Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Poem: Jesus, My Prince

I searched long and hard all around,
Love was nowhere to be found.
I lost my soul, dignity gone,
I couldn't find where I belonged.
One day a Messenger came,
He told me I would never be the same.
Slowly, painfully I was led closer,
Wondering when the journey would be over.
Year after year I searched afar.
My wounds healed leaving scars.
I knew I'd find Him someday,
Love would I know always.
One desperate night as I cried out,
I heard a reply, "What's this about?"
I asked Him, "Are You my Prince?"
"From the beginning of time and ever since."
He comforted and calmed the storm.
Finally, my heart was complete and warm.
Jesus Christ, the sweetest name I have ever heard.
He promised to never leave me nor forsake me and
He'll always keep His Word.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Book Review: My Soul is Singing

      I was excited to receive Then Sings My Soul: Special Edition by Robert Morgan from BookSneeze on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing. Morgan brings to life 150 Christian hymns as he recounts the history behind each song. Each hymn is printed with lyrics and music on one page and the accompanying story is told on the adjoining page.
     First off I must mention the presentation of the book. As an avid reader I am a fan of hardcovers as they can withstand more handling. However, Then Sings My Soul is a softcover and beautiful. The cover is nicely done and the pages are made to look worn and antiquated.
     On to the meat. Morgan does an excellent job of summarizing the biographies of the authors and composers of the hymns. He also explains details that I would have otherwise overlooked. Some of my favorite Christmas songs and Christian hymns now hold deeper meaning. To read about the hardships that were endured and subsequently were precursors to the words, brought tears to my eyes a few times. Then again reading about a teacher who supposedly taught his classes with a pet bat on his shoulder made me chuckle, yet who could bring his emotions to light in a song is inspiring.
     I was moved by the hymns as I read each word carefully. Some hymns I was familiar with and others I had never heard. I am not a music critic. I am a Christian mother who enjoys her music greatly.  I made a wise decision picking up this book. Then Sings My Soul is a wonderful read for any Christian, particularly those who want a greater appreciation of what Christ has done for them. The only thing that could enhance the experience of Morgan's book is an accompanying CD. May your soul sing.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Flexing Marriage Muscles

    In a couple of weeks I will have known my husband for 11 years. We have been married for over 10 1/2 of those. Every marriage has its bumps and triumphs, tears and joy. We have had more than our fair share.
    Sometimes I felt as if our journey would never hit smooth road.  Though we have enjoyed one another and loved one another without a shadow of a doubt, it took over seven years of marriage to hit that smooth road we yearned for so greatly.  Since we married rather young, we planned on our marriage taking more work than most. As we prepared for marriage during our six-week engagement I was often told we were too young to be getting married and didn't know one another long enough. My response was always the same. "We'll either grow up together or we'll grow apart."
    At first it seemed we both set out on different paths trying to merge onto the same road. It took forever to find the "Y" in the road to come together. During the first several years I would periodically wonder why we weren't one. As Genesis 2:24 states, "That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh." Why weren't we? My heart ached for my husband.
    In the Fall of 2007 we began attending church as a family. Finally, Genesis spoke of our marriage. I always knew David and I were meant for one another. We just had to do it God's way to receive his blessings. Our entire lives were transformed. I now look back and can hardly recognize myself then. Though David and I had three kids it wasn't until we were changed by the Spirit that I felt we were a family, a strong, united family. 
   I have pondered our marriage and can now see what has strengthened us. All the trials, the loneliness and tears shed have all been worth it. It took me years to finally submit to God and consequently to my husband as well. Once I gave my heart to God, He made me into a wife that is truly a help meet. I am proud to be David's helper.
   Marriage is strengthened with use like a muscle. It takes training to strengthen your muscles. We can do things to strengthen our marriages. The biggest one is allowing God to be a part of it, a big part. When we find quiet time with our spouse and actually share our feelings. Discussing things until there is understanding on both sides. All the niceties we pay attention to giving our significant other helps them feel loved and in turn strengthens the union.
    Recently we have witnessed a couple of marriages in peril, breaking up for infidelities. We can't imaging separating. We are best friends willing to support one another. It is heartbreaking to think of the anguish our friends have been enduring. David said the most beautiful thing to me after we were speaking of these couples. He told me how glad he was that our marriage is still going so strong. Yes, it is. That statement was one of the greatest compliments I could ever received. Every marriage takes two people and every marriage takes One God.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

10 Things I Have Learned as a Mom

10. How to laugh at the silly things in life.

9. I still enjoy popsicles in the summer sun and roasting marshmallows by a fire.

8. Kisses really do make boo-boos better.

7. Cuddles are way underrated.

6. Playing with the kids at the park or on the living room floor makes any day better.

5. I am finally an adult, but still am a kid at heart.

4. Unconditional love is best displayed when I am soothing a teething infant in the middle of the night.

3. I am my children's greatest teacher (besides Jesus).

2. I am addicted to my children- their love, their laughter, even their tears.

1. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

Monday, November 15, 2010

Turkey Rush

   It amazes me every year that at the sight of the first fallen leaf from the tree or the first chilly evening I get all excited about the impending holiday season. Living in Southern California for my entire life one would think I would have learned by now to relax. I realize the weather toys with us as the seasons change. Yet, I haven't and I begin my Autumn ritual of baking and decorating for the holidays.
   What I need to do is pace myself more through the Fall months. Over the last few years I have paced myself for Christmas. Once Halloween passes it's over for me until Thanksgiving weekend and I am recovering. All I want to do is bake and curl up by the fireplace with a cup of tea and a good book. The problem is I wear myself out to actually prepare for Thanksgiving. I have ten days and haven't even planned my menu,
   Now what I do know is I can't freak out and panic. I am going to have to do some quick cleaning and preparations. In years past I have panicked my way to ill health.  My immune system is touchy. Besides stressing takes away the fun and enjoyment of family time. With any luck and some hard work I hope to have a fantastic Thanksgiving and some meaningful moments with family next Thursday.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Book Review: Great Devotional

