Friday, December 5, 2014

Christmas Isn't Always the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

 photo credit: ~K~ via photopin cc
This is a happy, wonderful time of year. For many, however, it's also depressing, lonely, and dreaded. The sights and sounds that bring joy to you may trigger painful memories for others. 

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. But, because of various circumstances, I struggle to fight off depression during the holidays. "Christmas Blues", I think they call it. But I like blue, and this is more like Christmas Blackness. Sound over dramatic? Not really. Not if you've experienced it. No matter how hard I fight it and try to enjoy the festivities with my wonderful husband and beautiful children, it's always there, threatening to swallow me. Maybe that's why I feel such sadness for others during this season. 

There are so many reasons why this time of year is far from the most wonderful. I'm thinking now of two dear friends who are facing their first Christmas without their husbands; of a little boy who placed a present under the tree for his daddy in Heaven. I'm thinking of friends who are struggling financially but are doing their best to make Christmas memorable for their kids, of senior citizens who are all alone and forgotten, and families who will spend the holiday in the hospital with their sick children. Sure, this is depressing, but it's reality. 

photo credit: peapod labs via photopin cc
It's easy to get caught up in the parties, shopping, decorating and celebrating and forget that some people aren't feeling the joy. This is more common than most of us realize. So, I just wanted to remind myself and anyone else who reads this to remember these things: 

When you post pictures of your loaded tables and fancy desserts, think of those who cry because they can't afford to share special treats with their children. They don't even know how they'll stretch the remaining groceries for the rest of the week.

When you joyfully exclaim on Facebook, weeks before Christmas, that your shopping is already done, and you post photos of piles of beautifully wrapped gifts, remember parents who cry in secret and dread the too quickly approaching holiday because they're struggling to keep a roof over their heads, let alone buy gifts for their children. 

When you go out on a Christmas date with your spouse, think of the those who would love, just one more time, to spend time with their loved one. 

When you celebrate with your parents, siblings, and other family members, remember those who because of death or other difficult situations will spend the holiday alone. Remember their pain and loneliness. Hug your loved ones more tightly. Endure those annoying members of the family with a little more patience. Invite someone who is alone to join your celebrations, or have them over for a quiet dinner.

If you're reading this and you are one of the many who suffer during the holidays, please accept a virtual hug from me. Allow Jesus to bring joy and peace to your heart, even if you don't feel up to celebrating with others. 

We're commemorating Jesus' birth, so let's remember why He came and reach out to the hurting, needy and lonely during this Christmas season. 

Spread joy!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Win a Family Physician Starter Kit!


 I have limited experience with essential oils, but I'm beginning to learn more and I'm already in love! So far, I've used oils to help with headaches and nausea, anxiety, insomnia, muscle aches, immune boosting, and more. Yep...I'm hooked. I would recommend them to anyone! The Family Physician Kit would be an awesome way to get started with oils.

To read more and to enter the giveaway, click here!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

In Which I Humbly Give My Little Ol' Opinion About Christmas And The Fight Surrounding It

This post was originally published in rough draft form. Not sure how that happened, but it's embarrassing! I tried to fix everything on my phone, so excuse any remaining errors. 

Everyone knows that there is a war on Christmas, but not everyone realizes that the opposition to Christmas, or at least certain aspects of it, comes from both sides. On one hand, there are those who twist the meaning of separation of church and state and insist that any and all Christian symbols not be displayed publicly. Cuz, you know, mangers are menacing and all that. On the other hand, there are Christians who abhor the materialism that seems to embody the holiday. Not only that, but they remind everyone about the pagan origins of Christmas and its beloved symbols. OH, and the big one...S-A-N-T-A rearranged spells S-A-T-A-N. Scary stuff.

I grew up within the "Anti-Claus" ranks. If the jolly red elf was on an ornament, card, or wrapping paper, ya just didn't buy it! Period! To this day I feel guilty about hanging a little Santa on our tree.


I'm not here to argue for or against either side, but I will tell you that, for our family, Christmas is most definitely all about the birth of Jesus and celebrating His gift to the world. We have never told our children that Santa is real, but we haven't banned him, either. We like to remember who Saint Nicholas was and what he did. We enjoy giving gifts, but that's not what the holiday is all about. When someone says "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas", I will probably respond with "Merry Christmas" anyway. With a smile. Oh, and "Merry Xmas?" Yeah--I really hate that one. I know some people say that it's just a short cut, but c'mon. How hard is it to write five little ol' letters?

