Sunday, December 26, 2010

Two Great Children's Books

I hope everyone had a nice Christmas. Our was very enjoyable and I'm glad to have had the time to spend with family and friends.

Right before Christmas, I had the opportunity to review two great children’s books from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers. The first one was actually sent to me by mistake, but I’m glad that it was. The title of the book is “God Loves Me More Than That” by Dandi Daley Mackall. I first read this children’s book on my own, to get a feel for it and see what its all about. Then, I read it to my children to get their opinion of it. We were all pretty much in agreement that the book is worth keeping.

“God Loves Me More Than That” is a thin, hardback, rhyming book with simple words, and only one sentence per page. It is filled with extraordinary, colorful illustrations that almost make you feel like you are inside the book. There is a page for many different interests, including nature, astronomy, outer space, treasures, trucks, cowboys, the circus, football, weather, kittens, and treehouses. The content is special, as it helps readers feel more connected to God as they “discover that His love is bigger, wider, higher, and deeper than anything they could imagine.” (Quote taken from the back of the book.)

When I asked my children what they liked about the book, my oldest (a 12-year old girl with autism), said she liked the words; and her favorite picture was of a sneezing kitten. My son (age 7) loved the last page with a boy in the treehouse and profoundly described how the boy was resting there, just being close to God. In his funny way of trying to be a judge (as he called it), he said the book was “spiritful.” I'm not exactly sure if that’s even a word. But, what I think he meant was that the book is spiritual in nature, and can really reach a person’s heart - no matter what their age is.


The second book is “God Gave Us So Much,” by Lisa Tawn Bergren. This is a limited edition treasury of three books in one. In the eyes of a curious little polar bear girl, these three sweetly illustrated books give answers to a little one’s questions.

Book one in the treasury is “God Gave Us the World.” It explains about the differences in animals (and people) around the world and how God made us all special in our own ways. It also tells of the importance of taking care of our world.

“God Gave Us Love” tells about the different kinds of love, and the importance of loving others the way God loves us.

“God Gave Us Heaven” gives answers to a little one’s questions with just enough information to satisfy a young mind. The book does not involve heavy theology, but could possibly encourage deeper conversation when a child is ready to know more.

If you get a chance to read these books to your children, I'm sure you would enjoy the experience.


Disclosure: Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers has provided me with complimentary copies of these books for review purposes. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Christmas GIFT from Our House to Yours

When I was growing up, my family made it a point to eat together at the table on most occasions, maybe with some background music playing, but very rarely the television on. Yes, there were times when we all sat in front of the TV eating our meals while we watched a special show, but those were not the norm. The bulk of our meals were spent at the table - talking, sharing, having family devotions, and praying. My husband grew up doing similar things with his family, so we both understand the value in this type of quality family time. Likewise, we have made it a point to try and keep this tradition going with our own children.

A couple of years ago, as our youngest became more interested in watching full-length movies, we began having one of our weekend meals on TV trays while watching a wholesome movie or television show together. This has also become a special time of family togetherness that we all enjoy. However, as time has gone by, the kids began to look forward to movie night more than our meals at the table. Our youngest even eluded to the fact that our meal times were “boring” to him. Some of this, I’m sure, was just due to the fact that our kids enjoy movies and TV (and I admit they probably watch too much of it, but that’s another topic); and some of it could be because my husband and I have had a tendency to talk with each other and “catch up” about our days at home or at work, while unintentionally leaving the kids out of the conversation. So, I started brainstorming on ways to make our meal times more enjoyable for the kids again.

The idea that finally came to mind was to write questions or conversation topics on slips of paper; then, fold them up and toss them into a container. At our main meal of the day, we pull out one (or more) slips of paper and take turns answering the question. It’s a great way to get everyone at the table participating in conversation, and learning more about each other as well. Since we have been doing this, our youngest began looking forward to our meals at the table again.


As a special Christmas gift to all of YOU, I wanted to share this idea with you, but also decided to go a step further.... With my family's help, I made up a FREE download of 60 “topic cards” for you to assemble and use with your own family. All you have to do is print it out and follow the simple directions.

Please take this opportunity to download this FREE gift today! Have fun getting to know more about your family (or friends) while you spend quality time with them around the table.

Click below for the download page, and feel free to pass this along to anyone else who might have an interest.

We hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: What in the World is Going On?

The book "What in the World is Going On?" is a best seller by Dr. David Jeremiah. He is the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California, and this book is a result of his teachings at that church.

I’m not a big reader of books about prophecy and the “End Times,” but this book was definitely an informative and interesting view on what is happening in the world today, and what things are still to come. The author uses everyday language to help explain certain events that have happened already, or are currently happening, and how they play a roll in our future. He also uses Scripture through-out the book to back his views.

Some people believe learning about the End Times and Christ’s return is a useless waste of time. However, a quote at the end of the book gives an explanation of why its important to learn about these things: “The signs that tell us the second coming of the Lord is drawing near should motivate us as never before to live in readiness.”

The author goes on to say that, “As we anticipate His return, we are not to foolishly set dates and leave our jobs and homes to wait for Him on some mountain. We are to remain busy doing the work set before us, living in love and serving in ministry, even when the days grow dark and the nights long.”

Remain busy... living in love.... serving in ministry.... good words to live by!


