Tag Archive | christian

6 Ways to Grow Closer to God (and each other)

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Through our life journey, there are some things my family and I have learned along the way. This week, I’d like to share with you six ways our family draws closer to the Lord and (as a result) each other.

Blessings, Rebecca

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Worship

In addition to worshipping together at church, we carve out special time where we gather to choose favorite worship song and sing together; usually before we study God’s word or journal. I hope you do or try this with your own family.

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Pray

We pray throughout our day such as before meals, at bedtime and when we need His help. If you struggle with what to pray, you can use a simple formula PRAY (Praise, Repent, Ask and Yield). For instance, you could pray something like, “Praise you God for you are worthy to be praised. I ask to forgive me for ____. I ask that you help me in this area and I submit to your will. Amen.”

Twin Lakes Church Aptos

Twin Lakes Church Aptos

Attend Church (Regularly)

We go to church together every week. It gives us an opportunity to worship corporately, learn God’s word, fellowship with Christians, and serve others. In addition, we often join small group Bible studies, family camps, mission trips, etc. I hope you attend or find a Bible based church where your family grows as well.

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Read the Bible

We read the Bible every day. It’s a great way to get to know God, gain wisdom and learn to live like Christ. One way to do it is to read one proverb each day as there are 31 of them, or one Psalm. Another way, is to get a study book on a particular topic and answer the questions together, or look up the topic in the concordance and read all the passages that pertain to it. If you find reading the Bible difficult, there are many translations available to help you understand such as the New Living Translation Study Bible, New American Standard, Amplified Bible and The Message. Also, I recommend Bible Gateway app if you prefer using your device. I hope you find one that works best for you and yours.

Krusees Serving at Camp Attitude

Krusees Serving at Camp Attitude

Serve

We enjoy serving the Lord and others. Our family traveled to Mexico to build houses for brick layers. We went to Foster, Oregon to help families with disabled children enjoy camping activies. We’ve hosted Kidz Korner clothing exchange for thirteen years which helps familes in need. We hosted Project Warmth for twleve years which helped supply homeless men and women with winter supplies such as sleeping bags, coats, tarps, socks, beanies, etc. I say all this not to brag, but share some of the things we enjoy doing to serve God and our community. I hope you find something your family can do in your neighborhood.

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Journal

We find a quiet place such as our living room or a park to journal. Each of us bring our journals and pens/pencils, and simply ask the Lord to share with us whatever He would like to. It is a great time of quality time with God, and it’s fun to share afterwards what we learned. Sometimes, it is an encouraging word. Other times, He may give us direction or answers to our questions. I hope you and your family enjoy your time spent with the Lord.

Another way we journal is to capture answered payer throughout the year, and read it together at Thanksgiving. It’s a perfect time to give thanks to God for all he has done!

These are some things we do together to grow closer to God and each other. I’d love to hear what you and your family do. Please comment below.

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Guest Blog by Marilee Woodfield/Book Review

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I was asked to review my guest blogger Marilee Woodfield’s latest book The 12-Day Nativity. Its timing is impeccable since Christmas is just around the corner.

In it, she shares some great ideas, scriptures, and songs to celebrate the twelve days leading up to Christmas together as a family. She shares adorable graphics depicting the nativity scene. Included are fun cut-outs and journal pages to use with your children. Marilee winds down her book by summarizing international nativity traditions. This year, my family’s nativity tradition will look a little different  as a result of The 12 Day Nativity.

Disclaimer: No compensation was received for this book review; just passing on a Good Read.

Marilee Woodfield is an author, blogger, early childhood educator, and cake decorator. You can find her preschool music work at kids-and-music.blogspot.com her fantastical cake creations at frostedinsanity.com and her several teacher resource books as well as her latest book The 12-Day Nativity on amazon.com, and at her blog 12daynativity.com which is dedicated to “all things nativity”. She and her family live in Carrollton, Texas. You can follow her on Pinterest and/or Facebook. Please welcome Marilee!

