Tuesday, December 29, 2015

*RELEASE DAY!* The Plans I Have for YOU Devotional and Journal

Today we're celebrating RELEASE DAY for two more books: The Plans I Have for YOU Devotional and The Plans I Have for YOU JournalThey're the second and third books in a growing brand with ZonderKidz based on Jeremiah 29:11. (There are even more to come! Stay tuned!) 

Photo by Amanda Ward 
In August, the first of the series, The Plans I Have for YOU picture book, releasedSince then, I've read the book to hundreds of kids, watching their heads tilt and eyes widen as they hear about God's plans for them--and of course, as they learn what an entomologist is. ;) I wonder how many parents have now been told, "I'm going to be an emtozologist when I grow up!"

And really, isn't that the point? To let kids know that they're valued . . . that they have a purpose . . . Even with those little bones, in that little skin, behind those flubbed words, there's a big ol' heart that can hear God's call, that can make a big ol' difference (Matthew 18:3, 1 Timothy 4:12). It's a message we could all use--grandkids and graduates and grandmas alike!

The devotional and journal both (sample pages below), while maintaining the engaging whimsy of the picture book, take the message of God's plans and purpose to the next level. In the devotional, you dig deeper--with poems, Bible stories, scripture, even a scavenger hunt!--to really discover God's plans for you, right now, right where you are. 

The journal then lets you run with it, personalizing the message to your own life. (I would truly recommend the journal for ANY age.) Most spreads offer a scripture, then prompt you to apply that scripture to your life right now.

So we've got the picture book that plants the message in a way that will take root, the devotional that nourishes and grows that message for 90 days, and a journal with over 200 pages to harvest the message in your own life. It's my hope that these three tools will produce fruit that nourishes kids--and adults--for a lifetime, a constant reminder that:

God has BIG plans for YOU!

From the Devotional . . .

From the Journal . . .

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Jesus Calms the Storm

I'm not the best manager of my time. 

There. I said it. (But if you know me, this is no surprise.)

I take on too much. I say yes much too often. And I am much too optimistic about what I can accomplish on any given day--with all the other stuff I've taken on, and all.

This tends to create the occasional storm. Sure, I've gotten better. But at least once a year, it all piles up, and I become a basket case. Or a raving lunatic. Or both. 

It's not pretty.

I'm in the midst of the storm now. And I just so happen to be writing about Jesus calming the storm (Matthew 8:23-27): 

The disciples were getting the hang of this faith thing. They had walked with Jesus as He preached. They had witnessed the many miracles He performed.

But then came the storm.

Jesus and His disciples were all in a boat, crossing the Sea of Galilee, when the wind started whipping, and the waves started crashing. They couldn’t see for the flashes of lightning and the driving rain. They couldn’t hear over the thunder and the wind. But they could feel the water rushing around their feet—and rising.

Where was Jesus?!?

They found Him—sleeping, no less—at the back of the boat. “Jesus!" the grown men cried. "We’re all going to die!!!” 

Jesus opened His eyes and answered with an unexpected question, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” 
                                              (from The Faith, Hope, Love Devotional, coming Fall 2016)

AMY (in her infinite wisdom): Why am I afraid?! Can't you see all these deadlines? Don't you know how far behind I am? And I still have to feed these carnivorous boys, go to six more events this week, and spend Friday at school passing out cookie dough! Why am I afraid?! I'm going to drown!

JESUS (slow blink): Oh, you of little faith . . . don't you know who gave you those projects? Don't you know who gave you those children? Don't you know I created you, gave you these gifts? You have everything you need to accomplish these tasks. Do you not believe me, that you can do all things through me? . . . Waves, chill out. Wind, hushhh. And Amy, get back to work.

And just like that, the storm is calm. And I live to see another day.

Don’t make Jesus call you out on your faith. Don't let your "little faith" get in the way of all the big things God has planned for you. He controls the wind. He can calm the waves. And I'm starting to think that maybe He even creates the storms--just to remind us who is in control.

photo credit: Tormenta Urroz Villa via photopin (license)