Mr. Rodney King once asked, "Can't we all just get along?" Sadly, the answer is, "No". There will always be fault finders and haters on both sides. So, I just ask Christians who are trying to do away with Christmas to rethink it. Find the joy in the season and celebrate this special, Christ-filled time with your family and friends.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Dolphin Tale 2, Review & Giveaway

I'd heard a lot about Dolphin Tale and finally got to watch it with my kids. They love dolphins, and they loved this movie! Honestly, I thought it might be cheesy and geared more toward younger children, but I was surprised to find this movie kept my attention as well as my kids'! ;) Dolphin Tale is clean, funny, and touching as well as educational. Of course, I loved the fact that two of the characters were homeschooled!

I was excited to hear about Dolphin Tale 2 and even more excited to be able to review the curriculum that goes along with the movie! The curriculum includes downloadable videos & worksheets that is suitable for multiple ages. My children range in grades from 1-10. They all watched the videos together, and then the younger children answered questions orally and colored or drew pictures of what they learned while the older children did the more advanced portions of the worksheets. I thought the lessons were a little dry, but still interesting and the children seemed to enjoy them. I definitely recommend it!

Dolphin Tale 2 came out today! I don't know when we will get to see it, but we definitely will as soon as we can. If you're able, watch Dolphin Tale (if you haven't already) and then go see Dolphin Tale 2! 

Oh, and did I mention that I got this cute shirt (which my daughter confiscated...wouldn't fit me anyway) and cool sunglasses? (I kept the sunglasses. Well, for now.)

What's great is that YOU have a chance to get a cute shirt and cool sunglasses! Enter below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the movie:
Inspired by true events, Dolphin Tale 2  continues the story of the brave dolphin Winter, whose miraculous rescue and recovery—thanks to a groundbreaking prosthetic tail—made her a symbol of hope and perseverance to people around the world and inspired the 2011 family hit movie “Dolphin Tale.” This film reunites the entire main cast, led by Harry Connick Jr., Oscar winner Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson, and of course, the remarkable dolphin Winter as herself. Champion surfer Bethany Hamilton, who has been an example of courage, also appears in the film.

It has been several years since young Sawyer Nelson and the dedicated team at the Clearwater Marine Hospital, headed by Dr. Clay Haskett, rescued Winter. With the help of Dr. Cameron McCarthy, who developed a unique prosthetic tail for the injured dolphin, they were able to save her life. Yet their fight is not over. Winter’s surrogate mother, the very elderly dolphin Panama, has passed away, leaving Winter without the only pool mate she has ever known. However, the loss of Panama may have greater repercussions for Winter, who, according to USDA regulations, cannot be housed alone, as dolphins’ social behavior requires them to be paired with other dolphins. Time is running out to find a companion for her before the team at Clearwater loses their beloved Winter to another aquarium.

Twitter: @dolphintale
Watch and share the trailer:

I received a promo pack from Flyby Promotions in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Monday Blessings

Keeping it short today because I should already have a lot of stuff done but I didn't get to it and now I'm just staring at everything wondering where to start and if I should just throw everything out the door and take a nap and would it be okay if I fast-forwarded to next month, please?  (Ya gotta love run on sentences and an extreme lack of punctuation, right? Because that's how my mind is runnin' right now, so....)

Today, I'm thankful for:
1. Doing surprisingly well at my little sale.
2. Being able to use the money I made to buy a few things for our "new" house.
3. The comfort of knowing that God's got us in His hands. 
4. For His forgiveness and grace when I don't trust Him like I know I should.
5. For lifelong friendships that stand the test of time.
6. For the sounds of summer.
7. For a rare sweet tea. Two of them, actually. 
8. For our awesome homeschool group. Seriously...some of the best moms around. :)
9. For the ability to play the piano, because it's a comfort to me.
10. For the return of football season, amen? 