    On behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing, BookSneeze recently sent me a free copy of Charles Stanley's newest devotional I Lift Up My Soul. Each day's entry in one page invites the reader to draw nearer to God. As the book progresses Stanley focuses on different topics such as grace, prayer, forgiveness and gratefulness. Each devotional takes about one minute to read, so it is a great devotional for the on-the-go person or it can be used for the more serious contemplater.
    I was pleasantly surprised by this devotional. As I said, each entry is rather short, yet throughout I found myself in constant prayer and communion with God. Stanley never made me feel uncomfortable with any of the devotions. By that I mean that sometimes when an author talks of sin and points the finger at every reader, I feel uncomfortable reading that piece. Stanley mentions our inherent sin,but does so without judgement. He probably is trying to leave that to God. When he does mention sin, it is to allow the reader to understand his or her deep need for Christ.
    My soul was indeed lifted as I looked to Christ with gratitude and humility. I am definietly going to be using I Lift Up My Soul for my daily devotional next year. Throughout the year I hope to draw nearer to God and explore different facets of my relationship with Him. This devotional is great for new believers and more mature believers alike. I hope for those that do pick this book up are inspired to look up and offer God their souls.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

His Glory in the Heavens

     Never have I seen such a phenomenal display of lightning and have been delighted with such booming thunder. Pure magic. Except it isn't an illusion and we know the "magician" is none other than our Heavenly Father. To state it better, it is more like pure glory.
     I am quite convinced God is having fun as I speak with putting on such a fantastic display of His might and glory. "Great is our Lord and mighty in power." Psalm 147:5 My daughter had to memorize that verse for AWANA last year. It is simple and easy to repeat, but the connotations are powerful.  Looked at further in context, Psalm 147:4-6 states,  "He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.  Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground."
     Children fear the lightning. For a bit this evening I was frightened too. The house actually shook from the thunder. For a moment I found myself thinking that maybe this was a prelude to the Rapture. The thunder boomed as loud as I imagine the Lord's voice could. The lightning was as if it was a glimpse of His shining glory that one day I will gaze upon.
     As an adult, one would be wise to remember to fear the Lord as they watch His display of might in the sky. When I watch the lightning I stared in awe at first and began thanking God for such beauty. The longer I stood there though, the more I was amazed at His power and might, sovereignty and justice. True reverence and fear overtook me.
     Psalm 19:1 proclaims, "The heavens declare the glory of God,..." Tonight God's glory was certainly on display for the world to see. How anyone can watch such a show and not see God, I'll never know. Apparently, they are looking, but unable to see. Yet, His majesty is right before us everyday. This storm has been a powerful reminder.
    For the display of God's works, for His mercy and grace, beauty and justice, I am forever grateful.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Review: Meeting Us Where We Are

     I was excited to be among the first to read The Grace of God by Andy Stanley which was given to me by Booksneeze on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing. I realize the God's grace can't be quite captured in a book, yet Stanley definitely delivers a taste of His grace. Stanley brings God's grace to you, the reader through biblical accounts and thought provoking questions. If someone is looking to delve into the grace of God, then this book is a good place to start.
     I often find the book I am reading is in my hands for a reason and this again proved to be the case. Grace is exactly what I needed. Every Christian knows God's grace is waiting to be received, as Stanley demonstrates throughout The Grace of God. Yet, often we take it upon ourselves, as is in our nature, to try and remedy any and all of shortcomings. God is there waiting to hand us as a gift His love and comfort that is far beyond our wildest  dreams if we let go any misconceptions and accept to trust in Jesus Christ.
     I have had a knowledge of God's grace, however I still forget to lean on Him for my every need. I usually let my needs, emotions and attempts to get in the way of grace. As I read through each chapter I found myself more involved in each biblical narrative, even the ones I am familiar with. I also saw my need within that story.
    Andy Stanley's style is a bit like Max Lucado's with even more historical detail. His theological studies definitely show, as does his love for God and His word. Overall, I was impressed with The Grace of God and with Stanley. Grace has definitely found me more intimately than when I started.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Rebooting My Mind

    Everyday we go through trials of some sort, great or small. Most have heard the whole "mind over matter." However, I am thinking it is more like "soul over matter." The difference may be one word, yet it makes all the difference in your world. When you use your mind, you are relying on your own reasoning and not God's. Where as when we hand our problems over to God, His thinking takes over.  Isaiah 55:9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
    Often I find that I still want control. Even though my heart and soul know without a doubt that God is mightier than little old me, my mind still pulls on the reins. Then after this tug-o-war goes on for sometime, I get tired and relent. My mind takes over and I end up sitting in my own wonderful puddle of muck. It's funny really. I get so frustrated for such a long time and then wonder what am I doing wrong.
    Really? Am I that into my own little self that I can't see what I am allowing to happen? Shame, o shame. How I hate thee.  Philippians 4:6-7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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." Then once I am in so deep I have nowhere to look but up. His embrace, His grace and love, they envelop me like a blanket on a cold, stormy night. My mind finds peace. He has calmed my storm.
    That's not to say my problem doesn't linger. It does, but in another way. Once I stop the crazy thinking and hand God my troubles, I find He takes control. Maybe He leads me to an appropriate Scripture or whispers one into my heart. Or a solution is found during prayer and meditation. God does truly provide. He does lead the way.
    Earlier I was praying. I asked God to help me reboot my mind. My brain gets so clogged up and tired that I can't think through things properly. I find distress and anxiety in my heart.
    It is like when your computer gets overloaded with information, tasks and commands, it gets tired and weary. What do you do? You reboot your computer. You give it a clean slate. That is what Jesus came to do for us. He gives us a clean slate, over and over. When we find ourselves overloaded we can pause and reboot. Pray and ask forgiveness. Let Christ purify your heart and mind.  Allow yourself to give Him your cares and anxieties. Then we can start up again and find His way in our lives.

