Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Book Review: "Creation and the Second Coming"

Dr. Henry Morris, who was an esteemed expert and author on creationism, connected the facts of creation from Genesis with the prophecies that point to the second coming of Christ in his book "Creation and the Second Coming." Dr. Morris highlights the importance of looking at scripture as a whole in order to more fully grasp and appreciate the events that are leading to Christ's return.

Like other doctrinally-sound books on end times prophecy, Dr. Morris explained the specific events that are to happen before the triumphal return of Christ. Unlike the aforementioned types of books, Dr. Morris linked these prophetic truths to the very beginning of creation and explains that God has a plan that was put into motion at the very beginning of time.

I found "Creation and the Second Coming" not only an insanely-interesting read, but an important book to pass on to other Christians. Prophecy makes more sense when understood within the context of God's grand scheme. It's both refreshing and reassuring!

Book Review: "The Beginning of the World: A Scientific Study of Genesis 1-11"

Dr. Henry Morris, who was a fervent champion of creationism and revered author, outdid himself with his book "The Beginning of the World: A Scientific Study of Genesis 1-11." The book challenges modern science and those who seek to change scripture to fit theory.

In 13 chapters, Dr. Morris examined Genesis 1-11 to showcase the truths of biblical creationism while simultaneously exposing the hypocrisy of highly regarded scientific theories--specifically the Theory of Evolution. At the end of each chapter, appropriate study questions are posed to the reader which help to solidify the truths of that particular chapter.

Written in an easy-to-understand way, I would suggest "The Beginning of the World" to any young adult or older adult who wishes to learn more about those vital first chapters of Genesis as a way to counter the theories society so readily accepts as truths.

Book Review: "D Is For Dinosaur: A Rhyme Book and More"

Ken and Mally Ham, authors of "D Is For Dinosaurs" have written a wonderful book useful for parents or teachers who want to instruct children about the biblical basis for dinosaurs. A hardbound book with engaging illustrations, "D Is For Dinosaurs" uses the alphabet as a way to teach truths about the origins of the dinosaurs from a Christian perspective.

The book is cleverly broken up into sections that attract the attention of any age. The first part of the book goes through the alphabet to demonstrate basic truths about dinosaurs and creation, paired with bright, attractive illustrations. The second part of the book mimics the first part, but includes useful and insightful notes for teachers and parents that point to scripture as a basis for the idea on a specific page. The Ham's also offer ideas for activities parents and teachers can use to engage children further. The illustrations in the second part of the book are left blank for smaller children to color!

My small children enjoy looking through and using "D Is For Dinosaur" and I would recommend this book to any parent or teacher who wishes to teach these biblical truths to the children they know.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Book Review: "True For You But Not For Me"

Paul Copan presents several strategies for Christians to share the message of the Gospel with confidence in his work "True For You But Not For Me." Broken into chapters that answer specific objections to the tenets of Christianity, Copan delves deeply into Christian doctrine to offer Christians solid answers based on biblical truth.

I appreciate the way Copan presents the facts in each chapter and includes a summary of bullet points that sum up the main points of the chapter. More importantly, Copan relies on and provides Scripture references throughout the book which provides Biblical proof for his points.

I recommend Paul Copan's insightful book "True For You But Not For Me" as necessary reading for Christians of all ages. The book offers solid answers to the skeptics who challenge the truths of Christianity.

Book Review: "Religions of the Stars"

Author Richard Abanes delves into the different beliefs of the mega-stars of today in his work "Religions of the Stars." A Christian, Abanes compares the core values of religions such as Scientology, Buddhism, Mormonism and the occult to Christianity to illustrate the short-comings of non-Christian belief systems.

The chapters focus on one form of religion at a time and Abanes offers an in depth explanation of the core beliefs of each religion and the names of the stars who follow the specific set of beliefs. An eye-opening book, "Religions of the Stars" is a well-documented work written in an easy-to-read conversational style.

For a well-rounded education on the popular religions today and how they fall short when compared to the truths of Christianity, I highly suggest "Religions of the Stars" as an informative, entertaining read.

Book Review: "The Chronology of the Old Testament"

Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones presents a well-documented and detailed timeline of OT events in his work "The Chronology of the Old Testament." A proponent of the absolute validity of the Bible, Jones uses the archaeological records of the Egyptians, Assyrians and other ancient superpowers to illustrate the truths of the Biblical timeline.

