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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

That's Where God Is

The main reason I began this blog a little over a year and a half ago was to journal the journey our family is on and to give the grandparents, who live over 1,000 miles away, a way to keep up with our family.  Another tremendous blessing and joy I've discovered in my blogging journey is the opportunity to review books for publishing companies.  I receive these books and other media products for free from the publishing company in exchange for an honest review here on my blog.  I am also asked to post the reviews on a consumer website.  This thrills me to no end, because I love to read.

I have received a couple of children's books to review recently.  One of them is That's Where God Is by Dan and Ali Morrow.  It is illustrated by Cory Godbey and was provided to me by Audra Jennings with The B&B Media Group, Inc.  The book was published by David C. Cook.
I read this book to my son the day we received it in the mail.  He loved it.  The illustrations are colorful and eye catching.
That's Where God Is tells the story of a little boy who asks his Grandpa, "Where is God?"  His Grandfather sends the little boy on a mission to look for God during the following week.  Through the telling of this delightful story, the authors do an excellent job of exploring the many ways God can be discovered within the events of each day of the week.
In each two-page spread, a new day of the week is featured.  The little boy finds a different situation in which the he "finds" God.  A Scripture verse underscores that particular "sighting" and reveals further truths about God's character and redeeming power in our daily lives.
Not only does this book provide an amazing way to talk with your child about Emmanuel, God with us, but it provides a unique way to teach your preschooler the days of the week.  I am using it with Bentley's preschool work this year.
This book provides the opportunity for meaningful discussion with your child.  When we read the book through the first time, Bentley asked many questions.  That's Where God Is opens up a world of opportunity to talk with your child about creation, the power of a thunderstorm and how not to be afraid, to the way you share things with others, how you forgive, and how to show mercy.
In the end the Grandfather shares with the boy how God can be with him wherever he goes:
"You see," said Grandpa, "God wants us to be just like His Son, Jesus.  We can't do it on our own, but we can ask God's Spirit to come into our hearts and help us.  When we do that we know that God is with us wherever we go."
That's Where God Is begins a two-part series on spiritual formation for young children.  I can't wait for the second book in this series!  And maybe it's because this book was as much for me as it was for my child.  As a 39 year old woman, I need to be reminded to look for God in all of my days.  God used this simple children's book to convict me of how many times I "miss" God during my day.  I highly recommend this book for your children and for YOU!
"Lord, you have seen what is in my heart.
You know all about me.
You know when I sit down and when I get up.
You know what I'm thinking even though you are far away.
You know when I go out to work and when I come back home.
You know exactly how I live.
Lord, even before I speak a word,
You know all about it.
You are all around me.
You are behind me and in front of me.
You hold me in your power.
I'm amazed at how well you know me.
It's more than I can understand.
How can I get away from you Spirit?
Where can I go to escape from you?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there.
If I lie down in the deepest parts of the earth,
you are also there.
Suppose I were to rise with the sun int the east
and then cross over to the west where it sinks into the ocean.
Your hand would always be there to guide me.
Your right hand would still be holding me close.
Psalm 139:1-10, New International Reader's Version

That's Where God Is can be purchased from Amazon.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Weekend Re-Cap

One week of school down and how many to go???

I'm not even going to think about that, but we are already looking for the weekends to come around our place!  It seems like the week is so full now with school in full swing.  Cecily is liking her class schedule this semester.  She has some new teachers to get used to, but seems to be adjusting well so far.  And Bentley is doing great with his pre-school material.  He asks me everyday, "Mommy, do we get to do school today?"  I hope I can keep him encouraged to be excited about learning.  He has an appointment next week to be screened for speech therapy.  Have any of you had experience having a child in speech therapy?  I'd love to hear how your experience was and maybe some things I should be looking for as we go through this process with Bentley.