Giveaway: Homeschool Crew

Here's a great chance to win one of five DVDs that The Homeschool Crew is giving away this week. Good luck!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Doubts and Trials

   I'm not sure where to begin. My husband and I are having a power struggle with our 4-year-old son. I expect children to try and establish their independence. But, oh my goodness. This child of mine is more than I can bear at times. We have been consistent with our discipline, which worked well with our other two. We have even tried adjusting our method for trial periods.
    Now it seems it has come to a head. I have ended up in more tears in the past two weeks, than I have in my entire motherhood journey.  My husband, David, has been very helpful and supportive. Sometimes I think he is even getting through to our son. Yet, here we are contemplating whether we should seek counseling. Maybe that just means we are more normal than I care to admit. Or are we admitting defeat?
   What bothers me the most is I am finding myself not being patient and tolerant as I have been in the past. It's scary in fact. I begin to doubt if the Spirit is within me when I  find myself so short of the fruits of the Spirit. Where did my gentleness and long-suffering go?
   Last night, I was praying and found myself repeating, "Help me, Lord." Over and over, that's all that I could manage at times. Today I woke up with a joyful spirit that could have only been the work of God.  My spirit was renewed. I am happy to report that renewal helped me to get through and endure the day. God never leaves me, nor forsakes me. (Heb. 13:5)
   I am sure God will provide us with the strength and guidance we need. This life was never promised to be easy. Trials will come in various shapes and sizes. The solutions I seek are always from the same source, my heavenly Father. My hope for the future lies in Christ, as does my assurance to endure tomorrow's trials.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Moving Along the Motherhood Trail

    As a mother, better yet, as a person I have my ups and downs. Frankly, it annoys me. I realize life isn't one glamorous ride or even a smooth one. Overall, now this may shock some of you who know me, I am a relatively content person. I accept motherhood as a journey with mountains to climb and triumph and valleys to trudge through. There's literal and figurative baby muck to clean up and tears to dry. Best of all there is laughter and moments of glory when I realize every moment I have cringed has been worth it.
    I have days, such as this one, where I had moments where I needed grace extended to me, more than the kids needed it extended to them. I prayed not only for serenity and sanity, but for self-control and contentment. This morning began as yesterday ended with doubt in my mind as a mother and wife. Last night I prayed as I always do, to do better and of course, for a huge dose of forgiveness. I am sure everyday I need the Lord's forgiveness, grace and love to patch up anything I have done wrong.
    There isn't a "perfect" day in motherhood. Every day is a journey in its own right. When my youngest, Jacob, made his first trip or two to the ER for asthma, I was a mess. Now, I have a plan. Instead of freaking out that my husband is not home to tend to the other kids, I have a network of neighbors and in-laws who are there in moment's notice to aid us. When our homeschooling day ends up not as planned, that's fine by me.
    Then there are the days that are filled with peace in my heart, you know the kids still argue. The kids' laughter is the greatest sound to a mother. Their hugs warm me up on the coldest of days. And the wonder of learning upon their faces is all the motivation I need to keep on moving.
    Motherhood has been more work than I could have fathomed. I expected some, but not to this extent. I love it. Every triumph is that much sweeter. I have drawn closer to the Lord and have found His grace to be a lifesaver. Now when I begin to feel alone in my journey, I call upon His name louder and clearer than ever before. My purpose rests in Him, as does my value as a mother, a wife and daughter of God.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wonderful, Tender Grace

     As I look back I realize that grace remained an elusive term for quite a while. I knew when I came to Christ that my sins were forgiven, but grace still wasn't a part of me or my walk in a deep, intimate way. The word is so frequently tossed around in Christian circles, yet rarely is it defined.Yet, for some reason I was at a loss to completely receive the fullness of His amazing grace.
     So what else is an avid reader to do but, read. I am still reading up on it. Then I heard it. It wasn't until this past Easter when the sermon hit upon sin that I began to absorb the reality of grace into my heart. Our pastor put it so bluntly I about bolted out of my seat. Though, I was so riveted I couldn't move. A tear or two began to form around my eyes and inside my heart was weeping. My sins drove the nails into Christ. What? Ouch! It isn't until the understanding of sin sets in, that the fullness of God's grace can be received.
     I had been praying for the reality of the Cross to penetrate my being during the Easter season. It did, probably more than I wanted. The sheer magnitude and breadth of my sin, my guilt hit me and broke me in the process. There on the sidelines was God waiting for me. They say God always meets you where you are. He did. I imagine my heart hitting the floor and shattering into a billion fragments and God waiting with a broom to clean up my mess. I thank Him for that because some days my messes are too big for me to clean. There is God waiting for the right time, when I let Him in. He's always waiting, always there.
     The awesome thing about God's grace is that it doesn't just clean you up, it restores you. Imagine every one of your sins lined up on a store shelf, probably more like shelves. On each sin hangs a price tag.  You step up to see exactly the price. How much did each one cost you? What did it cost Him? DEATH in black marking pen.Your hand trembles as you inspect each tag. Did I do this? Certainly I deserve it...I suppose.  I didn't know a little lie to my teacher cost anything. Maybe my dignity at the time, but death? "For the wages of sin is death." Rom. 6:23 That verse starts ringing in your ears and resonating in your heart.
     Honestly, I didn't mean to. As you look up to the Cross, something miraculous happens. You look back down with puddles at the corner of your eyes, you see in what appears to be red ink stamped FREE on the tag. You race down the aisle looking at each one - FREE - FREE - FREE - FREE!
     I want you to take a closer look. Is that red ink or...blood? Yes, that is Christ's DNA on that tag. It hit me hard. The worst of it was my sins put him there. He took my punishment, your punishment, the punishment of anyone who hears God's call and who trusts in Him.
     What's even harder to grasp is that Jesus was willing to set aside his heavenly glory for this purpose. He loved us so much. He loves us so much. That's grace. There isn't a more perfect display of grace. I am given a second chance every time I ask for forgiveness, every time I sin. My slate is wiped clean. Do I deserve God's favor? Of course not. Nor do you, but God gives it out of his love for you. Every child is precious in his eyes and way too precious to lose.
     When I came to experience His grace and felt it pouring upon me, it was then I realized what a vile sinner I truly am and most of all how utterly and desperately in love I am in with my Savior Jesus Christ.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Review: Stepping Out in Faith

