Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Love Dare for Parents by Kendrick Brothers Publication, LLC (book review)

I saw "Fireproof" with Kirk Cameron and saw how "The Love Dare" reignited his marriage. I've heard several stories of the like that I've believed in enough to buy the book for my parents. So I had high expectations for "The Love Dare for Parents" thinking it would give me really firm ideas of how to really connect with my kids.
image via Icon Media

If you have a rocky relationship with your kids, your slightly older kids (elementary age and up), this is a book for you. I'm not saying there isn't value in this book if you have a good relationship with your children.

I did get some great ideas for how to further connect with my kids, such as teaching them manners in reference to Romans 12:10 which says, "Give preference to one another in honor." Day 30 is "Love takes time" which focuses on turning off the media and screens to spend time with one another in reference to Ephesians 5:15-16: "Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time." That's really important to me, how I spend my time. I know I waste minutes and hours sometimes, but my family time is really important to me and my family. We try to protect time with us as much as possible without becoming total hermits.

I did disagree with one point in the book. Day 18 "Love models the way" says that "It is OK to respectfully disagree behind closed doors, but a father and mother should always be a united front and in total agreement when they are in front of their children, because you are defining the concepts of marriage, unity, communication, and reconciliation in their growing minds. They will naturally tend to follow you example, whether it is one of love or bitterness." How will children learn how to respectfully fight if it's ALWAYS done behind closed doors? I think it's healthy for children to see that mom and dad may have different opinions but they talk it out until they come to a mutual agreement over something. Yes, some arguments should be behind closed doors but if children learn from example, not all arguments can be secret. My husband and I have learned to fight respectfully (yes, fight - not "argue" or "disagree" - let's be real for a minute, we all fight), even in front of our children. We aren't always perfect but our kids will know that we aren't perfect - that we have different opinions and ways of thinking, but that we can come together as one united body, backing each other up.

No book tells us one perfect way to raise our family, of course. I wasn't looking for that, but I was really disappointed with how to practically get together with my kids, to whom I'm pretty close at this point in our lives (remember, they're barely out of diapers comparatively to others' kids). I really wish this book was deeper and felt it rather shallow, but it could be the perfect starting point for someone.

Disclaimer: I received this book in return for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan (book review)

Please don't let the title of Jim Gaffigan's book, "Dad is Fat," offend you or turn you off. You learn that his son wrote this . I'm lucky my kids have drawn such nice stick-figures of me so far.

image via Random House

Anyway, I ordered this book because I really, really needed a laugh. This book delivered! I was laughing from the Foreword all the way to the Additional Acknowledgements. Really. Gaffigan was just dead on in his perspective of parenthood (and how single friends react to it) and marriage. For example:

"Having five children has really made me appreciate the more important things in life. Particularly the sublime state of being alone. Of course, now I'm never alone. I have five kids who I love with all my heart. Even the one that gave me the title of this book."

I am experiencing being alone with my kids in school but when they're home it's exactly like that - I can't even use the bathroom alone! Someone is always coming to tell me about a Lego they "made" or to tattle on who isn't sharing. And I only have 2 children.

I absolutely love this chapter (these are written like short essays with a new topic each chapter) called 'Eat the Coleslaw!' because there's a part my husband would agree is just like me. I'll share:

"There is one exception to Jeannie's [Gaffigan's wife] superhumanness. As capable, organized, and amazing as Jeannie is at almost everything, it is baffling how many times a day she loses her phone.
'Where's my phone?'
'Didn't you just find it?'
'Yes, but then I put it down somewhere. Can you call it?'
'It's in your hand.'
Jeannie calls this 'mommy brain,' but rather than condemning mothers as ditzy scatterbrains, I think it's just a matter of shifting priorities and focusing on the most important issues. Like taking care of me."

I lose my phone all the time. I also have had mommy brain for 7 years now.

I loved hearing about how Gaffigan and his wife raise FIVE children in a TWO bedroom apartment in New York City. The sleeping situation itself is hilarious enough for you to read this book.

