Coupon Code: Easter Banner from HeartFELT Truths {Giveaway Winner Announced}

Easter Banner

I love traditions. Our family has some glorious Christmas traditions that have brought us much joy and taught us much about God. During one of my searches for Christmas Advent Calendars, I stumbled upon HeartFELT truths. Excitedly, I shared her Christmas Advent Calendar here on the blog. A few months later she contacted me and asked if I would be interested in receiving one of her Easter Banners to use for the advent of Easter with our family in exchange for a review. I elatedly accepted and wrote a detailed review here.

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HeartFELT Truths’ Easter Banner is used during Holy Week beginning on Palm Sunday and concluding on Easter Sunday morning. The Easter Banner comes with a Story Text Packet, which contains New Testament readings to coincide with the events of Holy Week. Each day you will read the Story Text together and place the corresponding symbol(s) on the Easter Banner. On Good Friday, nails are put on the cross and Jesus’ wrapped body is placed inside the tomb. Then, a large black felt piece is put over the Easter Banner. On Easter Sunday morning, your children wake up to this glorious sight:

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The HeartFELT Truths Easter Banner is a hands-on, tangible way to celebrate the glorious miracle of Easter with your family. I love how it gives our family daily time around the Bible during the week of Easter. The hustle and bustle of Easter egg hunts, chocolate bunnies and jelly beans can often overshadow the true meaning of Easter. If that’s where you have found your family during past Easters, I highly recommend this Easter Banner!

And, I am sooooooooo excited to share with you that Whitney from HeartFELT Truths is giving away one Easter Banner to one lucky Suzanne Shares readers! You can enter to win below through Rafflecopter. The giveaway ends on Friday, March 13 at 11:59PM CST.

Whitney has also set up a coupon code for her Etsy shop for my readers. WAHOO! Use the code: EASTERSHARES for 10% off! Also, from Whitney, “All the Christmas inventory in my shop is ready to ship and I don’t know if I’ll be making anymore for this upcoming Christmas or not, so it is a good time to buy while it is still available.” The 10% off can be used on anything in her shop–Christmas and Easter.

I can’t wait to hear how your family enjoys this Easter tradition!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I received an Easter Banner from HeartFELT Truths in exchange for a review and no other compensation. My statements about the Easter Banner are my own, honest opinions. The affliate compensation or products that I receive will NOT influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. My readers are most important to me—more important that reviewing a free product or an affiliate compensation. Read my full disclosure policy here.

8 Years Ago Today: Postpartum Depression & Me

Family PhotoToday is my baby brother’s birthday–March 8. It is always a fun day to celebrate him, but eight years ago, his birthday took on additional significance. It was the day that I bottomed out. I hit an all time low. It was one of the darkest days of my life. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. Despite the great pain of that day and the unpleasant, painful memories associated with it, March 8 is now one of the best days of my life. It is a day when I celebrate God’s grace in my life. Thankfully, God placed people in our lives, who helped me, my husband and our young family. I survived.

In the 8 years that have transpired since my diagnosis of postpartum depression, I have had the privilege of walking with numerous women on this rocky, often painful, heart wrenching journey. I am grateful to God that through my journey with them He has further redeemed, made beautiful something that I only could foresee as painful, embarrassing, and shameful. He does work all things for good, even postpartum depression, for His children, and I am so grateful to be His daughter.

Over the last 8 years, during my conversations with other women experiencing postpartum depression or anxiety, I’ve found myself repeating these statements…

Don’t Be a Lone Ranger: Help is There
When I was in the throes of postpartum depression, I tried with all my might to make myself better. I really tried. I resisted help until I hit rock bottom. However, when I first met with my counselor and talked to my doctor, I realized that my current reality was not permanent. Hope existed. I needed the help, and I am grateful that I finally gave in and received it.

Share Your Story: You Are Not Alone
Postpartum depression is in my past, but it is still a part of who I am. I continue to share my story, and I continue to meet women who are in the throes of it, as well as survivors. Postpartum depression can be isolating and make you feel like you’re a three-headed monster. However, as I have shared with other women, even 8 years ago when I was diagnosed, I was surprised at how many women whom I previously knew came out of the woodwork. They were fellow strugglers and overcomers. Their stories gave me hope. I follow in their footsteps and pay it forward. I want to glorify God for and thank Him for saving my life. I share my story with you in hopes that you will share your story; it will encourage others.