Disclosure: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Instilling a Mindset of Thankfulness & Contentment

In our human weakness, it’s easy to think, “The grass is greener on the other side.” We look at what someone else has and think our lives would be much simpler, or happier, or more pleasant if we had what they have; but, if we allow this type of thinking to take control of our thoughts, then we will never be satisfied.

The Thanksgiving holiday is a good time for us to think about the things we are thankful for; but it is also important for us to be thankful ALL of the time. So, I asked a few friends and family members to share some suggestions on how we can instill a mindset of thankfulness and contentment, in ourselves and in our children - not just at Thanksgiving, but year-round. I have separated these suggestions into three different categories, and would like to share them with you now....

We can instill a mindset of thankfulness and contentment, in ourselves and in our children, through:

(1) Helping others
(2) Using “thankfulness” activities
(3) Personal and Spiritual growth

~*~* ~*~

My friend, Mary, wrote: I think I feel the most grateful and content with things in my life when I get a glimpse of how hard things could be. Makes me realize how much I take for granted. So, sometimes with the kids we have conversations about how other kids in the world don't have toys, clothes, food, warm beds, etc, and we have them clear out some toys from the basement or clothes from their drawers, to give to others.

Mary also gave several other suggestions in this category, including: (1) Participating in Operation Christmas Child (the shoebox ministry of Franklin Graham), (2) Visiting a nursing home to talk with the residents or pass out homemade cards or little presents. (3) Volunteering in a soup kitchen or food pantry.

~*~* ~*~

Our Pastor’s wife, Scherry, suggested making little holiday "crackers" to share with the family. She said to have each person write out either a Thanksgiving wish, something they are grateful for, a poem they would like to share, or something else along those lines. Then, take a paper towel roller (when you are finished with your paper towels) and cut it into 3 parts. Use wrapping paper that is long enough to wrap around the cylinder with at least 2" excess on each side. Twist one end of the paper and tie it with a thin ribbon. Put your message inside the cylinder and twist the other end closed and tie with ribbon. These can be used as place cards at the table, or placed in a basket. Family members go around the table, open the crackers, and read what they wrote.

Mary said: Have each [family member] name one thing they are thankful for each day for awhile leading up to Thanksgiving, and then write those down on slips of paper and put them in a jar to be read on Thanksgiving day. Then next year pull them out and read them before starting the project again.

My sister, Judy, gave these suggestions:
For the kids: Make a collage of things you're thankful for.
For the adults: Write a thank you note to someone - just because
As a family: Have a “Thank you, God” prayer meeting

Cynthia suggested looking through material from Voice of the Martyrs. The articles and pictures from them really help to put things in perspective.

Our Pastor, Steve, mentioned this activity in church today: Write down 20 things you are thankful for. Then, every day (once or twice each day) take it out and go over the list. Focusing on the things you are thankful for tend to help get us into a better mindset of thankfulness.

~*~* ~*~

Daneille said: I look back to the period where [the Thanksgiving] holiday was birthed. They spent time - several days - to celebrate; and, in their celebration, giving thanks to their Creator for supplying such a great bounty to sustain them for another cold, bitter winter. I like that: Creating a celebration of praise to our Lord for giving us our Salvation and strength and many blessings as we go forward living our lives for him.

My sister, Judy, who lost her home to a house fire, wrote: I used to complain about the old house, things I wanted to change about it.... When I started to complain about [the house we have now] having no character, I realized how much I had in the old house. So instead of complaining, I see this as an opportunity for us to add to our character. I'm thankful that I have a house and a home!

A message from James (my dad):  Becoming thankful I believe is a growing process. Like when you have a near hit by another car while driving and as you are "cleaning up" you become aware how short life is. Also when the Doctor gives you the "news" you did not want to hear, the awareness is heightened once more. It seems to me that when we are ready to die, then we are ready to live and thankfulness is easy. We can find joy in bad situations. James says count it all joy. Happiness is a temporal thing but peace and joy one can have all the time.

God wants us to be grateful people. Each day I meet "ladder climbers" and people that have little gratitude in life. They are the ones that think they have it all in control.

So what I am doing when I rise in the morning is to begin the day with a thankful heart for another day of opportunities to glorify my Lord Jesus Christ. Remember a verse if I can that early and talk to the Lord. I give the day to Him even though I make my plans I say they are subject to change under the Holy Spirit's desire at any time.

It is saddening to hear ungrateful folk. I do not want to be one of them so I try to keep that in mind all day. Thankfulness is taught to our children mostly by example. Talking about it is okay but what do they see in us when we have a horrible day is what will stick with them when they have a day like that. There was a child I heard one time that swore when he hurt himself. His dad hearing that corrected him and the child said, "you do it", so dad asked for forgiveness and stopped. He even worked at stopping the acceptable slang words when he got hurt. Remember the children's Sunday school song, "Be careful little eyes what you do, etc", well little eyes are watching.

We cannot do much about our circumstances but we can do something about how we respond to circumstances.

~*~* ~*~

Thankyou to everyone who responded. There are a lot of great ideas here that I intend to use. I hope everyone who is reading this will be able to use some of the ideas mentioned as well. 

If anyone has any other thoughts or suggestions on this topic, I would be glad to hear them!

Happy Thanksgiving - Not just today, but EVERY day!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Reminder for today, and every day...

No matter what things are looking like for you today, God wants you to know HE is still in control of your life.

Jeremiah 29:11 - For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV)

Here are some words from a song by Steven Curtis Chapman:

"God is God and I am not. I can only see a part of the picture He’s painting. God is God and I am man. So, I’ll never understand it all, for only God is God."