     Book Sneeze on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing blessed me with a free copy of Max Lucado's latest release Outlive Your Life.  Lucado guides the reader through excerpts of the Book of Acts in attempt to draw your own call to bless others. The young church after Christ's resurrection was breaking barriers and stepping out of comfort zones as God led them. Christ's salvation was being offered to everyone despite color, gender or creed. The people were taking care of one another. Where as Christians do we stand?
     I was so excited to receive this book. His books excite my soul. I want to run out and tell others not just about the book, but about God's love. Of course, I am a huge Max Lucado fan. His style of writing flows from his pen as if he were having a conversation with the reader. Yet, his books are always thought provoking and make you reconsider some of your values, actions and beliefs.
    Oddly enough, my pastor has been walking us through the Book of Acts, so this book was truly an extension of the current conversation. What am I doing for God? Am I bring him glory? What other ways can I step out in faith to bless others?
     Outlive Your Life probably isn't for the unbeliever and it may not be suited for those new to the faith. However, for believers wishing to grow, this book is wonderful. It can begin the conversation or be a continuation of the conversation. The greatest hope that I have for anyone reading this book is to strengthen their faith and renew their confidence to step outside their normal box and show the world God's love for all.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sharing Lemons and God's Love

   As the saying goes, "When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade."  But my favorite is from the Bible, the best book of adages to live by.  Romans 8:28 states, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." I find hope in that statement when things aren't working out as I planned. In fact how often do they go accordingly?
    The past two weeks have completely reaffirmed my faith in God's awesome Word. After my daughter was diagnosed with pneumonia at urgent care, the day after my son was having breathing difficulties and finally admitted for pneumonia the day after that. Trying to keep a four-year-old normally active little boy calm in a hospital bed for four days was excruciatingly painful to attempt. During this time though God was working his good.
     My pastor has been walking the congregation through the Book of Acts for a while. As a result, evangelizing, spreading God's message throughout has been weighing heavily on me. I want to share God's love, but I'm not one to just start preaching. I know that's not the only way to, but nonetheless sharing seemed scary. I prayed for God to present an opportunity for me to share. Did he ever! Where else, but at the hospital.  He hears our prayers, cares and answers.
     The first trip to the ER was when it happened. As Jacob and I sat on the infamous "asthma chair," another lady with her son was seated beside us for similar difficulties.  As we spoke, I realized this woman was having personal issues. I'll openly admit as a rather reserved person who enjoys her sleep,  being at the hospital at night, while your husband is at work and your other kids are elsewhere falling to sleep without you, is emotionally difficult. Yet, there I sat feeling prompted to reach out. How though?
     I ended up giving this woman a business-like card with one of my favorite Bible verses on it. Let me note, I had recently bought these cards, a hundred to be exact, knowing the opportunity could present itself at any time. Isaiah 40:31 "But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." My heart was leaping, not out of joy, but terror. I thought "What if she laughs at me and my Savior?" And then the glorious peace of God washed over me. The Spirit within assured me it was for Him and whether she rejected it or not was not my concern.
    I handed this card to her, letting her know this verse helps me during turbulent times. She looked at it and put it in her wallet. Okay, I did it Lord, I'm done. I sat there wondering what she was really thinking. Was she looking at me as a nut or something better?
     As the nurse wheeled her son away to admit him to the hospital, this woman turned to me and thanked me. Not only did she thank me, but said she really needed that. The look in her eyes told me all I needed to know. I stepped out in faith during a time I could have inexcusably been timid out of exhaustion and concern for my son. Instead, I took a stand for my Jesus and was rewarded with love. How sweet is that lemonade?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

God's Grace, A Mother's Strength

    Yesterday began as a trial of sorts, one that was looking to refine me. As women we are precious in the Lord's sight. It is when we experience those days as mothers and wives that shape us into the gems we are created to be.
    The evening before knowing what my "planned" day was suppose to look like I asked God for extra strength. Little did I know, when I woke up I was going to have to rely on Him more than I could imagine. As a side note, I despise going to doctor's appointments as is. I actually get nervous and physically discontent. When there are added pressures I dread them even more. That said, my daughter woke up sick when I was planning on going to a bible study and my own appointment.
    It seems my husband is working when I need him, but I feel that is God's way of helping me rely on Him. I told myself after I said a prayer that what needed to get done would somehow. It's in those moments that I also remind myself that motherhood is a season and it too shall pass. Ecclesiastes 3:1 "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven." The sobering truth of it too, is that motherhood though is for a season, hands me responsibility that has eternal consequences. The way I parent today and present myself to the world will shape my children forever. If they see me standing strong in my faith, I am planting those seeds into them in hopes that God will harvest something wonderful later.
     My in-laws picked up my boys and I took little Mary to urgent care. In only what could be declared as God's perfect timing, my daughter was seen by the doctor, x-rayed and diagnosed with pneumonia in little over an hour. I checked in for my appointment one minute before my scheduled time. At the end of it all, I drove to the church and picked up notes on what I missed. I was determined. It was only through God's strength and grace that I managed it without losing my cool.
     As God brings those trials into our lives, as Christian mothers, we must remember it is all for His glory. Romans 4:20 "Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God."  He is sanctifying us through those moments, so we may become more like Jesus Christ. When it seems unbearable and we lose our cool, we then will be reminded why we call on His name to begin with. It is only through Christ's blood that our imperfections are covered with His grace and love. I'm not a perfect mother and that is okay. May I raise my arms to the heavens and praise His mighty name. Jesus Christ is my Savior, my Love and my Strength.