I caught the cutest video of JennaBeth Friday night after supper.  One of Cecily's chores after our meals at home, is to clean off the dinner table and unload the dishwasher.  JennaBeth decided she wanted to help big sister:

On Saturday our youth from church and their families had a "Back to School Bash".  We cooked hamburgers and hotdogs and the kids went tubing.  JennaBeth loves watermelon.  I lost count on how many pieces she ate!
Bentley and Cecily both love to be in the water.  Actually JennaBeth does to.  I just wasn't quite ready for her first boat ride.  We've got to invest in some small life jackets!!  

Bentley actually went tubing for the first time!!!  I was surprised.  The youth did this last year and Bentley really enjoyed the boat ride, but he would not even think about getting on the tube!  This year he had a blast.  I think he went like three times!!

He really enjoys riding on the boat and watching other people fall off the tube; especially his big sister!  Even though he gives her much grief at times; he loves her so much!  He may make her want to run away sometimes, but I pity anyone that ever tries to mess with her!!!
Cecily really enjoyed a relaxing day on the water after this first week of school.  Although the day started off on a bum note for her!  Right off the bat she got pushed in the water and she had not taken her cell phone out of her pocket yet!!!  It won't turn on or do anything.  Anyone have any suggestions as to what we can possibly do to save it?  We were given the suggestion of setting it in rice to try and soak some of the water out of it.  Any thing else we might can do?  This really stinks, because we got this really nice phone for her for free through a deal at AT&T.  Despite this bummer, she had a good time the rest of the day:

Have a blessed week!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Semi-Wordless Wednesday

I worked the primary election in our area in Florida yesterday.  I am tired!  It was a very, very long day!!!  I got up at 3:45 a.m. and left my house at 5 a.m.  I got home at 8:45 p.m.  So, today is more pictures than "post"!
She was comforting her brother who was in "time-out".
They were particularly mischievous this day and I told them I was gonna tape the top on the tote and mail them to granny's house!
Little miss loves to hang with big "tister" and her friend Macy.
JennaBeth has french doors leading to her bedroom.  I leave one side open so she can come and go in and out of her room.  Sometimes she gets in there and shuts the door and can't get it back open.  This is usually what we see when that happens!
She was ready to go to the grocery store with me!
Beautiful SW Florida sunset.

"For the Lord God is a sun and shield;  The Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.  O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you."  Psalm 84:11-12


Monday, August 23, 2010

Do you hear what I hear?

The sound of buses and school bells; yep, it's that time of year already!  It seems like the summer just flew by way too quickly!  Although I'll miss the lazy days of summer, I'm kinda excited about settling into the routine, structure, and discipline that a new school year brings. 

My oldest, Cecily, begins SEVENTH grade this year!
It seems like only yesterday that Mike and I walked her into her kindergarten classroom where she began consoling another little boy who was just balling his little eyes out.  She's always had a tender heart toward the plight of others and I pray God continues to grow that compassion for others in her life.
My beautiful firstborn!!!  She wasn't excited at all about the "first day of school" picture being taken, but I informed her that I'll probably show up at her dorm to take her "first day of college" picture so she'd just as well humor me!!
I know two little people who are sure going to miss their big "tister"!
Big "tister" and little brother under a homemade tent reading books!
Big "tister" and little "tister" "nuggling" under the "nuggle" blanket as JennaBeth calls it!

We have another little student this year!  And here he is having his muffins and chocolate milk for breakfast on his first day of "mommy preschool"!
I'm going to do some preschool things with Bentley at home this year and see how it goes.  Here is my plan at this point:
I found these things all at the dollar spot at Target.  We'll work on letter recognition, sounds, and writing.  I will also introduce some simple math using manipulatives.  With each letter in the alphabet, we will be learning about an animal that begins with that letter and also working on some sight words.  
I'll use this book to help teach Bentley the days of the week.  Be looking for my review of this children book later this week.  And we'll also work on learning the months of the year and learning a little about how the calender works and telling time.
Bentley will also learn a Bible verse each week.  We'll probably use his TeamKid verse most of the time.  This is the one he will be learning this week:
And finally, one day during the week, Bentley will be working on learning some catechism questions and answers.
I am completely a rookie at this homeschooling thing, so any of you who read that have any ideas about how I can make sure he is ready for kindergarten PLEASE leave me any suggestions and words of advice you have!

