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Monday, April 30, 2012

Bentley's First Camping Trip

Well, it has been quite a crazy few weeks around our home!  It started a couple of weeks ago with JennaBeth having Bronchitis.  Then on Thursday of that same week, Mike began to feel really bad.  He ended up in the doctor's office the following Tuesday and was diagnosed with "double walking pneumonia".  That Monday night prior, I was up all night with diarrhea and woke up the next morning vomiting.  Next came Bentley with the stomach bug and then Cecily had it this past weekend.  In the midst of all this, I was experiencing some painful kidney issues - I fear another kidney stone.

Thankfully, Mike is somewhat better.  He ran fever for about 10 days straight with a terrible cough and congestion.  He is still very weak, but is getting better every day.  He was unable to attend the Father/Son Camping trip with the men and boys from our church this past weekend.  A man who attends our church offered to "adopt" Bentley for the weekend and took him on the trip along with his son.  What a blessing this was, because I know one little boy who would have been very disappointed if he had not been able to go!
The guys camped along the Caloosahatchee River.
(Brad - adopted Bentley for the weekend and Dennis - who took the pics for me!  Thanks guys!)

Isn't that the cutest little camper you've ever seen?????

Sorry the pictures were all out of order, but the photo uploader on Blogger was going crazy on me today.  I'm so thankful for how our church family served and loved on us this past week!  We had meals brought to us and then Bentley was blessed with being able to go camping and this mama had pictures taken for her! 

Thank you Northside Baptist family!  We love you and appreciate you so very much!


Saturday, April 21, 2012


Have you ever been at a point in your life where you were just plain ole disgusted with your sin?

I have discovered, over the 31 years I have walked with the Lord, that this is a pretty good place in which to be.  You see, when you are conscience enough of the sin in your life to be sickened by it, then God has pliable clay to work with.  I'm so thankful for the work of the Holy Spirit.  It is in times such as these that we can pray with the Psalmist
"I confess my sins.  I am deeply sorry for what I've done...Do not abandon me, O Lord.  Do not stand at a distance, My God...Come quickly to help me, O Lord, My Savior."  Psalm 38:18, 21-22 NLT
And we are reminded of God's character as stated in Psalm 36:
  • His unfailing love is as vast as the heavens.
  • His faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
  • His righteousness is like the mighty mountains.
  • His justice like the ocean depths.
  • His unfailing love is precious.
  • Because of His unfailing love, we can find shelter in the shadow of His wings.
  • He is the fountain of life!
  • He is the Light by which we see!
And we find a reminder of God's abundant grace and ever-present help in Psalm 37:
"The Lord directs the steps of the godly, He delights in every detail of their lives.  Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand...The Lord rescues the godly, He is their fortress in times of trouble."  Psalm 37:23-24, 39  NLT
Oh how He loves us!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Family Vocation: God's Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood

Our home has been consumed with sickness for the past several weeks.  It started back in March, when our oldest went through two rounds of Strep Throat.  We have since discovered that she is a Strep B carrier and will be more susceptible to this infection.  Then our 6 year old went through about 4 days of running fever and not feeling well.  Then my husband and I spent a week running fever and feeling like the grim reaper was hanging on our coat tails.  Now the littlest one has Acute Bronchitis.

There is nothing like being racked with sickness, which inevitably breads extreme irritability among the members of a family to know that this is so very true:
"God is present and active in families, bringing His gifts and working His purposes.  He and His works may be hidden in the mundane - seeming details of ordinary life, but it is useful - both in times of family difficulties and when everything is going right - to catch a glimpse of Him."
That's a quote from the introduction of Family Vocation: God's Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood by Gene Edward Veith Jr. and his daughter, Mary J. Moerbe published by Crossway.

 From the preface:
"This book will seem quite a bit different from other Christian books on the family.  It applies Martin Luther's doctrine of vocation to the different callings within the family.  This cannot be done without pulling along other aspects of Luther's theology.  Readers will note here that the 'gospel' does not simply have reference to conversion, what a person responds to in first becoming a Christian.  Rather, the gospel - that is, the message of Christ crucified for sinners - relates to every moment of the believer's life."

Many of us may think of vocation as just another word for our jobs - those things we do for which we are paid a wage.  However, Luther would have us understand vocation more as our calling.  Using 1 Corinthians 7:17 ("Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him."), the authors explain vocation this way:  "The idea is that the Lord 'assigns' us to different kinds of lives, and that He 'calls' us to them."  Furthermore, the doctrine of vocation "has to do, above all, with the way God works through human beings...and emphasizes what God is doing through my life" rather that "what God is doing in my life".  The purpose of every vocation is to love and serve one's neighbor.

Do you view your mother, father, sister, brother, wife, husband, son or daughter as you neighbor whom you are to love as you love yourself?

