Saturday, January 29, 2011

"The Dragon and the Turtle" - Book Review and Contest Info.

The Dragon and the Turtle, by Donita K. Paul and Evangeline Denmark, is a cutely illustrated, and uniquely descriptive picture book about Padraig the dragon and his new friend, Roger the turtle. I think most children in the age range of 4-10, would enjoy this book - although it seems my 8 year-old son enjoyed it more than his older sister, probably due to the fact that it includes 2 boys (one of them a dragon), and a pretend pirate adventure. 

For a brief synopsis, two completely different boys meet and become friends; Padraig realizes his new friend is lost and does everything he can to help Roger get back home; the boys use the senses of sight, sound, smell and taste to finally find the right house. 

Unlike other picture story books I’ve seen, this one has a couple of pages found after the story to help a parent or caregiver delve deeper into the meaning of the book. It offers a Bible verse (Proverbs 17:17,) as well as discussion questions regarding friendship. It even gives a recipe on the last page for Chocolate Chip Snappers, the special kind of cookies mentioned in the book. 

You can find this book on for under $10.00. And, for those who are interested, Waterbrook Multomah Press is now running a “Go On Safari” contest, based on The Dragon and the Turtle books. Children ages 2-10 may participate in the contest, but you need to hurry, as the contest ends on February 11, 2011. 

The grand prize winner will win a "go on safari" kit complete with:
  • A child-size tent
  • Two sleeping bags
  • Campfire treats
  • Essential safari tools (a compass, a flashlight, and a spy glass)
  • Stuffed animals
  • Copies of The Dragon and the Turtle and The Dragon and the Turtle Go on Safari
Two runner-up winners will receive a copy of The Dragon and the Turtle and The Dragon and the Turtle Go on Safari and a stuffed animal.

You can check out the details of this contest here:

Fruit of the Spirit: LOVE (Book Review)

This book about LOVE is one in a series of 9 books written by Calvin Miller. The series is based around the Fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5 - love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. To quote the author on page 104 of the book,

“Love is the first fruit of the spirit. It is well-placed at the head of the list, for it permeates everything. Somehow if we live a life of love, the other virtues will attend us all the days of our lives. Love is the key that unlocks the entire fruit basket of Galatians 5:22-23.”

Recommended for use in a small group, this is not the kind of book you would just pick up and read, just to read it. As a small group study guide, it is to be studied over a 6-week period. There is a page or two each person reads on a daily basis for the first 6 days of each week. Day 1 covers the introduction of the chapter at hand. Day 2 teaches about the purpose of God in our lives. Day 3 talks about our relationship with Christ. Day 4 covers our service to others. Day 5 is about personal worship. Day 6 goes into a character study of a person in the Bible. Then, on day 7, the group meets together for discussion, encouraging all members of the group to participate and learn together.

Topics over the six weeks include the characteristics of LOVE, and how it can be cultivated in our own lives. Included are things like giving, forgiveness, the definition of God, God’s love for us - which is an unconditional love, how to love and serve other people, and how to love and worship God.

Overall, the book is a good one to get. However, it does seem to be rather simplistic and may need to be supplemented with more in-depth discussion questions, depending on the needs of the group. A good small group leader should have no problem using this book as a basis for a deeper study if needed.

You can find more information about the book by clicking HERE.

Disclaimer:  I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stand Firm

So many of my friends and family members are hurting right now, for various reasons. I actually can’t think of one single person who isn’t going through something that is difficult for them at this very moment. Several are struggling specifically with people they deal with at work. Others are dealing with family members who give them grief for one reason or another. Some are struggling with their own feelings and emotions over various issues. And, some are battling with their own thoughts and/or desires.

In all cases, I’ve come to realize the struggles we face are “not against flesh and blood.” In other words, the struggles we encounter do not really come from dealing with people, but from something much deeper. They come from the conniving plots of the devil. Let me explain...