The beginning of the book establishes the foundation for the Old Testament chronology that Jones presents. He bases his chronological findings on the accuracy of Hebrew text and the historic records of well-documented ancient civilizations that co-existed at the time the Hebrew text was written. Jones then presents 6 charts that focus on subjects such as the generations of of the Bible up to Jesus, the pharaohs documented in the OT and a detailed chronology of David. A CD is included with the book that offers the charts in a large format. Appendices at the end of the book offer a valuable reference for important dates in the Old Testament and the different calendar years of the Bible.

"The Chronology of the Old Testament" presents well-documented, detailed information that supports a solid and valid chronology as presented in the Bible.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Book Review: "Unwrapping the Pharaohs"

Co-authors John Ashton and David Down present ancient Egypt as it has never been seen before in their collaboration "Unwrapping the Pharaohs: How Egyptian Archeology Confirms the Biblical Timeline." Included with the book is an interesting 86-minute DVD titled "Digging Up the Past."

Within the first few pages, two maps are offered; one that depicts major ancient Egyptian cities and pyramid placement in the days of the Pharaohs and also a modern-day map of Egypt for comparison. The introduction to the book follows and this section captures the essence of the point of the work: to use factual evidence from the oldest continuous civilization to corroborate Biblical fact. Using an easy-to-understand conversational tone, Ashton and Down reach a wide audience with interesting facts and wonderful color photographs.

Organized in chronological chapters, the authors first look at the pyramids and mummies that fascinate people of all ages. The book continues through the dynasties of the pharaohs and ends with the chapter "The Pharaohs of the Bible" which names some of the unnamed Egyptian pharaohs and dignitaries mentioned in the Old Testament.

Dynamic full-color pictures and writing style aside, "Unwrapping the Pharaohs" is a well-documented book that links the stories of the Old Testament to the facts preserved on Ancient Egyptian artifacts. It further solidifies that the Bible is a viable source of truth.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Yesterday, Today and Forever"--a book review

Maria von Trapp, made famous in the movie "The Sound of Music" which chronicled her escape from Nazism and her well-known musical family, shares a more spiritual side of her life in the book "Yesterday, Today and Forever." In it, von Trapp chronicles how she and her family grew closer to the Lord as they learned more about His background. In essence, she incorporates history with spirituality to come to a better understanding of Jesus.

With her family and close friends, von Trapp delves into the history of Jewish customs in Jesus' time and how the geographic region looked in that day to conjure up a probable picture of what life was like for Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Like an experienced storyteller, von Trapp recounts what travelling may have been like for Mary and Joseph on that cold night when God humbled Himself and came into this world.

I can appreciate the use of Scripture within the text of "Yesterday, Today and Forever" and I wish von Trapp would have relied more heavily on Scripture than on the traditions of her faith as the basis for some of the premises of the book. For example, in the chapter titled "The Son of Man," von Trapp speculates on the death of Joseph. She mentions "how quiet" the house must have been for the widow Mary and clearly omits any indication that Mary and Joseph had other children, which is Biblically-sound (Matthew 13:53-58).

As a researcher with a background in history--and a love for Christ and the Bible--I can appreciate the fervor with which von Trapp and her family tried to recreate the "missing pieces" of Jesus' life. I also believe, however, that God purposely chose what He wanted us to know. Too much effort to reconstruct what we don't know takes our focus off of the truths of what we do know.

"The Hole in Our Gospel"--a book review

What does discipleship mean and how can we become disciples of Christ in the world around us? These questions are addressed in Richard Stearns' book "The Hole in Our Gospel." As President of World Vision U.S., Stearns has discipled and ministered to people in need throughout the world. He calls us to do the same, to fill the hole in our Gospel, too.

Stearns explains in great detail how he came to be President of World Vision U.S. and readily admits his reluctance at accepting the position. Time and again he tried to run from this calling, but he discovered that if God wants you in a certain place at a certain time, He will put you there! A terrific lesson that everyone should embrace.

The overall gist of this book is to spur Christians into action; to not just say we are Christians but to live the life a Christian is called to live. It's one thing to pity the poor; it's another thing to jump in and help the poor.