If you know of someone experiencing postpartum depression, anxiety or any mental illness, please love them well and encourage them to pursue help. Pursue help with them. On their 8 year anniversary, you will be grateful that you did.

Read my full story of postpartum depression here.

Ice, Ice Baby (aka “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?”)-Free Printable

Vanilla IceYou are a child of the 80s if you know who this gentleman is. Oh, come on! You know you remember! He is famous for ONE song that has been my anthem this week.

“Ice, Ice, Baby. Alright stop, collaborate and listen…”

And…I could go MUCH further into the song lyrics, but I don’t want to embarrass myself  and give you any inkling of how much of the song I actually remember! Ha!

So, this week in good ol’ Music City USA we have enjoyed a week of being snow and ice. Therefore, the words of Ice, Ice Baby have been continually on my lips, and these poetic 80s words pretty much summarize the weather that we have enjoyed for the past week. (And…as a side note, my hat goes off to those of you who live in the Northern regions of the United States. Snow on the ground, all winter-this is your reality. Wow, just wow! You are my heroes, beloved.)

Because my children have NO IDEA who Vanilla Ice is AND because my singing invokes eye-rolling and “M-O-M!” I decided to identify with this younger generation and bust out a song that they can recognize and sing along with. Fast forward to 2015 and a winter-themed chorus that is known and loved by children everywhere, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” (I am secretly laughing on the inside because can’t you just picture 25 years from now? This generation will have children of their own and their posterity will “eye roll” and gasp in horror when Frozen songs are jubilantly sung by their parents. What goes around comes around, right? But, I digress…) This musical masterpiece, thank you, Disney, has been more palatable for them when compared to Vanilla Ice, and I can’t imagine why! :)

So, if you’ve been frozen in all week and looking for a way to build a snowman without venturing out in the snow, or, if you need another winter-themed song to get “Ice, Ice Baby” out of your head, THIS, my friend is your lucky day!

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I drew this Olaf picture for use in my Classical Conversations class during Review Game time. (See below for how I used this in my CC class.) I scanned the drawing, and you can download it here to print and use at your casa. Your Frozen fanatics will have fun with this one, I hope! AND, it’s a great way to build a snowman while staying WARM! Download here: Olaf Printable. Here’s the final product!

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For those of you who are in Classical Conversations and are curious about how I used this as a Review Game, here’s what I did. :) I printed and laminated two copies of Olaf. I divided my class into two teams, and each team was charged with building a snowman! For each question answered correctly, they got to add another snowman piece to their team’s Olaf. The kiddos seemed to really enjoy it!

The Word Became Flesh: Lenten Advent Calendar

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I have written again and again and again about our wonderful Christmas Advent Calendars. Those advent calendars have become such a significant component of Christmas for our family. I longed for this same Scripture-rich, God-honoring, daily-reading family activity… for Easter.

Thankfully, 3 years ago, my dear friend, who first introduced me to the Advent Jesse Tree, wrote a book, The Word Became Flesh, which is a devotion used as an Easter Advent calendar during the 40 days or Lent. In addition to the daily devotions designed to use with your family, Faye, a gifted artist, has included hand drawn sketches that can be photocopied and used as “ornaments” much like the Advent Jesse Tree. We participated in an ornament swap and hang our ornaments on a grapevine wreath. This is a peek at what ours looks like.

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To read more about how The Word Became Flesh works and has impacted our family, read these two previous posts here and here. When I first wrote about The Word Became Flesh two years ago, Faye’s book had not been published and was, therefore, only available to purchase from Faye. Last year, Faye was able to get her book published (wahoo!!!), so you can now buy it from Amazon and have it arrive just in time to start next week on Ash Wednesday, February 18.

I can’t wait to hear how this book blesses your family and leads you to focus on Christ this Easter!

This post contains affiliate links. Please read my full disclosure policy here.

Valentine’s Day Tradition & FREE Printable

I LOVE Valentine’s Day! My birthday is a few days afterwards, so I have many fabulous memories around this time of year. As I became a mom, I wanted Valentine’s Day to be a special time to show my sons how much they are loved. Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be ooey-gooey-sappy love between boys and girls. It can also be a wonderful time to demonstrate love within our families!