And here is the full song, if you would like to watch and listen.....

Sunday, November 7, 2010

GUEST BLOGGER: Judy Woodward Bates - "Weight on Me?"

This is the second article I have used (with permission) from Judy Woodward Bates. She is a speaker, TV personality, columnist, and author. Her latest book is "Bargainomics: Money Management by the Book." Schedule her to speak or order her books at:

Weight on Me?

If you’ve ever tried kayaking, canoeing or sailing, you know that getting a good wind behind you can scoot you along with much greater ease than trying to maneuver into the path of the wind.

Jesus, having had experience with boats and His fishermen disciples, knew how the wind affected a boat’s progress. He understood that rowing into the wind was a struggle, while rowing with the wind made moving forward much easier.

Jesus also knew that the same thing was true of His workers. Those who were diligently working for the Kingdom were like that favorable wind -– they helped to advance the message of Jesus’ Gospel.

But what of those who did nothing? They may not have been helping, but they were certainly not causing any harm, were they?

Think of it this way: Four guys weighing two hundred pounds each are in a boat. Three are rowing. One is doing nothing. True enough, he’s not helping, but is he causing any harm? You betcha.

His two hundred pounds is dead weight. The other three guys not only have to muster enough power to pull their own bulk, they also have to put in the muscle to carry along the fourth man’s weight while he does nothing. “Dead weight” is a very good description for this guy.

Jesus addressed this very issue in Matthew 12:30. He told the people, "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters."

Each believer must choose his position. He can be that argumentative, contrary wind that holds back and even diminishes the progress of the Kingdom of God. He can be that dead weight that expects others to carry him along as he rests on his laurels and enjoys the fruits of others' labors. Or he can be that vibrant, hard-working laborer who is on the job, on fire, and moving on for the glory of God.

Believer, have you chosen your position? If you’ve accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you’re in His boat. What are you doing to move it forward?

Judy Woodward Bates
The Bargainomics Lady

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day By Day

Karolina Sandell (also known as Lina) was the daughter of Jonas Sandell, a pastor of a parish church in Froderyd, Sweden. At the age of 26, she accompanied her father on a boat trip to Gothenburg. During the trip, the boat suddenly lurched and Lina’s father fell overboard, drowning before her eyes. The tragedy profoundly affected Lina, as it would anyone; but, as a result, she began writing hymns. One of those hymns is the heartfelt and beautifully written “Day By Day.” This is such a pretty song, and the words are amazing! (Especially for anyone who is going through a difficult trial.) No matter what you are going through, the Lord is faithful and will strengthen you as you continue to trust in Him. He will help you make it through each day.... each hour.... each moment.....

By: Karolina Sandell

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find, to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He Whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best——
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day, the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He Whose Name is Counselor and Power;
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
Ever to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Testimony of Robert Rogers

At church today, we had a guest speaker by the name of Robert Rogers. At first glance, he is just an ordinary man with a love for God and for his family. However, his faith and devotion goes much deeper than that. In a tragic accident, he lost his wife and 4 young children during an unexpected flash flood. It was hard for him to go on without them, of course. However, with the Lord’s help, he rose above his grief and began sharing his testimony to hundreds of churches across America. Aside from that, he was instrumental in starting orphan homes for children in Russia, Africa and Asia, with a vision for more homes on the way. He also met another young woman who became his wife and, together, they now have 3 beautiful children as well. I would almost call Robert a modern day Job (pronounced Jobe), a man in the Bible who was righteous before God but endured numerous tragedies that took away his family, friends, and everything he owned. Through it all, Job did not curse God and stood firm in his faith. In due time, the trials were over and the Lord blessed him with even more than he had before, including a beautiful wife and many children.

It was tearful, yet inspiring, to hear Robert’s testimony and how he continues to serve the God who made him and who loves him, despite all he has been through. One of the verses he shared with us is my favorite verse: Isaiah 41:13. It is written at the top of my blog. His testimony was a reminder to me that God is always with us, even when things are hard. He is there holding our hand. The Lord may not always calm the storms in our life, but He can calm US as we go through those storms. He gives us peace that only HE can give, and I thank Him so much for that.

A quote from Robert that I found on his website says: “I believe I miraculously survived and am alive to tell the remarkable testimony of hope and God's grace through tragedy. God can bring beauty from ashes. There is peace through Jesus. God is still good, all the time."

Here is more information about Robert and his ministry...

And, here is part of his testimony that you can watch...

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Verse to Share

1 Pet 5:8-11 --  Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. (NIV)

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Personal Example of Being Made Strong in Weakness

This has been a busy and stressful week for me and my family, for various reasons. There’s really no need to go into the details, but just wanted to “set the scene” here.

Wednesday of this week was probably the peak of the stressfulness for me, and by the time 4:00 came around that afternoon, I realized I had not had any time to prepare my lesson for our Wednesday night children’s program at church. “Just great!” I thought. Church was only a couple hours away, so what was I going to do? I had briefly thought about calling in sick, as I DID have a stress headache brewing, and was totally not in the mood to be surrounded by a room full of loud, active children. I remembered how, the previous week, my partner and I had some behavioral issues to deal with, and sort of lost control of the kids a couple of times. And, I remembered how disrespectful many of them had been when it came time to pray at the end of the lesson. I truly did not want to go through that again with the kind of day I had just experienced. But, at the same time, I did not want to let my partner down, as it was my turn to teach.

