Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Problem Solver

As a mom of twin 4 year olds, it seems like one of the things I do most often is solve problems. I'm sure other moms can relate easily to this. But let me give you a few examples: When Alexa needs to go to the bathroom, she runs to me practically in tears and tells me that she needs to pee. My response: Well, go to the bathroom. She does, and voila: problem solved. When Ella get's cold, she comes to me to tell me. What do I do? I tell her to get a blanket, or put her clothes back on. She does, and voila: problem solved. We have a limited number of bowls in our house (only enough for one meal for the whole family) so when the boys come to me before the dishes have been washed and tell me they need a clean bowl, I tell them to wash one. They do and voila: problem solved. - Do you see a trend here?

What I see as common since, the kids are still just learning. Solving most child sized problems is easy for most adults. They have problems that we have lived through, problems that we have dealt with in the past, or still cope with today (like needing clean dishes and going to the bathroom - we just don't see them as problems any longer).

I pondered on that today as I solved problem after problem, but instead of thinking about how frustrating it was that I was solving the same problems over and over and over again, my mind drifted to my heavenly father. I wonder if He ever does that for me. When I come to Him in prayer because I have a problem, does He ever shake His head and wonder when I will ever learn that if I need to pee I should just go to the bathroom: If I'm worried about the things of the world that I should just cast my anxieties on Him?

Moreover, my children think of me as their ultimate problem solver. Have a problem? Mom can help! But do I think of God that way? Do I trust Him with that childlike faith that trusts that He possesses all of the answers to any problem that I may run into? ...Do you?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Romantic Trust

Welcome to Mr. Monday! This is the second of four guest posts by Sandy Ralya:

Trust Leads to Romance

What stirs the embers of romance deep inside you?
·         Loving Words
·         Touch
·         A Night Out?

Maybe you haven’t thought about romance lately because of busyness, fatigue, disillusionment, or hopelessness.

I’ve been there too.

But romance with the man you love may not be as elusive as you might think.

Though we all desire romance—every woman longs to be
noticed, pursued, and adored—few of us realize that…   

our  words  and  actions  may  serve as stumbling blocks rather than invitations for the man in our life to woo us romantically.

If this is true, then we’re sabotaging the very romance we desire. Reminds me of the saying,  
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

Do you like what you’re experiencing in regard to romance?
If not, ask yourself if you’re more likely to trust OR control your husband.  
You’ve seen the controlling type.
Most women on TV sitcoms struggle with control. They walk all over the men they’re with and it bothers us.

It’s easy to detect control in others, but are you guilty of similar actions? 

Let’s look deeper and find out.
1. Do you correct your husband?
2. Do you instruct your husband?
3. Do you improve your husband?

Do you correct your husband’s pronunciation or perhaps the
telling of a story when you know he’s got the facts mixed up?

When you correct your husband you’re telling him he did something wrong.
In this position you’ve become his mother. And that’s a romance killer if there ever was one.

Do you instruct your husband when he drives, performs
tasks, or helps out with the kids?

When you instruct your husband, you’re sending the message, “You don’t know how to do this.”
In this position you become the teacher who highlighted his ineptitude. Exposed, he’ll either shrink or strike back, rather than pursue.

Do you improve your husband?
In the past, I’ve tried to improve Tom’s appearance whenever possible. Once, when dressing for dinner at an elegant restaurant on vacation, I wore a vintage cashmere jacket with pearls and heels while Tom wore an improbable, wrinkled ensemble worthy of an episode of What Not to Wear. Yet, I didn’t say a word! (Some of you may be appreciating the restraint that required!)  If I’d shared my fashion-improvement advice with him, I would have sent the romance-spoiling message, “You could have done better.” 

In what areas do you try to improve your husband?

When we correct, instruct, and improve, we justify our actions by saying we’re just trying to help when, in reality, the measures we employ have more to do with fear—the fear that we won’t get what we want or we’ll get it too late.

Whenever our actions are borne of fear, the results we experience will be disappointing at best!

Give your fears to God and trust your husband with new words and actions…

Inviting him to romance.