Blessings, Rebecca

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The Family Nativity

Excerpted from the 12-Day Nativity: Christmas Activities for a Christ-Centered Home, (Cedar Fort Publishing, 2015)

As a child I remember my family having one nativity set that was displayed each year.  It was a simple white set made of plaster, and the stable was built out of scrap wood and leftover paneling from our 1970’s chic basement.  The set always sat perched on top of the piano, surrounded by twinkle lights covered with angel hair (a spun-glass product that is hair-like and white-translucent).  The figures were not heavy, and it was always a challenge to find a spot where they would stand up in between the lights and angel hair.  Over the years our family nativity grew in “character” as heads were broken off and re-glued, and delicate features became worn with use.  The shepherds and wise men were referred to as the “German shepherds” and “wise guys”.  My sister affectionately labeled the sheep as “cheats” before she could pronounce them otherwise.  I was more concerned about the naked baby Jesus, and exasperated my mother as every time she passed the nativity she would find a dirty old rag or handkerchief covering the baby Jesus.  When she finally discovered the responsible party, I explained that I thought the baby Jesus must be cold.

Somehow, the family’s nativity set ended up at the home of one of by brothers, and was saved from the Goodwill pile by my sister-in-law who knew I had begun collecting nativities.  It had come to them as a “white elephant” gift exchange between siblings a few years prior, and it had been abandoned on a basement storage shelf for a few years.  The stable is warped, and I have to re-set the nails every year.  The figures have been broken and re-glued many times, leaving one to wonder what horrific tale of carnage they would tell.  It is by no means the most beautiful nativity in our home, but it is one of my favorites.  First as a symbol of happy Christmases past, and also because it reminds me of my relationship with the Savior – broken and fixed many times over, warped, not pretty, but loved and beloved just the same.

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Do you have a family nativity for your home?  If not, find a favorite and pick a special spot to display it.  If you have small children, you may want to consider a set that will withstand sticky hands and a few bumps and bruises. There are lots of ways to celebrate the Nativity this season, The 12 Day Nativity has lots of suggestions for getting you started with your family nativity.

Giveaway!

Now it’s your turn to read The 12 Day Nativity as we’re giving away a FREE copy. I’d love to hear from you on how you celebrate Christmas with your children. Simply share a family tradition with us by commenting below. Your name will then be placed in a random drawing.

On October 30, 2015, we will randomly select a winner. The winner must supply his/her mailing address to us no later than November 3, 2015. One Free copy will then be shipped directly to the winner’s address provided.

Guest Blog by Lynyetta G. Willis, PhD

Lynyetta G. Willis, PhD, is the author of My Forgotten Self, to be released this November. As a psychologist, teacher, speaker, and author, Dr. Willis has woven spirituality into her healing work with individuals and families for over fifteen years. Dr. Willis lives with her husband and their two children in Georgia. Please welcome Dr. Willis!

Blessings, Rebecca

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Eight Questions to Ask Yourself before You Begin Nurturing Your Child’s Spiritual Identity

Children rely upon the adults in their lives to guide and encourage them. As a result, we have a huge impact on how children view themselves and the world around them. However, it is difficult to teach what we do not know. As a psychologist who specializes in spiritual and religious identity development, when my first child was born, I struggled to find ways to transform my knowledge into a form I could use to consciously nurture my child’s spiritual identity. I soon realized that I needed to consciously explore my spiritual identity and develop ways to consciously model the aspects of my spiritual identity I wanted to pass onto my child.

willis 2Photo Credit: Matthew Cua, via Flickr

The following eight questions were crucial to guiding my initial steps toward nurturing my child’s spiritual identity:

  1. Who am I as a spiritual being and how does this belief impact how I show up in the world and in the life of my child?
  2. How was I introduced to spiritual beliefs—what about this introductory process worked and what didn’t?
  3. How can I use the wisdom gained through my spiritual development process to help and not hinder my child’s spiritual development?
  4. How do I teach my child about concepts I believe are important but difficult to explain (e.g. faith, connection to an internal divine source, the power of love)?
  5. How do I live a life guided by spirit and not just religion; a life that models the importance of “being” in the moment and not just “doing” for the next moment?
  6. How do I guide my child to understand that she can live a life driven by love or her divine purpose, as opposed to a life driven by fear?
  7. What are my emotional wounds and fears, and how can I manage them so they do not limit my child’s growth?
  8. At least once a day, how can I model what it means to consciously live through this spiritual identity?