I began searching around the room for an idea and came across a book I have read to my own children here at home. It’s a book about prayer that answers a lot of questions kids might have about it - what it is, how to do it, when and where, why, etc. - and also includes Bible references to go along with each small paragraph.

I read through the book and decided it would be good to use for our class, especially considering their disrespect towards prayer the previous week. So, I wrote out all the Bible verses on index cards (19 of them) and was set to go.

During class time, after first having a talk with the kids about their behavior the previous week, I passed out the index cards with the Bible verses. As I read the book to them, I had them read the Bible verses out loud when asked. It went really well - actually a lot better than I expected. We had some good discussion come out of it, and I think they all left the class with a little better understanding of what prayer means.

I think its so interesting how this event so closely coincides with the topic I posted about last week.... even in our weaknesses, we are made strong. I know there’s no way I could have come up with the idea to read the prayer book on my own. It was God who led me to the idea. And, even though I was mentally and emotionally weak, the Lord enabled me to follow through with my commitments. All in all, the Lord was glorified and His strength was made evident in my weakness.  

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 -- "And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

If anyone is interested, the book we read is:  "What is Prayer?" By Carolyn Nystrom

Thursday, September 23, 2010

When I Am Weak, Then I Am Strong

As part of our school lessons this year, the kids and I are reading “Hero Tales” by Dave & Neta Jackson. It’s a book about true stories from the lives of 15 different Christian Heroes. What a great book! We are all enjoying it.

This week, we have been reading about Dwight L. Moody, the founder of the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. There was a point in Moody’s life, at the age of 54, when he was feeling weak and tired, mostly due to health concerns. After a scary ordeal took place while he and his son, Will, were on board a sinking ship, Moody told his son, who had asked him to start slowing down in his ministry endeavors, “I can’t slow down now! God has work for me to do. Hundreds of thousands of people are coming to the World’s Fair in Chicago - and they all need a Savior. And if God has work for me to do, He will give me the strength to do it!” Even though he was weak in body, he was not weak in spirit, and was not willing to slow down on sharing the Gospel message to all who would listen.

Moody’s dedication to God’s work is inspiring, and we can all learn a lot from his example - in our ministries to others through church projects, children’s ministries, and sharing our spiritual gifts; in our everyday lives as we go to work, care for the kids, and perform mundane tasks; and in our spiritual walk as we seek God’s will for our lives. We all have challenges we must face that can hinder our effectiveness in any of these areas mentioned. But, its important for us to remember the words of  II Corinthians 12:9-10:

"And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Devotional Book Recommended for the Ladies

This is for the ladies who read my blog...

If you are looking for a new devotional book to read, I highly recommend “Becoming a Woman Who Walks With God” by Cynthia Heald. It's a small book that has 31 short devotionals (one month’s worth, if you read one every day) that deal with abiding in Christ. The author takes us on a journey of reflection and worship, helping us to discover the “joy and importance of abiding in Christ.” The chapters include responding to painful circumstances, finding joy in our trials, perseverance, trust, God’s faithfulness, strength for the weary, abiding in God’s Word, being fruitful, etc.

For my local friends, I am willing to loan this book out, if you would like to read through it. Just let me know! However, I DO want the book back. I have been through this book twice over the past few years, and it is soooo worth going over again. Its definitely a permanent member of my library.

For those interested in purchasing, you should be able to find it at your local Christian book store. Or, find it online at many different retailers. Here are just a few:

Christian Book Distributors


Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Gospel of Mark - Narrated by Max McLean

If you are getting into a "funk" with your devotions, here's a neat idea to help get you excited again! Get onto You Tube and watch Max McLean narrate the entire Gospel of Mark while you read along in your Bible.

Who is Max McLean, you might ask? I didn't know myself until just a few days ago. According to Wikipedia, "Max McLean is an American actor and narrator for audio books. He is the President of Fellowship for the Performing Arts, narrator for the Listener's Bible audio line, and speaker on the daily radio program Listen to the Bible which airs on over 670 radio affiliates worldwide."

Answers in Genesis endorses Max on their website, and you can read more about what they have to say about him here:  MAX McLEAN

After watching Max narrate Mark Chapter 1, I saw the benefits of it because it really helps make the Bible "come to life." So, if you are interested, here are a few links to get you started. Enjoy!

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

You can continue on and watch all the way through chapter 16.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Different Paths in Life

I was “chatting” with a friend recently, about how the Lord leads us all down different paths in life. However, as Christians, we all have at least one thing in common.... ALL of these paths are meant to lead us to the same place in our spiritual walk - to find faith, hope, and trust in the Lord.

One person’s path will have stress at work, another will have physical ailments, another will have a special needs child to raise. Some are unemployed and looking for work, some have marriage issues, some are dealing with the loss of loved ones, and some are simply trying to find peace in the valley. Others deal with pride, fear, anger, hurt, forgiveness, and the list goes on. We all have different things we are going through, and some of us are even experiencing more than one thing at a time - which can bring a feeling of total hopelessness and confusion!

No matter what we go through, its important for us to remember, our God is always a good God. He loves us dearly and allows things to come into our lives that will strengthen us and draw us closer to Himself. If I didn't believe that, I probably would have given up a long time ago; and I know many others who have felt like giving up as well.

