Thursday, December 23, 2010

A little something the girls and I came up with today....

My Family Right Now

That’s my Adi Marie
With a very cute little tushie.
And a smile as big as the sea. 
That’s my Adi Marie. 

That’s my Emma Colleen
She’s as sweet as a jelly bean. 
Her heart is so naturally keen. 
That’s my Emma Colleen. 
That’s my Judah dog. 
He’s smart and eats like a hog.
He sheds fur as thick as ocean fog. 
That’s my Judah dog. 
That’s my Gilbert Benjamin. 
He a great daddy for our two little women. 
He is fast like the wind and very genuine.
That’s my Gilbert Benjamin. 
That’s my Lyzza Jane.
She just about needs a cane. 
She’s old and sweet and doesn’t like rain.
That’s my Lyzza Jane. 
That’s my family right now. 
I love them more than I know how.   
I feel in a constant state of wow,
Because I can’t believe this is my family right now. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Took His Hand and Followed

Mrs. Roy L. Peifer

My dishes went unwashed today,
I didn't make the bed,
I took his hand and followed
Where his eager footsteps led.

Oh yes, we went adventuring,
My little son and I...
Exploring all the great outdoors
Beneath the summer sky

We waded in a crystal stream,
We wandered through a wood...
My kitchen wasn't swept today
But life was gay and good.

We found a cool, sun-dappled glade
And now my small son knows
How Mother Bunny hides her nest,
Where jack-in-the-pulpit grows.

We watched a robin feed her young,
We climbed a sunlit hill...
Saw cloud-sheep scamper through the sky,
We plucked a daffodil.

That my house was neglected,
That I didn't brush the stairs,
In twenty years, no one on earth
Will know, or even care.

But that I've helped my little boy
To noble manhood grow,
In twenty years, the whole wide world
May look and see and know.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Book Review: Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury

Karen Kingsbury’s, Unlocked was a great read! I am not usually a reader of fiction, but after several months of heavy, serious reading, I went looking for something light and enjoyable. Unlocked is about two families, both struggling to deal with the weight of life and all of it’s entanglements. One family deals with money and time issues- placing their priorities completely off balance, while the other family deals with a disorder in a child- placing their world off balance too. 
Having studied and worked with families living with the same disorder that Kingsbury’s character’s have, I found her descriptions of the coping mechanisms, therapies offered, and unique behaviors to be fairly accurate. The author did her homework when it came to writing correctly about this diagnosis. 
I also learned that Kingsbury often takes parts of “real-life” and uses it in her novels. For instance, in this particular book, she used the name of an actual person for the main character of this book. I like that! 
From the perspective of an avid non-fiction reader, this was refreshing, quick and heart-tugging. 
A copy of the book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thanks Zondervan!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Book Review: START! The Bible for New Believers

I recently finished reviewing START! The Bible for New Believers, NKJV by Greg Laurie. This seems to be a good resource for a new believer because of the large amount of “extras” found throughout the scriptures. The reader frequently stumbles upon explanations, thought-provoking questions, discussion guides, application points and the like. Each extra point, quote, or question is highlighted to make it obvious that it is not actual biblical text. 
One aspect of the START! Bible that I don’t care for is that portions of scriptures have been made bold and much larger in text size. The verses, or portions of verses, that are selected for this special treatment seem to be the most popular ones that Bible readers jump to or quickly memorize. This causes the pages of the Bible to look much like a magazine clipping. Some might like this because it takes the “highness” out of looking at the page of scriptures, but I feel that it causes the reader to assume some verses are more important than others. Perhaps it is no different that underlining or highlighting a verse in my own Bible, but it still does not appeal to me. 
I do like the bright, unthreatening cover of the START! Bible. The cover even grabbed the attention of someone I know who does not currently read the Bible! 
Overall, I like this Bible. I just wish it combined the easy reading of a different translation of the Bible with the great additions to the text. 
I was given a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Amazing things happen when I wear the white nightgown

