Thursday, March 26, 2015

I Can Learn the Bible by Holly Hawkins Shivers (book review)

Confession: we have more children's devotionals than we've read or are likely to read. Wow. Good to get that off my chest. Now, I didn't buy all of these devotionals so it was never my intention to have this many. We are also not consistent in reading devotionals - we've tried breakfast time, after school, bed time and we just haven't found a time that works for us.

However, do not let our lack of diligence keep you from continuing to read this review of "I Can Learn the Bible" by Holly Hawkins Shivers. The subtitle of the book is "52 Scriptures Every Kid Should Know." Now, I believe this is a subjective look because there are SO many verses from the Bible kids (and adults) should know.

image via BookLook
Part of my family's problem with devotionals has been the format of the devos. Usually there is one verse and then a story to go along with maybe a little blurb at the end a la Aesop's Fables. The lesson. The format is just one of the things I really like about this "I Can Learn the Bible" book. There is a verse (most of them well known like Galatians 5:22-23, the Fruits of the Spirit) for each week (I also like it's split into weeks vs. days...probably for folks like us). But then it's different - the book talks to you as the reader (and your kids as listeners) to explain the verse(s). Sometimes they do use a story but I haven't felt that the stories were A) so long my kids stop listening or B) irrelevant.

I just feel that the author has really taken the time to explain in a kid-friendly way but not dumbed-down way about the verses! Week 8 has "Continue to ask, and God will give to you. Continue to search, and you will find. Continue to knock, and the door will open for you." - Matthew 7:7. And the explanation is: "Because you are hiding God's Word in your heart...you know that God speaks to you through the Bible. But how do you speak to Him? That's right - you pray! Think about it for a second. You...you can talk to the God of the universe. You can talk to the Maker of heaven and earth, the One who made you, the Great I Am. Wow! That is a very cool thought!" I love how simply it's put and yet profound. It really is profound and amazing to think how we can talk to God.

My children are 5 and 7 right now, but I feel like this is a resource that I'll be able to use for the new baby and for my boys as they continue to grow. This devotional is different, more connected to how real life works and how kids think, than others I've read. I'm excited to continue to go through it with my boys (and girl).

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others' may not share my opinions.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

More (from messes to miracles) by Tammie Head (book review)

I'll be honest with you all; I've been in a spiritual funk lately. Both my husband and I realized that we don't feel that close to the Lord lately - not really sure why. Even one of my best friends admitted that she'd felt the same way but was very peaceful when a song had lyrics about God "still" being there. With these thoughts in my head, I began to read "More (from messes to miracles)" by Tammie Head.

Who doesn't want more? And more of the One who made "everything and everyone" (as my children pray every meal)?! Even better.
image via Icon Media

I felt a connection with this author, Tammie Head. I understand some of her past and she seems very authentic in her faith. She just spoke some words (wrote some words?) that pierced my heart. She spoke about how self-centered/egotistical we can become; like our lives revolve around us and only us. "We focus on ourselves, we focus on our problems we focus on our pasts, we focus on our fears, we focus on our failures, we focus, focus, focus, on everything but Christ." Phew! Anyone else look around to see if it's just them?! Well it must not be if it's written in plain English in a book! She goes on, "Then, we wonder why our faith isn't working. And why we're such a mess. Our eyes are fixed on the wrong things! Somewhere we quit beholding Jesus. It's time to look back up." The weight that came off of my shoulders as I read this, I tell you what. Just to come to an understanding that my feeling far from the Lord is probably a lot to do with my focus!

image via Icon Media

I feel a lot like Head where she claims she was so busy inside the church that she wasn't connecting with people (and connecting people with Jesus) outside of the church. I'm honestly not that involved at the moment in a church ministry, but I have spent time reading books and the Bible and watching studies but not connecting to people. The Bible says without love we are a resounding gong. I feel that in my life because, not only have I not been loving people, but I've hardly noticed them to love!