What does it mean to be called as a husband, a wife, a parent, a child?

How does the grace of the gospel impact how we carry out these particular callings?

How does God's presence address the struggles that our own family faces?

Do you realize that God not only established the institution of the family in general, but that He established your actual, personal family as well?

What would you define as "spiritual activities"? 
"The good works we need to do as Christians - the arena of our sanctification - are not elaborate spiritual exercises or spectacular feats of accomplishment.  Rather, they are to be found in our ordinary interactions with the actual human beings whom God brings into our lives every day...Though God doesn't need our good works, our neighbor does.  Our neighbor is in need.  God commands us to love and serve that neighbor...God is hidden in vocation, and Christ is hidden in our neighbors.  Thus, we love and serve God precisely by loving and serving our neighbors.  We live out our faith in concrete ways face to face with the people God has provided for us in our daily lives."
 Family Vocation explores these thoughts by way of an in depth look at the following areas:
  • Marriage
  • The Office of Husband
  • The Office of Wife
  • Sex and Vocation
  • The Crosses of Marriage
  • Parenthood
  • The Office of Mother
  • The Office of Father
  • Raising Children
  • The Crosses of Parenthood
  • Childhood
  • Growing 
  • The Crosses of Childhood
  • The Rest of the Family
  • Restoring the Family
If you are looking for a sound biblical parenting book or book on family life or marriage and you only have the resources to purchase one book, I highly recommend Family Vocation.  When the sink is full of dishes, the laundry room is full of dirty clothes, the bills need to be paid, you and your husband are at odds, the children are driving you nuts and you've cleaned the 100th dirty little bottom of the day or you face needs much deeper than these in your family, you don't need pious platitudes or to "think positive thoughts".  You need the gospel.  Mr. Veith and his daughter have provided a wonderful resource to aid us in preaching the gospel to ourselves every day in all the callings God has placed on our lives.

You can order the book from Crossway by going HERE.  Or you can check it out on by going HERE.

Blessings on you and all God has called you to,

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Widow of Saunders Creek

I always enjoy discovering new authors, so it was a pleasure to be able to read Tracey Bateman's The Widow of Saunders Creek.  
 Corrie Saunders grew up in a life of privilege. But she gave it all up for Jarrod, her Army husband, a man she knew was a hero when she vowed to spend her life with him. She just didn’t expect her hero to sacrifice his life taking on an Iraqi suicide bomber.
Six months after Jarrod’s death, Corrie retreats to the family home her husband inherited deep in the Missouri Ozarks. She doesn’t know how to live without Jarrod—she doesn’t want to. By moving to Saunders Creek and living in a house beloved by him, she hopes that somehow her Jarrod will come back to her.
Something about the house suggests maybe he has. Corrie begins to wonder if she can feel Jarrod’s presence.
Jarrod’s cousin Eli is helping Corrie with the house’s restoration and he knows his dead cousin is not what Corrie senses. Eli, as a believing man and at odds with his mystically-oriented family members, thinks friendly visits from beyond are hogwash. But he takes spirits with dark intentions seriously. Can he convince Corrie that letting go of Jarrod will lead to finding her footing again— and to the One she can truly put her faith into?

Tracey Bateman lives in the beautiful Missouri Ozarks which provide much of her inspiration for the books she writes.  She has approximately one million books in print and also publishes novels under the name Tracy Cross.
You can find Tracey on Facebook and on her website found at

My Thoughts About The Book:
Waterbrook Multnomah sent me an Advanced Reader Copy (unedited) of The Widow of Saunders Creek  for the purpose of review as part of their Blogging For Books program.  With that disclosure, I regretfully have to give this novel a negative review.  I always try to look for something positive even in a work that I haven't particularly enjoyed.  But, I have to say that it was hard for me to even finish this book.  Understanding that I was reading an Advanced Reader Copy, it was still difficult to read because the editing was atrocious.  It was distracting.
I appreciate Ms Bateman's premise for this novel...the story of an army wife grieving the loss of her husband.  It is one that is very timely considering the situation our country has been in with Iraq and Afghanistan.  I was looking forward to reading the novel for that reason.  The story had some sweet and enduring elements to it; however, the whole conversing with the dead part was just not very believable.  The characters lacked depth and the story was just a bit simple and very predictable.