About Sandy Ralya: 
Sandy Ralya is the founder and director of Beautiful Womanhood, a marriage mentoring ministry based near Grand Rapids, Mich. Her marriage testimony was the focus of a popular three-day interview on FamilyLife Today, TV's Walking by Faith, and Time Out for Women. Sandy is a sought-after speaker, presenting Beautiful Womanhood seminars to hundreds of women each year at MOPS groups, women's retreats, and church leadership conferences across the country and in Canada. Sandy and her husband Tom have been married since 1980, and have a growing number of grandchildren.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Living in a Martha World

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
~Luke 10:40
Tucked away in the book of Luke (at the end of chapter 10), is a short story of a family that welcomed Jesus into their home. It’s the story of Mary and Martha. In the story we find Martha hard at work, while Mary sits at the feet of our Savior. Reasonably, Martha is upset. She is being left to do all the work by herself, and she gets edgy. I can hardly blame her for that, I probably would to. However, when I was reading this story the other day, something completely different caught my attention.
Yes, Martha was busy working, and she thought that Mary should be too. Does that sound familiar? We live in a Martha world. We are told that we should be busy doing, not sitting at the feet of our Savior. Sure, Christians are suppose to read their Bible, but even the Christian world bombards us with the idea that if we aren’t busy serving, then we aren’t doing what we should be. If we aren’t cooking meals for families that need them, or cleaning the church building, or teaching Sunday school or Bible study, then we are looked down on.

Yet, in the story of Mary and Martha, Jesus chided Martha saying: “…but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:42. Taking the time to sit quietly and pray or read God’s Word, that’s better than doing all the other things that Christians do. Yes, those things are good, and even required, but without the Word of God, they are all meaningless.  Why? Because “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” – Matthew 4:4. We need the Word of God, more than we need to teach Sunday school, more than we need to clean the church, and more than we need to sign up to bring food to a fellowship gathering. After all, we are saved by grace through faith—and this not from ourselves, but it is the gift of God— Ephesians 2:8.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blogland Blues

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
~Psalm 134:14

Blogland can be a dangerous place.

Does that statement surprise you? It shouldn't. You see, Blogland is full of blogs by other people. Some of those people portrait themselves to be perfect, and give you instructions so that you can be perfect just like them. Other bloggers admit that they have faults, but have great ideas about how to improve themselves, and they invite you along on their journeys. Yet still other bloggers are just plain real - they own up to who they are, and if you don't like it, then you are not required to read their blog. There are bloggers that are super house cleaners and great cooks. Bloggers that are over involved in ministry, bloggers who homeschool their kids, or do nothing but spend their day coming up with fun games to play and learn with their little ones. Their are bloggers who have infants, bloggers who have teenagers, and bloggers who are grandmothers. There are bloggers who live in Germany, Africa, and America. The bottom line is that bloggers come in all different shapes and sizes.

Why does that make Blogland dangerous? Simply because you are not another blogger. All of those blogs can be fun to read, encouraging, challenging, or hold some other form of motivation for you, but the danger comes when we start to compare ourselves to another blogger. When we start to realize that we can never be just like them. That we fall short of being the wife, mother, hostess, servant, Christian, that they are.

 As I was contemplating on all of the above information today, it just resonated within me that God didn't create me to be just like anyone else. He made me to be His creation. The only person that I should try to imitate is Christ. I shouldn't try to be just like so and so over a her blog, because that's who God created her to be, not me. Sure, her husband might be thrilled that she is such a wonderful wife and homemaker, but I'm not married to him. My husband loves me for me. He married me, not her. My kids wouldn't know what to do if so and so over at such and such of blog took my place. They don't love her, they love me - faults and all.

God creates each of us to be the person that He wants us to be, and our lives are formed around that. Sure, we get stressed out some times, we long to be better at certain things, and that's okay. God is working on us. Maybe someday we will be a better gardener than the lady whose blog inspires us so much. If that happens, it will happen in God's timing, but for now, we are right where He wants us to be, to learn the lessons that we need to learn, to continue to grow into the person that He wants us to be. We might never have a house that looks like so and so's, or children that spout off Scripture like that other blogger does. And that's okay.

Instead of trying to be another blogger, we need - I need - to strive to be more like Christ, and Christ alone.

What about you?


 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

~Colossians 2:6-12

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Beautiful Wife

I recently had the opportunity to review "The Beautiful Wife" by Sandy Ralya. I reviewed the book as well as both the prayer and mentor guides. These are there reviews. I also wanted to let you know that I am priveledged by being allowed to feature guest posts written by Sandy here on my blog. The first one was posted yesterday, and there will be four all together (one a week for four weeks), and they will be posted on Mondays. I encourage you to check back to read those as you have time. Now, on to the reviews!

