Monday, January 31, 2011

CSN Winner

And the Winner of the $35 CSN giveaway is….

Aaron Williams said... 26

I posted this post on my facebook

January 27, 2011 11:02 AM

I selected this winner using

Thank you all who entered the giveaway, there were 52 entries, which I think is the most ever that I’ve had in one of my giveaways!! So thanks.

I will be contacting Aaron via e-mail so keep your eyes open for your certificate.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Book Review: The Beginning Reader’s Bible

image The Beginning Reader’s Bible

Book Description:

Using actual Bible text from the International Children's Bible® as well as prayers, memory verses, and fun activities, children will love this large format and be engrossed in the intricate detail of the illustrations. Bible stories from the Old and New Testaments are included and stories are accompanied by a prayer for the child to pray, a verse to memorize, and a fun activity to help them grow.

Book Review:

I recently read a blog post of a homeschooling mom about how she doesn’t read regular children’s Bibles to her children, she only reads out of the actual Bible. While I disagree with her approach, I realized that I should start reading some of our Bible stories out  of an actual Bible translation, a few days later, I received this book in the mail to review!! Literally a God-send!

This Bible is a collection of favorite stories in actual Bible text, using select portions of scripture from the International Children’s Bible translation. I particularly appreciated the fact that they included the chapters and verses (just like a real Bible) that they used for each story.

I really enjoyed this translation for most of the Bible stories we read. I also loves the resources found in the back of the Bible, a few of the ones we enjoyed were:

  • The Ten Commandments
  • The Twenty-Third Psalm
  • The 12 Apostles
  • 12 Disciples
  • A Reading Chart (where the child can mark off which stories they’ve read)

I appreciated the depth and attention which was given to the Cross. It wasn’t a short portion included, it was one of the larger stories. I love it!!

The book does not have page numbers, though the table of contents records them, so it can be difficult for the child to find the right page, if they can’t read.

One of the only problems that I found in the translation was in the story of Noah, Genesis 6:9 says “Noah was a good man. He walked with God.” I know that the term ‘good’ is easier to read and understand for a child than ‘righteous’ but they are two completely different words with entirely different meanings. And more importantly the truth is Noah was not a “good” man, in the same way that the Bible tells us none of us are good (Romans 8), Noah was righteous only because he found favor in the eyes of God. (Genesis 6:8) I wish that they would have included verse 8 prior to verse 9 for proper interpretation of the scripture.

Overall, I found this children’s Bible completely unique and unlike any other we have in our home. A great addition.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book as part of the Book Sneeze Blogger program, for the purpose of this review, the opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Being an Encourager

I decided to join in this week At the Well with one of their weekly projects.imageThis weeks project (#4) is:

to share your words with someone as an encouragement. Send a card to someone. Write a letter. Send a quick e-mail sharing your gratitude. Call someone just to say, “Hi.”

This week, be intentional each day and choose to lift up a woman in your life (daughter, sister, mother, friend, neighbor, etc…).

So often I have the best intentions in my head, but not a very good follow-through. I know how good it feels when someone shows me that they “see’ me, and it doesn’t take much, a simple email (or even better a letter via snail mail) goes a long way.

I want to do the same for the women in my life that mean a lot to me. So this week I am going to go out of my way to try and show a few of them I really do think about them and love them!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Book Review: Soul Print

image I recently mentioned in a previous post that I was reading a book called “Soul Print” by Mark Batterson.

Well, I finished it.

And I loved it.

Book Description:

There never has been and never will be anyone like you. But that isn’t a testament to you. It’s a testament to the God who created you. The problem? Few people discover the God-given identity that makes them unlike anyone else. Mark Batterson calls this divine distinction our soulprint.
God would like to introduce you to yourself.
In Soulprint, Mark pours the contagious energy he’s known for into helping you experience the joy of discovering who you are...and the freedom of discovering who you’re not. The wonderful fact is that your uniqueness is God’s gift to you, and it’s also your gift to God.
   A self-discovery book that puts God at the center rather than self, Soulprint encourages you to recognize and explore the five defining moments in your life that will determine your destiny. Along the way, you’ll find that you’re not just turning the pages of a book. You’re turning the pages of your remarkable, God-shaped, world-changing life.

Book Review:

To put simply, I found this book to be very motivational, and encouraging. It was also convicting and straight-to-the-point when it needed to be. What I realized through reading this book, is that I was made for more, through God’s grace I can be more, and that God is faithful and praise His name, He’s not done with me yet!

I was surprised how much I related to this book.