For many of us, answers to these or similar questions may not come quickly. We may need to unlearn limiting beliefs or heal from emotional wounds that keep us stuck and distracted. As adults, we must first remember our spiritual identity before we can fully empower our children to stay in alignment with theirs.

Sharing is Caring

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Thank you for sharing. It shows me you are caring are the lyrics to a song we sing in pre-school. Yet, it’s my observation kids’ least favorite activity is sharing toys. It’s my experience that children will inevitably want the same toy to play with at the same exact time. The rule at our school is to ask your friend, “Can I be next?” Then the other child will respond, “Yes,” play for awhile and hand over the item. However, there are times when a child will respond, “No!”

Why is it so hard to share? Like when you are savouring a delicious meal and your spouse asks, “Can I have a bite?” Of course you give them some, but deep down you may be thinking, “No!”

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Sharing appears to be a learned behavior varying from culture to culture. Some people share everything with others such as their money, time, house, car, clothes, food, etc.

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I believe the ultimate act of sharing is when God gave His one and only begotten son, Jesus, to be a randsome for the world’s sin. Often, I look at my thirteen-year-old son,  and am reminded of His loving sacrifice.

How do you share or teach your children to share? Or has anyone shared something special with you? Please tell us below.

GIGL TV

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Happy July!  I trust you are enjoying summer. Per my blog posted on May 4, Good Viewing, I’m  a stickler for wholesome children’s shows. It’s a challenge these days to find quality programs, and my husband and I instill the importance to our kids.

So, when I was approached by Second Baptist Church in Texas to review their new children’s program GIGL TV,  I was excited!

After I watched the first episode, I knew it would be a hit with pre-school age children; especially being a pre-school teacher.

GIGL TV  stands for Growing In God’s Love.  The characters in each episode face problems common to preschoolers such as sharing, listening, and self-control. They use Bible stories to reinforce the theme which allows your child to connect the Bible to his or her life!  In addition, they learn shapes, colors, and numbers.

You get all this, and it’s free on YouTube!

They have one episode available now, and others soon to follow. Feel free to subscribe to the Second Baptist Church Channel to be updated when new episodes are released. Their goal is to have their own GIGL TV channel.

Enjoy the first video Small Fries:

DISCLAIMER: No compensation was received for this product review. Just happy to pass along “Good Viewing!”

Blessings, Rebecca

Unconditional Love

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I watched the nurse serve my then twenty-two-month-old son a purple solution. His body slowly slumped in her arms, and she whisked him to the Operating Room. Fear crept in my head as I waited patiently. I understood hernia surgeries to be common place, however, hospital statistics did nothing to calm my nerves. This is my precious boy; my firstborn.

My husband put his arm around me, “Austin will be fine. He’s in good hands.”

I squeezed him, “I know. I just love our boy so much, and it pains me to see our toddler undergo surgery. I wish I could take his place.”

While I paced, I reflected on my understanding of love. After all, I married my best friend just three short years earlier. I enjoy watching our wedding video. It never fails, a lump forms in my throat each time I see Randy wipe a single tear off my cheek during our nuptials.  Yet, this time, the love I felt differed. I ached.

It began two months prior, Randy called me into Austin’s bedroom. “Come here Hon, there’s a bump popping out his stomach when he pushes. Look!”

I gasped, “What’s that?”

“I’m not sure. Pack his bag. We’re taking him to the ER!”

