Tag Archive | inspiring moms

Book Review: Love Skip Jump

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By Karen Hendricks

Is your instinct to say “yes” whenever you’re asked to volunteer at your child’s school, help a friend or relative, serve on a church committee, etc, etc? There are so many messages today that help us “deprogram” from automatically saying yes, because it’s so easy to overextend our capabilities and our time. So, as a result, is it now your instinct to say “no” to everything? Don’t get me wrong; there are so many wonderful causes, opportunities, people in need, ways to help your children’s schools/sports teams/etc, but it feels good to say “no” without a guilty conscious, and be selective about what we’re saying “yes” to, doesn’t it?

Well, I recently read a book that turned my whole way of thinking upside-down! Love Skip Jump: Start Living the Adventure of Saying Yes by Shelene Bryan is an inspiring book that challenges us to say “yes” more often.

How many times do you hear that little inner voice, putting ideas into your head? Is it really your thoughts… or is it God speaking to you? Shelene Bryan had a life-changing thought—to go to Africa and actually meet a child that her family was sponsoring by sending money for food and other vital necessities. What an incredible first leap of faith, that set countless positive results into motion!

Now, she isn’t saying that we should say “yes” to everything like Jim Carrey in the movie Yes Man: “Saying yes to everything obviously becomes problematic and is not what I am talking about. What I am talking about is listening to God’s call and recognizing the things He wants you to say yes to, then actually doing those things.”

It’s a three-step process that she describes as starting with love—the love that God has for us, and a relationship with God. It’s the foundation of our lives as Christians. The second step, “skip,” refers to giving up, or skipping something, for the sake of someone else. This illustrates God’s love, but more than that, it’s an attitude and lifestyle of giving. And skipping comfort. The third step, “jump,” means saying yes to God, and using your God-given talents to affect others. Jumping is an action.

Shelene Bryan - Photo Credit: LoveSkipJump.com

Shelene Bryan – Photo Credit: LoveSkipJump.com

She identifies lots of “things” that hold us back from saying yes: our job, spouse, relationships, addiction, success—or  the desire to have others perceive us as successful, our house, car, luxury items, or even the praise we like to receive from others. But Shelene especially felt a calling to help children and families in need.

Shelene writes about additional experiences she had, saying “yes” to ideas that popped into her head. Prior to the Christmas season one year, she contacted her friend Rachel, a neonatal nurse, and asked if she knew of a family that needed help during the holidays. As a result, the entire Bryan family bought Christmas gifts for a family that would be spending Christmas day with their baby at the hospital. In fact, they used the money that they would have used on their own gifts and shopped together. The Bryan kids still received stockings with little gifts, plus gifts from other family members, but Shelene writes about how exciting it was to watch her own children selflessly “skip” their gifts in order to help others. The icing on the cake? The Bryan family piled into their car, loaded up their surprise gifts, and visited the family, shocking them with their thoughtfulness on Christmas morning. They visited with all the other children hospitalized on Christmas morning, as well, singing Christmas carols in the hospital. How many of us would have the courage to do something like this?

One of my favorite chapters is titled “Every Jump Ripples.” Shelene writes, “We have all seen ripples moving in concentric circles away from the splash of a stone thrown into a lake or pond. In the same way, ripples happen when we say yes to God and do whatever it is He wants us to do. Our little splash has a reverberating effect on others.”

One example of a ripple: one of the neonatal nurses was moved by Shelene’s family’s visit and asked Rachel why the family would do that for someone they didn’t even know. Rachel told the fellow nurse about Shelene’s visit to Africa—to Uganda—and coincidentally the nurse was of Ugandan heritage. She had never been to Uganda but had always wanted to go. Rachel told her that Shelene planned a return trip to Uganda soon and the woman was compelled to join her on the next trip. As a result, the hospital also donated medicine… another ripple.

This book was especially thought-provoking, so much so that I’ll admit it was hard to read at times! It truly challenged me to examine my priorities, and think about being open to opportunities to “say yes” in my life. Hopefully I will not be so quick to automatically say “no” in the future… and I look forward to trying to make a difference in the lives of others,  spreading the love of God, skipping or giving up things that I don’t really need, and having the courage to take those leaps of faith, all the while involving my family. As Shelene Bryan writes, these experiences can be “uncomfortable journeys but with rich adventures.”