I enjoyed reading a self-discovery book that is covered in the gospel! Batterson doesn’t shy away from addressing the important stuff like sin, spending time with God, the importance of reading the Bible, worship and a God-centered perspective. It’s hard to find such a book this day and age.

Here are a few quotes:

“The reason so many of us are strangers to ourselves is because we don’t sit before the Lord. If you want to discover your destiny, you’ve got to spend time in the presence of God. There is no alternative. There is no substitute. True self-discovery happens only in the presence of God.”

“The journey of self-discovery reveals more than your destiny. It reveals your legacy. It reveals what you remember. It also reveals how you will be remembered… your destiny is determined by your decisions. It’s your actions, and reactions, that define you. So don’t play the victim. Be the victor.”

I certainly recommend this book.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of my review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, January 24, 2011

CSN Giveaway!!

When we bought our first house it came with an old wooden swingset in the backyard. At the time we didn’t have any children so I didn’t think much of it, but once Treyton was born I told Tim “when we move, that things coming with us”… and so it has… After two moves, it still is a sturdy swing and our kids love it, it has taken a little updating over time, which is one of the reasons I found myself browsing for longer than I should at the swing sets store.

I had no idea some of the accessories out there!!

Not that I wasn’t missing summer before, but now, I’m really missing it!! Imagine the possibilities with me:

image  Treyton would love this…. Lexie would try this… and mom would kill herself on it!

And what about this…. what kid wouldn’t love to ride in (or should I say on, I’m not really sure) one of these:

image Well, back to our winter-wonder reality. While I can’t make the sun shine on a cold dreary day, I can hopeuflly brighten one reader’s day with a $35 gift certificate to any of CSNs 200 stores.

This giveaway is open to US and Candian readers only, if you qualify here’s what you need to do to have your chance of winning. 

Mandatory Requirement:

This giveaway is open to followers and subscribers only. If you are already a subscriber/follower just leave a comment – if you become a NEW follower (through GFC) or email subscribing, you can have 2 entries for signing up.

Addtional Entries:

2. Become a NEW GFC Follower or Email Subscriber to Refined Metals Academy. (2 entries)

3. Post my button on your blog (2 entries)

4. Blog about this giveaway on your blog (2 entries)

5. Post this giveaway on facebook (2 entries) be sure to include a link back to this post.


Be sure to leave your e-mail address so that I can contact you.

Giveaway closes on January 31st 12:00pm, the winner will be announced on the blog within a day or so.


Good Luck!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Life Symbols

IMG_0069I am in the process of reading a great book called Soul Print by Mark Batterson.

Using King David and a few of his life’s defining moments as his Biblical example Batterson walks the reader through the process of self-discovery to discover the uniqueness of our God-shaped lives and how that makes us one-of-a-kind God worshipers.

I just finished reading the chapter titled “Lifesymbols” and wow!! It’s left a lasting impression.

Batterson defines lifesymbols as: “physical objects that remind us of spiritual milestones. They are reminders from the past that give meaning to the present and holy confidence for the future.”

I was reminded of the deep emotional connection I feel when I’m going through a box of my old stuff, or when I hear certain songs from “way back”. How for a minute, the present seems to stand still out of respect for the past. There’s a deep connection with seemingly simple, sometimes ridiculously invaluable memorabilia and souvenirs, and lame songs/sounds. It’s those items and moments that serve as my life-symbols. They are powerful reminders where I’ve come from, who I was, who I’m becoming and lessons I’ve learned along the way. In real-physical form, they represent God’s providential hand of faithfulness in my life.

“I am who I was. It’s my footprints, where I’ve been and what I’ve done, that reveal my soulprint. It’s my unique combination of memories that makes me who I am spiritually, emotionally, relationally and motivationally. It’s also that unique combination of memories that enables me to worship God in a way that no one else can…. our defining moments double as altars to God.”

Altars to God… I love the idea of using things from my past as altars to God’s love and faithfulness in my life, inspiring faith for the present and hope for my future. It’s a creative and effective way of using the joy and pain of my life experiences to bring glory to God. I’m realizing now my need for reminders of God’s hand in my past, without them, I easily forget what He’s done.

“Our defining moments double as altars to God. The stones, like those David used as artillery, turn into stone altars. And while there isn’t any biblical proof to this end, I’m guessing David kept the bloodstained stone that was buried in Goliath’s forehead. Like David, we need holy keepsakes to remind us of where we’ve been and where we’re headed.