Satan will do whatever he can to discourage us in our Christian walk - by bringing strife into our relationships, making us doubt who we are in Christ, and making us feel unworthy of God’s love. Satan knows that if he can get us to stay focused on ourselves and on the things of this world, we will not be focusing on the Lord. He knows his days are limited here on earth and it is his greatest desire to thwart any advances in spreading the wonderful news of salvation to others. This is why its important for us to “be strong in the Lord” by consciously putting on our spiritual armor every day. I’m speaking to myself here, too! I know I need to try and be more consistent about doing this, especially during the Winter season when the “blues” seem to hit much harder.

Eph 6:10-18 says...
(10) Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
(11) Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
(12) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
(13) Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
(14) Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
(15) and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
(16) In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
(17) Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
(18) And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

If you are experiencing strife in your relationships at work or in the community - STAND FIRM against the schemes of the devil.

If you are struggling with your spouse today, or any other family members - STAND FIRM against the schemes of the devil.

If you are struggling with addiction in any shape or form - STAND FIRM against the schemes of the devil.

If you are allowing your thoughts and emotions to get the best of you today (guilt, pride, anger, embarrassment, unworthiness, etc.) - STAND FIRM against the schemes of the devil.

If you are doubting the existence of God because He’s not answering your prayers as soon as you think He should - STAND FIRM against the schemes of the devil.

If you are getting so busy with your life that you don’t feel you have time to attend church or spend time alone with the Lord - STAND FIRM against the schemes of the devil.

If you are feeling discouraged today for whatever reason - STAND FIRM against the schemes of the devil.

Don’t quit praying and seeking God’s direction for your life. Don’t succumb to Satan’s evil plans - STAND FIRM against the schemes of the devil.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A "Gabby Mom" REVIEW: True Treasures

NEWS REPORT: My blog was recently approved for The Gabby Moms, a blogging program through TEACH magazine (now known as Eternal Encouragement). As a “Gabby Mom,” I will be writing monthly reviews on various products and sharing them with you on my blog.

FYI: Eternal Encouragement is a magazine geared towards encouraging women in their choice to be wives, mothers, and homemakers; while also challenging us to strive for improvement in the areas we are lacking. To find more information about this magazine, go to:

Now, on to my first review.... The book I was asked to review for the month of January is called

“True Treasures.”

It is a newer book, in a thin, 8x10, magazine-style format, that celebrates the first 10 years of TEACH Magazine. In the picture (left) it looks a lot thicker than it really is, but it's filled with some of the best articles from the past years, and breaks them into 6 different categories for easy reference:

• Jewels That Make the Heart Sparkle
• Marriages Made of Solid Gold
• Parenting Pearls: Practical and Priceless
• Homemaking That Dazzles Like Diamonds
• Homeschooling Nuggets of Wisdom
• Godly Living That Glitters

If you haven’t noticed, the chapter titles coincide with the book’s title, revealing how the articles in the book are “True Treasures.” Pretty neat, huh? But, anyway, if you are like me, it is hard to get through an entire novel in a decent amount of time. But, with this book, it is easy for busy moms to pick it up and read through one or two articles in one short sitting.

So, do I like the book? Yes, I do! I would recommend it for women of just about any age who are wanting to read encouraging articles and helpful ideas on homemaking, Biblical and practical parenting, marriage, homeschooling, and living a Godly life. As I read through this book, it has given me some helpful advice, as well as encouragement in being the kind of woman I have chosen to be. Many of the articles overlap in topics, as well. For example, an article titled, “Teach Your Children to Embrace Homemaking” is placed in the “Homemaking” category. However, it also could be included under “Practical Parenting.”

There is only one thing I would possibly change about this book, and that is to maybe add a splash of color on at least some of the pages. There is a picture of a flower on most of the pages, and I think it would be so much more appealing to have those flowers in color. But, that’s just me - I’m a visual kind of person.