What are some of your Monday blessings? 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Blessings

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."  ~Jeremiah 29:11

Yes, it's raining. No, we did not use an umbrella. Dad had his mortarboard, the boy had his skinny arm, and we gals just toughed it. Because that's how we roll. Also, because we never remember the umbrella. 

It's one of those Mondays when I feel the pain of Monday-haters. There've been quite a few of those Mondays lately. Like, whole weeks of them. And I know I'm not the only one because, you know, I have Facebook.

My children are acting like someone else's children, not MY angels. Someone has obviously injected my son with Red Bull (Whoever you are, wherever you are, I will find you. And I will kill hurt you.) and I'm quivering in a corner wishing for a sound proof room. My house has become a health hazard, what with all the boxes and stuff, and we haven't even had our first official day of the school year because, well, because we're making up some missed days from last year. (Please tell me I'm not the only one. Please!) My poor husband is filling out applications, stressing over the RN program, and dealing with me. Poor guy. 

And (Mr. Weather Man, do you hear me!?) there have not been enough rainy days lately. There are never enough! *Hmph* 

But it's all good, and we'll be fine. Eventually. 

In the meantime, it's time for me to cheer up my Monday. 

Today, I'm thankful for:

1. Boxes and Box Bringers
2. Long talks with my best friend, a.k.a. my husband.
3. Sweet people who realize that a message or some donuts can make a day a bit better.
4. A funny movie and good food with "the girls". (Because YES I still am one.)
6. My little boy replying "I love you more" to my "I love yous".
7. Another dandelion from my child. Never gets old.
8. The ability to make my daughter laugh like a barking seal. (It doesn't take much, but hey.)
9. The happiness I get from seeing my middle child get so ecstatically excited over little things.
10. The ability to still rock two of my kids to sleep. 

What are you thankful for on this Monday? 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Persecuted, by Robin Parrish (Book Review and Giveaway)

Words are easy. It doesn't take a whole lot of guts to say, "I believe the Bible, and I stand by Truth it contains." But what if you were threatened? What if you knew you could lose everything, even your life, if you don't back down, water down, or step down? What if you were promised fame and money if you compromised? Would you falter then? Sometimes greed is stronger even than fear. 

These are the choices John Luther must make in this exciting, political thriller. As a well known evangelist, he is in the position to help along--or hinder--a bill that sounds nicely tolerant but is in fact a death knell to religious freedom. His decision, and the events that unfold as a result, will open your eyes to what might actually be going on in some political and religious circles.

To read more, and to enter the giveaway, click HERE.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Monday Blessings--on Tuesday

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV

I planned to get back to posting my Monday Blessings yesterday but, well, y'know...Monday happened. But it still helps me to count my blessings, no matter the day, so I'm posting them on Tuesday. That's okay, right? Right. 

My Monday Blessings:

1. Encouragement from an unexpected source.
2. A favorite old hymn brought back to mind after a long just the right time.
3. Kids who keep me laughing.
4. Dandelions. Receiving them from my kiddos just never gets old!
5. Past tough spots, which remind us that we WILL make it through this present tough spot. God hasn't failed us yet, and He won't now.
6. My little boy falling asleep on my lap.
7. Hearing my little girl belt out "My Favorite Things" while in the shower.
8. Watching through the kitchen window as my husband and son play catch.
9. The feeling of a hug straight from Heaven...from my Father. When I least deserved it. (But we never deserve His love, do we? And that makes it even more amazing!)
10. The comfort of holding my Bible in my hands; resting in the promises it holds.

You're welcome to join me in making a list of your blessings. It might make your Monday feel better, too. :)

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

No More Dragons by Jim Burgen (Book Review)

I remember listening to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by Focus on the Family's Radio Theatre and loving the part about Eustace being freed by Aslan. It's a terrible, beautiful, painful, wonderful way of drawing a picture of something we can all relate to: We either are dragons, are chasing dragons, being chased by dragons, or have been undragoned. According to Jim Burgen, "undragoned" is a word. And I get it. You will too, if you read this book.

Read the rest of my review here: My Two Cents' Worth

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I've Been Nominated for the Liebster Award!

I'm very grateful to the Rosevine Cottage Girls for nominating me for The Liebster Award. Thank you so much!

Okay, here goes. I hope I did it correctly!