Book Review:

The Beautiful Wife uses these inspiring stories along with biblical principles to guide and encourage any wife looking for God's best in her marriage. The Beautiful Wife answers serious questions women have about their roles as wives. Discussing everything from romance and money to beauty, communication, and sex, Sandy challenges women to open up and share their journeys so that together they can see God's plan for their marriages. "It is my passion to help women discover God's heart for their marriage, just as the other women helped me," writes Sandy. "When women share with each other the details of their journeys with God as wives, it's a beautiful thing indeed."
~Amazon Book Description

This book is not what I was expecting… at all. The target audience of “any wife looking for God’s best in her marriage” is very misleading. This book is directed more towards believers who have not read any previous books about Christian marriage. Not the woman who is not currently reading her Bible daily, and seeking God with every fiber of her being, but the woman who wants to know God more, and what God wants in her marriage but doesn’t know where to start.  Therefore, I will tell you right now that I was not the target audience. In the author’s own words, “Recipe theology – living by a one-size-fits-all formula – leaves women hungry.” This book, and the assumption that it would work for “any wife…” left me hungry.

What this book has to offer:
  • Short Scripture passages to get you started reading God’s Word each day.
  • Basic description of who women are in the Christian religion, including a description of their roles as mothers and wives (mainly wives).
  • Reflection questions to get you to look at your life.
What I didn’t like:
  • The reflection questions were not very thought provoking, but rather just a literal reflection on what you are or are not doing.
  • In chapter 10 (chapter 6 in the galley that I had) the focus was the beauty of the home, both physical and emotional. I don’t believe that condemning a woman for the way her home looks will be helpful at all. The author went on to say that, but only after she focused on its importance. I believe that it would have been much better to start the chapter with the importance of spiritual beauty, and then if needed, add in the other part relating it to the expression of our inner beauty. The last thing a marriage in trouble needs is to sit down and discuss a budget that includes the physical beautification of their home.
  • I also want to mention that most of the Scriptures used in the book are from the NLT, which I generally don’t really like, so I spent most of my time looking to see what the Scriptures actually said, verses what they were thought to mean.
All in all, I found this book to be very biblical, and I might possibly recommend it for a young believer, or a Christian woman who was just beginning the search to find God’s will for her marriage. It basically held almost all of the truths that I have ever been told about marriage in an easy to read format. However, it did so in a very motherly way that for me seemed a little patronizing.

Prayer Journal Review:

The Prayer Journal for “The Beautiful Wife” was fabulous. It’s actually one of the very few prayer journals that I’ve ever liked. Most leave me feeling like they were pointless, but this one is so well laid out that it could be used on its own without the book.  It would be a great tool for (gasp) any Christian wife –or wife to be- that enjoys journaling, and is looking for a way to document her journey as she grows in that role.

Mentor Guide Review:

Okay, this was actually my favorite part of the whole thing. I loved the layout of the mentor guide, and just everything held within. The ideas were amazing, and I could really see a great group meeting coming from it! I might actually use this guide for a group without the book, with another book that has similar subjects, or even just use the ideas separately in a women’s retreat setting. I can’t stress how much I enjoyed the mentors guide and am looking forward to putting the ideas within into action!

*Also I want to note that I had a galley copy of this book that was still in the editing process, and therefore I’m assuming that all typos and redundancies were caught before it was completed and put up for sale. I received my copy for free from LitFuse Publicity via their bloggers review program, and it contained all three products in one galley. I did receive actual copies of the books in the mail last week, but haven't had a chance to go through them extensively. You can hop over to their website to read more reviews to get a more balanced opinion of this book by going to:

Sandy Ralya is the founder and director of Beautiful Womanhood, a marriage mentoring ministry based near Grand Rapids, Mich. Her marriage testimony was the focus of a popular three-day interview on FamilyLife Today, TV's Walking by Faith, and Time Out for Women. Sandy is a sought-after speaker, presenting Beautiful Womanhood seminars to hundreds of women each year at MOPS groups, women's retreats, and church leadership conferences across the country and in Canada. Sandy and her husband Tom have been married since 1980, and have a growing number of grandchildren.

