Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thursday's Treasures at Robin's Nest

Just wanted to share with you all that I am honored to be a guest writer at my friend Robin's "Nest" today!  

Please CLICK HERE to come check it out and tell her I sent you. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Crying at Christmas?

Life is hard. 

It doesn't get any easier at Christmas---maybe even harder.

Stress doesn't disappear; it often intensifies.

Finances don't increase; they typically get stretched thinner.

Rest doesn't abound; usually a rat-race of visits ensues.

For those who are alone and lonely, 
Christmas seems to be a magnifying glass to the loneliness.

Are you stretched to the limit and beyond?

Do you ache because you cannot afford to give the gifts you long to give?

Do the special things you try to give and even make seem to fall short?

Are you wrestling with emotions and unrest?



The Prince of Peace is Immanuel, God with us---God with YOU.  

Right now, today, our Savior who came
on the inaugural Christmas so many years ago
is our living, reigning King of Grace and Prince of Peace.
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. ~ Isaiah 7:14
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. ~ Isaiah 9:6-7
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.
 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. 
~ Luke 2:8-20
Do you need peace today?

Come to the Prince of Peace today---now.  
Give Him your uneasiness and unrest.  
He has gifts of peace, rest, and joy to give you in return.  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Family Illustrated Bible {designed by Sally Tagholm}

How would I describe this book?  
Well, first here is how the publisher describes it:  

The Family Illustrated Bible is designed to engage every age in the beautiful truths of God’s Word. This special Bible is packed with:
- exciting facts about the people of the Old and New Testaments
- vivid, full-color photos and illustrations
- detailed maps of the lands of the Bible
- clear timelines
- and a thorough index

Children will find each biblical account is easy to read. Adults will enjoy its beauty while leading their family in devotions. The Family Illustrated Bible is an excellent resource to establish the family’s foundation on the Bible. Once in the home and hands of inquiring minds, this Bible will not be ignored.

The Family Illustrated Bible was designed by Sally Tagholm, an award-winning author who has written numerous children’s books on history and animals.

Now, for my thoughts:

Yes, this is a beautiful book that is packed with both photographs and beautiful illustrations that enhance the reading of the Bible lessons.  I do think this book is what I would call a "nice to have" but in my opinion it is not a "must have."

I do like that there are many Bible stories in this compilation book that are not included in many Bible storybooks.  However, it is called by title a "Bible" and I do disagree with that designation.  It is a Bible story book in that it retells and paraphrases multiple Bible stories, but it is not an all-inclusive, word-for-word Bible.  Additionally, some of the content is theologically questionable (such as a reference to "The Gospel of Thomas").  One other qualm I have with the book is that it is difficult to tell what the target audience is.  It seems as if it is intended for children (potentially young children), but much of the wording and content seems more directed at and understood by much older children or even adults.  I do realize the Bible has content that can be difficult to discuss with young children as well, but this book being described as a "Family Illustrated Bible" seems as if it would be geared toward families of young children.  That may just be a misunderstanding on my part, though.  

Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think if you do.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group. No other compensation was received. The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Love Language: A Mother's Heart & a Daughter's Unspoken Love by Christi Johnston

Parenting a child who has various special needs in addition to the special needs all children have is truly a calling and one that requires special strength.

If you, like me, do not have a special needs child in your family, you may not realize what all you and I take for granted in life.  Not only is my son a healthy child, but I also was as well.  So, to be invited into the heart and mind of a mother who is raising a child who has a variety of additional needs and struggles is quite humbling.

In Love Language: A Mother's Heart and a Daughter's Unspoken Love, Christi Johnson shares candidly, boldly, and lovingly of her daily emotions and tasks as she and her husband Jamie raise their two daughters, Hannah and Megan.

Christi shares of how she and Jamie learned late in her second pregnancy that their daughter, Hannah, was already showing signs in utero (prior to birth) of having microcephaly (a small, underdeveloped brain).  She is honest with sharing her emotions upon learning this news while still pregnant as well as with sharing her thoughts and emotions throughout their journey since that day.

Through the experiences Christi shares in Love Language, I am reminded over and over again of how ungrateful and oblivious I am for the life I live.  Christi and her family are a true inspiration to anyone whom God causes to cross their paths.  The love that they all share as they grow together is a blessing to read about.  I can only imagine how precious it is to know them personally.  As a matter of fact, I do know a mutual friend of theirs personally and through her I am told what a light sweet Hannah is to everyone she comes into contact with.

While reading Hannah's and Christi's story, I laughed---I cried---I sighed in exhaustion for the entire family, especially Christi as the hands-on mother---but all-in-all, I rejoiced with them in their joy and love and faith in God as their sole provider of strength, hope, finances, wisdom, and peace.

There are so many nuggets of blessing and encouragement for the toughest of times as you read through Christi's well-crafted, self-published true story of her family's journey of joy and love in unexpected and often unspoken ways.

By the way, I was given this book by a dear friend of Christi unbeknownst to her until now!  This review was in no way solicited by Christi and the fact that I received it as a gift did not guarantee a favorable review.  I must say many thanks to Jami for blessing me with this little glimpse into the life of The Johnstons!  

