Tuesday, December 9, 2014

being a light during Christmas

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It's Christmastime and wow, there's so much going on!  Between the sweets and goodies, the white elephant parties, and the Christmas caroling, concerts, and get-togethers, it's easy to get overwhelmed.  Either that or feel like superwoman as you attempt to attend everything, buy everything, wrap everything, and eat everything...

Of course, we know Christmas is about Christ and celebrating Who He is to us as believers, but sometimes it's so easy to overlook that in the midst of the fun and busyness!  Recently Krista and I were talking about Christmas and how we really want this to be a time of service.  Yes, you read that right - we were talking about Christmas being a time of service.  That's usually not too high on the list of things to do during the holiday season.  But when you consider Jesus and take a look at Scriptures, it's clear He's about serving others (John 13), putting others' needs above our own (Phil. 2), and loving others (Mark 12:29-31).  Let's look at Matthew 20:26-28 for one example:

"It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Just prior to these verses in Matthew, a mother asked Jesus if her two sons could be seated near Jesus in His kingdom.  He denies her request and continues with verses 26-28 which you just read above.  The point of why I'm sharing these verses is that Jesus Himself says that He came to serve and "to give His life a ransom for many."

So it's that magical time of the year and we're celebrating Jesus.  It makes sense, then, that if we are celebrating Him, we would also seek to be like Him - to serve others during this special time of the year (and throughout the year!).

You might be thinking that you don't have much money leftover from your paycheck or that you've already spent almost everything on your college education, so what can you do?  Well, there are many ways to be a light during Christmas, to serve others and share His love!  Money can be a great tool in that ministry, but time is also valuable - maybe even more so.  Take a look at the list below and then pick one or two opportunities that you can do.

- visit a local nursing home or a neighborhood to do some caroling  
- plan a Christmas party and invite others to celebrate Christ's birth with you
- serve in a local soup kitchen
- make ornaments, baked goodies, or another festive gift and give them to your neighbors
- volunteer to watch your siblings or a friend's kids to give the parents a date night

The ideas and opportunities are endless!  There are many other ways to be a light this Christmas, girls!  Pray about what you can do to share Jesus and His heart of service.  Let's make Christmas 2014 a Christmas to remember - because of what He did and Who He is!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Introducing: Counted Worthy

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 ***UPDATE***  Congrats to Melody V.!  Melody, you're the winner of "Counted Worthy" and have 48 hours to respond to the email we sent you.  If you don't respond in the 48 hours, we'll have to pick another winner, so make sure to contact us!  Thanks to everyone who participated - and so you know, the current price of "Counted Worthy" (Kindle) is at $1.99 (going up in a few hours), so check it out!

I first heard about Leah Good and her new book, Counted Worthy, via The Rebelution.  My interest was piqued and I wanted to know more.  Then I knew Leah's book was going to be amazing when best-selling author Brett Harris had this to say about it:

“Every generation must discover it’s own storyweavers. Leah Good is one of ours and we are fortunate. Counted Worthy is a thrilling work of inspirational fiction that perfectly complements the message of Do Hard Things. Grab a copy for yourself, grab a copy for a friend, and help spread the word about this phenomenal debut. Counted Worthy belongs in the hands of every Christian teen and story lover in the country. It’s that good.” Brett Harris, Author of Do Hard Things

Counted Worthy is Leah Good's first published book and it definitely is an incredible debut.  Leah's writing style is easy to read and quickly pulls you into the story.  Pretty soon you realize that you're not simply reading the book, you're living it along with the characters!

Here's the synopsis:

Heather Stone lives in fear of repeating the past, yet she continues doing the one thing that could trigger another disaster. When the police trace an illegal Bible to her house, Heather’s world begins to crumble.

Her father’s life hangs in the balance. No one with the power to help knows or cares. If she tries to save him, she could lead her friends to their deaths. If she does nothing, her father’s fate is certain. Can she evade a hostile police force and win public sympathy before it’s too late? (synopsis and picture from Leah's site)

Reading this book was especially poignant as my church recently participated in IDOP (International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church) and we heard true accounts of believers being marytryed for their faith in Christ.  So when Heather (main character) realizes that one Bible, which is outlawed by her dystopian government, could cost her everything, it reminded me of believers today.  I don't want to give away any spoilers, but it's such a great book about the reality of persecution and faith in Christ and one girl's journey.  I have to agree with Brett Harris - every Christian young person needs to read Counted Worthy.
To read chapter 1, click here.
Then go buy it on amazon or Leah's site!


Plus, because Counted Worthy really is such a worthy read (no pun intended!) and we're celebrating our birthday (Bloom! is eight years old this month!  More on that to come!), we're giving away one free Kindle copy!  To enter the giveaway, please enter the rafflecopter below.  International readers welcome!  Giveaway starts now and ends on December 4, 2014 at midnight EST.  See the rafflecopter below for ways you can earn entries!  Please note that if you simply do the ways to enter the giveaway like commenting below or sharing on facebook, but you don't enter the info onto the rafflecopter, your entry will not count.  So make sure to use the rafflecopter as you do entries.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday footprints

This month we wanted to share this stirring and Gospel-filled video with you.  It's from Pastor Eric Ludy of Ellerslie.  Be sure to take a few minutes to watch this.  It's so worth it, girls!

Praying you'll draw even closer to Christ this weekend!
Joanna, Krista, Megan, Emily & Victoria