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Monday, June 28, 2010

The Practice of Godliness

What does it mean to "practice" godliness?

"Enoch walked with God, he enjoyed a relationship with God and he pleased God.  We could accurately say he was devoted to God.  This is the meaning of godliness.  The New Testament word for godliness, in its original meaning, conveys the idea of a personal attitude toward God that results in actions that are pleasing to God."
That quote comes from chapter one of Jerry Bridges' book The Practice of Godliness.  Mr. Bridges spends 18 chapters helping the reader understand what it is to practice godliness.  As stated in 1 Timothy 4:8 "godliness has value for all things".

I have read several of Mr. Bridges books and this one does not disappoint!  I appreciate how he writes in such a way that you have the weightiness of the subject to ponder, but you are not left overwhelmed and wondering what you just read.  This particular book is really more of a bible study than just another book to read through.  Reading through the book alone of course would be of great benefit; however, using the companion discussion guide, also written by Mr. Bridges, provides opportunity for personal study of the great truths he shares in the book.  The discussion guide is divided into 12 lessons.  Mr. Bridges shares this from the introduction of the study guide:
"This study is designed to direct you first into the Scriptures and then into the author's text.  Seeing and understanding what the Scriptures say on a subject is much more important than demonstrating that you know what the book says."
Mr. Bridges shares in his book that "devotion is not an activity" but "an attitude toward God".  He says that "this attitude is composed of three essential elements:  the fear of God, the love of God, the desire for God".  He spends the first four chapters looking at these essential elements.  The remainder of the book is spent looking at taking on God's character.  Mr. Bridges takes a whole chapter on how to develop each of these character traits:  humility, contentment, thankfulness, joy, holiness, self-control, faithfulness, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness and goodness, and love.

Mr. Bridges ends the book by stressing that "the practice of godliness is a discipline.  It requires serious commitment and persevering effort to reach the goal."

The book along with the discussion guide would make for an excellent Sunday School resource or small group bible study.  I highly recommend this resource!  Thank you NavPress for sending both the book and discussion guide for my review.

The Practice of Godliness and the discussion guide can be purchased at Amazon.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received this book free from NavPress Publishers as part of their Blogger Review 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 Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Going Bananas and the Theatre

Our family has been enjoying a "mini-vacation" of sorts the past couple of days.  Mike took a day off work yesterday and since the family finances won't allow a trip back home (big sigh) or a trip anywhere too far off for that matter, we've been creative and found some fun and fairly inexpensive things to do around home.

Yesterday we took the family to the Monkey Playhouse in Cape Coral.  We grabbed a couple of pizzas at Little Caesars and made our way rather quickly to the air conditioned indoor play place.  As a side note:  We went rather quickly, because our other car, the one with the working air conditioner, is at the shop suffering from transmission issues while we suffer in Mike's car with no air conditioner.

The two little ones had a really good time and if the truth be told I think Cecily kinda enjoyed herself too.  She's really good about playing with the two little ones and helping entertain them.  I might need to insert a warning here:  Picture Overload - Rub your eyes good and get ready.

You know you are a daddy when...
you get on your knees in a children's play place and bounce a pink ball or...
play with puppets, because it makes a certain little 16 month old very happy!

See, I told you the big one had fun too!
Some people text while driving and others play ball while driving!

Introducing the many faces of Bentley:
Buzz LightYear
Buzz wrestling the alligator in the rice box...
Did you know Buzz was only 46 inches tall?
Mr. Incredible
And finally, BatMan
JennaBeth really had a ball at the Monkey Playhouse.  No literally she had a ball...
She tried her best to play in the ball pit, but she couldn't "go" anywhere and just kept sinking further and further down...
She wouldn't slow down long enough to play dress-up, but Cecily did manage to get a blue "tu-tu" on her...
Her and big sister conquered the alligator in the rice box too...
JennaBeth really likes to go down slides...
And finally, BatMan tried to wrangle in the hippo before he completely swallowed up the girls...
Thanks to the thoughtfulness and generosity of a sweet friend, Cecily and I were blessed with tickets to the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre today.  Thank you Kim!!!!  We enjoyed a nice lunch and saw "Cinderella".  I think Cecily was the oldest "little" girl in there!  They were all really cute though and several little girls were dressed up as Cinderella.  The one who sat beside me and kicked my chair the whole time was really adorable:(