I thoroughly enjoyed Richard Stearns call to action--how he used poignant scripture references mixed with personal stories to illustrate his points--and it did inspire me to reconsider the areas of my life that lack true discipleship. The only minor fault I cite is the length of the book. Stearns' points could have been reached in 100 less pages.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dateline Jerusalem--a book review

Zola Levitt was a Jewish believer in Jesus Christ and remains an internationally-known and respected authority on the past, present and future of Israel and how Israel is closely tied into end times prophecy. In his book "Dateline Jerusalem," Levitt relies on scripture and experience to illustrate the importance of Israel and how God will fulfill His covenant with His chosen people in the Promised Land.

Zola Levitt writes in a conversational style that makes Dateline Jerusalem easy to understand and read in one sitting, time permitting. He does not sugar-coat his views on Muslims and the struggle between Israel and the Arab world in general. Likewise, Levitt calls out Christians who disregard Israel as playing a major role in end times prophecy; these kinds of Christians who believe that God will not fulfill the covenant He made with Israel in the beginning. Bible-believing Christians, however, understand that God keeps His promises; the covenant with Israel will surely be fulfilled.

This book is appropriate reading for any person who wants to know the truth about God's plan for Israel, Israel's relations with the Arabs and end time prophecy in general.

All men are fallible

We live in a mixed up society--and that is putting it mildly--a nation that mocks God while it places fallible, corrupt men on pedestals. The words of the prophet Isaiah ring as true today as they did when he preached them to the idol-worshipping, materialistic people of Judah:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.

Isaiah 5:20 (New International Version)

How is this society different from the materialistic idolaters of Judah?? We aren't. We worship stuff and bank accounts. Instead of worshipping our holy God--the Creator and sustainer, we adore fallible men. To illustrate this, consider the resolution--Resolution 600--that a congresswoman from Texas is trying to pass--a resolution that, according to Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, would honor Michael Jackson as "someone who will be honored forever and forever and forever and forever and forever."

Only God should be honored forever and forever and forever and forever and forever.

She wants a resolution to be passed in our government that would bestow honor on Michael Jackson forever--while this same government has repeatedly tried to remove God from all facets of our society. This resolution should sicken and appal anyone who calls himself or herself a Christian.

I urge you to contact your state representatives to encourage a rejection of this resolution.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Giving God our scraps

I've been guilty of treating my personal time with God like a receptionist who makes appointments. Okay, first I have to get the kids fed and dressed, go to the gym, run to the store and make lunch. Then I'll squeeze in some time to work on Bible Study lessons and then it's off to the library....

We all do it. We squeeze God in like He's a burden. How horrible a notion to write down here in this blog, let alone live on a daily basis. We have stacks of devotionals that we read at certain times of the day and we tell ourselves that those short, happy little readings count as our Bible time for the day. And I have nothing against devotionals (at least most of them!) because they do offer reflections on scripture that we might not conceive on our own.

But what happened to just picking up the Bible and reading it?? I've found that when I make special time for God in my day and just read His Word, it's like food for my soul. So nourishing that I think to myself "why don't I do this everyday?? That was great!!"

Why do we give God our scraps of time when He deserves our very best time?? Because we have our favorite shows to watch, best sellers to read, chores to do and hobbies to entertain. Of course, we'll make time when we want or need something. Instead of watching our favorite shows that night, we can just dvr them...

My ultimate point is this: make a concerted effort to give God your very best time of day to praise and worship Him!! For me, it's the morning. Once a cup or two of coffee is in me, I'm ready to go!

Consider this, too. God didn't give us His scraps when he offered Jesus as payment of our sin debt--He gave the world His very best. He deserves our very best, too.

I fear the Lord!

I've learned a great deal lately from a weekly Bible study in which I participate. The study's focus is on fear of the Lord--not to fear God like you'd fear the Bogey man, but to fear facing His wrath if your life is sin-centered. God is not the soft teddy bear that many Christians make Him out to be; he is love but also just. Sin cannot go unpunished to those who fail to repent. He'll bring glory to those who trust in Christ and repent and wrath to those who choose to fester in wickedness. That's the first thing I learned.

