Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Reading List

For several years now, as new year's resolutions come around I've contemplated the desire to read more books.  This year I think I may succeed.  This is my ongoing blog with the books I've read in 2011.

1) The Choice - Nicholas Sparks
2) A Walk to Remember - Nicholas Sparks
3) Fearless - Max Lucado
4) Indivisible - Kristen Heitzmann
5) Halos - Kristen Heitzmann
6) The Negotiator - Dee Henderson
7) The Guardian - Dee Henderson
8) The Truth Seeker - Dee Henderson
9) The Protector - Dee Henderson
10) The Healer - Dee Henderson
11) The Rescuer - Dee Henderson
12) Daddy Dates - Greg Wright
13) A Rush of Wings - Kristen Heitzmann
14) The Still of Night - Kristen Heitzmann
15) Danger in the Shadows - Dee Henderson
16) A Time to Dance - Karen Kingsbury
17) A Time to Mend - Angela Hunt
18) Message in a Bottle - Nicholas Sparks
19) A Time to Embrace - Karen Kingsbury
20) The Chocolate Diaries - Karen Scalf Linamen
21) Safe Haven - Nicholas Sparks
22) Even Now - Karen Kingsbury
23) Enemies of the Heart - Andy Stanley
24) The Blessing - John Trent and Gary Smalley
25) Secrets - Kristen Heitzmann
26) Shadows on the Sand - Gayle Roper
27) A Wedding Invitation - Alice j Wisler

Monday, December 19, 2011

Little Princess: Nose Extraction #2

There have been a lot of sneezes and sniffles around the Magruder home this past week.  Our Little Princess has been feeling pretty good, but none the less requires a Kleenex before bed each evening.  Little Princess is definitely a product of her mother and finds her 8:30 bedtime to be too early.  We often hear her talking, singing, and occasionally the pitter-patter of those little mischievous feet.  Saturday night was no different - that is until the Little Princess began a whimper that I feared signaled something more than sleeplessness.  As I climbed the stairs and entered her room she informed me that she had toilet paper in her nose.  I tried to coax her back to bed, yet she continued to tell me about her nose.  Recalling the previous lip-gloss bead in the nose incident, I turned on the light and looked into her nose.  I noticed a small white ball inside her nose.  I went for the small flashlight I keep downstairs and also found the baby "booger" suckers.  I tried for several minutes trying to suck out the paper or to get Little Princess to blow the toilet paper out of her nose - neither seems to help any at all.  I went downstairs and woke up Daddy for assistance.  Daddy tried my tactics in addition to the Neti-pot technique trying to flush it out.  I "googled" the event searching for parents with similar problems to no avail.  I could not decide if this was an emergency room trip or if this was one of those wait and see moments.    Daddy wanted to try one last method of extraction.  Little Princess laid abnormally still for her busy body as Daddy took out a very small set of tweezers from a Swiss Army knife and I held her head and the flashlight.  After a few minutes of careful extraction, Little Princess was freed from her pea-sized wad of toilet paper and sent back to bed.  Given the increasing difficulty of these nose extractions, we wait and hope that there will not be a blog titled: Nose Extraction #3.

Book Review: A Wedding Invitation

How much can a simple wedding invitation change a person's life?  In Alice J Wisler's new book, A Wedding Invitation, it drastically changes the lives of many.  Main characters, Samantha Bravencourt and Carson Brylie share a past together that has the potential to impact their present and future lives if they are willing to see past the hurt and disappointment of the past to embrace a second chance for a future.  

I found this book to be an easy and enjoyable read.  The elements within this sweet romance lead you questioning the direction the story will end for much of its forty-eight chapters. The story-line moves between the present and the past as it lays the foundation for Samantha and Carson's history together.  Throughout the book the author introduces many characters that provide a positive and encouraging support system to Samantha even in the midst their own individual struggles. The book includes some recipes that were alluded to throughout the story and also includes some questions for conversation.

If you are looking for an enjoyable, romantic read that will leave you believing in the endless possibilities of love and how our days and our lives can be altered by one small event then I suggest you take a look at this book.

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of this review.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

One Less Tooth

This morning while eating corn pops for breakfast, Rockstar discovered that her front bottom tooth was very loose.  It had been loosening for a few days now.  She first discovered it hurting at breakfast on Thursday morning.  I encouraged Rockstar to wiggle it back and forth and reassured her that there was little pain in pulling a tooth as loose as hers. She ran off to the mirror and within moments returned with much excitement as she held her tooth in her hand.  She literally jumped, danced and sang with joy and promised to tell everyone at church tomorrow that she had lost a tooth.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Shadows on the Sand - Book Review

Shadows on the Sand: A Seaside Mystery

Shadows on the Sand is a sweet romance laced with mystery written by Gayle Roper and published by Waterbrook Multnomah.  The author's ease of character development quickly drew me into the developing story-line. This book includes a variety of well developed characters that add to the drama and suspense of the book.  The detailed scene descriptions draw the reader into the story's seaside setting.  I found this book to be a work of fiction with a hint of reality as the budding romance strives to overcome many obstacles both past and present.  The mystery part of this story-line is laced with various forms of crime and cult activity.  While nothing is described explicitly, readers sensitive to such topics may not find it enjoyable.

This is the first of Gayle Roper's many books that I have read.  This book was not quite the emotional roller-coaster ride that I often find myself on while reading books from some of my favorite authors such as Kristen Heitzmann or Nicholas Sparks.  Even without the dramatic emotional swings I found it to be an enjoyable, pleasant, clean and easy read.  It kept me awake and turning the pages throughout the book.  I will consider reading other Gayle Roper books in the future.