I wonder if Abraham ever journeyed back to Mount Moriah, where God provided a sacrificial ram in the thicket to take the place of his son. Maybe he even kept one of it’s horns. Did Jacob ever camp out at Bethel again? Do you think Peter ever rowed out to the spot on the Sea of Galilee where he once walked on water? I bet Zacchaeus let his grandkids climb the sycamore tree where he got his first glimpse of Jesus. How many times did Paul travel the road to Damascus and stop at the mile marker where he got knocked off his high horse? And if you were Lazarus, wouldn’t you have made an annual trek to the tomb where you were buried for four days?”

I got goosebumps the first time I read that paragraph. While we may not all have such largely obvious miracle encounters to symbolize, we each have life changing moments and memories that have taught us spiritual lessons and helped shape us into who God is making us to be. We just need to remember them.

“The primary reason we lose faith is because we forget the “faith-fullness” of God. Maybe that’s why the word remember is repeated almost 250 times in Scripture.”

After looking through Tim and I’s box of “old stuff” I realized, I don’t have much “stuff” that I felt like was important enough to save, except for paper (books, journals, magazine clippings, pictures)!! Come to find out, I’ve always journaled. I have journals going back to when I was 6 and 7 years old!! These serve as excellent life symbols (when I read them). I pulled a few of them out to read and keep on my journal shelf (yeah, I have a shelf for my journals).

For Tim I pulled out the pair of pants that he was wearing the day that his leg got ran over by a 9-ton fork lift (he was 2 1/2 years old). The doctors wanted to amputate his foot, but his dad asked for an extra day, so they could have a prayer meeting. Tim’s foot was healed, and he was able to keep it, but they said he would always walk with a club foot. He doesn’t. God, performed a miracle in Tim’s life as a child. He’s never forgotten it and neither has his family. These were perfect for a lifeysmbol!! I took the pants and framed them, we now have them hanging in our dining room.

I loved doing this, and I’m going to keep on doing it. From now on, you can expect that my eyes will be open for all types of lifesymbols. As life goes on, I hope to fill our home with symbol upon symbol of God’s amazing work!! I thank God for our memories, and having the ability reflect on our life-changing moments.

He is good.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Seriousness of Sin

My sister and I are reading through the book Respectable Sins together, by Jerry Bridges. In the last chapter we uncovered the seriousness of sin in our lives. It was very convicting for me.

Bridges describes sin in the following way:

“Left alone, malignancy tends to infiltrate and metastasize throughout the entire body and will eventually cause death…. Sin is a spiritual and moral malignancy. Left unchecked, it can spread throughout our entire inner being and contaminate every area of our lives. Even worse, it often will “metastasize” from us into the lives of other believers around us.”

He goes on and says:

“Sin, however, is much more than wrong actions, unkind words, or even those evil thoughts we never express. Sin is a principle or moral force in our heart, our inner being. Our sinful actions, words and thoughts are simply expressions of the principle of sin residing within us, even in those of us whose hearts have been renewed.”

Sin is tragically dangerous, an infinitely serious offense. Yet, we easily fail to recognize it as that. There is a tendency to compare one’s thoughts, words and actions to others, rather than Biblical standards. It’s easy to belittle our sin this way. When our worldview is man-centered sin can seem less serious, less damaging and even less like sin. 

“Even the smallest sin is an act of rebellion against God. Every sin is an act of cosmic treason, a futile attempt to dethrone God in His sovereign authority.” ~R.C. Sproul~

As we begin to develop a God-centered perspective, sin takes on an entirely new meaning. When comparing sin to an infinitely holy God, we will see our sin for what it is, an assault on His very majesty. Sin is a blatant rejection of our Creator’s Lordship in our life.

“The wages of sin is death” Romans 3:23

The Bible takes sin very seriously, and we need to do the same.

The first place to start is by recognizing the sin in our lives. Simply praying for the Holy Spirit to unleash Himself in our lives and hearts  and begin convicting us of our sin is a great place to start (but I warn you, be prepared). The Bible tells us to examine ourselves. It isn’t easy, but as I have begun to take inventory of things in my own life, I was surprised by the number of sins I hadn’t even considered as “wrong”, primarily because they weren’t “hurting anyone else” – I failed to consider Jesus.

I praise God that for those of us who have been saved by grace, through faith there is good news. For we know that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Sin is serious, and as Christians we are on a journey of sanctification, that process can be painful and full of moments of examination and conviction, but what makes that process possible and bearable is the price that Christ alone has paid. The great news is that the larger we see our sin, the larger we’re able to see the Cross and what Christ has done for us.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Snapshot of Audrey

I just laid Audrey down for her nap, and now that I am now alone and able to do whatever I want, (and I have a list of things I want to get done), I can’t think of anything else I would rather do than share some pictures that I took of her while playing around with my new light scoop!!

