Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year, Fresh Start

I love starting a new year. 

I love Mondays. I love blank notebooks, empty calendars blank SD cards. I love fresh starts! 

Maybe it's because I need so many new beginnings to try to finally get it right; I don't know. But I'm thankful for them, nonetheless. 

I don't think I'll bother writing a list of resolutions this year. I'll probably just take a stab at keeping some of the resolutions I've made in the past. I do intend to draw closer to God this year, and to spend more time in His Word. I figure, if I do that, most everything else should fall into place. 

To those of you who have taken the time to read my blog in the past year, thank you! I love you all!

Wishing you many blessings in the New Year!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Messages on the Mirror

Ever looked into the mirror and hated what you saw? I have. Actually, I avoid mirrors. Despise 'em. But mirrors with a message, a really nice message? Yeah, I like those. This one, for example:

I especially love the "I love you Daddy and Mommy" one. I caught my 8-year-old writing that, standing on tip-toe, stretching to reach...putting her heart into it.

Finding scribbled love notes like these first thing in the morning, or last thing at night, or whenever, just kind of feels like a hug. 

Why not give your family a "hug" today? Write a message on the mirror. Maybe they don't like what they usually see there, but they'll love that. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Nativity Story App (Review)

I don't want my kids to spend too much time on their tablets, especially during the Christmas season when they should be spending time making memories together with us and with other family members and friends. But, I don't want to take away all of their tablet fun either, sooo, how about an app that teaches them about the real meaning of Christmas, while entertaining them, too? Yes, please!

The Nativity Story is a digital story book that beautifully tells the story of the first Christmas. The artwork is absolutely gorgeous! The book is laid out as a "pop up" and each page has people, animals, or objects that, when tapped, move, talk, dance, etc. Your child can choose to have the story read to him, or to read it himself. The narrator has a very pleasant voice and the background music is, blessedly, not annoying. 

I enjoyed trying out the app, but the true test came when I handed the iPad to my 5-year-old son, whose attention span can be super short. He loved it! For quite a long time he played with the app, sitting quietly on the couch. 
Ahhhhhh. Quietness. 
Another feature that I loved is that the app includes a tab where you or your child can read the Nativity Story right from the Bible. Once again, beautifully done. 

If you have young children, I highly recommend this wonderful app! 

You can read more about it here:

About The Nativity Story
Where will baby Jesus be born? At the market? At a restaurant? At the inn? Readers of this book app can follow Joseph and Mary on their search for a place to stay in Bethlehem. Along the way they encounter a variety of colourful local people and animals. This is a fun and engaging way to share the original story of Christmas with the young generation and remind them what Christmas is all about.

Great for kids 2-10

Watch a video on The Nativity Story App: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtBhge8DWFA

Why Kids Love This App

  •  It's like a vintage pop-up book, with classic woodcut-style illustrations
  • By tapping and swiping, kids can help Joseph and Mary find a place to stay.
  • Knock on doors... Pull on the rope... Ring the bell... Open windows... Make people talk...
  • Create music! Help a band of angels play their instruments.
  • Lots of characters to get to know: Innkeeper, Merchant, Shepherds, Chef, A Band of Actors, Neighbourhood Children, Mary's Donkey, Farm Animals and of course... Angels!
  • Funny sound effects!

Why Parents & Grandparents Love This App

  • Nostalgia. It feels like a classic pop-up book, bringing back memories for parents and grandparents.
  • Optional Narration: Listen to the old-timey narrator tell the story, or read the story yourself.
  • EXTRA Feature: After the story, explore the original Bible text that tells the Nativity Story.
  • Amazing Visual Quality: Support for retina display

How is This Christmas App Different?

  • Production Values - It is a work of art: a rich visual and sound experience.
  • Interactive - We use the touch technology and animation to engage the reader in the story in an enchanting and educational way.
  • Age approach - The classic Bible story is retold here with an original and creative approach that appeals to young kids as well as adults.
  • Original - The app is designed like a vintage popup book and includes unique features such as interacting with a band of angels and playing instruments like trumpet and harp.