I also have to introduce you to Bentley's "assistant teacher",
who will assist while taking a good middle of the day nap!!!  And who will be teaching us much patience as we get accustomed to this schedule during the day!!!!!  And no she wasn't posing for that picture; I just happened to catch it like that!!

As I was thinking this morning about all that lays ahead with my children growing up so fast and the importance of being in tune to their very different needs, I remembered this picture I took just the other day:
That rainbow looked like it was framing our house.  And if you look closely, it was a double rainbow!  While I was taking the picture there was the most beautiful lightning storm going on.  As I reflect on that now, it occurs to me now that even in the midst of chaos, confusion, and difficult times (the lightning in our lives), God's promises can be trusted!  Our pastor reminded us of this promise in Psalm 50:15 last evening:
"Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me."
Pastor pointed out that this is an invitation from God with promise.  He WILL deliver you.  It is God's desire and determination to bless you!  He is determined to fulfill His promises to you and me!!!!  He CAN BE TRUSTED!!!

So, I'm praying for the blessing Moses pronounced on the sons of Asher in Deuteronomy 33 verse 25:
"The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and your strength will equal your days."
Praying for strength to equal YOUR days as well,

Friday, August 13, 2010

True Religion

True Religion:  Taking Pieces of Heaven to Places of Hell on Earth by Palmer Chinchen, PhD is one of the latest books I've read and was provided to me by Audra Jennings with the B&B Media Group Inc. for the purpose of review.

Chinchen grew up in Liberia, West Africa and his book True Religion includes many stories from his childhood there.  He saw first hand the ravages of war and disease and the effects of extreme poverty.  Because of these experiences Chinchen is passionate in his desire to encourage God's people to become "bothered" enough about the state our world is in to reach beyond "their comfortable church pew and reach out to those in need all over the world".

In the introduction to True Religion he says,
"Here's the kicker:  Give your life away to change this world, and God will change you.  Something transformational happens in our lives when we go and give them away."
Chinchen has a lot to say in his book about what it really means to be "missional".  That word is thrown around a lot today and I think he does an excellent job of giving a picture of what it really means.  In the chapter "Do Love" he has this to say,
"Love as God loves.  His love is deep and lasting and intimate.  He loves yo on the sunny days, and He loves you on the rainy days.  He loves you in the morning, and He loves you at night.  He loves you on the days you wander and on the days you wonder if anyone cares.  But if you are one who lives in the love of God, then know this - you are His hands from heaven.  Yes, you.  You are the means by which the love of God is scattered all over this world. You are His hands and His feet."
Chinchen spends a large portion of the book challenging the reader to live simply, letting go of some of our stuff in order to have more room to give to others in need.  He even challenged his congregation at The Grove in Chandler, Arizona to a "Barefoot Sunday" where he "asked everyone to come to church wearing their best and favorite shoes, then to take them off and go home barefoot.  Our team heading to Africa would pack the shoes and give them away."  Chinchen believes our world needs to see such a radical love as this in order to understand the radical love of God.

The only negative thing I found with the book is that after a couple of chapters it began to feel a little redundant.  And he gives the impression that the only way to serve the Lord is to go overseas.  However, maybe Chinchen's point was that we Westerners need this idea of radically giving our lives away hammered into our heads!  The book is full of stories from Chinchen's global ministry experiences and he seeks to convince the reader that "the church can be radically transformed if they will dare to give their lives away for Christ".

You will be challenged and will benefit from reading this book.  It can be ordered from and if you follow the provided link to place your order, I get a small commission.

True Religion by Palmer Chinchen at Amazon.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I get updates from the Desiring God blog in my email daily.  This post on grace by Paul David Tripp was there today.  I've already read it three times.  May you be blessed by his words.  And you really should visit the Desiring God Blog.  You will be greatly encouraged and blessed in your journey with God there!