(Photo from

Got your attention, didn’t I? It’s absolutely true- amazing things happen when I wear the white nightgown. Now, before your mind goes somewhere it shouldn’t, allow me to describe to your my white nightgown. Picture Little House on the Prairie- minus the ridiculous turtleneck collar and super long sleeves. Combine that with the softest cotton ever touched and you’ve got my nightgown. It’s not what twenty-something married ladies wear to bed. However, as you know already, amazing things happen when I wear this nightgown. My superhero side comes out. Perhaps I even channel the bravery of Laura when she rescued the horses from the flaming barn. 
Just this morning, I woke up to cries of Emma (4). She is now strong and tall enough to open the backdoor and let the dogs in or out whenever they bark. Today, instead of her usual pitstop at my bedside, she went straight to releasing the dogs. That’s when the cries started. It’s ok, take a deep breath- she wasn’t trampled or anything. Somehow, the most precious Mother Goose toy was launched over the rails of the back porch and Judah assumed it was a game of fetch. He launched his agile body down the steps, grabbed the stuffed toy and sprinted to the backyard. Meanwhile the house was filled with the kind of screams that causes any sleepy slowness to flee and makes all moms tap into their inner olympic athlete. I arrived, in my white nightgown, at the back door, stepped onto the back porch in the frosty cold and could not see Mother Goose anywhere. Emergency action was necessary. I ran back inside, slipped on some shoes, grabbed the husband’s coat and rescued the goose from the jaws of Judah. Mother Goose survived another day with just a bit of mud on her back. Shew. 
This is the stuff major motion pictures are made of. 
The white nightgown was a participant in another fabulous night 6 years ago. A few weeks prior to this memorable night, we had acquired a chocolate lab that was forced to sleep in a kennel in the backyard temporarily. She usually complained about her accommodations for a few minutes, but would settle and sleep quietly through the night. This particular night though, she woke up with the most ferocious bark I have ever heard a lab produce. In my sleepy state, I thought it a good idea to go out and check on her. While opening the lock, I heard what sounded like hundreds of hooves running nearby. Since I live in Virginia, I assume the hooves belonged to deer rather than moose or gazelle. All the nighttime brilliance I could muster caused me to let the dog chase the hooves. In the dark, I was unable to see where they coming from or where they were going, so I made my first heroic move in the white nightgown. I got in the dog kennel and shut the gate. I placed my security from the thundering hooves in the hands-or paws- of my overweight and ADHD dog. While standing there in the moonlight of Franklin Avenue, I realized the whole world could now have the opportunity to check out of my white, cotton nightgown if they so wished. I had to wait for the dog to return so I could put her back in the kennel before I could go back inside. Never have I been so thankful for her overweightness before- she didn’t run far- just far enough to chase away the hundreds of hooves. Within a minute or two, she was back and ready to recover in her safe kennel. I quickly locked her up and sprinted back inside. A quick catch of my breath and I was back in bed. While in my white, cotton nightgown, I had avoided a stampede by the hooves running through my backyard that night.

There is no spiritual significance to this story, it's just funny. 
 The nightgown hasn’t failed me. It’s seen all sorts of action- puke, house cleaning, potential stampede, and recognizance from Judah. It’s possible the most accommodating and motivating outfit I own. You should get one too! They are for sale in the old lady section of your local department store. Get ready to fall in love with the softest cotton you’ve ever touched and to be amazed at the moments of strength you experience that night. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Recently I have been praying through parts of prayer written by St.Patrick. I love that with such simple and concise words, one can be drawn into the presence of the King. It’s been wonderful starting my day with just a sentence of of the prayer and reminding myself of those pleadings and promises through the day. I’d like to share it with you too. 
As I arise today,
may the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me,
the wisdom of God guide me.
May the eye of God look before me,
the ear of God hear me,
the word of God speak for me.
May the hand of God protect me,
the way of God lie before me,
the shield of God defend me,
the host of God save me.
May Christ shield me today.
Christ with me, 
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me, 
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ n my right, 
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, 
Christ when I sit,
Christ when I stand,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Review: Seeds of Turmoil

Bryant Wright’s book entitled Seeds of Turmoil, The biblical roots of the inevitable crisis in the Middle East provided a detailed perspective on the history of the unrest in the Middle East. I found this book very helpful in understanding the historic culture of the areas we see labeled on maps as Israel, Palestine, etc. Wright also goes into clear detail of what cultural impacts many readers of the Bible may not know. 
One of the refreshing parts of this book is when the author gives a current day example of a point he is referencing in biblical times. This helps to recapture the mind and attention span during the weight of heavy details. 
This book would be an excellent resource for anyone wanting a deeper understanding of the history of the Middle East. It reads quicker and easier than historical textbooks and offers an understanding brought to us through the history written about in the Bible. Good job Wright! 
The publisher provided a free copy of this book for me in exchange for an honest review. 