There were other gems in this book but I would love for you to consider reading it yourself. The format could kind of jump around but I never felt it was spacey, just intentional. I just felt a burden lifted as I continued to read through the book. It pointed me back to Jesus, back to the Bible, back to basics. Sometimes when we're mature enough to go on to the "meaty" stuff, we still need to go back to drink the "milk" to continually fill up on that Living Water.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others' opinions may vary from my own.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Life Unstuck by Pat Layton (book review)

Sometimes we just seem like we're in a rut - we're stuck where we are, how we are, in whatever our circumstances. God doesn't call us out of slavery to sin just to be stuck and not really living free. "Life Unstuck" by Pat Layton is about really getting out of the sticky mess we find ourselves in and finding out how to get unstuck.

I really thought I'd get a deeper read with this "Life Unstuck" but, for the most part, it was a shallow book, very fluffy. Now, that's my opinion, and somebody may really need this book in their life. It just wasn't for me  at this time in my own life.
image via Amazon.com

Some of the good things I gleaned from this was that yes, we (especially as women) need to change what we believe about ourselves by saying positive things about ourselves. We are so hard on ourselves - give yourself the same grace you'd give your friend. In the latter chapters, Layton also talks about being free to be flawed. I think that's an amazing piece of advice. We're sinners and flawed and we're going to screw up, but we need to realize that our flaws also allow us to depend solely on Christ! If we were perfect, what need would we have for a Savior? Isn't that an intricate thing to think upon?

Some things in "Life Unstuck" really rubbed me the wrong way. Layton's Unstuck Truth #6 is "God delights in amazing you with His love." She quotes Habakkuk 1:5, " Look at the nations and watch - and be utterly amazed. For I am about to do something your days that you would not believe, even if you were told." In the context of this chapter in this book, Layton makes it seem like God was saying He was going to something amazing and fabulous and we have only to watch. However, in the context of Habakkuk, God is telling about the awesome DESTRUCTION of Israel by Babylon coming. I feel like this is a verse very taken out of context. God does amazing things but, in this instance in Scripture, it wasn't a good thing! It was a very hard thing for disobedience. We must be very careful when using and quoting Scripture to not just quote it for a sound bite but to really understand it in context.

The other thing I really disliked about "Life Unstuck" was Layton's announcement that "God never intended for us to forgive ourselves. The Bible does not identify the need to forgive ourselves. In fact, I don't think we are capable of it. When we try to forgive ourselves we seek to do God's work in His place. The very heart of the gospel is not forgiving yourself but accepting God's forgiveness." I think I understand what she's trying to say here; however, forgiving yourself for your past and present and future sins has nothing to do with salvation but has everything to do with moving on and accepting. The purpose of forgiving yourself is in the realization that we are not perfect and that we need a Savior. While the Bible may not specifically speak on forgiving yourself, I believe it's something very important to do in order to not get stuck in the same sin cycles. I do believe we are capable of forgiving ourselves just as we are capable of forgiving others - and neither has anything to do with taking God's work from Him because it's separate from salvation. We cannot forget our sins but we can forgive ourselves.

I think this book has some merit but I think there are many other books that do a better job of helping women break cycles and ruts (like Beth Moore's Breaking Free or Holley Gerth's You're Loved No Matter What).

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others may not share my opinions.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

it's a.....

This time around, we decided to find out the gender of our baby. Actually, I decided to and Big A knew I couldn't keep that news to myself so he agreed graciously.

We took the boys to the ultrasound and they did good for about 15 minutes. It was a long session because the computer froze on the poor tech. No big deal, we got to see our baby.

face

little fist

back/spine
big ol' foot, definitely ours

Then we decided to have her tell just us, the parents, not the kids. We wanted a fun way to tell the boys. Being that we live in a small town with not any real shopping opportunities, we decided on tinting ice cream.

We started by having the boys choose which they thought baby was. They each chose a girl. They are logical "we have a brother."


Then I tinted the ice cream. Ice cream, not glop.


Which will it be?!



It's a girl!!!

Since our announcement, I've had many good-hearted people say things like "oh I'll bet you are so excited for a girl." Yes, I am. But to be fair, I would have been just as tickled to have another boy added to our family. 