Celebrate the launch of this book with Sandy by entering her Kindle Touch Giveaway and coming to her "Beautiful Womanhood" Facebook Party {3/8}!

One beautiful winner will receive:
  • A Brand new Kindle Touch with Wi-Fi
  • The Beautiful Wife By Sandy Ralya
  • The Beautiful Wife Prayer Journal and Mentor's Guide
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends 3/7/12. Winner will be announced at Sandy's "Beautiful Womanhood" Facebook Party on 3/8. Sandy will be hosting an evening of chat, laughter and encouragement - bring your friends! She'll also be giving away some GREAT prizes: gift certificates, books, prayer journals and a live chat with Sandy for your Bible study or small group!

So grab your copy of The Beautiful Wife and join Sandy and friends on the evening of March 8th for an evening of fun.
Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on March 8th!

Monday, February 20, 2012


There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
  a time to be born and a time to die, 
   a time to plant and a time to uproot, 
 a time to kill and a time to heal, 
   a time to tear down and a time to build, 
 a time to weep and a time to laugh, 
   a time to mourn and a time to dance, 
 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, 
   a time to embrace and a time to refrain, 
 a time to search and a time to give up, 
   a time to keep and a time to throw away, 
 a time to tear and a time to mend, 
   a time to be silent and a time to speak, 
 a time to love and a time to hate, 
   a time for war and a time for peace.
~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I have been sitting here for quite a while trying to think of the proper words to tell you about Toby. You see, she was more then just a cat. She was almost human. Let me just start from the beginning:

It was September of 2007 when we moved in. The guys that had lived there before us were friends of my husbands, and they were all going separate ways. One of them asked if we would keep his "lobster" (read craw-fish), because he simply didn't want to take it with him, we agreed. What no one mentioned was the spunky cat that they planned on abandoning. We were told that it's name was Toby, and he was a neighborhood cat. Toby clearly knew where her home was. She didn't mind if we lived in it, as long as we let her in so that she could eat on occasion. Did I mention that Toby wasn't a boy at all? She was a girl, and our family quickly fell in love with her. This might have had something to do with the fact that she stood her ground with our other cat who thinks that he is king of the world. But she was just all around fun. She's the cat the knew what she wanted. If she wanted you to pet her, she would meow at the top of her lungs and walk towards you. Stopping at your feet and rubbing against your legs until you bent down to pay her attention. She was the queen of her world. If she felt like crossing the road, she knew that the traffic would stop. Everyone in the neighborhood knew Toby. They even spoiled her with treats on occasion. They loved her for the special presents of dead mice that she would leave on their doorsteps. No one had a mice problem in our neighborhood! I always told them that they should be even more thankful that she left them on the doorstep instead of on their pillows... One time she even brought my husband a live one to teach him how to catch mice. She wasn't please that he took it across the street to the empty field and let it go... they were all dead after that. Except for the one time that she tried to bring a poor baby bunny into the house. It was very much alive. Mr. Amazing wasn't home, and I didn't know a thing about catching bunnies, so I locked it into the entry way and put Toby in the bedroom. I think that was the only time I was ever really upset with her, and even now I can't really remember being mad, just frazzled because I didn't know what to do.

Toby went on walks with us. If we went to the park, she would come to. If we walked to the library, she would try to follow, and Mr. Amazing would carry her home. Everyone loved her. Even after we moved, the new neighborhood adopted her just as the old one had. I haven't told them yet. We did tell the kids, and let them say good bye. The girls didn't understand, but the boys did. They could see it in the tears of their parents. We could have been more prepared. We knew at Christmas time that she wasn't her old self. She had stopped going outside, where she normally spent all of her time. And she had lost a lot of weight. We took her to the vet, and they told us that it was cancer and she wouldn't make it through the week. But she was getting better. She even started going outside again. We assumed that they were wrong. That she had just been allergic to the new food we had been trying.

But that wasn't the case. I suppose that I should be thankful for the extra time we had, but it hurts. I hate that she won't be there in the morning when I wake up, or watching me through the window as I wash the dishes. I miss her so much, and she's only been gone for an hour. The hurt runs deep. It's amazing how much a part of our lives our pets become. But even for a pet, Toby was special. She wasn't your ordinary cat, she was almost human. She talked to you, and walked with you. She was amazing.