But, be encouraged, my friends! There are brighter skies to be seen ahead and, no matter what the current conditions are on YOUR path, remember this.... the Lord has promised to NEVER give up on YOU.

God bless you on your journey....

Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight."


Monday, August 23, 2010

A Tribute to Grandma

This is in memory of my Grandma on my mother's side, who passed away on Sunday, August 15, 2010. She was 90 years old. We loved Grandma and are thankful for the difference she has made in all of our lives. So thankful for her kind heart, giving spirit, and the genuine faith she had in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

This was her favorite song (below). Her daughters sang it together at the funeral and I wish I knew how to add an MP3 link so you could hear it, but I haven't learned how to do that yet. (Maybe my brother can help me out with that some time?) You can, however, click on the title below to hear the tune.

Grandma will be missed on earth, but it’s a great feeling to know she is no longer in pain and is reunited with her beloved husband. We will one day see them both again - in one of those mansions over the hilltop...

Words & Music By: Ira Stamphill

I'm satisfied with just a cottage below
A little silver and a little gold
But in that city where the ransomed will shine
I want a gold one that's silver lined

CHORUS: I've got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we'll never grow old
And some day yonder we will never more wander
But walk on streets that are purest gold

Though often tempted, tormented, and tested
And like the prophet my pillow's a stone
And though I find here no permanent dwelling
I know He'll give me a mansion my own


Don't think me poor or deserted or lonely
I'm not discouraged I'm heaven bound
I'm but a pilgrim in search of the city
I want a mansion, a harp and a crown



Sunday, August 1, 2010

GUEST BLOGGER: Judy Woodward Bates

Judy Woodward Bates is a speaker, TV personality, columnist for Examiner and Travelin' Tales, and author of Bargainomics: Money Management by the Book. With her permission, I am sharing this article she wrote, which was previously published in Baptist Press. Schedule her to speak or order her latest book at: Bargainomics.

If I asked the question, "How do you earn your living?" I'd get a lot of different responses. Truth is, there's one simple answer: by exchanging your time for money. Whether you dig ditches or perform heart surgery, your time is given in order to receive payment for services.

How you manage those paychecks and the lifestyle you choose to live determines how much of your time you need to exchange for money. And while working is a healthy part of living, no person should focus so much on acquiring money -- or the stuff you then exchange the money for -- that he neglects time with those he loves. Particularly if the Person you neglect is Jesus. He reminds us in Jeremiah 31:3: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with lovingkindness." God never quits on us, so why would we quit on Him?

Some years ago I was talking to a successful car salesman who told me, "I work Monday through Saturday, so Sunday is my downtime when I can stay home and relax. Business is just too good to slow down right now." Today this guy is singing a different song. Business is slow, but he's now required to work even more hours to maintain his current lifestyle -- and even with the extra work, he's really struggling.

Can't a person work like crazy and still spend time with the Lord? Read Hebrews 10:25: "And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near." Believers need not only individual times of prayer and worship, but corporate prayer, worship and fellowship.

And let's consider once again the whole time thing. What does the Bible say about that? In Luke 12 and "the parable of the Rich Fool," Jesus tells about a man who has stacked up so much wealth that he's decided to tear down his old barns and build bigger ones to hold it all. In preparation for a time he'd envisioned when he could kick back, relax and take it easy, this man had spent his entire life focused on nothing but adding to his coffers.

What did Jesus say about this man? "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you" Luke 12:20a.

Not one person on this planet knows how long or short his life will be. Yes, doctors can make educated guesses when it comes to certain illnesses, but still they're only guessing. Only the Lord knows how much time we have and, as believers in Jesus Christ, our time should be spent focused on Him and on those He has placed in our lives -- our family, our friends, our church and those He would have us reach for His Kingdom.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Fresh New Look!

I hope everyone is enjoying your Summer! Our days have been filled with various activities, including swimming lessons, mowing the lawn, trips to our favorite campgrounds, mowing the lawn, planting and weeding the garden, mowing the lawn, Vacation Bible School, play dates with friends, and did I mention mowing the lawn?! We've had quite a bit of rain this year, which is good, but it also brings alot of humidity and, of course, lawn mowing.

Speaking of growth, God has been raining on the lives of me and my family this Summer also. Various rainshowers, and sometimes thunderstorms, have come into our lives to produce more growing in our Spiritual lives. It hasn't always been a time of easy growth but, none the less, we know HE is working in our lives to help our lawns become fresh and green. I know we still have a long way to go before our grass is acceptable in God's eyes, but we'll keep working on it. I hope you will, too.

2 Pet 3:18 ...but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him {be} the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Speaking of fresh looks, how do you like the new design of my blog? I thought it was time for a change. Send me a note and let me know your thoughts!

Friday, July 23, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Lead Like IKE - Geoff Loftus

So, what’s been sitting on my night stand for the past month (aside from my Bible, and a homeschooling magazine)? It’s a book that is not the average kind of book I would normally read:  Lead Like IKE by Goeff Loftus. However, I decided to branch out of the normal, and picked it out to review for Book Sneeze.

Quite honestly, I had a difficult time getting “into” this book - not because of poor writing - but because of the content, which really didn’t apply to me. For one, I am not a CEO (Corporate Executive Officer), or a Manager of a business or corporation. Secondly, I am not a huge history buff, especially in the area of WWII. However, for those who fit into those two categories, this book is a well-written, unique approach, meant to give helpful suggestions and simple reminders to encourage you in your leadership.

