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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What is Communion? by Vicky Stankus - Review

What is Communion?
Vicky wrote What is Communion? for the same reason I wrote my first book. I have to like that. Her children had questions about Communion and there were no resources that explained what she wanted them to know.

What is Communion? does a good job of laying out the basics of what Communion is and why we do it. It is written in simple question and answer format with simple black line illustrations (done by her dad).

Having these truths in a book is great with young children because they want you to read over and over. They don’t have to get it all at once because you can cover it again next time you read the book. With the questions in the book you can refer back to just one part if they are asking about something.

I think Vicky’s book is worth getting to read with your children. It will give a good foundation to talk with them about Communion and what it means to you.

Facebook Interview with Vicky Stankus

What is Communion?

Today on my authors facebook page I interviewed fellow Gabby Mom Vicky Stankus. She is the author of What is Communion? For more information about Vicky or her book visit her website. Here for my review. 

Mukkove Johnson - Christian Author   Welcome Vicky. Please introduce yourself.
Vicky Stankus   Hi, Mukkove! Thankyou for having me here! Let's see... I met my husband, David, while attending college in Chicago, where I received an Associates degree in Biblical Studies. We have been married for 19+ years now, and have 2 children. I have been homeschooling them for the past 7 years. Our daughter is 13, and our son is 9. I enjoy writing, listening to music, reading, watching movies, and organizing.
MJ   I'm so glad to have you here. I homeschool my three also.
Vicky   Great!
MJ  Tell us what led you to write your book?
Top of Form
Vicky  This book idea came about when my young son began asking questions after watching my husband and I take Communion one Sunday. He saw what we were doing and wanted to know what it was about. So, I tried to find an easy book with illustrations that would help to explain things better to him, as well as to our daughter with special learning needs. I wasn’t able to find anything, aside from the Catholic views of a child’s first communion. This was not the way my husband and I wanted to explain things to our children, so I decided to write a book myself, using an Evangelical Protestant view.
MJ Filling your need will meet the need of other families, too.
Vicky Yes! I am so glad the book has been helpful to others!

MJ For anyone visiting with us for Vicky's interview feel free to ask questions or leave comments. You can just pop in and say "Hi", too.
Top of Form
Mary Just wanted to say we have Vicky's book and enjoyed reading it to our kids. I appreciate the attention to detail on both the theological points, as well as the needs of her audience (children) to be able to understand a rather abstract concept.
MJ Thank you Mary! My children are older, but we enjoyed it, also.
Vicky Hi, Mary! Thanks for joining in!

MJ How do you see this book being used?
Top of Form
Vicky That one's easy. The book is intended for parents or teachers to read to their children (approximately 6-12 years of age) and to discuss it as they read it. The book includes a simple, yet detailed, explanation of what Communion is. It also explains who Jesus is, why He came to Earth, why He sacrificed Himself for our sins, and has simple steps for trusting in Jesus as Savior.
MJ You did a great job of keeping a sometimes complicated subject simple and clear.
Vicky Thank you! I did it with the help of my husband, my dad, and my former pastor. They all had some input into it. My friend, Mary, also previewed it before publishing.
MJ Support and input is so valuable.
Vicky Yes, it is! I consider my husband my "editor" on some levels. :-)

MJ You wrote and published What is Communion? with young children. How did you manage? How does marketing fit with being a mom? (I often wonder myself)
Top of Form
Vicky Yes, I wrote the book, and self-published it through a print-on-demand company called Lulu.com. The bulk of the writing and editing was done over our Summer break in 2009, so it didn’t take away too much from our schooling. My children were ages 6 and 10 at the time, and they played together very well for a good part of the day, so that really helped. 
To be honest, I am still learning about the whole marketing process and am taking things one step at a time. But, no matter what I end up doing, I know I don’t want to neglect the needs of my children. It is important that they always come before any outside ministries.