I've also been made dramatically aware of how flippant I can be when I enter the presence of my Lord in prayer. How prideful I can be when I ask for blessings--and fully expect to receive them on *my* terms. Makes me want to crawl under a rock in shame! Our God has not changed. He's the same Lord as He was in the Old Testament. We can't put Him into a nice neat package to fit our needs. He is a holy God--and sin won't be tolerated.

These convictions I've had since this Bible study prove that there is hope--not just in my life, but in the lives of all believers in Christ who have discovered how a completely casual relationship with God can be dangerous. The hope is twofold. First, because I am so completely convicted, I know for sure that the Holy Spirit is working in my life. This is a comfort! Second, now that I understand how to fear the Lord and what this means as a believer, I can put this into practice in my life and model proper fear of the Lord to those around me.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tish Rabe's "The I Believe Bunny"

"The I Believe Bunny" is the the first book in a series by Tish Rabe that introduces faith-in-action scenarios to young readers. Rabe uses a sing-song rhyming technique that made the story flow wonderfully while maintaining the attention of my young sons. Illustrated by Frank Endersby, the characters in "The I Believe Bunny" are beautifully drawn.

The I Believe Bunny--who stars in the book series--has a strong faith in God. As the I Believe Bunny is enjoying a stroll in the woods during a rain shower, he hears a cry for help. A little mouse had fallen in the river and needed help fast. I Believe Bunny knows he needs to help the mouse but doesn't know how. What does he do first? He tries to rescue the mouse to no avail. And then he wises up and he prays. He prays to God for help. A moment after his heartfelt prayer, friends arrive who help I Believe Bunny save the little mouse.

Tish Rabe does a wonderful job teaching how to put faith into action--to pray to God for the strength to act. This book is written for children, but adults can benefit from its simple yet powerful lesson, too.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Living for Christ in the End Times" by Dr. David Reagan--a book review

Hope and enduring the immoral society in which we live are the themes for Christians throughout Dr. David Reagan's book "Living for Christ in the End Times." In a straight-forward manner, Dr. Reagan exposes apostasy within secular society and within the Church itself, naming names and specific denominations that denounce the deity of Christ and who spiritualize Scripture to fit their needs.

Where does the hope fit in for Christians who need to live, work, and raise children in a society that does not fear God? Our hope lies in Jesus and the knowledge that He wins in the end. While Dr. Reagan exposes the national arrogance of this country and the impending, deserved judgement that awaits, he quotes Isaiah 43 : 2-3 which reads :

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be
scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am
the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, Your Savior.

Our hope lies in the fact that our God is sovereign. If we hold him in reverence and awe and fear Him, we will keep the commands He has provided for us in love and we will walk in His ways.

Dr. Reagan urges Christians to keep an eternal perspective while we live our lives in a society that is increasingly intolerable to Christians. If we keep our eye on the eternal prize, it will make enduring this world much more tolerable.

This is a wonderful handbook for living a Christian life in the end times.

Dr. David Reagan's "Wrath and Glory"--a review

In "Wrath and Glory," Dr. David Reagan--a well-known, well-respected authority on the Book of Revelation and prophecy in general--offers an in-depth examination of the Book of Revelation. Presented in logical steps, Dr. Reagan uses a plethora of scripture references presented in an easy-to-understand writing style to unravel the puzzle of the Book of Revelations for the average reader.

Dr. Reagan begins the book by describing the significance and importance of the Book of Revelations. He also delves into the different viewpoints various sects of people have used to interpret the book. At the end of the opening chapter, he challenges the audience to read the Book of Revelation in one sitting before continuing to the next chapter, "Interpreting Revelation."

The most interesting aspect of this book for me was Dr. Reagan's scripturaly-based and logical interpretation of the chapters of Revelation. After reading the Book of Revelation as he had suggested, I was able to identify and follow his interpretations much more easily had I not read Revelation myself.

The book looks at how religious and secular figures and groups have viewed and interpreted the Book of Revelation throughout history and in the present day. Dr. Reagan also addresses some common questions he has been asked about Revelation in the chapter titled "Probing Revelation." Finally, Dr. Reagan addresses how to apply the Book of Revelation in our Christian lifestyle; how the Book of Revelation proclaims God's impending wrath on the unrepentant and His blessings and glory for those who choose to fear Him and follow His path.

To the unsaved, the Book of Revelation is horror; to those born-again in Christ, it is hope. This book is a wonderful read and an appropriate reference book and tool for the private collections of all Christians.

