Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Remembering Mildred

I've known a lot of "Mildreds" in the church all around America.  It seems like every area has a "Mildred" participating in the service projects, teaching Sunday School, or cooking for the potlucks.  I met Mildred in Saltville, Virginia, just before my husband and I were married, more than 20 years ago.  Her husband, Buck, had passed on a short time before, and she was running his Drive-In with the help of her children and grandchildren.

Buck Maiden opened Buck's Drive-In in Saltville, Virginia, years ago.  I don't know what year it opened, but people we knew there talked about going when they were kids.  It is off the beaten path and little-known by the outside world, but the parking lot is packed on a Friday night after a high school football game.  People who have moved away from the area will drive hours just to go back and get a Buck's hot dog or milkshake.  Buck and Mildred lived in a little house behind the Drive-In, and when Buck left this world, Mildred kept the staple of the community going.  It has always been one of the most popular places around.

When my husband and I got married, my husband was preaching at Mildred's church, Main Street Christian Church in Saltville.  The first time we went to eat at Buck's, Mildred would not take our money.  She said our meal was "on the house."  Each time we went back, it was the same.  "I know preachers don't make a lot of money," she said.  "I can do my part to use the business God gave me to help provide for my preacher."  One time we tried to sneak by quickly when Mildred was not there.  We took our money out to pay for our meal.  "Oh, no!" said her granddaughter.  "Grandma won't let me take money from you.  Her preacher is not allowed to pay here!"

While we did not want to take advantage of Mildred's kindness, I will admit there were some days in those early days of our marriage when the grocery bill was tight.  We would get a little tired of the beans-n-weenies or the ramen noodles. We would head down to Buck's Drive-In, and Mildred would always feed us.

In the years since we've left Saltville, we've ventured off the interstate and stopped by Buck's many times when we were traveling through.  We've taken friends and our kids.  I'd like to think we've given enough business back to make up for all the free meals we ate, but I know Mildred never wanted us to pay her back.  What she gave, she was giving to God.  I daresay we were not the only hungry people she fed.  She was a member of the priesthood of believers, using her livelihood to serve God because serving God was a way of life for her, not something she just did on Sundays.

Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people.
Colossians 3:23 CSB

When I went to Buck's Drive-In this past weekend, I found out that Mildred left us in 2015.  She is greatly missed, but Buck and Mildred's legacy lives on.  This weekend, I introduced my youngest to the best hot dogs (or corn dogs) this side of the Mississippi, as well as an important part of our family history.

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you took me in.
Matthew 25:35 CSB

Come, you who are blessed by my Father; inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
Matthew 25:34 CSB

Friday, March 17, 2017

Flyby Review: Laura Story's Open Hands

The last couple of weeks, we have had the opportunity to review Laura Story's new album, Open Hands.  This album is a welcome addition to our music library.  In 2004, I fell in love with the song "Indescribable," which was written by Story and became popular when recorded by Chris Tomlin.  I love the story behind the song, which you can read on  Laura continued to write and record her own music, with her most popular song, "Blessings," reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Christian Songs chart in June 2011.  I am probably one of the few people on the planet who did not fall in love with that song, because it was just too sad for me, but again, the story behind it is beautiful.  Laura wrote the lyrics while dealing with her newlywed husband's struggle with and recovery from a brain tumor.  It was a time her faith was put to the test and she learned what really trusting God in the darkest times looked like.

I think what I really love about Laura Story is that her faith seems so genuine and truly shines through in all her work.  Her songs sound like true worship from the heart rather than performance-driven work.  Lyrics and meaning in music are very important to me, and so many modern worship songs are devoid of meaningful, theologically-correct words.  I love the sound of the heart that is 100% given in worship to God that is flowing through these songs.  In that vein, Open Hands did not disappoint.

Open Hands is Laura's seventh solo album.  While it is compiled of original songs, there are several songs, such as "Awake My Soul (A 1000 Tongues)" and "For the Love of My King" that are updated versions of old hymns.  I have always loved newer versions and covers of old hymns, and these two are my favorite songs on the album.  The title song, "Open Hands," is another testimony of what it means to give everything to Jesus, even in the hardest times.  "Give You Faith" is a beautiful message from a mother to a child, in which Laura has captured the feelings I have as I watch my children grow up.