If you would like to purchase Christi's book Love Language, just CLICK HERE or anywhere else in this post that mentions the name of the book and you will be taken to Christi's website.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Spk2Me in the Rollin' Convoy

As I set off on my commute to work this morning, I couldn't help but notice the message on the Causeway's jumbotrons.

"Fog on bridge.  Rolling convoy in progress.  Headlights on. No lane changes."

Pic Credit:
All I could think was, 
"Mercy sakes alive, looks like we got us a convoy...
Cuz we got a little convoy rockin' thru the night                                       Yeah we got a little convoy ain't she a beautiful sight
Come on and join our convoy ain't nothin' gonna get in our way
We gonna roll this truckin' convoy across the USA Pontchartrain
Convoy"  (lyrics by C. W. McCall & Chip Davis)
Okay, so I really wasn't that excited, nor was the convoy much of a beautiful sight. But as my New Jersey friends say, "It is what it is.  What are you gonna do?"

Into the dense fog I proceeded, along with countless other commuters suspended over a 24 mile expanse of water on just a couple of southbound lanes of concrete.  As I was leisurely putting along at an average of 30 miles per hour, I became wrapped up in my thoughts about the day and weekend ahead.  Then, my thoughts quieted---amazing, I know.  Suddenly I noticed the license plate of a car in the lane next to me.

It said, "SPK2ME."

I kind of brushed it off for a bit, but due to this convoy the license plate just kept staying in my line of vision.  Why?

Finally I said, "Okay, Lord, I get it.  I am here.  I hear you loud & clear."  Then I proceeded to remind Him (& myself) of Who He is and to thank Him for Who He is in my life and for all of the blessings He bestows on me.

As I was speaking to him, I noticed a pelican in the fog off to my right.  This pelican intrigued me, as they always do.  It was flying through the fog as if this dense mist put no damper whatsoever on its flight path.  This pelican was assured of where it was flying and appeared calm and graceful as it flew.  I, too, was calm and unafraid as I was driving across this bridge through thick clouds of fog.

How can that be?

Well, the pelican and I share something in common (other than being Louisiana residents)...we both know this territory well due to daily travel throughout it.  Even through the fog, I know what lies ahead on this bridge.  I know that at Mile Marker Sixteen I will be on top of the one and only draw-bridge portion of the Causeway.  I know that every three and a half miles there is an emergency crossover / turnaround if needed. And, I know that this is a straight bridge with no curves to the right nor left.
Pic credit:

I imagine the pelican knows similar details about its flight path and resting points.  It definitely knows where the fish are, as evidenced by the sharp sudden dives beak-first into the water!

You see, the pelican and I both know that this is the same bridge, sky, and water in the fog as it is in the clear.  No matter what we can or cannot see, the secure and constant surfaces and forces that hold us up are still there and are as firm and dependable now as ever.  Our sight, or lack thereof, does not change their presence nor stability.

Another thing that keeps me at peace when I can barely distinguish the sky from the water from the edge of the roadway is knowing that the pace-setting vehicle leading the convoy is guiding us through and keeping us safe.  Though I cannot always see the flashing lights of the guiding vehicle, I know it is there ahead of us and I trust its driver to guide us through the dense fog to safety at the other end of the bridge.

You can draw your own conclusions, but for me this morning was definitely a time of my faithful God reminding me of His constant presence, reliability, guidance, protection and provision for me.

  • He reminded me of my preparation for these times of fog in life.  
  • He reminded me that He has always protected me and even grown me through these times.  
  • Even when I did not trust Him in past fogs, I am still able to look back and see that I was safe the entire time---safe because He was leading me---safe because He was protecting me.

Are you in a foggy time of life right now?

Do you know and trust the Pace-setter and Guide?

He not only knows these misty paths you are on---He created them.  
He has walked though tougher times than these 
and made it through victoriously 
so that we can have victory and peace as well.

How will you remind God (and yourself) of Who He is today and Who He has proven Himself to be in your life?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy {by Eric Metaxas}

Where do I start?

Some have heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (pronounced Bahn-hoofer) and even studied his writings in seminary.  Others, like myself, have never heard of him until hearing about this biography of him.

Oh, how I wish I had known of him sooner.

Eric Metaxas does an amazing job of recounting the facts of Bonhoeffer's life---and death---in his biography entitled Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.

Without telling you everything of the life and legacy of Bonhoeffer, since Metaxas does it so well, I do want you to understand how much this man influenced me and undoubtedly many others.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German man raised in a family rich with intelligence, influence, affluence, and devotion to one another.  His mother, Paula (pronounced Pa-oo-lah), had a strong Christian faith and instilled it in the upbringing of her children as best she could.  His father, Karl, was a highly respected psychiatrist who was also an agnostic.  Remarkably, though his parents did not fully see eye-to-eye in their views about God, they greatly loved and highly respected each other.  Karl respected Paula and her love for God so much that he supported her efforts in instilling her faith in the upbringing of their children.  Not all of their eight children followed in their mother's footsteps of faith as Dietrich did, but they all remained close to one another and respectful of one another throughout their lives.

Why do I pull out the family upbringing of this 
intriguing, inspiring man who conspired against Adolf Hitler 
and was ultimately executed by the Nazi's 
upon their discovery of his involvement in the plot to kill Hitler?

