Giveaway! Dear Magazine

We interrupt our regular blog schedule for an extra special giveaway!

dear.pr_.300x250If you follow me on social media, you have probably seen my references to Dear Magazine, a brand new magazine for Christian young women. Now, here’s your chance to win a subscription!

Every young woman is dear. But not every young woman realizes this truth. Jenny Keliher has a passion to encourage young women to discover that they are dear. She wants to “show young women that they are dear in every sense of the word and in every area of their lives.”

So, who is Jenny? Daughter of Well Planned Gal Rebecca Keliher, Jenny is a young woman who has been taught to chase her passions and use her talents to God’s glory.

In an effort to reach teenagers world-wide with the message that they are dear to God, Jenny has created Dear Magazine. This beautiful product combines Jenny’s heart for the Lord with her love for literature, baking, and design.

Designed for young women ranging in age from thirteen to twenty-one, Dear covers everything from faith to fashion, from relationships to entertainment. But nothing about these topics fits the societal norm. Instead, each article reminds young women that everything they do should reflect the dear woman God has created them to be.

In each issue of Dear, young women will find much to challenge them and spark their interest, such as:
– the biography of a historical hero, beginning with Amy Carmichael
– women’s awareness topics
– do-it-yourself sections
– recipes
– fashion tips
– spiritual growth encouragement
– encouragement and advice for growing in maturity
– discussions on relationships with friends and family
– entertainment suggestions

Would you like to learn more? Feel free to explore www.mydearmag.com to see a preview of Issue 1. And be sure to enter my giveaway for a free one-year subscription!

PRODUCT PREVIEW: http://hedua.com/ga/dearp

PRODUCT LINK: http://hedua.com/ga/dear

Click here to enter the giveaway!! Contest ends at midnight, Sunday, March 8.

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Total Rest

Here is the final post in my four-part Rest series, originally published in Arkansas Baptist News.

A new year has arrived, bringing with it a slower pace of life. But to get here, I had to survive a typical fall in the Hibbard household. Every year the stretch between the end of October through the end of December is a very busy time for us. This year was no exception.

But right in the middle of the busyness, God reinforced His lesson on rest. Oh, He had already given me the idea. I had even journaled it months before. But, it wasn’t until I had come to the end of a very rough week that He reminded me of one more truth He had taught me about rest.

Rest is not just relational, expected, and sacrificial. Rest is also total trust.

In all honesty, I had been trying to rest in the midst of the chaos. But, I did it my way. I allotted time to attend Christmas parties and enjoy the fellowship. I sacrificially set aside my todo list on multiple occasions, supposedly in the name of rest. But I forgot that all of these things must be bound together by a conscious focus on total obedience.

You see, rest is not just about coming up with ways to interact with others, to meet an expectation, or to sacrifice when an opportunity seems to arise. Rest is about walking in complete trust and obedience, allowing God to handle every single detail, every single time.

When I tried to do life, whether work or rest, my way, I fell apart. I failed. My todo list backed up and my relationships became strained. I neglected to fulfill obligations, and no amount of time set aside for rest seemed to rejuvenate me.

I did not find real rest again until I stepped back to see how I had failed to trust and obey the Lord. Rest returned only when I actively and consciously began to walk once again in total surrender.

Now we face a new year. If it moves even half as quickly as 2014 did, many of us will once again come to the end of it feeling harried and tired. But God offers the rest we need to make 2015 a year of complete abandon to Him. Complete obedience. Complete trust. And complete rest.

I am not one for New Year’s resolutions, but I do hunger to make a new commitment this year. I hunger to live this year centered in the total rest of Christ.

Will you join me?

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Marriage Monday: What About Theology? Part 2

(If you missed What About Theology, Part 1, you can go back and read it here.)