If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, here are the rules: write a blog post about the award in which you:

1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog.
2. Display the award on your blog (by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or     a “gadget”.)
3. Answer 11 questions about yourself, (which will be provided to you by the person who nominated         you.)
4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 200 followers.
6. Create a new list of questions for the your nominees to answer.

Eleven Random Facts About Myself:

  1. I'm a little afraid of heights.
  2. People frighten me. I am definitely an introvert. 
  3. I really, really stink at math. Really.
  4. I knew nearly nothing about cooking or cleaning when I got married.
  5. I knew nearly nothing about childcare when I had my first child. Hers was the first dirty diaper I ever changed. 
  6. I nearly drowned as a child. Twice. 
  7. I'm trying to teach myself to like seafood, but it's not going so whale. Heh, heh....
  8. I recently obtained my driver's permit. Yes, I'm a little old for that and yes, I know how strange that is.
  9. I'm very afraid of escalators. Like, very. 
  10. My daughter just pointed out how many fears I have listed. Evidently, I am a very fearful person. That scares me. 
  11. I find it far too easy to laugh in church, and when I do, I find it nearly impossible to stop. This usually results in desperate gasps for air. As quietly as possible. (And in case you're wondering, it's pretty much not possible.)

Here are my answers to the 11 questions asked by The Rosevine Cottage Girls:

  1. Why do you write?  I write because, well, because I've always written. It's an outlet for me. 
  2. What and Who inspires you? I'm inspired by every other mommy blogger who is brave enough to open her heart for her readers to see.  
  3. Who do you admire the most? That's a tough one. I deeply admire Elisabeth Elliot and Ann Voskamp. I also admire a dear friend of mine who has suffered the loss of her husband to cancer. She's the homeschooling mom of four children, she's a writer, she's an encourager, a listener, and she's my hero. 
  4. Where have you always wanted to go? That's easy! Europe! 
  5. What gets you through the really tough times? A crazy sense of humor, reminding myself that this life is only temporary, and the knowledge that nothing takes God by surprise; that His Spirit will always be with me.
  6. What is the most important lesson you have learned? That placing too much trust in people and putting their opinions over what the Bible says will bring a lot of pain and confusion. God's Word should be the basis for everything we do.
  7. If you could give advice to yourself as a child what would it be? Stop trying to win love. Don't stress so much about being perfect and accepted. God's love for you is eternal and unchanging...cling to that.
  8. Where is your favorite place to be? Home!
  9. What are some defining moments in your life that God has brought you through? There have been a lot, and so many have been in the past three-four years. We went through some things as a family that nearly shattered us. I lost my grandparents, the only parents I'd ever known. We lost some close friends. Our lives changed drastically in nearly every way. But God has been unchangeable and always present, gently leading us in the way He'd have us to go. 
  10. What is your passion? I'm passionate about encouraging, uplifting, and spreading joy, pointing others to Jesus, being a real Christian, and being the best wife and mom God can help me to be. Oh, and I'm passionate about homeschooling! :)
  11. If you could go back in history and meet one person who would it be? Another tough one! Only one!? Of course, I'd love to go back to Bible times and meet the disciples, Mary, and all the rest, but other than that, I'd probably like to, there are so many.... Well, one person I'd love to meet is Abraham Lincoln. Oh, and Susanna Wesley. And..... :)

My Liebster Award Nominees (in no particular order):

Questions for my nominees (I borrowed some of them. Hey, I'm sleepy!) :

  1. What is your favorite passage of Scripture?
  2. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
  3. What is your favorite book?
  4. If you could give advice to yourself as a child, what would it be?
  5. Who inspires you?
  6. What is the worst advice ever offered to you?
  7. What do you find to be the most challenging in your life right now?
  8. Are you "early to bed, early to rise", or are you a night owl who lives on coffee?
  9. Who is your favorite historical figure? Why?
  10. Who is your favorite biblical figure? Why?
  11. Why do you blog?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Hug for You, Tired Mama

I hadn't planned on posting today, but then I saw this post at We Are THAT Family, and I just had to. Because I know I'm not the only one who feels like I'm not always up for this motherhood thing--that every other mother has "got it", but somehow I missed it. Whatever it is. 