These are two posts from the archives as we gear up for the LOVE month!

IMG_7791We have a Valentine’s Day Tradition–Valentine’s Day Stockings. I enjoy filling them with various things that remind me of my sons and husband. This year the boys will be getting some Usborne books that they’ve been eyeing (this, this, and this). Read the original post for instructions on how to make these. Seriously, I am NO seamstress, so if I can make them, anyone can!

I Corintians 13.4 to 7

I created this printable of from I Corinthians 13 for my Pre-K Sunday School class at church. They memorize verses 4-7, so I made this craft, which can be transformed into a mobile or garland for your mantle. I love having the TRUTH about love displayed during this month of LOVE! See the original post for the FREE download.

I LOVE my readers, so thanks for your kind and encouraging words! Thanks SO MUCH for  reading!

Blueberry Pumpkin Poundcake–with Butternut Squash

BlueberryPumpkinPoundcakeOne of my Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions is to make this fabulous, I-always-want-two-pieces-at-a-time Blueberry Pumpkin Poundcake. Well, this week three butternut squashes kept staring me in the face in my fridge, so I decided to make the cake for our small group Christmas party substituting butternut squash instead of the pumpkin. I assumed that it could be substituted easily and without sacrificing amazing flavor. It was a gamble, but I rolled the dice. Guess what? Same ol’ yumminess. So, if you ever have butternut squash staring you in the face, try this recipe and wow your friends with your this amazing cake! For the original recipe, visit this previous post.

Merry Christmas!

 

Scotch Laminator-$16.99 (and pouches 60% off)–TODAY ONLY!

This little guy, my Scotch Thermal Laminator, (aka “My BFF) is on sale currently (TODAY ONLY–December 11) for $16.99, which is an AMAZING deal (and cheaper than my purchase price). I use it ALL THE TIME! Email this link to your husband, parents, family, friends, anyone who will buy you a new BFF, I mean LAMINATOR, for Christmas.

And, Amazon told me that I bought this item September 2010. Thanks, Amazon, this date had slipped my mind. :) I failed to realize that I’ve had the same one for FOUR YEARS, and it is still going strong!

Plus, if you need the laminating pouches, these are currently 60% off TODAY ONLY too! 100 sheets for $9.94, such a great deal!!

Merry Christmas to yourself. :) Just go ahead and buy both, wrap it, and write “To: Mom From: My loving children and/or husband” they will be so glad that you’ve shopped for yourself. :)

Usborne Book Friday (aka Black Friday) deals–all weekend!

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It’s a great weekend to snag some great deals on Usborne books! The Book Friday (aka Black Friday) sale began this morning at 12:01 EST and will continue through the weekend. New titles will be released on Cyber Monday at 12:01 EST.

Here are a few of books from the Book Friday sale that I couldn’t WAIT to share with you:

Winter Activity Pack

Winter Activity Pack– I got this for my sons last weekend, and it kept them handily occupied during our Thanksgiving road trip. They were so entertained with the books from the Winter Activity Pack that they never asked to play my husband’s iPhone (win-win for me!). Usborne Books-1 and Electronics-0 and…one happy momma! These are mini versions of the books, which are all $8.99-$9.99 a piece, so $12.49 is a steal!

My Christmas Tree

 

My Christmas Tree–Isn’t this the sweetest?!?!? This board book ties together to become a Christmas tree! Your kiddos can enjoy having a Christmas tree of their own within their room. :) It comes with stickers allowing them to decorate it to suit their fancy. :)

Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver’s Travels, Pinocchio and Magical Animals (Books AND an Audio Cd!)–These 3 different book sets would make a fabulous gift and are only $4.99! These abridged classics come with a book and audio cd of the book! They are half price! Did I mention they are $4.99?!?! (Can you tell that I’m ecstatic about these books?!?!?) My boys love audio books, and I quickly snagged all 3 of these for them for Christmas. They love to have a book in hand and follow along with the accompanying audio cd. Reading along with a CD is a fantastic way to strengthen reading abilities and to build confidence in their ability to read. Stock up on these for birthday parties or to donate to your local or school library!

FREE SHIPPING—Yes, you read that right! The best news EVER is that when you spend $100 on your order this weekend, your shipping is free! So, go out and shop ’til you drop! :) Check back on Monday, too, when the Cyber Monday book selections roll over into different books! YAHOO!