I can’t imagine that there is a single theological perspective that is one hundred percent accurate. After all, we are all humans with a finite understanding. What we see of God through Scripture and His interaction with us in this world is just a minuscule image of who He is. So, no theology will be complete until we see Him face to face. But, that lack of perfection in theology is part of what makes studying it so extremely critical for even the most average believer. Each picture of God that we can study, compare to Scripture, and personally evaluate increases our own understanding of God. It grows us more and more as we approach that point where we will see Him face to face. And oh how exciting that is!

So, how does that apply to you?

How can you truly adopt a life of spiritual growth that includes theology? Allow me to share a few suggestions.

  • Decide that you want to learn. Read a book this year that challenges you. Not a fluffy self-help book. A book that takes you to the heart of digging into Scripture. Ask trusted godly friends or your pastor for recommendations if needed. But dig!
  • Don’t limit what you read to those who reside within your own “group.” Branch out beyond your denomination or personal belief system.
  • Don’t be afraid to disagree! It is okay to look at someone from whom we have learned much and disagree with them on some point. It is also okay to find a nugget of truth from someone we typically disagree with. Just learn to be able to back up your arguments with Scripture.
  • Do be careful, though. Some points are non-negotiable. Jesus was fully God and fully man. He did die. He did rise again. He did ascend to heaven and now sits at the right hand of God. He is the only way. Anyone who does not agree fully and completely with those statements is probably not worth listening to at all. And even some who agree with those statements might be rather loose with their interpretation of the rest of Scripture. Bottom line – seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you dig, and make sure every single belief can be backed up solidly by the whole of Scripture. You have personal access to the throne of God. Use it!

I warn you: the more you learn theologically, the more you find you still have to learn. But, oh how worthwhile it is! Even if you are someone who already loves theological learning, my prayer for you is that a year from now you will be able to look back and discover that you are less afraid of theological ideas. Still intimidated, maybe, by the vastness of what can be learned, but not afraid. And I pray that such a discovery will excite you phenomenally, leaving you hungry for much, much more.

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Now, how does this fit into marriage?

Very simply. Do not hash out your theology alone. Take the practical tips above and actively work them into your marriage. Discuss. Evaluate. Ask one another questions. Consider each other’s thoughts and opinions, drawing on the possibility that your spouse may see something from Scripture that you have not considered. However you approach this growth, determine to do it together as a couple.

I guarantee this – when you discover more about God together, you will strengthen your marriage. And that combination, growing closer to God and to each other, can never be a bad one.

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Sacrificial Rest

This week I’m sharing part three of my Rest series, originally published in Arkansas Baptist NewsI wrote this as the busyness of Thanksgiving and Christmas were descending upon me. But, in all honesty, the last two months have been no less crazy. I definitely needed this reminder to glorify God sacrificially, even in those times when all I can think of is my need for rest! 

The holiday season is upon us! As an introverted homebody, sometimes the busyness of this season throws me for a loop. I do love it. I love the decorations and the celebrations. I enjoy the parties and the events, even if I sometimes have to pry myself out of the warm house to attend them.

But I also need rest. And I am not quite sure I like the next lesson God has been teaching me about rest. You see, in addition to learning that rest is relational and expected, I am also learning that rest is sacrificial.

I have always been pretty selfish about rest. My opinion has always been that I need it, and I need it my way, or it doesn’t count. But when my husband and I had a conversation about a couple of passages of Scripture, I found my selfishness challenged.

In Acts 16:13, we see Paul heading down to the riverside in hopes of meeting people gathered there to pray. I have never though much about that action until Doug made a thought-provoking observation. He pointed out that Paul’s trip outside the city on the Sabbath was a sacrificial act. It was outside his norm. It was outside the parameters of rest he had been taught during his formative years.

Paul made a sacrifice.

So, where was he when he made this sacrifice? He was in Philippi. He was making the contacts that would eventually result in the Philippian church. The same Philippian church that brought him incredible joy, according to verses like Philippians 1:3. In fact, it could be argued from Scripture that this particular church provided Paul’s greatest source of strength and encouragement.