 I miss you Toby

Growing Marriages: The Start of a Series

For the next 4 weeks, I will be posting guest posts by Sandy Ralya for Mr. Monday.  She wrote them in honor of the launch of her latest book: The Beautiful Wife, which is on tour now. My post about the book will be tomorrow, feel free to check back to read my thoughts about her book... Now onto the post!

Want a Growing Marriage?

My husband and I were reading a financial book about how to make your money grow when one of the principles jumped off the page at me:

What you focus on grows. 

Because it’s such a simple principle, I couldn’t get it out of my mind and began applying it to all areas of life, especially relationships.

Most women have the desire to grow a more intimate relationship with their husband
yet  few  focus  their  desire  long  enough  to  do  anything  about  it. 

Thus, nothing changes.  
  • Ignorance, 
  • Distractions, and/or
  • hopelessness are often to blame.
I should know. Just 19 when I said, “I do”, I was ignorant about how to grow my marriage.  

Our pre-marriage counseling consisted of one two-hour meeting with my pastor and that wasn’t enough to prepare me for the emotional, spiritual, and verbal abuse my husband doled out on a regular basis.   The abuse produced pain and grief.

I could think of little else than surviving. 

Hope for our future crumbled.

Over time, I began sharing my pain with a few trusted, godly women.  Venting my pain and hearing their honest feed-back helped me see that the abuse I was suffering wasn’t my fault. 

I  began seeing a Christian counselor who gave me tools that helped restore me to a place of strength and dignity. 

The best choice I made was to dig into God’s word and find out what He wanted to say to me about my marriage.  In the Bible I found the following verses which applied to my situation:
  •          “…Your godly lives will speak to them [husbands] better than any words.  They will be won over by watching your pure godly behavior.” (I Peter 3:1,2)  In place of preaching to my husband, I began entrusting my difficult situation to God through prayer—listening for His instruction.
  •          Instead, we will hold to the truth in love…” (Ephesians 4:15) I began to exchange preaching for speaking the truth in love—in as few words as possible.
  •         “See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good…” (I Thessalonians 5:15) On my new path, I chose to respond in kindness and enforce healthy boundaries in place of angry retaliation.
When I dug into the word, I learned that my husband wasn’t the only one sinning.  My responses to Tom were often sinful and my response was the only thing I was responsible for.  

(What I wanted was to change my husband but I couldn’t find a biblical reference to support my desire and neither will you)!    

Focused on God and His Word, I was able to reverse negative behavioral patterns in my life which had long plagued me

When I did what I could do—keeping my focus on God, HE DID WHAT I COULD NOT!

He healed me and ultimately my marriage—to the praise of His glorious grace!

What you focus on grows. 

Are you focused on growing your marriage? 

About Sandy Ralya: 
Sandy Ralya is the founder and director of Beautiful Womanhood, a marriage mentoring ministry based near Grand Rapids, Mich. Her marriage testimony was the focus of a popular three-day interview on FamilyLife Today, TV's Walking by Faith, and Time Out for Women. Sandy is a sought-after speaker, presenting Beautiful Womanhood seminars to hundreds of women each year at MOPS groups, women's retreats, and church leadership conferences across the country and in Canada. Sandy and her husband Tom have been married since 1980, and have a growing number of grandchildren.

Friday, February 17, 2012

My Appologies

I realize that I didn't blog on Monday, and that I have nothing of value to write today. For anyone out there that cares, I'm sorry. I'm still recovering from a pretty nasty cold, and I'm behind on other things. Hopefully I will be back to my bloggy self next week.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Bible Study!

"in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths."
~Proverbs 3:6

I'm so excited about my new Bible Study! It took quite a while to figure out which one I wanted to do, but I'm confident at this point that I chose the right one. A dear friend of mine and I are studying Elizabeth George's book "A Woman After God's Own Heart". My books came in late last week, and I have just been digging right in!

While We have only finished the first chapter, I have already learned so much. We're going through this very slowly so that we can digest the information and apply it to our lives. Here are some of the notes that I have made so far:

"Good, better, best,
never let it rest,
until your good is better,
and your better is best."

This little saying was accompanied by a powerful story of choosing God's best for our lives. While we make some choices that are good, we could make better choices, and even then, there is always a best choice. It definitely made me stop to think about if my choices were merely good, or the best that they could be.