You can go HERE to to check out ordering information as well as read chapter one of the book.  The book releases on May 8, 2012

Happy Reading,

Friday, April 13, 2012


I am excited to let you know about two pretty neat Bible resources today designed especially for your "tween-aged" boys and girls.
Getting into a routine of reading the Bible can be challenging for anyone, but trying to keep the attention of pre-teen boys is especially difficult.  So now there is a Bible especially developed for them.  The NIV Boys Bible is designed with boys ages 9 to 12 in mind.  Fun in-text features help boys dig deep into the Word and learn about amazing people, facts and stories of the Bible.
  • Introductions to each book of the Bible
  • Hundreds of highlighted verses for memorizing
  • What's the Big Deal? - Need to know biblical stories and people
  • Check it Out - Interesting and fun facts about Bible times and characters
  • Grossology - Gross and gory stuff they never knew was in the Bible 
  • Makin' It Real - Help for applying Bible stories to their everyday lives
  • Through the Bible in a year reading plan.
This Bible includes the full text of the New International Version and 12 color tip-in pages introducing content that shows boys how they can grow to be like Jesus.  The graphics are eye catching as well as the colors used:  text type is blue with orange accents.  Because boys are different that girls and are attracted by different types of questions and facts, this bible is specifically designed with these differences in mind.  The NIV Boys Bible offers unique and meaningful content that speaks straight to the heart of tween boys, drawing them into a relationship with their Creator.  
Every girl wants to know she's totally unique and special, and contributor Nancy Rue helps them do just that in the revised edition of the NIV Faithgirlz! Bible.  As  a leading tween specialist, Rue teaches girls that the Bible is real and relevant and best of all , that the story of God and His people is also their story.  Girls can now grow closer to god as they discover the journey of a lifetime, in their language, for their world.
The new Faithgirlz! Bible was developed especially for girls ages 9 to 12.  Everything in it is written with a tween girl's experience in mind.  The features explain hard to understand things in teh Bible and guide girls to put the Scripture to work in their own lives.  This Bible focus on sharing faith with friends and gives real ways for girls to do that.
  • Book introductions - Girls will read the who, when, where and what of each book of the Bible.
  • Dream Girl - Girls will use their imaginations to put themselves in the story.
  • Is There a Little (Eve, Ruth) in You? - Girls will see for themselves what they have in common with women of the Bible.
  • Words To Live By - Girls will discover great Bible verses for memorizing.
  • Oh, I Get It - Girls will find answers to Bible questions they've wondered about.
  • Biblical text is in purple with magenta floral accents.
  • Through the Bible in a year reading plan.
I highly recommend both of these resources!  I am hanging on to my review copies to give to my now 6 year old son and three year old daughter when they get to the appropriate ages for these Bibles.  I don't know what greater gift to share with our boys and girls than God's Word.

Both the NIV Boys Bible and the Faithgirlz! Bible can be ordered at by going HERE and HERE

Thank you B&B Media Group Inc. for sending me the complimentary copies of both Bibles for the purpose of review.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter 2012

On the Tuesday morning before Easter Sunday, JennaBeth watched Sid the Science Kid on PBS.  In this particular episode, Sid and his friends dyed eggs.  JennaBeth was smitten with the idea.  So when she and I went to buy groceries later that day, we were NOT going to leave the store without the stuff to color eggs!  She was so excited, she even took a nap with her little box of PAAS egg dye tablets/stickers!  All week she wanted to know if we could color "eeyer" eggs.

Finally Saturday came and little miss got to color her eggs!  Big sister and brother helped her although she thought she was going to do them all on her own.
I would have had a rainbow colored kitchen had we let her do them with no help!  This is one of our parenting challenges right now:  dealing with a three year old's fierce independence!  JennaBeth had a hard time letting them dry, because she wanted to put her stickers on them right away.  We were able to get her occupied for a while with something else until the eggs were dry enough to decorate.

Later that evening, right before bedtime, Mike and I did Empty Tomb Cookies with the kids.  I found the idea and directions from the Faithful Provisions Blog.  
Here they are crushing pecans for the cookies.  We talked to them about how Jesus was beaten by the Roman soldiers before being nailed to the cross.
After placing the cookies in the oven, JennaBeth and Bentley both placed a piece of tape over the oven door. We explained how Jesus' body was taken from the cross and placed in the tomb and the huge stone was rolled in front of the tomb to seal it.
On Sunday morning, they were able to open the oven and eat the cookies.  When they bit into them, they saw that the cookies were hollow.  Mike read Matthew 28:1-9 and we talked about how Jesus is risen and the tomb is empty, because He is not there!
Before leaving for church, I attempted to get a few pictures of the three kiddos.  Bentley and JennaBeth insisted on taking a picture with their chocolate bunnies.  Cecily didn't have hers, because she had...ummmm...eaten him for breakfast!
You'll notice the hands on miss priss's hips...that's her...all attitude and personality!  She thinks she's in charge of the other two!
This was the best one!  I sure do love those three!!!

After church, we were invited by one of our elders and his wife to their home for lunch.  The little ones got to hunt eggs...