MJ Where can parents get your book?
Top of Form
Vicky It is available in several locations, including Lulu.com and Amazon.com. You can go to my website to find out more: What is Communion?
MJ Great! Was it hard to get on Amazon?
Vicky No, not at all. Actually, the company I used (Lulu.com) is the one who did that for me.
MJ My publisher did that for me also, so I have no idea :)

MJ Are there more books in your future?
Top of Form
Vicky I hope so. I have several ideas I have been working on, and one is now ready to be submitted to various publishers. So, we will see what happens.
MJ What types of books do you hope to write? What is the one you are pursuing publishing?
Vicky I am concentrating on children's books for the time being. It is my desire to help other parents and teachers to teach their children about the Lord, and help them to grow in their relationship with Him. The book I am currently pursuing is about why we go to church.

Our Homeschool Blog:MJ Where can we learn more about you and read more of your writing?
Top of Form
Vicky I have 2 blogs I write on. One is about encouragement for Christians and helping each other grow in the Lord. He Holds My Right Hand
The other blog is our homeschool blog.
MJ I've thought about doing a homeschool blog, but I don't post consistently enough or have time, I guess :)
Vicky I also started a new adventure this year of writing articles for Eternal Encouragement Magazine.
MJ Congratulations! I met you through their Gabby Moms blog program, I didn't realize you were writing for the magazine as well.
Vicky Yes. I am writing under the masthead of "God Blesses This House but He Doesn't Clean It."
MJ Very fun! I'll look for your articles.
Vicky I believe the first one will be in the printed magazine in February.

MJ Who did the illustrations for your book?
Top of Form
Vicky My dad, Dr. James McIntosh, drew most of the illustrations for the book. He is currently an Instructor, and the Academic Dean, at Brookes Bible Institute in St. Louis, MO. The illustrations are simple, black and white line drawings, which can be less distracting for some children.
MJ How neat to be able to work with your dad! Did he make coloring pages of the illustrations?
Vicky No. But, I suppose the pictures could be photo-copied and kids could color them that way.
MJ Families and Sunday school classes could use them that way.
Vicky Yes!
MJ I have coloring pages with my Christmas devotion and am working on ones for Easter. They make great giveaways and easy activities.
Vicky Sounds fun! I enjoy your book.

alt src=http://www.svchapel.org/images/staff/gary_gilley_web.jpg
MJ Who wrote the foreword for What is Communion?
Top of Form
Vicky The Foreword for the book was written by Rev. Gary E. Gilley, a pastor and author friend of ours from Southern View Chapel in Springfield, IL. Gary has written several of his own books, including This Little Church Went To Market and Is That You, Lord? You can visit Gary’s website here: http://www.svchapel.org/about-svc/staff
MJ Those sound fun, hmm, more books to look at :)

MJ Vicky Stankus author of What is Communion? Thank you so much for hanging out here today! It was fun to learn about your book and a little more about you as well.
Top of Form
Vicky It was fun to be here. Thank you for taking your time to do this!
Judith I enjoyed learning more about you and the book.
Vicky Thank you!

Monday, January 30, 2012

First Edits for Easter is About Jesus

I thought first edits would be easier this time. I was wrong. The manuscript spent months with me writing, revising, and hopefully improving. It spent December with an editor fixing all the grammatical errors – punctuation, spelling, structure. The first two weeks of January were spent with the conceptual editor. She was looking for the overall message and flow of the book. She was asking what needed improvement, clarification, or changing.
The last two weeks it was back with me. I evaluated her feedback and suggestions. I clarified things I hadn’t explained well. Following her feedback led to rewriting the beginning of my introduction. Trying to add more questions to each devotion somehow led to me reformatting the activity part of the completely. This was where it was harder than I expected. I thought I wouldn’t need as major of changes this time as I did on my first book. I guess they weren't quite as major, but definitely more than I expected.
I’m happy with the changes though and I’ve worked on it until I feel I could begin to undo my hard work. I sent it back to the editor this morning. I get a break for the next two weeks while the editor works through all my changes and gets the manuscript to its “final” form. I’ll get one more chance to look for errors and make corrections later in February. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Doodling From This Week

While lesson time has been going really well, we have a routine that is working. Afternoons are another story. The above is my attempt at getting everything out of my head so I could let it go and rest in God's love for me - yet again.

