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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Finding Delight

My friend Leslie Wiggins is hosting

over at her blog Alabamenagerie.  Her Finding Delight posts are all about how you've found delight in God's Word during the previous week.  Now, she is reading God's Word this year with an eye and heart toward looking for each use of the actual word delight in Scripture.  You can read her post introducing this by going HERE.

Recently I read this passage in Psalm 5:11-12
"But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy.  Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in you.  For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; You surround them with Your favor as with a shield."
It seemed to me, as I read these words, that the phrase "those who love Your name" was the key.  We take refuge and are able to sing for joy and are surrounded with God's favor as with a shield as we love His name.  So, I looked a little further into this Hebrew word for love using the resource of my Key Word Study Bible.

The Hebrew word for "love" in this passage is Ahab and means:
to love, desire, delight, like, be fond of, covet, be beloved, amiable, be a passionate lover.  It implies an ardent and vehement inclination of the mind and a tenderness of affection at the same time.
The question that has been embedded in my mind and heart is this:
"Am I delighting in God's character?  Do I passionately love and desire God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength?
Visit Leslie and see how she and others are delighting in God's Word.

How have you been delighting in God's Word lately?


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Secure Daughters, Confident Sons

If you are a parent, you can quickly get overwhelmed with the plethora of parenting books on the market.  Few are anything more than your typical guide in how to have well-behaved, nice, neat little children.  It was refreshing to read Glenn T. Stanton's Secure Daughters, Confident Sons:  How Parents Guide Their Children Into Authentic Masculinity And Femininity.  

Glenn T. Stanton is the director for Family Formation Studies at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs and a research fellow at the Institute of Marriage and Family in Ottawa. He debates and lectures extensively on the issues of gender, sexuality, marriage and parenting at universities and churches around the country. He served the George W. Bush administration for many years as a consultant on increasing fatherhood involvement in the Head Start program.
Stanton is the author of five books and a contributor to nine others, including Why Marriage Matters: Reasons to Believe in Marriage in Postmodern Society (1997), My Crazy, Imperfect Christian Family (NavPress, 2004) and Marriage on Trial: The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage and Parenting (InterVarsity Press, 2004), which was featured on C-SPAN BookTV.
His latest book, The Ring Makes All the Difference (Moody Publishers, September 2011), explains the latest research findings, as well as biblical wisdom, on why cohabitation is not a smart idea for couples and their children. Stanton and his wife have five endlessly growing and amazing children, and they live in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Stanton's response to some opinions that his definition of gender in the book is too narrow can be found HERE at her.meneutics the Christianity Today blog for women.

"My desire is to help you teach your child to navigate between the two extreme views of gender identity that are present in our culture today.  One group firmly believes that the way you nurture or socialize a child trumps the work of nature; the other demands that no amount of nurture should change the inborn wild-at-heart or captivating nature of boys and girls.  Our definition of gender has to involve both nature and nurture to truly explain the essential difference and how we authentically live in our humanity throughout distinct cultures of the world.  Our natures are real, but so are our nurturing environments.  If not, parenting would simply be about providing food, clothing, and shelter."  (Stanton from the introduction - The Importance of Difference)

The book is divided into two parts:
  1. A Clear Vision for Authentic Manhood and Womanhood
  2. Why Boys and Girls Need Mothers and Fathers
The two parts cover the following:
  1. What makes a good man?
  2. What makes a good woman?
  3. What a boy needs most.
  4. What a girl needs most.
  5. Making Healthy Men out of Healthy Boys
  6. Making Healthy Women out of Healthy Girls
  7. Why it's Good When Mom and Dad Disagree
  8. The Serious Business of Play
  9. How Moms and Dads Together Influence Language Development
  10. Balancing Grace and Discipline
  11. Preparation Versus Protection:  Why Both Dad and Mom Are Right
  12. Your Child is a Sexual Being
  13. How Mom and Dad Raise Kids Who Care
  14. Gender Differences:  The Basis for a Healthy Family
Stanton's writing style is engaging and funny.  You'll be blessed and encouraged by his offering in Secure Daughters, Confident Sons.