Teaser from the Back Cover:

She serves him breakfast at her café every morning … but he never seems to notice her.
Carrie Carter’s small café in Seaside, New Jersey, is populated with a motley crew of locals … although Carrie only has eyes for Greg Barnes. He’s recovering from a vicious crime that three years ago took the lives of his wife and children—and from the year he tried to drink his reality away. While her heart does a happy Snoopy dance at the sight of him, he never seems to notice her, to Carrie’s chagrin. 
When Carrie’s dishwasher is killed and her young waitress disappears, Greg finds himself drawn into helping Carrie solve the mysteries … and into her life. But when Carrie’s own painful past becomes all to present, her carefully constructed world begins to sink.
Will the fragile relationship she’s built with Greg implode from the weight of the baggage they both carry?

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  Please go here to rank this review!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Book Review: The Blessing

I recently had the opportunity to read and review the revised and updated edition of The Blessing by John Trent and Gary Smalley.  The Blessing is a parenting book unlike any other parenting book I have bought or read before.  I didn't find any chapter titles to turn to that address my whining child, my disobedient toddler or my over-achieving firstborn child.  Instead I found myself evaluating my words and actions toward my children.  The lessons I found within the pages of this book are far more practical and valuable than anything I have read previously.  The lessons within this book are lessons for a lifetime. The steps within this book can help me to create a lasting legacy for my children and the generations to follow.

John Trent and Gary Smalley describe their perceptions of the importance of the blessing based on biblical examples of the blessing.  They describe in detail the five elements of the blessing which include: meaningful touch, a spoken message, attaching high value, picturing a special future and an active commitment.  They provide help and healing for those who may have missed the blessing and offer a challenge to their readers to begin living the blessing challenge and pouring into our children's hearts our blessing over them.  The book offers additional resources and online tools to assist readers in living the blessing challenge.

I am excited to recommend this book to friends.  The information contained in this book is hopeful, helpful and encouraging along the often daunting task of parenthood.  

I received this book for free from for the purpose of this review.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Little Princess and the "Pea"...Now Known Hazards of Lip Gloss

Occasionally we start to believe that after 9 years of parenting we are prepared for most circumstances, then something happens that once again teaches us how little we understand the mind of a child.  

Little Princess has a huge fascination and love for lip gloss and chap-stick.  Sometimes her sisters are so kind to share some of their lip gloss with her.  Little Princess has been known to somehow remove the little roller ball from a lip gloss in the past.  This usually results in the the end of that lip gloss.  

Last night after Little Princess was tucked into bed, I was at my computer watching some Cardinal baseball.  Little Princess shows up at the top of the stairs and tells me she has something in her nose.  Being the kind, sensitive, understanding mom that I am, I was a few words away from telling her to go back to bed when I motioned her to come down the stairs and let me have a look. When she gets close to me and I start to look, I realize that she does indeed have something in her nose.  It is a small, round, hard object lodged very neatly and tightly in her right nostril.  I waste no time in calling for Daddy's assistance.  Daddy picks her up and places the ever-so-calm Little Princess onto the kitchen table.  At this point I am about 90 percent certain that one of us is headed to the ER for the removal of this tightly placed object.  Daddy makes his assessment and tells Little Princess to hold still and within seconds the little round ball is rolling around on the kitchen floor at my feet.  Little Princess begins talking about her "lips" again and I immediately understand where this little pea-sized ball came from...I took Little Princess back to bed, kissed her goodnight and disposed of the now empty lip gloss tube.  Three children, nine years of parenting, a new first and hopefully a last.

Entertaining Strangers

There is a rich history of hospitality in our nation.  As people were traveling, they would knock on a homeowner's door and ask to stay for the night.  Often times, they found housing for the night in the home of total strangers.  During this era, people were even known to have unknowingly housed infamous criminals for the night as they were passing through town.  As years have passed and Motel 6's, Super 8's and Comfort Inns have emerged the tradition of hospitality has changed as well.  Hospitality as we know it today often involves opening our homes to close friends and family, inviting church members over for Sunday lunch or even to a restaurant.  It might include taking a sick or recovering friend a meal or offering to babysit for them.  All of these things are good, even great.  

I had never had the opportunity, to my knowledge, present itself to entertain strangers in my home - until this past Monday evening.  Sunday morning, I was passing the church office on the way to the sanctuary and the phone began to ring.  I knew no one was available to answer the phone so I took it upon myself to do so.  I figured if someone was calling a church on Sunday morning, it might be important.  I answered the phone and was introduced to Adam Clark.  At first I thought Adam was calling to sell me something, and I was beginning to feel sorry I had taken the initiative to answer the phone.  However, as Adam continued I realized he did have a need, a need that we would likely be able to meet.  I took Adam's information and passed it on to Preacherman that afternoon.  Adam is running from New York to California to raise money and awareness for rare cancers and an organization called Shannon's Fight.  The organization is named for Adam's 15 year old cousin, Shannon, who is currently undergoing treatment for cancer.  Adam was calling ahead to request permission for he and his friend to pitch a tent on our church property on Monday night. 

Now on to the really cool part of the story...

