Book Review: the Awakening of HK Derryberry

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the Awakening of HK Derryberry is an inspirational true story of an unlikely friendship between Jim Bradford, a successful business executive, and an awkward nine year old boy, HK Derryberry, with multiple disabilities. Their chance encounter turned into a lifelong friendship, spanning sixteen years. HK’s positive attitude despite his blindness, cerebral palsy, desertion by his father and meager lifestyle touched Jim as they began spending Saturday afternoons and soon, every weekend together. HK’s unique disposition began to touch even bigger circles as Jim and HK’s unusual friendship became noticed by the community around them. Read this book and you’ll be encouraged by how one blind boy awakened a world of possibilities to those around him, despite his own shortcomings.

This book was provided to me at no cost by the publisher, in exchange for an authentic review of the book.

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Harvey & Irma: 4 Ways You Can Help

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I know. You’ve been watching Houston and surrounding areas on the news for over ten days now and STILL are seeing the devastation that Hurricane Harvey has brought into the Texas coast. Within the first few days, Tropical Storm Harvey had already set a major record: the most rainfall ever from a single storm in the continental United States. The resulting floods inundated hundreds of thousands of homes, displaced more than 30,000 people, and prompted more than 17,000 rescues.

You’ve seen the images. You’ve watched the rescues. You’ve reached out to your friends and family anywhere near the area. You’ve imagined what these families need, where they are going, how crowded the shelters are, what your own house would look like if it was flooded like theirs, how you would make sure your family was safe, wondered how families were reunited with their pets, what belongings would you lament over losing if it happened to you…and more.

Now as Hurricane Irma, “the most powerful storm ever recorded in the Atlantic ocean”, heads toward Florida, our country joins together in prayer, unity, and we pull together as friends, despite political and racial tensions. We are one.

As the hurricane force winds hit our coastlines, our American hearts grow larger.

If you are wanting to help in some way (or some way further) here are 4 organizations  that I believe in personally, know the leadership of, have done the homework in, and am confidant that you can donate to or partner with in order to help flood victims effectively:

  1. The Salvation Army – As a new employee of this organization, I can tell you that I was thrilled to learn that the Salvation Army does not place an administrative fee on disaster donations. That’s amazing. If you designate your gift to Hurricane Harvey, 100% of your gift will be used in support of that event. The Salvation Army’s slogan of “Doing the Most Good” is put into action by providing food and drinks to survivors, cleaning supplies and other essential commodities, direct financial aid to those affected, and supporting disaster relief workers serving in the area. Several of my co-workers are currently deployed in disaster areas to serve the communities. (And they just sent Florida Salvation Army units home in order to prepare for what’s coming their way, with prayers). You can click on the Salvation Army link above to check out ways to donate OR text STORM to 51555.salvation-army-help
  2. The In This Together T-shirt designed by Ink to the People (with support from City Moms Blog Network) is specifically being sold to raise funds for the Texas Diaper Bank.  One of the biggest needs for families with young children are diapers, since these are not provided as part of disaster relief.  The Texas Diaper Bank provides emergency diaper kits for families that are being displaced due to Hurricane Harvey. All funds raised will go towards Texas Diaper Bank.  If you want to wear your support, too, this is a great way to go.in this together
  3. Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief is also on the ground in Houston, serving in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Baptist Disaster Relief served over 10,000 meals in just two days, offers a shower station, and has crews assessing and cleaning damages. I’ve seen this crew hard at work and they have my utmost respect. Also, all the money given through the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s Disaster Relief goes toward work in either the current disaster or preparation for future disaster response.Baptist disaster relief
  4. #WeLoveHou is a movement started by Houston Northwest Church. While their building was also flooded and is being assessed for repairs, they are mobilizing large numbers of volunteers to work in the neighborhoods affected, as well as collecting supplies and donations and giving them to families in the community around them. It’s actually a pretty amazing operation they are putting on and you can be involved in several ways. Their pastor was a college friend of mine and he is the real deal, y’all. Check out their website for more information. P.S. Their #WeLoveHou shirts are also available for purchase, with proceeds going toward hurricane victims. #winwinwe love hou.png

As America hurts, America also knows:

We are in this together.