Hope on Israel

    My latest book that I received courtesy of Booksneeze and Thomas Nelson Publishing was Seeds of Turmoil by Bryant Wright. In this book Wright attempts to explain modern-day problems in the Middle East in historical terms going back to the time of Abraham. He states that the problem between Israel and the Arabs stems from the sin of Abraham and Sarah taking matters into their own hands when having Hagar carry Abraham's seed. God fulfills his promise and blesses them with their covenant child, Isaac, in Sarah's womb.
    I honestly thought this book might be a touch on the dry side. However, the depth of biblical insight into the history of the  peoples of the  Middle East was compelling. Wright didn't rehash the problems in modern terms over and over, but concentrated on the sin that was committed thousands of years ago that we can see reverberating through that region and the world today.
    As I read Seeds of Turmoil I was drawn into the lives that played out so long ago. How could Abraham, Sarah and Hagar know their plan to produce an heir would cause problems for such a long time? When God promised Abraham that he would be the father of a vast amount of descendants did he truly fathom the scale God was speaking of?
    Today as Christians we believe Israel has been restored rightfully. We are commanded to love each other as well as our enemies.  In Seeds of Turmoil Bryant suggests that Christians pray for Israel,  for peace to come to the region and for the Arabs as well. Christ came to save all.  John 3:16. This book is an interesting read for those concerned with modern-day politics and biblical history. I wouldn't recommend Seeds of Turmoil  for a young reader nor for someone new to Christianity.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Lapbook Lessons is having a giveaway courtesy of In the Hands of a Child for a one-year membership. It'll give you access to new units every month.  Follow this link and good luck.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Turning Your Curse into a Blessing for Others

    Someday I know I will look back at my illness as one of my life's greatest blessings. Today I view it as preparation for the work God has in mind for me. It's been almost two years since I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  I realize how much I have learned about myself, my husband, my family and even other people.  One of the greatest difficulties is trying to figure out what works, what doesn't and what else I can try to remedy my situation. The other challenge is not letting the illness/syndrome define me as a person.
    I remember when I had my first child. I could take care of him, play with him, read, clean the house and not need a ton of sleep to feel human. Now some days just taking care of my three children can prove challenging. It's frustrating not understanding completely why joints and muscles ache or why I feel nauseated with a flu.
    My husband understands and is as sympathetic as he can be.  He helps with the dishes and the kids, among other helps here and there.  Since we homeschool that is a true blessing for me. My oh my, has he listened. I couldn't have asked for a better shoulder to lean on. My kids are learning as well. They are helpful and rather self-reliant for kids their age. I'm hoping if nothing else my children will become compassionate adults that will truly look out for others and lend a helping-hand. They are well on their way.
    When I was first diagnosed with the illness I tended to look for any and all solutions. I talked and talked about it. When I have a flare-up I still do. It's not that I am intentionally chewing your ear off, I am sorting out my thoughts aloud in hopes of finding another solution. My apologies for all that have willingly or unwillingly lent me their ears.
    The worst thing about fibromyalgia isn't the pain believe it or not. Rather it's knowing there isn't a cure, each case is unique as the person's body and chemistry is unique to them. I also at times despise the fact that what works for me today may not get me through tomorrow.
    I have changed my entire life to deal with this syndrome. My diet is different and at times difficult to maintain. My sleep patterns are all over the place. The experts say the best thing is to go to bed and rise the same time everyday. I'm working on it. However, when you're told you have chronic fatigue syndrome as well the outlook is rather bleak. I'm lucky if I sleep through the night. I even know if my family and I plan an outing I need my husband home the next day in case my body doesn't agree the day's activities. I plan on waking up stiff and having extremely sore muscles for the next day or two.
     The greatest change is God has allowed me to realize I am not supermom. I need Him more than anything else. I am a stronger person now and I continue to grow until I am with my Lord. Each year provides a new challenge or two and new growth opportunities. I plan on making the most of my issues. In time I hope my travails will help me assist and encourage others.  The worst thing anyone can do to themselves is to go at life alone. I pray God will use me in magnificent ways for his glory and kingdom.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Rough Road or Happy Trails?

    Lately I have been pondering my relationship with my husband. Now a couple years ago when I was introduced to Titus 2  principles our marriage was in need of some assistance. It was hard to hear at first that I had the power to make my marriage a happy marriage without changing my husband. It was me. God's Word struck me in the heart like a fiery dart cutting through ice. I drove home a different person convicted of my sins. How that hurt.
    That drive home was truly the beginning of our transformation. I knew I needed to let go of the steering wheel and let my husband be the man God created him to be.  I needed to zip my lips and stand BEHIND my man.  He is the protector and provider, yet I was always trying to tell him how to do his job.
     I like to be well prepared when I leave for a trip. My bags are packed, the car is in running condition, fuel is in the tank and I am ready to roll. Marriage is a lifetime trip, a journey to prepare for and one you have to keep your eyes on the road for. I look for danger signs, hazards and points of interest.
     Let's look at our marriages and apply what we know of cars to it. The Holy Spirit is our GPS. If we don't have Him as our navigator we will get lost. That is the most vital thing, without directions we'll never know where we are headed. You can make every preparation and still get lost. Your work will be for nothing.
    One of the hardest parts for some of us strong-willed gals is letting our husband not only sit in the driver seat, but allowing him to drive. My husband in the past has told me not to be a "side-seat driver". Oh, how I like to tell him how to drive, which way to go and "use your blinker". That's where I still have to try hard to be a good wife.
    Being a godly wife doesn't come easy always. Some days it seems it's never easy. We all have our sinful nature to deal with. Next time you speak with your husband watch how many times the word "me" comes up. When your husband walks through that door and you give a warm welcome asking how his day was, it brightens up his day. It washes some of the day's worries away.
    Every car needs to have four good tires. If you hit a bump in the road with a bad tire the consequences can be deadly. So it goes in marriage. Without a firm foundation in Christ our marriage may not be able to handle the "bumps" in the road  and we will end up getting off the next off-ramp at Divorce Street. 
    Another hazard is when we ignore our GPS, the Spirit, and wind up taking a detour right into Sin City.
    God has been gracious enough to provide a road map in the Bible. Are we going to be wise enough to heed His advice and commandments?  God has given us security within the sanctity of marriage. It us up to us wives to pay attention to our husbands, follow the directives given in Titus 2:3-5. "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."
     Are you prepared for your trip? My marriage has gone from good to glorious in a matter of 3 years. Yes, we hit bumps, sometimes we are on cruise control, other times we try harder and have to shift into overdrive to make it up the mountain. We always do and always will. My husband is my driver. My family and I are thankful for him. The greatest part is both of our love tanks are brimming to the top. My prayer is that every marriage could be as wonderful as God intended it to be. What a glorious thing!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Book Review: Overcoming the Chaos