I have too many things I want to do. Unrealistic expectations of what I can get done. Get lost in the things I want to do rather than need to do.
I’m learning to let go and look from God’s perspective. It helps me make better choices. I do more of what I need to do, what I really want to do, usually. I want to bless my family with an orderly home and decent meals. I feel guilty when I don’t, then I’m grouchy and not fun to be around, but it’s often my own fault.
So I let go and do what He says. What really needs to have my attention right now? I still have a LONG way to go, but I am letting go and resting

Friday, January 27, 2012

Wonders of Winter

Wind creates wonders out of snow. 
It keeps our steps. 

 In snow we leave holes.

 The wind takes what we have not trod.

The storm leaves us the path have traveled.

 Are the steps I'm leaving worth following?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Letting Go to Grab Hold

Letting go. Again. Many times a day.

Sometimes I think I’m tired of letting go.

I am tired because I have need to let go. 
I have picked up again what is not mine to carry.

Letting go of failures, wasted time, distractions, confusion, condemnation, and crankiness.

Letting go of dreams, ideals, expectations.

I must let go to empty my hands before I can grab hold of His unfailing love.

He believes in me! He loves me. He has redeemed me with his blood. Called me beautiful. Called me His own.

Why would I? Why do I hold onto anything else?

Relate to this post?
You may this one as well: In the Dark

Friday, January 20, 2012

For Me

May is a hard time for me. Mother’s Day is now bittersweet. When a child loses their parents they are an orphan. When a mother loses her child she is still a mother. I learned I lost Josiah, my fourth child, shortly after Mother’s Day 2003.

I had to go to the hospital on the 22nd. My body was as much in denial as I was in disbelief

All last week I kept thinking of an appropriate tribute. “I want to do something for him.” 

Yesterday, the 22nd, I finally came to the honest realization I wanted to do something for me.

There is nothing I can do for him, in that is the sweetness. He has no needs or wants, no pain or struggles.

I am the one with needs and wants. I want someone to understand. I want someone to know I am missing Josiah. I want others to know I see the missing part they don’t even know exists, almost every day. My quiver is not quite full, and never will be while bound in this earthen vessel.

I can do nothing for Josiah, but honor him.
His name means Jehovah heals. So I will work to rest in and embrace Jehovah’s healing. It is not the way I would have chosen, but God will continue to redeem Josiah’s death for my good and His glory.

The bitter fades and the sweet grows every year.

Josiah is in my cloud of witnesses and I hope to make him proud.

So this is for me. I love you son.

Always Remember

How do we redeem our loss?
 Where is there peace in our grief?
 How do we find comfort and hope?
May the God of all comfort
be your hope and peace.
Only He can redeem our grief. His comfort brings hope and peace

When we lost our unborn son in May of 2003 we were given many precious gifts. As I try to simplify my life and reduce the things in my home I have had to let most of them go. It's hard for me to part with gifts of love. It's also hard to have things around that may cause visitors to wonder questions they don't know how to ask. One gift I have kept is a small wooden paddle with a lighthouse and Peace. We know it is in honor of Josiah, to others it is a decoration in our bathroom. It reminds me of all the love poured out on our family.

I created this gift for my brother and his family. I hope it will do the same for them.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

More of Letting Go

Ann Voskamp shared this in her weekend links.

