Sunday, January 29, 2012

B90 Check In Week 5 (Monday 1-30-12)

This is it!  THIS is the week that you can look back and say you've made it 1/3 of the way through!  For those of you doing this for the first time, can you believe it?  Can you believe how much of the Old Testament you have already tackled?  Granted, you may have more questions than EVER at this point, but that is OK!!!! 

I personally get excited during this particular week of the challenge.  This is about the time the first time reading that I finally realized how possible it was to stick with it.  My confidence grew tremendously during this week.  The habit had been formed!  In subsequent readings, I love getting to this week because I know that it gets a bit easier from here out.  It's like there is a little switch that happens in my head that gives me a boost EVERY time.  We are almost through the hardest part of the Old Testament. 

I continue to pray for each of you OFTEN.  I'm still amazed with how much God is blessing each of you EVEN THROUGH very hard times.  From your comments and emails, I know that God is at work.  I know that some of you are struggling because you are behind or that God hasn't answered prayers in ways that your heart desires.  I urge you to not give up on either one!  Just STICK with it!  Keep reading and keep praying. 

I admit that I had a rough week and have felt a ding or two in my "armor", but at the same time I've felt God so close and so faithful.  Sometimes we get hard news or those we love make decisions that break our hearts.  It's out of our control, but God is STILL near.  Even through loss, stress, and heartache...HE IS CONSTANT! 

I had hoped to contact each of you personally this week, but to be honest time slipped away.  I battled insomnia over the last two weeks and running on an hour or two of sleep a night somewhat put me out of focus.  (OK, my husband is probably laughing his head off at that.  Let me rephrase that....I didn't know whether I was coming or going many days!!!).  Fortunately, the battle seems to be over and the last 3 nights I've had wonderful, deep, refreshing sleep.  For those of you that I haven't contacted yet, I WILL!  I'm slowly working through the list and have about 25 of you left.  I basically just want to give each of you personal encouragement!

Here we go with this week!  If you want to check out the tools mentioned in previous weeks on MomsToolbox (specifically Ted Cooper's You are Here in the Bible)...the link is here.

Monday:  1 Chronicles 1:1 through 1 Chronicles 9:44
Tuesday: 1 Chronicles 10:1 through 1 Chronicles 23:32
Wednesday: 1 Chronicles 24:1 through 2 Chronicles 7:10
Thursday: 2 Chronicles 7:11 through 2 Chronicles 23:15
Friday: 2 Chronicles 23:16 through 2 Chronicles 35:15
Saturday: 2 Chronicles 35:16 through Ezra 10:44
Sunday: Nehemiah 1:1 through Nehemiah 13:14

I look forward to hearing from you!  Have a FANTASTIC week!  May God pour out blessings in amazing new ways and pull you closer to Him than ever before!

Vineyard Music: I Love Your Presence Review & Giveaway

Time for another music review & giveaway! 

I was incredibly excited to have the opportunity to listen to and review "I Love Your Presence" by Vineyard Worship. 

When we first moved from TN to IL five and a half years ago, one of our first hard tasks and a top priority was finding a church.  The first church we officially called home for about a year (after many that didn't "fit")was The Vineyard-Urbana.  Our first couple of times attending, we didn't realize that "Vineyard" wasn't just the name of the church, that it is multi-locations worldwide.  Though we eventually made the decision to attend our current church (after moving to another area of town and looking for something more conveniently located), something that has ALWAYS stuck with us is the POWER of WORSHIP we experienced during our year there.  Worship was NEVER just about singing songs! It was something you felt and shared from every cell of your body, heart, and soul.

Knowing how much we loved Vineyard Worship, the chance to review this album immediately excited me. 

In short:  it didn't disappoint.  The Vineyard's core worship values are intimacy, accessibility, and authenticity.  This compilation CD absolutely embodies those values.  The founder's feelings about worship leaders is that they should be ministers FIRST and musicians second.  It shows in the feeling with which the music is offered!

My husband and I were talking about this particular CD.  What we truly loved is the variety of the songs.  Sometimes when you put in a CD, you can somewhat start to tune out what is really being sung about because the songs start to blend together because the style is so similar on the entire project.  Many groups have their own distinctive sound.  What we loved about this project is that each worship leader has a different style.  Some were very traditional, some contemporary, some had a folk type feeling.  At different points we thought of very different artists:  Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Third Day, etc...  There are songs that can appeal to everyone.  The great thing is that the variety ends up "grabbing" your attention with each song since they don't just blend together. 

The other thing we talked about was that it was a TRUE worship album.  The songs flow from hands raised songs of praise, to quiet ones that cause introspection....all bringing the focus on the one that we sing about and bring us closer "Into His Presence."  THAT is the reason we worship.

My husband and I both enjoyed this CD much that it has already been loaded onto my iPod---the one that he ends up "hi-jacking" and running off with!  I'm sure in the coming days, someone will hear me asking where MY iPod is!  :)

About "I Love Your Presence':
I LOVE YOUR PRESENCE was recorded live at the Burn Bright: Worship and The Kingdom Of God conference, hosted by Vineyard Worship. Several hundred worship leaders and worshippers gathered in the Arizona desert to explore the nature of God’s kingdom through music and teaching with some of the Vineyard’s most gifted communicators and musicians. This inspiring collection of songs recorded live at the The Vineyard Church North Phoenix will immerse listeners in the powerful worship that was the highlight of the event. I LOVE YOUR PRESENCE reminds us to not just think of worship as singing songs, but also laying down our lives for Him.

What I personally love about Vineyard Worship is that they are a Non-Profit worship ministry!

For more information about this album or to order:

One reader can receive a DOWNLOAD copy of this album.  (You will be provided a link to download the album to your computer and then you can listen straight from your computer or transfer it to your music device (iPod).  It will NOT be a physical CD.)