And I know I'm not the only one who is surprised by motherhood. Not the hard stuff, but the good stuff. Those times when you see your child being a servant to his sibling, or reading her bible because she wants to, or understanding a math concept that you thought would keep her from graduating until she's forty-five. 

Those are the moments when you realize that God, through your weakness, is doing great things. That He, through you, is working out the miraculous in the mundane. 

Mama? What you're doing? All those tasks that seem pointless or oh, so ordinary? They're ginormous, when you think about it. 

So to all my fellow, tired mamas, here's a hug and a great big, "Atta girl!" 

Oh, and when you read the blog post I shared? Be sure to watch the video, too. It's pretty awesome. (And I really want to read that book!)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday Blessings

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV

Some people, okay most people, hate Mondays. Crazy as it sounds, I love Mondays! I love the fresh start, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to try once again to get it right. (To get something right. Anything right!) I especially love rainy Mondays. Call me Coo-coo. 

On this Monday, however, I feel like the rest of you. The work of the week lies before me, shrouded with stress like a mist over shark infested waters. (Yeah, well....) My stomach knots at the thought of everything I have to do. Sure, most of it is the usual: housework and homeschool. But I'm weighed down with a renewed realization of the responsibility that rests on my shoulders. I'm worn out just thinking of some of the life changes that lie ahead for our family, maybe not this week, but in the not-too-distant future. I'm overwhelmed by it all until even the little things, the small, mundane tasks, seem...simply undo-able

I'm trying to teach myself that when I feel this way, it's better to count my blessings and list some of them; to refocus my attention on the good stuff so that the bad stuff doesn't seem quite so scary. 

Yeah, I know that it sounds cliched, but it's one of those things that I've always thought sounded like a good idea but never put into practice. At least, not consistently. I think that needs to change, so my blog will be one of the places where I list some my blessings on Mondays so that the beginning of my week is a little brighter. 

Here are some of my blessings today:

1. Sunlight shining through my kitchen window onto flowers given to me by my husband.
2. Banana Foster coffee to start my day out right. 
3. Snuggles with my baby girl, who would stay in my arms all day if she could...and I love that.
4. That adorable, teeny dog whose cuteness always brings a smile to my face.
5. A daughter who is far more motivated than I, who is up before anyone else, attacking her schoolwork with a vengeance. (Where did this child come from!?)
6. My little boy's tousled head, undoubtedly filled with ideas of mischief. 
7. A beautiful, teenage girl who hugged me tightly before heading out the door to the Orthodontist with her daddy. 
8. The knowledge that I belong to the One Who already knows the answers to the questions swirling around in my brain. 

You're welcome to join me in making a list of your blessings. It might make your Monday feel better, too. :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

He Meets Us in Our Weakness

Photo copyright Moyan_Brenn 
Something I read in my study Bible today really struck me. I was reading about Jesus' appearance to his disciples after his resurrection and about how Thomas insisted on proof that Jesus was actually resurrected. In the commentary* it said, "Jesus lovingly met Thomas at the point of his weakness." I have heard Thomas berated over and over for his lack of faith. He is known as "Doubting Thomas". Preachers like to pick on him. 

But Jesus didn't berate him. He chided Thomas gently for his lack of faith, but He was gracious...understanding...and He met Thomas at the point of his weakness. He helped him in his unbelief, He didn't cast him aside.  Jesus was never harsh to those who had doubts. 

I don't know about you, but I definitely relate to Thomas, and it's comforting to me to know that Jesus, though He is displeased with my doubts, does not give up on me because of them. This is true in other areas as well: He meets us at the point of our weaknesses, whatever they are.

What is an area of weakness for you? Jesus wants to meet you there!

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  
Hebrews 4:15-16, ESV 

*Quote from the MacArthur Study Bible, ESV, commentary notes for John 20:24-26

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Marriage You've Always Wanted by Gary Chapman (Book Review and Giveaway)

If your marriage is perfect, peaceful, argument-free, and teddibly romantic, just leave. Leave now. You don't need this book.

Instructions on how to win a copy of the book are at the end of this post. 

I'm sure I'm in the minority here, but my marriage is far from perfect. My dear husband and I do argue. (Heh...oh, yes, we do...and it's always his fault....) And...what exactly is romance again? 

