By His Grace

This Is Us-When Life Gives You Lemons

Have you seen the television show This is Us?have a love/hate relationship with this show. I love it, but I bawl like a massive baby through each episode! One episode really hit home. Dr. K comes out to give Jack the sad news that one of his triplet babies is stillborn. Jack is entirely stunned and is trying to process what has just happened. Dr. K tells Jack that he and his late wife lost a child when they were first married and how he thinks of that baby every day.

He encourages Jack by saying if “you can take the sourest lemon that life hands you, and make something out of it that resembles lemonade, then maybe one day you can provide another man hope.” Wow! I bawled as I watched this… I sobbed uncontrollably.

[ctt template=”2″ link=”8k0m_” via=”yes” ]We all experience tragedy, grief and difficult seasons in life. We don’t all have the same hard, but we all go through difficult seasons.[/ctt]

He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”
2 Corinthians 1:4 (NLT)

This week, a picture popped up on my facebook memories from 7 years ago. I took a look at this picture and the smile on my face and thought, “I can’t believe all that has happened in my life in the 7 years since this photo was taken.”

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When this picture was taken, I was in my 30’s and I have a huge smile on my face, not knowing what the years ahead would hold. My husband had just bought me a BMW. We were living the American Dream with our home in the suburbs, our 3 kids, and a dog. We were surrounded by family and friends, and life was good.

I was homeschooling my boys, living life, and the future was bright. Much to my surprise a few weeks before my 40th birthday, I found out that I was pregnant!

I birthed and buried my baby that following year.

My long-awaited son was stillborn. Within a short period of time, I went from living life on the mountaintop of life to quickly descending into years of agonizing, soul-crushing pain.

Life didn’t stop and I didn’t slow down. I pushed the pain down, put on a happy face and just kept going. In between my days of intense grief, there were happy times too. I helped  Jacob start a Model NATO debate league for high schoolers, and host conferences and workshops. Most of my days were filled living life to the fullest loving my sweet husband, homeschooling the boys, going to church, doing Bible Study, cooking tons of meals and washing a million loads of laundry, traveling across the country with Jacob and Ian for Speech and Debate, and driving Connor back and forth to therapy and school.

Jacob later graduated from our homeschool, took a gap year, and it was during this time that the health of my mom rapidly declined. We spent our Christmas that year going back and forth to the hospital. My mom was put on life support, and after many years of pain and suffering and battling illness, she died a few days after Christmas. After her death, I cried nearly every day for almost a year and I was consumed with grief. In between my days of intense grief, there were good times, but this season was marked by agony and major life transitions. We were in a serious transition period. We moved for the first time in 15  years, Jacob started college, and Peter changed jobs!

After we moved, I struggled to get our life back to normal, although I am not really sure our life has ever been “normal.” We moved into our home 2 weeks before the new school year started. On top of that, we began renovations on our home immediately. Things were pretty chaotic.

A few months after we moved into our home, and eleven months after the death of my mom, my dear sweet Mother-in-Law suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. This sent rippling effects through our immediate and extended family. Once again we found ourselves devasted by loss and heartbroken in the valley of the shadow of death.

Fall turned to Winter and Winter turned to Spring.

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We found ourselves out of the valley and back on the mountaintop of life again. We continued our home renovations, bought new furnishings, and put in a pool. Things were finally looking up, and it looked like 2015 was going to be a great year, and it was until spring break came, and I broke both of my arms in a bicycle accident and was incapable of doing anything for myself for weeks on end. My guys had to feed me, dress me, brush and floss my teeth, fix my hair and do my makeup. They literally had to do EVERYTHING for me! During my recovery, God was very near and taught me many things. After months of healing and therapy, I was finally beginning to get my life back.

Soon after we discovered that Connor was not Autistic, but that he was suffering from PANDAS and Auto-Immune Encephalitis. Which began months of intense medical inventions and therapies.

Most recently, I hit my head and suffered a concussion, and was laid flat on my back in complete darkness and silence as I healed. I was diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome, and for weeks I suffered the effects of that concussion. I spent hours in my room by myself in the dark completely overwhelmed by sight and sound. I am still feeling some of the side effects of my concussion today, and hope that the symptoms soon reside.

[ctt template=”2″ link=”SXRd2″ via=”yes” ]Life is uncertain.[/ctt]

It is filled with both personal victories and mountaintop experiences in between the valleys. Life has continued to give us some of the most bitter pills we have ever had to swallow, but through it all, we have become stronger as a family. We have become closer to our Saviour. We have learned that life is hard, but God is good. He gives us beauty for ashes, and His Love for us incomprehensible! It is not just about taking lemons and making lemonade.