The reason I have not been a huge history buff (although my interest is now growing) is because the subject was never taught to me in an interesting way. I admit, this book did have its interesting parts and, despite my lack of enthusiasm at the start, I did learn a few things about this part of History.

One quote I found especially interesting from the book is found on page 132:
In less than one day, Eisenhower had demonstrated what makes for truly great leadership: making the tough decision and accepting responsibility for the decision.
The decision he had to make, in this case, was whether or not to launch Operation Overlord, a pivotal move in the course of this war.

If you are a CEO, and you love History (or even if you just want a behind-the-scenes look of WWII), then this is the book for you.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their 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 guidelines.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Following the Rules

A few weeks ago, my young son was having a difficult time obeying the rules of our household. After spending some time alone in his room, he was ready to talk and asked me, “Mommy, why do grownups get to make all the rules and not kids?” That was a fair question. I simply told him, “Its because kids are young and are still learning. Mommy and Daddy knows what is best for you. Someday, when you get older, you will understand better; but, for now, its important for you to trust us.”

Isn’t that just like us, sometimes, in relation to God? When we see others doing the things we know are wrong, we may still want to take part. If we are in one of our self-pity moods, we may ask God, “Why do YOU get to make all the rules? Everyone else is having fun doing this, so why can’t I?” But, if we spend time praying and REALLY listening to what God has to say, we will hear Him remind us, “My child, you are young and are still learning. I know what is best for you. Someday, when you are more mature, you will understand better; but, for now, its important for you to trust Me.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (NAS)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

GUEST BLOGGER: Sonya Gonzalez

Sonya is a Pastor's wife and a stay-at-home mom to 4 children (2 boys, 2 girls). She and I met at Edgemont Bible Church in Fairview Heights, IL, more than 20 years ago before we each attended college. I always enjoyed her friendship while I attended Edgemont. We recently connected again through Facebook and, after reading an article she wrote, I asked for permission to put it on my blog. Thanks for allowing me to share this, Sonya! 

The Little Things
May 2010

There always seems to be a debate on whether or not God cares about the little things in our lives. Whether or not we should pray for little things that don't seem to matter in the grand scheme of God's plan in the world. Well, I still pray for little things...especially when it comes to my children. One day God confirmed to me that He does care.

My mom and I decided to take Abby and Mason to the aquarium while the little kids were in preschool, to give us some more undistracted time with them.

This was not our first visit to the aquarium...we had been there many times before, and Mason, my 7 yr. old had quickly discovered there were certain aspects of the aquarium he didn't like. The parts where you could touch the creatures or they could touch you. You see, Mason is not really an animal lover. He appreciates them from afar but doesn't care to touch them. Even having dogs doesn't help. He tolerates them, but would be just as happy without them.

Abby, my 10 yr. old, is just the opposite! She loves every animal she sees, even the ugly ones, and wants to keep and take care of them. So when we get to the stingray tank, she is all ready to stick her hand in and pet them or even feed them shrimp when she gets the chance. When we go into the butterfly house, she can't wait for a butterfly to land on her!

Mason knows this and I wonder if it makes him feel inferior to his older sister. But he is also the type of child who will sometimes work to conquer certain things he can't do or personal fears that he has. I love that about

When we got to the stingray tank, he tried. He really did. He would stick his hand in a little, but when the stingray got close, he would pull it out again. I have to admit, it is a little scary, they are so slimy, and all. It takes guts for me to do it. We stayed at the tank awhile, waiting for him to finally pet one. Soon everyone was getting anxious to move on. I told him that we could try again another day. He didn't object too much, and the next stop was the butterfly house.

The last time we went in there, he was afraid. He doesn't like bugs. I guess most boys do, but he is not one of them. All these bugs flying around sometimes landing on you was too much for him. But he was determined that this time would be different.

He told me, "Mom, I want one to land on me today."

"Really, you do? That's great, honey! You can do it!" I tried to encourage him.

We spent lots of time in the butterfly room. He walked around to many different butterflies, holding his fingers out in front of them, trying to get them to crawl on his fingers. I was so proud of him! He really was trying to conquer his fears! Since he didn't pet the stingray, I especially wanted this to work out for him. I didn't want him to feel discouraged the rest of the day.

It was almost time to go, and no butterfly would land on him or crawl onto his hand. "What is up with these butterflies today?" I wondered. "Please God," I had been praying, "please let a butterfly land on him. It means so much to him." I know that might sound silly to a lot of people, but it didn't feel silly at all to pray that. This was a big moment in my little boy's life. And God knew that.

We were about to give up and head out when it happened. A butterfly was on his hand. He was so happy! He walked around the room so proud of his accomplishment. And do you know what? That butterfly would not leave him. It stayed and stayed and stayed longer than I had seen any other butterfly stay on anyone else. My mom and I were amazed.

And in that moment I realized how much God listens to my prayers. And to the heart of my son. He truly cares about my boy. And about what is important to Mason.

Before we left we had to gently get the butterfly to fly away. Mason had conquered something huge that day in his young life. I was able to share with him how Mommy had been praying for him and how God answered my prayer for him. I want him to always remember these moments and realize how much God cares about him and wants to help him have victory in his life. I know sometimes he prays on his own for the little things, and no matter how God chooses to answer him, I pray that his faith will grow more and more in each

In the little things.