But it all started with a sacrifice.

One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 3:13. I have always loved the idea of encouragement among believers. But, as I look at Paul’s sacrificial investment in the Philippian church – and the return it brought – I see Hebrews 3:13 in a new light. I see that we receive our greatest encouragement, strength, and support when we are willing to sacrifice for one another, even in rest.

Now, sacrificial rest does require care because it still must be rest. It cannot become just another source of busyness. But, what would happen if we were willing to put aside our selfish conceptions of rest and determine instead to rest in fellowship with our fellow believers?

As the busy schedule presses in, I pray God will show me exactly how to rest sacrificially – and that He will allow even my rest to bear the fruit of joy and encouragement for others.

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Homeschool Thoughts: Break, or no Break?

Today I have a question for any homeschoolers who read my blog – which may be zero, other than my sweet hubby, but I thought I’d ask anyway!

Do you take a summer break?

For years, we called ourselves year-round homeschoolers. It all started that first summer. We had only been working since January anyway, as my oldest was not ready for formal kindergarten when formal school time rolled around. Once she was ready, though, she flew through all of her KG activities and was fully caught up by May. Great! I thought. This means I have the summer to prepare for first grade, and we’ll get started in August!

Wrong.

Not only did she immediately start begging to go ahead and start first grade, but her four-year-old sister was begging for school work, too. She wanted to be like her big sissy! So, I scrambled to up the timeline, and we rolled into the new year as quickly as possible.

The next summer, I gave them the option, and they wanted to continue right on through the summer yet again. At least this time, I was prepared!

But, as I look back over the years, I’ve realized that we aren’t really year-round homeschoolers. We just take our breaks at different times, usually the majority of it between the end of October and the turn of the year. We took our first-ever extended summer break this past year. Yes, we took the whole summer off. Then we paid for it over the holidays, having to strictly limit our days off.

So, what about you?

When and for how long do you take breaks, and why?

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Book Review: Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions

I am always skeptical of a new non-fiction author. Because I am much more inclined to read fiction than non-fiction (IToughest Questions learn so much through stories!), I want to know that a non-fiction book is definitely worth the time required to process through it. For this reason, I tend to be rather hesitant to accept non-fiction for review.

But, I did accept Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions by Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson. Being unfamiliar with either of the authors, I did not know what to expect. And, it took me quite some time to get around to reading the book, unfortunately.

Worth My Time

Looking back, though, I can definitely say Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions fits into the “worth my time” category. In fact, I was already promising to loan it out after the first chapter! Anyone who quotes Tim Hawkins right off the bat has my attention. But, this quote from page 13 (in the introduction) didn’t hurt either:

My theology will come out in every question I address, but it is not my purpose to be provocative or pushy. So as you work through the different answers, I encourage you to ask yourself what you believe and, as always, go to the Bible for further understanding and growth.

Typically, an author or teacher who tells you to take their words and verify them via Scripture truly wants to help and is usually worth listening to.

And yes, the authors* of Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions are worth listening to. Will you agree with every perspective? Probably not. Will you always want to use their suggestions as you explain these tough truths to your children? I doubt it. I won’t. But, their discussions stirred my thoughts.

So, what are the questions raised in Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions?

  • What is sin?
  • Why do people die?
  • Who is Satan? What is hell?
  • Why do people get divorced?
  • Why does the Bible say that (difficult Bible stories)?
  • Why and how do some people sin sexually?
  • Why does God let natural disaster happen?
  • Why do people fight and kill?

Each chapter begins with a discussion of the question, evaluating from Scripture why we have to deal with these questions in the first place. The chapter ends with a sample explanation for children in each of three age groups: preschool, ages 5 to 10, and ages 11 and up. In every chapter, readers are reminded to not automatically lump their children into an age category. They are also encouraged to not just recite the authors’ suggested answer. Instead, the authors remind parents continually to know their children. Any answer given must be based on an understanding of where our children are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

The chapters definitely made me think. A couple of times, I felt that the authors were too extreme in their view. But, as I hashed out the concepts in my own mind and compared them to Scripture, I usually came to agree with the authors.