Among so many things that impressed me about Bonhoeffer and his life, his upbringing is where it all began.
  • You just have to read how his father trained his family to not waste words with idle talk but to only speak when something is valuable and necessary---and to be able to prove any point you try to make when speaking.  
  • I want you to grasp how much his mother and father's love for and influence on their children impacted not only the lives of their children but ultimately impacted the entire country of Germany and even the entire world.  
  • I truly gained a new appreciation for and reverence of my role of parenting my young child. 
    • Who knows---he may be the next Bonhoeffer! 
    • Regardless, he WILL face life, as an adult who has to decide when deciding will not be easy. 
    • When he does, I pray my mothering of him will have helped to build a solid foundation for him to stand on and from which to make crucial, difficult decisions.  
    • I pray he will stand firm as Bonhoeffer did.

There is so much more in this book---in the true life of Bonhoeffer---that I would love to share with you, but, well, Eric Metaxas has done such a marvelous job of it that I will leave that to him.  Please do yourself and/or a loved one a favor and read of the life of this inspirational, brave man.

Yes, the book is almost 600 pages, so I know that may be a bit long for some to physically sit and read.  If so, get the audiobook as I did.  I listened to it on my daily commute.  Wonderful, valuable use of that time!  (Helps a lot with the German pronunciations, too!)

Because of reading this book, I have a new appreciation for and understanding of the depth of struggles the people in Germany endured in the days of the Nazi regime.  You will be surprised by a lot that you learn as you read this, too.

I leave you with the last scene of Bonhoeffer's life on earth as described by one of his prison-mates, Payne Best:
He (Bonhoeffer) had hardly finished his last prayer when the door opened and two evil-looking men in civilian clothes came in and said: 
     "Prisoner Bonhoeffer.  Get ready to come with us."  Those words "Come with us"---for all prisoners they had come to mean one thing only---the scaffold.
     We bade him good-bye---he drew me aside---"This is the end," he said.  "For me the beginning of life." 
"This is the end...for me the beginning of life."
Would you be able to say the same right now?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, December 9, 2011

I loved Jesus, left Jesus, and now live for Jesus...come see why...

Born and raised in the Bible Belt. Yep, that’s me.

In church every time the doors were open for most of my life and even baptized three, count them—THREE—times. (That’s a long story, but I guess third time’s a charm for me.)

Worked in the church nursery. Worked as the church receptionist. Taught Sunday School. Had a front-row, behind-the-scenes view of major church turmoil.

BAM! Disillusionment, burnout, plus extreme college-related stress.

That’s a very abbreviated summary of my life up to the point at which I decided it was my turn to live for me. Maybe you can relate, maybe not. I know there are many who can.

If you want to read more of my honest recounting of my mighty mess of life and God's amazing persistence and faithfulness, CLICK HERE. I am greatly honored to be sharing a snippet of my life story on my friend Jennifer's blog, Inspired & Sharing IT! Because of Jesus---I live!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

(Updated Post!) A is for Adam {GIVEAWAY info!!!}

A whole new twist to the ABCs!

A is for Adam by Ken & Mally Ham quite creatively facilitates a parent (or grandparent) helping a child learn the gospel in a way that they can actually comprehend it.

I must say, I am quite impressed with how well my six-year-old son grasps and even teaches back to me the truth of why Jesus had to come and die in our place---many thanks to this well-formatted book.

Ken & Mally Ham have structured this book to tell the true Gospel as it is initiated in the book of Genesis.  Each letter of the alphabet corresponds with a word that is used in a rhyming sentence displayed on a colorful cartoon picture that illustrates the content of the sentence.  Additionally, on the "adult's" side of the flip-chart, tent-like book, there is a simple but thorough guide for discussing that specific, important Gospel content with your child.

There are even FREE downloadable coloring versions of the artwork from this book for you child's enjoyment!

The sections on the discussion side of the book include:

  • Let's Read (a verbatim copy of the sentence the child is seeing and reading on their picture)
  • The Starting Point (a concise discussion-starter statement which further introduces the point of this page)
  • Bible Bits (a bulleted list of short truthful statements for the child to repeat after the adult)
  • Let's Talk! (a bulleted list of short discussion points and questions to help the child further comprehend)
  • Always Remember (a brief, truth-filled recap phrase for the child to repeat back)
  • Visual Vocabulary (a guide for having the child find things in the picture that begin with the letter of the page and identify other specific things from the picture)
  • Stuff To Do (a section of suggestions of how to further learn/teach about this content in tangible ways including more discussion points as well as craft projects)
  • Quick Review (a short bulleted list of questions to ask the child to help them further grasp the content)

My son actually begs me to read this with him! He loves to sit on his side to look at the main pictures and read the sentences that are on those pictures while I sit on my side of the book and lead him in a discussion about that specific picture.