A copy of the book was sent to me by WaterBrook Multnomah as part of their Blogging For Books program.  You can order the book from them by going HERE.  You can also read an excerpt from the book by going HERE.

If you will, please take a minute and rank this review in the box below.  You will be entered to win a copy of the book for yourself!


A Recipe of a Different Kind

Have you noticed how expensive everything is getting?  From gasoline to groceries to the things you need to keep your home clean, everything seems to be stretching family budgets to the max!  As a stay at home mom, I clip coupons and try to keep spending (even for necessities) at a minimum.  Out of all the "chores" around the house, laundry is one that NEVER gets completed.  I think my laundry baskets can be empty for only 2.5 seconds flat at any given time!  I do multiple loads everyday of the week except on Sundays.  So, I go through a lot of detergent and even with coupons, it can still be very pricey.  Plus, it seems I'm always running out at the most inconvenient times.

I had been hearing of some people making their own laundry soap and using things like vinegar in the place of fabric softener in order to save money.  To be honest, I was a little skeptical with questions like:  How clean does it really get your clothes?  Do your clothes smell like vinegar if you replace the softener with it?  And most important, how will if affect my Psoriasis?  The cleaning affect was the biggest thing for me, because I have three children who can get pretty messy, especially the littlest two, ages 6 and 2.  My 6 year old son loves to be outside and when he comes in in the evenings, well...he just stinks!  There's something pungent about little boy funk!!

With all of this in mind, I went to the greatest source of information on the web today...Facebook!  I posted some questions about homemade laundry soap and if anybody had ever tried it and so forth.  I was directed by one of my Facebook/Blogging friends to this website:  Being Creative To Keep My Sanity.  This lady is a genius!  She has a plethora of tips to help you live frugally.  Yesterday, I made her recipe for homemade laundry soap!  Here it is:
76 oz. box of Borax
4 lb. box of Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
55 oz. box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soap
3 bars of Fels-Naptha soap
3.5 lbs. OxyClean
You mix all the boxes/containers of powder.  Grate the bar soap and add to the powder ingredients.  I found all these items at Wal-Mart.  Here's the cost of each:
  • OxyClean (I used the SunOxygen brand, because it was much cheaper than than the OxyClean brand)  $1.96 X 2
  • Fels-Naptha   .97 X 3
  • Baking Soda  $2.12
  • Super Washing Soda  $3.24
  • Borax   $3.38
  • I also bought a plastic latch container in which to store the detergent   $3.97
  • TOTAL:  $19.54
The average 64 load size of laundry detergent costs anywhere from around $8 to $12 depending on the brand you are buying and sometimes more.  I go through 2 of those in ONE month.  And sometimes run out before the end of the month comes around!  That's say an average of $24.00 a month on laundry detergent alone.  The lady over at Being Creative To Keep My Sanity uses 1 to 2 tablespoons per load and this recipe lasted her NINE MONTHS! 

When I was mixing this up yesterday, the kids were really mesmerized by the process.
The grated Fels-Naphta looks exactly like grated cheese.  My two year old kept saying, "You washin' my clothes in cheese mama?"
I washed my first load using this detergent last night.  The clothes came out clean and very fresh smelling and they were soft.  This was a fun experiment.  I'll keep track of how long it lasts and let you know in a few months how much money I've saved by not having to buy laundry detergent every time I turn around!

What are some ways you are saving money and living frugally around your place?


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Never The Same

"My greatest successes in life so far have been derived from my greatest tragedies.  My greatest sufferings have produced my greatest victories."
"What happens to you in life isn't nearly as important as what you choose to do with what happens to you in life.  Don't hide the scars."
Those are the words of B.C. Fleming otherwise known as the Blown Up Guy. 
He's known as the Blown Up Guy, because he was literally blown up not once, but twice while serving in Afghanistan as part of the 10th Mountain Division as a team leader in a reconnaissance platoon.  In April 2006, Fleming got his first taste of guerrilla warfare when his military vehicle ran across a double stack of mines buried in the road.   The 14,000-pound Humvee was lifted off the ground and hurled about ten feet to the side of the road.  Miraculously, Fleming escaped without a scratch.