I kept calm as to not scare our little guy, dressed him and rushed to the hospital. Upon our arrival, the staff immediately wheeled him into an examination room.  The doctor asked us some routine questions, and pressed on his bulge. He explained, “Austin has a hernia. It’s typical for children his age. I’ll have my nurse schedule a simple surgical procedure repair the hole. The wait is approximately three months out. Don’t worry. We perform over 400 surgeries per year.” What, his intestines are popping out and of his muscle lining and we have to wait three months!  He continued, “If the hernia doesn’t retract for some reason, then return for emergency surgery.”

I looked at Randy, “Why doesn’t the parenting handbook cover these issues for first time parents?”

He chuckled and pulled me close, “We’ll learn together.”

Ninety days passed, and his surgery day arrived.

Approximately an hour later, Austin’s surgeon entered the waiting room, “The operation was a success, and Austin is fine.”

Inexplicable joy filled me. I exhaled, “Thank you doctor. When can I see him?”

His nurse escorted me to my son’s recovery room. I glanced at my baby rattling the crib rails with all his might, and jumping up and down. His red, sweaty face screamed, “Mommy! I want my Mommy!”  I felt as if someone had opened my chest cavity, and ripped my heart out. I believe Austin waking up in an unfamiliar environment with strange people, tubes taped to him, and the absence of his parents frightened him.

I gathered him in my arms, and held him tight. I sunk into a rocking chair, kissed him, and whispered, “It’s okay Austin. Mommy is here.” He buried his little head between my neck and shoulder, and fell asleep. At that moment, I knew unconditional love. It’s a sacrificial compassion for someone other than me, and it’s even sweeter when reciprocated. As I recount this incident, I’m reminded that Austin’s surgery hurt me more than it did him. I don’t understand why so many boys and girls must undergo hernias, but I’ve certainly developed more awareness and empathy for sick children.

Coincidentally, that same summer my father’s was diagnosed with a similar hernia; only it took my dad six months to heal due to his surgery being more evasive.

On our ride home, I watched Austin slumber, and I realized the bond between a mother and her child is very strong. It’s truly unconditional love! I believe it’s one of life’s beautiful mysteries.

Have you ever experienced Aha moment of unconditional love? If so, I’d love to hear about it.

Blessings, Rebecca

PS I joined Top 25 Mommy Blogs! If you have enjoyed our blogs, please vote for me by clicking their emblem on my home page. Thank you!

cover-imageIntroducing my new book, Benjamin Bunnie’s Big Adventure! Now available at Amazon.com.

Guest Blog by Fr. Blaine Hammond

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Fr. Blaine Hammond is a Priest in the Episcopal Church, currently working at St. Andrew’s in Ben Lomond, California.  He is married to Dr. Elizabeth Forbes, and they have three children; all in their 40s now.

Before his ordination, he worked several years for the Boeing Company in Everett and Renton, Washington, for the Post Office, drove buses for Seattle and King County, rebound and repaired books at a seminary library in Denver, ran the computer division at a small event management company near Denver, and supervised the Word Processing Department at the JFK Child Development Center, part of the University of Colorado Medical Center, in Denver.

He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of Washington, a Master of Divinity Degree from the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, and a Certificate in Anglican Studies from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California.

Since being ordained, he has worked for congregations in Lyons, Colorado, Castle Rock, Colorado; Seaview, Washington, and his current position. Also, he has volunteered with congregations in Clayton, California, Alameda, California, Battleground, Washington, and Seattle, Washington.

Fr. Blaine Hammond leads the congregation where I teach pre-school. It’s a treat to watch him tell our little ones about God in chapel each month. Also, he contributes a column in The Piper church newsletter. So, I asked him to share his insight with us this week, and am thrilled to have a male perspective! Please welcome Fr. Blaine Hammond!

Blessings, Rebecca

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A professor of psychiatry and medical humanities at Harvard, Robert Coles, wrote a book titled The Spiritual Life of Children (1990, Houghton Mifflin, Boston).  What interested me about it was the way that he set aside the preconceptions of his profession and listened to the things the children had to say; and having done that, how he worked to understand the ways that children tried to fit their understandings about God and religion into the world they were in the process of encountering and trying to learn about, and vice versa.