Again, I love to hear the responses he shares in the discussions.  So much so, I think I will let you in on a bit of our conversations as we were going through A is for Adam together.
  • Question from "Stuff To Do" section of D is for Dinosaurs page was "What do you do when you feel lonely?"  
    • My son's answer, "Just go on top of the roof and sleep and spend the night until I can find a family."  
      • WHAT?!  Where in the WORLD did He get that from?! LOL! He has never been on our roof, nor does he have any way to get there.  And, yes, he does have a family...a very close and loving family, I might add.  ;) 
  • When discussing Satan the serpent on the G is for Ghastly page, my son says, "Sometimes I listen to Satan."  
    • I ask, "What does he say to you?"  
    • He responds, "He tells me that my mom and dad are lying to me, but I enore (ignore) him and I fight him in my heart.  And, I call him a 'Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire.'"
So, if you have a child in your life or the life of a loved one whom you think would benefit from understanding more about the Gospel, then I highly suggest you get your hands on a copy of A is for Adam!

By the way, one way to do that is to click on the title of the book A is for Adam anywhere in this post.  You will be brought to its product page on the publisher's website.  

BUT another more fun way to possibly even get your hands on 
a FREE copy of this book is for you to attend the 
Master Books #TeachtheTruth 
Twitter Party 
on Tuesday, December 13th!!!

MasterBooks December 
#TeachtheTruth Twitter Party Details:

Date: Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Time: 2:00 - 2:30 PM CST
Hashtag: #TeachtheTruth
Prizes: 5 people will win their own copy of A is for Adam

Make sure you are following all these people on Twitter for the party: 

And, by the way, if this sounds fun & interesting but you have never attended a Twitter party & maybe aren't even yet on Twitter...check out this great link for easy instructions on how to participate in a Twitter party:  
(This link does discuss a previous Twitter party held last month, 
but the instructions for how to do it works the same.)  

Twitter parties are FUN & ADDICTING!
:o)  ENJOY!!!


Not only will each of the 5 winners will be awarded 
a copy of A is for Adam honor of Jesus’ birthday the winners will get to choose another New Leaf Publishing (NLPG) title to gift to 
This bookseller is expanding locations as part of the recovery from Hurricane Katrina. We will send books that will help the community #TeachtheTruth about God, His Son Jesus, the Bible, and more.  (This is SUPER exciting to me!!! I live & work in the New Orleans area, after all.  Just dropped by Maple Street and said Hi today!)

Join us for the party! BUT...If you can’t be with us on the 13th, Answers in Genesis is offering 25% off A is for Adam through 12/16 when you use the coupon code: “A4ADM". {Code is valid from start of party through 12/16.} Buy your copy here: A is for Adam from AiG Store.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group - Master Books. No other compensation was received. The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Consider yourself welcome...

Not long ago, I noticed this plaque hanging on the wall at my church.  I just had to snap a pic and share it on Facebook.

Would you believe that this pic was one of my most popular posts ever?! exaggeration.

It got me thinking...

How often in life do we feel welcome?

We may hide behind masks that appear to make us seem like we don't care what other people think about us or our lifestyle, but really.  Really.  Even with those masks, choices of edgy lifestyles, "going against the grain"---all of it---really we are all screaming out for love and acceptance in one way or another.

Some of our screams come with purple hair, some with tattoos and tongue rings, some with a scowl on the face that appears to say, "Leave me alone...I don't need you in my space."

Regardless of the look and tone of the scream, each one is our own unique way of saying, "Dare to love me.  Dare to accept me.  I dare you to welcome me in."

Unfortunately we have gotten a bit lazy and gullible when it comes to reading the vibes sent out by these masks.  We too frequently choose to fall for the false impression the person is attempting to pull over on us.  And, even if we do have the insight to see past the clever facades, we choose not to put forth the effort it might take to get real with the people who are needing us most.

I am pointing the finger at myself as I bring this tough subject up, but I need to make the statement that tough people need tough people.

People who look and act tough to love and tough to accept need love and acceptance as much as or more than anyone else.

On that note, people who appear to "have it all together" and seem to be loved by everyone---those people need real acceptance and love too.  We would be surprised to know how many apparently "happy" people are really lonely...really.

Let this be a wake-up call to us all that we need to look past appearances ("good" or "bad") and remember that the heart beneath the surface is very similar to the heart beneath ours.

When you read the things the Lord lays on my heart to share, I pray that His message that burns on my heart gets through to you.

That message I pray you hear and feel above all is---
Consider yourself welcome.

If my words don't convince you...consider His...

The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.

Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.

Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Praise Him for Freedom

Yes, this is me. :) July 4th, 2011

By name it sounds, well, free.  How easy it is to forget the enormous price tag that has been paid and is still being paid by others for our spiritual and political freedom.

Awareness of the cost of freedom is a necessity in the often oblivious life we lead.

For a reminder of what we have to be thankful for and to whom we owe the thanks, please click HERE to go over and read the rest of this post as I am blessed to be a guest blogger at New Leaf Publishing Group's blog today in their "Praise Him" series.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Captain America Sleeps

"I can't surrender.  I don't know how!" ~Captain America

Yet here he sleeps---snug as a bug in a rug.  Not a care in the world.

All heroes need their rest at some point.  They all have their weakness---their cryptonite.  They all need to recharge in order to face the next onslaught of battles they are sure to win.

As we struggle to avenge the wrongs that have been done to us and our loved ones, we often get to the point of exhaustion and frustration because this world just does not seem to be fair.  As we struggle to live in the way we think is right and do unto others...our doing just flat out does us in.

If I let go of this or don't do that, will it all come crashing down?

But, if I don't hold this up, who else will?  If I don't figure out a way to fix this, well, will it ever get fixed?  And then what?