[ctt template=”2″ link=”GBklS” via=”yes” ]It is about trusting Jesus with our life and our circumstances.[/ctt]

With Jesus, the scripture says, we can do all things! No matter what the future holds, for those who are in Christ, we are clothed with strength and dignity and do not need to fear the future. We know God is with us and that he loves us and wants good for us. He has given us a hope and a future, no matter what comes our way!

My friend, I don’t know what lemons life has given you. Your hard is not my hard but hard comes in all shapes and sizes. The road ahead may be uncertain, but I am here today to tell you that no matter what you are going through today, it is temporary and cannot be compared with the glory that awaits us in heaven! Press on, and continue to fight the good fight of faith.

 

Revive Gathering

Calling all women of North Houston: Do you know about Revive Gathering yet? If not, then you need to! Revive is a seasonal gathering for the women of North Houston to come together and glorify God through worship, prayer, and God’s Word. Women from several churches and denominations in the area gathered together this past Thursday at Revive Gathering.

To God be glorified, women be unified – Revive Gathering

fullsizeoutput_18e4The worship was phenomenal Thursday evening and women from all walks of life were united together in praise for  Jesus under the stars at the Rob Fleming Park in The Woodlands. We sang songs of praise and worship to our Almighty Lord and Savior out in the brisk cool evening air. Voices lifted high to our King! It was a beautiful thing to be a part of. Then, Gina Webster brought an incredible message of unity for women to lift up and encourage one another so that Jesus Christ may be exalted!

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Gina encouraged women to show forgiveness, love, and mercy to one another and to build up the household of Faith. She said we don’t need to wrestle, envy, or be jealous of sisters. Instead, we should realize that we have received the promise of Jesus Christ and that God has a plan for each one of us that is full of goodness. She concluded her message with a charge for us to be women who fight for our sisters to lift up one another and to celebrate the good gifts that come to our sisters.

We ended the evening gathered in small prayer circles, where we prayed for one word for each woman. I was honored to lead a sweet group of young women in prayer, and I look forward to what God is going to do within their midst!

As women, we were made for community, and we need our sisters to love, encourage and pray for us. The enemy of our souls would love nothing more than to keep us isolated, separated and divided. As women, we must stand with our sisters and build one another up for the Kingdom of God.

Revive will meet again April 20, 2017, and I hope to see you there!

 

 

She Laughs Conference Recap

She Laughs Conference Recap

I had a blast at the She Laughs Conference this past weekend in Henderson, TX and can’t wait to tell you all about it! The She laughs Conference I attended was hosted at First Baptist Church Henderson. I went to the conference with my friend and co-laborer, Missy Millspaugh. When we arrived we were instantly greeted by Pastor David Higgs and his beautiful wife, Kim. Kim has an amazing smile and her countenance radiates Jesus! If you are in the area be sure to visit First Baptist Church Henderson.

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Katy McCown is the founder of the She Laughs Conference. Katy and I have something in common as we both left our corporate jobs to raise and homeschool our children. Katy is a retired television news reporter and her husband, Luke, plays football for the NFL New Orleans Saints, and they have six children. In her spare time, she writes for Proverbs 31 Ministries and hosts She Laughs.

She Laughs is based on the scripture in Proverbs 31:25.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.

Katy is passionate about Jesus and seeing women walk in strength and dignity, and desires women to live a laugh characterized by laughter, without fear of the future. Her opening message entitled, The Path to a Passionate Life, discussed our preparation, position, and pursuit. My favorite quote from that session:

God is far less interested in our motions, then in our motives.

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Next, we heard from Lisa Allen, founder of L.J. Allen consulting and coaching, and Executive Director of Ministry Training at Proverbs 31 Ministries. We laughed as we evaluated our personalities in the session, What Shoe Are You?, where I discovered that I am a combination of a Work Boot and a Stiletto—what a combination! I also discovered that God gifted me with a special combination of strengths in order for me to fulfill my calling.

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We laughed for the rest of the evening as Shari Braendel of Fashion Meets Faith and author of Help me Jesus, I have Nothing to Wear inspired us to look our best for the King. In her session, Hairspray & High Heels, she reminded us that the King is enthralled with our beauty, and what we think about ourselves matters! Missy and I were both even brave enough to get up on stage in front of the women of Henderson and participate.

Speaking of brave, the ultimate bravery award goes to the men in the camera crew that came all the way from South Carolina from Meade Agency to film a congregation full of estrogen-filled women!!

Saturday morning, we learned ways to avoid burnout in our calling, igniting our passions to fuel our calling, and we were reminded why we need to laugh. The content of the topics discussed at She Laughs was relevant for women of all ages to help them pursue the good works of their calling.