Do you understand the majesty and practicality of the grace you have been given? If you don't, in subtle and not so subtle ways, you are looking to other things to get you through. You don't need to go out searching for hope and help, because they are already yours in the resources of grace that you have been given as God's child.

Grace is the most transformational word in the Bible. The entire content of the Bible is a narrative of God's grace, a story of undeserved redemption. By the transformational power of his grace, God unilaterally reaches his hands into the muck of this fallen world, through the presence of his Son, and radically transforms his children from what we are (sinners) into what we are becoming by his power (Christ-like). The famous Newton hymn uses the best word possible, maybe the only word big enough, for that grace—amazing.

So grace is a story and grace is a gift. It is God's character and it is your only hope. Grace is a transforming tool and a state of relationship. Grace is a beautiful theology and a wonderful invitation. Grace is a life-long experience and a life-changing calling. Grace will turn your life upside down while giving you a rest you have never known. Grace will require you to face your unworthiness without ever making you feel unloved.

Grace will make you finally acknowledge that you cannot earn God's favor, and it will once and for all remove your fear of not measuring up to his standards. Grace will humble you with the fact that you are much less than you thought you were, even as it assures you that you can be far more than you had ever imagined. You can be sure that grace will put you in your place without ever putting you down.

Grace will enable you to face shocking truths about yourself that you have hesitated to consider, while freeing you from being self-consciously introspective. Grace will confront you with profound weaknesses, and at the same time bless you with new-found strength. Grace will tell you again and again what you aren't, while welcoming you again and again to what you can now be. Grace will make you as uncomfortable as you have ever been, while offering you a more lasting comfort than you have never before known .

Grace will work to drive you to the end of yourself, while it invites you to fresh starts and new beginnings. Grace will dash your ill-founded hopes, but never walk away and leave you hopeless. Grace will decimate your little kingdom of one as it introduces you to a much, much better King. Grace will expose to you the extent of your blindness as it gives you eyes to see what you so desperately need to see. Grace will make you sadder than you have ever been, while it gives you greater cause for celebration than you have ever known.

Grace enters your life in a moment and will occupy you for eternity. You simply cannot live a productive life in this broken-down world unless you have a practical grasp of the grace you have been given.

Are you living out of this amazing grace? Does it shape the way you respond to your personal struggles, your relationships, and your work? Does your trust in this grace form how you live with your husband or wife? Does it propel the way you parent your children? Does it give you comfort when friends have disappointed you? Does it give you rest when life is unpredictable and hard? Does it make you bold and give you courage in places where you would have once been timid? Does it make the idols that tempt you less attractive and less powerful? Do you wake up and say, "I don't know what I will face today, but this I do know: I have been given amazing grace to face it right here, right now."

May God help you to understand and rest in the grace that you have been given!

Paul David Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization, whose mission statement is "Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life." Paul is an international conference speaker, Pastor (Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA), seminary professor (Redeemer Seminary, Dallas, TX), Executive Director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care, and the author of many books.

Monday, August 9, 2010

College Bound

These sweet people are members of our church.  They are the Ralph family.  Today, they are traveling to Bluffington, Ohio to help the oldest child, Birchel, get settled in at college.  Last evening at church we had a send-off celebration for Birchel.  Ohio is a long way from SW Florida so I'm sure you can imagine some of the emotions running through this family; especially the mom!  This is not only her firstborn, but the only boy in the family.

Birchel is such a fine young man.  He is quiet and has such a sweet spirit about him; always respectful and helpful.  And he also happens to be Bentley's football hero!
I took that picture of Birchel and Bentley last year at our church's Fall Festival.  He wanted his picture taken with Birchel while he had his football uniform on.  When we were getting ready to go t church last night, I was explaining telling Bentley about Birchel going to college and how we were going to have a party after church to say our good-byes since he would be leaving on Monday.  Bentley was concerned about not getting to see Birchel at church every Sunday for a while!  He really looks up to him!