Any of these thoughts and questions sound familiar? 

Sounds like you may need a good ole' superhero sleep.

You're worried about how all of those things will get done 
and people will get cared for and bills will get paid and...on...and...on...and...on...?

Guess what.

We have a Supernatural Superhero who never sleeps 
nor has an ounce of weakness. 

He is the Ultimate Avenger
fighting our battles for us in ways we could never do for ourselves.

He even tells us to rest---rest in Him.

For this, my fellow struggling avengers, I say we should join together and praise Him---thank Him---rest in Him.

And with that I say, "Avengers Assemble!"

Saturday, November 12, 2011

BIG Book of History

"So, son, what is your favorite thing about this BIG Book of History?"

"It's FIFTEEN-FOOT FOLD-OUT!!!  That's longer than my bed!  Awesome!"

Yep, straight out of the little horse's mouth.  You heard it here first!

Seriously, though, there are several other things my son, Mystery Ranger Buster, and I like about this unique book published by Master Books.

Why is it fifteen-feet long?  Well, it has not just one timeline but four parallel timelines of our history from creation to our current day.  You'll have to check it out for yourself to see what exactly those four timelines show, but I will tell you that the subject of each one is as follows:  Biblical / Christianity, World Events, Inventions / Technology, and Civilizations / Empires.

Additionally, it has several colorful, interesting pictures (both drawings and photographs) that visually depict the time period and specific people and / or objects of interest from that time period.  One of my favorites is the literal key ring from around 750 B.C. which is an example of the "metal keys (that) were fashioned to be worn as rings - which made them much harder to lose and steal."  Wow!  I wonder why we ever got away from that.  Would have saved me much grief at times.

It was also interesting to learn that there were flush toilets as far back as over 2000 years B.C.  My plumber father-in-law could have worked in the same career back then as he does today.  Whoulda thunk it?!

My son & his grandmother looking at the BIG Book of History together.
My son loves to open this timeline up after we have read a portion of the Bible together.  He likes to try to find the time frame he just read about in the Bible on the timeline.  The timeline offers a neat perspective of what was going on in the world in addition to what we just read in the Bible.  It helps a child (and an adult) put the scripture into perspective and understand its context better.  (Helps to recognize what major world events, empires, etc. were going on at that time.)

My son also loves to look over the list of potential answers to the question, "How will you make history?" on the last page of the book.  He has several picked out including Space Exploration, Public Leadership, Missionary, Ocean Exploration, Author, Musician, Pastor, & Military Service (yes, trust me there are more he has picked out on the list, too...the boy will have to make some decisions, no doubt!).  BUT...the one thing he wants to be the most lately is not on the list---a D.E.A. Agent!  Go figure!  Maybe it will make the list in a future revised version.

And finally, when I asked him what his favorite picture or fact IN the book is, well, you can probably guess from his response to the other question...

Yep...he says he likes "ALL of it!"

So, I think that about sums up our review of Master Books' BIG Book of History.  Any questions?

Disclaimer:   I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

God Makes Lemonade ~ Created by Don Jacobson

Has life handed you a few lemons?  Some much larger than others, I bet.

Well, Don Jacobson has compiled a collection of "true stories that sweeten & inspire" in his book God Makes Lemonade.  In this collection, Don (who is the former president and owner of a major publishing company, Multnomah) has given us several true, short stories written in the words of the people who experienced them.  Each story is unique, though they all share the quality of reminding us how God truly does turn some very sour life situations into a sweet, refreshing drink of Living Water when we need it most.

Some stories will make you laugh, many will make you cry (or at least get a little moisture in your eyes)...but all do remind you that you are not alone in the trials you face in life.

From a story of a father who learned to show love and grace to his son after initially belittling him for his uncontrollable bedwetting problem, to stories of dire financial straights and the strength that came through enduring those times and learning of God's loving provision first-hand, to stories of unexpected and unwanted health issues, to a story of twins who share a unique bond that is miraculously enhanced through a life-threatening many true life events and lessons...straight from those who have lived them.

If you so choose to read this first installment of a planned series, you may discover that you even know someone who has written in it (as I do!).  You may even feel led to submit your own story.  Additionally, by purchasing this book you will be benefiting the LemonAid Foundation which is a foundation that directly supports single mothers ~ a group of people Don Jacobson and his wife Brenda are passionate about helping.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer

Unexpected interruptions in life and schedules...truly the story of my life.

In writing Life Interrupted: Navigating the Unexpected, Priscilla Shirer has practically written much of the story of my life.  And she has never even met me!  How is this?!  Apparently my life situations and struggles are not quite as unique as I once thought.  What a comforting realization.

Of all of the books I have read in the past few months, I would say this one speaks most specifically to me.  As a matter of fact, I believe that you may discover the same for yourself if you so choose to venture into the waters of Jonah's story as told by Priscilla.

Jonah's story may be a bit familiar to most who have read the Bible or even heard Bible stories throughout their life.  However, I have never read nor thought of Jonah's story in quite the way Priscilla Shirer presents it in Life Interrupted.  For probably the first time ever, I actually found myself identifying with Jonah rather than judging him.

Have unexpected, even unwanted interruptions come your way causing your life course to be frustratingly altered?

