Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Yeti or Not

My family doesn't do a lot of traveling but we have big dreams: Haiti, Germany, New Zealand, England, Alaska, South Africa - the sky's the limit when it comes to dreams. However, there is one place I cannot wait to take my kids that's perhaps a little more plausible: Yellowstone National Park. 
On July 2, 2005 my then-boyfriend took me to Yellowstone when I visited him in Wyoming. We saw Old Faithful, the stinky sulfur paint pots, beautiful animals and landscapes. And then in a fairy tale dream, I got asked to be his wife as we overlooked the beautiful Lower Falls waterfall *cue dreamy eyes*. 

Ever since we welcomed our first child in 2007 until this last baby in 2018, I've dreamed of the day when they would all be old enough to take and explore this beautiful place. I want them to see Old Faithful, Lower Falls, and so much more. I want them to see moose (the one animal I wanted to see and didn't get to), longhorn sheep, and hopefully not bears. It's such a special place in my heart and I cannot wait to share that with my family. 

An animated adventure for all ages, with original music and an all-star cast, “Smallfoot” turns a myth upside down when a bright young yeti finds something he thought didn’t exist—a human.
News of this “smallfoot” throws the simple yeti community into an uproar over what else might be out there in the big world beyond their snowy village, in an all new story about friendship, courage and the joy of discovery.

“Smallfoot” stars Channing Tatum (“The LEGO® Batman Movie,” the “Jump Street” films) , Zendaya (“Spider-Man: Homecoming”), Common (“Selma”), LeBron James (upcoming “Space Jam 2”), Danny DeVito (“The Lorax,” Oscar nominee for “Erin Brockovich”), Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin”), and Yara Shahidi (TV’s “Black-ish”).  It debuts in theaters on September 28.

Disclaimer: I received a family fun pack as compensation for writing this post. All opinions are my own and I am excited to see Smallfoot with my family. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

"Finding the Love of Jesus: from Genesis to Revelation" by Elyse Fitzpatrick (book review)

 The past three years, my Sunday school class has been going over The Gospel Project. This is a curriculum that goes through the whole Bible showing how the gospel of Jesus Christ is intertwined within the whole story!
My Bible study did the Angie Smith study "Seamless" last year. That study shows how the people, places, and promises of the Bible are sewn together into one overarching story (held together by Christ). 

Needless to say, I was thrilled to read another book about Christ through the Bible: Elyse Fitzpatrick's "Finding the Love of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation." 

image via Amazon

Fitzpatrick took each section of the Bible - the Pentateuch, history, the Law, poetry and songs, Prophets, and the Gospel - to show how Christ's love (and Christ Himself) is found in each!! She takes readers through the story or book(s), then points out Christ. She explains where He is seen physically, in prophesy, and where the gospel story is shadowed. These were some of the most eye-opening areas of this book. I'd never given much thought to Jesus physically being in the Old Testament but Fitzpatrick pointed out how He was the angel of the Lord who appeared to Hagar, He was sovereign in the sleeplessness of King Xerxes that lead to his remembering Mordecai's deeds, He was the pillar and cloud leading the nation of Israel in the desert. I'd never given thought to "is this God the Father or the Son?" in specific stories. I'm not sure that is extremely important except in acknowledging that Christ is throughout the Bible. However, I love seeing Christ more and in ways that I hadn't thought because I am obviously not an expert. 

There were a few things that I had never heard before in this book. This was written for women and Fitzpatrick is passionate about women seeing that Christ loves them. She spoke about Hagar, Ruth, Esther, the woman at the well, showing the love of Christ for them. She post that one of the disciples on the road to Emmaus could have been the wife of the other disciple, Jesus's uncle. I had never heard this theory but it makes sense, I suppose. 

This also is not just a book, but a Bible study. I did not realize that when I got it and I read the majority of it just after having a baby, so I did not get into the Bible study portion. Sometime after this newborn stage, I would like to go back and re-read the book and do the study. 

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Engraved on the Heart by Tara Johnson (book review)

I took a chance on "Engraved on the Heart" by Tara Johnson. Romance novels are not my first pick of genre but I was intrigued by the portrayal of a character with epilepsy during the Civil War era. I was rewarded for my choice with terrific writing, likable characters, and a plot line that went beyond romance. 
image via Amazon
Johnson has a way with words that makes one forget that this is historical fiction. Nor does it fall into the category of cheesy Christian romance. The reader is drawn into the plot that intertwines Civil War Southern society with the suspense of the Underground Railroad, laced with a star-crossed lovers-type romance (but it doesn't make you roll your eyes because the characters are so well developed). 