To enter, just leave a comment that you would like to be included in the giveaway.  Be sure to leave an email or way of contacting you if I don't already have your information.  Make sure you include your name if you sign in under the anonymous setting.  This giveaway will end on the February 10th!  Good luck!!!!

*Required fine print: "Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services

mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I
only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255:
"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."*

Monday, January 23, 2012

Just a quick update for today! (And a P.S for B90 readers!)

*Don't forget that tomorrow (24th) is the last day to enter the "A Mile in His Shoes" DVD giveaway.  My post is here and the directions to enter are very near the bottom.*

I wanted to add a special P.S to those of you reading along in our B90 group, specifically to those that are a little bit behind or even very far behind.  I just feel like today is the day that I need to stop and tell you that EVERY effort you have made towards this challenge is worth it.  No matter where you are in the reading plan, as long as you have spent any amount of time in God's word with an open heart....He will reward that effort.  Some of you may be feeling like you've already failed.  STOP it right now!  KEEP reading and DON'T beat yourself up if you aren't where you want to be.  Just keep at it.  Get the habit formed of daily time with Him!  I am absolutely certain that He isn't disappointed in you if the assignment was for 15 chapters and you only finished 10 (or any other set of numbers!).  He is thankful for ALL the time you spent with Him! 

I just felt like I needed to remind some of you of that today!   I think most of us will agree that we are here to encourage and support along this matter how long it takes!!!!  We just want to see each other successfully spending time with the one that loves us more than we can imagine and wants us to crave being in His presence. 

In other words, celebrate where you are and how far you've come.   Think of it this way, when you are on a weight loss journey and you really wanted to lose 2 pounds this week and you only lost a half of a you just erase that half and not count it?  Of course not.  It was progress.  You do know that you have to continue at your task at hand and keep focus, but you definitely don't tell the scale that you can't count that half pound.  I know for myself (as I am on this journey to finally get my health on track and get my body back in the shape that I know God wants for me), I may wish and wish I had made that 2 pound goal and I might be a bit disappointed that I didn't reach that goal, but by gosh I'm going to celebrate the half pound loss.  It's the same as your reading.  Every effort you have made matters.  Let it push you to continue on and work hard at catching up.  Yet, don't let what you HAVE accomplished be forgotten in your heart.  God is proud of you for the effort you've made!!!! 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

B90 Check in Week 4 (Monday 1-23-12)

Congratulations!  Stop reading right now and pat yourself on the back.  Seriously, do it!  :)

If you are reading along and on track (or at least close to it!), you have now reached the mark of 21 days.  Research shows that 21 is the magic number for creating a habit.  Is there any better habit than spending time in God's word daily?  Not in my opinion!

I just want to say how incredible it has been to read comments of God at work in your lives bringing you closer to Him, Him showing you his miraculous power in healing and provision, and the great comfort He has been as some of you have suffered great loss in recent days.  I'm praising God right along with you in the victories and my heart is heavy in your sadness and I petition Him on your behalf for continued comfort! 

I also want to let you know that my goal this week is to check in with those of you that haven't been checking in or have been struggling to keep up because of life's demands.  I had hoped to send out those personal emails this week, but time just got away quicker than lightning!  Please know that I have been thinking of each of you and praying often for you!

I do have a story I want to tell you of how God has definitely been in the details!  A story of how our hearts do matter to Him and how "small" of a world we live in!  (I have permission from both of these ladies). 

When I sent out the welcome email requesting background information from each of you, a great majority of you responded and shared your hearts (on a deep level that I wasn't quite expecting, but was GRATEFUL for).  Beth mentioned that she had recently moved and some of the concerns on her heart were the transitions she and her family were facing.  For those of us that have moved and had to start over, we can definitely identify with how hard of a time it is.  EVEN when God has led us down a new path and we know we are walking in His will, the transition can still be hard in MANY aspects on different levels.  After reading some comments during the first check-ins, Teri realized that she and Beth not only live in the same state, but the same county.  She sent me an email and asked me to forward her contact information to Beth to give Beth the option to contact her or not. 

Here is the incredible part:  out of this GREAT big world where 95% in this group don't know each other, something amazing happened.  They discovered that not only did they live close to each other, THEY ATTEND the same large church!  Since Beth hasn't lived in the area very long, she was starting over in a brand new church and it definitely takes awhile to start meeting people.  The great thing is that the friends and people Beth HAD already met are the same people that are in Teri's group of friends.  Hello big the small world.  All by God's design!  When I read the email, I couldn't help but smile with how God orchestrated all of it!  Way to go, God!

I can't wait to hear more and more stories of how God is blessing each of you.  I know the comments revealed last week some amazing ones.  Even with those that are suffering heartache, you can still feel how they are growing closer to God through it all! 

I pray that this week continues to show that more and more to each of you!  By the time you finish this next week's assignments, we will cross the threshold of being 1/3 of the way finished.  Can you believe it?  For those of you that have never done this challenge or have never read the Bible in it's entirety, that is an incredible accomplishment! 

Don't forget that you can check out the "You are Here In The Bible" study tools here

Here we go....this week's plan:
  • Monday (23rd) 1 Samuel 28:20-2 Samuel 12:10
  • Tuesday (24th) 2 Samuel 12:11-2 Samuel 22:18
  • Wednesday (25th) 2 Samuel 22:19-1 Kings 7:37
  • Thursday (26th) 1 Kings 7:38-1 Kings 16:20
  • Friday (27th) 1 Kings 16:21-2 Kings 4:37
  • Saturday (28th) 2 Kings 4:38-2 Kings 15:26
  • Sunday (29th) 2 Kings 15:27-2 Kings 25:30
Have a GREAT week!  God Bless each of you TREMENDOUSLY and THOROUGHLY!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What's In the Bible Giveaway Winner!