Every chapter in the book concludes with a prayer and there were several that especially spoke to me. I will leave you with these words and hope they are as inspiring to you, as they were to me:

Lord, help me see that my real worth is based on who I am in Your eyes, and not on my worldly successes. Help me see those who are hurting so I can show them the unconditional love You have shown me. Give me the boldness to share Your love and truth with those who come across my path. Amen.

Lord, give me the wisdom to recognize the comforts that constrain my desire to follow You. Help me seek above all else the things You would have me do in my life. Help me identify the yes opportunities You are putting in my path. Amen

Lord, allow me to know You well enough so that I can recognize Your whisper. Give me the strength of mind to hide Your Word in my heart so I can match Your Word against the voices of my culture. Give me the ability to be still and reflect on who You are and what You have done and what You want to do through me. Amen.

For more information:

Click here for SheleneBryan.com

Click here for LoveSkipJump.com


PA’s Unofficial Holiday: The First Day of Deer Season

By Ruth Topper

In most parts of the country today, the Monday after Thanksgiving marks the end of the holiday weekend.  Parents and children head back to work and school.  It’s just another day.  For those of you who live in or grew up in Pennsylvania you know this day to be an unofficial holiday–the first day of deer hunting season!  Newcomers to our state are shocked that many schools and even some businesses close down for one or more days this week.  It is not unusual for the “guys” to pack up all their hunting gear, food/drink and head to “deer camp” on Saturday or Sunday.  They want to be in the woods all set to go once the sun rises on Monday morning.

The Game Commission estimates that this year’s two week deer hunting season will feature nearly 750,000 individuals in the Pennsylvania woods. Although many may think that hunting the beautiful white-tailed deer is appalling, there are many benefits to our state:

  • According to Carl G. Roe, Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Executive Director, “In addition to being a rich part of our state’s heritage, deer season is critical in managing Pennsylvania’s whitetails.  The efforts of hunters are far-reaching; they help to keep deer populations in check, and enable the agency to meet deer management goals that benefit those who reside, visit or travel through this state.”
  • Hunters are also generous in sharing the venison from the deer.  The Hunters Sharing the Harvest Program (HSH) was established in 1991.  Individuals can donate all or part of the meat from their deer to HSH.  Each year hunters have helped deliver 200,000 meals to food banks, churches and social services feeding programs.
  • Hunters help our economy.  With ¾ million individuals in the woods each season many businesses will do well.  It is not unusual for hunters to travel several hours to go to their favorite hunting location.  Gas stations, restaurants, convenience stores, grocery stores, etc. will all benefit.  The seasonal deer processors and taxidermists also will be very busy for a few weeks.

My friend Joanne with one of her prized deer

Although hunting is a male-dominated sport there are women who do enjoy hunting too.  One of those women is a friend of mine, Joanne.  Joanne is a hair dresser by day and an AVID hunter.  In a recent conversation she told me that the beginning of hunting season for her could be compared to a child anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus–she is so excited that she can’t sleep at night!  She started hunting at the age of 15 with Steve, who is now her husband.  In her early years of hunting there were guys who didn’t want to hunt with her because they thought she “didn’t know what she was doing.”  Her love of the sport got her through those times.  After purchasing their farm more than 10 years ago it became much easier for her to get out and go hunting.  (This is her version of stepping off the “merry-go-round” of daily life.)  She told me of a time when her now grown son came home from school.  Joanne told him they were going hunting for a few hours.  When he said that he had homework to do she firmly told him that they would hunt first and then he would do his homework!

Hunting connects Joanne to nature

So what is it that she loves so much about hunting?  She says that it is being out in nature.  You get to see squirrels, turkey, deer, etc. in their habitat. You even see unusual things like a bird landing on a deer!  Joanne hunts as often as she can.  In fact, her family claims that she is obsessed with it!  She hunts squirrels and turkey occasionally and participates in bow and arrow, rifle and muzzleloader seasons with deer hunting.  She is always trying to learn more about hunting, so she will frequently watch hunting shows on TV–while her husband watches the Food Network!  Joanne has also learned the trade of taxidermy.  She has prepared, stuffed and mounted several animals for herself and family/friends.  Joanne has certainly crafted her hobby over the past 20 (or so) years and continues to enjoy the sport of hunting to the fullest extent.

Pretty plumage: Joanne even hunts turkey

Do you have a hunter in your family or have a hunting story to share?   We would love to hear about your experiences and/or thoughts on Pennsylvania’s unofficial holiday–the first day of deer hunting season.

Source:  Pennsylvania Game Commission Website