    I recently received a free copy of Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World by Dr. David Jeremiah from Booksneeze courtesy of Thomas Nelson Publishing. Dr. Jeremiah paints a vivid picture of what is wrong with the world today within a few pages. Then he takes you through the Bible verses that you can rely on to bring hope, comfort, courage and assurance to defeat the world's anxiety.
    As I began reading the first few pages I began wondering if the whole book was going to be so abrupt and to the point. I feared Dr. Jeremiah was going to start predicting the end of times.  Though he forewarns of the inevetibility of the end, the book is more focused on how to survive as Christians until then. 
    God has given us all that we need in the Bible to face life, yet often life gets so crazed we fall into our sinful nature and rely on ourselves for the answers. In Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World the reader is given God's promises and instructions on dealing with the grim worldly problems.  When financial outlooks, terrorism threats, corruption and the plethora of other problems seem to be getting worse everyday we are to view them with an eternal view. Paul instructed the churches to encourage and support one another almost two thousan years ago. That instruction still applies.
    Christians are to stay connected, consistent and hopeful among other things.  When we apply what Dr. Jeremiah writes we will find courage and confidence in our faith. Some glorious day we will be able to stand in front of Christ with due reverence and know we did what we were meant to do on this earth for him. I am truly blessed for having read Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World

Monday, August 30, 2010

Birthday Blues to a Precious Celebration

Saturday we celebrated my daughter's sixth birthday and my son's eighth, though really that was Gabe's second celebration. I on the other hand was at home in bed sick with a nasty flu. The bug always seems to bite at the most inopportune times. Needless to say,  I was disappointed that I was missing out on the celebration and time with my family and friends.
    Once everyone came home and I had finally awoke from my 6-hour "nap", my husband was getting sick. Long story short, it was one restless night at our house.
    Three in the morning my daughter, Mary, the birthday girl wakes up. I am in her bed trying to get her back to sleep. I look at the clock and mention how I wasn't quite yet in labor with her six years earlier. That led into a detailed recollection of her labor and delivery. Mary wanted to know every bit. Then she asked me to tell her how my oldest almost died during his delivery and my youngest son's eventful birth.
    In those minutes as I whispered the stories it made me realize that at that moment I was a part of  a far-more precious celebration of her birthday than a balloon-filled room. Yes, I missed my loved ones that day. But, I celebrated with my daughter the great gift she is from God- just the three of us.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Book Review: Embracing God's Gift

I just finished reading Captured by Grace by Dr. David Jeremiah, which I received free of charge from Booksneeze on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing.  Often Christians find themselves proclaiming their identity in Christ, but deep down are lacking something. They forget the grace they received from the past. Dr. Jeremiah leads the reader to claim that grace everyday by taking them on the journey to be Captured by Grace.
     In the past I have heard of Dr. Jeremiah, but never had read one of his books. I'm more than glad that I have now. Captured by Grace is a jewel of a book. He helps you seek out the treasure that God freely offers us on a daily basis. It's not that I am ungrateful, in fact I often thank God for the many blessings. However, I don't ponder enough Christ's sacrifice and in turn, what that means for me here and now and forevermore.
     I was truly humbled and came before His throne as I read the book. Dr. Jeremiah takes time to intricately weave Saul's transformation to the apostle Paul and John Newton's life-changing adventure in the slave trade into your journey. You get a rather powerful look into their lives, into their souls and in turn look into your own. God's grace clothes us in His Son's righteousness, not because we deserve it, but because He loves us so much as His children.
    Everyday we sin. Everyday we are loved. Everyday we can be Captured by Grace. This book is for anyone who knows their is no other way except through Our Savior, Jesus Christ and wants to be enveloped by His warm embrace.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Win a FREE Book

On the Company Porch is offering a chance to win a free book from Salem Ridge Press. Follow the attached link for your chance. They have wonderful historical novels for the young reader to the adult. Good luck!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Book Review: Shared Hearts

    What in the world could a homeless African-American man have in common with an upscale art dealer in Texas? Thanks to Booksneeze letting me review a free copy of Same Kind of Different as Me on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing, I now know.  Ron Hall and Denver Moore take a through a journey of their lives. When their paths intersect something close to a miracle occurs within them. The power behind their friendship is none other than God who works through Hall's wife, Deborah.
    I remember being introduced to the title when I was at a Women of Faith concert two years ago, but chose rather a couple of books authored by the speakers instead. Yet still, I kept wondering what was in this book Same Kind of Different as Me. What I found within is something I'll never forget.
    The first few pages aren't exactly luring, though the flow is written well enough you get through to when Denver's life begins to throw him more than his fair share of punches. It'd be hard for anyone to go through that and not end up on the streets. Ron's life was sweet enough in contrast to Denver's.
    God always works for those who love him. Has He ever proved otherwise? Deborah isn't comfortable with her high life and felt called to work in a mission.  It amazes me that angels can come from anywhere. She was an angel to many. Before she passed away from colon cancer she brought two people with very hard hearts together who needed one another to share life with. They found comfort with one another in those days of grief that were too much to bear alone.
     In Same Kind of Difference as Me Denver and Ron find their shared common humanity and compassion they both harbor deep down. It's not a book to read once, but rather one to read multiple times to find the wonderful nuggets of insight that Denver brings. Maybe his life on the streets gave him time to really converse with God and find the deeper meanings to life's problems than the average person. The cold didn't harden his heart and he found God to be his best and only chance to survive.
    This book is definitely a book of finding common hope in life. Sometimes when we call out to God it may be we need only to look over our shoulder to see whom He sent. Same Kind of Different as Me is a great book to give as a gift to those who need a bit of hope. Don't we all.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Book Review: The Greatest Cast Ever

I recently received a free copy of Cast of Characters by Max Lucado from Booksneeze on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing. In it Lucado highlights some of the main characters and not-so-known characters of the Bible. He brings out the humanity found within the pages of the Bible and brings the characters to life with a modern twist. At the end of each chapter is Lucado's infamous and needed call to Christ.