Book Review: "The Bible Comes Alive" by Clifford and Barbara Wilson

With fascinating pictures and commentary, the third volume of "The Bible Comes Alive" series focuses on the reign of Solomon. Clifford and Barbara Wilson present archaeological evidence that strongly supports the events of the Bible, which makes it difficult for scientists to refute biblical claims. The authors write in a conversational yet authoritative tone that makes understanding archaeological and biblical facts and artifacts easy to digest for the average reader.

I particularly enjoyed delving into the cultural, artistic and belief systems of the super-powers of Solomon's day: the Babylonians, Assyrians and Egyptians. It was fascinating to read how the authors--and other bible-based archaeologists--were able to use written records and artistic renditions to prove that events in the Old Testament are relevant and true.

This book would be perfect for use as a text for a "Bible-as-History" class or in the private collections of anyone who wishes to learn more about the truth of the Old Testament.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Updated Review for Sarah Young's "Jesus Calling"

I initially gave Sarah Young's "Jesus Calling" a great review, mostly because I had never encountered a devotional that had Jesus speak directly to the reader. At first, this concept was intriguing to me. As a born again Christian, however, I have become increasingly convicted when I pick up this book. Why? Because the words written on each page are not Jesus' words, but are portrayed that way. The only words that I trust as Jesus spoken words are directly from the Bible. I don't feel comfortable reading this book anymore. It feels like heresy. I feel the same way about the final "Left Behind" books that write in dialogue from Jesus. I don't think anyone should put words into our Savior's mouth.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Book Review: "The Wackiest, Wildest, Weirdest Animals in the World" by Jack Hanna

Jack Hanna's "The Wackiest, Wildest, Weirdest Animals in the World" highlights 30 amazing animals found throughout the planet. Each animal featured has its own page with an expanded section of information specific to the animal and blurbs that offer interesting, little-known fun facts. This book is filled with exciting, full-color photographs of each animal that can capture the attention of even the smallest animal enthusiast.

Jack Hanna's years of experience with animals of all shapes and sizes makes this book an interesting read for all ages. For each animal, Hanna offers basic information such as the general geographic location of the animal, the types of food the animal eats and the size range of each. Hanna then details why each animal is wacky in a more detailed description of the animal's unique behaviors or appearance. Interesting, factual blurbs provide fun tidbits of information for each wacky, weird animal.

I especially love how Jack Hanna mentions God throughout the book. He acknowledges God as Creator, which is wonderfully expressed through the different types of animals Hanna highlights in the book. From well-known animals such as lions and elephants, to lesser-known but equally interesting animals like the cape buffalo and the naked mole rat, Jack Hanna offers readers a vivid glimpse into the varied type of animals created by God.

The book comes with a hilarious and highly-entertaining bonus DVD that highlights animals from Hanna's animal show. This book is made for children but adults will love it, too!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers: The Gospel

Joey Allen's "Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers: The Gospel" offers a kid-friendly approach to teaching the truth of the Bible to young children. This book is a wonderful tool for parents and teachers who want to build a Christian foundation in their child's life at an early age.

The character Gracie talks directly to your child throughout the book and addresses fundamentals about God's unending love, how our sins separate us from God and how Jesus took the punishment for our sins so we can be reconciled with God. The words used are simple and stated in a way that young children can relate. My four-year-old son listened attentively and asked me questions throughout the book, which indicated to me that he grasped the concepts presented. The illustrations are uncomplicated and endearing and kept my two-year-old interested as we read the book in its entirety. At the bottom of each page, scripture references are provided for further reading.

This book provides an excellent starting point for parents and teachers to proclaim the Good News to the youngest listeners.

Clarence Wagner's "Fascinating Facts About Israel"

"Fascinating Facts About Israel" by Clarence Wagner is an in-depth look at the historical and Biblical significance of the land promised to God's chosen people. Both informative and intriguing, this book delves into facts about the geographical significance of Israel, the struggle of the Jewish population across the world to secure Israel as their homeland and God's unfailing covenant with His people that has stood--and will stand--the test of time.