Mike took our picture before we left...
I remember, it seems like yesterday, when she was little and loved to dress up as a princess and sometimes she was Cinderella.  Now she is 12 almost thir...thir...teen, did I just say thirteen?  I didn't take my camera thinking you couldn't take pictures during the play.  I forgot that at the children's productions the actors come out after for autographs and pictures.  Oh, but the loveliness of cell phones with the camera function!!!  I had to encourage  force Cecily to take her picture with Prince Charming.  This picture isn't very good, because it is a picture of the picture on my phone...
She also willingly reluctantly took a picture with the two wicked stepsisters, but I couldn't get it to show up at all with the camera.  The stepsisters stole the whole show, because they were played by male actors and were hilarious!!  

So far our "mini-vacation" has been a lot of fun.  We plan to take the kids swimming tomorrow.
Just send me your eye doctor bill and I'll get to it after our car gets through with the transmission doctor!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Friendship for Grown-Ups

Remember Blair from The Facts of Life?

She, Lisa Whelchel not Blair, has written a book chronicling her journey through the ups and downs of finding fulfilling friendships in her life. 

In Friendships for Grown-Ups:  What I Missed and Learned Along the Way, Lisa speaks very candidly and transparently about her struggle to find and be able to maintain a deep and abiding friendship.  She is open about her faults and failures and the stress she put on many of the relationships she attempted to have with others.  Lisa shares openly about a week long intensive therapy she participated in after a break-up in a friendship.

There is a built in discussion guide making this an excellent "book club" piece.  Also included is a section called "Conversation Prompts" where Lisa gives excellent ideas for getting to know your friends above the casual chit-chat that normally goes on.

While I appreciated much of what Lisa shares in her book and feel it wold be an excellent resource for anyone who struggles in the area of making and keeping close friendships, I was disappointed in a few things.

I found the writing to be choppy and disjointed.  The chapters didn't flow well and it seemed as if she just hopped from one line of thought to another with no transition in between.  Although she mentions her thoughts about grace and what it meant to her to be "in Christ", her presentation of the power of the gospel was less than clear and didn't seem as a top priority.  She gives more authority to what she learned from other book authors than the power of Christ and His Word to help in such struggles.

Thank you Thomas Nelson Publishers for providing a copy of this book for review.  They expected nothing in return except my honest review of this work.

Friendship for Grown-Ups can be purchased from Amazon.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth."
3 John 4
"Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain."
Psalm 127:1a
"A man of many companions may come to ruin, 
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
Proverbs 18:24
 "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him
endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
Hebrews 12:2
"Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among nations, 'The Lord has done great things for them.'  
The Lord has done great things for us, 
and we are filled with joy."
Psalm 126:2-3

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Whatcha got a cookin'?

Do you ever find yourself getting into a rut with your meal planning and grocery shopping?  I do.  I've found myself getting the same things and planning the same meals the last several times I've been grocery shopping.  So, I went looking for some different things to prepare for my family.

As you all know, Southerners (I'm from Mississippi) are notorious for overcooking their vegetables.  I had no idea this first dish would be such a hit with my family, but it was.  When Bentley ate these, he said, "Mom, I must get your rectipe.  These are alicious!!"  (No typos there.  That's how he says it!)

The "alicious" dish was:
Green Beans Sauteed with Garlic and Olive Oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb green beans, cleaned and tips removed  
salt and pepper to taste
1 and 1/2 teaspoons of dried marjoram leaves
2 tablespoons of fresh minced garlic
water as needed
*Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Add the beans, salt and pepper. Sauté until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Add the marjoram and garlic; sauté another minute. Add just enough water for moisture, about 3 tablespoons. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook 15 to 20 minutes or until beans are the desired tenderness. Uncover and cook until any moisture is evaporated. Serve immediately for hot, but they are also good at room temperature.