The next time, he would not walk away.  On a sunny afternoon in late July of the same year, a convoy in which Fleming was traveling was attacked by a suicide bomber who exploded three feet away from the door of is vehicle.  Fleming woke up in a ditch, bloody and burned, with multiple life-threatening injuries.   After reconstructive surgery and fourteen months of agonizingly difficult rehabilitation at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX, he decided it was time to stop whining about it and get on with his life.

Never The Same:  The Untold Story of One Soldier's Personal Encounter with a Suicide Bomber is Flemings latest book.  The book began as his personal journal entries and evolved into the book.  He candidly shares "the real story" of the war in Afghanistan as he experienced it.  You can hear some of his testimony, which he shares in the book in this interview:

While Never The Same is not the most well written book I've ever read and there are some editing issues in the book, I'm not sure I've ever read a more inspiring story in quite a while.  The book includes pictures as well as a chapter written by Fleming's wife Jamie and a letter Fleming wrote to the suicide bomber responsible for the injuries that nearly ended Fleming's life.  This letter would be one of the avenues God used to bring healing to Fleming:
"I wrote my thoughts on a piece of paper one day.  It turned into a letter to the suicide bomber (which he will obviously never read).  I began writing about the horrific pain of burning and realizing, though mine was temporary, I couldn't imagine what it would be like to end up in a place where I believe he is now.  That terrorist would have ultimately won the war over me, even in death, if I would have carried the burden of hate with me for the remainder of my lifetime.  There was no way I was going to let that happen.  He failed in life and he failed in death.  He's dead and I'm alive. It was time to move on.  I've never lived a better life since almost losing it."
Never The Same is an inspiring and God exalting story of a soldier's survival physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually because of the grace poured out on his life by the Great Physician, Jesus Christ.

*Audra Jennings, media specialist with B&B Media Group, sent me a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of review.

You can connect with Fleming online by visiting his website and his facebook page located at


Monday, January 23, 2012

The Gospel Story Bible

Can a bed-time story actually change your life?

My two younger children (ages 6 and 2) love to have books read to them.  They especially enjoy bedtime reading with their daddy.  Our 14 year old, although she has now outgrown being read to, loved books when she was little as well.  Both my husband and I are big readers and I am so glad my children have developed a love for books and hearing a good story.

What better story for them to hear than the gospel.  As a parent/grandparent you may feel overwhelmed at where to even start sharing the gospel with the little ones in your life.  Marty Machowski, a Family Life Pastor at Covenant Fellowship Church, a Sovereign Grace Ministries church in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, has written an amazing resource to help us share the greatest story ever told - the story of Jesus - with our children and grandchildren. 

Written by Machowski and illustrated by A.E. Macha,  The Gospel Story Bible is Machowski's beckon to families to take time out from the daily grind to be transformed by the message of the Good News.  Sometimes it's easy to forget Jesus in the midst of frantic schedules, family squabbles and conflicting priorities.  God often becomes a little more than an afterthought after days absorbed and depleted by the busyness of life.  But the truth is that Jesus is the Hero of every story - including the mundane, ordinary ones we experience on a regular basis.

This book is unlike any other "Bible Story book" you have encountered!  It is uniquely illustrated and uses 158 stories to present God's plan of salvation in Christ from its opening narrative in Genesis to its finale in Revelation.  Based on the ESV Bible, this easy-to-read storybook is written for children from preschool to high school and skillfully connects the individual stories to the overall gospel narrative of Jesus and His gospel of grace.

I was just in conversation with someone the other day who said she didn't read the Old Testament, because she didn't understand much of it and she felt that Jesus was in the New Testament.  That broke my heart.  With the use of The Gospel Story Bible, you will be equipped with a resource to help you see Jesus from Genesis to Revelation.