Have you had a very large virtual fish swallow you in order to force you back on a path or mission you were trying to avoid and even run from?
Then I share with you something Priscilla says on this matter,
“…No matter how remote and relaxing, nothing fills the void of the abandoned purpose. Nothing feels the same anymore when you’re running from God.” 
Have you made a mess of your life in the past? 
Then, I echo a quote Priscilla shares by a lady named Carol Kent when she says,
"My mess has become my greatest message."
If you can say yes to any or all of the above, you may identify with Jonah more than you think.  And you will definitely identify with Life Interrupted.

Additionally,  I would like to leave you with an encouraging and true reminder from Priscilla,
“When we respond to our second chances by obeying Him with new determination, entirety, and abandon, His Word and work can do amazing things through us, enough to spill over into second chances for lots of others.”
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher from B&H Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Content as a Turtle in a Sewage Canal

In the New Orleans area, our two most common road dividers are "the neutral ground" (a.k.a. the median) and canals.

If you don't know your way around the city and especially its suburbs (Metairie, Jefferson, Kenner, etc.) you are highly likely to become frustrated with the amount of canals you run into when you think you can head in a certain direction and find your way.  Once you come upon one, you have to creatively maneuver your way around it through a series of turns and u-turns.  (Can you sense that I speak from experience?!)

So, though I have had many newcomers' days of driving frustration in learning the lay of the land in this town that I love, I think I can now safely say I have mostly got it figured out...mostly.

My current frequent work-day commute takes me down the famed "West Esplanade" (rhymes with lemon-ade, by the way...and yes, it is the one mentioned in the song "New Orleans Ladies" by LeRoux...go ahead...sing it now, I know you want to...).

What do you think is the main divider of this busy road?  Yep---a canal.

As I am scurrying along with traffic to and from work, I often glance (or gaze if traffic is backed up) at the activity in the canal.

Life is happening in that algae-covered, murky basin.  I guess those egrets, speckled ducks, and turtles didn't get the memo about their sub-par living environment.

Turtles are often lined up on rusty pipes sunbathing in a peaceful contentment I actually envy.  Occasionally one or two will take a dive into the dark abyss to cool off then come and perch themselves back in their sunbathing spot.

Egrets glide along low near the water then alight on some of the same rusty pipes.  Not an apparent care in the world.

Red, black, and white speckled ducks waddle along the grass right near the busy road then make their way to the inviting water as well.  I think I've even seen some chickens hanging out with them, too.

You know, I have learned a lesson from those canal-dwellers and I think you can as well.

No matter what our life circumstances and surroundings, contentment is the only way to go.  The peace that comes with being truly thankful for our many unrecognized blessings and with trusting our Maker, Jesus Christ, to protect and provide for us---that peace is unexplainable and unmatched.  That peace comes with contentment...or maybe it's the contentment that comes with peace.  Hmmm...which came first---the canal chicken or the egg?

Do you have the contentment of a canal dweller?  

Pray today for that peace that is indescribable.
You may just find yourself pleasantly surprised by it once God brings it to you.  
I can't explain it, but it is true and real.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, 
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, 
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, 
whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble.

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.

I am not saying this because I am in need, 
for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. 
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, 
whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 
I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 
But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

Keep your lives free from the love of money 
and be content with what you have, because God has said,

“Never will I leave you; 
never will I forsake you.”

So we say with confidence,

“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. 
What can mere mortals do to me?”

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.

The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.

Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.

The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; 
its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, 
because they trust in you.

"But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, 
will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you
I do not give to you as the world gives. 
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." - Jesus

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Strength to Kneel

Okay, so I admit I am a bit out of shape.  There I said it.

Strength is definitely an area I could use some improvement in...but... thing I have discovered working out cannot prepare me for nor get me used to is kneeling.

You see, recently I have been participating for the first time ever as a Group Leader in Bible Study Fellowship (BSF).  In our various leadership meetings, we do something I honestly have not done in far too long.  We kneel and pray.  Often the floor we are kneeling on is basically concrete covered in a nice shiny thin layer of linoleum.  (I now bring a pillow to kneel on, as many of the others do.)

I didn't think much of kneeling until I actually started doing it regularly during our leadership prayer times.

Kneeling is truly humbling.  It not only lowers my position and posture in reverence, but it also reminds me of just how weak I am.  In this case, physically weak, though my physical pains cause me to recognize how much my heart is out of shape in the prayer and humility arenas.

Additionally I am reminded that we often get so caught up living in a self-absorbed world of thinking we know what is best for us that we become too weak to kneel in humble reverence and submission to the One who created us.  The One who alone can give us the strength we need to endure the difficulties of this life.  The One who can give us the strength to admit when we are wrong and turn away from our self-indulgent, destructive lifestyle so many have fallen victim to.  The One who can give us the strength to kneel.

When was the last time you knelt in prayer?  Ever?

Are you in a self-serving period of life?  
Do you even recognize it?  Do you recognize your need to kneel in humility?

Do you, like me, need strength to kneel?

Go now to the One who made you---Jesus Christ---the only One who can give you the strength and wisdom you need to face the many challenges of this life.