I felt very strongly about inviting them to dinner Monday night, even before hearing Preacherman's sermon on serving others.  I could only imagine that if you were running across the country you might not see too many home cooked meals along the way.  Monday morning I set out to the grocery store to purchase some tater tots for my family's favorite tater tot casserole.  Our local store was out of the tater tots I usually buy so I decided to look further.  In the meat case I found some boneless pork loins on manager's special and decided that would work nicely in the crock pot and we would have BBQ pulled pork sandwiches for dinner.  I met Adam and James that evening to give them keys to an empty apartment a church member had generously offered for them to stay in overnight.  I told them that Preacherman would pick them up for dinner after football practice.  I told them that the menu was BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, cream cheese corn and baked potatoes and that they could back out if that didn't interest them.  One would think that in all my "grocery store" moments, I should come to expect God's intervention...I could not help but smile and give God the credit when James smiled and laughed and said that is one of Adam's favorite meals.

Late that evening they arrived for dinner.  While they were here they were also able to do some laundry and connect to the internet to check out the rest of their journey.  Upon arriving in Augusta they had recently passed the half-way mark.  Adam was feeling good and said that he was running at a comfortable pace and was looking forward to completing this journey 2 days before Thanksgiving and flying home to be with family for the holiday.

I am so thankful that God presented us the opportunity to open our home to two unknown young men from Long Island and share His love and encouragement for a few hours on a Monday night.  Were they angels? I don't know, but what I do know is this: God is good, all the time.

Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it. 
~Hebrews 13:2

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Enemies of the Heart - Book Review

I was given an opportunity to review Andy Stanley's book, Enemies of the Heart.  This book identifies four emotions that have the power to control us if we allow them to do so. This book is well written; however, may be difficult to digest, especially if one or more of these four emotions has lodged itself in your heart. Stanley identifies the four enemies of the heart as guilt, anger, greed and jealousy.  Stanley uses multiple scriptures and personal illustrations to help the reader understand each enemy.  Throughout reading this book I began to find it easier to identify emotions in myself and those around me. The good news is that not only does Stanley identify these four enemies he also provides ways for us to overcome them.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn to take control over his or her emotions. One chapter I especially enjoyed described how learning to model this control over our emotions can greatly benefit our children.  By learning how to model confession, forgiveness, generosity and celebration we can teach our children how to manage the emotions that rage within them and provide them with a valuable resource that will serve them well for a lifetime.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Some Days...

Some days are tiring...
Some days are exhausting...
Some days are overwhelming...

Then you find a long-forgotten book on your bookshelf and you remember:

a simpler day...
a sweeter day...
a special day...

and you take a moment to recreate the memory...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Too Hot for the Oven!

I'm sure those of you reading this can certainly agree that it has been excessively HOT here in the Midwest.  I am not one to frequently get the urge to bake cookies.  Unfortunately, tonight the urge struck.  I did not want to compromise my air conditioning as it struggles to keep up in this hot weather without any added heat.  So I went in search of the "No Bake" cookie recipes.  Much to my dismay I found that many of the recipes for the traditional cocoa and oatmeal base no bake cookies also include peanut butter.  Since I don't want to chase each cookie with a dose of Benadryl I continued searching for a no peanut butter version.  I am pleased to report that I found one and the cookies are cooling in the freezer as I write this blog entry.  I will share the recipe to help anyone else who might like it.  They have not been taste-test approved yet, but by the taste of the leftovers in the pan, I'm counting on good reports.

No Bake Cookies

2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
5 Tbsp cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups quick oats
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Bring sugar, butter, milk and cocoa to a boil, cook for 1 minute.  Add vanilla, oats and chocolate chips.  Stir until combined.  Drop by tablespoonfuls on wax paper.  Cool until set.  Remove from wax paper and enjoy!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Another Grocery Store Moment

Tonight after my ladies bible study, I stopped at Dillons to get the ice cream and toppings for Wednesday night's Free Car Wash and Ice Cream project at church.  Wow!  You can imagine the looks you get when you pile 8 BUCKETS of ice cream into your cart!  I would have bought 10 - except there were only 8 in the case :)  I did not go immediately to the check out, instead I went to get an item I had forgotten (and there was a line).  When a couple young ladies walked by me it was obvious - they were questioning the amount of ice cream in my cart.  I went to the check out and they ended up behind me.  So I had a great opportunity to tell them what the ice cream was for and invite them to join us.  They seemed pretty positive about it and noted they were new to town.  After I loaded my van, I was returning my cart as they were walking to their car.  I noticed they had Missouri license plates, so my curiosity peaked and I asked where in Missouri they moved from.  I was totally expecting a "Joplin" answer in light of the recent devastation, but no - they just moved to Augusta from SEDALIA!  Imagine my surprise.  I explained to them that my family moved from Sedalia just last summer.  The story doesn't end there.  We introduced ourselves.  Their names - the blonde is Faith (the name of my youngest blonde beauty) and the brunette's name is Haley (the name of my oldest brown-haired beauty).  I told them I thought I could remember their names pretty well (and why) was one of those moments...a God moment...a God in the grocery store, how He never ceases to amaze me with the stories I can come home to tell about :)

I didn't get their last names...maybe that is a connection that God is saving for another day.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Chocolate Diaries - Book Review

I am excited to have the opportunity to review the new book by Karen Scalf Linamen, The Chocolate Diaries.  This is the first of her books that I have read.  I figured anything with chocolate in the title had to be sweet.  This book offered a healthy serving of fifteen chapters of the author's anecdotes on life seasoned with a variety of true and relevant stories from friends and acquaintances.  While this 201 page book could be digested quickly, I chose to spread it out over several courses to savor the flavors presented.