The aspect that drew me most to reading a book beyond my norm was the main character's epilepsy. To see this disorder (which plagues my own son) portrayed in this era broke my heart. That real people with this disease were forced to hide something out of their control, veiled in shame, is so sad. It makes me incredibly thankful for modern medical practices and the acceptance of this disorder. The love people now show is drastically different than what is portrayed in this book to Keziah during this era. 

"Engraved on the Heart" by Tara Johnson was truly a treat to read. 

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. My opinions are my own.

Monday, July 9, 2018

I Can't Believe You Just Said That! (Biblical Wisdom for Taming Your Child's Tongue) by Ginger Hubbard (book review)

If you are around my age, in your 30s, and are striving to raise Christ following children, you have probably read "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Ted Tripp. The first time I read this book was when I was a newer mom and my oldest was probably no more than five. I just recently flip through this very book to gain that same wisdom from my second set of children.

Well I appreciate the biblical wisdom given in that book, I always felt it was more a book of grand ideas versus practical application. Thankfully, not long after I read the book the first time, I came across another book called "Don't Make Me Count to Three" by Ginger Hubbard. This was the book I was looking for! Practical advice on how to use the wisdom from Tripp's book in real life with real people. I have often gone back to this book when I am in need of advice.
image via BookLook
One of my biggest struggles for myself has always been my tongue. And I see those sins pouring out of my own children's mouths. Not to say they wouldn't have their own tongue issues even if I did not, but sin is easier to see in a form that is familiar to you. I was pleased as punch to read Ginger Hubbard's new book "I Can't Believe You Just Said That!" The subtitle is "biblical wisdom for taming your child's tongue."

This is again, a practical application book of biblical wisdom. It covers the gamut of child since that overflow out of their mouths: whining, lying, tattling, defying, manipulating, interrupting, complaining, blame-shifting, teasing, aggravating, bragging, arguing, yelling, gossiping, bickering. I think I have covered most of those issues in my own home in the past week. 

Hubbard goes deep to the heart of each matter, continually reminding readers that these are not merely behavior issues but heart issues. She provides many pieces of Scripture that you can use to go through a simple discipline model of understanding the heart of the matter (yourself), ask (your kid) heart-probing questions, deprive your child for their issue, and following with training your child with biblical wisdom. I love how this is not a discipline book about punitively punishing children so they stop annoying you or disrupting your plans. This plan allows you to speak wisdom to your child and help them to put off their old sinful self (habits) and put on a new self full of Christ. That's the goal!

My only issue with this book is that it does contain a LOT of information that would be nice to have in a chart or printable. While she does have a chart "Wise Words for Moms" available for purchase, I wish the book came with something so you didn't need to flip through the book to buy what you want. On the other hand, I just purchased my copy of her chart for $4 on Amazon.

Hubbard evens warns that this is not "a how-formula for being good parents who raise good kids...there is no parental success, and there are no good parents or children, apart from Christ." I know this from personal experience and I'm so thankful for godly books like this one that helps me direct my own tongue and sin issues while helping to parent my kids in theirs. 

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. Others may not share my thoughts. All of my links are linked through AmazonSmile to support Emmaus Biblical Seminary in Haiti.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Lord, Change My Attitude Before It's Too Late by James MacDonald (book review)

Several years ago, my husband did this Bible study called "Lord, Change My Attitude Before It's Too Late" by James MacDonald. It was so good that he recommended for me and my Bible study group. What a convicting study!! I've struggled with complaining, covetous, and critical attitudes which are replaced with thankful, contented, and loving attitudes. I don't think I deal as much with a doubting attitude (replaced with an attitude of faith) but the three wilderness attitudes are enough to deal with. 

While the study was so good and I learned a whole lot, I still find myself struggling with those same attitudes probably 4-5 years later. And sometimes struggles seem to cycle them selves. So, I decided to read "Lord, Change My Attitude Before It's Too Late" by James MacDonald in book form. 

image via

You really find the same material in book form as you do on the video and study guide so it's not like I was delving into unfamiliar territory with this book. But I found it to be a very helpful tool to help replace some of my attitudes they have snapped back into my life.

I know the attitudes are so important as I see that play out in my children. My attitudes affect them, their attitudes affect me. I see the harm of attitudes that look like mine in their lives. I see the harm of those same attitudes in my life. And so, every day, we need to make a choice of how to handle our attitudes. They are a choice.

I can complain with the best of them, But what does that get me? Nothing but more complaining and a bitter heart. But thankfulness can lift my eyes to the provision of God in my life. You can help me see circumstances in a new light so that I can be more content were able to see solutions. 

When I find myself criticizing other people, I have to ask the purpose of that. Is it to raise myself up? It sure doesn't draw me closer to the Lord or other people. I feel like it breaks with Jesus claimed as the two most important commandments, love God and love others.

I'm ready to use the tools of putting off my old self and putting on my new self in Christ as I navigate my attitudes!