Friday Favorites: Christmas Cards=Prayer Cards

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I am excited to have a dear friend and mentor, Dr. Kimberly Thornbury, with a Guest Post today. I had the splendid pleasure of working with Kimberly while we were both at Union University. It was then that she introduced me, a newlywed at the time, to her family’s House of Prayer. At the time, I longed for the day that I could start this tradition with children of my own. If you are wondering what to do with the charming Christmas cards forthcoming in your mailbox once December 26 arrives, enjoy Kimberly’s tradition and incorporate it into your home during 2015.

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When my two daughters were very young, I wanted to teach them about the importance of prayer, and also help them understand more about family and friends they had not yet met. In 2004, shortly after Christmas, I took an old green Pampers wipes plastic bin, covered it with construction paper, and filled it with Christmas cards our family had received that holiday season. I stapled a 3 x 5 index card to each of the Christmas cards, and wrote down specific prayer requests related to that particular family or individual.

During meal times, our two daughters were very interested in the new ritual of pulling out a colored photo. We would pass around the photo and pray specifically for the person or family on the card. Often times, we would write updates on the back of the card. Although we didn’t pray for these people daily, we would pray for them regularly and most certainly consistently. Our prayers became less monotonous, more creative and more intentional.

Sometimes if we didn’t have a card on someone, the girls would take time to find a picture of someone in a magazine (for example the president of the United States) and create a card. Tragic situations, would often result in the girls writing words like “Haiti” on 3 x 5 card.

That little Pampers box looked like a tiny house, and it was also a symbol for the Thornbury family being characterized as a “house of prayer.” Over the years we have moved to a small cardboard “Amazon” box, but I am sure more “pinterest” moms would make something super cute out of wood.

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I have worked with college students for over 20 years. As I mentor college students throughout their tenure at the University, often times I will pray over the students I am mentoring through my house of prayer card system. You can imagine their delight, when I copy the back of the card a few weeks before their wedding day, reminding them of God’s answered promises to them. Biology tests were passed, boyfriends who were not God’s best for them faded away, they reached their goal of graduation, and will soon be married to their beloved.

Also, when someone is going through a particularly hard time (like a friend whose son was recently diagnosed with leukemia), we will find their card in the stack, update it, and pray for them right there on the spot.

When we have guests come over, the house of prayer is a way for us to explain the Gospel to others, and our belief in intercessory prayer.

I’m a fallen mom, and so thankful for God’s grace in my life. I am far from perfect, but this God-given idea has really worked for our little family, and been a tool to draw us closer to Him.

Dr. Kimberly Thornbury is the Vice President for Institutional Research and Strategic Planning at The King’s College in New York City. She can be reached at kthornbury@tkc.edu or on Twitter @kthornbury

Book Friday: How A Book Entertained My Son for THREE Hours

William with Robot book.two William with Robot Sticker Book Son #2–This is how he spent 3, non-stop hours yesterday afternoon–reading and assembling the Usborne Build Your Own Robots sticker book! Did he ask to play the iPad or watch TV? No. Happy mommy? Yes! Usborne-1 and Electronics-0 This is our son, who enjoys being read to but rarely picks up a book on his own accord for pleasure. I am grateful for how Usborne books are cultivating within my boys a love for and of books, even my sons who who would rather be digging in the dirt all day. :) 1488155_898903470122234_3239623188675499238_n If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to snag a great deal on Usborne titles for your children, grandchildren, nieces, or nephews, Book Friday (aka Black Friday) is the perfect opportunity! Starting at 12:01AM EST on Friday, November 28, Book Friday begins, and many, many Usborne titles will be discounted up to 60% off and FREE SHIPPING on orders of $100 or more! You better believe I’m setting an alarm to wake up and shop because our family LOVES Usborne books!

Are you ready to shop? Use this special link to take you to the Book Friday sale. I’m excited for your family to have Usborne books in their hands, hearts and minds! New to Usborne and need some book recommendations? Watch some of the videos from my YouTube channel Suzanne Shares Usborne Books to ‘meet’ a few of my favorite Usborne titles. Order now and your books will arrive in plenty of time for Christmas! :)10671398_10204244332500286_1000311271282078700_n