Each chapter offers "Sweet Secrets" from the author's readers with different answers to the question, "What's your secret to a sweeter journey on the rocky road of life?" Each chapter concludes with a handful of questions the author titles, "Food for Thought" and also a section "Because Real Women don't need a Cookbook" that offers various types of chocolate indulgences.  

I personally enjoyed chapter four with seven "pick-me-ups" to brighten each day.  I found them to be practical and possible.  I also tried the recipe offered at the end of chapter eleven for Three-Minute Cake in a Mug with my girls and it was a huge hit.  This book offers some real-life, practical advice on managing the ups and downs of life.  This book's wit, recipes and questions would make for some fabulous fun for a women's group that meets on a regular basis.  If you are searching for your next bible study, please keep in mind that although there are references to Christian living within this book there are not regular passages of scripture in each chapter for study.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Guarding My Heart

If I were to ask you to list a variety of things we should guard our hearts against, what would you list?  I imagine things like bitterness, evil, unjustified anger, greed, envy, and pride would likely sprinkle the list.  I've recently  been consumed by reading.  I've found that I enjoy reading more now than ever before.  So much so, that it has actually taken away time from facebook (gasp!). I find it very difficult to put down a book once I've turned the first page.  In my head it is like a movie that I don't want to interrupt.  For years there has been one particular secular author I have enjoyed reading.  Recently, I was introduced to some "inspirational" suspense/romance novels.  One particular series was a 7 book series in which I completed 6 of the 7 books in less than two weeks.  While I waited for the one that I had not yet read to arrive by inter-library loan, I gobbled up another two-book series.

I was so enthralled with the well written suspense and I was equally thrilled I felt no guilt in reading the romance that never materialized on paper beyond a kiss and an embrace.  The more I read the more hopeful I was that this was indeed what love should look like.  I began to ponder what had happened to the romance in my own marriage?  I checked myself (with the help of the Holy Spirit) and realized that I was reading "the pursuit."  Each book I read focused on the beginning of new relationships, not the reality of living in a relationship.  I returned to my photo albums to remember that I too had once been "pursued" by a handsome, loving man I now call my husband.  Then yesterday, I ran across an article by Russel Moore that suggested that romance novels could hurt your heart.  The article pointed to similarities between romance novels (even "inspirational" romance) having the same emotional impact on a woman as the physical impact pornography has on men.  He did not by any means make them moral equals.  Is his conclusion wrong?  Honestly, for me it was confirmation that there really is a potential threat to fall into the belief that the man in my life must be all (alpha-male) man and at the same time possess all the sensitive, romantic ideologies of my female brain.  I'm not suggesting we throw out all forms of romantic literature.  I enjoy a good, page-turning book and the tears and excitement that come along with it.  What I have concluded is that it is just that...a book, a fictional story, an escape from reality that is not to be projected onto what is my relationship reality.  Yesterday I finished another book.  This one a different story about a couple married 21 years on the verge of divorce.  Only through their renewed relationship with God were they both able to see their own fault in their marital struggles and move together on the road of reconciliation.  It was a story almost too real to read.  He blamed her for this, she blamed him for that and they altogether gave up on trying to serve and love the other until they were too miserable to even speak to each other.  In the end, they realized that the walls they built around their hearts were built on lies they had told themselves.  It was the truth that set them free to love each other again.

My truth is this: God has blessed me with a wonderful husband.  He may not be the female-brained, alpha-male guy in the romance novel, but he is mine, a gift from God to love and cherish all the days of my life.  Given the time and effort necessary, I too would pen our story in an inspirational pursuit of true love.  Until that day, I will choose to write our story on the pages of my heart and guard this priceless treasure that God has given me.

~"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Proverbs 4:23 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Daddy Dates by Greg Wright - Book Review

Daddy Dates is one man's journey through parenthood raising four daughters. This book is full of practical tips for fathers to get to know their daughters. The book offers twenty-five short chapters and additional helps such as personality profiles and a list of the top 15 daddy dates.

I love the idea presented throughout this book, as the author once penned it, “I show my girls that they are understood, valued, and cherished by the first guy who ever loved them for who they are.” I found this book to be well-written and easy to read. I think this book is a great handbook for all parents raising daughters in today's culture. The platform of this book seems so simple, yet so foreign to our families today. I love the example of a father guiding his daughters into womanhood by showing them how a man should love and respect them. I also appreciated the author's chapter dedicated to “Mommy Dates.” This chapter is devoted to reminding men that “mommy” was their first girl and that they need to continue to pursue that relationship in the midst of the parenting years.  I believe the suggestions in this book have great potential to build and strengthen the father/daughter relationship for years to come. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> 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 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I've never considered myself a coffee drinker.  My mom never made it much when I was growing up, only when there was company around.  I did remember liking it as a kid with milk and sugar.  As an adult, I've just left it be.  However, with the emergence of time I've found that although I may not be a 'real' coffee drinker, there is an  indulgence I enjoy.  On a trip to Missouri one weekend I discovered a Mocha Caramel Cappuccino that I did very much enjoy.  I've stopped at that same location a time or two since and they no longer offer what I crave.  I've had one at McDonald's and I have enjoyed it as well.  However, I cannot wrap my frugal spirit around a $3 coffee on a regular basis.  Therefore, I have created my own.  Since I am not up on the coffee lingo, I did have to do a little research to find out exactly what it is I make.  Honestly, I'm still not sure but I'm calling it a latte.  I have found that if I heat my skim milk and add 3 spoons of the instant suisse mocha and 2 spoons of the instant caramel coffeehouse beverage mixes I have a delightful pick-me-up to enjoy on a regular basis without breaking my budget.  