1 Peter 5:7 - "Give ALL your worries and cares to God,
for He cares about what happens to you."

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Our Song - Still True After 18 Years!

My husband, David, and I were married 18 years ago today. The wedding took place at a small church in the Chicago area - at 6:00 p.m. A cassette tape of beautiful piano music, recorded by my husband’s college roommate, began the ceremony. The last song on the cassette was “Jesus Loves Me.” It played as the mothers and my grandmother were seated.

Following that song came OUR song. It played as my nephews lit the candles, and my brother and brother-in-law rolled out the “white carpet.” It played shortly before the groomsmen, bridesmaids and flower girl made their procession; and before my dad walked me down the aisle, to hand me over to another man.

Our song is not a “religious” song, but a love song released by a popular Country-Western group in the late 1980's. The words are what are most important to us, as they express how our lives have been changed by each other’s love, and how we have committed to love each other for a LIFETIME - through better or worse....

The words were typed out and included as an insert in our wedding bulletin, and I’d like to share them with you here. (To hear and see the actual song performed, you can also click on the title below.)

Changing my life, with your love, Has been so easy for you,
And I'm amazed, every day, and I'll need you
'Til all the mountains are valleys, And every ocean is dry, my love.

I'll be yours until the sun doesn't shine, 'Til time stands still,
Until the winds don't blow. When today is just a memory to me, I know,
I'll still be lovin’, I'll still be lovin’ you. I'll still be lovin’ you.

Never before did I know, How lovin’ someone could be.
Now I can see, you and me, for a lifetime.
Until the last moon is rising, You'll see the love in my eyes, my love.

I'll be yours until the sun doesn't shine, 'Til time stands still,
Until the winds don't blow. When today is just a memory to me, I know,
I'll still be lovin’, I'll still be lovin’ you.

Thankyou to everyone who shared in that day with us, as we made a commitment to love and honor each other for the rest of our lives. 

Thankyou, David, for keeping your promises to me. Happy Anniversary! I love you!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

We're Home! ~ Thankyou for your prayers!

We are home from our trip up North. My husband's dad did really well with the surgery. They removed his spleen and 40% of his pancreas, along with the nasty cyst that was attached. We won't know until later what kind of cyst it was. He had almost no bleeding, and they were able to do the surgey laparascopically. He has 4 small incisions and one larger one. The larger one is the most painful, of course. But, the pain has decreased as time has gone by. We are all thankful the surgery was done in the minimum amount of time and there were no complications.

We are glad to be home safe and sound, and thank YOU for your prayers! Please continue to keep them coming. Pray that pneumonia, blood clots, and other complications do not develop. Also, pray for "Mom." She will continue to travel back and forth to the hospital everyday until he is discharged, which is a 45-minute drive one-way, and in big-city traffic. She will need strength and endurance these next few days, and also as she cares for "Dad" back at home.

God bless!

P.S. - A BIG thank you to my mom, who traveled with us and took care of the kids so I was able to join my husband and the family at the hospital. It was really great to have you along, Mom. I appreciate it so much! Also, thankyou to Dad for bringing her to us and picking her back up. Love you both!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Prayer Request for My Father-in-Law

I’d like to ask for everyone to pray for my father-in-law. This Friday morning, he will be undergoing a tricky surgery to remove a cyst on his pancreas. Please pray for guidance of the doctor’s hands, no complications, and a speedy recovery.

Also pray for the family for traveling mercies, as well peace during the waiting process of this lengthy surgery.

My mother will be staying with the kids while my husband and I join the rest of the family. This will be a great help to me!

I will update you as I am able.  Thankyou!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Should We Get Used to Disappointment?

One of my favorite movies from the late 1980's is The Princess Bride. For those of you who don’t know, it's a humorous “fairy tale” about a young woman who is being forced to marry a prince, while her true love does whatever is necessary to keep that from happening. There is a theme of vengeance in the movie, as well as one bad word. So, I would caution allowing children to watch it without the parents. But, for those of you who enjoy a goofy love story, filled with action and adventure, this is the one!

There is a scene in the movie (you can watch it below) where two of the main characters are having a sword fight. In this scene, they meet for the first time and, during the “chatty” fight, they have a conversation that goes like this...

“Who are you?”
“No one of consequence.”
“I must know.”
“Get used to disappointment.”

The scene usually brings a lot of laughs. However, the last time I watched it (we own the DVD), it got me to thinking about disappointments. As long as we live in this world, we are going to experience them. So, should we just get used to them and not let them bother us at all? That could solve a lot of our problems, couldn’t it? After all, if we were to get used to them, we would be less likely to become discouraged and depressed. So, is that the answer?

No, its not....

While there is something to be said about not letting the “little things” get you down, it is practically impossible for anyone to become so used to disappointment that it will not affect them at all. If it didn’t affect us, we would be heartless and unfeeling robots - not human beings. So, rather than getting used to disappointment, we should instead get used to having the Lord by our side, carrying us through those difficult times.

Through all the ups and downs of life, God is there right along side us. When we are happy, he is happy along with us. When we are disappointed, he is there for us to pour our hearts out to. The key, I would say, to keeping those disappointments from moving us into “the pit of despair,” is not to ignore them, but to trust in the Lord and realize He has our best interests at heart. He is able to take our disappointments and use them as growing experiences while, hopefully, drawing us closer to Himself.