Broken down into individual, expanded points, the book is further organized into chapters. The reader can either read a point per day, jump from chapter to chapter or read the book its entirety. I began reading the first points in the chapter titled "The Location of the Land" and was held captive until the 365th point in the final chapter which focuses on Israel today. I was introduced to facts about Israel that I had not known before and was particularly excited to read about Israel and prophecy.

Upon reading this book, I've learned a great deal more about God's chosen people, the unbreakable covenant He made with them and how blessed I am to have been included in that covenant through my faith in Jesus Christ. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Book Review: "It Happened in Italy" by Elizabeth Bettina

Elizabeth Bettina, in her book "It Happened in Italy," tells the story of how the citizens of Italy worked together to protect Italian-born Jews and foreign-born Jews from the atrocities of the Holocaust during World War II. Within the pages of Elizabeth Bettina's "It Happened in Italy," a physical and emotional journey is chronicled. Historic facts coupled with personal testimony from the Jewish people who survived paint a picture of concentration camp life contrary to the well-documented camps like Auschwitz or Treblinka. Italian camps kept families together, healthy, fed and allowed Jews to practice Judiasm. All of these freedoms unheard of in death camps in other parts of Europe.

Bettina's conversational tone is inviting and her excitement over each new discovery is contagious. Through personal interviews with survivors such as Walter Wolff, Horst Stein and Herta Pollak, Bettina purposefully expresses the difference between being interred in an Italian camp and being tortured in extermination camps in other parts of the continent. She illustrates beautifully how Italians worked together to both defy Nazi orders and allow the Jews to live life with normalcy.

As a researcher, writer and someone who holds a degree in History, I was excited to read a book on a subject that has not been covered extensively. Bettina's use of personal testimony was the most interesting portion of the book. My only negative comment is that the book was rather lengthy and could have made an equal impact with one hundred fewer pages.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young

Missionary Sarah Young provides a year's worth of daily inspirations in her devotional "Jesus Calling." Unlike other devotionals in circulation, "Jesus Calling" is written in a conversational tone; it's as if Jesus is speaking directly to the reader. Pertinent scripture passages are included at the end of each daily devotion.

As I read through the inspirational devotional messages, I felt drawn closer to the Lord. Imagining Jesus speaking these biblically-sound passages made reading the devotions a more personal experience. Peace--and more precisely, peace in Christ--is a resounding theme throughout the devotional. Throughout the turbulent times in which we live--both inside our homes and in society in general--the peace we can only find in Jesus is our anchor.

This uniquely written devotional is sure to inspire anyone who is blessed to read it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Book Review: "The Principle of the Path" by Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley's "The Principle of the Path" is about choosing the correct path to get to where you want to be in all aspects of life. It's about realizing when we are on the wrong path and how to change our direction to reach our goals. Ultimately, the main premise of the book is that our intentions are meaningless if we choose the wrong path.

Stanley's conversational tone drew me in right away. I felt as though I was talking with a friend and it was a conversation that was intriguing enough that I didn't want to put the book down. Peppered with personal anecdotes, Stanley illustrates how our best intentions don't guarantee that we'll end up where we want to be. Seemingly wise people can make a string of bad choices and end up on a path that destroys finances, family ties and health. No one is immune from bad decisions and detours on destructive paths.

Using biblical stories surrounding such figures as Solomon, David and Saul, Andy Stanley presents the major way people can avoid destructive paths that lead to despair: trust in God. Our need for God and His way for our lives trumps the daily desires of our hearts. And if we are honest with ourselves about the choices we make, we can tell right away if our choices are biblical and aligned with the desires of God or if they are self-serving.

This book is an essential read for people in all stages of life. Anyone who cares about reaching their goals and avoiding pitfalls along the way should read "The Principle of the Path."

Friday, May 8, 2009


Perception is an interesting concept. And people perceive a wide-variety of shared experiences differently. Adults tend to muddle perception. We complicate things and measure people or circumstances based on our personal standards. Children, on the other hand, offer simple, straightforward perceptions of everything--from what people look like to the meaning of a word. I love the innocence of it.

I recently asked Nathan--who is almost 5--to draw a picture of me. Here is how Nate perceived me on that particular day:

He gave me all of the basic parts a person needs: arms (sans hands), legs (sans feet), eyes, nose and a mouth--a smiling mouth, at that. He gave me brown, unkempt hair, which is spot on most of the time. He also made me stuck in the mud, but gave me a very long pencil. I look happy, which is probably the most important aspect of this masterpiece.

