Tuesday, June 18, 2013

To Everything There Is A Season...

Ecclesiastese 3:1-8

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Ten years ago just after we had our youngest son, the Lord moved a sweet family into the house next to ours.  Since then we've shared life in 'the Bubble' in a way that most of America only witnesses on 'Andy Griffith Show' re-runs.  From the panicked call in the morning when either we or they are out of creamer, to needing immediate child-care when having to run a child to the ER, to their youngest bringing over pictures she'd colored or drawn, to exploding volcanoes w/ baking soda and vinegar, to borrowing dishes, butter, milk, extra chairs and more, to many days and evenings and meals sitting around their patio set...  thousands upon thousands of daily moments ...  lots of life, and laughter and tears...
Yesterday that blessed season of our lives came to a close as we said our tear-filled goodbyes and watched them drive away... on to a new adventure in Colorado Springs.  We are so thankful the Lord gave us the opportunity to share this decade of life together, and we look forward to seeing what He has in store for them...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Organic Outreach for Families

As a Christian parent, I'm always on the lookout for new ways to live out my faith in front of my children...not that I'm some sort of 'super-Christian' or anything, but I desperately want them to be able to look at both my husband and myself and be able to say with confidence that my husband and I each have an authentic faith- one they'd want to emulate. 

For far too long I've feared people more than I've feared God and have not lived out very well the idea of hospitality.  So when I ran across the book by Kevin and Sherry Harney, 'Organic Outreach for Families: Turning Your Home into a Lighthouse', I was pretty excited at the thought of learning how to reach out to others.

The book is divided into three sections:  Reaching Your Own Family (because you can't reach others if you haven't reached your own family first), Raising Children of Light in a Dark World (get to know your children and discipling them, equipping them to handle all the fiery darts the enemy will cast their way in this world), and Turning Your Home Into a Lighthouse (creating an inviting atmosphere, reaching out to others).  Each chapter ends with a section for practical application titled 'Becoming a Lighthouse' in which readers are challenged with a few action steps for the up-and-coming week. 

We are commanded:  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself." 
~Luke 10:27 

For families who have struggled in the area of reaching out to others, and for those who are simply looking for a fresh way to do it, this book gives practical wisdom on how to put into action the command of Luke 10:27.

**I received this book free from Tommy Nelson publisher's Booksneeze blogger program.  I was not compensated in any way for this review, and was not compensated in any way for a positive review of this book.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My Prayer Journal by Ralph Spiller

Prayer girds human weakness with divine strength, turns human folly into heavenly wisdom, and gives to troubled mortals the peace of God. We know not what prayer can do.  ~ Charles Spurgeon

I'm really passionate about prayer...you know... the kind of passion that makes you feel like your heart is going to burst wide open if you don't do it... the kind of passion that possesses you and makes you look at people like they're crazy because they don't hold the same passions as you.  Really.  It's true.  Sometimes when I'm trying to impress on another wife and mother the importance of consistently and diligently praying God's Word over her husband and children and she's standing there giving me that look like, 'oh yeah, that's a nice thought', I really just want to grab ahold of her and shake the daylights out of her and yell at her to WAKE UP!!!!

All that to say, I was really excited to have the opportunity to review Ralph Spiller's My Prayer Journal: A 90-Day Journey to a More Fulfilled Prayer Life.  Most Christians have heard of the ACTS method to prayer: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication.  My Prayer Journal uses a similar method to help people keep their prayers focused with the acronym P-R-A-Y-E-R.  Praise and Thanksgiving, Repentance through Confession, Ask (for the needs of others and self), Yield to the Father, Examine, and Reflect. 

With Scripture woven throughout, this journal is more than merely praying for one's self, it also incorporates prayer from our church pastors and leaders to our government leaders, from the physically ill to those with relationship problems, from personal needs to salvation prayer for others. 

A blessing to anyone who desires to deepen their prayer life and relationship with the Lord, My Prayer Journal is a must-have.

I know of no better thermometer to your spiritual temperature than this,the measure of the intensity of your prayer.  ~Charles Spurgeon

** I received this book free from Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze blogger program.  There was no compensation received for a favorable review of this book. **

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Just Man

As a Christ-following mother of two pre-teen boys, I am constantly on the lookout for good books that will point them to their Father in Heaven and toward their Savior, Christ Jesus.  So, when I picked this book, 'A Just Man' by Helen Daniel, I felt like I hit the jackpot!

Perfect for a nine-year-old who reads confidently by himself, the story follows the life of Billy Jones who comes from a dysfunctional family with an abusive, alcoholic father.  Throughout the story, the author consistently weaves in the story of God's amazing grace and redemption through His Son, and the miraculous change that happens when we receive our new life in Him.  Whether you have younger children, or teens, I would highly recommend either using this as a read-aloud or having your children read it on their own.

From the back:

At the beginning of the Revolutionary War, a father and son struggle to trust in and follow God’s will. Farmers, preachers, and shipbuilders, generations of the Matthews family struggle to live according to God’s will. Through the Revolutionary War, droughts, and floods, they strive to hold firm to their belief in the love and forgiveness of their Creator, but will the outsiders they take into their homes and hearts reaffirm or destroy their faith? In this engrossing historical novel, set during the American Revolutionary War, readers will find a wholesome and detailed look at life and faith in the late 1700s.