For more information, or to order the book, click here to be linked to the TEACH (Eternal Encouragement) website: ORDER

SPECIAL DISCOUNT: You can get $4.00 off of “True Treasures” until May 31, 2011 (only one per customer and per order). Just enter this coupon code at checkout: GABBYMOM

Thankyou, Eternal Encouragement Magazine, for allowing me to review this book for you.


Disclaimer: I received this product for honest review from Eternal Encouragement Magazine as a part of The Gabby Moms blogging program. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My New Haircut

This past weekend, I guess I had what some would call the “Winter blues.” I was so bored with life and also a lack of sunshine. Basically, it stemmed from the fact that I had been cooped up in our house for the previous 2 weeks, due to bad weather and taking care of sick family (my son and my husband). So, I was bummed, to say the least; and every little thing that happened was one more reason to bring me down, including the way my hair had been acting lately. Every woman that I know goes through spurts where they are sick and tired of their hair and desire a change. So, what did I decide to do about it? Did I call up a beautician and make an appointment? Nope! Oh, instead, I decided I could do it myself. Ha ha ha

I have cut my children’s hair since they were babies, and I have trimmed my own hair many times as well, so I was looking forward to my hair being refreshed by a little trim. However, I must have taken my frustrations out with the scissors and ended up cutting off a LOT more than I had planned - not to mention, it was very uneven in the back. I was NOT happy, and was depressed and grumpy the rest of the day. Eventually, my husband’s shoulder became soaked as buckets of emotions were poured out on him. The tearful release was a big help... but it sure didn’t help the looks of my hair! I was actually embarrassed to leave the house.

I finally connected with my friend, Gwen, and she graciously opened her salon for me that night to give me a more evened up haircut. I still hated the shortness of it, but at least it was in better shape than I had left it. One consolation was that hair does grow back! Then, after a good night’s sleep and a shower the next morning, I didn’t hate my hair as much as I did the night before; and, as time has gone by this week, the change has grown on me.

So, what’s the moral of this story? Well, I could use this example to show how one “little” wrong-doing can turn into bunches of wrongs, and can eventually wreak havoc on something you thought would be simple to get away with. That could work, right? But, no.... I think the best example this story has to offer is what NOT to do when you are cooped up in the house and bored to no end. At least I’ve learned MY lesson!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

January 16th is Full of Memories


Sounds like a clock, doesn’t it? Well, its not. It’s the sound I hear almost every night in bed, but its not my clock, or a watch. Actually, it might sound more like a “click.” Listen again....

It’s a sound I have become accustomed to hearing for the last 15 years of my marriage. Now that I think about it, its actually been quite comforting to me - oh - aside from the snoring part of it... I guess I forgot to mention that part...

Yep, its coming from my husband. The clicking part actually comes from an artificial heart valve opening and closing - it was installed in 1996, 15 years ago today! Wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long! The snoring part... well, that just came as a part of the package. But, anyway, January 16 is a significant day in our lives because it was the beginning of a new adventure and a new kind of health for David.

But, actually the 16th has more than one significant meaning to us. On that day, in1990, David and I met for the first time...

My remembrance of January 16, 1990 ~
The first day of Angelology class was about to begin. It was a popular class on the study of angels, mostly taken by upperclassmen. I was only a Sophomore, but I knew this would be my last semester at the Moody Bible Institute. So, with a strong desire to take this class before leaving school, I walked into the lower entrance of Alumni Auditorium and looked around for a place to sit. I didn’t want to sit too far in the back. Nor did I want a seat too close to the front. Spotting a few empty seats somewhere between the front and the mid-section, I walked up the stairs and sat a few chairs away from another young student. He looked at me and said, “Hi, my name’s Dave.” I replied in the same manner, revealing my name as “Vicky.” He seemed like a nice, young man. And, not too bad looking either. Curiously, I had never met, or even seen him before. In my three semesters at Moody, I thought I had at least passed by each student in the hallways. This one obviously got missed. A thought entered my mind and made me think this “Dave” would become someone special in my life. I had this feeling he was thinking the same thing about me. But, I brushed the thought aside and decided not to acknowledge it. I was getting over a “crush” I had on another young man, and was not interested in dating anyone. So, the next time class was in session, I chose to sit closer to a student from my brother floor. This was in hopes of warding off any advances from Dave. Little did I know, not only would Dave end up being a special friend, he would eventually become the husband I thought I’d never see.