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Our Newlywed Kitchen by Laura Schupp

Planning a wedding is such an intense time in life. One of the things that my now husband and I enjoyed doing together was registering for gifts. We sat through an hour talk on china before deciding that was not for us. We got married at the tail end of traditional weddings - bridesmaids wearing the same dress, formalwear for the men, no themes. It was very traditional and we loved it. I do feel there would be things I'd change if we were to get married now but I'm not planning to do that any time soon (or ever).

However, I was planning to give "Our Newlywed Kitchen" by Laura Schupp to friends of ours who were getting married. I read too late that this book is not really for newlyweds but for the newly engaged. I say that because there is a LOT about registering for kitchen appliances and accessories. So to give this to a couple who is already married would be a waste of much of the book.
image via

There are wonderful things in the second part of the book about learning to cook together and gathering recipes to enjoy together. I loved the pictures throughout and the practical advice from a seasoned cook.

You really just need to be aware of what you are getting when you buy this book. If you have a couple who has already been well-established on their own or who is mere weeks away from wedding, this is not the book for you. If you have friends or family who are fresh out of college, like my husband and I were, and haven't had the time to establish themselves or their kitchens, and are newly engaged, this is a wonderful tool for them to walk through that process of building a kitchen together.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. All opinions are my own and may differ from yours. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Smallfoot (movie trailer)

We have all heard of the legend of the Yeti, Bigfoot, Sasquatch. This fall (September 28, 2018) we will see an adventure about...."Smallfoot."

In the Yeti world, the Smallfoot (human) is just a legend until the day when one comes crashing out of the sky - and then gets swept away! No one believes the Yeti who saw it all, so he decides to go on a journey to find out the truth.

You can check out the trailer here:

I think this looks adorable! My kids are going to love this movie! Here are some more movie details to hold you until September.

Additional Info.:
“Smallfoot” stars Channing Tatum (“The LEGO® Batman Movie,” the “Jump Street” films) as the Yeti, Migo, and James Corden (“Trolls,” “The Emoji Movie”) as the Smallfoot, Percy. Also starring are Zendaya (“Spider-Man: Homecoming”), Common (“Selma”), LeBron James (upcoming “Space Jam 2”), Gina Rodriguez (“Jane the Virgin”), Danny DeVito (“The Lorax”), Yara Shahidi (TV’s “Black-ish”), Ely Henry (TV’s “Justice League Action”), and Jimmy Tatro (“22 Jump Street”).

“Smallfoot” is directed by Karey Kirkpatrick, Annie Award-winning director of “Over the Hedge.” The film is produced by Bonne Radford (“Curious George”), Glenn Ficarra (“Storks,” “The is Us,”) and John Requa (“Storks,” “This is Us”). Serving as executive producers are Nicholas Stoller, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Jared Stern, Sergio Pablos, and Kirkpatrick. The creative team includes editor Peter Ettinger, and composer Heitor Pereira.

The film is set to debut in theaters September 28, 2018.

From Warner Bros. Pictures and Warner Animation Group, “Smallfoot” will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Generous Love: Discovering the Joy of Living "Others First" by Becky Kopitzke (book review)

Selflessness has never been a strong point in my character. I am often preoccupied about my schedule, my kids, my time, my appearance, etc. That's not a beautiful thing in the Kingdom of God. Not to say I don't need to take care of myself (we all do - oxygen masks first before putting it on a child), but I don't need to think of myself as highly or often as I do. So I try to better myself by reading God's Word and godly books pertaining to selflessness. "Generous Love" by Becky Kopitzke is just one of those godly books.

Oddly enough, just after I started reading this book, a dear friend gifted me with another of Kopitzke's books "The SuperMom Myth," which I am excited to read because I am exhausted when I think of all of my friends and myself trying to be all and do all for our children. But that's another post for another day (when I find the time to read the book).
image via Barnes & Noble

Back to selflessness and "Generous Love." That's the whole premise of the book: discovering the joy of living "others first." The Bible teaches so much about submitting to one another out of love, the first will be last, etc and this book touches on so many of those things, so I'm just going to share a few gems that I appreciated or was convicted about.

Kopitzke wrote about washing her husband's coffee mug, a simple thing. "I could've let it sit. It was his mug after all, and he didn't expect me to wash it. I don't drink coffee...I had other stuff to do. But. How long would it take me to wash that mug? Sixty seconds, tops? And I was already standing at the sink...Why shouldn't I wash the mug? Better questions - why should I? If washing that mug says I love you and I'm thinking of you and You matter to me, isn't that worth a one-minute sacrifice out of my day? Isn't it worth way more than that?" I think about stuff like that - making the bed, sweeping the kitchen floor, folding the laundry. Except that last one, none of those things takes me very long (even very pregnant). And I know that acts of service is my husband's love language, so can't I take the time to do those things for him? He'll do them if I don't, but to him my action would say "I love you, babe. Thanks for taking care of us." What can you do today that's small and seemingly meaningless that would speak volumes to someone you love?

