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.