My observations of children, having raised three to adulthood along with my wife, have convinced me that children are not simply small, unlearned and incomplete adults.  They are, in many ways, something quite different from adult humans, in terms of the ways their brains and bodies work, and the ways their spiritual lives work.  It is that, I think, that Jesus was talking about when he said that we not only need to be willing to receive children as worthy of our adult attention, we need to learn from them and even try to become more like them if we are to be able to understand and enter the kingdom  of God.

Those can be hard things to think about when a tired, manipulative, demanding, whiny child is interrupting us for the fifth time during a telephone conversation or making our shopping experience a monstrosity.  But when we are not trying to correct, mold or escape from our children, watching them and listening to them can really teach us lessons about looking at, experiencing and thinking about the world in ways we have forgotten.  It can also teach us lessons about what faith, love, understanding and hope mean.

One of the things Dr. Coles reports was a conversation that ensued when a group of children heard an ambulance siren go by outside.  “I noted, yet once more, how often children (like adults) think of God as a judge, a critic, or a benefactor: one who rewards and punishes.  The children also managed to give God a psychology, one not unlike their own.”  They had been talking about a sickbed picture, and the discussion turned to whether God was, or could be, like the doctor in the picture.  Many of us adults have formed enough of picture of God to satisfy ourselves.  I wonder how often we can sit with a child, not to teach the child what God is like, but to listen as they speculate about what God could be like?  Or even to speculate with other adults, or by ourselves, after so many years of having our opinions settled?

We often think we need to protect children against thinking about the difficult things of life.  But they think about them anyway.  Children are right there at ground level, where things  happen that we don’t even notice.  Hidden from our eyes in the grass are dead birds and small animals, which the children discover and wonder about as they play, along with the discarded items of adult life.  What do they think about these things?  How does it affect what they think about God and the world, life and death?  We’ll never find out if we don’t open the subject up with them.

Miscarriage: The Loss of our Baby

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The Ultrasound Technicians slowly moved her wand through the warm gel along my lower abdomen. I watched her face desperately searching for a ray of hope. She turned off the equipment, “I’m sorry Mrs. Krusee, but your baby’s heart is no longer beating.” Water filled my eyes, What! This can’t be happening…I’m only five weeks along!

On my ride home, my mind rehearsed the devastating report. I reflected on the fact we married later in life at age 35, had our son Austin at 36, and tried for over a year to conceive this baby at age 39. My heart sunk!

I shared the crushing news with my husband Randy. We cried, knelt at our bedside and prayed for God to heal our broken hearts, and to bless us with another child.

My doctor suggested I rest my body for 30 days before trying again. I did, and to our surprise the following month, we discovered we were pregnant!

Nine months later, we welcomed our precious daughter Alicia.

Recently, a friend taught me the baby following a miscarriage is called a “Rainbow Child.” I like that analogy of something beautiful following a storm, because she definitely fills our lives with color. Also, I have hope and look forward to meeting our baby in Heaven some day.

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For those of you who have also suffered the loss of a child or struggle with fertility, I want to extend my sympathy to you. I empathize with your inexplicable pain, and pray you find comfort in the loving arms of God during your difficult time.

Blessings, Rebecca

PS

Now available in paperback!

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Guest Blog by Mona Hodgson

I first met Mona at Mt. Hermon’s Writing Conference in 2010 when I attended her class on writing children’s books. Her dynamic teaching style allowed me to learn so much in just a few short days.

Mona is the author of nearly 40 books, historical novels and novellas for adults and children’s books, including her popular Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series, The Quilted Heart novellas, and Prairie Song. Her children’s books include bestseller, Bedtime in the Southwest, Real Girls of the Bible: A 31-Day Devotional. six desert and princess Zonderkidz I Can Read books, six I Wonder books, and more.