Friday, April 29, 2011

To Age or not to Age?

Today I received a piece of mail that caused me to remember a statement I once made to my young nephew.  I told him that he had to stay little, because by the time he turned 12, I would be the old age of 27.  I'm not really certain where the turning point in this whole aging process happened.  I can vividly remember a time in my youth when I reveled in the reality that many people thought I was much older than my actual age.  Now I hope that they will presume I am younger than my actual age.  I find myself staring in the mirror trying to convince myself that I have not left the ripe years of my twenty-somethings. Despite my efforts, the constant recurrence of the stubborn gray hairs, the fine wrinkles around my eyes, the "baby" marks and the occasional aches and pains remind me that those days have passed.

So what was the piece of mail I received that sent me spiraling into this aging was an invitation.  It was an invitation to my nephew's high school graduation.  Yes, he eventually turned 12...and I turned 27 (and lived to tell about it) he'll graduate and soon be 18 and come December I will be...(you do the math but please don't tell me).  For years my mother, through her attitudes and actions, has taught me to never let age hinder your mind and your activities.  She is an inspiration to me at her soon-to-be 71 years young.  I think I will continue on my journey to remaining twenty-something in spirit...I figure at this rate, my nephew will soon be older than me!

"You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God." 1 Peter 3:4

Friday, April 15, 2011

I'm hooked!

Many of you may know that I am now blogging for books.  I just completed my 2nd book and am so excited to write about it.  For several years now, I have been a fan of Nicholas Sparks.  So much so that I didn't even know of another fiction author I would enjoy reading.  In my blogging for books quest, I took a leap and requested Kristen Heitzmann's book Indivisible. This book did not disappoint!  I began reading it much like I do with my others, a couple chapters before bed and then I set it aside until the next night.  On about the third night or so, I began reading around page 80...and didn't put it down until page 236, leaving me another 90 pages which I was anxious to finish the following morning.  This book had so many elements of suspense and romance, I found myself trying to predict what would happen next.  The first few chapters set the scene with a variety of characters and glimpses of their history together.  The history continued to unfold throughout the book, leading me deeper into the lives and struggles of each character.  The back cover of this book accurately refers to it as "a spell-binding tale of severed connections and the consequences of life lived alone." Indivisible is well written by a Christian author and a pleasure to read and recommend to friends and family.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Jesus!

Today I received an awesome privilege. Today after kindergarten round-up, Rockstar and I headed to our local grocery store to pick up a few items before we went to pick up Crazy Horse from school.  While at the grocery store, we met a woman whom I've recently met and God had been bringing her to my thoughts regularly this week.  I was prompted to say hello.  She introduced us to her 5 year old little girl.  Today was her daughter's birthday.  They were looking at cards, but there was no money to buy one.  I undeniably knew that God had a plan and I had a part in His plan.  I bought my groceries, picked up Crazy Horse from school and drove home in tears.  I told Preacherman what I needed to do and he said, "then go do it."  So I did. 

Rockstar and I delivered a birthday present to this little girl.  The little girl was thrilled and full of smiles and hugs. Her mom hugged me.  She told me that earlier today the little girl was really bummed about her birthday and she had told her daughter that maybe Jesus would find a way to make her birthday special.  

Please hear my heart, I am not writing this to tell you what I did.  I want you to hear what my Jesus did!  He took a "chance" meeting at a grocery store with an almost stranger, who already had access to her contact information, to send this precious child a birthday present and let her know that he loves her. What an awesome God we serve!

~And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  Phil 4:19-20

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sometimes grown-ups get it wrong...

It never ceases to amaze me that God can use the smallest, mundane conversations to tune our hearts and ears to Him.  This conversation brought my mind back to a point from our recent Sunday School lesson.

Rockstar:  "Can I go get some crackers?"
Me: "No, I'm almost finished fixing lunch."
Rockstar:  "You mean dinner."
Me: "Yes."
Rockstar: "Sometimes you grown-ups get it wrong."

Yes, Rockstar sometimes we get it wrong.

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."  Mark 10:13-14

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Special Day

Today was a very special day.  Today we celebrated Crazy Horse's profession of faith in Jesus Christ through her baptism.  Family and friends were able to celebrate with us.  Grandma M, Grandma and Grandpa D, Aunt Sonia and our friends John, Sarah, Big A and Little E were all able to make the long drive to share this wonderful day with our precious daughter.  Words cannot express the joy that I experienced as I watched Preacherman speak so fluently the words of baptism and lower Crazy Horse into the symbolic waters of new life.  It was a very tender and sweet moment in the life of our family.  

After church, we came home and served Crazy Horse's favorite meal, tacos.  Preacherman stopped at the store for me on the way home to pick up paper plates and dessert.  When he arrived home he came bearing a sweet bouquet of flowers for Crazy Horse.  Her first flowers.

Since Crazy Horse is the first of our princesses to experience baptism it was my opportunity to begin a tradition for this milestone with our girls.  Tonight we presented Crazy Horse with a small heart shaped locket with a cross on the outside, inside I had printed and cut two small hearts,  the first with - January 2, 2011 - the date she gave her heart to Christ. The second - March 27, 2011 - the date she followed Christ in obedience through baptism. 