Machowski says,
"The gospel is deep enough to keep the oldest and wisest parents learning and growing all their lives, yet simple enough to change the heart of the first grader who has just begun to read.  That's what makes The Gospel Story Bible ideal as a storybook for a preschooler, a devotional for a grade school student, a refresher for the adult believer or an introduction for the new one.  Parents and children will learn together to read the whole Bible as one story, with one Hero - Jesus Christ."
Each story is found on a two-page spread.  The scripture passage from the Bible is given, the "story"and then "Let's Talk About It!", where questions are provided to help engage the readers further with the story.  Machowski masterfully points to Jesus and the redemption He came to give to lost sinners in every story.  Here's the last paragraph of the story about Rahab from "Rahab's Help" on pages 86-87:
"Did you know that God had special plans for Rahab?  She became King David's far-off grandmother.  That means she also became the great, far-off grandmother of Jesus!  Just as the blood on the doorposts kept the Israelites safe during Passover, the scarlet cord in Rahab's window protected her and her family from the judgement of God brought to Jericho.  One day her far-off grandson Jesus would die on the cross.  His scarlet blood covers our sins so that we too can be saved from the judgement of God."
I encourage you to visit and order The Gospel Story Bible.  Or you can find it at by going HERE

*A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me by Audra Jennings, media specialist with B&B Media Group for the purpose of review.  

In a world where our kids will hear every kind of story, make sure you share the greatest story ever told with them - the story of Jesus.


Monday, January 16, 2012

What We Did Today

Since Mike had the day away from the office, due to MLK day, we went to the park!  We stopped by Sonic on the way to take advantage of Happy Hour.
JennaBeth quickly met a little friend.  He was so sweet with her.  JennaBeth has been deathly afraid of the swinging bridge and hasn't gone near it any time we have been at the park, but due to her new little friend's help...
it's her favorite thing to play on now!

She also likes the slide...
Bentley has mastered climbing the rock wall and going down the opposite side once he gets to the top.
And of course, he loves jumping off everything in site...
I was even able to convince Cecily to let me take a picture of her.  She doesn't like me to do that very much, but I whined a little bit and it worked!
I just happen to think she is beautiful!  Don't you agree?  And if you don't, please don't tell me, because then we might have to fight!

The swings were popular today!  JennaBeth kept clicking her feet together (like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz) trying to make her swing go faster and higher!

The afternoon was nice - sunny with a cool breeze blowing.  The park was full of kids playing.  JennaBeth played her little self silly tired.  This is what we found shortly after she left the dinner table...

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wayward Son

The first novel in a series, the Wayward Son propels the reader back in time - all the way back to the days of Cain and Abel - and sends the reader on an epic adventure through the flood of Noah's time, through Egypt, Greece, China and Rome.  And it all begins with a powerful tremor that unearths an ancient secret buried in a fortified observatory buried near Italy's Mt. Vesuvius.  
You can go HERE to read the prologue and the first 12 chapters.  But, will be ordering the book!

The Wayward Son is a masterful blend of suspense, history, modern day drama and a very unique and fictionalized twist on the story of Cain from the Bible.  Pollack, Alves, and Loftus (the authors) do an amazing job of making you feel as if you are standing before the 30 feet high bronze doors with Amanda as she attempts to decipher the the combination of pictograms and texts written in Latin, Greek, Aramaic, Chinese and Hebrew.  When the doors open...well, you'll just have to read to find out!

The story does go back and forth between modern-day and the past; however, the writing is so well done that you just keep turning pages!  I thought the publishing move to have the typeset of the chapters covering modern day and chapters covering past events different was genius.  I can't wait to read the next installment of this series.

You can order the book by going HERE or from by going HERE.

Wayward Son was provided to me by Glass Road Publications for the purpose of review.