The only thing I disliked about this book was the few curse words. I just don't think there's a good reason to curse. That's my opinion - and a good lesson in using a thesaurus. Always a better word to use! And, while Gaffigan does attend church, it didn't seem like he has a personal relationship with Christ (maybe he does but it didn't come across in the book). That doesn't make or break this book, just a personal opinion of mine.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are my own.

Friday, September 12, 2014

NEW Veggie Tale production starring Kellie Pickler

While my family loves Veggie Tales, I will admit that I prefer the episodes featuring Bible stories (Phil Vischer era). However, I do believe even the newer episodes offer good moral lessons which can provide good foundation for children when they are taught alongside Biblical principals and ways of life. With that in mind, I wanted to share about the new Veggie Tale production: Beauty and the Beet starring Kellie Pickler. -Randi

 Available Oct. 14 on DVD and Digital Download, the Newest
VeggieTales Production Features 10 Original Songs,
Also Offered on a Brand-New Companion CD

GLENDALE, Calif. (Sept. 11, 2014) - Take the timeless and enchanting story of "Beauty and the Beast," toss with the unique flavors of VeggieTales and blend in the sweet voice of country music superstar Kellie Pickler - and the result is BEAUTY AND THE BEET, a brand-new VeggieTales musical that premieres Oct. 14 exclusively on DVD and digital download.
Pickler (American IdolDancing With the Stars) brings her unmistakable voice to the role of Mirabelle, a sweet-potato singer whose family band is on the brink of superstardom.  BEAUTY AND THE BEET blends the irresistible charm and appeal of VeggieTales with a heartfelt message about the importance of unconditional love.
BEAUTY AND THE BEET companion CD, featuring 10 brand-new songs - including an all-veggie rendition of the classic Christmas carol Deck the Halls - will also be available in stores and on iTunes to coincide with the release of the movie on Oct. 14.
 "All my nieces and nephews grew up with VeggieTales, and when they heard I was going to be in a VeggieTales movie, I immediately became the coolest aunt in the world!" said Pickler, who joins theVeggieTales cast on eight of the 10 songs on the BEAUTY AND THE BEET soundtrack. "Mirabelle may be a vegetable, but she's beautiful through and through, especially her ability to show grace and compassion for everyone she meets. "
Mirabelle's kindness extends to Finnegan J. Beet, the bitter and lonely owner of a rundown mountaintop resort where Mirabelle's family breaks down en route to their biggest concert ever.  Matching the Beet's heartless actions with her own genuinely sweet nature, Mirabelle proves that just as God loves us all whether we deserve it or not, unconditional love is its own reward.
In addition to Mirabelle and Mr. Beet, the zesty supporting cast includes Bob the Tomato, Larry the Cucumber, Jimmy the Gourd, the French Peas and a host of other favorite veggies.
Both the DVD and the CD also include Mac and Cheese, a giddy new "Silly Songs With Larry" segment in which Larry the Cucumber reveals the surprising and heretofore untold history of his family's unexpected contributions to Italian cuisine.

BEAUTY AND THE BEET is just the start of the fun in store this fall for VeggieTales fans, because Bob the Tomato, Larry the Cucumber and their friends will also star in a brand-new Netflix original series, VeggieTales In the House, which premieres Thanksgiving weekend exclusively on the streaming platform.
Kellie Pickler appears on the BEAUTY AND THE BEET soundtrack album courtesy of Black River Entertainment.  She grew up immersed in the country life of small town Albemarle, N.C. At age 19, she gained fame as a contestant on "American Idol," followed by a move to Nashville where she has recorded four critically acclaimed albums (Small Town Girl, Kellie Pickler, 100 Proof, and her current album The Woman I Am), performed for fans around the world, and made countless television appearances, including a 2013 win on Dancing with the Stars.  

Disclaimer: all images via Grace Hill Media.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


I am a focused person. Not really. Wouldn't that be lovely? But all too often I feel like Hammie on Over the Hedge who is distracted by a million things at a moment. And yet...

I'm called to be focused. I'm called to be focused on the One who sustains me.

I cannot do this life myself. I've tried. I try daily and I fail. It's not that I'm an awful person but I'm a sinner. Fallen. And yet...

