Part of a new brand in the Zondervan family, The Plans I Have for YOU! is an illustrated 90-day devotional written by bestselling children’s book author Amy Parker and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton, teaching and inspiring kids to dream about their future, to focus on faith, love and joy and recognize that God has a plan and purpose for each and every one of us.
Part of a new brand in the Zondervan family, The Plans I Have for You journal prompts creative thinking and exploration of the talents and personalities that make us special, and then helps explore how God may use our unique traits to spread love and joy and make the world a better place.
The Plans I Have for You is a great way to teach your 8-12 year old that God cares deeply about you and every aspect of your life. Drawing from Biblical examples, the devotional reminds that God is faithful and He has a wonderful plan for you. Although I felt the devotional was geared toward the younger age, my 12 year old was very drawn to the journal.
Both products are visually stimulated and complement each other well. My daughter loves diary type books so for her, the journal was the bigger draw. However, I went deeper with the devotional and once she knew even more of the stories, she was impressed with the level of faith people took in the Bible when they didn’t know how it would end. I was interested in the message and visuals as well.
I highly recommend The Plans I Have for You. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
I received The Plans I Have for You devotional and journal, sold separately, from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Please welcome author Jennifer Slattery and her post, When Obedience is Hard.
He was a simple fisherman by trade. He worked long hours late into the night. Each day as he prepared his nets and pushed out into deeper water, one thought occupied his mind:
How many fish will I catch today.
In other words, what will the state of my finances be come morning.
We’ve been there, right? Living paycheck to paycheck, our thoughts so completely consumed by the day-to-day, plain survival, nothing else penetrates our radar.
Until one day, our nets are filled to overflowing. What do we do? Stockpile? Start canning?
Or leave it all–our biggest dreams come true, for an even bigger dream–a God-sized dream. One that will affect not only our today and tomorrow, but our eternity, and perhaps even the eternity of countless others.
This was the choice a man named Simon wrestled with some 2,000 years earlier.
Here’s the scene. Simon was beat. He’d worked all night long and had nothing to show for it. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. His hands were probably sore from pulling in water-drenched nets, although not as sore as he’d like them to be, seeing how his nets were empty when he pulled them in.
So here he is, tired and maybe even a bit defeated. Ready to go home. A crowd gathers, and amidst the crowd stands a man. The man approaches, an immense crowd behind him, and asks to borrow Simon’s boat.
Simon could’ve said no. He could’ve gone home. To bed, grabbing a few hours sleep before starting the monotony over again the next day, hoping maybe tomorrow would be better and he’d actually catch some fish.
But he didn’t. He let the man onto the boat, then, when asked, pushed back out into the water. The very water he’d failed in but a moment before.
And there he sat, maybe for an hour, maybe six. The Bible doesn’t tell us, and I suspect it doesn’t really matter as I believe the hardest moment was when Simon pushed back out. That moment when he chose to serve another rather than himself, not knowing what might come out of it. Other than a few more hours of lost sleep.
The man talks, and Simon waits. Then, when the talking is done, the man looks Simon in the eye and says, “Go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”
In other words, “Go back to where you failed and try again.”
“Master,” Simon replied, “We worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing.”
Here, I envision Simon letting out a defeated, slumped-shoulders sigh, then he says, “But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.”
What would you have said? We know the end of the story. Simon obeys and lets down his nets, finding them bulging with fish when brought back in again.
But Simon didn’t know this. He knew one thing–this man called Jesus, the One who claimed to be from God, the One who heals the sick and feeds the hungry, told Simon to “push out in deeper water” and let his nets down again. Because regardless the outcome, he knew this time would be different, because this time, God went with him.
Where are you? Are you standing at the water’s edge, with one eye on obedience and the other on “what makes sense”? What’s holding you back? Past failures? Wrong motives? Insecurities or fears?
Push out into deeper water, my friend! You’ll find Jesus is already there, waiting for you, and whatever He has planned is so much better than anything else you’ve ever tried to do on your own.
Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet Café Devotions, and the group blog, Faith-filled Friends. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.
Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte
Abandoned by her husband for another woman, Tammy Kuhn, an organ procurement coordinator often finds herself in tense and bitter moments. After an altercation with a doctor, she is fighting to keep her job and her sanity when one late night she encounters her old flame Nick. She walks right into his moment of facing an unthinkable tragedy. Because they both have learned to find eternal purposes in every event and encounter, it doesn’t take long to discover that their lives are intertwined but the ICU is no place for romance….or is it? Could this be where life begins again?
Intertwined, part of New Hope Publisher’s contemporary fiction line, is a great reminder of how God can turn our greatest tragedies and failures into beautiful acts of love and grace. Readers will fall in love with the realistic characters and enjoy the combination of depth, heart-felt emotion and humor that makes Jennifer’s novels so appealing. Readers will be inspired to find God in every moment and encounter in their own lives!
GIVE IT AWAY
I’ve been thinking about the biblical story of the rich young man who refused to give away his wealth for eternal life (Matthew 19). He seemed to be a nice guy, tried to follow the Law and be a good person. He might have been a little conceited since he started the conversation with misplaced confidence in himself, but nobody’s perfect, right?