Performance-wise, Laura Story gives a flawless recording and has God-given talent and a lovely voice.  These songs do all sound a bit the same, and there is nothing earth-shattering style-wise here, but the album is a beautiful collection for quiet listening or personal worship, in the vein of Amy Grant or Sandi Patty.  In addition, most of the songs are very singable and will be easily adaptable for corporate worship in the church.

If you would like a chance to win a free copy of this CD, leave a comment here or on my Facebook page with your favorite worship song.  If you don't have one, you can comment that, too!  And trust me, you do want to win a free copy of this CD!  Drawing will be held March 24.

If you are not lucky enough to win a copy, you can purchase one at:

             Web and Social Links:
Video links:
Open Hands (Official Lyric Video) -
Open Hands (Song Devotional) -

In addition to being an artist, mom and author, Laura Story is also a worship leader and is gifted at teaching the truth of God to others. Below are some devotionals that she wrote:
About Laura StoryGRAMMY® award winning artist, speaker, songwriter, author and worship leader Laura Story has a gift for penning songs that connect with people all around the world. Among her successes as a solo artist with her smash hits “Mighty to Save” and “Blessings,” Laura has also penned hit songs for other renowned artists including Chris Tomlin’s “Indescribable.” Her solo artist music debut in 2008 with Great God Who Saves led to four Dove nominations and the award for “Inspirational Album of the Year.” In 2011, Laura released her sophomore project Blessings. The album and the emotionally powerful title was inspired by her real life trials and adversities, primarily her husband Martin's diagnosis of a brain tumor. The album resonated with a huge audience and led to whirlwind career highlights for Laura, peaking at the No. 1 album spot for three consecutive weeks on Billboard’s Contemporary Christian Overall chart, topping the iTunes® Christian/Gospel Top Songs chart and holding the No. 1 spot for an impressive 28 consecutive weeks on the Christian charts. The success of the single “Blessings,” which was certified RIAA Gold, includes the GRAMMY® Award for Best Contemporary Christian Song, the Billboard Music Award for Top Christian Song and the Dove Awards for Song of the Year, Pop/Contemporary Song of the Year, Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. The song inspired Laura's first book, “What If Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops?” in 2012. God Of Every Story released in 2013 to much acclaim, and her first ever Christmas project God With Us, released in October of 2015. Laura recently released a new book and bible study curriculum When God Doesn’t Fix It; Lessons You Never Wanted to Learn, Truths You Can’t Live Without.  She has a graduate degree from Covenant Theological Seminary and has served as a worship leader at Perimeter Church in Atlanta since 2005, but her greatest joy is being a wife to Martin and the mother to Ben, Griffin and Josie.
Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Reflections on LIFE

