Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book Review- Reggie: Pass-It-Along

It probably won’t become a classic, but Reggie Dabbs’ story is a classic God-story. In his book (co-written by John Driver), Reggie shared his life story by intertwining with stories found in “his favorite book”. Reggie’s story is one of victory, protection, and encouragement to anyone who reads this book. His purpose is writing the book was to get his message across- “you aren’t alone” and “ you can’t change the past, but you can change the future”. He effectively communicated those messages. 
As I have said about other books, I think Dabbs provides a good launching pad for someone who is investigating this whole “God” thing. He breaks the honest questions down and answers them with his own personal story. This was an easy read- he even included pictures! 
I gave this book a pass-it-along status because I think it has merit and worth. I think someone will get a great dose of encouragement from this conversation with Reggie. His story is powerful! I won’t relinquish permanent space on my bookshelf for it, but maybe someone else will. 
Thomas Nelson provided me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Reggie doesn’t know me, although I think he’d be cool to hang out with! =) 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Book Giveaway #2 Winner!

And my second book giveaway winner is TRACY, from the herman family! Thanks for playing guys!

Tracy, I'll drop your book in the mail!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Journal Entry

January 10, 2011
At church yesterday, Pastor Frank preached on Hannah and the story of her determined strength to pray earnestly for something, faithfully wait for God to answer, then sacrificially give it back to God. Although my situation is not related to bearing a child, I feel like I understand a little of what Hannah went through. Gil and I have prayed earnestly about something, waited on God to answer in his timing, and now we are preparing to sacrifice something. 
A long season of prayer began for us when God dropped something into our hearts- a small seed of an idea to pioneer ministry at the University of Connecticut. At different times, God spoke to each of us about relocating our family, handing off our ministry, and starting over in another small, northern town. We talked together about it and began praying about all it entailed. We allowed it to just sit in our hearts and grow. This tiny seed of an idea began to develop a small and fledgeling sprout.  Over the course of many months, we waiting on God to direct us to the next step in the process. 
Eventually, we began to feel the urge to speak with those in our life that would help us make this happen.Waiting, lots of waiting. But our waiting wasn’t static, it was kinetic. We stayed busy while we waited. We busied ourselves with ministry right where we were. We put a cap on the little seed growing and waited for permission to take the lid off and give it more sunshine. Then one day, we got a phone call. 
We were asked if we still felt called to go pioneer at the University of Connecticut. A quick affirmative answer sent our minds racing forward. Lots of conversing and brainstorming happened. Interviews, assessments, assignments given. Trips made. Timeline established. We were going. 
Now, the sacrificing part. It’s exciting to start a new adventure. It’s invigorating to scan the horizon and see all new opportunities. But it’s scary leaving all things familiar. It’s hard walking away from all of the wonderful people God has brought into our lives, all of the support and encouragement surrounding us. Fear of potential loneliness approaches. Moving away from the home “God built” for our family- the place where I brought my girls home from the hospital after their births, the place we’ve packed with more students than the fire department would deem safe, the place that I have spoken with, cried to, yelled at, and sat with God. Am I really doing this? The place that I can clean entirely during the length of a good afternoon nap. Yep- that’s the place I am packing all my family’s stuff up and moving away from. 
Asking all these questions- and finding answers for a few of them- has caused me to realize the breadth of the sacrifice I am making- or better yet- the smallness of the sacrifice I am making. When it compares to the sacrifices Jesus has made for me- or the sacrifices that countless followers of Christ throughout history has made for the purpose of furthering the gospel- or the sacrifice my friends make daily as they choose to live in communities we, Americans, would say is substandard and hazardous to one’s health- my sacrifice is miniscule. Untangling the entrapping strings of this world gives a lightness to one’s step- kind of like the purging a family does as they pack to move. A purging, filtering, straining that I am anticipating with hopefulness. 
Realizing that we are leaving behind so many wonderful things is hard, but when you sit that sadness next to the bigness of God, it doesn’t seem so huge anymore. I can be ok- even is for just a moment at a time- with walking away from the beauty of a home I always hoped for. 
Hannah, thanks for being brave and tough as you prayed for a child. Thanks for committing that child to God and sacrificing him back to the Lord. Thank you for realizing that you have a great, big God who is capable of so much. Thank you for waiting and wanting- and not giving up on that desire of your heart! ~Me. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Book Giveaway #2

I think there are two ways to measure the usefulness of a book. Ask yourself these two questions: would you give a copy to someone else in your life and would you keep a copy in your bathroom to read "when you have a moment". Agree? 