This is my daughter, whom I love; with her I am well pleased.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”  Matthew 3:16-17

Friday, March 25, 2011

Yes, He did! (a review of God Gave Us So Much)

God Gave Us So Much is a three book treasury by Lisa Tawn Bergren that includes God Gave Us the World, God Gave Us Love and God Gave Us Heaven. God Gave us the World is a new addition to this series. In this new book, Mama Bear takes Little Cub to the museum to learn about the different bears around the world. Little Cub learns that all bears are not alike, but that all bears are created by God. This story focuses on God as the creator of the world and everything in it.

The second story in this treasury is God Gave Us Love. It is a wonderful story about love for each other. Throughout the story Grampa Bear teaches Little Cub about love. It highlights the many ways God shows His love for each of us including the most important way, “he sent his Son to save us, to show us the way.”

The third story is a dialogue between Papa and Little Cub about heaven. Little Cub has many questions and Papa answers them all. Here is a sampling of some of the questions Little Cub asks Papa: “What's heavn'n? Can we take our stuff to heaven? What will God look like? How do we get there?” This book provides thoughtful answers to many questions that children often ask about heaven.

I requested this book to share with my three little girls. I am so glad I did. My girls enjoy many types of books and this one did not disappoint. I enjoyed the dialogue that Little Cub has with special people in her life. The illustrations are well done and add untold elements to the story. I would definitely recommend this book to friends and family. I also think it would make a great birthday gift or baby shower gift and a great addition to a church library or nursery.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

4000+ emails

Yesterday I began a daunting task of cleaning and purging my inbox. Have you ever let those pesky emails you don't intend to read, just sit in your inbox?  I did.  This seemingly impossible task provided me some time of reflection during the quiet napping of my children.  As I sorted, first by unread, then by sender I began deleting.  I realized that my inbox can be reflective of my life at times.  I thought of the constant work God does in my life, trying to rid my person of all the baggage that doesn't need to be cluttering my mind, body and soul.  One by one I deleted emails.  Then I realized that some of the same short cut keys that work in other programs work well in my inbox too.  Once I was armed with that realization, deleting emails became much easier.  As I continued on my deleting spree I found numerous emails from my favorite stores, newsletters and forwards from friends that I often enjoy.  They had gone unread and were now old and useless.  Then there were the emails that I didn't even request that should have been out as soon as they came in to my inbox.  The huge amount of unread emails cluttering my inbox often caused me to overlook the emails I received from important people in my life.  This morning as I opened up my freshly purged inbox, I found it so much easier to purge the new unwanted emails and to quickly read the important ones.

I think that God works much the same way.  He takes hold of the things that we are willing to release easily at first. Then, as we realize we are better for it, we release more life clutter to his deleting power.  The more we release to him, the more he is able to clear from our lives and the easier it is for us to see and hear him when he speaks to us.

In the past, I have jokingly remarked that sometimes I wish God would just send me an email.  Maybe he just did.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3

Monday, March 7, 2011

Praying for Prince Charming

Last week I made out my new prayer "rolodex" using my 4x6 inch index cards and a small 4x6 inch photo album.  This idea came from a book I am currently reading, "The Mentoring Mom" by Jackie Kendall.  I'm so excited about having my prayer requests at my fingertips to flip through and keep in prayerful thoughts throughout my day.  As I made each of my girls a card of their own, I wrote the things most Christian mothers want for their children: a relationship with God, good friends, good health and so on...then I found myself writing down prayer for their future husbands.  WHOA!  One of them isn't out of diapers yet!

Recently Crazy Horse and Rockstar have been pretending to be adult moms with wonderful husbands who work multiple jobs to buy them fancy clothes and pay for their life in a hotel with maid-service and constant dinners out.  In addition, these wonderful husbands have time to care for their 18 children (YIKES) while they operate an animal clinic and do a handful of other things as well.  These wonderful husbands buy them jewelry and clothes and spend quality time with them.  Talk about some high expectations!  The other night, Preacherman and I were downstairs.  Crazy Horse arrived in a new outfit that "Justin" had bought for her and wanted our opinion.  We looked at her and I asked, "How often do you see your dad buy clothes for me?"  Crazy Horse quickly replied, "Dad doesn't even buy his own clothes!"  The only way to respond to that statement of truth was to break out in hysterical laughter.

The truth is, if my girls find a husband as great as their dad, they will be blessed.  I recently read an article about the lack of boys who grow into men in today's society and I realized that unless we as parents set out to change that trend, the number of good men available to marry my girls (and your girls) will be few.  This past week I have sensed a great need to be in prayer for something that is more than a decade away.  So as I pray for my girls to grow in their knowledge, love and service to God and to live lives of purity, I pray that they will be blessed to find the prince charming of their dreams.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A New Adventure

Recently I have rediscovered my love for reading.  I have specific authors I enjoy reading and tend to stick with them religiously.  Today I found myself ambitious to try something new.  I discovered a website that will send me FREE books in exchange for my review of the book posted to my blog and to a retail website.  Although I am excited about this new adventure, the idea of having a deadline (30-90 days) to complete the task is somewhat daunting for this Lucy-like persona.  I did not shy away from this new adventure but I am entering in the shallow end...a children's book (a treasury of three books), titled "God Gave Us So Much."  Look for the review in the weeks to come!