A lot has been said about the marches this past weekend.  In a few days, on January 27, there will be another march in DC:  the March for Life.  I am reposting an article from The Christian Standard magazine on May 29, 1994, that I shared several years ago.  Here is the text:
Decisions That Make a Difference
by Charles A. McNeely
The voice on the phone took me by surprise.  "Are you Charles McNeely from Lincoln, Illinois?"  She sounded young and vivacious, with just a hint of apprehension.
  "Yes," I answered.  "May I help you?"
  "Did you by any chance help place a baby for adoption in Iowa City in 1973?"
  "Yes," I replied cautiously, slowly pulling a kitchen chair over for support.  "Why do you ask?"
  "My name is Susan Andrews* and I was born on January 8, 1973.*  I am wanting to contact my birth mother and I was told you might be able to help me.  Could I have been that baby?"
  My heart beat faster.  "Tell me what you've been told."
  As I listened to her story unfold, long forgotten but vivid memories flooded my mind, like a series of pictures flashing on a screen.  Then I thought, "She's the one!  I don't believe it, but it all connects.  She was the baby!"
  Our conversation continued for another half hour, followed by five days of numerous phone calls and intense searching for Christy, the woman who, as a seventeen-year-old member of our youth group, gave birth to Susan.
  When I called her back with the welcome news that Christy was eager to hear from her, Susan said she was excited, nervous, and scared.  I told her that Christy cried with unsuppressed joy and unresolved guilt.  She said not a day had gone by in twenty-one years that she had not prayed to see her daughter again.
  I recall several comments Susan made then and during the earlier conversation, but one statement will be forever etched in my memory.  It was something she said in the first phone call.  Her bubbly and energetic voice suddenly became very serious and soft-spoken.  She asked about the circumstances surrounding her birth and adoption. 
Don't Make Two Mistakes
  I explained that she was conceived out of wedlock, that her birth father refused all responsibility, that Christy's parents were extremely upset and her family physician had recommended abortion.  I summarized my very first talk with Christy, in which I cited several reasons why she should not abort.  I repeated what my wife and I had told Christy twenty-one years earlier:  "Don't make a second mistake and kill this baby.  Give your child the gift of life and hand her over to a Christian couple who can give her life eternal."
  That was when Susan said something I will never forget.  There was a long pause.  And then softly, slowly, and very seriously she said, "Thank you. . . . Thank you. . . . I always wondered who convinced my birth mother not to abort me.  And I just want to thank you for my life."
  Susan's very genuine expression of gratitude for life itself made everything worthwhile.  The midnight trip to the hospital, the many counseling sessions with Christy and her parents, the long distance phone calls to line up a home for Christy and adoptive parents for Susan, the winter trips over ice-covered roads to encourage Christy, the hours Jane and I let her pour out her heart and weep on our shoulders, the money we gave her to buy what homes for unwed mothers would not provide - it was now worth it all!
  Susan's voice began to quicken again as she described her parents as the best parents in the world.  From the time she was young, they shared honestly that she was adopted - chosen and special.  She was so against abortion, she said, that whenever her papers or speeches assigned in school were open to topics of her own choosing, she always chose pro-life subjects.  Now she was a senior in a Christian college, determined to serve the Lord with all her heart.
  Then she said it again.  "Thank you!"  Chills went up my spine.  I thought of our talks with Christy, and I thought of how often we Christians miss opportunities to give clear, godly advice to people in crisis.  I thought of how sometimes we just need to say, "Don't do it!" whether it's sex before marriage or abortion after sex.  I thought of how some people do listen to us - and their decisions have eternal significance.
  When Susan learned that Christy had turned her back on the church for the past twenty years, that she now has no relationship with Christ and no purpose in life, she said, "Now, perhaps the baby she gave life can give life to her."
   Just before the end of our second conversation, Susan told me that she was going to take it slowly - one step at a time.  She was going to write Christy first, and then talk to her by phone - and later in person.  But she was going to try her best to get acquainted with Christy and reacquaint Christy with her Lord!
*The names, place, and date have been changed.

By the way, I'm Susan.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Friday, January 6, 2017

12 Days of Downloads All in One Place

In case you missed a few days, or if you would just like to have all the downloads in one place, I am putting up the following two freebies:  the complete 12 Days of Christmas Mini-Lapbook with study guide on Kindle, and the complete Christmas Nativity Mini-Lapbook with study guide in PDF format.  Click images below to download.  These items will be free for 5 days, January 6-10, 2017.  Happy New Year and happy spring school semester!

12 Days of Christmas Blog Freebie - Christmas Nativity Mini-Lapbook Day 12

Today, download the last day of the Christmas Nativity Mini-Lapbook.  Now you have the complete set!  As we wrap up this holiday season, I hope you have a wonderful 2017!

12 Days of Christmas - Day 12 Kindle FREEBIE

At long last, today is the Day of Epiphany, the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi! Download Day 12 of our 12 Days of Christmas download. If you have kept up with us all 12 days, you now have a complete mini-lapbook for learning about the 12 Days of Christmas! Hope you've enjoyed it and that you will check out some of our regular lapbooks with study guides on Kindle!