Tuesday, October 21, 2014

parenting

Sometimes this parenting gig is super easy. No joke. Easy. And then there are the other 364 days of the year.

I'm (slightly) joking. But it's hard! To know that the whole responsibility of this child's (these children's) well-being is placed in my well-meaning, but often incapable hands. I'm not knocking myself as a mom; I think I do a pretty good job, but for the most part I'm flying by the seat of my pants, trying to figure this stuff out as I go. As I think all parents do! Then you throw in a few special needs and it's just another loop on this rollercoaster (is this one word or two? I think one but spellcheck says two).

As we watched "Unbeaten: The Life of Brook Berringer," I was just in tears over the mother's loss of this young boy. And then I realized, she was so blessed - her son knew the Lord as his Savior before he died. As a mother, I want a LOT of things for my children - dreams fulfilled, dream jobs (even if that's a race car driver!), happy marriages, babies. I want things for my children.

BUT

BUT

BUT (insert Minions saying "butt" or "bottom" here as my 7-year-old would)

I want NOTHING more for my children than for them to know the Lord. I don't care if they live to 107 years old. I don't care if they play on a championship football team. I don't care if they marry their childhood sweethearts. I don't care if they get a college degree or work every day of their lives. If they don't know the Lord, they have nothing. Because all of this other stuff we work for in our lives and our children's lives: it's NOT ETERNAL!

The only thing of real value in this life is what travels to the next life: their souls. If they know the Lord, they have EVERYTHING.

And so I march on through parenthood. I teach. I discipline. I lecture (oops). I guide. I memorize alongside. I read to them. I play with them. I feed them (and feed them and feed them). I clean their clothes and paint their room. I make sure they have enough paper to draw as many race tracks and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as their hearts desire. I sing silly songs and do the "da-duh" thing (the Jaws theme??) even when I'm tired of doing it. I cuddle and kiss and hug and embarrass. I take them to church and the park and out for ice cream. I wash floors and teach them to clean toilets (that's right!). I watch movies that are dumb and You Tube videos that are dumber. I play video games and laugh when they box each other. I try and I try and most importantly I pray and I pray because I'm doing this all through the Holy Spirit's power in me.

If I didn't have the Holy Spirit, I can't imagine how awful of a mom I would be. Because even with it, I fail a lot. I am selfish and whiny. I complain and discipline when I shouldn't. I yell. I cry. a lot. But I say sorry a lot, too. And most of the stuff I'm whiny about, I end up not caring about in the end if it helps get my kids a better idea of God and His sacrifices.

I'm not 100% sure of this post and what it means. Other than, keep praying, keep trying, keep loving.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Captain Sun and the Army of Fear by Bryce Morgan (comic book review)

As you are well aware, dear readers, my family likes superheroes. This goes hand in hand, then, that we love comic books. That may not always be the case but here at the S Club, this is truth. We read the first installment of Captain Sun, "Rescue Me," a few years ago (can it be so long ago?). What was there not to love: comic book, superhero, Jesus.

Once again, Bryce Morgan has brought us a fabulous read by releasing the second installment for this hero. "Captain Sun and the Army of Fear" takes us back to Capital City and its hero: Captain Sun. In this volume (not sure on the terminology of comic books, though), our favorite hero finds himself up against a seemingly unbeatable villain: General Phobos and his Army of Fear. He plans to release sensor-type things to make Capital City residents into this army. Can Captain Sun fight back in time?
image via Amazon
I don't want to give too much away but let me just say, you won't be disappointed. I do want to point out that I love how Morgan incorporates everyday heroes into the mix alongside the superheroes. I think it's important for kids to know that you don't need powers to do extraordinary things.

The artistry in this book is really great. My younger son, Squirt, really likes the fan art on the very last page - he's been asking for my help to draw him his own Captain Sun. We did this after reading "Rescue Me," too. I just wish I could draw half this good!