A year later, that SAME day in 1991, I bought my first car - a tan 1984 Ford Escort, a car that I used to drive back and forth to visit Dave while we were long-distance dating (You can see the back end of it in this picture).

And, as already mentioned, that same day in 1996, my husband of 3 years (at that time) underwent a major open heart surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm and replace a bad valve.

My goodness... such memories from January 16th....

I am thankful the Lord brought David and I together as friends - 21 years ago today.

I am thankful the Lord provided a way for David and I to continue seeing each other after we went separate ways from college - 20 years ago today.

I am thankful the Lord spared David’s life when he underwent a very complicated surgery - 15 years ago today... and it’s why I take comfort in hearing the constant every night by my side. To be honest, I don’t even mind the snoring...

Happy “anniversary” David, in more ways than one!
I'm so glad God brought you into my life!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Significant January Event: Dealing With Guilt

Today’s significant January event came from ten years ago. On January 11, 2001, David and I found out we were pregnant with our 2nd child. Our daughter was 2 ½ at the time, and we had been trying for another child for almost a year. It was something we should have been thrilled about, but we weren’t. The joy of it had been stolen away due to the recent diagnosis of our daughter’s autism. We were still trying to process the load from that and, even though I tried to be excited about another baby, the thought of another child possibly having some sort of disorder made us both nervous.

Three days later, on January 14th, I miscarried that baby. Talk about a huge array of emotions that took place... Part of me was sad for the loss, a bigger part was relieved, but the biggest part was feeling guilty over feeling relieved.

Guilt. We’ve all felt it about one thing or another. Sometimes the guilt we experience is to make us realize the error of our ways. But, sometimes, its simply from a lack of meeting our own expectations. In this case, I expected myself to be grieving for the loss of this child when, instead, I was relieved.

What I eventually came to realize was, I was not really relieved we had lost a baby. Instead, I was relieved that God had decided the timing wasn’t right for us to have another child. It all depends on the perspective. Are you focusing on yourself, or focusing on God’s overall plan for your life?

The idea I’m getting at is to consistently seek God’s direction and determine WHY you are feeling guilty; and, if you are feeling guilty today, there is only one way to overcome it - stay in tune to the Lord and follow His prompting to do what HE is telling you to do. In other words, if you’ve done something wrong, then you are being convicted with your guilt and you need to set things straight - make amends with the person(s) you have hurt, and/or change your behavior. But, if your guilt is from your own high expectations, then lower them to where you are no longer having nosebleeds. Guilt in this case doesn’t come because you’ve done something wrong - it comes because Satan is trying to discourage you and lead you down the path of depression. Don’t let him win. Deal with your guilt TODAY.

God's blessings to you all!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Significant January Event: The Birth of Our Son

Eight years ago today, David and I held our newborn son for the first time. I was due to deliver on January 6 and, if I didn’t go into labor before then, I was going to be induced on the morning of January 8th. We asked my mom to come on the afternoon of January 7th, so someone could stay with our 4 year old daughter while I was in the hospital the next 2 days. Before she arrived, David and I went to our last doctor’s appointment and the doc said I could possibly go into labor on my own that evening. After the appointment, we walked around Walmart for awhile and I was having major Braxton Hix contractions (or so I thought). I was actually in labor at that time and didn’t even realize it because there was no pain, only pressure. After supper that evening, the contractions increased and I was having them 2-3 minutes apart, still without any pain. David and I questioned whether or not we should head in to the birth center or not. My mom thought it was a good idea, but David wasn’t too sure since I wasn’t having any pain. I was puzzled as well because I had never gone into labor before on my own and didn’t know what to expect. As we debated, here is the e-mail David sent out to a few family and friends:

January 7, 2003 (Tuesday) - Hello, It is Tuesday night at 7:30 pm. We went to the doctor today and Vicky is at the brink of delivery. He said she is 100% effaced, and dilated to 4-5 cm!! He said that we should get the car packed, because it would not surprise him if she went tonight. He also said that when she goes into labor, we should not mess around and get straight to the hospital. He said that she will go very quickly. He even said that if we get delayed in leaving, we should have some clean blankets and..... (well, he lost his train of thought, due to my interrupting him).
Ever since this morning, she has been having the Braxton-Hicks contractions. They have been getting quite regular ever since the appointment, and at times are 2 to 3 minutes apart, however, there is no pain yet. She said there is only pressure. So, we are sitting here wondering, is this the real thing, or is this false labor, or is it still the Braxton-Hicks.... 
So, the car is packed, Vicky's mom is here to watch our daughter, and the countdown begins!! If she does not go overnight, we will be at St. John's at 7:00 tomorrow morning to get induced. 
Wait a minute....  
Ok it's time to go. We just got off the phone with the Birth Center and they said it is time to come in!!
What he didn’t mention in the e-mail is that, the doctor he talked to on the phone scared the daylights out of him! She said, with how far dilated I was, and how close the contractions were, he better be ready to deliver that baby in the CAR! LOL. So, we headed to the hospital (with the song “My Deliverer is Coming” by Rich Mullins playing on the radio) and arrived in our birthing suite around 8:30 that night. Our son was born at 11:42 p.m. He was 8 lbs, 13 oz., and measured at 21 ½ inches.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: The Sacred Meal

The Sacred Meal was published in November 2009 as one in a series of books on Christian practices. The author, Nora Gallagher, is an Episcopalian priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara, CA.

As for my thoughts on the book, oh where do I start..... Well, I guess I'll begin by saying this book gets a big thumbs down from me! I chose this book because, as a self-published author of my own book on communion, I was curious to see what another author teaches about this familiar act of worship among Christians. Due to the fact that I disagree with many aspects of Episcopalian theology, I didn’t expect to agree with everything in this book, but I did expect to be taught more about the history behind taking Communion, the meaning of it, and the reasons why Christians partake. Since the author is a priest, I expected her to also give Biblical references regarding the topic. Instead, what I found was a lot of emotional “babble” about how serving and receiving communion made her FEEL. Instead of Biblical references, she used many quotes from people that I’ve never even heard of and used a lot of awkward (and rather boring) reasoning for why she feels the way she does during participation of this Christian practice.

Honestly, it would take me a book of my own to pick through and discuss everything I found that I didn’t like about this book (Scripturally and otherwise). But, I don’t have the time for that. So, I will briefly just mention a few of the “biggies.”

Chapter 4 has a large amount of awkward reasoning regarding her understanding of the left and right brain. It was truly pointless, in my opinion.

In chapter 5, the author encourages mystical experiences while taking communion. Scripture gives us no such direction to do so.

On page 66, she goes into a spiel about Jesus’ first miracle - the one where He turned water into wine at a wedding reception. To quote the author, she said, “The wine was hidden in the water.” What? No it wasn’t! Jesus miraculously CHANGED the water into wine! That’s why it’s called a miracle.

Chapter 8 is probably the most informational chapter in the book, as it reveals the authors beliefs on communion - the make of it, the reason for it, who can take it, why, etc. While I expected to disagree with her on most of this, I at least expected to find Scripture references that she uses to support her position. Instead, I was very disappointed, as there was a gaping lack of Scripture references to back up her beliefs (or rather, her opinions). But, that is not surprising considering she seems to hold a very low view of Scripture to begin with (p. 110).

In chapter 9, she prays along with the Muslims at an interfaith gathering. To quote her on page 100, she said she came away “energized by a new way of praying and well fed.” Doesn’t she realize that the Muslims aren’t praying to the same God that we know as God the Father, Jehovah?