I have this Savior who sustains me. Who picks me up each time I fall and fail. Not only picks me up but brushes me off like a wonderful, loving Father. And yet...

I push away and put my focus elsewhere (often upon myself). I forget daily that my Sustainer Father loves me unconditionally and makes my heart beat, the breath move in and out. And yet...

I am always taken back by my Sustainer Father. He calls me back to Himself, pulls me close to His side, whispers sweet everythings to me through His Word and the quiet that often does not come.

Today, I will remain focused on My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Who did not cling to His heavenly home but came to earth as a mere babe only to grow in flesh and die a criminals death undeserved. The world may forget Him and push Him away but not I.

I will fight to remain focused. I will love like I only can through Him. I will be patient and gentle and bear all things in this love that does not come from my own self. This love that was born in me and grown in me through a relationship with our Sustainer.

Today I will remember that I am loved. I am enough. I don't have to change the whole world, but I must love the One who can. I can do small things that are big Kingdom things - not on my own but through Him and for Him.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Desire by Dan Walsh & Gary Smalley (book review)

"The Desire" by Dan Walsh & Gary Smalley isn't a book I'd normally read. I don't read a lot of fiction, but something drew me to this particular book. I'm very glad it did because I couldn't put it down.

The premise of the book is that Allan and Michele have been trying to have a baby for over a year and it's been really hard on them emotionally. Michele wants to further researching infertility treatments while Allan doesn't even realize how big of a problem this is and chooses to focus his time (and funds) on mission trips in Africa.

image via Amazon
The plot of this book intertwines other plots from the Restoration series by Walsh and Smalley. The good news is that you needn't read the other books to read this book; it stands on its own well enough. I hadn't read the other books either, but I'd really like to sometime.

This book is not just about Michele and Allan but about a girl named Christina who is pregnant out of wedlock and has a decision to make. It's an interesting look into the life of a woman going through that process; most of the time we hear about the adoptive parents or even adoptive child's perspective but I've never read anything from the biological mother's view.

"The Desire" is just a beautiful look at Christ's love for us all, how God's plan can really veer away from our plans, and how we need to react to such plans. The only part I really disliked about this was that the Christians in the book lived in an affluent community, which I think perpetuates the idea (especially outside America) that Christians are all really rich. Not all are.

You can find "The Desire" on Amazon.

Disclaimer: I receive this book in order to write an honest review. Other opinions may differ from mine but these are my own.

Monday, September 8, 2014

I love our little family

I love this man who teaches our boys important things that I never could, 
like changing the oil and how to treat their wives. 

I love these boys who never complain when we want to watch Husker football...
probably because they get to do fun things like watch movies and play Mario Kart Wii.

I love these little boys who are learning to help when needed,
like when we cleaned out closets over Labor Day weekend.

Isn't he hilarious carrying that big ol' load?

I love these little boys who got muddier than this picture shows
while their daddy was playing soccer.
It kept them entertained for an hour, so whatever!

I love this little family and our little life together.
Thank you, Lord!!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

"What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days" by Holley Gerth (book review)

"In vain you rise early
     and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat --
    for he grants sleep to those he loves."
-Psalm 127:2

I read these words as I was laying in bed late, going over something important I needed to go over. So I'm flipping through "What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days" by Holley Gerth because I thought I could work in some of the verses she used in these devotionals. 

image via Amazon
And God calls out to my heart. My weary, overbooked heart. I heard Him telling me that my list could wait and I needed to give myself grace for the day-to-day stuff that just can't all get checked off my to-do list. There are so many hours in the day and I am just one person, so there's only so much I can do. The rest will have to wait and I need to be okay with that waiting.

I love hearing God talk to me and I was so thankful He spoke to me using Gerth's devotional. It's been a treasured little book for the...week I've had it. I've read through it and used some of her anecdotes when I needed to write some hard cards - a cousin had a miscarriage, a friend's wife passed away, my dad has been ill. Sometimes I don't have the words but this book helped me find verses that I would have been scouring for hours to find. 

Gerth is just so relatable in her struggles and her life that she shares. This little yellow book with red polka dot binding is not a replacement for the Word of God but it uses the Word to really speak to me in places I overlook in my life, like rest. 