The baby even ate them well.  I cooked them less than the 15 minutes, because I wanted them to still have a crunch to them.  They are really good and I found this "rectipe" at Teri'

The other "new" dish I've tried recently is a recipe that I found on another blog I frequent:  His DoorKeeper.  The lady who writes that blog is Kelly's mom from Kelly's Korner.  
Chicken Enchilada Ring
2 cups cooked chicken
1/4 cup chopped black olives
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 can chopped chilies, undrained
1/2 cup sour cream
1 pkg. taco seasoning
2 rolls of crescent rolls
1 small tomato chopped
1 lime (for the juice)
2/3 cup finely crushed tortilla chips
*Chop the chicken and add olives, cheese, chilies, sour cream and taco seasoning.  Mix well.  Chop the tomato and add the juice from the lime and add to chicken mixture.  Reserve 2 tablespoons crushed chips, and add remaining chips to mixture.  Unroll crescent dough and separate triangles.  Arrange on round baking stone or cookie sheet making a circle with wide ends overlapping in the center.  There should be a 5 inch diameter in the center.  Spread chicken mixture evenly onto widest end of each triangle.  Bring points of triangles up and over filling.  Tuck under wide ends of dough.  Sprinkle top with chips and more cheddar cheese.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
This dish was YUMMY and was a big hit with my family.  We love Mexican food and this was a fun twist to your normal Chicken Enchiladas.  The great thing about the ring formation is that with the crescent rolls you have your portions already divided up for you.  I fixed some Spanish rice to go along with it.  Bentley wanted the "rectipe" to this also!!

So, whatcha gotta cookin' at your place? 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day Weekend

Mike's Father's Day present still isn't here!  Nope, not here yet!  I was so excited about his gift this year and it didn't arrive on time.  We went ahead and told him what was coming.  I ordered a picture of Mike's dad with our three kids on his tractor with him in Alabama from Canvas People.  Right now you can order an 8 x 10 canvas for FREE!  You only pay shipping and handling.  They have super discounts on other sizes as well.  Their site is super easy to use.  You just upload the photo you want on canvas to their site and they do the rest for you.

This is the picture I ordered for Mike on an 11 x 14 canvas:
I tracked the order this morning and it is in Orlando at the FedEx warehouse, so hopefully it will be here tomorrow!

Despite his gift not being here in time, I think he's had a pretty good weekend with the little ones!
JennaBeth loves trying to help her daddy!

She even tried helping him practice some songs on the guitar.
Instead of taking him out to eat somewhere on Sunday, he requested a relaxing day at home after church.  So, Cecily and I grilled some steaks and fixed some baked potatoes, salads and garlic bread for lunch.  Then she and Bentley fixed him some "mini brownie bites" for dessert.

The funniest thing occurred after everyone was done eating.  Mike was relaxing on the couch and Cecily curled up with him.  She rarely gets alone time with daddy having a 4 year old brother and a 1 year old sister!  As soon as Bentley saw this he ran over and wormed his way in the snuggle time.  Guess what happened next?

JennaBeth was whining for her spot as well.  So, the snuggle time ended up looking like this:
"Anyone can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a daddy!"


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Stumbling Souls: Is Love Enough?

I  only thought that when I read David Platt's "Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream" I was challenged.

Well, I've just finished what I feel is the perfect companion book to Radical.  

Chris Plekenpol, former Captain in the U.S. Army and  recent Dallas Theological Seminary graduate, wrote Stumbling Souls which is the story of his interactions with a homosexual, HIV-positive, homeless man named James.  Chris tells the story of how he and a Bible Study group choose to pour their lives into James in order to try to help him get back on his feet.