Just a super quick post to announce the winner of the What's In The Bible DVD (Genesis). chose comment 3.

Congratulations to Beth (Mom2TwoVikings). 

Beth:  send me an email with your mailing address and I'll get this out to you!  Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Learning Games/Activities....Fresh Start

The absolute beauty of homeschooling is the flexibility it provides.  If something doesn't work, try something new.  If you find your kids getting a bit bored or losing interest, change things up.

The internet provides limitless activities and ideas.  When I finally jumped on the pinterest bandwagon (friends had been telling me for months how much I would love it, but I initially resisted), that list of limitless activities grew exponentially.   Though I use it for countless things, I love the variety of engaging learning activities I can find on a daily basis.  For example, I can type in "sight words" and find great ways to engage my 5 year old. 

With a new semester starting and Bradlee taking off in learning at a rapid pace, he and I both were ready for some new, engaging activities to keep that spark growing.  I started "pinning" like crazy, but I hadn't taken the time to sit down and print or create the activities.  I have a HUGE weakness that is the THORN IN MY SIDE---I'm great about gathering ideas.  I'm great about planning and thinking.  I'm horrible about follow through.  I have to be consciously aware of moving from thought into action---in so many areas of my life.

The snow gave me the perfect time to create some this weekend.  Let's just say that out of five people living in this house, one isn't like the other.  ONE doesn't like to hurl herself down a hill head first, sideways, feet first or any other such way in the snow.  ONE of us likes to stay warm.  ONE of us doesn't find the same pleasure as the other four in bundling up to the point that you waddle when you walk.  Fortunately, for that ONE the other four were perfectly happy to spend several hours doing just that.  YES---that meant this ONE person had the rare opportunity to spend an afternoon in a quiet house. Yes----it was heavenly!!!

So here are the things that I completed and my kindergartner is enjoying adding to his workboxes now. 

Bottle cap math games.  (Thanks to a friend that helped me gather soda bottle caps!)  Self-correcting math facts.  This set is just addition facts (all the way up through 9 +12), but the link also has subtraction, multiplication, and division.  The link also includes labels to print for Pringles type cans for storage.  For now, I'm just using a ziploc bag...but the idea for the Pringles can is great!

Simple sight word bottle cap games using the lids from our glass milk bottles.  These are called Oreo Words and I was thrilled that I had brown and white lids.  I specifically put the vowels on white and the consonants on brown to reinforce that extra skill.  I created my own labels on the computer and used Avery 3/4 inch round labels and it worked perfectly.  You could just use a sharpie.  This link has MANY others great learning uses for bottle caps and lids.  It's about using what you have!

Sight word journal printables.  A worksheet for MANY different words.  We place them in a plastic page protector and use a dry erase marker to make them reusable.  Eventually I will have him write directly on the paper and make a book out of it, but for now we are still in the practice stage.

Word family strips/slidders/ladders.  This was simply a print and cut out activity.  These have already made a tremendous difference in the number and speed of words he can read.  I do plan to laminate this for durability in the near future!  This website has many other ideas, activities, and worksheets.

I LOVE this printable worksheet.  Read. Stamp. Write.  We don't have the Educational Insights clear stamps, but our Melissa & Doug ones work well.  This is another great website for ideas!

I love fresh starts.  I love new semesters.  I love changing up things to make learning interesting and unpredicatable!  For once, I DID move from thought into action on a FEW things.  Now to find that list and do some more ACTION!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Mile in his Shoes (Dean Cain): Review and Giveaway

(Be sure to read all the way to end for a chance to win a copy!)

One night last week, the weather was miserable.  The snow was continuing to come down with freezing cold temperatures.  The wind was insane (even by Central IL standards).  Our family seemed to be in that cabin fever mode where the bickering was escalating and the smiles were diminishing. 

It was time for a diversion.  It was time for everyone to be on the same page and enjoying being a family. 

That meant it was time for some snacks to be prepared and a family movie to come out.  Otherwise, this mom may have had to pull out a few more hairs.  Umm....not that she admits to already having pulled out a few earlier in the day.  :)

Many of you KNOW that it isn't an easy task for a family that chooses to be set apart from the world's standards by what they watch and listen to.  Finding family movies that exhibit the values we hold dear is HARD.  When we do find them, I love to tell about them.

I was thrilled to have the chance to review "A Mile in his Shoes".  Knowing that it carried the Dove Foundation FIVE dove rating and suitability for all ages, meant I knew it would be appropriate for our family.  Knowing that it was presented by Thomas Kinkade was also another clue that it was family friendly.

Not only was it appropriate, it was GREAT!  It's one of those that we know we won't be watching just one time.  It's one that I'm happy to have in our media library!

It is a heartwarming story of overcoming odds.  One that leaves you feeling inspired to fight your own battles with no excuses.  It shows the power of friendship.  It shows the power of someone recognizing something special in you and believing in you.  It shows that obstacles (in the character's case: Asperger's syndrome/Autism) don't make you unusable. 

Faith is obviously shown.  Families pray together.  A Bible is visibly seen. 

Yet, it isn't so "cheesy" perfect that it becomes unbelievable or boring.  There are a few scenes that show "real" world issues.  Jealousy leads another player to scheme and cause harm to a player (though very little of the actual violence is shown).  Teasing of the main character for being different happens in a couple of places (but the message is clearly made that it will not be tolerated on any level).  A party scene is briefly shown---though no actual alcohol or sexual images are shown.  No curse words are spoken (Bullshoot---is said once). 

Even these "negative" aspects of the world are done in such a way that it doesn't distract from the family friendly appropriateness.  It is done to show how God redeems and forgives.  It shows restitution and lives being changed.  It definitely opens the doors for some great conversations!  Though our entire family enjoyed the movie greatly, I do mostly recommend it for middle elementary age and up.  My five year old just didn't find it appealing to him other than the baseball scenes.   Our older kids LOVED it. 