How does your child perceive you? Have him or her draw a picture of you. You'll be amazed by how perceptive even the smallest children can be. In the mean time, I'll continue to try to decipher the meaning of the mud and the pencil.

I'm glad I'm 5'1"

Being short has its advantages. You can get taller people to reach things for you. You can still ride the kiddy rides with your children and you can fit, relatively comfortably, in a toddler car bed. Yes, I said *toddler* car bed.

Brandon, my almost 3-year-old, has the habit of getting up at precisely 1:19 am to retrieve me from my Queen-size bed and lead me to his much smaller place of rest. "Rest" really isn't the best choice of words for that toddler car bed, for rarely does real rest transpire. I'm about two inches too long (never thought I'd say *that* about my stature) to fully fit the confines of the bed. So I scrunch up, use a way-too-small child-size pillow, and try to make the best of it.

And something amazing happens every time I squeeze into bed with Brandon. He laughs, smiles, pats me and rolls over and goes to sleep. It makes the sore neck worth it.


One day, while we were watching "The Brave Little Toaster," Nathan turned to me and asked me how to spell the word "heart" (he seems to be at that inquisitive, age.) I spelled the word for him and he looked at me and said "mom, you are my heart." What did I do to deserve that beautiful tribute from my eldest son? Nothing extraordinary, in the eyes of society, that is. But to Nathan--and most likely to Brandon, too--I'm the bees knees. And I remember my mom that same way.

My mom and I were very close--but also very much like oil and water. Maybe too similar for our own good in some areas. As I child, I didn't appreciate her like I should've; no child truly appreciates his or her mother like a mom should be appreciated. But after *my* first week of motherhood with a colicky, needy--but adorable--baby, I finally understood. I called her up in my new-mother-zombie-like state to say thank you to her for just being my mom. I'll never take her for granted again. She's my Supermom.

Nate and Brandon thank me everyday for being their mom. With random hugs and kisses, simplified yet beautiful drawings of our family and genuine love that only a child can offer. To them, I'm Supermom everyday and that's the best job I've ever had.

If I had a million dollars...

I think I would be miserable.

And many people would probably label me as insane, but I don't play the lottery and I actually wouldn't want to win the lottery (at least a big jackpot, anyway!) Why? Maybe it's a self-control thing. What would I buy with the money? Probably a bunch of self-gratifying, frivolous things. Knowing myself, I would most assuredly give some money to my church and other charities that I champion. But also knowing myself, I'd probably be enamored with the money and the stuff it could get me.

Not a very high opinion of myself, you say? I think that large quantities of money can turn anyone into someone they never thought they'd become. People say that money is the root of all evil. Let's face it: we need money to live. I think a word is missing. The *excessive* love of money is the true culprit. When money becomes the focus, everything else loses out. Family, friends, responsibility--and most important--God. When money becomes our god, everything else is going to fall apart. Money can buy you things, but it won't bring lasting peace. Only Jesus fulfill that yearning in our hearts.

So if I had a million dollars, I'd probably look better, live in a bigger house and drive a newer car. But I wouldn't be me. And I like my sales-rack wearing, smaller-house living, affordable-car driving self just the way that I am.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

I love to watch my children sleep

After a particularly rough day, the countdown to bedtime (for the boys AND me!) begins around 2 or 3 pm. And I try to fill that seemingly endless span of time with fun stuff to do--like playing outside when the weather cooperates, looking at "I Spy" books or playing Leapster games with the boys or making crafts. TV creeps in there, too--probably too much--but I try to interact with both boys on a personal level.

On a personal level. Too many times we can forget about being personable with our own children. Sometimes we think of stuff to do just to get closer to that wonderful bedtime hour. But how much we miss with our children when we wish our time with them away. This is a lesson I'm learning. It's hard--especially as a stay-at-home mom who spends so much time with the kids--to be engaged with them all day. I'll admit it: I don't particularly like to play, especially some of the things boys like to play, although digging for worms is kinda fun. I like "me" time, but sometimes the "me" moments outweigh the "kid" moments--and that's no good.