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Mona’s writing credits also include several hundred articles, poems and short stories, which have appeared in 50 different publications.

Mona is a speaker for women’s groups, book clubs and reading groups, schools, and conferences for writers and librarians. And director of the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California.

Mona is an amazing woman balancing career, family, and ministry! Please welcome Mona Hodgson!

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PROVIDING EXAMPLES

It’s no secret that children learn by example.

We all do. Adults included.

Show me how to make an omelet. Let me see the ingredients spread out on the counter. Allow me to watch the process and technique you use, and you exponentially increase my chance of making a decent omelet.

Tell me how to make an omelet then send me home to my kitchen, and I may or may not recall all of the steps for success.

That’s likely true for all of us. And that truth certainly applies to children. Whether it was one of my toddling daughters repeating a new word in her language-learning-process or one of my grandsons picking up his plastic hammer like he’d seen his papa do with a man-sized hammer.

Being shown love, grace, forgiveness, compassion, hope, and truth through example rather than being told their importance or value is why we love stories. Human Interest stories put faces on the abstract numbers of people affected by an earthquake or tornado. The journey stories of Olympic athletes cause us to cheer for those who have overcome personal hardships or family tragedy to compete. A verbal warning about the dangers of greed or healing power of forgiveness is not nearly as effective as a story that shows consequences and results through a compelling character or cast of characters in a vivid story world, whether the story told is nonfiction or fiction.

Providing examples through story is one of the most effective ways to teach a child or share truth with an adult. It’s why I write historical fiction, but it is also what inspires me to write children’s books. I want to provide authentic characters, real or imaginary, who demonstrate the nature of humanity and highlight the grace of God. Stories of loss or failure, faith and hope. This desire led me to study the stories of various women featured in the Bible and write Real Girls of the Bible: A 31-Day Devotional, published by Zonderkidz in their Faithgirlz line.

Through the stories of Bible women from the Old and New Testaments, girls (and women) learn that they are not alone on their journey. They come from a long line of strong girls—girls who struggled to know God and to follow His plan, just as they do. Learn more about Real Girls of the Bible and other story-rich resources at http://www.faithgirlz.com/shop/real-girls-of-the-bible-31-day-devotional/ and www.MonaHodgson.com.

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FIND MONA ONLINE:

Website: www.monahodgson.com

Blog: www.monahodgson.com/blog

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Author.Mona

Twitter: https://twitter.com/monahodgson

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/monahodgson/

Children’s Books for Rancho de Sus Ninos

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Our son, Austin, just returned from Tecate, Mexico where he and his entire 7th grade class served at Rancho de Sus Ninos orphanage. What an awesome experience! During their stay, they mixed and poured several yards of concrete, helped clean up the surrounding town, played with the children, and did skits for the community.

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My husband, Randy, also brought clothes down from Dress A Girl Around the World and Dress A Dude as well as some Spanish children’s books. They were well received. In fact, before he left, the Director requested more clothes which we were able to secure this past Sunday.

Today, we received a request for 100 copies each of the Spanish children’s books for their teachers and students. Wow, this is a huge request! One of my favorite speakers, Joyce Meyer, says we should help others when we can. If we simply cannot fulfill the need on your own, she suggests we ask others to help. So, we are asking for your help financially with this request as it is simply too big for our family budget.

Here’s the breakdown:

cover-image Me Gusta Comer Vegetales $10×100=$1,000

cover-image Me Gusta Comer Fruta $10×100=$1,000

cover-image Yo Soy Bonita $10×100=$1,000

cover-image Me Gusta La Playa $10×100=$1,000

Total: $4,000 + shipping (?)

If you’d like to contribute to this cause, you can help by sending your donation to our Paypal account (Randy Krusee) by 5/30/15. Thank you in advance for your generosity!

Blessings, Rebecca

Update 6/2/15

We were able to secure a discount on the purchase price from the printers from $10 to $4 per book. Also, we received a donation from the members of Hilltop Ministries. Thank you! We continue to trust God for the balance to meet their need.