Happy Reading,

Moments of Truth

Moments of Truth:  Unleashing God's Word One Day at a Time is a collection of devotions that offer biblical teaching, scripture, and prayer to match the annual happenings of the calendar and give daily truths from a foremost biblical scholar and author.
Christianity starts with a life-changing encounter with Christ. But then what? From the beautiful moment of salvation to the dying breath, a powerful life in Christ depends on one thing: being in continual relationship with the Father. But does that relationship deliver only encouragement? Or does it offer instruction, reshaping, and revitalization?
In this unique daily devotional, renowned teacher and Bible scholar John MacArthur offers readers truths that will not only inspire them day-by-day but also will give them digestible nuggets of biblical wisdom.
Moments of Truth is designed to meet readers right where they are each day. Entries are intentionally arranged to match the highlights of the calendar year, such as Christmas, Easter, Tax Day, Mother’s and Father’s Day, Back-to-School, and everything in between. This book recasts the role of faith in readers' lives by matching God’s truth with the daily realities we all face. It is only by seeing life through our relationship with the Father that we will access and experience the spiritual depths he designed us for.

I really liked how this devotional was organized:  Each month addresses a particular "topic".
  • January - Beginnings
  • February - Love
  • March - The Cross and Easter
  • April - Growing As A Christian
  • May - Parenting
  • June - Marriage
  • July - Freedom, America, Leadership, and War
  • August - The End-times and other Important Doctrines
  • September - Work
  • October - Sin, Evil and Temptation
  • November - Money, Giving, Discipline, and Self-Control
  • December - Jesus' Birth and Life
Each day MacArthur presents the reader with a passage of scripture (usually one verse), a short devotional thought (one page) and a probing question at the end for personal reflection/application.  Each days devotional thought is an excerpt from one of MacArthur's many published books such as Slave, A Tale of Two Sons, Twelve Extraordinary Women, The Murder of Jesus, Can God Bless America? and The Vanishing Conscience.

MacArthur is pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church, president of Master's College and Seminary and president of Grace to You, the ministry that produces the internationally syndicated radio program Grace to You

Moments of Truth can be ordered at by going HERE.

I was sent a copy of Moments of Truth by Thomas Nelson for the purpose of review.


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Our Trip Home for the Holidays: Part Two

Yesterday I posted a little about our family's trip home to AL and MS to visit family.  I'm finishing that post today mostly in pictures. 
After visiting with my dad and step-mom at my brother's house, we went over to my grandmother's house to visit with my mom's side of the family.  This was the first time in quite a while that I got to see many of my cousins and their families and my aunts and uncles.  It was a big crowd of folks in a very tiny house, but we had a really good time.  It brought back memories of when I was a little girl and we would spend Christmas Eve over at Mamaw's house.
While we were all there, my grandmother got a very special phone call from my cousin John Skinner who is serving in Afghanistan right now.  He was able to get access to a sat-phone and call her and his mother, my aunt Gatha.
That was a really special treat for them, plus we got to all tell him Merry Christmas!
My grandfather passed away some years ago from cancer, so it's been my grandmother by herself.  I was so thankful for our time with her that evening.  She looked the best I've seen her look in a long time.  I was anxious to get the picture above with her and my three kiddos to mark the occasion.

We spent the next couple of days in Meridian at my mom and step-dad's home.  My nephew Ryan is living with them now and Bentley loved spending time with him.  Although, I think JennaBeth gave him a run for his money.  Ryan was really sweet with her.  One evening my brother and his family came over and Jason fried some fish.  It was good to get that time with him.  We haven't been able to do that in the past.
The Girls:  JennaBeth, Cecily, Jordan (Jason's little girl)
Ryan, Granny, Cecily, JennaBeth, Jordan, Bentley
Ryan and Cecily (They were born two days apart in December 1997)
Bentley teaching Jordan the mechanics of Wii bowling.
JennaBeth doesn't miss out on anything!
Silly girls trying to eat their apples with a spoon!
A pooped out Granny and little girl!