Book Review: The Boy Who Changed the World

Andy Andrew’s book entitled The Boy Who Changed the World was a fun and encouraging read! This is a great, heart warming story for all ages to enjoy- especially elementary ages. I loved the illustrations- they were vibrant and beautiful. 
The Boy Who Changed the World is actually three different little boys and how they lived their childhood dreams out into adulthood. Each of the little boys needed the others to make their dream come true. I enjoyed the fictional-look to a real-life story! A great addition to an American history lesson! 
Andrew’s other popular book, The Butterfly Effect is paraphrased at the end of The Boy Who Changed the World- so for the cost of one book, you get two lessons! 
The publisher provided a free copy of this book for me in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pumpkin Recipes!!!!

Pumpkin Bread
3 cups sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 1/5 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
Combine in mixing bowl. 
4 eggs
2/3 cup apple juice
1 cup oil 
15 ounce can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling!)
Add to dry ingredients. 
3 cups flour
Add to mixture and mix until smooth. Scrape sides of mixing bowl to ensure everything is mixed well. 
Spray 3 coffee cans ( or 2 loaf pans) with Bakers Joy (an oil & flour blend spray) or oil and flour your cans or pans by hand. Equally divide batter into cans or pans. Place cans on sheet pan to catch any dripping during baking. Bake at 350 for 1 hour 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. 
When removing from oven, allow to rest in cans/pans for 10 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack. 
Wonderfully enjoyed with cream cheese spread on top!

Pumpkin Butter 
1 15 ounce can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling!)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp maple syrup
Mix all ingredients into a sauce pan and cook over medium heat. Stir continuously. Butter will burn and spatter quickly (due to the sugar content) so be cautious. When butter thickens and everything is combined to a smooth texture (about 10 minutes), remove from heat and pour into heat safe jars. Refrigerate. 

(I did not have maple syrup when I made it last and found it tasted just don't head to the store just for that ingredient!)
Butter is great on everything- waffles, pancakes, toast, salty crackers, pretzels, vanilla ice cream, etc. Be prepared for amazement! 

I am about to try making Baked Stuffed Pumpkins for dinner sometime in the next few weeks. I'll let you know how that goes!

Happy pumpkin eating!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Our Newest Journey

Here’s a few shots of our first month of homeschooling.

(Thanks LC for our sign!)

Lots of people ask why homeschool? 
The answer: So I can play with school supplies.

We start each day with a family devo time.

Then it’s calendar board time. Here we talk about the days of the week, colors, our Bible verse, weather. As much fun as I had creating this board, I still have to change/add things to it soon.

I started AB tracing and copying capitol A. She did great, but tired quickly. So, I backed up and worked on connecting the dots and drawing lines. Much more her speed...
EB did great with her early handwriting assignments, but also wanted to connect the dots!

We use some workbooks. However, I am not overly excited about the ones we have currently. We’ll use them while we have them, but won’t be replacing them with the same brand.

By far, my favorite resource I’m using right now is this book!

Here’s what she looks like on the inside, somewhere around Lesson 5.

Learning patterns of three consecutive items: apples, pencils, letter (A or E).

Thanks for following along with our homeschooling show & tell.
PS- Just kidding about the school supplies addiction! Not really.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Book Review: One Hand, Two Hands

One Hand, Two Hands by Max Lucado is a wonderful and beautiful book. With great illustrations and catchy poetry, Lucado quickly grabs and keeps the attention of kids and adults alike. I love the message found in this book- to use your hands to help others, to love, to serve, to pray and to encourage.

This book is the perfect size and length for a bedtime story or could be used in the sunday school room, classroom, or other family times. I plan on adding this to my homeschool reading collection.

Because I have two daughters, I love the fact that the child in most of the pictures is a little girl. However, if I had boys, I wouldn’t hesitate to read it to him. Good book! Excellent gift or addition to a family collection!

The publishers provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Book Review: 100 Prayers God Loves to Hear

100 Prayers God Loves to Hear by Stephen Elkins is a great resource to have around for kids to browse through, learn scripture, and keep nearby for daily devotions and nighttime prayers. This book comes with two CD’s containing 100 songs of prayer and praise that connect with each of the 100 prayers inside the book. This is a good book for youngsters ages 2-6.