The growth and study guide had some great questions to take us deeper into the book. We had to look up the definitions of 'priority' and 'worship'. Then list 5 actions that would help us make worship a priority. Here's my 5 things:

  1. Have a daily quiet time each morning.
  2. Read my Bible each night.
  3. Read to the boys out of our Bible book each night before bed.
  4. Memorize Scripture!
  5. Listen to/ sing along with a worship CD each day.

I'll let you know how I did on those later...

The theme for this weeks study was the story of Mary and Martha recorded in Luke 10:38-42. A quick summary of what we learned was that while serving God is good, stopping to sit at His feed and worship Him is even better (our memory verses for the week are Proverbs 3:6 and Luke 10:42).

The biggest impact made on me during the first chapter was written in the form of a question. It essentially said:
"Am I in awe of God and what He wants to do in me, for me, and through me?"

So that is the question that I leave you with today. Are you in awe of what God has in store for you? 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saved without a Doubt

Saved without a Doubt by John MacArthur

Christianity is a love relationship between God and His children. Salvation is not a transaction by which God grants us eternal life no matter what our attitude toward Him is. Those who are truly saved have a deep, ongoing love for God. ~John MacArthur (p. 169)

I will start off by admitting that I have mixed feelings about this book. The title is extremely self-explanatory; this is a book about being sure of your salvation. I went into this book most certainly not sure of my salvation, and not even sure that I believed someone could be sure. To be quite frank I had argued on many occasions why the “Once Saved, Always Saved” theory was false. While my mindset changed in the process of reading this book, the book itself had very little or nothing to do with it. As someone who believed differently I found Mr. MacArthur’s words to be rather harsh and they sounded like they were intended to make me feel stupid for believing differently than he did. The arguments that I had used to argue this doctrine, he dismissed as foolish.

If I hadn’t committed to reading this book and wanted to truly learn about this topic, I probably would have thrown it into the trash. However, God had been working on my heart and I had a deep passion to understand this doctrine better. While Mr. MacArthur and I think very differently, he said something that sparked a thought process within me. It would have been nice if the book would have followed that process, but he just mentioned a Scripture then went on his way, leaving me to back track and think it out on my own... which was just fine as well, but I can’t really credit the book for changing my mind as it was a Scripture that He used that God used to enlighten me. Anyway!

While I found the first section of this book worthless, after coming to the conclusion that you could be saved for all eternity and be sure of it I thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the book. I should mention that I came to that conclusion sometime in the midst of the first section, and I still didn’t think the first section was worth anything. I’m going to sum it up as John MacArthur and I have two entirely different brains, and while we are both children of God, and believe in the same Savior, God created us entirely different. Mr. MacArthur is like an eye, and I am more like a finger, both part of the body, but totally different.

During the time that I was reading this book my pastor actually did a sermon on this very topic, and while he also thinks more like MacArthur than he does me, I found it helpful as well. If this is an issue you have been pondering on, I do recommend parts 2 and 3, and even part one IF you enjoy John MacArthur’s teachings and follow similar thought processes. And of course are not easily offended by people mocking your beliefs.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the MacArthur ministry in a free mailing. I was not required to review it.


Worldview: Biblical

Target Audience: Christians on the fence about the security in salvation

Positive Elements: Chapter 9 was my favorite… but all of parts 2 and 3 were good

Inappropriate Language: None

Unbiblical Content: None, but I think the first part was a bit lacking in love and gentleness…

Other Negative Elements: None

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Mile In His Shoes

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
~Ephesians 4:2

I recently won a fabulous movie, from a fabulous blog.The blog is called Write at Home Mom, and the movie is called "A Mile In His Shoes". It's based on a true story, and was a great movie for the whole family. We love sports movies, and this was definitely a hit in our house. Here's the trailer:

What I took away from this movie wasn't that people with 'disabilities' can do great things. This movie was a movie of encouragement. People came together to encourage one another, to spur one another on to great things.  They encouraged each other to be humble, patient, and loving. I loved that. Sure, they all had their own struggles to work through, but they worked through them. They stuck up for each other, and learned to be supportive, no matter what the cost. I definitely recommend this heartfelt movie.

And on an exciting note, the movie came with a letter inviting me to join their blogger review program! I will now have a chance to review faith based movies here on my blog! WOO HOO! :)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Book Review: Unleashed

*Yet another review that I am transferring over from my old blog....