Monday, February 14, 2011

I love my Valentine!

Several years ago I danced with my Valentine at a wedding reception on Valentine's Day.  I knew that night that I wanted to dance with him every day for the rest of our lives.  Since that time we've danced our way into our own marriage, the birth of three beautiful girls and all of life's ups and downs in between.  My Valentine has often made it easy to love him. When I first sat down to write this blog, I thought it would be long and lengthy, recounting the wonderful attributes of my loving husband.  Although there are many things to list, my feelings are summed up in these four words and one punctuation mark...I love my husband.

I love my husband. Period. No reason needed. 

We love because he first loved us. ~1 John 4:19

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Great Expectations

I've lived a pretty easy life.  School was always something I enjoyed and I excelled at.  I didn't accept my first "B" until I was a junior in college, married and working a part-time job 20 hours a week and even then I didn't swallow it well.  I graduated high school as Valedictorian, was awarded the Top Sophomore award together with another young lady at Culver-Stockton and graduated with Magna Cum Laude honors from TCU.  From the beginning of my working career, I experienced great work environments that always provided me ample promotion and growth opportunities.  I have always enjoyed the ability to do things well and accomplish any task set before me.  Several years ago as I transitioned to the position of a stay-at-home mom, I approached the new "position" with the same great expectations I have in each and every transition in my life.  I had high hopes of highly organized schedules, closets, bedrooms and living areas.  I had dreams of cooking new and exciting meals for dinner each night.  The June Cleaver picture, if you may, as I welcomed my wonderful husband home each day to our clean and inviting home wearing my freshly pressed dress, pearls and high heels and most smile - because as we learned from Annie - "you're never fully dressed, without a smile."  After a few months, I came to a rapid realization that I was living something completely opposite the dream I had conjured up in my mind.  My days were beginning to resemble the frantic antics of Lucy Ricardo instead of the collected June Cleaver.  I have spent the last 4 years trying to attain the "June Cleaver" persona only to have my hopes dashed on a daily basis.  Over the last couple months I've come to a new conclusion.  I'm not June Cleaver, I will never be June Cleaver and most importantly...I don't have to be June Cleaver.  I've learned a few new techniques (thanks to FLYLADY) to help calm the chaos that ensues in our home on a daily basis.  More importantly, I'm learning a new attitude and the need to de-clutter my life of the great expectations I have placed upon myself.  My Jesus is teaching me that the best expectations are those that He has appointed for me and all other expectations are holding me captive and hindering the abundant and effective, spirit-filled life God has planned for me.  It's a process, a long process...a process I'll call "breaking free."

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. ~John 10:10

Saturday, January 22, 2011

More chicken, please

Yesterday at noon, preacherman and I tried to figure out something to do for a fun family night with the girls.  Lunch time came and went and we still had no solid plans for the evening.  As the afternoon continued, I remembered a book I had titled, 199 Fun Family Activities.  I began perusing the pages looking for something quick, simple and certain to please.  I landed on Chicken Day.  It was supposed to be a whole day of chicken...eggs for breakfast, chicken nuggets for lunch, chicken for dinner.  Since it was already afternoon, it would not be a Chicken Day, but we'd have a Chicken Night!  I began gathering my supplies...a toddler cd with the Chicken Dance tune, a YouTube video of how to do the chicken dance, a long list of chicken jokes and I borrowed the movie, Chicken Little, from a friend.  I cut up the list of jokes into single jokes, folded them and placed them in a tupperware dish.  I placed the jokes, cd and movie in a gift bag, taped it closed and left it on the table with this note attached:  Inside this bag are the contents for tonight's fun family activities!  Absolutely, NO PEEKING!  Here is your ONE clue:  (below was a picture of a cartoon chicken). When preacherman arrived home I told the excited children and somewhat scared preacherman that I needed to leave home and would be back in about 30 minutes, all I needed them to do was set the table and have ice in the glasses.  I left and went to Dollar General to pick up soda and ice cream pops, then to McDonalds for the 50 piece chicken nugget meal with two orders french fries.  I arrived home to the table set and an uncontrollable amount of excitement.

We all sat at the table and ate our McDonald's meal while telling our chicken jokes.  Crazy Horse pulled her first joke out of the bowl and pulled the one and only chicken joke with a horse in it!  Even little Princess had a joke or two to tell.  We laughed and smiled.  When the jokes were read and dinner was done we headed to the living room computer to watch the next surprise, the video of the chicken dance.  Once we had it down and the video was over, we used the toddler cd of the Chicken dance.  It was loads of chicken fun!  Next up was pj time to get ready for our movie.  Once our pjs were on, we had a devotion time where we acted out the story of David and Goliath (the VeggieTale version) because we all know that David was no CHICKEN!  After our exciting devotion we camped out in the living room to watch Chicken Little, followed by ice cream and bedtime.

It was a night like no other and the best McDonald's meal I've ever eaten!