For the iPad ($3.99) The Nativity Story - Popup DELUXE Edition https://itunes.apple.com/app/id579941573
For the iPhone ($1.99)
The Nativity Story - Popup MINI Edition https://itunes.apple.com/app/id681638132

Names, Snowflakes, and Eternal Significance

Last night my family and I attended a memorial service presented by the Hospice House for the families of those who passed away this past year. I wasn't sure how many people would be there, but I figured, for some reason, that it would be a fairly small crowd. I was wrong. Thankfully, we arrived early enough to easily find six chairs together and we waited, listening to an elderly lady (a retired RN, the program said) play Christmas carols on an electric keyboard at the front of the room while the place filled up. While we waited I read the program we had been given at the door, and I scanned the list of names that accompanied it. I found my Pappaw's name: Sam Grant. Such a simple name. Nothing special, at least not to anyone else. No one else in that room knew who Sam Grant was except for my husband and children. The doctor who saw him two or three times in the hospice house didn't really know him. None of the nurses who had so kindly taken care of him were there and, besides, they didn't really know him. I read his name again...thinking of those last moments I sat there by his bed in that hospice room. Memories flooded back, and the tears came. I held them back, mostly, but just barely. I wished that everyone there, that everyone everywhere could know about the man behind that common, nondescript name. That wonderful, giving, sacrificial, hard working, loving man: Sam. One man who touched so many lives, but was so unknown. So unrecognized. And that's how he wanted it.

The service began. Prayers were prayed, songs were sung, and kind, gentle, understanding words were spoken to the grieving families. 

At the front of the room, in the center, was a Christmas tree, unlit and sparsely decorated. Later in the service the Hospice staff gathered around the tree, and the Hospice chaplain explained that staff members would take turns reading the list of names aloud and, that as a name on the list was read, staff members would place an ornament on the tree in memory of that person while others gave an ornament to the families that were present. The reading of the names began and the ornaments, beautiful white snowflakes, were placed on the tree as a corresponding ornament was giving to the  family of the deceased.

It was, of course, very quiet, very solemn. Some were weeping. I looked again at that list. So many names...367...and each one represented a lifetime of love, hopes, dreams, heartbreaks, tears, smiles.... It struck me once again how very short life is. The Bible speaks of it being a vapor, and that is the perfect comparison. A vapor.... 

Out of all of those names I don't think there were any that were any plainer or simpler than "Sam Grant", but there were plenty that were just plain ol' ordinary names. They weren't all eye-catching, or regal, or interesting. But each one of those names represented someone like my Pappaw. Well, maybe they weren't all quite the person he was, because, in my opinion, no one could be. But...maybe they were that and more. And now, they were reduced to names on a list, ornaments on a tree. 

It didn't take long for that tree to be covered with snowflakes. Each one representing far more than just a name. It struck me: even though I didn't know any of them, and even though those people were nothing more to me than names on a piece of paper, they were infinitely important to someone else. To their time. To God. Those snowflake ornaments transformed that tree, one by one. 

As they dimmed the lights and lit the tree, the transformation was complete. It was so beautiful, and it spoke to me; no one is just a name, a nobody. No one is worthless. Every life is beautiful. We all matter.  Each ornament on that tree was symbolic of someone who meant something very special to the people in that room that night. They may not have rocked their world, cured cancer, or brought about world peace, but in their own way they made a difference just by being.

You matter. You are significant. It doesn't matter if you're important or recognized by any group of people. It doesn't matter if you're plain-named, plain living, and ordinary. 

You can make the most of the life you've been given by making a difference for good in the lives of those around you, even if it's by doing the litte things, the simple things. 

They matter. You matter.

It's true; life is short. But it's eternal, too.