The messages in the book are presented in a clear way with great illustrations, quotes from historic people, and simple poems. Each page includes a short explanation about the topic of prayer, a short saying or poem, an example of a prayer, a cute illustration, and a prayer reminder. You are also told which song will accompany that reading.

The only downside to this book is the cd’s that come with it. I love that the book is laid out clearly enough to know which song to use for each topic of prayer, but the music is sung at such a high pitch. After playing through the cd, I turned the music off because it was a bit overstimulating and annoying. I wish the same songs were sung a bit lower in pitch and slower in speed. Learning the lyrics to the songs might be difficult for some because of these factors.

We are definitely keeping and using the book! I might even add it to our homeschool devotion curriculum! Perhaps I’ll play the cd’s when my kids are playing in another room without me!

Thomas Nelson provided the book for free as compensation for an unbiased and honest review.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Book Review: Wild At Heart by John Eldredge

John Eldredge’s book, Wild At Heart, Discovering the secret of a man’s soul is a collection of answers for the questions I’ve always had about my husband! Eldredge quickly welcomed readers from all perspectives into his heart. Wild At Heart explains why my husband yearns to be challenged with climbing huge rocks and surviving nights in the woods with nothing but the essentials in his backpack. Through his discussions about wounds, our wild creator, the battles men face, the beauty all men want to rescue, and strategies for surviving the adventure, I am more aware of how complex and important treasuring my husband’s heart is.

My favorite passage of Wild At Heart is when Eldredge exquisitely described the role of women in men’s lives. The term given to Eve was “ezer kengdo” which has been translated to “help mate”, more specifically “life saver”(p 53). From a woman’s perspective, it is so satisfying knowing that my role has been so beautifully defined to more than a helper- but to that of a lifesaver. My heart soars knowing God designed my husband to really need me- and that I need him.

Eldredge, thank you for captivating my attention in a wonderfully, unstoppable conversation about my man. My recommendation is that everyone -men and women, married and single- should read this book. The impact Wild At Heart has made in my own life is immediately tremendous. My perspective on my husband has been altered and my friends have also began reading, or re-reading, their own copies of Wild At Heart.

(Thomas Nelson Publishing provided me a complimentary copy of Wild At Heart in return for an honest review.)

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Broken Cracker

Our smallest was crying in her car seat. Hearing that my offer of a cheese cracker seemed to settle her fears of starvation, I dug to the bottom of our snack sack and found the last package of peanut butter and cheese crackers, ripped open the wrapper, and tried to dislocated my shoulder by reaching directly behind my seat to complete the offer. The screamer refused my suggested peace offering muttering the words “it’s broken” between her manufactured sniffles. I knew trying to explain the fact that the cracker still maintained most of its value despite the flaw wasn’t going to be eagerly accepted. So as to not wake the snoozing sister, I quickly handed her the next cracker in the package after a complete inspection making sure it was perfect, complete, and whole. Enjoying the moment of silence, I muttered to myself, “just because it isn’t perfect doesn’t mean it has lost its value”.

Jesus thinks the same about us. Paul wrote a letter to the Ephesian church and reminded them that they were “dead in their transgressions and sins” – their imperfections. Our sin keeps us from being perfect. But, if you keep reading, you see that Paul brings a message of hope to a bunch of imperfect people. He says that “because of his great love for us (yep, the ones with the corners broken off- that’s us) and his deep mercy, [God] made us alive in Christ even when we were already dead in our sins.” Knowing his readers need repetition, Paul reiterates the phrase, “for it is by his grace you have been saved” a number of times. We need to hear that too.

Sometimes we just need to be reminded that our imperfections don’t cause us to loose our value in God’s eyes. He sees beyond the broken corner and still deems us the perfect choice for his purposes.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Dust Bunnies

If you sweep my floor more than once with any attention to detail, you will notice that my larger than life dust bunnies accumulate in the same spaces continually. I know the secret spots they use to hide from my broom waiting to introduce themselves to any visitors that stop in for a minute. A quick sweep will get the most noticeable fur and the random clumps of play dough under the table. But a much deeper cleaning reveals these dust bunnies…no, more like dust monsters. Four years of sweeping the same house has offered me the chance to notice how they seem to tuck away under end tables and behind doorways repeatedly.

Once, a few weeks ago, I shared my observations about these dust monsters. He looked up from his iphone and said, “Thanks for telling me. Now I know where to look when I sweep next”. Back to the iphone he went.