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The picture above was the grand finale. I don’t want to give any spoilers, so if you want to know more about the picture above, then you will have to visit a She Laughs Conference for yourself! She Laughs Conference

 

Resolutions for the New Year!

Resolutions for the New Year!

Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year?  How is that going for you? I am not good at making resolutions, but I usually start the new year with great aspirations and intentions. Instead, we take stock of the past year and make plans to improve in the coming year. This year I choose the word Contentment and a scripture to focus on. Do you have a Scripture of the Year?

I love the fresh start the new year provides. This year our family is reading Psalms for Living: Daily Prayers, Wisdom, and Guidance by Mark Lanier as our daily family devotion.

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Instead of making a New Year’s resolution this year, what would happen if we would all commit to delight in the law of the Lord in 2017? What if we looked to the Psalms for daily wisdom and guidance for the new year. Psalm 1 is a great guide for us to live by and the wisdom it provides us is all we really need as we begin the new year. Psalm 1 contrasts the way of the righteous and the wicked. 

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lordand on his law he meditates day and night.He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. – Psalm 1 ESV

Psalm 1 tells us that the man who genuinely worships God and embraces the law of the Lord is blessed, and that he will prosper. In contrast, we see that the wicked perish.

Psalm 1 tells us that the man who genuinely worships God and embraces the law of the Lord is blessed, and that he will prosper. In contrast, we see that the wicked perish. Blessed is the man who delights in the law of the Lord. He will bear fruit and prosper. The Lord knows the way of the righteous and the wicked. The righteous prosper, and the wicked perish.
 Will you commit yourselves anew to righteousness in 2017?
Do you have a Scripture of the Year?

Do you have a Scripture of the Year?

Have you chosen a scripture verse to guide you through the new year? Many people in the Christian blogosphere choose a word or a scripture to guide them through the year, rather than making New Year’s resolutions.  This year I decided to incorporate both a word and a scripture. My word for 2017 the year is Contentment.

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Last year when I attended She Speaks I visited the prayer room. For those of you who don’t know about She Speaks, it is a conference hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries that equips women in their calling to write and speak for Jesus. The prayer room at She Speaks is indeed a special place. In the middle of this candlelight room, there is a table with a basket that contains hundreds of tiny little scrolls, each containing a scripture verse. Every woman that visits the prayer room has an opportunity to chose a scroll. Each woman in attendance of the conference has been prayed for, and the basket of scripture verses has also been prayed over.

Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.-Proverbs 31:25

The scripture I choose is Proverbs 31:25, and this is the same verse that I choose to share with the women in a small group I was leading for an event at my church a few years earlier. Then in December when I began planning for the New Year ahead, I decided to attend the She Laughs Conference. Do you see a theme here? Me too, and that is how I choose my scripture for 2017.

I love what the Matthew Henry Commentary says about the Proverbs 31 woman regarding verses  31:10-31, and I want to share a section with you here.

She is discreet and obliging; every word she says, shows she governs herself by the rules of wisdom. She not only takes prudent measures herself, but gives prudent advice to others. The law of love and kindness is written in the heart, and shows itself in the tongue. Her heart is full of another world, even when her hands are most busy about this world.

Michael Hyatt in chapter 4 of his book Living Forward says that as a part of the Life Plan you create, you must think about your legacy, how you want to be remembered and create your own eulogy.

Oh, how I long to be known as a wise woman full of love and compassion. Lord, help me to live my life by wisdom and give prudent advice to others. I don’t know what lies ahead in 2017, but what I do know is that I can look to future and laugh because I am clothed with strength and dignity.

I look forward to sharing my update with you all when I return from She Laughs next week,  along with another scripture that I plan on using to define my year. Until then, I would love to know if you have chosen a scripture to meditate on in 2017. Leave a comment below with your word or verse for the year!

 

Move Toward the Mess

Move Toward the Mess

I love God’s timing! It amazes me the things that only He can orchestrate. When you answer the call to follow Jesus, you just never know where you may end up. Following Jesus is definitely not boring! During the Wednesday evening service this week, my pastor talked about how when God calls you, He will most likely call you to a place that is out of your comfort zone. God will never call you to mediocrity. If God called you to something that was easy for you, then you wouldn’t need Him, or have to rely on Him. Hmm… Interesting. Hold on to that thought.

I just finished reading the book Move Toward the Mess: The Ultimate Fix for a Boring Christian Life (David C. Cook 2016) by John Hambrick. Little did I know that the timing this book would correspond with a day I won’t soon forget.

img_0864Last fall, my Ladies Bible Study group wanted to do some kind of service project together. Today was our appointed day to volunteer at a local soup kitchen by the name of Fishes and Loaves. This soup kitchen feeds 200-400 hungry people in downtown Houston six days a week.

