I'm pleased to be partnering with Family Christian for this post.
I love anniversaries. My husband and I decided when we first got married that our anniversary would be our biggest celebration. Bigger than birthdays or Valentine’s Day or Sweetest Day (sorry Hallmark). It’s when we came together. And we wanted our coming together to always be a big deal.
This month, I’m celebrating another anniversary! It’s been one year since I began my blogging partnership with Family Christian. I joined up with several other writers online to review their materials and help promote events they are involved with in my area and beyond. Already a regular customer at my local store, I knew right away this opportunity would be a great fit.
What I didn’t realize was what a big opportunity it would be for me. New friends. A larger reading audience. I had no idea the variety of activities and products Family Christian offered. In every way, supporting them through my blog has been easy.
Another big bonus I didn’t foresee was all the opportunities I would have to encourage my local church. What a blessing! I’m including a few links to articles from this past year when I’ve had the chance to bless my church family in addition to some of its individual members.
When Camp Makes a Difference All Year Long - The assignment here was to bless some kids. One snowy day last winter, a group of us met at our local store. The director of Royal Family Kids Camp was there. Also a family who has sent children in their care to this summer camp. We found a little something for everyone. Games and a new Veggie Tale DVD for the camp. A t-shirt, books and CDs for the kids in the family. Oh my!
Pizza Party On Sunday Morning - This time we were asked to highlight some of the different things offered in the Family Christian kids’ department. One Sunday when I had the opportunity to teach our fourth and fifth graders, I brought in some games. All of which are sold at Family Christian. First, we made a booklet retelling the story of David and Goliath for the younger kids. Then we tore into fruit pizza, because this particular Sunday felt more like a party! Finally, we ended up with a round of Children’s Bible Trivia.
Savor: A Devotional Book Review - Often, the Family Christian bloggers have the opportunity to read a book for review. Shauna Niequist is one of my favorite authors, so I was all too excited to review her yearly devotional that came out this year. Plus, bonus, I got to give a copy away to a reader. Double bonus, we often read a devotional at the wedding showers we host at church. Then we give a copy of the devotional to the couple. In reviewing this particular book, I found our devotional book for wedding showers to come.
In case you're looking for a baby shower devotional, I found this one, Treasury of Bedtime Prayers, by Max Lucado through a Family Christian review as well.
The Bibles of a Believer - As a Bible study teacher, I appreciate the times we’re asked to review a new Bible, study resource or Bible study. I’ve done all three in the past year. In this article, I reviewed the new New King James Study Bible - Full Color Edition. I got to host another giveaway and gave a copy to a reader in another state. However, as I referenced in the article, I also ended up with a copy of this Bible which I didn’t need. I have several Bibles and I wanted to give this one away to someone who was hungry to know more of God’s Word. I prayed about who God would put in my path, then watched and waited.
This summer, I spent some time talking to a new believer while working at Vacation Bible School. He told me he grew up reading King James and while he’d expanded into other translations, he still had a love for the verses he’d learned in this wording. He’s started a men’s recovery group. His love for the Lord has sent him around the world evangelizing. I knew I’d found the guy God had in mind for this Bible.
I’m so thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had to bless in the last year. Happy Anniversary to us Family Christian!! What a year. I look forward to many more.
I never walk down one road without thinking of the other. I grew up on a road eight miles outside of a small farming community. It took us fifteen minutes to drive into town. We didn’t do this every day.
Five neighbors called our road home. In my younger years, our mailing address was simply known as Rural Route 4.
There was a little country church on this road too. The busiest traffic days were when the church would host a wedding or a funeral or a soup supper. Its doors always remained unlocked until last year, when she locked her doors for good.
The cemetery across the road is the final resting place for many of my relatives. We’d take flowers to their gravesides every Memorial Day. Sometimes though, on any old ordinary day, I’d slip away to visit the church and the cemetery.
My mom and I used to take walks on our road when the weather got nice. We’d take whatever dogs we happened to have at the time. I don’t think we owned a leash. They’d just walk right by us natural as can be. They knew their place was by their owner’s side.
The woods across the road held hidden patches of morel mushrooms in the spring. The thicket along the side of our property offered up blackberries in July.
Some people grow up thinking how they can’t wait to leave the small town where they grew up. I wasn’t one of those people. I just followed the path life had laid out for me. That’s how I ended up here. I’m so thankful it’s just a few miles outside another small town.
On another dirt road. Thousands of miles and a whole lifetime from the one of my childhood. Every time I set out on this one, to take a walk or pick some berries (the mushrooms still elude us), I think of the other one. I long for my mom who lives so far away, who was always up for a walk. I remember all the dogs who joined us. I think of my daddy who rests in that cemetery we often visited as a child. I wish I still lived just down the road from a church who never locked its doors.
If you’ve never lived on a dirt road, you don’t understand what it’s like to turn onto that road, see nothing but fields, green grass and trees and know you’re almost home. You’ve not experienced the thrill of seeing the one or two cars drive down the road on any particular day. You have no way of knowing how it settles in your soul. How even though you might try the city for a while, home is on a dirt road.
We read in Scripture that our final dwelling place is a heavenly city. The new Jerusalem. I suppose that’s true. Still, I hope I’ll have a very long lane going to my home in that city. A long lane that sort of resembles a dirt road.
I received a copy of Footprints in the Desert, written by Maha Akhtar, from NetGalley for the purpose of generating a review. This e-book came out earlier this month. Italicized quotes are from the book. The opinions expressed here are my own.
There are places and people quite different from us. We know this to be true but sometimes we need to be reminded.
For those of us who cannot go and see all the difference places and people - due to lack of time travel technology or affordability - we choose to do the next best thing. We open the pages of a book.
"Footprints in the Desert" takes place during the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Right away, we are introduced to Salah, an Arabian spy who has to flee Turkey in the middle of the night after his cover is blown.
Just like that, you’re swept up in a historical fiction tale of war, relationships and a whole different culture. Yet, parts seemed quite familiar...
He had certainly never meant to become a spy. He’d always envisioned a rather tame, conventional life for himself: a good job, a pretty girl, marriage by the time he was twenty-five, a family... that sort of thing.
Eventually, Salah makes his way home to Cairo, the place where he foresees his best chance of survival against the Turks who remain on his trail throughout the whole book. He had grown up in a bazaar, an enclosed merchandising area, marketplace or street of shops where good and services are exchanged or sold (wikipedia.org). A place where those who worked the shops also lived.
An intricate maze of alleys, tunnels and locals who served to confuse any foreigner who tried to infiltrate the system.
Do you know your way around the bazaar... Heavens, no! I only know my little places. Even those who spend a lifetime here don’t know it well.
The perfect hiding place indeed.
The story also introduces us to Saydeh, Salah’s mother. A delightful woman who spends time each day with a group of friends in a Cafe. We meet Norura, widow to one of Salah’s dearest friends. She’s left with no home, no job and an infant daughter to care for on her own. Until Salah steps in.
We meet many of Salah’s comrades. All of these characters interweave themselves into surviving war time and living everyday life. A very easy story to get lost in as you’re reading.
I enjoyed this book and read it rather quickly. It helped a lot in understanding the complexities of middle eastern politics, how much damage we can do when we step in without taking the time to understand and how much history goes into current events in that region of the world still today. All the while, regular life in places like the bazaar of Cairo continue as always.