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's just a game

Last night while dinner was cooking, Preacherman and I sat down at the table to play a game of Farkle.  Before long we were joined by our children.  Rockstar had a tremendous streak of luck and could roll high numbers with one toss of the dice.  Crazy Horse was not as fortunate at the start of the game.  Crazy Horse soon took on the "I'm bored, this is no fun" attitude at the thought that her little sister was going to beat her (and the rest of us) in record time.  Rockstar on the other hand, was so excited to roll the dice that many times she chose to roll the dice and forfeit large scores that added together would have quickly ended our game.  As the game continued, Crazy Horse banked some conservative scores and also hit a few big ones.  Before long Preacherman, Rockstar and Crazy Horse were all tied.  As the game was nearing the end the attitudes had made a complete flip.  Rockstar was now singing the blues and Crazy Horse was elated to be in position to win the game.  In the end, Crazy Horse won the game in record fashion that no one could match.  Rockstar had much difficulty in losing and the realization that she lost the game largely in part because she liked to roll the dice.  Preacherman and I tried to reel in the team to the truth that it is only a game and it is meant for family fun.  After a few tears and a couple hugs everything returned to what we have come to call normal.

This morning I was thinking of our little game last night and the reality that our lives are much like that game.  We all make choices, some are good and some not-so-good.  Each time our turn doesn't provide the expected outcome we must choose our next move.  Do we continue to dwell in the last not-so-good play or do we look forward to our next turn in anticipation that it will be better?  Maybe life as we know it really is "just a game."  Sometimes good things happen.  Sometimes not-so-good things happen.  Sometimes we made the choice that created the outcome.  Sometimes it was just "luck".  Which ever way the ups and downs come, our response to the ups and downs remains our choice. The game of life has one big difference.  In the end, each one who knows Jesus as Lord and Savior WINS the game.  Since the "winning" is not a result of how well we played the game, I think the important part of this game of life is our response along the roller-coaster to eternal life.  Did people recognize our game was different?  Did we invite others to join our winning game?  Did the choices we made throughout our game reflect the sacrificial choice Christ made for us?  Maybe we should be less concerned about bringing our "A-game" and more concerned we are bringing our "J-game".

Time to go get my game on...until next time...pray hard, play well and praise HIM!

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.  1 Corinthians 9:24-26

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mom on a Mission

This morning I set out on an adventure with my two youngest children, Princess and Rockstar.  We had discussed before leaving home and heading to the local grocery store that this was going to be a good and quick trip.  Mommy had made a list and we were sticking to it.  Get in, get it done and get out...that was the mission.  We got to the store and got in, loaded Princess in the cart and began to pick up the items on the list.  As we were traveling down the milk and cheese aisle of the store - second to the produce where we began, the girls began speaking to each person we met along the way in a very pleasant manner.  There were many who smiled and cordially said "hi" in return and then exchanged greetings with me. Then there was a woman who stopped and began to engage in conversation with Princess and Rockstar.  Rockstar being totally excited to have someone's attention kindly introduced the entire family - 2 of which were not even with us.  Then she told the woman how old she was, when her birthday was and even invited the woman to her birthday party and sleepover.  The woman kindly smiled and thanked her for the invites.  I then suggested Rockstar could also invite her to join us at church.  Rockstar did not miss a beat as she invited the kind lady to church.  The woman asked where she went to church and Rockstar did a stellar job of telling her the name of our church (with a little help from mom) the woman was certain of the church location and even inquired about service times.  Rockstar told her that if she would wear her hair in a ponytail and wear the same coat, she would know her when she showed up at church.  The woman's name is Melanie.  She works nights at the store and to top it all off, she lives outside of town and owns horses!  That alone began a whole new topic of conversation with my horse crazed children.  It was a first impression like no other and a treasure in this momma's memories.  I had a mission and God had a better one.  I wonder how many times I've gone with the get in/get it done/get out mission and missed the real mission of my day.  Tonight Rockstar prayed for Melanie and I prayed thanking God for the sweet spirit of my little Rockstar.  May she always be in tune to God's calling on her life.

 “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure."  Matthew 11:25-26

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cookies, anyone?

So...the fall season came and went and I never got my chili cook out with my neighbors to become any more than an idea...a good idea...and by no means a fleeting thought.  Unfortunately, I think it will have to wait a little while longer...maybe a spring fling?  

With that said...I did use Christmas as a great excuse to meet my neighbors.  I spent a Saturday baking, baking and baking cookies...some for church and some for our neighbors.  The girls went with me and we delivered the cookies to the houses on our street that we knew had little feet running around.  It was a great way to meet the neighbors and also a great opportunity to let my girls show some neighborly hospitality.  It was a very quick trip up and down the street, door to door.  I'm excited to at least have faces and names (at least the ones I remember) to go along with the houses.  A couple days later, I delivered some bread to our remaining neighbors.  It was a wonderful time and not nearly as quick.  Each house I stopped at cordially invited me in, and with a couple exceptions I felt obliged to do so.  I had some great conversations with some lovely people and am pleased to have such friendly neighbors nearby.

As 2011 dawns...I hope to allow myself to see many new ways and opportunities to impact the world around me in positive, God-honoring ways.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year...New Creation

This new year brings with it new creation, new excitement and much joy as we had the wonderful opportunity to sit together at the table over Sunday lunch on January 2nd, and watch the excitement unfold in the eyes of our 8 year old daughter as she accepted Christ as her Lord and Savior.  We've tried to be very cautious and not "push" her to a decision before the Holy Spirit spoke to her heart.  As we discussed the day's events at church, including the Lord's Supper we had observed in morning worship, Daddy looked at her and began a brief conversation about what it means to be a Christian and how one becomes a Christian.  She looked at him with wide eyes and excitement as she realized that a simple prayer and an open heart was all God requested.  She was elated at the simplicity and excited to begin her new journey as a Christian.  She then called both Grandmas to share the good news of her decision, as mommy stood by listening with tears of joy.  

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"  2 Corinthians 5:17