My favorite part of the comic book is the "Hero Help!" section at the end of each chapter. This ties in the story of Captain Sun to the ultimate Savior story of Jesus Christ. There's a paragraph to tell us how Captain Sun's story at this point directly relates to being a Christian and believing in Christ. Then there is written a Scripture verse and a question about your favorite superhero. I just love bringing my sons closer to God while reading such a vibrant tale of fiction.

I don't remember this in "Rescue Me" but maybe it was there, too, but at the end of "Army of Fear" there are questions so you can further discuss this book with your family. Go deeper into your faith and feelings with questions like "Have you ever felt rejected by other people? How does God want to help us with fears of rejection?" Always great to have material to help us go deeper.

Not much makes me as happy as reading about Christ and superheroes at the same time. Find out more about Captain Sun and the author, Bryce Morgan, at the Captain Sun website. You can also follow Morgan on Twitter or like him on Facebook. There's more information about purchasing the books or e-books here.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Stolen by Katariina Rosenblatt, PhD (book review)

I think sex trafficking is getting a lot of media attention these days - but it's not enough because it's still out there. I will always remember hearing that the Super Bowl attracts the biggest number of human traffickers during that time - and that just sickens me. That people can do that to other people - sell them in the modern-day slave trade. That's what this is: slavery.

Slavery. Can you believe that?! In today's world there is slavery everywhere; I doubt one area is immune. It's not just in big, foreign cities. I think the book "Stolen" by Katariina Rosenblatt, PhD, very clearly shows that it's happening in our back yards.
image via Amazon

Katariina was taken into trafficking scenarios several times during her teenage and young adult years. She escaped, which is almost unheard of in trafficking scenarios. I related to Katariina in this book during her teenage years. She came from a broken home (I did not) that left her with very low self-esteem. I came from an average American home with a married mom and dad. My dad was nothing like her dad but I was still that same kind of person she was. I held myself in no esteem. I was lonely and I wanted love and friendship. I could have easily fallen into the trap(s) that Katariina and hundreds of other young boys and girls (yes boys, too) fall into.

I'm thankful for people like Katariina that come out with their tales of horror and abuse. Because with those stories comes empowerment for others to get out of that way of life. There can be life after trafficking, being victimized. Any victim that stands up for him or herself is a hero.

I have recently partnered with The Butterfly Project through First Love Ministries (http://www.firstloveinternational.com/). They have an orphanage in the Philippines and this orphanage takes in girls that are taken from brothels and other trafficking situations. They are in need of sponsors for these girls - it's not free to run such a lovely ministry. Please contact me through my blog if you'd like more information about this ministry.

Anyway, so this book was really personal for me. I am so thankful that trafficking was not my fate and I pray it's not the end fate of many people involved. I pray that they can find the Lord and know His love and peace that surpass all understanding.

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

The Wonder Within You by Carey Wickersham (book review)

I am a pro-lifer. Are you surprised? Didn't think so. I think pregnancy from conception to birth is such a beautiful (and sometimes gross) thing. Yes, gross. If you've given birth or seen someone give birth there is a beauty to it all but some gross, too.

I was excited to get "The Wonder Within You" by Carey Wickersham because it's just a celebration book. It's a journal and fact book and tips and quotes from others in the motherly way all wrapped in one.
image via Amazon

In the back is a calendar that comes with stickers so you can remember when you first heard baby's heartbeat or got morning sickness to when baby arrives or you find out the gender. It's really cute and left open for any dates you have in mind.

There are pictures from fertilization all the way through Week 41+. I love the 3D ultrasound pictures because you really get a grip on what a miraculous event gestation is. It's not just a child after it exits the mother's body; there's a real life, living and breathing person inside that womb. I think it's a very important aspect to remember. These are not pictures of tissue cells but of a real person.

