Tuesday, August 25, 2015

RELEASE DAY!!! The Plans I Have for You

Today marks the long-awaited (by me, anyway) release day for The Plans I Have for You, a manuscript that sat in my Ideas folder for years and was in publishing production for a couple more. 

But from the beginning, I knew that this was a message God wanted His children to hear. One day, I just began to hear the words, 

Hey YOU! I’ve got big plans for you!
Yes, you, and you, and you over there too!

I've been doing this long enough that when I hear that Voice, I grab a laptop--or a pencil or a lipstick!--and begin to take it all down. So I wrote down the verses and then saved it away in my Ideas folder.

About a year later, my teenage son was sitting in my office when I came across it again. Now, teenage sons are not necessarily the ideal audience for sharing tender, new ideas. But I began to read, 

Hey you, I’ve got big plans for you!
Yes you and you and you over there too!
I’ll need you in a hospital and you in a zoo 
and you’ll be an entomologist in a forest in Peru!

When I finished, he looked at me and said, “That is good.” 

I was just as surprised as he was. “It is good, isn’t it?”

A couple of years later I was in a workshop at Mount Hermon Christian Writer’s Conference. When the subject turned to God’s plans for us, I dug up my manuscript and began to read, 

Hey you, I’ve got big plans for you! 
Yes you and you and you over there too. . . . 
Oh, it’s no little purpose. I don’t do things small. 
Yours is the most humongous purpose of all!

And as I was reading, I saw this little children’s book shine a ray of hope on the careers and dreams of these adults. One author loved it so much that she asked the leader of the conference if we could read it at closing ceremonies!

Those experiences all showed me why that little Voice gave me these words. This is not only a picture book for kids. It’s a message vital to the hopes and dreams of kids and teens and adults everywhere

We all ask those questions: Does God have plans for me? Do I have a purpose on this planet? Am I doing something that matters? And the answer is YES

Open your heart and listen real close. 
You’ll find that one thing that you love the most.
. . . . . 
Remember that I, who made the whole world, made YOU.
There’s nothing that with My help, you cannot do.

This is one message that we can't afford to miss. We want this message firmly planted within the hearts of our kids so that they carry it with them throughout their lifetimes. And it’s my hope that through this book, kids and teens and adults will walk away empowered with the plans that God has for them. 

The whole world will be better, thanks to little ol’ you . . .
All because you did what I created you to do.

So while I'm celebrating the release of The Plans I Have for You, let's also take time to celebrate--every day--the plans He has for YOU!

Amy Parker Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Friday, August 7, 2015

How to Survive That First Week of School

Joe Fox, You've Got Mail 
(via Pinterest)
No amount of denial will stop the inevitable. 

Schedules will change. 

Supplies will be bought. 

Children will whine. 

Who am I kidding? It's already begun.

But as a seasoned back-to-schooler, I've learned through trial and error (okay, mostly error) a few things that make it easier to get back into the swing of school things. 

  1. Bacon. Seriously. At my house, the guaranteed way to start a morning happy is to wake the bears with the aroma of their favorite breakfast. I (not even kidding) walk through the house with a sizzling skillet of bacon, and suddenly my kitchen table is surrounded with sleepy, smiling faces. Let your kids pick what they want (eh, within reason), remind them the night before of the yumminess that awaits, and let the aroma gently nudge them awake the next morning. It sure makes a smoother transition than that blaring alarm clock.
  2. Keep it simple. To reduce plastic consumption, I usually pack school lunch items in reusable containers, but for this first week, to shave off some seconds and to reduce the number of synapses my brain will have to make in the mornings, I bought individually wrapped items. That one simple substitute may just keep the straw from breaking this camel's back. If you can simplify--even the smallest things--during that first week, I'm giving you permission: do it. You can get back to saving the world once your survival is secured.
  3. Shop the sales. Back-to-school time can also be financially stressful, so take the time to shop around for the best deals. Most stores have free or almost-free promotional items, so plan ahead and stop in to pick up those items when you're close by. And don't forget to save the bulk of it, including your big-ticket items, for Tax-Free Weekend, if your state offers it. Conversely, don't stress yourself out trying to save 37 cents; your sanity is worth at least 50.
  4. Shop for next year. The best deals on clothes are in July and January. I always try to buy a few pieces of next year's sizes for at least half the price. Boys fashion doesn't change much from year to year, but girls may be a little trickier. Still, even if you stick to the basics, you'll take a load off the back-to-school shopping spree. When that time rolls around, you'll not only be prepared, but also will save tons of money and time in crowded stores.
  5. Spend a little extra time with your kids. The onslaught of supply lists and open houses and sign-ups can be quite demanding on a parent, but make it a point to take care of your first priority first: the children causing all of the chaos. All of this transition is tough on them, too, so dedicate some quiet, one-on-one time talking about their day, their new teachers, and their own anxieties. It'll help you both to gain some perspective and maybe even a little peace.
  6. Pray for your kids . . . their teachers . . . their principals . . . the other mamas . . . and yourself. The most powerful thing you can do is to cover everyone in prayer. Pray that your child and his new teacher will get along great. Pray that his principal will lead with integrity. Pray that you will make it through without imploding even once. Prayer is a powerful tool--your most powerful weapon against the back-to-school crazies.
  7. Soak it all in grace. When your kid has a meltdown over a mechanical pencil, when the cash-register lady is snippy, when you're running late for the first day of school (guilty). . . take a deep breath, and give it some grace. It's tough on them; it's tough on you. But together, with a hearts full of patience and understanding, we're all gonna make it through.
Hang in there. I'm praying for you all. 

Have some tips or survival stories of your own? Share them here.