I was truly disappointed with this book and do not recommend it. It completely misses the point of what “the sacred meal” is all about. If you are interested in learning more about communion and what it really means, it would be worth your while to pass this one up and move on to one with a lot more substance.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. The intent of my review is not to stir up strife or divide the church body, but to honestly express my concern over some of the content in this book. 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.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Significant Event: Our Daughter's Diagnosis

Happy New Year! I’m not normally one for making new year resolutions, and don’t really intend to start. However, I often use the newness of the year to reflect on years gone by, as well as wonder what the future has in store.

For us, the month of January has tended to be a month that hosts significant events in our lives. Not sure why, exactly, but it just seems to have worked out that way. One such event happened ten years ago today! Our sweet daughter, our firstborn child, was 2 ½ years old on January 3, 2001, when she was diagnosed with Autism. It was definitely a significant event in our lives. Not an easy event, but one that has changed our lives in a tremendous way; one that we will remember forever. I’d like to share an excerpt from my journal on that day...

January 3, 2001 - Our daughter had her appointment with a developmental pediatrician this morning. It’s not exactly very encouraging news. She has been diagnosed with a moderate form of Autism, or Autistic Spectrum disorder. Plus, she has Sensory Integration Dysfunction - which means she is very sensitive to certain sights, sounds and textures, making it hard for her to learn about the world around her. Doc suggested she begin seeing an Occupational Therapist soon, to help out with that. So, I set up an appointment with our Service Coordinator through Child and Family Connections. She will be out tomorrow morning to help us pick out a therapist.

David and I are taking this news a bit hard. I don’t know what all David is thinking because he is at work right now and we haven’t had much of a chance to talk yet. But, I know he is upset and wants to come home. We have both suspected autism for quite some time now, but it didn’t really hit home until the doctor said the word out loud. When she said the word “autism” my heart skipped a beat. Our fears had just become reality. I have been on the verge of tears through-out the day. I haven’t actually broken down yet, though. I guess I’m just trying to let the news sink in a bit. I’ve been keeping busy most of the day, to help keep my mind off of it, too. I just don’t know what I’m going to do. How will I take care of a child with autism? Doc gave us a long list of books that we can check into for more information. I guess I’ll have to start with a couple of them and go from there. It’s just really sad and frustrating to know my daughter has this disorder, and there’s no known cause or cure for it.... There is a good chance she will be able to adjust to this disorder so that others won’t even be able to tell she has it. But, there is also a good chance that she will never be socially compliant, and will probably never even have a serious relationship or get married. It’s really disheartening. As parents, we have so many hopes and plans for our daughter. We want her to excel as a student and as a person, and grow up loving the Lord and serving Him. We want her to one day fall in love, get married, and basically just be happy. I know that sometimes what we want for our kids is not what the Lord has planned. But, it still hurts.

I guess the main thing right now is that there’s so much uncertainty. We just don’t know how severe her disorder really is, and whether or not she will improve. We really won’t know until she is older. Doc said she will not get any worse, but she could get better. So, that’s what we’ll have to pray for. Hopefully, our daughter will be at the high functioning end of the autistic scale. But, if she’s not, we will still love her no matter what. She is our child, our beloved daughter, our flesh and blood. She means the world to us and we are glad she is here to brighten our days with her smile.
As I look back on that day and remember, I sometimes wish we had never had to experience it. But, at the same time, I know the Lord used this event to help my husband and I learn and grow in various ways; and, even though we have accepted our daughters autism and love her for who she is, we will never stop learning and growing; but, we will continue to trust the Lord to give us wisdom regarding her needs.

Being a Christian does not mean everything in our life will be perfect, but it does mean we can rely on the Lord to give us the wisdom and strength we need to get through it. With the wisdom that only God can give, our daughter has made wonderful progress over the years and has overcome many obstacles. She continues to improve and we feel so blessed to have her in our lives.

James 1:5 - But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (NAS)