Through many twists and turns in his story, Chris finds that he is the one who "gets back on his feet" spiritually and in his understanding of what it really means to love the Lord and serve others in His Name.
"I went from a Christian ideologue to a person who has an understanding of life on the streets and an understanding of how Christ makes believers righteous on the basis of grace, by means of faith.  I have a deeper love for the lost.  I have a better grasp at how rotten I can be in my own sufficiency.  There wasn't just one stumbling soul in this book; my sins were pretty apparent, and God is still working on my selfishness and pride.  I know that with God all things are possible."
 I was struck from the very beginning with Chris and his story.  Here is a piece from the introduction:
"I love seminary.  I love sitting under the teaching of amazing godly people who have been walking with Christ far longer than I have.  But I have found, during my time in seminary, that God has revealed as much of Himself to me through my interactions with "the least of these" as He has in the classroom.  Some days I walk out of class and my head would be spinning because of how great and incredible our God is - in theory.  But for any disciple, there comes a time when learning Christ must become living Christ.  The greatness of my seminary experience was complete only when the miraculous intangibles of God's character became real in me - when I strove to be Christ to the 'sinners' in my world."
 What follows is an intriguing story of a seminary student, who between study sessions of translating passages of the New Testament in Greek, learns what it is to live out those very passages of Scripture.

I appreciate the transparency of Chris as he shares his story about his interactions with James.  He says the very things you and I struggle with in ministering to others but are just to embarrassed to admit.  The chapters are short and you will be dumbfounded at the end!  This is a MUST READ!!

Thank you B&B Media Group, Inc. for sending me this book to review. 

Stumbling Souls can be purchased at

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Number Forty-Three

Mike turned 43 yesterday.  We celebrated his birthday today, because he had such a busy day planned at work on his actual birthday.  He was able to take the day off today and sleep in a little.   We made his favorite supper, Poppyseed Chicken and Green Beans, and dessert for his birthday tonight.

Speaking of dessert...

I have to be a little creative with Mike's birthday dessert, because he is a diabetic.  I can't just bake or order a cake, so I took an idea from his mother who cooks for Mike's dad who is also diabetic.  Now every year on his birthday, Mike gets "Mike's Trifle" instead of a birthday cake.  I try to change it up a little each year, but this is what I did this year:
I baked an Angel Food cake and let it cool.  I then took a large glass bowl and began layering the trifle.  The first layer is pulled apart Angel Food cake, followed by a layer of frozen berries.  This year I used a berry medley from Wal-Mart that included strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.  What makes this dessert so good it to layer the trifle while the berries are still frozen, so as the berries thaw, the juice just kind of soaks into the cake!  The layer of berries is followed by a layer of sugar-free, fat-free Vanilla pudding.  Next, layer is sugar-free cool whip.  Keep layering until you reach the top of the bowl, ending with cool whip and the remaining berries.  
I covered the dessert and put it in the frig until we were ready to eat it.  Somebody had to test the vanilla pudding that was left over.

After supper, the kids presented Mike with his homemade birthday card.
We all wrote a special note on each page.  I gave Mike the book, "Mike and Mike's Rules for Sports and Life" and the kids gave him some "noise reduction" ear phones!
Blessings to you from the wife of the "Darn Awesome Dude",

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Morning at the Park

I decided to take the little ones to the park this morning.  We went early, around 9:30, because it is already very hot here in SW Florida!  As we were pulling out of the drive way to go, Bentley asks me, "Mutter, why are you being so nice and happy this morning?"  I guess a mother taking her four year old son to the park to play must mean she is happy and being nice, and when she says no to that same four year old, that same mother is being mean and unhappy! Oh well!  I'll take "nice and happy" today!

Bentley loves being outside and loves the park.
He especially loves the rock climbing wall!
He made it to the very top today and I made him hang on for dear life while I ran and got the camera!
He was pretty pooped after that and had to rest for a little while.
JennaBeth likes the slides and really likes to swing!
However, her MOST favorite thing is to chase after her big brother and try to do just exactly what he is doing.

Like I said before, it is already really hot here and by 10:30 it was time for a snack and something to drink.
My girl likes her tinkerbell cup, and her brother's drink too...
It was nice to watch them both play and have such a good time.
"He who fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge."  Proverbs 14:26