In the last week Audrey seems to have grown up so fast. I know she’s 10 months now, but I didn’t see it coming.

She’s developing such a curious personality. It’s fun to watch her explore and learn and actually be motivated enough to go after something she wants. Her content personality remains, but finally I’m seeing a little interest in a few things other than just me. IMG_0069Here is a little smile for Audrey, when she smiles big, you can see her wrinkly little gums, which is a smile only a mother could love :) and love it I do!! I love her face, I can actually see a little bit of me in her, which is something up to this point I haven’t been able to identify in my other children.

IMG_0075Treyton loves his little sister so much, he loves holding her, making her laugh and giving her kisses… she loves him right back. She watches her older siblings like a hawk. She’s interested (from a safe distance usually) in what their doing. But actually, this morning for the first time, she really seemed to be trying hard to play with them when they were running around playing swords with Dad, it was so precious, and exciting to see her finally reach that stage.  IMG_0076 

IMG_0082shhh… I don’t think she realizes she’s got a little lunch on her face. 


IMG_0088 She did manage to find the pea on her face, but I guess that wasn’t enough for her, she found this picture of Treyton and Lexie and decided to munch on this too. This has been the story of her life this past week, now that she’s moving around a little more, EVERYTHING is going in the mouth.

IMG_0089This would be Audrey’s tired face, 30 minutes or so past her normal nap time, she was done with pictures and just trying to get to mom.  IMG_0090  …getting closer….


After she got over to me, she kept grabbing my face. I love her little kisses. We don’t get too many chances for mommy and Audrey pictures, so we decided we should take a picture together. 


I love this little girl with my whole heart, who knew my heart could get this big?!? God is so much bigger than we can comprehend. He would have to be if He loves anything like a mom does (and we know he loves even better)!!


This was super cute:  I was sitting on this stool looking at some pictures I just got in from snapfish, when she crawled over, she squawked a little, but I kept working on what I was doing. When I looked down, I realized she somehow managed to sit up (which she has not done on her own), inside of the stool and she was stuck!!

Like any good mother, instead of helping her out, I grabbed the camera to document such an amazing accomplishment. IMG_0112

After a while, she got bored of me taking pictures of her so she leaned back, grabbed a little thumb and waited for me to finish. When I finally put the camera down she said “a ma, a ma!!” Another first!! She hadn’t said mama yet!!

Truly a sweetheart, she is growing so much so quickly. I am really hoping she doesn’t decide to “catch up” all in one week. I rather appreciate a slow progression of developments for my own adjustment’s sake.

I’m excited to see her so motivated though, it’s a nice change of pace…. cause things weren’t crazy enough around here yet.


Friday, January 14, 2011

New Song on my Heart

This is the number 1 song on my player now, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. (click trough to my blog to hear it, if you are reading this in email or a reader).


Blessed Redeemer

Casting Crowns

Up Calvary’s mountain one dreadful morn
Walked Christ my Savior, weary and worn
Facing for sinners death on the cross
That He might save them from endless loss

Blessed Redeemer, precious Redeemer
Seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading
Blind and unheeding, dying for me

“Father, forgive them,” my Savior prayed
Even while His lifeblood flowed fast away
Praying for sinners while in such woe
No one but Jesus ever loved so

Dying for me

Oh how I love Him, Savior and friend
How can my praises ever find end
Through years unnumbered on Heaven’s shore
My songs shall praise Him forevermore

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Book Review: Voices of the Faithful


Voices of the Faithful with Beth Moore and friends who put their lives on the line for God.

Publisher’s Book Description:

"A willingness to go is all they have in common," exclaims Beth Moore, speaking of her friends on the front lines who are spreading the gospel around the world and with whom she collaborated to create this book. This brilliant 365-day devotional features incredible stories of God's faithfulness in the face of uncertainty and danger, written by hundreds of missionaries worldwide.”

Book Review:

Beth Moore’s name was all I needed to take a look at this book, but once I did, her name was not the one that filled my heart and mind throughout the day after reading a short devotional. While Beth Moore opens each month with a short word, the daily devotionals are written by different men and women from around the world serving on the front lines of missionary life.