Letting go of the life I had planned. 
Letting go of dreams unfulfilled. 
Letting go of the hurt, confusion and disappointment.
Holding to the one who holds my future. 
Holding to Father God. 
Holding to the one who died for me. 
Holding to Jesus. 
Holding to the one who lives with in me. 
Holding to Holy Spirit.
Waiting for the life He has for me.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

My One Word 2012 – Rest

I had this word, rest, before I heard of My One Word. I was reluctant to receive it at first. 2011 was a very tough year for me and my family. 
I need rest. When my husband mentioned 2012 as “a year of rest” however I inwardly went “Yeah, right! I wish.”  
Still it stuck with me and kept coming back to mind. One Sunday I realized I could have a year of rest if I chose to rest. God has offered his rest (Matt 11:28), but it does me no good if I don’t choose it. Just as he offers salvation to every soul who has ever lived, but it does them no good if they do not choose to accept it.
I spent most of 2011 waiting for some magical rest to descend upon me. God doesn’t normally work that way. He has made all the needed preparations.
 I must come. 
So I choose to rest. 
It’s hard. Old habits are hard to break. Changing how I think and respond is tough, but oh so worth it.

I am learning about rest. I hope to encourage you to rest in the love of God as I share my journey. You  may want to consider your own One Word for 2012.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

National Human Trafficking Day

I was moved by this post. I was unaware of today being National Human Trafficking Day and didn't have time to process this information enough to have a response. I am sharing Lynn's post here instead. Please pray.
Deliver Them From Evil
by Lynn Miosher

Are children abducted near you or even in your town for sex trafficking? Don’t think it just happens somewhere over in Southeast Asia. It happens everywhere. Here’s a link to check a map reposted by Human Trafficking (read their post) with documented cases within the U.S. The map is created and maintained by the Not For Sale Campaign, founded by David Batstone (more following).

I know I have written on this topic before, but I wanted to make you aware of it. Again. Because it is a very serious, worldwide problem.

January 11 is National Human Trafficking Day and the whole month of January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

A large part of trafficking is sexual slavery. I can hardly bring myself to write this. My heart breaks with pain and my eyes flow with tears. I force myself to type this. These children are raped repeatedly, more than 30 times a day, just for profit. Just for someone’s twisted pleasure. Now, my stomach turns. One report says that the younger the children, the better for the trafficker. That means even under the age of six.

Human trafficking is the #2 fastest growing crime in the U.S. with 50% of the victims being children. The average age of those forced into sexual exploitation is 12-13 years old.

While statistics are hard to pin down, as no one really knows the exact numbers and each site lists different figures, it is estimated that trafficking amasses $7 billion dollars annually.

Two men found this ugly truth existing right in their hometown of Atlanta. Their search led them into the secret world of America’s modern slave trade and to a global undercover operation to rescue victims.

The two men, Dillon Burroughs and Charles Powell, wrote a book about it. Not in My Town: Exposing and Ending Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery tells the story and provides many resources for those who care to stop the injustice. Together, these two men have founded Mercy Movement.

New Hope Digital has a great article entitled Ideas and Resources to Join the Fight Against Modern Slavery. It lists ideas of how we, John Q. Public, can help. One I especially like: buy free-trade products, which are 100% free of slave labor.

Another who is fighting this atrocity is David Batstone, of the site Not for Sale, and lives in the San Francisco area. One day, he read an article about one of his favorite Indian restaurants, which had been “trafficking women from India to wash dishes, cook meals and other tasks.”

David says, “This was happening in my country at a restaurant I frequented. My shock turned into a consuming passion that took me around the world to learn more about how slavery flourishes in the shadows...And I knew I had to do something. The Not for Sale Campaign combines technology, intellectual capital, abolitionist groups and a growing network of individuals like yourself – joined together to end slavery in our lifetime.”

A cyber-friend who also fights doggedly for this cause is Diana Scimone of Born2Fly. She has written a wonderful wordless book, so no translations are necessary, for children called Born to Fly which I told you about last month, in the article A Child is Born. The book helps at-risk children, “to educate kids, parents, and teachers about the dangers of child trafficking—with the ultimate goal of ending it,” says Diana.

A sister site to Born2fly is The Butterfly Project, which markets jewelry made by women and girls rescued from trafficking. Why not stop by and *like*
The Butterfly Project on Facebook? Better yet, support them with a purchase. I know you’ll be glad you did. You can contact Jané at gautieronfire@gmail.com and follow her on Twitter as @SireneduMississ.