Those are my thoughts, here are some "official" thoughts and actual synopsis of the movie:

From the director of "Angels In the Outfield" comes an inspiring story about a special boy with an amazing gift, and the coach who believed. Dean Cain and Luke Schroder star in the gmc movie based on the book "The Legend of Mickey Tussler".

Only a miracle can help baseball coach Arthur “Murph” Murphy (Dean Cain) and his losing minor league baseball team. As Murph sets out to recruit new talent for the team, he stumbles upon Mickey (Luke Schroder), a young farmer with an incredible pitcher’s arm. However, Mickey’s parents are reluctant in allowing him to join the team because he has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. Murph convinces Mickey’s parents that life in the minor league will benefit their unique son, but he doesn’t realize just how much his new recruit will help the team’s game and, more importantly, their spirit. Based on a true story, A Mile in His Shoes is an inspirational film that celebrates faith, determination and the power of friendship.

Dove Foundation Review:

Here is your chance to win a copy!  Comment with the name of your favorite family friendly movie (hey...I need some new suggestions in case you know of some we may have not seen!!).  Be sure to leave your name and email (if I don't already have it!).  One winner will receive a copy of the DVD.  Giveaway will end on the 24th. 

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or
services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it
on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally
and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance
with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the
Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, January 15, 2012

An Example of God's Provision

This is just a random post, but I just wanted to get "this" down on "paper" to look back at down the road.  Plus, I believe that when you "tell" of God's goodness, you don't forget what He has done for you.   It's like looking back in a prayer journal and seeing how He answered prayers.  I'm purposely trying to be more cognizant of blessings and provision.

It is no secret that we are working diligently to become debt free this year.  We want to be able to give FREELY and we feel like that best way for that to happen is to live frugally and without debt.  We do believe in giving sacrificially, but we can hardly wait until the day that we can give more and more of what God has given us.  For a one income family in a tough economy, it is HARD but God has never failed to provide.  We may not have everything we want and we may have to say NO to things VERY often, but we've never gone without the basic needs.  NEVER!  We may have had overwhelming fear and worry that we would, but God has ALWAYS come through in HIS time.

With that said...

Today we made a trip to Sam's for some basics and produce.  We are making a concerted effort to GREATLY increase our consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and eat MUCH less processed foods.  It's a difficult adjustment at times, but we are already seeing GREAT rewards.  However, eating healthy is expensive at times.  With today's purchase, I went over budget by $34.  Many might say, so what?  You might spend that on a lunch out and a trip to Starbucks.  We don't.  Thirty four dollars is a fairly big amount to us, especially when we are committed to pouring every penny we can into paying off debt.  I was able to pay that amount and knew it was worth it, but I also knew that I would have $34 less to put into savings or debt reduction.  I left the store with peace that it was OK, because we were spending it on something necessary. 

Fast forward JUST a couple of hours.  THIS is where God steps in.  Some friends wanted something made for their child to wear to a special event at church.  I happily made it and never expected or thought about being paid.  I just thought their idea was adorable and was something that I could probably handle making this evening.  I enjoyed it!

I was asked if I could provide childcare for a couple of extra hours this week for the wee one I keep part time.  Not a full day, just a few extra hours.  Sure!  We love having her and she makes us smile.

BOTH are things I enjoy and I would have said yes to regardless. 

The extra money, totally unexpected.....and not planned for when we made the extra purchases today....came to a grand total of $35.  Coincidence?  NEVER!

Thank you God for how you provide.  To many this "provision" may not mean much, but to us it means everything and is a reminder of how YOU are always looking out for us.  How YOU care about the little details in our lives.  It humbles to me know that in this BIG world, you care about MY needs and MY heart.  Thank you.

B90 Check in Week 3 (Monday 1-16-12)

We are ready to kick off week THREE!  Can you believe it?

Look how far you've come in just TWO weeks!  We've journeyed through Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and are just about ready to wrap up Deuteronomy.  Let me say:  WAY TO GO!  That is no easy task.  It has taken effort AND commitment! 

At the conclusion of this week, you will have read for 21 days straight.  Twenty one days is what experts say it takes to make something a habit!  Are you ready to reach that mark this week? 

I pray that you are finding that it is worth the effort.  I pray that God has been showing you amazing things through His word and that you heart is opening up more and more to Him every day!

Struggling?  A bit behind?  REALLY behind?  PLEASE DO NOT GIVE UP!  Keep your best to find chunks of time to catch up...but mostly definitely don't throw in the towel yet! 

I'm also excited to share a link with you that should be helpful as we continue to navigate the Old Testament.  Ted Cooper of the Bible in 90 Ministry has graciously allowed MomsToolbox and those of us reading along in B90 access to some FANTASTIC tools he wrote to help us know what is going on, key characters and places, genealogies, timelines and other study tools.  Amy has organized them in this one link.  Definitely something you will want to save to your favorites!  As of right now, she has uploaded the Old Testament and it is organized in order by book.  Mr. Cooper's aim was to help us to spend less time researching and more time reading, to help us all reach our goal of reading the entire Bible.  I know I can DEFINITELY use that help! 

By the way, could you say a special prayer for Amy this week.  She announced on MomsToolbox this week that she will be undergoing surgery this week.  Let's join together and pray for her! 

This week's reading plan:

  • Monday Deuteronomy 23:12-34:12
  • Tuesday Joshua 1:1-14:15
  • Wednesday Joshua 15:1-Judges 3:27
  • Thursday Judges 3:28-15:12
  • Friday Judges 15:13- 1 Samuel 2:29
  • Saturday 1 Samuel 2:30-15:35
  • Sunday 1 Samuel 16:1-28:19
For those of you that mentioned prayer requests and needs in comments this week, know that many of us are praying for you.  For those that have emailed, I am praying and believing with you!  For those I haven't heard from in awhile or haven't checked in, I'm still praying for you!  One thing I promised to do was to continuously pray for each of you and you are all in my constant thoughts and prayers. 

