Holly Furtick

Books I love… read alouds for kids

I love to read to my kids.  Chapter books mainly.  My boys and I have enjoyed so many great titles together.

Did you know that reading aloud to your children has huge benefits?  Research has proven that reading aloud to children increases their vocabulary, their listening skills and their attention span which helps them perform better in school.  For more information check out this article and this great book by Jim at Trelease.

So today I thought I would share a few of our favorites.

Now I will say, we have a rule that we do not watch a movie before we have read the book. If I know there is a movie of a great book we haven’t read, I won’t let my kids watch it.  I had an argument with Elijah about this one time because he wanted to watch the movie, Holes, but we had not read the book yet (we were waiting for Graham to get a little bit older).  I told him we couldn’t watch the movie because it would ruin the book.  My little lawyer replied, “Yeah but if we read the book, it will ruin the movie.”  What do you say to that? “Well, then, because I said so.”

I find my kids can hang with a chapter book starting around the summer before kindergarten.

Two of our favorites for younger kids (5-6) age are…

 

Charlottes Web by EB White.  Charlotte’s web is a classic tale of a spider and a pig.  The book also has some great illustrations.

 

 

 

 

Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary.  Ramona the Pest is about Ramona going to kindergarten.  I have read this book to each of my boys the summer before the go into kindergarten,  They always love hearing about the trouble Ramona seems to get herself into.

 

 

 

Great holiday books
(actually book, I only have one)

 

The Best Christmas Pagent Ever by Barbara Park.  We have a tradition of reading this book every holiday season.  It is short enough to get through in a few weeks and teaches a great message about the true meaning of Christmas.

 

 

 

Award winning books.

 

Holes by Louis Sachar.  This is my all time favorite kids book (and probably in my top all time favorite books).  It is a clever story of a boy who finds himself  falsely accused.  I wish I could read it again for the first time.

 

 

 

Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.  This is the story of a dog and a preacher’s daughter and all the lives they are able to touch in their small Florida town.

 

 

 

 

The One and Only Ivan by.  Ivan is a gorilla who lives in a small habitat in a mall.  This is loosely based on a true story. If you like books where animals talk and feel, you will love this one.

 

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Becoming an Uncomplicated Woman part 2

In this blog we are discussing 5 characteristics of an uncomplicated woman.  Last week we said, I am complex, not complicated.  Today I want to give you the 2nd characteristic, I am poised, not perfect.

We all know that drama works great in movies and books, but in real life, it simply exhausts the people around you.  A poised woman learns how to push past her emotions in the heat of the moment.  And she knows when and where it is appropriate to release them.  It is not that a poised woman doesn’t have emotions, she is simply in control of them.  When a complicated situation occurs, a poised woman goes first to God, then to the appropriate people.

A good question to ask yourself is, can I deal with a little tiff without telling everyone in my life?  I do not want my spouse or my friends to dread picking up the phone when they see my name on their caller id.  I do not want the people in my life (my boss, my husband, my coworkers, my friends) to be afraid to give me bad news or ask me to change something in my life.

I love this verse, Proverbs 31:11-12, Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”  I want my husband, my children, my friends to trust me.  I want to enrich the lives of everyone around me, not drain them.

This is not to say that I don’t have bad days, or difficult seasons, but I am like that tree in Jeremiah 17:8, “It does not fear when heat comes; 
its leaves are always green.
 It has no worries in a year of drought 
and never fails to bear fruit.”  It is not that heat and drought and storms don’t happen to the tree, they just don’t have any long term effects on the tree’s ability to bear fruit.

Poise is not perfection, it’s strength under pressure.  I want to be like that tree that is poised to stand up under what ever pressure may come my way.  Becoming an uncomplicated woman means learning to be poised in the midst of an emotional situation.

Next week I will give you part 3- I am calm in the midst of chaos.

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Becoming an Uncomplicated Woman (pt1)

This past Thursday all the female staff and spouses of Elevation gathered together.  We had a wonderful time.  We laughed together, learned together and served together.

I shared a message about Becoming an Uncomplicated Woman that has been stirring in my heart for a few months.  In a culture that puts so much emphasis on social media, appearances, and keeping up with each other, how can we fight the temptation to be needy and dramatic?

We all know a complicated woman.  You know, she is unpredictable and inconsistent.  Being in her  life means you have to have special knowledge of all her difficult ways.  But even then, you can never be sure of how she will react.  The only thing you can be sure of is that she will have a dramatic reaction.

But what about the times when I am complicated?  How does this affect those around me?  How can we become pillars of strength for the people in our lives?

Over the next few weeks I want to give you 5 characteristics of an uncomplicated woman.  Here is the first one…

I am complex, not complicated.