How will YOU help?

 

 

Review: Kids Visual NIV Study Bible

NIV Study Bible

What a fun way for kids to get easily engaged in the Bible!

The first thing I noticed (and loved) was how each book of the Bible started with an intro page, giving readers information on who wrote the book, why it was written, where it happened, what some of the stories are in that book, and more. So handy.

NIV study bible page copy

The second feature that I noticed (and yes, loved) were the wide yellow margins where a reader could make notes AND specific verses were often highlighted and more information regarding that verse was given in this area.

NIV study bible margin copy

The NIV Kids’ Visual Study Bible is that…VISUAL and those visual elements (charts, pictures, graphics, family trees, etc) are sprinkled throughout and definitely add interest in the material you are reading. I have the hardback copy and it’s very sturdy.

I will be recommending this Bible to everyone I know, for children ages 8 and up.

And I am even enjoying it as an adult!

This Bible was provided to me, free of charge, from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review of the product.

iFly: We FLEW!

In my 20’s, sky-diving was definitely on my bucket list. I even researched it, found a local company, and tried to get a group to go. But…it didn’t happen. And then that window passed as marriage and motherhood became my greatest adventure (and I aged a little.) Somewhere along the way, I found myself feeling way more panicked than excited when I thought of sky-diving or other activities involving great height.

So when the opportunity was presented for contributors of Oklahoma City Moms Blog to experience iFly, an indoor sky-diving facility, I got super excited. If I could experience the thrill of sky-diving in an indoor wind tunnel, that was more my style. AND our flight was scheduled for the week of Trinity’s birthday, so the fact that I got to invite her was even more amazing. (Thanks for the “cool mom” points, guys!)

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After completing the check-in process, we toured the impressive facility (think amazing date nights, epic birthday parties, family fun or out-of-the-box team building.) Next, we had the thrill of watching another group fly. Then it was almost our turn!

We met our instructor, went through an orientation, and suited up. After walking into the tunnel and getting seated and sealed in, the wind began blowing and, one by one, we walked up to the door with arms raised and then leaned into the wind, like a trust fall. Our instructor helped us find the right position and just like that…we flew!

It’s kind of hard to tell, what with the wind velocity and all, but I had the biggest smile on my face the entire time.

iFly MiFly T

And Trinity loved it, too. My little adventurer was wide-eyed and all grins.

Each flight was about a minute long, although it felt a lot longer than that. We had two flights each. During our second flight, the instructor actually did a tandem move with us, holding onto our suit and taking us to the top of the tunnel, spinning in circles the whole way. OMG, I can’t stop smiling just thinking about it as I write this. What a thrill.

iFly “is the experiential entertainment company that created modern indoor skydiving…we make the dream a flight a reality by giving our customers ‘wings’ in a safe and reliable environment.”

And they delivered.

Whether sky-diving is on your bucket list or outside of your comfort zone, I can effortlessly give iFly two giant thumbs up.

iFly…We FLEW!

 

 

12 Ways to Practice Self-Care

 

SELF CARE

You’re tired. You’re stressed. You feel pulled in a hundred different directions. You can’t seem to find balance. Your thoughts are all over the place. You are trying to take care of too many people and things. You are stuck trying to work through a problem. Your project lacks creativity. Your mind is fuzzy. You can’t seem to complete one thing off your list. Your spouse, kids, co-worker, sister or other person in your life is driving you crazy.

Dear friend, that’s me. That’s you. That’s all of us trying to do life.

Let me ask you a question:  When’s the last time you took five minutes to an hour for self-care?

You’ve heard that self-care is important. You may even know it’s important. But maybe it still doesn’t happen.

Here’s the thing: It doesn’t have to take very long at all and it can regulate, rejuvenate and re-energize your spirit, mind and body.