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As we pulled up to the to the building, there is already a huge line of people waiting to be fed. For some of these people, this may be the only meal that they eat today. It is a cold day here in Houston, and the temperatures are in the 40’s and 50’s, and it is damp and overcast. Most of the men and women we served, live under the bridge near the kitchen on the east side of downtown Houston.

Our group today consisted of mostly men, and a few women. The people thanked us and said God bless you for serving food to us. However, one woman in particular caught my attention, and it struck a cord with me. She came in with a black eye, and I wondered what she endured to get her to this place. Life on the streets is messy.

The Houston food bank along with other generous sponsors help provide the food. Our family donates money to the Houston Food bank every year, but today I locked eyes with the hungry men and women of Houston and I will never be the same.

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Magnificat Houses is the umbrella organization over Fishes and Loaves that serves some one the neediest people in the inner city of Houston. It has been serving the mentally ill, homeless and disadvantaged since 1968. Magnificat house provides hope, food, shelter, half-way houses and rehabilitative services to people in the Houston area. It is completly led by volunteers, and operates by donation. Visit Magnificat Houses to learn more about this incredible organization.

Julie Batsche at Fishes and Loaves was our tour guide for the day. Our group served along side some of the most joy filled people that I have ever seen, their countannce radiates Jesus! We began with a tour of the facility, the chaplin shared the history of the organization, and we started with prayer. Today we served fresh salad, and gumbo made by Cedrick Broussard the cook, and his assistant, along with a roll, crackers and dessert to 205 people.

fullsizeoutput_1852The murals on the wall were painted by one of the homeless men who used to come the shelter many years ago. Below is a depiction of the miracle of the fishes and loaves from the gospels that the kitchen is named after. The workers here today see this miracle played out before their very own eyes, because God provides daily for Loaves and Fishes to feed the hungry.

fullsizeoutput_1855Our world is full of lost and hurting people who desperately need to know the love of Christ. In Move Toward the Mess, John Hambrick challenges American Christians who are bored sitting in the pews each Sunday, to get up and follow Jesus into the mess to minister to the lost and hurting in the world. I found this book to be both challenging and exciting.

In the first part of the book, John provides several examples of people that live their lives right smack in the middle of the mess, and in the second half of the book, he outlines practical ways for us to move toward the mess. There is a nice flow from chapter to chapter, and each chapter ends with thought-provoking questions that would make this an excellent book for individual study or small group discussion.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from Move toward the Mess:

What gives Paul peace in the middle of the mess is God’s outrageous, unconditional forgiveness.-John Hambrick

Move toward the mess is a love story.  It is the ultimate love story of a mighty Savior who came to earth to bind up the brokenhearted, wipe every tear away, save the lost, and lavish his amazing grace on us.

[ctt template=”2″ link=”U46xi” via=”yes” ]Jesus is on the move today are you willing to answer the call and move toward the mess?[/ctt]

There are lots of different ways to move toward the mess. Last Spring when our community experienced devasting flooding we mobilized hundreds of church members into the community to help flood victims. You can read about how we moved toward the mess in The Church Has Left the Building. It is time for the church to leave the building, and move toward the mess.

I love the message of this book, and would love its message to go viral! Share this post on social media for a chance to win your very own copy of Move Toward the Mess between now and January 15th!

John Hambrick is no stranger to the mess. He is the Director of Starting Point and Staff Development at Buckhead Church in Atlanta, GA – one of the North Point Community Church campuses in Atlanta that bestselling author Andy Stanley founded. John has served in other churches as an associate pastor and pastor. He has also been a staff member for Young Life and was one of the chaplains at Kings College, University of London. John and his wife, Patty, have two children and reside in Atlanta, Georgia.

A special thank you to The Blog About Network, The Blythe Daniel Agency and publishers for providing a copy of this book for review and one to giveaway.

 

Contentment

Contentment

Happy New Year! The new year is a time of new beginnings—a do over so-to-speak. The new year is a time to make changes and improvements. As I reflect on 2016 and contemplate 2017, I think of all the things, both good and bad, that marked my life in 2016. One of the things that continues to swirl around in my mind is my attitude this year at Christmas.

This year as Christmas approached I was content. Things were not perfect, no it was far from it, and I didn’t accomplish everything on my to-do list, or buy everyone the perfect gift. What was really hard this Christmas for our family was that this was the first year that our family wouldn’t all be together. Now that our eldest son is engaged, we have to share the holidays with another family. I understood this going into the holidays, and I had no expectations. I made plans, but because I had no expectations, I wasn’t disappointed.

