“Thinking Bigger” at the Ark Encounter

Photo, Ark Encounter

“Think Bigger.” Last month I obeyed the ads and finally was able to visit the Ark Encounter theme park in Williamstown, Kentucky.

At the center of the park, of course, is a life-size Noah’s Ark, built according to the dimensions given in the Bible.

And it is BIG.

510-feet-long-85-feet-wide-51-feet-high-BIG.

According to the Ark Encounter website, the ark is “the largest timber frame structure in the world, built from standing dead timber.”

I had anticipated this visit a long time, and I expected the ark to overwhelm me at first sighting. But it didn’t.

My husband in front of the ark

Yes, it is impressive. And did I say it’s BIG? The closer you get, the more you know that.

But something other than size impressed me even more.

The “doableness” of the ark.

Building it, stocking it, filling it, living in it—all doable! The three decks inside show you how.

Photo, Ark Encounter

From how the animals were housed, to living quarters for Noah and his family, even to how waste could have been disposed of—doable.

I’ve always believed it. But now I can visualize it. And I was reminded of this verse in 2 Corinthians:

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.”  2 Cor 1:20 NIV

One of my favorite exhibits inside the Ark Encounter ark is Noah talking to visitors and answering questions. He’s animatronic, not an actor, but so realistic that was hard to remember.

Another area reminds visitors that God himself is the one who shut the door to the ark after everyone was in, and that just as the ark served as the door to safety from the destruction of the flood, Jesus is our door to eternal life with God.

As we headed back to our car, we spotted my friend Jenna, who lives nearby and now works at the ark, answering questions from visitors about the exhibits.

“I love it,” she told us. “We ‘have church’ up there!”

If you have the opportunity, visit the Ark Encounter, and take your children! Older kids and teens can enjoy many of the exhibits inside; with younger ones you’ll probably need to keep moving and pass up taking in all the information that’s available.

But that just means you’ll want to go back again.

 

– Diane

Praying for California

The devastation of the California fires this week shocks me. Have you seen the images and listened to peoples’ stories in the news and social media?

Photo, The Digital Story

I grew up in Anaheim, ten minutes from Disneyland, where eerie orange glowing skies and falling ash taunt the theme park’s “Happiest Place on Earth” slogan.

Two agents and a staff member from Books & Such Literary Management, including my own agent, Janet Grant, evacuated their Santa Rosa homes earlier in the week. Agent Rachel Kent’s husband is one of the firefighters bravely battling the flames. Assistant and author Michelle Ule has two adult children who live in homes in the affected neighborhoods as well—one of them in the house he was raised in.

Will they will lose everything or return to their homes? It’s impossible to know. So they wait.

Needless to say, the authors in the agency are praying. And watching Facebook for updates.

These three women aren’t just agents and office staff. They are their clients’ friends.

Would you take a moment to ask the Lord to comfort and sustain them? To calm the wind, and even to send rain? To ease the suffering throughout the state? To strengthen those fighting the flames?

Thank you!

– Diane

Treat Your Kids and Yourself with Compassion—with a new book by Kim Frederickson!

If you’re a parent or spend a lot of time with your grandchildren, sometimes you need a break. Sometimes the kids do too!

Kim Frederickson, MFT

Author Kim Frederickson, a wise and special woman you should know, has a secret tool for you.

What is it?

Compassion.

Compassion for yourself, as she wrote about in Give Yourself a Break. (And as she deals with some hard life circumstances, she practices what she preaches.) Treating yourself as you would a beloved friend, and as God relates to you.

And compassion for your kids, as she writes about in her new book, Give Your Kids a Break, a guide to compassionate parenting.

Kim Frederickson is wise because, in addition to her years as wife and mom, she’s a career marriage and family therapist. She’s special because she’s battled breast cancer and, as a result of her treatment, she now lives with pulmonary fibrosis, a terminal disease without a cure.

Unable to continue her counseling practice, Kim decided to turn to writing to get her message out to help others.

Her new book for parents contains all the wisdom and skills she wants her own children to be able to use as they parent Kim’s grandchildren someday—grandchildren Kim isn’t likely to know here on earth.

(Want to know more? View Kim’s touching video about why she wrote the book on her Facebook author page.)

We have an amazing opportunity to build a close relationship with our children from a foundation of compassion,” Kim says.

“As we respond to their imperfections with kindness, they will learn to respond to themselves with compassionate too. What a gift you are giving them for a lifetime!

“Rely on God, and turn to Him for help and support. Ask Him to give you compassion for your children, and guide you on how to parent them with grace and truth.”

Grace and truth. That’s what you’ll find on every page of Give Your Kids a Break.

Just take a look at these chapter titles. I know you’ll see at least one or two that you need help with right now!