This book was previously released titled "The Barbarian Way". Personally, I think that was a far better title for it. They re-released the book because it was dominantly seen as a book exclusively written for men. I don't think changing the title and cover really changes that much. Most of the examples he uses are either things that men will relate to better, or examples about his daughter... from the prospective of a father. Even the interior graphics are manly.

I had trouble staying engaged while reading this book. He used some great examples, fleshed things out really well, and I do have several things highlighted. I found the concept of the barbarian way intriguing, but this is not something that I will recommend to anyone. I agree with most of the points that he made, and that being a Christian isn't about comfort, but about living our lives for Christ. I have read some reviews that put this book in the emergent church movement and the New Age religion, but I just don't see that. Unless I missed something huge, this book is about living a life for Jesus Christ, not yourself.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the 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."

Freedom's Stand

Freedom’s Stand by J.M. Windle
Freedom’s Stand by J.M. Windle is the story of four people in Afghanistan whose very different lives intertwine. It is a story of life, loss, love, hope and faith. The gospel is prominent in this book, and I love the way it was not only described, but actually applied directly to the character’s lives. It was such a blessing to read about the characters finding peace, love, hope and confidence in the Word of God.

While I enjoyed the storyline of this book, I didn’t care for the way that it was almost 4 different stories that didn’t entirely merge until the end. I guess I just don’t care for Jeanette’s writing style, although I find her creativity captivating. While I found parts of the book to be predictable, others totally caught me off guard. I am usually an overly emotional person, and I was surprised at how such a seemingly intense book, didn’t move me at all. While I found this book to be amazing in so many ways, I will probably never read another book by Ms. Windle, just because I don’t care for her writing style. But for those who do enjoy this style, this book would be a great read.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Media Center book review program for bloggers. 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.”


Worldview: Biblical

Target Audience: Adults

Positive Elements: The telling, retelling, and application of the Gospel

Inappropriate Language: None, but there is talk of rape, the mention of cursing although
curse words are never actually used, and much violence and even death.

Unbiblical Content: NONE!

Other Negative Elements: While I didn’t care for her writing style, I don’t think there was anything else negative about this book.

A River to Cross

*This is actually a review that I had posted on my old blog, but I wanted to transfer it over here.

The Rio Grande - Texas, 1886

On the Lawless Frontier, a Texas Lawman Is Her Only Hope

Elizabeth Madison's brother paid the ultimate price as editor of a newspaper exposing the dangers along the U.S.-Mexican border. Determined to take up his cause, she's targeted and kidnapped by a rogue general--Manuel Diego.

It's the job of Texas Ranger Jake Nelson to protect the border against rustlers and marauders. With Elizabeth's photograph in hand--a dark-haired beauty with smiling eyes--Jake and his men ride across the great river to rescue her, to apprehend Diego and bring him to justice.

But Diego and his renegades are not about to give up that easily.

Amid the turmoil, Jake finds himself taken by Elizabeth. And she by him. Yet his life as a Ranger doesn't fit with marriage and settling down. Not at all.

A River to Cross by Yvonne Harris is an excellent novel! I spent one Sunday afternoon reading this novel start to finish and had trouble putting it down! I was able to read the whole book in 12 hours (I was up way to late that night!). It was such a well written and intrigging story. There was one part that got a bit redundant and another part where the main character had a drastic change in opinion that wasn't well explained, but other than that it was simply amazing! If you enjoy clean romance novels I highly recommend this book!

On a side note, this novel was tagged both historical and Christian fiction, but I would really say it was just a clean romance novel. There were some historical facts woven in, but I don't think there were enough to call it historical fiction. Likewise, God was mentioned but there were no Scriptures that I recall, and while it seemed that most of the characters were religious, Christ wasn't a main theme in the book.

You can read a sample of the book's first couple of chapters here.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany House 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, February 8, 2012

A morning reflection

In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
~Psalm 5:3

I was reading to one of my little girls the other day out of their tattern and torn book of prayers, when I stumbled across the above prayer. I'm sure that I have read it dozens, if not hundreds, of times (since the book is over 4 years old), but this time it held a new meaning. It wasn't simply just a prayer example for toddlers, it was one for me too.

What if I prayed that prayer each morning?