Have a GREAT week!  Enjoy your time in God's word!  Smile knowing that God loves each of us unconditionally and is smiling down on us as we dig into His word!  Smile EVEN BIGGER knowing that your time in God's word and your relationship with Him is driving Satan deeper into defeat!  Just let that image of Satan being defeated encourage you along this week when you want to give up!  :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What's In The Bible---review and giveaway

When my older kids were young, Veggie Tales was just beginning to be popular in Christian circles.  By the time our youngest was born, Veggie Tales was our household staple.  I didn't mind the days of our daughter being wrapped up with Elmo and Blue's Clues and our middle son's obsession with all things Bob the Builder.  However, I was thrilled when Veggie Tales became a household favorite.  Animated shows with adorable character and fantastic values, overflowing with HILARIOUS songs that we sang EVERYWHERE we went.  Such a welcomed sight in our household media stash!

However, as much as I LOVED the videos I always felt "something" was missing.  Knowing that my kids absorbed so much from them, I often thought it would be nice if they kicked it up another notch or two and included MORE Biblical reference (though they had made a GREAT start!). 

Over a year ago, our elementary children's minister asked me to preview a DVD to see what we thought about it and if I thought it would be appealing to our 1-5th grade department.  She had just returned from a ministry conference that she was a large part of and  Phil Vischer had been one of their speakers.  She had been introduced to the "What's In The Bible" series.  The creator of Veggie Tales had created a new series that still had fun characters, catchy songs (VERY!), and most importantly REALLY digs deep into the Bible. 

To be honest, the first review I gave her was that it was just too cheesy for our older kids.  I really didn't sit down and watch it, I just caught bits and pieces as I walked through the room while chasing down laundry.  I just saw the characters and pushed it off as "childish". 

Then later that weekend, we were traveling to a gymnastics meet and we let the kids watch it in the van because I honestly had forgotten to see if we could find a family movie to watch on the way.  Let's just say that after listening (I seldom actually SEE movies since I'm typically driving) to the first few minutes of the video, my husband and I were hooked.  Not only did we laugh constantly, but WE were learning incredible amounts of information.  I can't tell you how many times we looked at each other and said "Did you know that?" or "why hadn't we ever thought of that!".  I immediately went home and sent an email about how I was wrong...that we LOVED the series and thought it would be perfect for our kids department.

THAT is why I LOVE "What's In The Bible" and jellytelly! The first episode (Volume 1: Genesis) packs so much information in!  Before the adorable, fun characters EVER talk about the book of Genesis, they explain so many things about the Bible.  How did we get the Bible?  Who wrote it?  It even gets detailed enough to talk about the Pentateuch, Septuagint, and other "big" words explained in FUN ways.   Let me tell you:  I learned TONS of information.  I also can't tell you how many times I've used the relevant information from the video series.

Now that we are back involved in B90 and are digging deep into the Old Testament, I have LOVED to remember the things that "What's In The Bible" have taught as the series progresses through the Bible in "book" order.  We are right in the middle of the law/covenant and the gruesome parts of sacrifices.  Looking back at how the videos explained it has helped tremendously in so many ways.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I've learned so much from a kid's show!  :)

My favorite part of the series is that our entire family from the youngest to the oldest LOVE it.  Though in the beginning I didn't think Bradlee was absorbing much of it, I quickly learned I was wrong.  He began to use words that were explained and used them in the correct way.  He would sing the catchy songs AND know what they meant.  Our older kids love it because it's fun.  We love seeing them learn in an easy, fun environment.  WE love it because sometimes I think we learn as much if not more than they do!  We truly get excited when they release a new disc in the series. 

Here is the neat part:  I have a copy of the first DVD in the series to give to one of my readers.  Focus on the Family provided me with a copy in exchange for my honest review.  Since our family already has a copy, I'm passing the new one along.  One winner will receive DVD 1 in the series:  Genesis.  I'd love to see another family FALL IN LOVE with Buck Denver, Sunday School Lady, and all of the other characters while learning about the Bible at the same time. 

To enter:  just leave a comment that you want to enter to win a copy.  Simple!  The winner must have a US shipping address and must respond to my email within 48 hours (or I will have to choose another winner).  Winner will be chosen at random (by using  Deadline for entry is January 18th and I will announce the winner the following day.  Please be sure to leave an email address so I can contact you if I don't already have it.  If you use the anonymous sign-in, be sure to leave your name and email info!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


This song has been constantly in my heart for at least the last week or two. I keep waking up with the first verse going through my head.

It's really a simple song. Not many words. Yet, it is SO deep.

I remember how the words just pulled at me several years ago when I was so lost in depression and I didn't know if I would ever find my way out. I constantly sang the words as a life-line of remembering how powerful His light and OH how I wanted it to shine on me.

Earlier this week when reading for B90 in Exodus, I was drawn back to this song.

In chapter 33, the Bible says that the LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. I don't know about you, but that grabs me deeply. For those of you that share my southern roots, you might call that Holy Ghost Goosebumps!

That chapter goes on to talk about how Moses asked for the Lord to show him His glorious presence. The Lord told him that He would reveal himself, but that he could not look at Him directly in the face. It continues into chapter 34 with the description in verse 29 that when Moses came down from Mount Sinai that his face was RADIANT. He himself was unaware of the radiance. His face had such a radiant glow that he had to wear a veil, except when he would return to speak with the Lord.

Though many things have touched my heart in these last 8 days, this one has really continued to reach my innermost being the more I think about.


When he left the presence of the Lord, the people of Israel could tell because of the radiant glow of his face.