Romans 8:28 - And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (NAS)

Isn't is funny how we can learn something from a goofy love story?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"Embracing Your Second Calling" - Bourke

I recently joined Book Sneeze, through Thomas Nelson Publishers and, as a member of this group, I am able to choose a complimentary book to have sent to me. In return, I am obligated to write an honest review of the book on my blog. So, I've been busy these past few weeks, reading a new book. 

This first book I chose was “Embracing Your Second Calling” by Dale Hanson Bourke.

It is geared towards women over the age of 40 but, more importantly, for those who are now without children and/or a husband in the home to care for. In other words, those who are in an “empty nest.” As the back of the book says, the author “challenges women to respond to God’s call specifically for this season of life and offers practical ideas for finding new meaning.”

My children are still quite young at the ages of 11 and 7, so this book did not completely apply to me. However, I was still able to glean some helpful insight. I especially enjoyed the way the author incorporated the book of Ruth (the story of Naomi) into this book. It was almost like a study guide for me, in that regard. She had a lot of interesting facts and insights about this book of the Bible that I hadn’t thought about before.

I would recommend this book to women who are entering middle age or have been there for awhile, especially if your children are grown (or mostly grown), or to someone who is trying to determine her purpose for living during the 2nd half of her life.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Meal for Daddy

It doesn’t take much to get a child excited about encouraging or helping someone else in a special way. Earlier this week, I had some excitement in my voice when I asked the kids, “Hey, would you like to help me make one of Daddy’s favorite meals?” Of course, they said YES! I believe there were two reasons for that...

(1) They knew we would be having some fun, quality time in the kitchen...working with our hands, spending time together, learning how to cook, and don’t forget taste testing everything that we make.

(2) They also knew we would be doing something special for their Daddy, whom they love and want to please.

So, with all that in mind, we set up to begin making Baked Spaghetti.... First, the kids sliced some green olives while I boiled a pot of water.

Once the olives were done, the kids helped put the spaghetti into the pot. Then, we prepared the baking pan and found the other ingredients we would need. After draining the cooked spaghetti, they both helped mix in the sauce and olives. The mixture was poured into a large baking pan, then the kids had fun sprinkling cheese all over the top (and mushrooms only on half, since Daddy is the only one who likes them. Yuck!).

Then, wahlah! We were done! The only thing left was to allow it time to bake in the oven, ready to be eaten when Daddy got home from work. Well.... aside from washing the dishes - and the kids actually did most of that as well! Our son will do anything if he gets the chance to play in the water. Ha!

The kids were so happy about the job they did, and were excited to tell Daddy what we were having for supper. By making one of his favorite meals, they took the time to not only TELL their daddy they loved him, but to also SHOW him. I know it was satisfying for them to see their daddy was pleased with his meal. It was also satisfying for me to have given my husband some positive attention after a hard day at work.

Doing something special for someone doesn’t have to happen only on a holiday or special occasion. It can (and should) happen OFTEN throughout the year.

1 John 3:18 – Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (NIV)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hide Thou Me

I know I’m not alone when I quote this phrase from a favorite old gospel hymn, Hide Thou Me:

Sometimes I feel discouraged,
and I think my work’s in vain.
I’m tempted oft(en) to murmur,
to grumble and complain.

Sound familiar? Life can be so hard sometimes, can’t it? And, it can be just as hard to refrain from grumbling and complaining about it. This phrase has been on my mind more times than I can count, especially during these past few months. But, thankfully, this is not how it has to end. The next phrase of the song says:

But, then I think of Jesus and all He’s done for me.
Then I cry, “Oh, Rock of Ages, hide Thou me.”

God never said we would be exempt from difficult times. However, He did promise to be with us every step of the way. So, instead of complaining about WHY life is so hard, and WHY God hasn’t eased our discomfort, we should be taking refuge in Him, allowing Him to shelter us from the storms. It is only then that peace will come from within. 

Psalm 18:2 - The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

There are many hymns that have been written around the Lord being our rock. The traditional hymn Rock of Ages was written by Augustus M. Toplady in 1776, when he took refuge among some limestone rocks in England, during a violent thunderstorm. He was the author of several different hymns, but Rock of Ages seems to have been the most popular of them all.

Rock of Ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in Thee.

Click here for the tune, lyrics, and more info on this hymn:

Later in the 1800's, Fanny Crosby, another popular hymn writer, wrote the first version of Hide Thou Me, which also talks about our refuge in the “Rock of Ages.”

In Thy cleft, O Rock of Ages, hide Thou me!
When the fitful tempest rages, hide Thou me!
Where no mortal arm can sever
From my heart Thy love forever,
Hide me, O Thou Rock of Ages, safe in Thee!

Click here for the tune, lyrics, and more info on this hymn:
HIDE THOU ME - Fanny Crosby

In 1926, another version of Hide Thou Me (mentioned at the start) was written by L.R. Tolbert and Thoro Harris. I had a difficult time finding information around this song, but did find it has been recorded by several musical artists throughout the years, including Elvis Presley, The Cathedrals, Iris Dement, The Melody Boys Quartet, and many others. My guess is it’s because people can relate to this song in a personal way. It lets us know we are not alone in feeling discouraged, but also gives us hope and reassurance during the trials we face.

The version of Hide Thou Me which I have enjoyed the most over these past few months is sung by The Gaither Vocal Band from their album, “I Do Believe.” This video below shows them singing the hymn with great harmony and passion. Enjoy!