Another cyber friend, Kathi Macias, an award-winning author of over 30 books and several ghost-written ones, has also joined in this fight by writing what critics call a superb novel on the subject. Deliver Me from Evil shines the light on this horrific injustice to humankind. She has been interviewed on the radio and speaks on the topic.

Gary Haughen, the founder of International Justice Mission, has written the book Good News About Injustice.

He says on his site, “International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that brings rescue to victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to secure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, to prosecute perpetrators and to ensure that public justice systems - police, courts and laws - effectively protect the poor.”

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC), a program of Polaris Project, is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that has set up a national, toll-free hotline that answers calls in the U.S. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year.

So many wonderful people lending a hand in whatever way they can to combat this atrocious crime that I couldn’t possibly get it all in this post. I know I have left out many worthy people.

Oh, my sweet friends, what will you do? Please, please do something! Even if it is only to pray.

~Lord, bring rescuers into the lives of these unfortunate ones who are at the mercy of wretched traffickers. Both the victims and the miscreants...Deliver them from evil! 

~~A big thank you to Tony Marino of Alive in Christ Radio LIVE program for mentioning the awareness day last night on his program.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Of All Else I’m Letting Go

Yesterday, as too many other days recently, I was losing the battle with my emotions. I was a pathetic wreck. I have been holding onto a great many things. Hurt. Confusion. Insecurity. Want. Fear. Loneliness. Sin. Perfection.

This morning as a started my day in quiet I thought “What truth was I going to in the torrent of negative emotions and lies?” It had to have been God asking. I’m so thankful he always speaks to me. All I have to do is listen. I realized I had not gone to God, or any of his truth. I simply kept telling myself I needed to “pull it together” so I could function and not have a wasted day. By shifting gears to work I was distracted enough to have a relatively productive day. However when God asked me what truth I went to I realized I missed his plan and power.

This morning at the end of service the phrase “of all else I’m letting go” started running through my mind. Holding on to anything but Jesus is holding onto captivity and defeat so of all else I’m letting go. I don’t want any of it anyway. Why keep it? I am holding on to Jesus. Truth.

The words above are the truth I am clinging to and meditating on for now. I am hanging it where I can read it multiple times a day, in front of where I sit for meals and lessons and in the bathroom.   

Ask yourself, “What truth am I going to hold onto?”

If our hands our full of “our stuff” we cannot hold on to Jesus.

To print your own follow this link.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Eternal Encouragement Newsletter Review for Gabby Moms

"Dedicated to women who hunger and search for righteousness where the fruit is peace, quietness, confident trust, and a sparkle in her eye."
This is the mission of Lorrie Flem at Eternal Encouragement. She is a delightful lady.
Her newsletter Serenity for your Soul  is brief, honest and encouraging. Lorrie shares events and thoughts from her life so you know she's human, like this:
I told you I was having surgery last week. I did it because I really had no choice. The orthopedic surgeon gave me two choices, "Wear men's shoes or have surgery." Like I said, he gave me no choice. Now I am hobbling around in a new black boot; all of a sudden men's shoes have a brand new appeal to me!  
The scriptural message in this last newsletter is just what I need to remember. I can not do any of what I am called to do, much less all of it, unless I am relying on God's strength in Christ Jesus.
If you could use a little more encouragement, and a giggle or two, sign up for Serenity for your Soul at Eternal Encouragement.Scroll down a bit and fill in the form titled "Sign Up for Our Newsletter", easy and free :)

Disclaimer: As an official Gabby Mom I was asked to post this honest review. I do receive the newsletter, it is free so you can, too!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Thoughts for Authors: Conceptual Editing has Begun

I wanted to share the update on the publishing progress for Easter is About Jesus. Read the entire update on my blog:
Thoughts for Authors: Conceptual Editing has Begun: Easter is About Jesus has moved onto conceptual editing. This phase means fixing all the mistakes in spelling and grammar as well as the ...