You see I was content.

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In Philippians 4 the Apostle Paul talks about God’s provision in verses 12-13.

12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. – ESV

Just before Paul says, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” He talks about contentment. Being content regardless of his circumstances. Whether he was rich or poor, whether he was high or low. That is because he knew the source of his contentment, it was not his circumstances, it was Christ.

This is the place where I want to start this year. In a place of contentment. A place where I can do all things through Christ, because He is the one that strengthens me to do his will for my life. I joyfully anticipate the New year, and whether I experience Mountain tops or Valleys I want to be content, with no expectations.

 

In need of a Christmas Miracle!

I love the holidays! There is excitement in the air, and for most people, the holidays are filled with peace, love, and joy. For some, however, the holidays can be a time of great poverty, sadness, and loneliness.

This year I am burdened with a loved one, a dear one who is lost and scared, and in need of a Christmas miracle. It is easy to get caught up in our own little worlds and miss the fact that there are hurting people all around us.

Take heart, there is hope, and we have good news…

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In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, the prophecy of the good news is given.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.- Isaiah 9:6

This is the beauty of Christmas, a message prophesied so long ago. The Light that breaks the darkness is the Word made Flesh in John 1. The Christ child—fully man, fully God come to save the world. His name is Jesus, and He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. He is our Savior, and the only one who can take away our sins, and reconcile us to the Father.

Those that want the gospel, walk in darkness, and in the utmost danger. But when the gospel comes to any place, to any soul, light comes. Let us earnestly pray that it may shine into our hearts, and make us wise unto salvation. – Matthew Henry Commentary of Isaiah 9:6

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This Christmas season, let us earnestly pray that the gospel shines through us to bring hope to a lost and hurting world. We as believers are anointed to bring the good news to the weary, the poor, and the lost.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound -Isaiah 61:1 ESV

Jesus Christ came to bind up the brokenhearted, to liberate those who are held captive by Satan and sin. My heart is heavy and burden for those I know who are lost. My prayer is that the Light of Christ will come into their darkness, and they will be saved.

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. – Acts 2:21 (Berean Study Bible)

Bible Basics: Book Review & Giveaway!

When my boys were very young, I would snuggle up with them in a blanket in my comfy chair and would read aloud to them. We created the sweetest memories in those early days of homeschooling when I read out loud all the time. Forever etched on my heart is the excitement and thrill of reading The Chronicles of Narnia out loud for the first time. So many amazing books! When I started homeschooling, my dear sweet husband told me that he would never tell me no to books. That is a very dangerous thing to tell a homeschool mom!

I was always on the hunt for quality books that were full of beauty, wisdom, and truth. Trips to homeschool conferences and bookstores would result in the purchase of many bundles of books. We quickly outgrew our little book shelf in our school room.

I not only wanted to read good quality books to my kids, I also wanted books that would teach them about their faith and be theologically sound. This is one of the reasons I created the apologetics booklet I talked about in  (Un)Apologetic Parenting. Because I am passionate about finding these good books to read to our kids, today I am so excited to share this giveaway with my readers!

It is difficult to find quality books for children that teach sound spiritual concepts…

Until now!

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I wish I had a copy of Bible Basics when my boys were young! Bible Basics: A Baby Believer Counting Primer incorporates beautifully illustrated pages with sound theological principles in a sturdy hardback book for little ones.

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I was impressed with the beauty and simplicity with which this baby board book handled difficult concepts, such as Jesus’ nature being fully God and fully man and the Trinity—both which were explained poetically and artistically through quotations from Scripture, hymns, and early church writings.

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Baby Believer Primers are designed to grow with children, from early infancy through early elementary school. By reframing abstract, but vitally important Biblical content into manageable concepts such as numbers and letters, the Primers expose children to the vocabulary of basic theology in a format that will help them categorize and retain the information.- www.catechesisbooks.com

I am excited to give away a copy of this special book just in time for Christmas! This would make a perfect gift for your grandchildren or for any parent with a baby and or small children!!

Subscribe to Misty Phillip  to be eligible for a chance to win!

This is the first book in the Baby Believer Primers series, and I look forward to the other books in the series! Author Danielle Hitchen (left), a mother and talk radio producer, and the illustrator, Jessica Blanchard (right), a mother and an award-winning graphic artist, have created this artistically-designed and eye-catching board book that is pivotal for children’s spiritual formation. unspecified

For more information and to purchase this book visit Catechesis Books

A special thank you to The Blog About Network, The Blythe Daniel Agency and publishers for providing a copy of this book for review and one to giveaway.

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