*I received this book through Thomas Nelson Publishers free through their Booksneeze blogger program.  I was in no way compensated for a good review.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Wild Grace

"Wild Grace:  What Happens When Grace Happens" is a great devotional book by Max Lucado for teens struggling to figure out what this thing called Grace is all about... what it looks like in a practical sense. 

From the back cover:

Today’s teens are being shaped by the pressures and disappointments of the world. But Max Lucado encourages them to take a close look at what can shape their hearts and their futures from the inside out—God’s grace.

As Max explains, "God’s grace has a drenching about it. A wildness about it. A whitewater, riptide, turn-you-upside-downness about it. Grace comes after you." Wild Grace gives teens an understanding of how grace can change their lives in powerful ways, even when those lives are messed up, off track, or in trouble. Each chapter describes another miracle that happens when we allow God’s grace to work on us and through us:

“Grace is God’s decision to change everything. Good-bye, earthly labels. Stupid. Unpopular. Ugly. Failure. No longer. You aren’t who they say you are. You are who He says you are. Spiritually alive. Connected to God. Amazing.”

Teens will be convinced that God knew what He was doing when He made them and His grace is always there, ready to work wonders that are bigger than anything this world has to offer.

Organized into three sections (1-God, Grace, and You, 2-Grace in Action, and 3-The Road Home) and ten chapters, Lucado incorporates real-life stories and testimonials into each chapter, and the part I love the most is the 'Your Story' section, which encourages teens to dig deep into their own hearts and discover for themselves the personal blessings of God's grace and how to extend that to others.

All in all, I'm looking forward to my own boys reading this book as they learn to live out the Wild Grace challenge.

*I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publisher's Booksneeze program.  No compensation for a positive review of this book was received.



Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

The snow is gently falling as I gaze out the window, our neighborhood quiet on this first day of 2013.  Thinking about what the Lord may have in store for me, for our family in the year to come, how we'll handle some of the changes certain to come our way this summer, I realize I need to do some simplifying.   De-cluttering of the soul and mind', as Sally Clarkson would say (read her blog post on de-cluttering http://www.itakejoy.com/a-new-years-tradition-de-cluttering-your-soul/ ).  It seems that as the boys get older there is more to consider in our schedules...one loves soccer, the other loves basketball.  One loves piano lessons...one wants to learn guitar.  One wants to learn German...the other wants to learn French.  One loves to get together (often) with large groups of friends...the other would just prefer to get together with one good friend.  Enter home education, church and ministry and here we are. 

Finding time to just rest in the Lord each day...to listen to Him who gives me the strength to take the next breath, take the next step, do the next thing, and know that He is sufficient in the midst of the craziness that characterizes many of our days.  I often find myself longing for the days when our schedule was formed around naptimes and meals-it was so much simpler then.  The rest of this week finds us still on our Christmas break from our formal lessons as we look forward to spending time with extended family in celebrating together this weekend.  We'll be de-cluttering our home, setting things back to normal (whatever that means...our normal I guess) and playing together a LOT.

Looking ahead to how I desire 2013 to characterize our lives, our home, I desire it to be flooded with Grace and Kindness, Patience and Joy, Love and Peace.  Our oldest son (11 y/o) told me the other day that I was the best Mom (which I never tire of hearing, though always feel humbled as my many inadequacies race through my brain at such times).  So I asked him, what makes me the 'best Mom'?  His answer, 'you let us have extra sweets during the holidays'.  Never being one to just let things go, I sought to dig a little deeper, so I asked, 'Tell me what are those things that make me a good Mom?  What are those things that I do that make you know I love you?'  So he said, 'you're patient and kind and gentle with us.'  Really????  I don't often feel that those Fruits of the Spirit characterize my heart, though you can be sure that during my quiet time, I'll be praying more on each of these to permeate my heart and the hearts of my husband and boys as well... 

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas...An Important Reminder from a Child

The music is playing softly in the background, the lights are twinkling, the boys' laughter rings throughout the house as the last few preparations are made before our celebration of the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ officially begins.  In the midst of the gift exchanges, food, and carols, parties and the like I was reminded yesterday of what is really important.

After our church service yesterday morning I gathered up my Bible, church bulletin, purse, etc., put away my pen, coat on, and stood up only to see our older son plop down on a chair across the isle to 'have a little chat' with an elderly lady.  She has no husband, no children or grandchildren.  She has no family nearby with which to share in holiday festivities.  In those moments, it is the child who teaches the adults, for with that one act of reaching out, one heart to another, a soul was blessed, a heart a little less lonely.  The woman called my mother later in the day yesterday to tell her how she had been blessed by my son and had then bought a small gift for him and his younger brother. 

A powerful reminder of what is important during the Christmas season (and all through the year as well)... being Jesus with feet... reaching out to others in divine appointment, as our Father in Heaven reached down to us all those years ago...

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord ~Luke 2:11