A complex woman has many depths.  One guy put it this way, “A complex person is like an iPod.  That is to say that they are consistent, straightforward, and user friendly while also being rather sophisticated… They are understanding, forgiving, in short, mature.”

A complex woman is like an oak tree.  A complicated woman is like an orchid.  Both are beautiful plants.  An oak tree is a picture of strength and beauty.  An orchid is a picture of fragility and beauty.  An orchid must be coddled.  It cannot be too hot or too cold.  It cannot have too much water.  Its leaves do not like to get wet. An orchid needs constant special attention.

Look at what Jeremiah 17:7-8 has to say about a tree (oak I like to think :))

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.”

I want my husband, my coworkers, my friends to consider me a strong woman – she can handle business, she’s not always freaking out.  She runs deep.  She has experienced some difficult situations but she seems to handle them with such grace.

Are you complex or complicated?  How do I make those closest to me feel when they see my name on their caller id?  Or maybe the better questions is, in what area of my life do I complicate things?  Because I can turn complicated really quick.

The good news is that sometimes the first step to change is simply being aware of myself.  Knowing that I complicated a situation will help me not do the same next time.

Next week I’ll share point 2: I am poised but not perfect.

*Thanks to Pastor Kevin Gerald – he preached a message several months ago that originally inspired my thoughts about this.

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Monday Morning Commentary

Well we wrapped up our relationship series yesterday.  The title of my husband’s message was taken straight from the text (1 Corinthians 7:29), “Those who have wives should live as if they do not.”

The message had 3 main points.

  1. Conflict of Interests
  2. Unnecessary Complication
  3. Undivided Devotion

In the 2nd point, Unnecessary Complication, my husband told us, “Don’t make your spouse something he was not meant to be!”  He gave us 5 ways we unnecessarily complicated relationships…

  1. Unrealistic Expectations- of ourselves, our spouse, and even of God.
  2. Imaginary Scenarios- sometimes the thing I am most afraid of will never even come to pass.
  3. Approval Addiction- if I need the approval of others, I will not be able to receive it.
  4. Regret and Resentment- what I have done or what they have done.
  5. Toxic Secrets- secrets have power until you confess them.
This has been such a powerful series for our church.  I know that so many relationships will be better off because of this teaching.  If you missed it, I hope you will go and listen.  You can watch it later today on the Elevation Network, in our archive and on our podcast.  And don’t forget, every sermon is also available on the Elevation App for your smart phone.

Have a great Monday!

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Monday Morning Commentary

 

This weekend I had a blast as I joined my husband on stage.  Together we discussed how marriage is a calling (based out of 1 Cor. 7:17-24).  The sermon was called “Special Assignment.”  We gave some practical steps to living out this calling in the context of our relationships.

We said I am CALLED to…

Carry your burdens- I want to help you carry you carry your burdens, not add to them.
Assume the best- I filter everything through the idea that my husband loves me and cares about me.
Live with contentment- I daily live content with who I am, who my spouse is and the blessings we have been given.
Let God be God- I focus on being the wife God has called me to be and trust that God will work on my spouse.
Encourage your strengths- I can literally pour courage into my spouse.
Do it anyway- Sometimes you don’t feel like it, but you have to do it anyway.

We seriously had such a great time.  We also talked about finger snapping, peanut butter spoons, and canoeing.  If you missed it, I hope you will go and listen. You can watch it later today on the Elevation Network, in our archive and on our podcast. And don’t forget, every sermon is also available on the Elevation App for your smart phone.

Have a great Monday!

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For all the people pleasers out there…

Are you a people pleaser?  I am.  We all are to some extent, and of course, we all go through seasons where we seem to get stuck in a rut of caring too much of what others think about us.

Look at these verses in Psalm 34

4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.

When my focus is on seeking the Lord, He delivers me of my fear of letting others down.  My face does not have to be covered in shame because I can be confident that I am following His commands for my life.

I am not saying we shouldn’t seek the advice of the godly authorities the Lord has put in our lives.  But I am saying we should seek the Lord first in every situation.  If I go around wondering if this will hurt that person’s feelings, or if this person will be happy with me, I am putting the cart before the horse.

Here’s another way of looking at it, I can only seek to please God but I can try to bless others.  And when I seek God, will show me how I can bless others.

I want all those in my life to be happy.  And I want them to be happy with me.  But not to the detriment of me not being able to obey the calling God has placed on my life because I am running around trying to keep everyone happy.

Matthew 6:33 pretty much sums it up

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Spend your energy pleasing God and let him take care of the way others feel about you.

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Monday Morning Commentary

We continued our series Meant to Be based on 1 Corinthians 7.  This sermon series on relationships has been life changing for so many.