Self-Compassion for Parents
Teaching Your Children Self-Compassion
Building Emotional Closeness with Your Children
Getting Your Kids to Listen
Healthy Boundaries: Setting Limits with Love
Parenting with Grace and Truth: Building Personal Responsibility
Helping Your Kids Cooperate
Helping Your Kids Become Emotionally Healthy
Helping Kids with Anger and Fears
Skills for Helping Kids Work through Tough Situations and Feelings
Family Skill Building: Chores, Allowance, and Family Meetings
Coaching Your Kids Through Life
There Are No Guarantees…and Encouragement

Most chapters introduce and examine the topic and then show how to live it out, first with ourselves and then with our children. Step-by-step examples for walking through specific kinds of situations and suggestions for how to talk compassionately with children are everywhere.

Give Your Kids a Break releases October 24 in Kindle and print editions. You can preorder the Kindle version now for the crazy-low price of just $2.9.! Seriously, you don’t want to pass this up!

By investing her wisdom and experience into this book, Kim has given us all an incredible gift. I’m so thankful, and I think you will be too.

Kim’s blog about self-compassion is at www.kimfredrickson.com/blog.

Her weekly column to pulmonary fibrosis patients and their families is at https://pulmonaryfibrosisnews.com/category/just-breathe-compassionate-help-for-the-pf-journey.

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– Diane

Here’s How You Can Help Houston

Texas Military Department via EPA

I keep wondering how it would feel to be a mama or grandma in Houston today, needing rescue or shelter, food and necessities. How grateful I’d be for that bottle of water or box of diapers, and for the people who provided it.

People I’d probably never meet. Strangers “out there” who simply care.

But since I’m here and not in Houston, I’ve got to be one of those who simply care, and show it.

I’m pretty sure you feel the same way.

So if you’d like to join me in making a difference, here’s a list of organizations I’m aware of that are hard at work in Houston and welcome your help. Just follow the links to donate.

American Red Cross
You also can text HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Samaritan’s Purse

Salvation Army

Matthew 25 Ministries

Catholic Charities USA

Houston Food Bank

Galveston County Food Bank

Texas Diaper Bank
This news article tells about the work of this group.

SPCA of Texas

Austin Pets Alive

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10

We have opportunity, friends. If you have other suggestions for how to help, please share in the comments.

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– Diane

I AM Devotional Giveaway Winners

Announcing the winners of the I AM Devotional giveaway: Krystal, Jessica … and Maryann (if confirmed with a mailing address yet today). Congratulations! Your books will go in the mail as soon as all three winners are set.

I’m thankful for each of you who entered and/or liked the giveaway posts. I especially loved reading the comments you left. Every author needs encouragement to continue, and hearing from moms and grandmas who are sharing my books with children is some of the very best encouragement there is!

– Diane

The I AM Devotional Giveaway

A new book means time for celebrating with my readers! So I’m hosting a giveaway.

I AM Devotional: 100 Devotions About the Names of God (published by Tommy Nelson) released this week.

As kids 6-10 learn about 40 different names and descriptive titles for God in the Bible, the most important thing they’ll learn is that they can trust God because of who He is:

God All-Powerful

The Lord My Strength

The Good Shepherd

Savior

The Lord My Light

Teacher

Helper

Friend

The Lord Who Heals

Immanuel

… and many more!

Getting to know God by name is one of the best ways to relate to Him and to understand His plan for our lives!

The I AM Devotional giveaway

I’m giving away three sets of I AM Devotional PLUS my previous book, the Bible storybook I AM: 40 Reasons to Trust God.

The giveaway begins now and ends Monday, June 12, at 11:59 PM EDT.

To enter the giveaway, comment “I’d love to win” after this post.
NOTE: Winners must be subscribed to my email list.
(Use the Freebie box on this site to sign up if you haven’t joined yet.)

                                                

“Those who know your name put their trust in you.”  Psalm 9:10 ESV

– Diane

Excerpts from I AM Devotional: 100 Devotions About the Names of God

This week I’m sharing excerpts from my new book, I AM Devotional: 100 Devotions About the Names of God, which releases in just six days!

From “You Are Loved,” about our Creator God, Elohim:

Sometimes when things don’t go right, you might feel small–like you are just a kid and don’t matter. But you always matter to God. You always have, and you always will. God is your Creator. He made you, He cares about you, and He sent Jesus to save you. That’s how much you matter. That’s how much you are loved!

From “Nothing Too Hard,” about God All-Powerful:

Did you know that:

If you could drive to the sun at 65 miles per hour, it would take you 163 years to get there?

Our galaxy, the Milky Way, contains more than 100 billion stars?

There could be as many galaxies in the universe as there are stars in the Milky Way?

God created the universe, and it is HUGE. God can do anything, even things that seem impossible to us!

From “Good News for Everyone,” about Jesus, the Prince of Peace:

Are there refugees in your community? Kids on your street who don’t speak your language? Kids with disabilities at your school? Do you have friends who are different from you in some way, or do you think kids who are different are outsiders?

Do you sometimes feel like an outsider yourself?