Will I use their suggested discussions with my children? Actually, probably not. Why? Because in many situations I felt that the answer was better explained within the chapter itself than in the discussion example. I’ve already used several of the illustrations with my children.

Bottom Line: I like this book. I will recommend this book. I will loan it out. And if it doesn’t come back to me, I’ll buy another copy to have on my shelf so I can “loan” it out again. It is that useful.

Bethany House sent this book to me in exchange for my honest review. A positive review was not required.

*The book was primarily written by Jessica Thompson. But, because Elyse Fitzpatrick is listed as co-author, I refer to the plural authorship throughout this review.

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Marriage Monday: What About Theology? Part 1

This week I’m going to do something a little different for Marriage Monday. I’m going to repost a slightly edited version of an article I wrote about three years ago. Why? Because it fits with what I want to encourage from a marriage standpoint this week.

First, though, I want to ask you a question.

What does your spouse believe about God? What is his theology? In what areas do you agree solidly? In what ways do you disagree? What are some things you hold to that he hasn’t even thought about, and vice versa?

“Wait…what?” you might be saying. “I don’t even know what theology is, much less what my theology is – or my husband’s.”

Oh, my friend, if that is how you are responding, you are not alone! And with that in mind, let’s take a look back at that original article so we can begin to understand why theology is so important in our marriages.

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How would you respond if I told you I was a Calvinist?

Would you run away screaming, “Heresy!” determined not only to never read my blog again but also to try to expunge every word of encouragement you’d ever received through me from your mind?

Would you shout, “Yes! I knew it!” delighted that you finally discovered I agreed with you?

Would you scratch your head, asking what in the world I meant by that statement?

Would you ignore it, convinced that I was simply weighing in on some theological debate that had nothing to do with you?

No, I’m not going to tell you where I really fall on the Calvinism debate because, in all honesty, it’s irrelevant. The true relevance is not what my theology is labeled, but how I use theology in my spiritual growth. Further, it is a question to you:

How do you use theology to contribute to your spiritual growth, if at all?

Do you even really know what theology is? Using the word I’ve already thrown out, could you define Calvinism? If so, what would your definition be? Where did you learn that definition? Does it leave you afraid or enlightened, whether you agree with the theology or not?

What if I were to share with you the list of authors and preachers from whose books and teachings I have learned so much? Calvinists are among them, yes, but many others are included as well. Would you have any basic understanding of the beliefs of the people whose teachings I have learned from over the years?

  • 19th century Scottish Presbyterian who leaned toward Universalism
  • 20th century Anglican
  • 20th century Lutheran
  • contemporary Arminian
  • contemporary charismatic
  • 20th century liberal
  • contemporary conservative Baptist
  • contemporary moderate Baptist
  • contemporary Assembly of God
  • and many more…

For some reason, we have convinced ourselves over the years that theology is for the preachers, teachers, authors, and seminary graduates. It’s not for the average everyday Christian. But, in adopting that belief, we have hurt ourselves more than we could ever imagine.

Everything we need to know is found in Scripture. And each of us has the Holy Spirit living within us that we might be able to dig in and understand Scripture. But, the Bible also teaches us that we are a body that cannot function without the other members. I don’t think the same way my husband and children do. They see things just a bit differently sometimes, and when they share what they see with me, sometimes a light bulb comes on in my own mind where lack of understanding previously resided.

We need each other!!!

And that, my friends, is what theology is. Its basic definition is “the study of God.” But its practical application is “the understanding of others, organized, given a title, and shared with the rest of us for our edification.”

Come back next week for part two and see how this definition applies to your marriage!

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