The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts.
~ 1 Samuel 2:7 ~

You save the humble, but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.
~ 2 Samuel 22:28 ~

You armed me with strength for battle; you humbled my adversaries before me.
~ Psalm 18:39 ~

He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
~ Psalm 25:9 ~

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand,
that he may lift you up in due time.
~ 1 Peter 5:6 ~

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
~ James 4:10 ~

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Life of John Knox published by Attic Books

John Knox.  Have you heard of him?

If you are fairly knowledgeable about The Reformation, then you probably have.  But honestly, before receiving this book to read and review from Attic Books, I had not heard of him.

This short, easy-to-read biography of "The Scottish Reformer" was written and published by the American Sunday School Union (now American Missionary Fellowship at back in 1833 and has recently been reprinted beautifully and republished by Attic Books.

Here is their description of him and of this biography:

Rare vignettes featuring the Protestant Reformation's fiercest defender! John Knox had a life of exciting adventure, harsh imprisonment, and brilliant scholarship. Fighting battles both political and religious, Knox bravely defied royalty, nobility, and the established power of the Papacy to speak the truth. A fiery and inspirational preacher, he fiercely upheld the authority of Scripture and salvation through Christ's sacrifice. In perilous times, Knox risked his life daily in a fearless and tireless defense of the faith!
After reading Life of John Knox, I am inspired once again to continue living a life that speaks with actions as well as words of the Truth, power, and encouragement of the gospel of Jesus Christ and who He is in my life.

This man had the conviction and courage to stand up to---of all people---Mary, Queen of Scots!  He engaged both politically and theologically in a passionate yet respectful manner in order to stand for the Truth  of God's Word and not just follow along with the accepted ways of living and practicing "religion."

I hope to daily become more and more like him in my walk of faith.

I leave you with this quote from John Knox himself as you go about your days in this life on earth:
Do as you will answer before God, who at present works powerfully, however blind the world remains; fight ye in the truth, and for the liberty of the same; and be assured of triumphing with Jesus Christ, to whose mighty protection I unfeignedly commit you.
Amen and amen!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Attic Books, an imprint of New Leaf Publishing Group. No other compensation was received. The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Intentional - Part Deux

Do you remember back in January when I wrote about my One Word for 2011?

Remember Intentional?

So, you may be thinking about right now that I have not been very "intentional" lately.  After all, you haven't been seeing much from me here, so how "intentional" can that be?

Well, I may agree with that in some aspects---yes, my life has not allowed me the freedom to write and share as often as I would like to and frequently feel the need to.  However, I must assure you that my "absence" here has actually been a by-product of definite intentionality in many other areas of my life.

  • I have been spending quality and sometimes even quantity time with my family.
  • I have been studying the Truth of the Word of God and even leading a prayer challenge along the way.
  • I have been diligently working to keep up with requirements and deadlines for my full-time job, which in turn reflects glory to God as I am intentionally being a dependable worker living out integrity as much as I humanly can.
  • I have been plugging into a church in our new town, and greatly enjoying the new friendships.
  • I have been working to maintain and grow existing friendships and relationships.
  • I have been reading, growing from what I read, and sharing about what I have read so that others may benefit as well.
So, is this the way I had pictured my intentionality back in January?  Not necessarily.

Is this the right path for me right now and for those who come across my path in varying degrees?  Absolutely.

Trust me---you have not seen the end of me.  :o)  Most likely you will begin seeing more of me around here again soon.  But remember, I don't write to blog...I blog to write. 

In other words, I don't just put a burden on myself that says I have to produce daily or even weekly content for you to read just for the sake of keeping you interested and keeping you around.  When I have tried to do that I have found myself tired, burdened, and not always writing what I need to be writing.  I value you and your time more than just forcing myself to throw a lot of stuff out there in front of you to read frequently so that you'll stick around just for the sake of attention.  That is not what my blog is about, nor who you are to me. 

I started this blog to write. 

To put onto virtual paper the various thoughts and contemplations that are always going on in my mind and my heart.  To share with anyone who might read in a way that we can all relate and see that our God is real and He accepts imperfection.  He makes us new, becomes our Strength and our Hope.  He is actively involved in our daily lives and hearts.  And ultimately I started this blog as my way of making a decision to speak out for Him and about Him so that others could come to know and see Him in possibly a different and more real way than ever before.  I started this blog to no longer be silent, but to do my part in making sure others have the opportunity to know the one true God I know.  To know my Jesus.  To know His Spirit and be led by Him. 

I made a decision.  I started this blog.

You made a decision.  You read it.

Together we are Intentional

So, without further adieu and rambling, I want to leave you with this Psalm I read yesterday.  It truly speaks to the need for us to be intentional about everything in our lives and even guides us in how to do that.

1 I will sing of your love and justice;
   to you, LORD, I will sing praise.
2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life—
   when will you come to me?
   I will conduct the affairs of my house
   with a blameless heart.
3 I will not look with approval
   on anything that is vile.
   I hate what faithless people do;
   I will have no part in it.
4 The perverse of heart shall be far from me;
   I will have nothing to do with what is evil.
 5 Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret,
   I will put to silence;
whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart,
   I will not tolerate.
 6 My eyes will be on the faithful in the land,
   that they may dwell with me;
the one whose walk is blameless
   will minister to me.
 7 No one who practices deceit
   will dwell in my house;
no one who speaks falsely
   will stand in my presence.
 8 Every morning I will put to silence
   all the wicked in the land;
I will cut off every evildoer
   from the city of the LORD. 