Well, this little toolbox is one of those books. 20 Rules and Tools for a Great Family is another easy read that gives practical tips on making your family great. Endorsed by Focus on the Family, Steve Stephens (what a name, eh?) gives lists, ideas, and thoughts for parents. 

You can win your own copy of this book by leaving a comment under the post. In your comment answer this question: What is your favorite conversation starter with preschoolers or elementary age kids? What is something you'd ask a child while sharing a meal, taking a walk, or driving in the car? What question could get a kid talking? 

Bonus entry- refer a friend and make sure they leave a comment. You can just leave a second comment telling me they are your guest and left a comment.

Contest is open until next sunday

Steve Stephens, Tyndale House Pub., and Focus on the Family have no idea I am giving away this book.  I just want to spread the love with good resources. 

Book Giveaway Winner!

Since I only had a few entries, accepted both facebook links and directly on my blog, my girls helped with my "random drawing" for my first book giveaway! 
(Disregard the crazy eyes from the smallest Banton!) 

Drum roll please.......

Ashley, from OurAdoptionJourney won the free copy of The Missional Mom! 
Congratulations Ashley! Your book will arrive in the mail soon! Enjoy! 

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Book Review- Extra Special- A Keeper!

Having author-friends has perks! I just finished reading my friend’s first children’s book, entitled Extra Special. Ashley Clement Frey tells a story of a little kangaroo boy, Boomer who has trouble fitting in due to being different than other kids and how his mom shares her wisdom to help him learn through it. 
The illustrations in Extra Special are beautiful. I felt as though I was holding a piece of fine art in my hands as I read the story to my daughters. It’s obvious that exceptional time was taken to make each picture detailed and unique. 
As far as the heart of the story, I think this book is a keeper in my household. My daughters are approaching the age where they are noticing the differences about themselves and their peers. Hair styles and clothing are already growing in importance to my 4 year old! Most kids- and adults- struggle to fit into their surroundings, but God meant our differences and uniquenesses to be a blessing for others around us. We need to model a healthy confidence to our kids, showing them that sticking out- for the right reasons- is good and part of God’s design. If we were to all look, act, think, feel, love the same as everyone else, life would be boring and we would be like a cabinet full of tupperware bowls. 
Ashley Clement Frey has added another volume to our family bookshelf because of the reality of her topic. Nice work, Ashley, nice work! 
If you’d like to purchase this book, go here and here order one for your family and a friend. This would be a great addition to any Easter basket! (Hint!, Hint!) 

Also, if you'd like to help a first-time author out, go to your local bookseller (such as Barnes & Noble) and ask them to order a copy for you to purchase in the store. This helps the author out because the bookseller will purchase more than one copy to put on their store shelves! Plus, it is just so super fun to walk into a store, buy a book, and walk out with it. 

Don't forget about the book giveaway! The contest is open until next wednesday! Scroll down to see the information~ 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

GIVEAWAY & Book Review- The Missional Mom

I just finished reading Helen Lee’s The Missional Mom- Living with purpose in home & in the world and happily consider it an excellent resource for hurried, scurried moms that want to truly impact the world around them for Jesus! 
Helen shares her own story of fighting the status quo, rethinking through what our culture says is normal, rejecting the assumption that we all just have to fall into ranks and do things the way everyone else does them. Helen (whom I feel I know personally since we’ve emailed a bunch....super sweet and authentic, by the way) is honest about her own struggles as a mom. She and her husband made hard choices for the benefit of their kids and positioned themselves to be used by God whenever and where ever God wanted to use them. 
The Missional Mom shares the stories of other real-life ladies who are also choosing to live life differently than the norm and from the way they’ve done it in the past. These ladies deal with dirty laundry, time-outs, and homework just like the rest of us...but they are proof that being missional and being real are possible. 
Helen did a great job at making this book read-able for the busy, tired mom. Her chapters are short and quick to read through. She generously offered a free copy as a give-away to my blog readers. All you need to do is a leave a comment after this post. The give-away will end Wednesday, March 9th at midnight. I'll contact the winner and get the book to you!

 Pass the word along to your other “mom” friends. 

You can check our Helen's website at and you can purchase her book here