I think Ryan was probably a little tired after we left!  My two little ones gave him a run for his money and they had a good time doing it:

JennaBeth loves her "Ry-ann"

On Friday afternoon, we went on to Alabama to spend the weekend and NewYear's with Mike's folks in Silas, AL.  Friday evening we got to spend just a couple of hours with his brother Bill and his family.
That's Mike's brother Bill (we'll excuse the Alabama shirt!), Mike's dad and Mike.  We didn't get to see Mike's younger brother Kenny this year due to his work schedule.  Later that evening, the kids enjoyed opening up their gifts from Mamaw Judy and Papaw Sonny:

JennaBeth even had fun picking up her wrapping paper:
Mike's parent's place is in the country...I mean the no cell phone signal kind of country!  It did not bother me one bit.  It is nice every once in a while to be away from all the hustle and bustle of things and just enjoy the people around you.  I've always enjoyed visiting them and enjoying the quiet and beauty of God's creation.  The kids really have fun with lots of countryside to explore and run around in:
On New Year's Eve every year, Mike's parents' church have a singing to "sing out the old and sing in the new".  We went and enjoyed being around some of the people who encouraged Mike in his developing singing abilities and his call to the ministry.  He sang with an older couple who had a part in encouraging his calling:
(Mike with Claude and Glinny Wimberley)
JennaBeth singing along with Daddy.

The next day Mike had the opportunity to sing at a church in Gilbertown, AL where one of his ministry/singing mentors is Minister of Music.  On the following Monday, we were able to visit a little while with Mike's sister Abby and two of her children, Morgan and Adam.  Now, Adam is a very tall boy.  When they came into the house JennaBeth was terrified of Adam.  She wouldn't have anything to do with him at first.  When Adam knelt down to try and talk to her, something clicked and he was her best friend for the rest of the time they were there!
 Adam and JennaBeth on their walk.
Abby and Mike

The drive back home to Florida on Tuesday was pretty uneventful until the last 300 miles.  By that time JennaBeth had had enough of the car seat and not being able to move around!  An offer of pizza for supper was the only thing that calmed her down long enough for us to get the rest of the way home!  Thank you Lord for pizza!!!!
Last Thursday morning, when it was time for big brother to go back to school, little sister did not want him to go!  Don't you love those little pink slippers?


Monday, January 9, 2012

Yep, It's Still Up!

My Christmas Tree is STILL up!  And I'm really late telling everyone, but
Happy New Year!!!
Our family traveled back home to MS and AL the week after Christmas to visit our families there.  We drove 870 miles the day after Christmas to visit in MS first.  We enjoyed getting to spend a little time with everyone!  On our way up, we made our now traditional stop at the "chocolate store"...
Everyone got to pick out there favorite's a wonder we had any gas money left to continue on with the drive home!

We were able to purchase a used van this past year, which made our trip with these three a whole lot easier...

Everyone had their own little space and the trip was much smoother.  Our littlest one even did well, until the last 300 miles left coming home, when various and sundry items were being hurled from the back seat!
On Tuesday, our family spent part of the day at my brother's home visiting him, his little girl Jordan (in the picture above with JennaBeth) my sister and her family and my dad and step-mom.  My brother Jason and his wife Julie have a beautiful home.  Don't you just love her tree and her "cross wall"?
And of course my brother, evermore the hunter, hung these while we were there...
All the kids had a good time playing and visiting.  We were even able to get a good picture with everyone of them in it and looking at the camera...
JennaBeth had the best time playing with all her cousins.  She especially took to Jordan who is four, but is a teenie little thing.  I think JB thought she was just as old and as big a girl as Jordan...
The make-up corner in Jordan's room was a really popular hang-out spot...

But don't be fooled for one minute...JennaBeth didn't stay there long.  When she discovered there were things to do outside, she was on a mission to be out there in the middle of it all riding her cousin's scooter with the help of her Uncle Jason...
and then moving onto bigger things like Uncle Jason's four wheeler...
Bentley also got a turn with the four wheeler...
I have really missed my family these past few months!  It did my heart good to get to see everyone.  Here I am with my baby brother and sister...
And bless his poor heart, he's always been in the middle...
and we've given him some hard times!  But we love our brother!
Here we are with our daddy.  We only get to see each other once a year.  We live in Florida, my brother works in Chattanooga, TN and my sister lives in Brandon, MS.  Our time together over the holidays was a special gift!

Come back tomorrow and I'll share about the rest of our week's visit home!