Cast of Characters asks you directly if you identify with the character in the chapter. Even when I'm about to answer no, I have realized it's best to read to the end of the chapter. Lucado can always convict me of what I can't see in myself. His books always touch my heart and stir my soul to ponder my walk with Christ.

In each chapter I found a part of myself within the story. Some spoke more intensely than others. The point was though that God uses your everyday person to glorify His kingdom. I often forget that is the purpose of my life. Sometimes I find that picking up an easy read does not necessarily mean it won't be thought-provoking. 

Cast of Characters broke up my heavier, theological books, yet still made me ponder a lot about myself.  Really if you don't ponder who you are and what direction you are headed, you'll won't get to the places where God needs you.  God gives each of us gifts to help other Christians and non-believers alike, but we still have to have the sense to use them.

At the end of each chapter there is also a few study questions.  I wasn't compelled to write out my answers, but still gave them some thought. I enjoy looking up the correlating verses and seeing how it all intertwines and relates to the book Cast of Characters itself , to the New Testament, to the Old Testament and to my life.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Motherhood Joy

Joyful, jubilant, jolly-
Children are a blessing.
Even when little sister wants her dolly,
While the baby is crying and fussing.

What a joy to hear the laughter.
Then a scream, a cry and tears;
You're wishing for happily ever after.
How many more years?

The years do go by fast.
Raising your family is an honor.
Relish it, delight in it, wish it'd last.
It's a privilege to be a mother.

One, two, three or more
Kids are always a handful
Some of us have lost score,
Focusing on love and being mindful.

Godly women raising godly children,
Remembering we are only caretakers.
In your family you're a pilgrim
Leading your little ones to their Maker.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Book Review: Your S.T.O.R.Y. Begins with God

    I recently read You Can be Everything God Wants You to Be by Max Lucado thanks to Booksneeze who gave me a free copy on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing.  This recent release is comprised of excerpts from Lucado's Cure for the Common Life. Lucado offers advice to find your God-given destiny.  Often we look everywhere else, but to our Source who designed us uniquely for a special purpose.  After affirming our uniqueness, Lucado then helps the reader look back at his or her life for certain clues that may hint or even scream his or her purpose. 
    I had previously read Cure for the Common Life. However, I enjoyed You Can be Everything God Wants You to Be with as much enthusiasm.  It's an easy-read that is rather thought provoking. As I read and pondered his questions something clicked inside of me and I realized what God has been leading me up to.  For as long as I can remember I have had a sense that God was preparing something for me.  Analyzing my strengths, topics, optimal conditions and relationships, pondering those and seeing a common thread I realized I am headed in the right direction.
    You Can be Everything God Wants You to Be is a wonderful little book for many, from the teenager to the oldest person you know.  Lucado doesn't agree with the old adage, "You can be anything you want to be, if you put your mind to it."  No, you can't. God didn't design us for any old assignment. He has something tailor-made for each one of us.  It's refreshing and inspiring to read that.  Many of us can attest to our attempts that haven't worked out for some reason we couldn't quite put our finger on.  We weren't made to do that.  It's never to late to find our God-given purpose.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Done with Diapers

I'm not one to rush into things, particularly potty training. Many parents I'm sure don't agree with me and that's fine. I prefer to let things happen with a bit of a loving, parental push. My eldest boy seemed to do things at his own pace just fine. My daughter has followed in his footsteps. I have taken that tactic for my youngest as well.
    Sometimes it's harder to let things happen in due time when your patience is wearing thin. Every time I pick up a pack of diapers up at the store that scrapes at the patience.  I just never wanted my children to have any negative feelings concerning restroom use.
    This past Tuesday, as we are gearing up for Jacob's birthday party, we(my hubby and I) decided to give him that push into independence. No more diapers, except at night. Well, Jacob is having a few accidents, but is already sleeping through the night wearing underwear without accidents.  The poo situation is where the accidents are occurring.  Completely grossed out.
    Let me say this for the naysayers.  I never wanted to push Jacob too hard with the training. He is asthmatic and has been hospitalized six times in the last two-and-a-half years. His health was and still is our top priority. Adding another unnecessary battle to the home front wasn't something to even consider.
    In addition to that, I think as a society at large we tend to try to push our kids to independence way too fast. God blesses us with helpless, little bundles of joy for a reason. We are to bless them with our love creating a bond that will last an eternity.  God, our Heavenly Father, never leaves us nor forsakes us (Heb 13:5).  He is always there letting us take our baby steps along the way. I want to apply those same parenting principles God uses with us to my children,(His other children). 
    I'm not against potty training at a younger age if that is what your family needs to do.  However, I remember an article a lady wrote concerning her twin boys.  "They aren't going to graduate high school in diapers."  That has really sustained my convictions in trying times.  Happy potty training endeavors to all!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Book Review: Storm Warning