His remarks got me thinking. Now, each time I defend my home against the attack of the dust demons, I think about how we tend to have things tucked away in our hearts and minds that require frequent removal too. In Hebrews, the writer says we should have a “sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed pure as snow”. (10:22) Similar to the corner behind my couch, sometimes we have sins that are easily hidden unless deep cleaning comes our way. During prayer, a quick rundown of our struggles gets rid of the careless remarks we made to the husband or the moments of irritation we had with the kids.

Ideally, frequent maintenance of our dust bunny collection, both in our homes and our hearts, is the best. However, sometimes we need more. Sometimes, we need to drag out the 12-vortex-power-with-no-loss-of-suction vacuum cleaner to find the bigger, meaner, dust monsters that a simple sweep won’t collect. For me, that overwhelming feeling I get is the signal for me to hang up the broom and take advantage of the afternoon nap hours in a more “eternal way”. When the dust bunnies in my heart grow to monstrous size, all has to stop in order for my defense to be accurate and complete. Usually, it requires some alone time with God and confession to a trusted friend.

My husband now knows where to look to find the toughest dust monsters in our house. To me, that’s powerful knowledge. It’s also powerful knowledge to know where the dust collects in our hearts and minds. Right now, my dust monsters hide behind the large couch called “pride” and inside the closet door called “too busy.” A rotten attitude and impatience with everyone are signs that my corners need a thorough cleaning. Sometimes our dust monsters get so big and serious, we need to allow time for deep cleaning

Where do the dust bunnies collect in your home? Where do they try to linger in your heart? What signs that reveal it’s time for a deep cleaning in your heart?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Promise of a Return

**This is an article from last spring. Forgot to post it.

Last fall, my husband brought home a sack full of bulbs to add to the tagless bunch someone else left on my front porch. Knowing that my gardening skills are definitely below par, I obediently hid my little onion looking treasures barely beneath the surface of the soil on either side of my porch- just as my instincts told me. I wasn’t sure how deep or far apart to dive my stout bulbs, so I guessed and hoped. (Don’t forget, I’m just following the guts of a gardening failure since my unidentifiable bulbs arrived without so much as a picture!)

During the last few weeks of a wet and mushy winter, I could tell spring was coming and my anticipation of my science experiment working began to build. I was forced to endure a bit longer to greet my little unknowns and learn if I had hidden this summer’s onion crop or a lovely bunch of colorful flowers of some sort. My daily check-in turned into a weekly glance and my excitement turned into boredom. I began to question my belief that such a ruddy looking thing could turn into something so brilliant.

Then one day, I saw it. I located the tiniest little bud of my still unidentifiable plant life breaking through the surface of the soil and pushing past the mulch. It was actually working! I couldn’t believe it.

Each spring reveals the hidden growth that occurred during the cold of winter. The warm and hydrating days allow concealed strengths to become apparent. I love anticipating the promise of a return of spring and little bulbs each year. I get excited when I see my annuals doubling in size while they dormantly slept veiled by winter. They sprout up stronger and broader each time they are allowed to rest and renew.

Just like my unidentifiable bulbs, we too can trust that God will reveal himself in us in due time. We can cling to the promise that he will protect and allow growth to occur during times of hiding or hardships. We can believe that a renewal is coming because we know what lies beneath the surface of our hearts. And since we are familiar with the good gardener, we can anticipate growth and beauty in ways we can’t imagine.

Renewal can be seen so clearly all across the Bible. In the Old Testament, David prayed for a heart renewal when he said, “Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10) and then thanked God when he wrote, “You send forth your Spirit…and renew the face of the earth.” (Ps.104:30) Isaiah recognized God’s make-over abilities when he wrote, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength” (Is.40:31) And finally, my favorite renewing promise, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away...Behold, I make all things new.” (Rev.21:3-5)

So can that ruddy looking thing turn into something so brilliant and beautiful in us as well as my front flowerbed? Yes, with faith and in time, our “good gardener” is trustworthy and able. He has promised to renew us make all things new! Keep waiting. Keep resting and growing in your winter season. Keep clinging to the promise of renewal and replenishment. Soon, the time is coming when God will pull your buds through too and he will make all things new!

Rest is good.
Replenishment is good.
Renewal is good.
And a promise of a return is more than good.