When I make a connection with one of the boys, nothing can beat that feeling. As an example, I've tried over the past couple of months to explain to Nathan (almost 5 years old) about how Jesus died for our sins but then rose again to conquer death. He can tell anyone now that Jesus suffered for us.

He knows that "bad guys" put thorns on Jesus' head, that the aforementioned bad guys offered a thirsty Jesus vinegar, instead of ice cold milk (Nate's drink of choice), that they whipped Him and gave him "boo-boos" and that he died on a cross. And after telling me all that one day, he turned to me and said "I love Jesus, mommy" and it doesn't get much better than that from my perspective. It makes all those moments when you just wish the clock would strike bedtime hour melt away.

I still love to watch my children sleep though. It's a wonderful opportunity to sit next to them, to appreciate them for who they are, and to thank God for the honor of being their mother.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Second to being a Christian...

Or second and third, if you want to be precise. I'm a wife and mother. Two roles that I think are really taken for granted in society today. People aren't measured by *who* they are--or what positive impact they may make on society; they are judged by their bank accounts and the prestige that comes from their career choice. Guess what? I'm a college-educated woman who actually held a "real" job before I became a stay-at-home-- mom to Nathan in July 2004. And know something else? We always planned for me to be a stay-at-home mother when the time came. I knew it was coming. But the transition wasn't easy...

I remember my last day of work. Cleaning out my desk, saying goodbye to my co-workers. Waddling out to my car for the last time (hey, I was 8 1/2 months pregnant and waddled like a penguin. I may have even been wearing black and white.) I cried the whole way out to my little car and most of the way home. I was entering a whole new phase of my life and I really don't like change too much, so this was a BIG step. I prayed. I prayed that I would be a good mother to Nathan. I prayed for peace in my heart because I was kinda scared. And I *felt* peace because I knew God was with me and that He had planned this for me and *that*--all by itself--made everything okay. And it has been. One of my very favorite Bible verses-and the first that I had ever committed to memory is:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He
will make your path straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

You *have* to put all of your faith in God--that He knows what is best for you and His timing is NEVER off. If you don't place your faith in God, you put your faith in yourself (and let's face it, we aren't perfect, but God is!!), put faith in others and put faith in the ways of this world. This world is temporal--it WILL pass away. Heaven is forever, so I choose to live for that day.

Back to my original point (if I remember what that is! lol!) Don't measure me for my bank account or some fancy job, or you'll be dissappointed. Measure me by my faith instead. My faith is bigger than any bank account--and more important, too.

Here's the skinny on me

If you are going to read my blog, you probably should know some things about me. First and foremost, I'm a born again Christian. For those of you who aren't born again, you probably just imagined me standing on a street corner, condemning people to eternal damnation, right (admit it!) I honestly may have thought that way, too, before I accepted Christ as my savior and Lord of my life. But it's not like that at all.

To put it in simple terms, before I accepted Christ, I was unsure. Unsure of what? Unsure of my salvation. I never really *knew* if I was going to heaven, but I always thought that being "good enough" would get me through the pearly gates. Hey, guess what? That's not biblical. But before I accepted Christ, I never picked up my Bible, so I didn't know that. I just followed what everyone else in my religion did. The Holy Spirit had other plans for me, though. My older sister Lisa had accepted Christ a few years before and she had witnessed--or proclaimed the truths of the Gospel and salvation through Christ--to me. And I didn't first.

It took my sister, Saturday nights with Charles Stanley and some serious soul searching for me to make the most important decision of my life. It came down to one question: am I here to please God or man?? I chose God--and forever became a child of God--in August, 2003.

I'm still a relatively new Christian. I'm still learning. But I'm changed. And I am blessed to remember who I was before I accepted Christ and who I've become--and who I'm striving to become.

And so it begins

I always wondered what all of the blogging hype was about. Then I read a couple of blogs from friends and family and realized that blogging is a great way to stay connected and make connections. It's a great way to spread a message, to offer insight into topics and to help to those who may need it.

With this blog, I aim to talk about issues that affect mothers, daughters, sisters, writers, and Christians because--well, I'm all of those things. And I'm no expert on any of them, but I take each role seriously and I'm working on them all, little by little, in my little corner of the world.

My goal--with every word I write--is to give all of the glory to God. For without Him, I am nothing. I want to raise people up with my words and not bring them down. I want to encourage, not discourage.

And so it begins...