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
 8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him.  Matthew 28:5-9


By Faith, Not By Sight

If you are an American Idol fan, then you may remember a very unique contestant from Season Eight.  Scott MacIntyre is blind, but made it to the top ten of AI in Season Eight.  Born blind, Scott has faced great challenges over the course of his life.  In his new book, By Faith, Not By Sight, which made its debut this month, Scott tells his amazing story.

From the Book Jacket:
Is it possible to be high on a mountain and deep in a valley at the same time?
This isn’t a riddle, it’s Scott MacIntyre’s life. Each time his dreams come true, Scott finds his nightmares not far behind. Some call it Murphy’s Law. Others call it bad luck. Scott has learned to call it a blessing, even when circumstances have threatened to take everything away.
Outstanding graduate. Marshall scholar. Recording artist. Inspirational speaker. American Idol. Blind from birth, Scott has had to work harder and longer to achieve his goals. But when a silent killer begins to undermine his success, Scott cannot work it out alone. Once again, he must lean on his faith, his close-knit family, and the life-giving aid of friends to survive.
Follow Scott’s roller-coaster ride to see how God used the  mountains and valleys in his life to give him perspective, hope, and ultimately triumph.

 I really enjoyed reading Scott's story!  I remember watching him on American Idol and remember connecting with him from the start of that particular season.  He shares many of the "behind the scenes" things about AI that would be of interest to die-hard fans like myself.

But his book is about so much more than his experience on American Idol.  Scott carries the reader through his life and I dare the best skeptic to not be inspired by his story of strong faith that is found there!  Scott is very transparent about his personal struggles and allows the reader to take a peak into those very private places of his heart.  I particularly was challenged and motivated in my parenting by reading the role Scott's mother and father played in his life.  Whether you are a believer or a person with doubts about God and the seemingly great challenges He sometimes allows in a person's life, you will be moved to a greater understanding of the faithfulness of God and His love by reading Scott's story!

You can order the book from by going HERE.

Be sure and visit Scott's website found at

Thank you Thomas Nelson Publishers for sending me a copy of the book for the purpose of review.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What's Been Going On With The Littles

I'll start with the littlest little...the three year old.  I can finally say that potty training (for the most part) has been a success!  No more pull-ups/diapers at our house!  We still have the occasional accident during the night (thank goodness for mattress pads), but otherwise, she is such a big girl now.
She has also developed a huge imagination!
JennaBeth loves Tangled.  And she loves her "pink bunny".  As you can tell in the picture, she has combined the two - she put Rapunzel's dress on pink bunny and now we have "Pink Bunny Punzel" living in our home! 
She also LOVES her daddy!  She will just randomly say throughout the day, "My 'faha' really does love me and I really love my 'faha'!"

We are really proud of the little man our six year old is becoming!  He is doing really well in school.  It has been a joy to see his reading take off.  There are 45 sight word books they are to complete in kindergarten and he is on book 38!  He also brought home some beginning Accelerated Reader books that he blew through!
Besides excelling in his reading, he has been losing teeth!  He has had four loose at the same time.
I know I'm just a little bit partial, but I think he's the cutest snaggle tooth there ever was!
Bentley's other huge interest at the moment is Legos.  I've told him that I think his brain is in the shape of a Lego brick, because he eats, drinks and breathes Legos!  They really have been good for him.  He is really creative with them.  Usually when he gets a new set, he will put it together exactly by the directions the first time.  After that, he uses all of his different pieces to create all sorts of different things.

I couldn't be more proud of our biggest little, our fourteen year old!  Cecily is becoming an amazing young woman.  God has blessed her with so much talent in a variety of areas.  Just last night, she along with some classmates from the costume design department were recognized in front of the school board for their participation in the District and State Thespian competitions in the state of Florida.
(From Left to Right:  Sarah, Cassidy, Ms Friedman, Cecily, Ms Sommers, Ms Robbins)
At the state level Thespian competition, Cecily received a Superior rating for her costume designs.  She had to take a play, research the play, choose three characters and redesign their costumes.  The sketches had to be hand drawn and she had to include the materials and why she chose each material.  Then she had to present the designs along with her research in front of three professional costume designers at the state level and then take questions from them!
I chaperoned this trip so I was able to observe her presentation.  Let me tell you, I would have been intimidated in front of those three judges.  Cecily did so well and she handled there questions just like she was a pro on their level!  I was really, really proud.  On top of preparing for the school's Spring presentation of The King and I (She is sewing many of the costumes.), she has maintained all A's in her academic classes, which are all Advanced level classes!
In her spare time, which is very little, she is the typical teenager and loves to have fun with her friends.
A couple of weeks ago, she and a friend from church made cookies together.  Of course they made cookies with any cookie dough that was left - those silly girls :)

"Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him."                                                  Psalm 127:3

One Rewarded Mama,