I keep joking about needing to learn about frills and bows and braids and such. So many have said, "oh just let her grow up with swords and capes." Well, that's kind of the plan. She has to learn to fit in with us, but we also have to learn to fit into her. I'm sure she'll be a little bit girly and a little bit not. I don't mind which way she bends. Although, I like pink so there will be plenty of pink "vomited" on her as my sister has mentioned. :) 

Now our prayers go back to what they always have been, health and safety. I'm in my 22 week (wow) and feeling really good. Nausea is pretty much past (although smells still continue to be a weakness - dish soap, unspecified food smells like at potlucks or after you've used your crockpot, lavender essential oil which I called death last night). I ran last week, I'm not sure if I will again because it just wasn't much fun and I run because it's fun for me. I will continue to walk. This week with spring break (and high winds) it's harder but I will trek on.

I'm feeling very blessed with people sharing their baby things with us. It's so nice to be in community like we are!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

You're Loved No Matter What by Holley Gerth (book review)

When I decided to review "You're Loved No Matter What" by Holley Gerth, I don't think I was expecting a whole lot from it (sorry, Holley). Gerth's previous books have spoken much truth and yet I was expecting fluff in this book. Yet, what I found inside the covers of this book is so much more.

image via Amazon.com

Truth, much truth, flows out of this book. I should have known how deep it would touch me just by the back copy print:

"As women, we tend to think that if we could only get our act together, life would be perfect. But you're not supposed to be perfect. You're supposed to be human. And humans are messy, flawed, glorious, and deeply loved.

It's time to lay down those unrealistic expectations that exhaust you.
It's time to embrace who you are - even the messy parts.
It's time to start living fully instead of just trying not to fail.

Let's do this together."

Hallelujah, right ladies? Aren't you tired, like I am, of comparing ourselves to Pinterest perfect? Aren't you worn down, like I am, of judging those around us (or online) who don't meet our human-made-flawed standards of perfection?

Well, it's time for us to stop. And this book is a great pathway to help you to give yourself and other women GRACE. Isn't that what we've already been given on the cross? Didn't Jesus pay for our sins and imperfections - and everyone else's? So why do we keep nit-picking them? Why can't we be good enough if God's grace has made us good enough?

I just love the content of this book. I have this book so dog-eared! This book really cuts to the core while keeping it real (she talks about The Princess Diaries, for pete's sake. Love it). There's cutting out guilt, relationship healing, tools to help you find out who you really are (isn't pretending hard?), acceptance, surrender. *deep sigh* I'm not just reviewing this book on my blog but I've been telling friends about it. I'm thinking about leading a Bible study with the discussion guide in the back (don't miss this like I did). It's good stuff. I'm telling you.

While the cover may look like fluff, the inside is filled with deep Scriptural truths that will help you (and me) cut out that perfectionism that we cannot attain this side of heaven. Also, check out this site from Gerth about this book.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others' opinions may not match my own.

Friday, March 13, 2015

seizure

Does that word make you cringe like it does me? I've had this little word in the back of my head since hearing the word "autism" linked with my son. Seizures are not uncommon for kids with autism, but they mostly start (if at all) towards puberty (possibly hormonal changes), so I was thinking I had a few more years to have this word stuck in there.

so thankful for this sweet boy who just loves this pregnant belly!

Then, two Tuesdays ago, I got a call from school. "Moose is not feeling well, you need to come to school" or something along those lines. I thought the wording was off, not 'he threw up, come get him' but didn't think much of it. Just thought it was a routine sick kid pick up so I left on lights, my sewing machine, Netflix paused.

As I pulled into the parking lot, an ambulance was parked there. Oh boy. I tried to convince myself that maybe it was there showing the classes, but I knew. And I knew it was a seizure. My thoughts were proved correct as the principal opened the outside door for me (vs. buzzing in). He spoke those words to me: "Moose had a seizure." I think he said he's fine, but I buried my face in my hands. Then I took a breath and realized I needed to hold this together for my boy. I tried calling Big A but he didn't answer so I handed my phone to the principal and asked him to call (he ended up having to call the work number to reach him).

My boy was laying on a blue bean bag chair surrounded by love in flesh. EMTs were taking blood pressure and asking questions, his teachers were talking to him, loving him, rubbing his head. Someone made room for me and I talked to him. It took him a few seconds to focus on me and find me. Then he started to try to sit up, "can we go home? I just want to go home!"