Here are a few links to videos from the book. Week 11, Week 28, and Week 32




Each week tells how big the baby is (example: week 9: I'm one and one-sixteenth of an inch long and I weight one-sixteenth of an ounce). There's a picture of a baby at that gestational week along with web links and QR codes that you can scan to see ultrasound videos! There's a part about baby's development and a healthy tip for moms along with a nutritional nugget. There are mommy moment quotes about things like what did you feel when you announced your pregnancy and how your labor started. Just quotes so you can hear from other women what they experienced. There are also Prenatal Postcards written by other moms about different things (basically a longer version of the Mommy Moments). Then the last page of each week includes a cute "letter from baby" and a place for you to write your baby notes.

I think it's important to really remember and cherish each pregnancy. Each one is such a miracle.

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

Friday, October 3, 2014

pre-decide

Today I was hanging out with a couple of my girl friends when J told us about a Proverbs 31 devotional she'd read about a month after school started about pre-deciding. She said she has taken the devotional farther by creating questions based on what if situations her kids may encounter at school (or other places). They pick one at dinner and then discuss what they would do. She and her husband are helping their children pre-decide their actions.

She said one of their situations was "what would you do if kids were using bad language at school?" They went through and answered and when one reaction (pre-reaction?) was not appropriate, they were there to address it. I LOVE THIS IDEA! We do a TON of pre-teaching around here but mostly for things we know are going to happen: what to do if something upsets us at school, what to do at baseball practice, what to do in the bathroom. But I love the idea of taking situations that aren't predetermined and talking about them openly. It takes the taboo out of things that can be tricky to talk about.

Then I was reading the She Reads Truth devotional for today and it took me to Ephesians 1:3-10. Verse 4 says, "Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do and it gave him great pleasure." GOD PRE-DECIDED! He modeled pre-decision for us in making that choice to love us, to choose us to be holy, and to adopt us DESPITE what he knew we would be - sinful and unclean!

It really reminds me of adoption. You pre-decide to adopt a child. You pre-decide to redeem that child. You pre-decide to pay the costs (which are high). You pre-decide to love that child. You pre-decide he or she is worth it. What a beautiful picture our Lord has shown us in this process of his pre-decision.

So I am going to make this decision to teach my children to pre-decide. If we have in mind what to do or how to react, we are way more likely to stick with that decision because in our heads, it's already been made.

Revolutionary ideas from this friend, J. Always! This is the woman who told me to make supper while the kids are AT school to save myself from doing it while they are home. Revolutionary! She's so smart.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thunder by Bonnie S. Calhoun (book review)

I did not like this book AT THE BEGINNING. Please keep reading. At first "Thunder" by Bonnie S. Calhoun was too complicated in terminology for the time (post apocalypse/nuclear war) and felt like a rip off of "The Hunger Games" and "Divergent." This type of book is definitely popular right now - survival of the fittest, life after disaster, strong female lead.
image via Amazon
There was a lot of terminology to grasp without explanation: Lander, place names (present vs. the past), The Mountain, The Company, Birth Remembrance, Kingdom, etc - not to mention the scientific terms that I don't know if they were real or not due to the chronology of this book. Anyway, it was complicated (and this coming from a person who really does enjoy several plots lines in movies and books) and I wasn't sure I would grasp. I will say by the end of the book, I still do not know all of the terms in the book, but I'm sure that's because they want you to read the prequel and sequel.

"Thunder" is about Selah Risshon Chavez who is about to turn 18 (that's what Birth Remembrance means; I'll give you a freebie on this vocab). She is trying to capture a Lander to prove herself and to bring in a good price from The Company - especially if the Lander keeps the markings he/she lands with.

Her brothers steal the Lander she captures and she finds that the Lander's mark is now on her (although in a different spot). Now she's a Lander (maybe?) so she's not safe at home and runs away North to where The Company is. Family secrets spill all over in a roller coaster of events. I don't want to give much more away but just know that as I didn't like this book at first, it sucked me in with the plot line. I could have done without half of the descriptors in this books (I believe there is such a thing as too many adjectives), but the plot kept me going. I read this book all within 24 hours (less than that, actually) - and it's over 400 pages.

Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own and others may or may not agree.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Word of God CD (Seeds Family Worship review)

Our family has had the Seeds Family Worship collection for several years now but I really have started to utilize them with memory verses for my children and myself this school year. I pick a verse that either goes with a catechism we're learning (God is Creator from "The Character of God" CD was great when we were learning about God creating the world in Genesis!) or a verse that we really need to have purpose for in our lives (Be Joyful Always from "Seeds of Purpose" CD has been helpful to us memorizing 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 in learning to give thanks in all circumstances rather than complain).
image via Seeds Family Worship website

I was really excited to hear about the new Seeds Family Worship CD, "The Word of God." The kids and I have listened to it a few times already. The music and singing sounds more grown-up than the other CDs. I really have enjoyed the first song, 'The Word of God' (Hebrews 4:12) and the third, 'Impress Them' (Deuteronomy 6:4-7). I'll be honest I've heard those the most because we don't always get through the whole CD when we listen.

I'm a big believer in using music to memorize things. Preschool and kindergarten and music teachers definitely know and understand this. There is just something about the rhythm that helps children (and grown ups!) to really push information (whether that be days of the week, colors of the rainbow, or Scripture verses) deep into our hearts and minds. Some of the verses that are truly imbedded on my heart are ones I learned long ago in VBS or Sunday School (thanks Steve Green and my awesome godmother, Ann!). Those are the verses that really got me through the tumultuous times in my life with my faith in tact.

"The Word of God" CD is available on the Seeds Family Worship website. I'm glad I just read on their website that you still receive 2 CDs for the price of $12.98. This is so you can keep one and give one. I always loved that and was worried when I only received one for review that they weren't doing that, but I was wrong! So glad to be wrong in this situation. So 2 for 1 price! Wonderful memorization technique for you and your children, grandchildren, best friends. You can also get the tunes on iTunes.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Get to Know Apostle Paul by Nancy I. Sanders (book review)

I'll be honest. I don't read my kids a lot of non-fiction books for one simple reason - they are boring! This includes books on cars or plants or animals or biographies. Our ratio is probably 20:1, the one being the non-fiction we read. Not that I don't like information. I really do, but fiction books provide a LOT of information, just in a more fun way. So I was leery of this biography on Paul: "Get to Know Apostle Paul." I also know my kids needed to hear more about the lives of people they read about in the Bible (or we read to them from the Bible about).

picture via BookLook
My kids are not so keen on chapter books, no matter how many times I explain you don't read a chapter book in one sitting (unless you're their mama). But we have both been pleasantly surprised by this "Get to Know Apostle Paul." It's taken us awhile to get through because we only read 1/2 - 1 chapter a night (we average 3 books at night so sometimes we read bits and pieces of larger books).

I love the pictures in the book: paintings, graphics, pictures of archeology. They are beautifully reproduced in this book. I love the definitions of big words and phrases: false teachers, Sabbath, conversion, Good News. It simplifies it for children without dumbing it down. There are boxes with "Did You Know?" facts, "Eyewitness Accounts," and "Bible Hero" information (can you guess our favorite?).

This is a very informative book that breaks up Paul's life prior to conversion, his life-changing walk to Damascus, his life after encountering Christ, all the way to his death. I even love the fonts in this book. They aren't hard to read, they are clear and fun.

If you want your children to go deeper into the lives of Paul, Jesus, or Mary (those are the 3 in this series I know of; there may be more or more on the way?), please check out this "Get to Know" series.

Disclaimer: I received this book in order to write an honest review. My opinions are my own and others may or may not agree with them.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

the best is yet to come!

10 years we've been together.
Through a wedding,
child rearing,
job gains and losses,
moves to and fro,
pounds gained and lost,
several pairs of running shoes,
house buying,
many vehicles,
beards and haircuts.




I love you more today than I did when we wed.
I pray I love you more tomorrow than today.
Thanks, Lord, for my amazing husband!
I hear the best is yet to come,
yet I can't imagine anything better than today.
Happy dating anniversary - 10 years.

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.

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