I'm so thankful that I have gotten to read this devotional and it will be sitting on my nightstand for a long time. I imagine it years from now, dog-eared, well-loved, and much appreciated.

Also, Holley will be hosting a Face(book) club for What Your Heart Needs For the Hard Days! You can read about it on her blog at http://holleygerth.com/heart-needs-hard-days and to join all you have to do is “like” her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HolleyGerthPage.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others may not have the same opinions as I have.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Identical starring Ashley Judd, Ray Liotta, and newcomer Blake Rayne opens today (Sept 5) (movie review)

Ashley Judd seems to be favoring family films these days: Dolphin Tale, Dolphin Tale 2, and The Identical which opens today, September 5, nationwide. I had the great honor to screen this movie (yes, before it opens!) from home.

image via christiancinema.com
The premise is that during the Depression, twin brothers are separated by a great sacrifice. One is raised by their biological parents and the other by a pastor and his wife. The son raised by his biological parents, Drexel Hemsley, rises to the top of rock and rock fame! The other, Ryan Wade, struggles to keep peace between himself and his father and still love music like his brother sings (although he doesn't know it's his brother).

I really like the concept of The Identical. How two people biologically related but separated at a young age can still be so alike. It begs the question of nature vs. nurture - where you see Drexel drinking and the pastor's kid (PK) not wanting to touch alcohol but where they both sound and look like Elvis.

There were many touching scenes in this movie. When Ryan unknowingly meets his biological mother, when he stands up to his father about not becoming a pastor, when he stands up to a racist police officer, and the final few scenes. I thought it was beautiful. A great story involving redemption and family, not much else I can ask for in a movie these days.

The only thing I didn't like was when Drexel and Ryan grew their hair out. Oh they should have kept to the Elvis hair. But it was moving on into the late 60s so I guess that's that.

Go ahead and pick up a ticket this weekend to see The Identical.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Family Camp

 I didn't take many pictures at our church's family camp the weekend before Labor Day, but I was just hanging out with my family - church and biological. It was really fun and convicting. The sermons/talks were over Luke 14:25-33:

Squirt using Moose as a footstool - oh brothers!

The Cost of Being a Disciple

25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, 26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.
28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? 29 Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. 30 They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’
31 “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? 32 And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. 33 So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.
Whoa! Right? I mean, am I just an enthusiastic admirer of Christ or do I have sweat in the game? Am I close enough to get benefits or am I close enough to Christ to sacrifice? 
Do I have less devotion to others than I do to God? Am I all in for Him? Have I submitted to Christ in every area of my life? 
One "catch phrase" for the weekend was this: You'll do anything for the one you love the most. 
So who do I love the most? Do I put my children, my husband, my friends, my self above God? 
oh yeah, call the NBA...or not...

I love my husband. I love my children. I love my friends. I even love myself. But I am not willing to sacrifice everything for any of them. I will sacrifice most everything but not everything. I will fight and defend them with my very breath but they are not my gods. I am not my god. I willingly submit to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with all that I am. 

How about you? Where are you with this revelation? Are you in the game or merely a spectator?

sign of a good time

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Dolphin Tale 2

My family and I just watched "Dolphin Tale" for our family movie night last week in anticipation of "Dolphin Tale 2" coming to theaters September 12.

I am also a blog ambassador for the movie, so I got sent a huge pile of awesome stuff to help promote the show. My kids have been doing their part by wearing their Hope + Winter shirts (seriously, it's all they want to wear), hat, sunglasses, reading the book, drying with the towel. I love the tote - it's huge and great for church.

I have been well taken care of just for saying "hey go watch this movie." Really, though, go watch this movie. The first one was awesome! Such a cute tale, my kids enjoyed it (and it wasn't a cartoon - amen?!), full of wonderful actors (Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick, Jr.).

So pick up a copy of "Dolphin Tale" AND get a ticket to go see "Dolphin Tale 2" September 12.

they are so cute in this hat!
Disclaimer: I received all of this cool stuff to promote the movie. All opinions are my own and others may disagree with them.

in case you missed something