I got him to lay back down so he could get his blood pressure taken. He just wanted to go home, poor thing. Probably confused and tired. Then he sat up pretty fast (probably trying to escape) and started this cry. I knew what the cry meant and tried to get him to stick his face in a sick sack but he was fighting me. And so he threw up all over himself (and my hands...why do we moms try to catch puke??). I probably looked panicked at this point because the EMTs wanted to get us to the hospital, but in my head, I was thinking "he needs new clothes, how do I get home and get him clothes and not leave him?" His special ed teacher must have seen this look and offered to drive my van to meet me at the hospital. We carefully peeled his clothes off of him and I threw his shirt in the trash which made him mad because it was read (I will buy you another red shirt, kid!). His dear dear classroom teacher took his nasty clothes home and washed them (not kidding you, the best teacher ever!).

His special ed teacher was just distraught, thinking she should have been with him. He was walking from speech to the computer lab on his own when it happened. We are trying to teach him independence and no one could have foreseen this to happen at this precise moment, so I tried to assure her that she was doing her job and she does it so well.

I sat on the gurney and he sat on my lap (in clean clothes; thank you, Lord!) as we got put in the ambulance (never ridden in one before). I just held him and talked to him. He was lucid by this time, asking about his brother, talking about the baby (how we didn't know if it was a boy or girl), just very tired.

At the hospital, bless the Lord, I knew both nurses, both doctors, even the flobotomist (one who takes blood)! That was a relief to me. Yes, we live in a small town, but there are many nurses I do not know at the hospital, so this was comfort. The school nurse came and stayed with us the whole time. Big A met us there, thankfully; he's just the rock. The special ed teacher and speech path met us there to bring my van. I tried to reassure them that everything was going to be ok, they had done a great job like they always do.

I was just shown, though, how loved Moose is. That is one reason that we've chosen to send him to school vs. homeschooling - to share this special kiddo with others. He is awesome, and I'm biased but know other people think so, too. He's smart, funny, loving, always hungry (ha), and can talk your ear off about Star Wars/Super heroes/Mario Kart Wii but you can't help but love him. I think.

At the hospital, they took his blood (I told him it was going to suck; Big A probably wishes I'd chosen a better word...) and he screamed but it was quick. They took vitals and then let him sleep. We talked to his doctor, who is just as sweet as can be and I know would treat my son the very same way he'd treat his kids. We decided not to do a head CT because he didn't feel there was trauma despite Moose's fall (he had a goose egg). I feel so blessed to have a doctor we can trust so much.

Moose slept for a long while (I got the phone call at just prior to 1:00), maybe until 3:00. Then he drank some OJ and asked for cookies (he likes the vending machine cookies at the hospital) so we knew he was doing ok. I had to go pick up Squirt and some neighbor girls at 3:20 so I left while he was released but basically, we have no clue as to why this happened. He's acted 100% fine since leaving the hospital (I joke that it made him have a growth spurt because he asks for food nonstop). I kept him home the day after this happened because he woke up at 2am!!!

We are going to go see a pediatric neurologist in a few weeks; one recommended by our doctor and our developmental pediatrician, so this guy must be good. I'm not really expecting to know anything more, but I am comforted by the fact that God was always with him, God loves him more than I do, and God will care for him.

The love we felt after this incident is amazing. I never want to leave this community. A family whose son is in Moose's class brought us supper, a friend brought lunch the next day. So many have reached out to see how he is. It's just amazing, truly. I am so thankful for our school and how they handled this episode (not sure what to call it); they did a wonderful job, so proud. The EMTs were fantastic. The hospital staff was awesome. I hope everyone call feel this love for your kid(s) at some point in your life, but hopefully in a totally different way.

I feel so blessed to call this town our home. Who knew Kansas was so awesome?!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Veggie Tales DVD winner

The winner of the new Noah's Ark Veggie Tales DVD, chosen by random.org, is:

Kim!

Thank you to all who entered; hopefully there will be more giveaways in the future. Stay tuned.