Seriously, if you're married you have discovered that marriage is nothing like it's portrayed in books and movies. Nothing at all. Marriage isn't about 24/7 romance and the fulfillment of all your dreams. Marriage is about hard work, exhaustion, exasperation, frustration, togetherness, tender moments, fulfillment, sacrifices, bad breath, weight gain, pet peeves, tears, laughter, an empty bank account, and a mailbox stuffed with bills. And yes, it's about dreams come true, depending on what your dreams are. 

I wish we had realized this before we got married, but we didn't. Consequently, our honeymoon came to a swift end as the ice-cold water of reality hit us smack in the face. We had differing views on who's job it was to do which household chore, what submission meant, and how to budget what little money we had. That's tough on a marriage. A lot of couples get to that point and give up. By God's grace, we didn't. Love and faith have made our marriage what it is today...not perfect, but strong. My husband is my best friend, and I'm incredibly thankful for him! We've learned so much...the hard way...and we still have more to learn! 

This little book by Gary Chapman, The Marriage You've Always Wanted should, in my opinion, be read by every couple whether married or considering marriage. It covers everything I mentioned and offers practical tips on how to resolve conflicts about these issues. Chapters such as "What Love Really Means", "Who Takes Care of What?" and "Love and Money" are each followed by a page of advice on the chapter's topic, questions to consider, and tips on how to practically improve your marriage. Mr. Chapman tackles difficult subjects like marital intimacy with grace, humor and candor. 

Although I did not agree with everything in the book, I found it to be very insightful. I want to read  it again, this time with my husband, and put what I learned into practice. It might be hard work, and because I'm human and I tend to want my own way (who doesn't?) it might not always be pleasant, but marriage is one of God's greatest gifts, and it's worth the effort! 

More about the book: 


You can picture the perfect marriage in your mind, but re-creating it in reality doesn’t come easy. Trusted counselor and relationship expert Dr. Gary Chapman reasons that the most sought-after ingredient in any marriage is true oneness. In The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted, he presents expert wisdom and common sense methods to establishing that true unity on emotional and practical levels. Discover the wit and insight that makes his worldwide presentations and marriage conferences so popular. Are you trying to change your spouse? Do you know what it means to really love someone? Do you feel ignored or even alone in your effort to improve your marriage? Dr. Chapman has answers and action steps on topics from expressing your emotions to managing your money, all in a format that will have you and your spouse talking and learning with every page.

Available Now
144 pages
Moody Publishers

As anyone who has attended one of his marriage conferences knows, Dr. Gary Chapman’s expertise in marriage begins with the success and failures he and his wife Karolyn have experienced in their marriage for more than 45 years. He is just the man to turn to for help on improving or healing our most important relationships. His own life experiences, plus over thirty-five years of pastoring and marriage counseling, led him to publish his first book in the Love Language series, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Many of the millions of readers credit this continual New York Times bestseller with saving their marriages by showing them simple and practical ways to communicate love.

Since the success of his first book, Dr. Chapman has expanded his Five Love Languages series with special editions that reach out specifically to singles, men, and parents of teens and young children.
He is the author of numerous other books published by Moody Publishers/Northfield Publishing, including Anger, The Family You’ve Always Wanted, The Marriage You’ve Always Wanted, Desperate Marriages, God Speaks Your Love Language, How to Really Love Your Adult Child, and Hope for the Separated. With Dr. Jennifer Thomas, he co-authored The Five Languages of Apology.

Dr. Chapman speaks to thousands of couples nationwide through his weekend marriage conferences. He hosts a nationally syndicated radio program, A Love Language Minute, and a Saturday morning program, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, both airing on more than 400 stations. Dr. Chapman and his wife have two grown children and currently live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he serves as senior associate pastor at Calvary Baptist Church.

Dr. Chapman holds BA and MA degrees in anthropology from Wheaton College and Wake Forest University, respectively, MRE and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has completed postgraduate work at the University of North Carolina and Duke University.

They even have small group curriculum available:

You can win a copy of The Marriage You've Always Wanted! To enter, simply leave a comment below or on my Facebook page. That's it! The giveaway ends at 5:00, Friday, February 21st. 

I would also appreciate any and all "shares". It helps so much. Thank you all! 