(These same verses in Exodus will be important and referred to when we get to 2 Corinthians 3. It's one of those great examples of the Old Testament and New Testament connecting together. )

The word radiant/radiance is what has captured my attention.

I love that word!

When I think of some of the most beautiful women I know, I often describe them as radiant. We often refer to the radiant glow of some pregnant woman ( I wasn't one of those...I was a beached whale!). We might even talk about how the eyes of some people just have a radiant sparkle.

Bright. Luminescent. Resplendent. Shiny. Gleaming. Effulgent (I only remember this one because it was one of my daughter's 8th grade vocabulary words).

To me the word often means beauty. A beauty that shines from the inside out.

That is the same radiance that I want to have when I've spent time with God. THAT is how I want people to describe me. I WANT them to be able to tell that I've been in the presence of the Lord by spending time one-on-one with Him. I want it to be obvious whom I serve. I want it to be apparent that His spirit is living within me. Set apart. A radiant glow.

Yet, I think of how often that isn't true. How often I instead am dull and blend in with the world. I think of how often I have rushed around and let demands on my time or my own selfish desires keep me from spending time with Him. I lhave lost the luster. I have lost the sparkle.

It reminds me of my diamond wedding/engagement ring. (This mostly comes to mind because of the sadness last week when my wedding ring broke into two complete pieces and had to be put away while we save for it to be fixed. Though it won't be soon....I'm thankful I didn't lose the pieces!) How quickly it loses it's shine when the dirt and grime of the day coat it. The "world" attaches it's filth to it. However, with just a little bit of cleaning and attention it shines and catches the light. In bright light it will reflect and glow.

Just like us. The world beats us down. Some people enjoy throwing wet blankets on us to try and put out the fire of our faith----some by choice and some without even realizing they do it. Sin separates us from God. Our selfish natures block us from the blessings God has for us. Satan attacks at us and wears us down. We overstretch ourselves.


Just like a diamond will sparkle with TLC, so can we. Time with Him restores our luminosity. Repentance and forgiveness. Grace. His LIGHT shining on us restores OUR radiance. We can walk with His light shining from within us so that the world KNOWS we've been in His presence.

Just as the words from the above song say....

LORD, let your light. Light of your face, shine on us.............(to find our way in the darkness night!).

Sunday, January 8, 2012

B90 Check in Week 2 (Monday 1-9-12)

I spent the last several minutes making my list (I'm notorious for to-do lists!) of what I needed to do tonight, tomorrow and a general plan of the direction I need to head this week.  I was somewhat taken back to realize that today is already Sunday AND that we are moving into week 2 of B90 already.  Time really is FLYING!

Week 2! 

Did God totally amaze you last week with things that were sitting in His word just waiting for your heart to hear?  He DEFINITELY did me!  I can't get over how much more this challenge means to me each time I do it. 

I'll be honest and admit that last week was overwhelming for me as I got to know many of you a bit more.  I care so much for each of you that have taken on this challenge.  I'm so very thankful for how you have OPENLY shared your hearts with me.  Emotionally processing it was hard, because I CARE and want to make sure that God is using me in His way.  Thank you for your openness!  I am absolutely praying for each of you.  For some of you, I'd give anything to change some of the situations and obstacles you are facing.  I can't do it....but I am storming heaven for you!  I'm believing in faith that each of you CAN complete this challenge AND find your hearts strengthened, encouraged, and closer to God through each page. 

Though I was overwhelmed at first with getting things organized and my heart being heavy for each of you, something amazing has happened in the process.  When I open up His word, I find calm.  I find focus and strength.  I shouldn't be surprised.  I KNOW that is how it works.  Yet, I'm thankful and I'm moved that it never fails.  His word is healing.  His word is strength.  It brings direction, focus, and HOPE.  Granted, some times it's a bit hard.  It's easy to get a little lost (especially in the coming days of the "harder" parts to read of the New Testament).  It's easy to get sidetracked by demands on our time.  It's even hard at times to resist the temptation to QUIT because Satan starts his attacks.  He's definitely been in full force mode on my life and I know many of you are feeling it as well.  But oh is worth EVERY second we spend!

Just hold on.  Don't give up.  Keep reading. 

Look how far you have come in just one week.  Look at the commitment you have made and the fact that you didn't just "say" you were going to do it.  You've done it.  A little bit behind?  That's ok!  You can definitely catch up! 

I'm proud of EACH of you for committing and starting.  Keep it up!!!!

I can't wait to hear from each of you checking in this week!  I think about 90% of you checked in on the blog or by email last week.  That was fantastic!

A couple of quick things:  please be sure to include your name if you use the anonymous posting.  I DO have comment moderation turned "on", so your comments do not immediately show up.  If you can't check in on Mondays, I don't mind if you check in later in the week!  Some of your schedules prevent you from having much online time on Mondays.  That is OK!  Don't let "little" details stress you out!  :) 

This week's SOAP observations, background information, encouragement, etc... from MomsToolBox can be found here

This weeks reading schedule:
  • Monday Leviticus 1:1-14:32
  • Tuesday Leviticus 14:33-26:26
  • Wednesday Leviticus 26:27-Numbers 8:14
  • Thursday Numbers 8:15-21:7
  • Friday Numbers 21:8-32:19
  • Saturday  Numbers 32:20-Deuteronomy 7:26
  • Sunday Deuteronomy 8:1-23:11
Also-----thank you for the many kind words and encouragement many of you have offered me.  Thank you for the support and encouragement you are showing each other!

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Bit of Mommy and Me Time = Powerful Lessons Learned

Yesterday morning, I was absolutely blessed beyond words to spend a couple of hours alone with my youngest. 

It was one of those memories I think I will treasure forever.  We didn't do much.  It wasn't necessary.  We just went to a local little diner and had breakfast.  Nothing fancy.  Just the "2, 2, 2" for $3.99 (2 eggs, 2 pancakes, and 2 pieces of sausage).  There were no bells and whistles.  No characters in costume and no balloons.  No video games or TV screens with sports.  Yet, he loved EVERY second of it. 