To help us both, I’ve put together a list of 12 Ways to Practice Self-Care:

  1. Spend time outside. Sit in your backyard, take a picnic break at a park, go for a neighborhood walk, walk outside your office for a few minutes, sip your coffee out on the front porch.
  2. Read for pleasure. Is there a novel you’ve been waiting to get your hands on? Reserve it at the library, grab it at the bookstore and throw it in your bag, or download it to your phone. Next time you need a break, take it out and read a chapter or two.
  3. Listen to a favorite song. Whether it’s a nostalgic song that conjures up memories and smiles from the past, a current feel-good song, or a song that you just find is beautiful, take a minute to lose yourself in it.
  4. Stretch and breathe. If you’ve been sitting at a desk for awhile, take a stretch break and breathe in and out deeply while you do. At home with the kiddos? Lead everyone in a stretch break with deep breathing. It’s a good re-set button.
  5. Treat yourself to your favorite coffee or tea drink, and savor it. What’s that flavored coffee or tea you love? Order it. Make it. Smell it. Drink it while it’s the perfect temperature. Put your to-do list down for a minute and savor this delightful and simple treat.
  6. Take a shower. Seriously, are you in a funk? Go take a shower. As your muscles relax under the hot water, your thoughts will too. You may come out of the shower a new person on the outside and the inside.
  7. Light a candle or diffuse some essential oils. Choosing a scent that you find calming or pleasant and inviting its aroma into your environment will have a positive impact on your mental status.
  8. Be creative. Are your children coloring? Jump in and join them. Are you staring at your calendar? Why not embellish it with some of your own unique flair? Did your co-worker just say something funny? I dare you to write it as a cartoon or in block or fancy letters.
  9. Put on lotion that is one of your favorite scents. This delights two senses – touch and smell-and gives your mind and body a minute to be grounded before moving on to your next task.
  10. Make a list of 5 things you are grateful for today. This is easily my #1 most effective way to lift my mood. And it doesn’t take but a minute or two.
  11. Journal. Write out some of your thoughts, dreams, ideas, things that happened today or something you want to remember. Journaling not only has therapeutic qualities, but can lead to increased productivity as well.
  12. Write out an inspirational quote or Scripture and post it on your mirror. What’s something that inspires you and says it in a beautiful way? Write it out, print it out, or have someone design a small poster for you with those words and post it on your mirror, where you’ll see it every morning.

See? Easy-Squeezy. Pick 1, Pick 12 – Take 5 minutes, Take an hour.

You’ll just be glad you did.

I’d love to hear from you- How do you practice self-care?  Which self-care practice are you going to do today? How did it help? What would you add to the list?

Book Review: Of Stillness and Storm by Michele Phoenix

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Of Stillness and Storm, written by Michele Phoenix, is the story of Sam and Lauren Coventry.  Their tale unfolds as the author presents alternating chapters between present day and past day, creating not only a story, but a rounded look at the characters and how their relationship evolved from becoming acquainted through theological discussions in college, to mutual admiration, courtship, and marriage.  As a reader, you are thrilled when they are finally able to conceive a baby boy, Ryan and years later, when they are able to take their dreams into the mission field.

You find Sam and Lauren and their son, Ryan, present day, serving as missionaries in Nepal where Sam’s passion for the cause is inspiring, but makes him unaware of the day to day realities his wife and son are facing as he’s often visiting remote villages for weeks at a time.   Relationships become strained and Lauren’s attempts to communicate their family’s needs to Sam are downplayed.  A story that did not interest me at first, soon became compelling as a look into Lauren’s past awakens her need for connection, and subsequently, her family begins to unravel even further.  Of Stillness and Storm offers a sobering look at how ministry has the ability to harm a family and shows one woman’s journey back to God through trials and growth she experiences along the way.

Disclaimer:  A free copy of this book was provided to me for the review, although the opinions expressed are my own.

Check out this giveaway from Michele Phoenix here-hurry it ends December 31st!-  http://litfusegroup.com/campaigns/stillness-storm-michele-phoenix