The shepherds on the hills near Bethlehem were outsiders. Shepherds got dirty, shaggy, and smelly. They weren’t allowed to worship God at the temple like everyone else; they had to stay with their sheep. Shepherds definitely were considered outsiders–people who didn’t matter very much.

But that’s not what God thought about them!

From “Put Off and Put On,” about Jesus, The Resurrection and The Life:

When a new season begins, your mom or dad might have you try on all your clothes from the year before to see what still fits. It can take a while to put everything on and take it off again.

Did you know the Bible tells us to put things on and off, just like clothes? God tells us to put off our sins and bad habits and to put on good attitudes and actions instead. When Jesus is our Savior, He gives us a new forever life–and it starts right now! But we still need to grow. We still need to learn how to live as new people who follow Jesus.

Next week, I’ll announce a special giveaway to celebrate release day, June 6. Be sure to enter!

Both I Am Devotional and I AM: 40 Reasons to Trust God are published by Tommy Nelson.

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– Diane

Getting to Know God by Name

I AM Devotional: 100 Devotions About the Names of God releases June 6! I got my first look at the finished product just recently. (That is always such an exciting moment!)

The book is every bit as beautiful as I hoped it would be. Kids are sure to be drawn to the glittery burning bush on the front cover.

But my prayer is that they’ll be drawn even more to the content.

If you’re familiar with my book I AM: 40 Reasons to Trust God, you know I believe that knowing God by his many names in the Bible helps children, and all of us, to trust Him more and more.

In that book, I chose 40 names of God and 40 Bible stories that illustrate each one.

The I AM Devotional takes those same 40 names and builds 100 devotions just right for kids around their meaning and their application!

The devotions feature both modern-day kid situations and the circumstances of Bible characters. Each devotion includes a Bible verse, a prayer, questions for thought and discussion, and a Go Deeper challenge–a related question with a Bible reference for kids to look up to find the answer.

And the art–well, let’s just say that illustrator Diane Le Feyer knows how to get a child’s attention!

You can view a sampler from the book here. Next week, I’ll share an excerpt or two from the book as well.

Creator, God All-Powerful, The LORD Will Provide, The LORD My Shepherd, Son of God, Cornerstone, Bread of Life, I AM … I can’t wait for kids to start getting to know God better by learning about His names!

Both I AM: 40 Reasons to Trust God and I AM Devotional: 100 Devotions About the Names of God are published by Tommy Nelson.

 

 

 

 

 

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– Diane

Read through the Bible—Week 21

Special note: This is the last week my through-the-Bible readings will appear here on my blog. Instead, you will find them each Sunday morning on my Facebook author page Diane Stortz Books.

In the second half of 1 Samuel, David flees from Saul’s threats but eventually the path is clear for him to become king of Israel. And in 2 Corinthians, Paul counters the charges being made against him by false teachers by citing his credentials as an apostle.

Day 1     1 Samuel 16-18
Day 2     1 Samuel 19-21
Day 3     1 Samuel 22-24
Day 4     1 Samuel 25-27
Day 5     1 Samuel 28-31
Day 6     2 Corinthians 1-3
Day 7     2 Corinthians 4-6

The weekly readings on my blog are from my book A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year, with simple background information, checkpoints, and journaling space. Available in print and e-book formats.

 

 

 

 

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– Diane

Living a Godly Legacy—Part 4

In this series I’ve said that how we live every day becomes our legacy, that God instructs us to communicate faith in Him to the next generation, and that He tells us how. We’ve also looked at specific ways to help our kids and grandkids experience and grow in faith by how we bring God and His Word into the family activities we’re already doing day by day.

Here in the series conclusion, I want to encourage you. You can do this! Here are some important reasons why:

God cares about your legacy. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs express general principles, not promises. So this famous proverb isn’t a guarantee, but it does tell us that God cares about your efforts to train your children for Him and that you can expect your efforts to have a good result.

Children of believers are set apart. First Corinthians 7:14 says, “The unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” This isn’t a promise of salvation, but it does indicate some kind of special concern in God’s heart for the children of believers.

God’s Word achieves His purposes. Isaiah 55:11 says, “My word shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Our job is to teach our children the Word. The results aren’t up to us, but the good news is the power and purpose of the Word always succeed.

Small beginnings please God. After seventy years of exile in Babylon, the Jews returned to Jerusalem to begin rebuilding the temple, but the work was slow and faced much opposition. The prophet Zechariah wrote, “Then another message came to me from the Lord: ‘Zerubbabel is the one who laid the foundation of this Temple, and he will complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has sent me. Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand’” (Zechariah 4:8-10, italics added).

Your efforts to live your legacy and teach your children and grandchildren about God may seem small to you right now, but they are a starting place. Or maybe you need to restart your efforts, or dive in for the very first time. The Lord rejoices with you to see the work begin. So begin, keep going, don’t stop. You CAN do this!

If you missed the previous posts in this series, you can find them here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

– Diane