I struggled to eat.  I could hardly get a bite because he was talking so much and expecting my responses.  When I managed to grab a bite, it was awkward because I basically had my hand tied beside me.  He HAD to keep his little arm around me the ENTIRE time.  Why?  Because that is what Daddy does.  The difference is that his Dad and I aren't more than 2 feet apart in height!  :)

He smiled constantly.  His eyes twinkled.  He was full of gratitude and said "thank you" and "I love you" countless times. 


However, I felt such guilt because HE asked me for that time away.  I should have remembered and offered it.  It should have been my idea because I KNEW he needed some one-on-one time.  Instead, he HAD to ask.  I didn't hesitate when he did ask, but I felt so bad because it obviously meant so much to him.  I'm HAPPY it did and I'm thrilled he wants that precious time with me, but I just hate that he had to ask me for it. 

Yet, I learned something.  OK----I learned several things that morning.  I learned that when we want or need something, we should just ASK.  My five year old taught me that when he simply asked me if I would take him out for some mommy and me time alone.  He didn't worry about what I would say.  He trusts me.  He didn't worry about what others would think.  He didn't worry about if it would make him look weak, needy, or anything else.  He just simply asked in expectation. 

I could learn so much from that.  How many times do I expect my husband to read my mind?  How many times am I disappointed in friends because I feel like I needed something from them and they didn't deliver?  How many conflicts and hurt feelings could have been avoided if I would just have spoken up and ASKED?  Ouch.

(So yes I went out with wet hair because I was running REALLY behind and I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity to give him the full time together while the older kids were at PMO)
I also was reminded of something as I sat there basically just listening to him and watching his eyes sparkle.  I was reminded of how that is the same way God is with me.  He craves that time with me as much as I crave it with Him.  Just like Bradlee and I connected in a such a sweet and precious way, God wants my heart in the same capacity.  As much as I crave that one-on-one time, uninterrupted and uncluttered with my husband, God wants it with me.  That is why it is so important to spend time with Him in reading His word,  talking with Him, and clearing out the noise to listen to Him.  It's why it's so important to guard what I fill my heart with (what I see, what I listen to, and where I go). 

Besides being vividly reminded of the importance of giving my children INDIVIDUAL attention (even though we are together almost 24/7),  I was reminded that simple things count.  It didn't take anything spectacular to capture his attention and heart.  I didn't have to spend lots of money, take him to a theme park, or buy him lots of things.  It was just ME and MY time.  I was also vividly reminded of how much our kids are learning and observing.  He treated me sweetly because that is the way he sees his dad and I interact.  Our kids are truly learning to behave by watching.  IF our home is full of anger, yelling, and disrespect they are going to mimic that.  Instead if our home is full of love, acceptance, respect, etc.. THAT is what they are going to model.  No question of which I want them to see and do! 

Thank you Lord for the reminders you sent my way.  Thank you for the precious time with my "wee" one.  Thank you for reminding me that what we do matters.  Thank you for touching my heart!  Thank you for the precious gifts I have in my children and spouse.  Thank you for the lessons you teach in gentle ways!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

We WILL Come Right Back!---Faith of Abraham

We are only a few days into this session of B90 and I've already been amazed at things that have jumped out to me from scripture.  God has absolutely not disappointed in that I knew that He would not let this time in His word be fruitless or in vain.  It just completely makes me that much more excited for the next months!  I was nervous and overwhelmed when we were planning and getting started, but such an incredible peace has filled my heart from the moment I've been back digging in His word. 

Something that REALLY stood out to me in yesterday's reading was in the story of Abraham and Isaac.  I admit I thought about quickly reading through that portion of scripture since the story was so familiar, but I am so glad I slowed down to let it soak in.  It's amazing how ONE word can TRULY grab your attention and speak to your heart. 

Verse 5 in Chapter 22 (I'm reading from the NLT) jumped off the pages. 

Abraham had already been asked to go to Moriah and take Isaac with him.  He had been asked to do the unthinkable. 

He didn't hesitate.  He didn't waver.  He didn't hold back.  He didn't kick and scream.  He didn't turn his back on God and say he had demanded too much. 

Instead he walked ahead in faith.  A BOLD FAITH!

Having read the story many times and heard or taught it countless times in Sunday school, I knew the outcome.  I knew that God had a plan and that a ram would appear to take the place of Isaac.  An angel would stop him from making that ultimate sacrifice. 

Apparently Abraham knew that as well.  He may not have known HOW it would happen or what God was going to do, but he TRUSTED and BELIEVED.

This one word is what grabbed me:  "Will".

Abraham told his servants to stay with the donkey and that he and Isaac were traveling ahead a little farther.  He told them that they would worship there and "we WILL COME RIGHT BACK".

He had the faith and confidence to know that he would be returning with his son. 

Isn't that faith incredible?  As much as I want mine to be that strong, I admit that I wouldn't have acted in the same way in that situation. 

How I wish I had the faith of Abraham.  I'm thankful for how much it has grown and how much deeper it gets every day, but oh how I wish I had the unwavering, solid, undoubting faith.  Definitely have something to be working towards. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Chris Tomlin - Take My Life

Last night, I woke up a couple of times and each time a portion of this song kept going through my head. Several lines kept speaking to my heart, but the "Here am I, all of me. Take my life, it's all for thee" is what kept grabbing my heart and would NOT let go.

I kept thinking about how I REALLY want those words to be fully, thoroughly, completely true.

But to be honest, how often do I hold something back? It may be out of fear, those little doubts, stubbornness or selfishness. How many times am I actually saying "Here is MOST of me?" How many times am I giving Him almost all of me, but holding on to that last little bit? Just enough for ME to maintain control.