Now you, go and be intentional today.  Remember, someone is always watching you.  
And also remember...
To Not Decide...Is To Decide.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Life of John Newton {Author of Amazing Grace}

Do you get chills when you hear or sing Amazing Grace?

Even for those who do not often enter church buildings, Amazing Grace is one of the most emotion-invoking, recognizable hymns of all time.

After having read Life of John Newton, I will never hear nor sing that song the same again.  I only thought it stirred my soul before...but now...unbelievable...amazing.

This brief but powerful biography of John Newton, author of Amazing Grace, was written and originally published in 1831 by the American Sunday School Union and was reprinted in June of 2011 by Attic Books.

I have read and reviewed most of the other books Attic Books has printed in the Life Of... series, and I must say that this one is my absolute favorite so far.  Though each one has been powerful, influencing, and insightful to read, this one...well, you just need to see for yourself.

Sure, the words of Amazing Grace allude to the author having been a "wretch."  BUT, we really don't get the depth of his meaning behind saying he was a wretch.  This man, John Newton, was as he says, "the chief of sinners."  Recognize that?
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. - Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15
After having read the account of John Newton's life, I would say he was even more "the chief of sinners" than Paul.  I know sin has no degrees, as in one is worse than another, but the life of Mr. Newton was truly a wretched one for many, many years.

Each time I thought his circumstances and demeanor had gotten as bad as they could---they got worse.

Each time I thought he had surely awakened and learned his lesson and was about to pen Amazing Grace---he didn't.


Yes, he obviously did finally come to that crucial turning point, and truly only by the Amazing Grace of God by the drawing and conviction of His Holy Spirit through the saving work of the spilling of the blood payment of His beloved Son, our dear Savior Jesus Christ.

And today, because Mr. N. (as he is often referred to in this biography) lived a wretched life, seemingly beyond hope of redemption, and because he WAS redeemed and lived to tell and write and sing about it---because of Mr. Newton and many others like him (myself being one)---today you and I can sing a song that speaks to the souls of many far deeper than most songs can.

Are you a wretch?  
Are you the chief of sinners?  
Are you too far gone to have any hope for redemption 
or even any desire for it?

Do you know anyone who may be feeling that way right now?  

Have you been there and found that amazing grace 
is more amazing and gracious than you ever thought possible?

I challenge you all to consider reading this powerful life story of Mr. John Newton.  Then, don't stop there.  Share it.  Share it with those who need to hear it.  Those who can relate to it.  We all need to recognize the depth of our despair without the amazing grace, forgiveness, salvation, and redemption of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  And we all need to accept His free gift, then share it until we cannot speak nor sing nor write anymore.

As Mr. Newton replied when in his physically deteriorating old age he was being encouraged to stop preaching before he could no longer speak,
"'I cannot stop,' said he, raising his voice; 'What ! shall the old African blasphemer stop while he can speak?'"
We cannot afford to deny our need for God's amazing grace and accept it as it is freely given to us.  And we cannot stop speaking of it as long as we can still speak.

Who knows what blasphemer and slave trader may hear our testimony of the amazing grace we have found and in turn become the next John Newton and write the next Amazing Grace?

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Attic Books, an imprint of New Leaf Publishing Group. No other compensation was received. The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Life Ready Woman: Thriving in a Do-It-All World by Shaunti Feldhahn & Robert Lewis

Well, if you know me or follow my posts at all, you have probably picked up on the fact that I am a very busy woman with a lot on her plate.

I commute at least an hour one way most days to my full-time job (and then back again).  I have a young son (who will be turning 6 soon).  I am the wife of a hardworking man.  Oh yeah, and I write a bit on the side when I am able.  (Which is really my outlet for the thoughts swirling in my head and is primarily my way of sharing with others what my Lord Jesus has done in my life and what He can do in anyone's life.)

Of course there are plenty of details I left out in that little life summary of mine, but you get the point.

I truly am a woman who lives "in a do-it-all world."  And I am trying to thrive in it, with God's help.

So, when I heard Shaunti Feldhahn on the radio on FamilyLife Today talking with the hosts about her new book and study, The Life Ready Woman, I was completely intrigued.  She described my life.  She described my emotions.  My struggles.  My desires.  She described me.

And, being a former Wall Street analyst as well as a current national speaker and syndicated news columnist, Shaunti knows what it's like to live in today's woman's world.  Her research studies and writing along with that of Robert Lewis' truly get to the heart of what women today need to hear.  They hit right where we need encouragement and tangible direction.

Shaunti and Robert don't just speak to women like me, but they specifically address, encourage, and guide all types of women in all seasons of life.  Additionally, Life Ready Woman is just a portion of a larger vision and project called LifeReady which reaches far beyond female audiences.  If Life Ready Woman is any indication, I would have to say that this LifeReady project truly will impact people, marriages, and families in a mighty way for the ultimate glory of our Lord.

Now, as you are considering this book for yourself or someone you know, I am off to get myself a copy of the study workbook based on it.  Who may see me leading an online Bible study of this soon...

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher from B&House Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”