Anyway, I started a “what-if” conversation in my mind. What if the rich young man had followed Abraham’s example? God asked Abraham to give up his most precious possession. “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love… and sacrifice him as a burnt offering.” (Genesis 22:2)
Before I go further with these ramblings, let me address any skeptics who doubt the truth of the story. First, I am fully aware that anyone who hears voices telling him to kill somebody would be certifiably insane in today’s society. However, Abraham had been listening to God’s voice for almost a century. God had never steered him wrong. The man wasn’t crazy, nor was he demon-possessed. Second, over thousands of years, God has not made it a habit to instruct fathers to kill their sons. In fact, He speaks of the practice as abominable. So when He gave that order to Abraham, there had to be some good purpose in it.
By the end of the episode, we see the good accomplished. Abraham packs up what he needs except for the usual sacrificial animal. He travels to the designated spot, builds the altar, and lays Isaac on it. What was he thinking? I don’t know, but we can be sure of one thing. He trusted God for the outcome. Either God would raise Isaac back to life, or God would give him another son to fulfill the promise of a zillion descendants. He knew that if God asked something of him, it was worth doing.
God waited till Abraham raised the knife ready to slice Isaac’s throat, and He called a halt to the sacrifice. He repeated promises already made and added a few details. Abraham could rest in the knowledge that God would keep His word (Hebrews 11).
Back to the rich young man, one of those promised descendants. What if he had listed his assets, advertised sales on every item he possessed, and had begun to unload his wealth? Might God have called a halt? Or maybe He would’ve helped the man build another fortune once he had unburdened himself of the first fortune. Could he have enjoyed the challenge of making money followed by the delight of giving it away?
Hebrews 11 lists others who gave up everything to follow God. If you haven’t read biographies of modern missionaries, start with Lydia Prince’s Appointment in Jerusalem. Easy to read and inspiring, Lydia had her own “sacrificing Isaac” moment.
I believe God asks each of His followers to hand over something or someone precious, if for no other reason than to see where our trust really lies. Recently, He came to me with such a challenge, and I admit it’s excruciating to make the decision to trust God alone and give up what I love. The promised blessing is not instantaneous (Abraham never saw the promise fulfilled while living on this earth), but I’m trusting Him.
If God has asked the impossible of you, I can only point to these examples. Abraham trusted and obeyed, and his name is revered in the history of three major religions. Lydia Prince, like Abraham, emerged from the test with more faith in her God than ever. But the rich young man went away sad, no longer confident in his own “goodness,” and stubbornly holding on to his earthly possessions. I hope he changed his mind at some point. I hope he trusted Jesus and gave it all away.
Daily life is an adventure for Linda Samaritoni, and she loves to create metaphors comparing the spiritual and the earthly. Her blog, my2ndnature, is a way to share those metaphors. You can find them at www.my2ndnature.wordpress.com. Linda also contributes to the blog site www.thescriblerians.wordpress.com, “writing for non-adults of all ages.” She has been a semifinalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest, as well as in the Storming the Short Story Contest. She recently won ACFW-San Francisco’s Elevator Fiction Contest, and in 2010 placed in the Top 100 of Writer’s Digest’s Annual Writing Competition.
Linda is married and has three sons and five grandchildren, the lights of her life, after Jesus! She makes sure to take time and smell the roses with the little ones before they grow up and start adventures of their own.
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A Hero for Her Son
When the baby he rescued seven years ago returns—with his widowed adoptive mom—Deputy Fire Chief Matt Bailey can’t turn them away. Desperate to escape the reminders of his failure in the line of duty, Matt is close to leaving town. But one look at Rachel Carter and her son, Christopher, has him second-guessing his plans. Rachel is a mom in need of a hero for her son. But as much as she wants the two to bond, she’s determined to keep her distance from Matt. After losing her husband on the job, she promised never to love another fireman. Yet somehow she finds herself drawn to the one man she should avoid.
I devoured this book. The chemistry between Rachel and Matt flew off the page right from the start and
. Matt met Christopher years ago when the baby was dropped off at the fire house. Fast forward and Christopher is an adoptive child who lost his dad. He’s lost and angry and Rachel, his adoptive mom, is desperate for solutions. Maybe, just maybe, the first one to meet him holds some answers.
But Matt has a wound he’s unable to have heal and the closer he gets to Rachel, the more he has to think about his grief. I loved the way it all connected together.
I highly recommend you read The Firefighter’s Promise by Patricia Johns.
I received The Firefighter’s Promise from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
As we settle into life taking this route on a daily basis, we still feel more change is to come as we seek “revive” on a personal level.
It’s easy to get caught up in the questions.
What kind of change?
Will it benefit all of us?
And on and on I could ask.
But as I drive this road full of twists and turns, snow and clear, smooth and pot holes, one thing keeps coming back:
He always directs our path.
We’ve decided to trust in Him, and He’s never let us down.
He’s given answers in His way, His time.
And even if our address changed, He hasn’t lost us.
And if you’re feeling out of sorts, know He hasn’t forgotten or lost you.