Humility is another hard character issue (related to selflessness!). Kopitzke says "...if living 'others first' is meant to display the love of Christ, then we cannot demand kudos. Our actions must be rooted in humility. Why? Because that's who Christ is. 'In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:5-11).'"  That is always a heady passage for me. How can I demand a thank you or notice or attention when Christ Himself left His wonderful home in heaven to become a human (a weak human - a baby!!!) and then willingly, knowingly was obedient to a criminal's death (when he did nothing wrong!). How can I demand my own way when He loved me so much to do that for me?

This book is not just a good read, it has really good, Scripture-based questions at the end so it could be used as a Bible study, too. So grab a girlfriend and go through this book together. Or go it alone and find yourself wanting to change to have more generous love!

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. My opinions are my own and may differ from yours.

Find Rest: A women's devotional for lasting peace in a busy life by Shaunti Feldhahn (book review)

Rest. It's something mamas dream of. Or at least I do. I'm sitting here, fully into my third trimester on my fifth pregnancy. I have three children here (almost 11, almost 9, almost 3) and one waiting in heaven with Jesus. And it's June, which is when virtually every activity known to summer vacation ends up being scheduled: art camp, swim team, swim lessons, VBS. I also make my older boys do homework during nap time (yeah, I'm mean). I've read approximately one chapter of a book in these past three weeks. I've watched approximately half a tv show during the day during that same time frame. I'm lucky no one follows me to the bathroom (mostly). I could use a nap most days but that's not happening any time soon, unfortunately. There's always something to be done (usually laundry).

However, even in this busy season of life, this full life that I scheduled single-handedly (I've made notes for how to do this better next year), I need rest. When I tell my husband that I'm tired, he always suggests I go to bed early. What he doesn't usually understand is that it's not a bed tired but a soul tired. That doesn't go away with 8 hours of sleep; that is eased by the power of God. Which is where the truth written in "Find Rest" by Shaunti Feldhahn has come in handy.
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Feldhahn has truly written a beautiful devotional - which strays from her usual analytically based books on relationships (which are also beautifully written but in a different way). I love the easy format of this devotional: a piece of Scripture followed by a relatable devotion. The next page asks a question that makes you think about how to apply what you've read and there is a journaling space. The last page is a quote that pertains to what you've read for the day -either from a noted Bible teacher or historical figure mostly. Each page is accompanied by beautiful water-colored floral designs, which makes me feel restful just by looking at the page.

I'm not usually a fan of devotionals - they tend to be fluffy and not practical. "Find Rest" is not like that - the questions delve deep into my soul to help me become a better example of Christ as a wife, mom, friend, woman. This is one I plan to go through again once I've completed it. I don't do that often with any book.

You can pick your copy up on Amazon (and use this link here to support Emmaus Biblical Seminary just by shopping AmazonSmile).

I'm praying you find your own rest this summer, whatever season of life you find yourself.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. All opinions are my own and may differ from your opinions.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Cave Tools Hook Rack (review)

I've been enjoying my Cave Tools BBQ brush and vegetable basket for awhile now! The BBQ brush has been in use for 2 years almost; I think that's a pretty good lifetime for a grill tool. I decided to try out their hook rack.

I was hoping to find an unconventional use for the hook rack - maybe hang my daughter's princess dresses on it. I couldn't find a reasonable place to hang it in our house for that purpose. But I also found the hooks to be too close together to use for costume purposes. So I'm still looking for better ideas for that instead of shoving her dresses into a plastic storage container drawer (who needs wrinkled princess dresses?! haha). I also thought about putting it into our kids' bathroom for their towels but the 5 hooks are a little close together to allow towels to dry out (in my opinion).

I went ahead and am using the hook rack for its natural purpose - to hang up my grill tools. My husband did not use the screwdriver that came with the hook (which is super nice!) but used his electric drill. He hung it up in our garage, which is just a few feet away from our back patio and grill.

It is much nicer to have our spatula, grill brush, tongs, etc hung up rather than just sitting on the side of the grill! Who knew? Kidding. This is probably a much more sanitary option, too - always a plus side!

My favorite thing about Cave Tools is their lifetime guarantee on their products. They take customer service seriously, which is a great thing! I haven't had to use this, though, because the products have worked well for me!

Pick your hook rack up today (just in time for summer time grill time!) for 15% off by using the code: HOOKRACK15 . And check out their other products like kabob skewers rack, BBQ grill light, wood smoker box,  and even a portable charcoal grill.

Disclaimer: I received this hook rack in order to write an honest review. All opinions are my own and may differ from others' opinions. 

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