We took brownies for the party.  Birchel always likes my brownies.  They are nothing special, just the Duncan Hines Fudge Brownie mix, but he loves them.  I promised him before we left that he could expect some "brownie" packages on his dorm doorstep occasionally.  So, I've got to find out how to send them to him through the mail.  Anyone know the way to do that?
As you can tell, little miss-priss (aka. JennaBeth) sat with the big girls and had "nacks" just like she was one of them!  The girl to JennaBeth's right in the orange shirt is Christina, Birchel's baby sister.
Here are the Ralph's with a few additions including Bentley down front in the brown shirt, Cecily to the right of Christina (orange shirt), Marissa, and Grace.

College is a big transition in a young person's life.  Change is taking place and there will be many adjustments for Birchel and his family, but they will be and do fine.  They love the Lord and their heart's desire is to serve Him in all they do.  Can I ask you to do me a favor and join me in praying for Birchel as he embarks on this next phase of his life?  And pray for his family too, especially today and the rest of this week as they travel to Ohio to get him settled in on campus?  And if you have time, leave a prayer or scripture in the comments; I'd love to have his mom and dad read this post and be encouraged by your thoughts for them!

Sovereign God,
I praise You for Your grace and Your mercy that is new every morning.  You are a compassionate and loving God!  I lift up the Ralph family today as they travel to Ohio to take their firstborn to college.  Watch over them on the road as they travel.  Go before them and make this a trip full of sweet memories and safe travel.
Be with Birchel in a special way as he begins this new phase in his life.  May his transition into college and new responsibilities be smooth and paved with a double portion of Your grace.  May Birchel be a shining light for you on that campus.  Provide strong friendships for him that will encourage him in his faith.  May he have a heightened sensitivity to the work of and leadership of the Holy Spirit in his life.  Use his faithfulness to You in a mighty way in Ohio to draw others to You.
Watch over him and protect him from the enemy of his soul.  We trust you with this young man!  I know you have a plan and a future for Birchel, one to prosper him and not to harm him, but one that gives him a future of hope!  May he draw close to you and walk in Your ways!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Italian Chicken Stromboli

I'm linking this post to Tasty Tuesday Parade of Foods.

This is an extremely easy recipe I put together a few months ago and I've been tweaking it ever since.  I made it for supper last night and I think I've finally gotten it just right, so I wanted to share it here with you!


 4 chicken cutlets or 2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
extra virgin olive oil (4 tablespoons)
garlic powder
Italian seasoning
Everglades seasoning
1 can of Italian diced tomatoes
1 cup or so of Mozzarella cheese (grated) 
1 thin pizza crust 
marinara sauce for dipping

Heat the olive oil in a skillet.  Dust one side of the chicken pieces with the garlic powder, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and everglade seasoning.  Lay the seasoned side down in the skillet and do not move the chicken around.  Allow it to sear the seasoning in on one side.  While this is happening dust the exposed side of the chicken with the same seasoning as the first side.  Once the first side is seared pretty well, turn over and allow the seasonings on the second side to sear.  Remove and allow to rest on a plate.
Take the refrigerated pizza crust and spread out on a well greased cookie sheet.  Shred the chicken and place on the pizza crust leaving enough edge to the crust to fold over.
Next, take the diced Italian tomatoes and sprinkle over the chicken being careful to drain some of the juice so that the crust doesn't get too soggy.
Then take the grated mozzarella cheese and sprinkle over the chicken and tomatoes.  I use a lot of cheese, because my family likes this dish really cheesy; but use as much or as little as you  would like.
Now fold one long side over the chicken mixture.  Fold the other long side over being careful to "pinch" together a seem in the dough.  Then fold over the short ends being careful to make a seem.  Drizzle the top with more olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder and Italian seasoning.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven about 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Just slice your servings and provide the marinara sauce for dipping.  We had ours last night with a salad.  I only made one mistake:  I SHOULD HAVE MADE TWO!!!  Even my four year old was asking for more!  

Hope you try it and enjoy it as much as my family did!