Mornings at our house are pretty hectic. I am not a morning person. It comes from having 2 daughters that still don't sleep through the night on a regular basis, and an elderly dog that has to be let out 4 times each night. Those might sound like excuses, but lack of sleep makes mornings difficult for me. Taking time for God is something that I long to do, no matter how my morning goes. I will admit that I can't always get to it. With running the boys to school, feeding the children breakfast, and any number of other things that pop up, mornings just never seem to go the way that I want them too. However, just stopping for 20 seconds to pray for God's will to be done, really can make all the difference, even on a busy day. I mean, everyone has 20 seconds right? Maybe I will type this up and tape it to the bathroom mirror...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mr. Monday: Date Night!

My lover is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand.
~Song of Songs 5:10
We finally got to go out to celebrate my birthday last weekend. We almost had to cancel due to a huge winter storm, but Mr. Amazing pulled it off. He had arranged a sitter for his day off (Friday) early on in the week. However, our sitter is terrified of driving in the snow, so he ended up having to go and pick her up. The roads were horrible, and he lost control at one point, slamming into the median. The car is a little banged up, and he had a headache, but he wasn't going to let that ruin our day (I would have. I completely freaked out when he told me).

He brought me a dozen roses, and then took me to P.F. Chang's (who has the best Chinese food EVER). Then we went and walked around the mall to pass time while we waited for our movie to start. It was simply wonderful having time with just the two of us. We don't get to do that very often, and I was thankful for every moment of it. My only regret is that it had to come to an end. **sigh**

Friday, February 3, 2012

Action Plans

In his heart a man plans his course, 

   but the LORD determines his steps.
~ Proverbs 16:9

To prepare for our upcoming vacation (yes, I know it's almost 2 months away), I have a ton of stuff that I have to do. I'm planning a course, you could say, to get everything done in time. Yet, I don't always meet my deadlines. This happens more then with getting ready for vacations. Even my normal to do list is sometimes left unfinished. It's tempting to get frustrated or upset when things don't go my way, but then I look back to Proverbs 16:9. I can plan all I want, but God is the one determining my steps. God knows in advance what will get done and what wont. I shouldn't get upset, but rather trust God is accomplishing the things that He needs to do through me. If I miss a deadline or have to bump something to a different week, God is still God and it isn't the end of the world. So when I get a case of the Friday Frizzles I have to stop and focus on what God wants from me. I have to remember that He is in control, and all is not lost. 

But for now, I thought I would share my action plan with you. Before we leave for Texas in now just over 7 weeks, I have to:
  • Finish writing the devotions for "Teen Devotionals... For Girls! Vol. 2"
  • Edit and format them for publishing
  • Re-format them for Kindle
  • Set up a blog tour and write the posts
  • Write blog posts for between now and when we will get back for 3 blogs
  • Clean my house
  • Set up a house sitter
  • My normal weekly tasks
  • Pack
  • Find a place with internet that I can use while there if needed
  • Write a letter to a family friend in the area
  • Edit and format another book
  • ...that might be it... but probably not.
And those are just the things that HAVE to be done before I go, and don't count the other little projects that I am currently working on... ugh! I have to trust God that He will accomplish the things that He has planned to do through me, and remember that it's my job to plan, and His job to determine what I get to complete.

On a side note... What kinds of things do you have to do before you leave on a vacation? Is there anything that I have left off my list?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Yet her profit and her earnings will be set apart for the LORD; they will not be stored up or hoarded. Her profits will go to those who live before the LORD, for abundant food and fine clothes.
 ~Isaiah 23:18

I'm going through a purging stage. I have already gotten rid of 2 trash bags full of toys, 2 boxes and 2 bags of clothes, plus some other odds and ins, and I'm not done. Some of the stuff I have set up for over a year to sell in a garage sale that we have yet to have. So I'm now just donating it all to Good Will. You see, there is no point in storing or hoarding things to save for later. We get a lot of stuff from Good Will, it's cheaper. We might as well bless others the same way. You can get a dozen toys at Good Will for less than you can buy a new toy at Wal-mart. I love that. For families on a budget it truly is a God-send. 

When I read Isaiah 23:18 that's what I thought about. How much better it is to set our belongings before the Lord. Whether it's money, toys or clothes, it all belongs to Him, who are we to store it up for our own gain, when we could be sharing it with others in need.