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Snapshot by Lis Wiehl (Book Review)

Disclaimer: I recieved a copy of this book for review by BookSneeze. All opinions are my own.

A man has been in prison for 50 years for a crime he didn't commit. Who is Benjamin Gray's killer, and can they find out in time to save the accused man before his execution date? And can an old snapshot of two little girls, one black and one white, hold the answers? What does a locked cabinet and missing key have to do with it all, if anything? 

Based partly on real people and actual events, takes us back to the Civil Rights Movement and the underhanded, violent politics and tactics of that era. Lisa Waldren, the white girl in the photo, is now a federal prosecutor and has a complicated relationship with her father, a retired FBI agent and the man who took the photo all those years ago. She reluctantly agrees to help him find the real shooter and is immediately drawn into a web of danger, deciet, and coverups. Lisa's deep hurt over her father's apparent lack of concern and her struggle with reconciling with him is pretty close to home for me, and I'm sure, for many readers. As the story unfolds and motives and reasonings are described from the perspectives of both father and daughter everything begins to slowly come into focus.

The atrocities of that tumultuous time in our nation's not-so-distant past are brought into focus with painful clarity. Racism might not be as openly prevalent now, but we all know it's still here. It pains me to hear snide remarks and jokes made against people of another race, especially if those who make those comments call themselves Christians. Speaking of this, I would highly recommend that everyone listen to or read Ken Ham's book/message on "One Race". It revolutionized my thinking and opened my eyes to something I had never realized before. But I digress...

The book, though not as fast-paced as I thought it might be, has plenty of tense moments. Lis Wiehl's ability to be so "real" in her descriptions of every character and event make this story even more compelling. I found myself feeling deeply sympathetic of the accused shooter and his family and amazed at the subtle ways in which the author pulled on my heartstrings in this book.  Knowing that it was based on true events made everything more "real", of course, and made me want to do more research on that time in our history. 

In the back of the book there are some extras that I found informative and very interesting such as a note from the author (the real girl in the photo) providing insight into how and why the novel was written, an interview with her real-life, retired agent father, and essays by Juan Williams and Bill O'Reilly (a character in the book is patterned after him) as well as a Reading Group Guide.

One of the things I appreciated most about this book is that Lis Wiehl wrote an excellent mystery with completely believable characters and situations, a great plot, and plenty of action and she didn't find it necessary to use one cuss word, nor did she include anything vulgar, as so many mystery/thriller writers feel compelled to do. 

If you enjoy historical fiction with plenty of suspense and a dash of humor, give this book a read. I highly recommend it. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Praying for Boys by Brooke McGlothlin (Review & Giveaway)

Note: I received a copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own. 

The winner is...Brandy Brewster! Congrats, Brandy! 
Thank you to everyone who entered! 

I am the mother of a boy. An adorable, sweet, caring, funny, snugly boy; a rotten, mischievous, rebellious, loud, stubborn boy! Never in my years of parenting had I felt my failure and insufficiency as a mom more than after I had my son, and never had I been forced to rely more on grace and help from God than after that much-longed-for little guy joined our family. We had three fairly mild, well-behaved little girls; then Mr. D arrived and everything we thought we knew about parenting disappeared. Fast. As he grows I see positive changes and much improvement, but there are still many times when I'm driven to my knees to ask for guidance in raising this complicated little guy who I absolutely adore and who drives me absolutely crazy! Unfortunately, that's the problem too much of the time...I'm driven to my knees in desperation when the problems and conflicts could be handled far better and sometimes even avoided entirely if I had prayed first. But, what, exactly, do I pray? So often my prayers seem like rote recitations because I have a hard time forming the deep feelings of my heart into words, and I fall into the habit of simply "praying to be praying".  

That's why I think Praying for Boys is such a Godsend. 

To be honest, I'm a little leery of books and articles which encourage one to "pray God's Word over"
someone. It sounds almost like using Bible verses as  some sort of magic potion. (My own strange opinion, probably....) But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this is not the case at all, at least not with Brooke. Instead, the advice she gives and the scriptures she uses are an excellent way to learn how to pray for my son using God's Word as a guide. I want my son to grow up to be strong in his faith; a man who understands Scripture and lives by it. What better way to train him up in this way than to apply Scripture to his life daily, through prayer?