I kept thinking about how I also hold back just enough because I am fearful. So many times it seems like about the time I REALLY start growing spiritually, Satan comes full force and I start backing off. I was reminded of how many times I don't step out in faith because I know that as soon as I do, obstacles suddenly appear.

For example, just this last week we sat down and put our goals in writing to be debt free this year. We know it's possible next year, but we really want to focus and make it happen this year. We made a plan and committed to it. We specifically wrote out what we were going to pay each month in addition to regular payments to pay off our last two bills. Going to be difficult and we WILL have to make other sacrifices, but it is possible. We made the commitment.

Of course, by the next day...obstacles! Situations to distract from every direction. My wedding ring broke completely into two pieces. It made me sad, but I hung on to our commitment to apply everything we can to debt. My ring can wait until next year. Next day, my laptop screen backlight stopped working. I was SMACK dab in the middle of starting B90 and getting the next semester of school ready. HAD to purchase a monitor to plug the laptop into. Yes, it's inconvenient....but it's still workable. Distractions to keep us from our goal.

I feel like that type thing happens EVERY time we step out in faith or when we are growing spiritually and doing things in His will. So often that I realize now I hold back. Just committing to participate in B90 again made me nervous. Satan REALLY doesn't like it now that I'm leading a group that grew WAY quicker than I ever dreamed. It didn't take him two seconds of sending resistance for me to start second guessing.

But here is the reality. I'm not backing down. I'm sick and tired of holding back because of my fears. I'm sick and tired of holding back because I'm scared to give God that last little part of me.

He wants ALL of me. He deserves that and more. He wants my FULL trust. He doesn't want me to say here is MOST of me. I can't hold onto parts of my will. That's like saying, God I trust you....but not completely.

The way that song spoke to me last night and the thoughts that came later, I know it's Him telling me that NOW is the time. Now is the time to give Him ALL. I might be a WEE bit nervous....OK completely terrified. I might meet resistance from "the world". I might be uncomfortable and I might have to step FAR outside out of my comfort zone.

That's ok.

Because I know this, He is already there. He is just waiting with open arms. He knows exactly what plans He has for me and He is NEVER going to leave me alone. He didn't promise following Him would be easy. I may feel vulnerable at times. I might even feel like giving up. Yet, I know the victory will be much greater!

I was reminded of another song last night and today. A song that reminds me of who God designed me to be.

Courageous by Casting Crowns.

We (I) were made to be courageous. We (I) were made to lead the way.

The only way we'll (I) ever stand, is on our knees with lifted hands.

Make us (me) courageous. Lord make us (me) courageous.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

B90 Check in Week One (Monday 1-2-12)

Posting a bit early just because my house happens to be actually a bit calm right now!  :)   We also have some participants in different countries that are on different time zones!

This is it!  We are at the starting line.  Time to begin the digging in and reading God's word cover to cover....and hopefully in 90 days!  Time to be connected to Him more than ever.  A new year----a new chance for God to use each of us!

I'm so excited for EACH and EVERY single one of you that are reading along with our group.

Let me tell you.....

I am humbled.
I am overwhelmed.
I am nervous.
I am excited.

When I agreed to "jump in" in this capacity, I had no idea what God was planning.  I still don't have a clue what is going to happen in these next 90 days.  I know this....

He has already moved me.  He has already allowed so many of you to touch my heart deeply.  The openness that you've shared your own struggles and how transparent you've been literally shocked me.  I'm fervently praying for each of those requests you have shared.  Some of you are going through some very difficult times.  Others of you just want to be that much closer to God----for this to be THE time that His love wraps around you so tightly that you can literally feel Him next to you.  I'm praying that for you, too. 

I'm "just" a mom.  I'm no one of significance.  To know that each of you is stepping out in faith on this adventure and sharing in this time just overwhelming.

I'm also praying that I can encourage you along the way.  I'm praying that my heart is open to be used by God in His way and in His power.  Not of my own power.  Not of my own strength.  I don't want my own pride and selfishness to get in the way.  I don't want to be a hindrance of any kind.  I'm praying that God takes captive each and every one of my thoughts and leads me. 

I'm believing in each of you.  I believe you each made a commitment for a reason and that there was something specifically in the timing. 

I admit that Satan has already been attacking.  He doesn't want me to succeed in this task of leading OR reading.  He doesn't want to see any of us succeed.  Guess what?  Our God is WAY bigger and WAY stronger!  Crowding out the doubts.  Feeding my faith so my doubts will starve.  Praying that for each of you as well! 

Ready....get set.....GO!  We are in this together.

Be sure to check in each Monday.  Let us know where you are.  Don't forget that if you don't want to share with the group, you definitely have the option of sending an email.  I can't promise to answer immediately BUT I will answer and I WILL pray!  I will believe in you to succeed!

This week's reading plan:
Monday 2nd  Genesis 1:1 through 16:16
Tuesday 3rd Genesis 17:1 through 28:19
Wednesday 4th Genesis 28:20 through 40:11
Thursday 5th Genesis 40:12 through Genesis 50:26
Friday 6th Exodus 1:1 through 15:18
Saturday 7th Exodus 15:19 through 28:43
Sunday 8th Exodus 29:1 through 40:38

For those of you wanting to read the SOAPS that Amy has posted on MomsToolbox in the past, week one can be found here.

Start strong this week.  Don't let anything cause you to get behind.  You don't want to get started out so early with being behind.  Stick with it and let it boost your confidence.

If you get stuck on something, just jot down a few notes so that you can come back to it later.  Highlight things that speak to your heart.  Most importantly READ and PRAY.  Ask God to open your heart to His word in a fresh, new, powerful way.  It may be your first time.  It may be the 10th doesn't matter!  God WILL use this time with you!

Looking forward to hearing from each of you that you've gotten started!  Ready....set...GO!