This week the sermon was called, “How to Save Your Husband,” taken from 1 Corinthians 7:10-16.  The message answered the question, how do we go from burning with passion for each other to not being able to be in the same room together.  My husband gave us 4 ways we lose our passion…

  1. When celebration becomes toleration.  The thing we loved the most becomes the thing that drives us crazy, we were encouraged not to leave the 80% we love because of the 20% that we don’t like.
  2. When we becomes me.  Sometimes you have to love someone enough to carry them through a difficult time (Mark 2).
  3. When debtors become collectors.  We forget that the forgiven forgive (Matthew 18).
  4. When covenant becomes contract.  Contracts are built on mutual mistrust, “I will if you will.”  Covenants are a vow until death.
This message was powerful for those considering divorce.  But it was also challenging for those considering marriage or in a marriage to remember the seriousness of our covenant and the need to work to protect it at all costs.  If you know anyone whose marriage is struggling and they need to be reminded of their covenant, encourage them to listen to this message, I promise their hope will be renewed.

You can watch it later today on the Elevation Network, in our archive and on our podcast.  And don’t forget, every sermon is also available on the Elevation App for your smart phone.

Have a great Monday!

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The Best Yes Giveaway Winners!!!

 


Congratulations to:

     KaSandra Morris  @KaS0315
     Leesa K Lee  @LeesaKLee
     Maleah Phipps  @maleahphipps
     Maddison @mprice1112
     Jasmine(:  @eeeniimsajxx
     Sarah DenHartog  @Mrs10HDs
     Linda Kelley Rich   linda_lou86
     Jameela
     Brenda Black  bwb730
     Rachel Szyszka

You are the winners of the book, The Best Yes.  I am so excited for you!  Just email your shipping address to kvillarreal@elevationchurch.org and we will get your book sent out to you within the week.

Thank you to everyone who entered!  If you did not win, you can purchase your own copy here.

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Monday Morning Commentary

 

We continued our relationship series this weekend based on 1 Corinthians 7.  This week’s message was geared towards people who are single and the message was called “Marry or Burn.”

Here are a few of my favorite points my husband made…

  • If you allow your passion to burn a hole in your emotions, you’ll have a leaky heart that will not whole when the right person comes around.
  • Misplaced desire is very dangerous but desire isn’t dirty.
  • Passion needs parameters.  Don’t get burned while trying to stay warm.
  • If you don’t learn how to manage your passions, they will manage you.
  • Shame is often the source but never the solution.
I loved when he said, “It is not enough to starve the wrong fires, but we must learn to stoke the right fire.”  We must become consumed with the purpose God has given us for our lives today.  You can be successfully single.  You do not need another person to fulfill God’s purpose for your life.

If you are single, you must hear this message.  And even for those who are not, the message was applicable to everyone.  Stoke the right fire!  You can watch it later today on the Elevation Network, in our archive and on our podcast.  And don’t forget, every sermon is also available on the Elevation App for your smart phone.

Have a happy Labor Day!

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Fighting words

I’m not one for confrontation.  I don’t enjoy a good argument.  I don’t feel better after a difficult conversation.  Now, don’t get me wrong, in the 12 years of my marriage, my husband and I have had our fair share of fights (just going to call them what they are). But fights in and of themselves are not all that bad, IF, as a couple you get to the heart of the issue.

I have heard it said that fighting in marriage is like fire.  It can do one of two things, it can shed light or it can consume.

A heated discussion is not the place for accusation, insincere apologies, and name calling.  Those things are gasoline to the fire.  In my marriage, I have identified some fighting words.  Common words or phrases that pack a big punch.  And whenever I say these phrases, I am not shedding light on a situation, I am pouring gasoline on the fire.

Here are 3 from my marriage.  I am sure there are more.

I am sorry you feel that way.
I’m sorry you feel that way is not an apology.  It is code for, “you are overreacting.” No one wants to be told they are overreacting especially when they are overreacting!   True love says, “I am sorry I made you feel that way.  Help me understand what I did.”

What were you thinking?
What were you thinking is code for, “you are a large child who doesn’t know how to act.”  What were you thinking might as well be followed by, “you idiot.”  I don’t like to have my face rubbed into a bad decision, but I often struggle with giving others the grace I would want to be given to me.  True love says, “We all make mistakes.  I forgive you.”

Why are you in a bad mood?
Now this one, this one is huge.  Why are you in a bad mood is like punching my husband in the face and saying, “Let’s fight.”  No one likes to be reminded they are in a bad mood, ESPECIALLY if it is true.  True love seeks to do something kind for the person having the bad day.  It doesn’t call them out.

Like my husband said this past weekend, relationships take work.  It is so true.  It takes work not to let a disagreement escalate into a huge fight.  I certainly don’t get this right every time.  But I am learning that relationships require grace.  The grace to try and understand the other person’s feelings.  Grace to forgive.  And grace to overlook an offense.

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