I have highlighted nearly all of the book. Seriously. Besides the prayer helps, there is so much good stuff packed into this book! I even discovered some tips on how a Christian should deal with controversial subjects in social media! Interesting, huh? If you're the mom of a boy, and if you are struggling with knowing how to pray for him the way you really want to, if you need encouragement in your parenting journey, and if you want to train your son in the ways of God's Word, read this book. I highly recommend it!

(Oh, and I just have to say:
I love the cover.)

A Q&A with Brook McGlothlin: 

What led you to write your book Praying For Boys?
My husband and I have two boys who were born just 23 months apart. I probably don’t need to say much more than that, do I?? That’s enough to keep any mama on her knees! Actually, I’ve done a lot of hard things that I’m very proud of in my life, but raising my boys ranks up there as THE hardest thing I’ve ever done. In the book, I talk about how I asked God to give me boys, and that’s true, but the reality of the day to day mothering of what I like to refer to as “those boys,” (you know, the ones who are 250% boy?) often leaves me completely worn out. I realized early on in our parenting journey that I had no power to change their hearts. And while everything in me wanted to be able to snap my fingers and produce good, godly men, the Bible just doesn’t give us that parenting formula. So in an effort to just do something, I started praying verses from the Bible for my sons…verses based on things I wanted to see the Lord develop in their hearts. It was my way of crying out to God to change them, but it ended up changing me, too. After a year or so of doing that, and of constantly hearing from moms on the MOB Society, my blog for mothers of boys, who wanted to raise godly men, but felt like they were losing the battle, I decided to create a resource that helped them learn how to pray for their sons. It seemed a simple answer to me at the time, but the longer I encourage moms to pray the more convinced I become that prayer is the most overlooked part of raising godly men.
Did you write your book just for moms or can dads and grandparents use it as well?  
Praying for Boys is filled with real life examples of a mom raising two boys, but my husband and father find their way into the stories several times, so there’s a distinct male flavor there too. Really, when it comes right down to it, our boys just need someone covering them in prayer, and asking for God’s best in their lives. The 200 + scriptural prayers in the book can be prayed by anyone who wants to stand in the gap this way for boys.
Praying for boys not only changes them, it changes moms too. How has it changed you?
Do you remember from grade school math that any time you change one part of an equation, it changes the answer? So for example, if you’re adding 2 + 3 and get 5, and then read the word problem again and realize you should’ve been adding 3 + 3, you can’t expect the answer to still be 5. Something changed. And when even just one thing changes, it affects everything else…changes everything else, even if just a little. Praying keeps me in the right place with God. Keeping my mind focused on the fact that He is God and I am not helps me put all of life in perspective, and it changes the way I live my days. Ultimately, spending time talking to God brings me closer to Him, and helps me know Him better. There’s no better way to be a better mom than to get to know God better, and listen to Him as He directs our paths. As we change, our families will change too.

Win a Copy of Praying for Boys!

The good news is, I'm giving away a copy of Praying for Boys! (Thank you, Brooke, for letting me do this!) To enter the giveaway, simply comment beneath this post answering this question: "What is/was your greatest challenge, and/or your greatest joy in raising a boy (or boys)?" Simple as that! If you want an extra entry or entries, share this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or other social media and comment below saying "I shared this giveaway on....." 
A winner will be randomly chosen on Friday, Feb. 7th, after 5 pm. 
Share, share, share! :) 
You can purchase the book by clicking on this link: Praying for Boys. There is also a companion guide which would be ideal for groups, or for personal use. You can purchase it here: Praying for Boys Companion Guide

To read more about Brooke McGlothlin, The MOB Society, and Praying for Boys, follow these links:

About Brooke:

Brooke McGlothlin is Co-founder of Raising Boys Ministries, where moms and dads come to discover delight in the chaos of raising boys. You can find her writing about fighting for the hearts of her sons at the MOB Society blog, or living a life in pursuit of Jesus at her personal blog A normal day finds Brooke homeschooling her two boys, wrangling two large Labs, Toby and Siri, writing to bring hope to the messes of life (in the midst of her own messy life), and falling more and more in love with the man she’s had a crush on since the third grade (who just happens to be her husband).

Thank you so much for stopping by!