    I received a copy of Billy Graham's Storm Warning  from Booksneeze on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing. There are so many questions that loom in our minds as we watch tragedy after tragedy unfold across the world. Why? Is the end near? When will Christ come and save us? Mr. Graham tries to unravel the entanglement of questions as he sheds light on the book of Revelation.  Our only hope is in Jesus Christ now and forevermore. Certain prophecies must be fulfilled before Christ can reign and bring His peace.
    I was definitely a Christian in the past who glossed over the book of Revelation and any mention of prophecy. I'm sorry I did. Graham takes the reader on a journey through Revelation breaking down the symbolism and shows the light of Jesus Christ that is in the world. It was surprising and engaging as I pondered the possibilities for the future
    Storm Warning was an easy read. I enjoyed Graham's voice and his thoroughness. I never felt I had to reread anything to grasp his message.  Even for the new Christian this book can clear up any cloudiness one may perceive in Revelation.
   As always Mr. Graham highlights the importance of coming to a saving faith throughout Storm Warning. I'm not sure that an unbeliever would pick this book up off the shelf and read it. Nonetheless, for the believer Billy Graham provides comfort for the present and hope for the future.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

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Drawing Near

On Sunday morning, Pastor Matteson gave a sermon on how we are to treat our brothers and sisters in Christ when they sin.  That boils down to how do you or I want to be treated? My first response is with grace, integrity and gentleness.  Sometimes that leads to how do I treat myself when I sin.
    After church I always feel like their is a battle being waged on the homefront which leads me to sin. Sometimes anger gets the best of me.  Given circumstances weren't great, but I definitely needed a dose of self-control.   I yelled, I was selfish, irritable and ugly, everything the fruit of the Spirit isn't.
     I prayed and prayed. God where are you? I knew He was listening, but not instantly responding. I asked for a change of hearts. I cried out "Help me."  By evening time my heart was softer towards my husband, my children and myself.  I'm quite sure it takes me longer to forgive myself than for God to forgive me.
    It's in those moments I am thankful that I can open my heart to God and let him mend me.  As we are to assist in the restoration  of others when they sin, when we sit alone with God, He can restore us.
    Sometimes I think God has to do a radical transformation in our lives as quickly as possible.  In fact I get impatient.  Then I have to remind myself it is His timing that is perfect, not mine.  More importantly those things I go through may be painful and uncomfortable, yet God does work everything out for His glory.  In times of distress I find reasssurance in Romans 8:28.  It might just be my lifetime verse.  I wasn't sure how my fall Sunday could be used for Him, but He did.  I did a lot of thinking and drew nearer to Christ.  So often I get caught up in the daily to-do lists I pull away a bit.  It's not my love for God has decreased, but my communion with my Father takes an unfortunate back seat.
    I was about to fall asleep when I felt I needed to read my devotionals.  Good thing I did because those contained the answers I was looking for.  Satan will find a way to split up unity when he can.  I came to the conclusion that is what happens everytime my family and I are working at strengthening our bonds with one another.  Unfortunately there are days when our guard isn't strong and sin comes in more than "normal".
     I sat on my bed and started asking for Christ to cleanse me. To wash my sin away in His blood, to let His light uncover the darkness in my life.  I've been praying for God to show me, to let me feel the power of the Cross like never before.  My heavenly Father heard, he gave me what I asked for all to His glory. 
    Lord God, May I always remember the power of the Cross, the power of redemption and the power of your love. Amen.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

In Christ's Path

        I finished reading In His Steps. How many Christians truly can claim they follow Christ completely every day? It dawned on me how many of us out there claim to be Christian, yet we get caught up in our own bubble. I have responsibilities to my family.  God is suppose to be my first love. Why isn't He my first priority? How do I rectify that? 
       God is definitely first in my heart now. I see how I have changed in the past few years and see how far I have come. In front of me lies a great unknown journey. It's the steps I need to take that  I'm probing. As a mother and wife with physical limitations how can I follow Jesus' steps without abandoning my duties to others? There are so many individuals at large in society that are on the fringe that need help. They are lost and hard to reach. How can I help them, reach out to them and let them know Christ died for them personally?
       Do I have to wait for my children to get older? Do I start out with small baby steps? How can I make sure not to get caught up figuring out how to help and make sure the focus is on demonstrating God's love for them? I don't want it to become a "me" thing/problem.  It's needs to become a "we" thing.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Chaos strikes

So what do you do when you have a day that seems to be headed nowhere? I'm trying to figure it out again. Is it spring fever creeping in? Or have I lost total control of my home? I hope not. Where do I go from here? None of my children seem particularly receptive of the day's lessons nor my discipline.  "No more Wii today. No t-ball tomorrow." Well I certainly sound like mommy monster.
  I guess I'll try again. We'll sit on the sofa and curl up with our books. Laugh to lighten the mood and lift our spririst. Most of all I'll pray and know my Heavenly Father is listening without bias, prejudice or judgement. My pleas to Him will be received with love and will bring me hope in my dark moments. Let His light shine down on me and my family. Let His joy permeate our home.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Celebrating Frugally

Yesterday was my ten-year anniversary to my awesome husband, David. Waiting to be paid we stayed home and had a wonderful dinner with the kids. I made the easiest dinner I could and one that my kids will actually eat- spaghetti. Being concerned for our health I usually skip the meat. Last night to treat my husband I caved in and cooked the meat. I'm vegan. He loved it. Towards the middle of dinner my oldest, Gabriel said lets light the candles. After I did, he told us "Happy Anniversary" with a huge smile. That was better than any night out.
Today the kids are going out with my in-laws. David and I get to spend the day together. Nothing fancy, just grocery shopping, lunch and much-needed quality time. Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Fast- Paced Motherhood

Motherhood seems to end up a dash. Add in the extra curriculars to church, homeschooling and daily duties and I end up running around exhausted wth not a lot accomplished at times. I always dreamed of being a mother, knowing it was work and dedication, but never did I dream of the sheer exhaustion that can accompany it. Life already comes at me fast enough. The kids grow so quickly. I'm trying to figure out how my youngest is going to turn 4 in June. What happened to the days of diaperring and colic? Or the nights of teething and rocking? They have vanished long ago and are now replaced with memorizing verses for Awana, tee ball practice and dentist appointments. Thank God for homeschooling. People ask me why I don't send the kids to school, especially since I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Despite the chaos, the love and togetherness more than compensate. I sit there in the classroom with Gabriel and Mary and praise God for such a wonderful opportunity to guide my children to become the people He created them to be.