Disclaimer: Winner will be notified and I'll actually be taking her the DVD because she lives close.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Crimson Cord (Rahab's story) by Jill Eileen Smith

Historical fiction is something I believe we need to be cautious of reading so that fiction does not turn itself to fact in our minds. That said, I enjoy historical fiction greatly. "The Crimson Cord" by Jill Eileen Smith gives us a look into the life of Rahab, of which there really is not much said in the Bible.

I learned something new while reading this book: that people of Jewish faith traditionally believe that  Rahab married Joshua. I grew up believing that she married Salmon in the lineage of Jesus Christ, so that was news to me.

This telling of Rahab's life was a look I'd never given it - how did she come into prostitution, what was her life like, how was she so easily in faith of the one true God? "The Crimson Cord" does a wonderful job weaving a tale that does not leave her in rose-colored glasses but also does give some compassion to her way of life.

Smith did a great job of weaving historical fact, Biblical fact, and fiction together in a seamless story of love, hurt, and grace. Which, ultimately, is the goal of any piece of writing about the Bible, I believe.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write this review. Others' opinions may differ from mine.

Veggie Tales presents Noah's Ark (DVD review & GIVEAWAY)

My boys and I got the opportunity to watch the new Veggie Tales DVD, "Noah's Ark." The first thing I noticed was that Bob and Larry look....different. Weird. They have no eye lids anymore and Larry's coloring is more realistic rather than monochromatic. To me, it makes them look more childish like this show is for babies, which it's not. Maybe I just don't like change or think, 'if it's not broke, don't fix it.'
image via walmart.com

The movie itself was good. Shem (Noah's son) comes home from his honeymoon to find his family building an ark, The Ark. He's not so happy about it because it spoils his plans for his future. The DVD is "a lesson in trusting God" and throughout you see if Shem and his family will ultimately trust God through this flood.

I asked my boys what they thought of the new look (which they actually talk about at the beginning, kind of). Squirt didn't seem too big of a fan of it while Moose seemed to hardly notice. He mentioned that it was Veggies in the House, the tv show of Veggie Tales. I'm not sure of that because we haven't seen it, but that's what he said. I guess you'll have to decide for yourself what you think of the new look. I also noticed that some of the voices were different. Again - not broke, don't fix.

Those new/different changes did not affect the quality of the video. They showed a Bible story with characteristic liberties, but made a good point that God's plans are not always our plans but He knows what's best. I love that because it's true.

My boys also loved the new Silly Song with Larry. It's an Easter-type song, "My Golden Egg," and they laughed and loved it and wanted to do the sing-a-long in the bonus features. I thought the song was silly but I haven't liked the last few Silly Songs with Larry in other episodes either. Maybe I'm just too old now.

GIVEAWAY:

I'm giving away one (1) DVD copy of Noah's Ark! This would make a great Easter gift for a child!

TO WIN:

Leave a comment on this blog post with a valid email address so I can contact you when you win.

DETAILS: 

Giveaway is for those 18 and older in the continental United States (void where prohibited). Giveaway will end Tuesday, March 10 at 11:59 central time.

Disclaimer: I received this DVD in order to write an honest review. Others' opinions may vary from my own.

Once A-Day Devotional: Nurturing Great Kids by Dan Seaborn (book review)

Devotionals are a wonderful way to start my day, reaching out to the Lord in thought and prayer, getting insight from seasoned Christians in areas like parenting, marriage, or life. I had high hopes for this "Once A-Day Devotional: Nurturing Great Kids" by Dan Seaborn devotional. It just did not meet my needs. 
image via amazon.com

The devotional itself is set up nicely. You can use it chronologically or whenever you want (has dates and Day 1, Day 5, etc). There's a Scripture verse at the start to tie in the lesson, then the lesson, a parenting principle, and points to ponder. These are half-page devotionals so they take no more time than to eat your cereal in the morning.

I just did not feel like there was much depth to these devotionals. For another season in my life, they may have been great. Just for now, though, I'm looking for more than what seems like common sensical lessons. I also greatly wanted more Scripture than just one verse at a time. 

For a newer Christian or one in a very difficult time that can make deeper issues hard to divulge in, this devotional could be wonderful. There's nothing wrong with it, it is just not what I was looking for. 

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others' opinions may differ from my own.

in case you missed something