I love how Beth Moore explains the importance of coming along side missionaries from around the world, whether it be through prayer, financial support, short-term or long-term trips; she says:

“My earnest prayer is that once you feel like you know a handful of missionaries personally, your motivation to remember them, pray for them and support them in any of the many ways will explode into a full-fledged partnership…. The divine idea for full-throttle function was that God’s people would operate as one entity – or one body – in each generation. We’re meant to be like a multicolored Christmas lights attached to one electrical cord called the Holy Spirit and hung strategically all over the earth.”

This book certainly made me realize how connected I am with those serving as well as how much we have in common in Christ.

The truth is, reading these devotions put some stories with names and touched my heart in a way that I was reminded and wanted to pray for the work they were doing; but even more than that of the month (or more) worth of devotionals that I read, I was ministered to, encouraged, inspired and taught something.

This is a great devotional, and although the new year has started, I would encourage you to look into this particular devotional if you haven’t settled on one yet. The daily readings each begin with a verse and then a short easy-to read devotion that would take you less than a few minutes to read, but with enough impact to last you all day.

To Purchase:

I found this book priced at $11.24 on amazon. A great price for such a great devotional.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of my review. The opinions expressed are my own and I do not need to return my copy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why We Homeschool: Reason Number 1

Most of you are aware that we home school, we do this for a variety of reasons, but mostly we do it because we are called to it (for at least this season). But by His grace we are often given even more reasons why we love home schooling.

IMG_0219 Today was one of those days.

This morning school went only so-so for Treyton and I, he was really struggling to listen and so it was taking us twice as long to do things as we should. So we took it easy after lunch.

The kids spent the afternoon playing side by side. The two of them were laughing harder than I’ve ever been able to get them to laugh on my own. Making memories and bringing laughter and excitement all through out our home.

Having our children grow up as best friends is very important to Tim and I. Having a three year difference between our kids and the fact that they are opposite genders are seemingly small obstacles to overcome until you add to it spending more than half the day apart while Treyton would be in school. There wouldn’t be much time for them to develop a solid relationship. 

The days that our children are spending at home, learning together, is time that they are also getting to know one another better.

Being homeschooled, side-by-side with my three sisters, I can personally attest to the fact, that being around one another as often as we were can drive you crazy!! But it also drives you closer. My sisters and I are extremely close, even when we don’t talk all the time (which lets be honest, doesn’t happen very often).

I wanted the same for my children regardless of age difference and sex. Homeschooling our children gives us the best chance possible of doing this.

Overheard: A Lesson Learned

IMG_0052 I overheard the two older kids talking in the laundry room this afternoon while cleaning the kitchen after lunch.

Treyton: Do you see Annie-Annie?

Alexa: No

Treyton: Grab that stool and you can see her.

(a few minutes later)

Treyton: Don’t stick your fingers in their, Annie-Annie will bite you!!! Do you want to get bit?

Alexa: Yeah

Treyton: No, you don’t. Do you remember when she bit you that one time?

Alexa: Yeah…. no.

Treyton: Here let me show you. Open your mouth.


Treyton: Okay, bite my finger

(a second later)

Treyton: Open your mouth! Open your mouth!! Now that hurt me, do you want Annie-Annie to do that to you?

Alexa: Yeah

Treyton: No, you don’t – I hurt now. You don’t want to be bit.

Alexa: Oh, Okay


I’m one proud mama :)

Book List for 2011

So I didn’t exactly read all the books on my list for 2010, but I added several more throughout the year primarily through the reviews, according to my post I read 19 books, but there are several review books I forgot to add on there. So I don’t feel so bad, and now I’m just bringing over the list from last year to this year, plus more ;)

Finished Reading

Crazy Good Sex by Dr. Les Parrott
image A book written to men, was recommended by a speaker that came to my MOPS. Written in a straight-forward, but respectful way, Parrott displaces common myths that exist in our culture, churches and marriages regarding sex.
I actually bought this book for Tim, but of course I had to read it first, I wasn’t about to just turn over a book about sex to my man, I don’t care if it did come highly recommended :)
I was surprised by a few things that I learned and was comforted by a few others. And for the record, I did pass it along to Tim to read. ;)

Soul Print by Mark Batterson
Given to me to review. Amazon’s description of this book image“There  never has been and never will be anyone like you. But that isn’t a testament to you. It’s a testament to the God who created you. The problem? Few people discover the God-given identity that makes them unlike anyone else.”
I loved this book – To put simply, I found this book to be very motivational, and encouraging. It was also convicting and straight-to-the-point when it needed to be. What I realized through reading this book, is that I was made for more, through God’s grace I can be more, and that God is faithful and praise His name, He’s not done with me yet!
I was surprised how much I related to this book.
You can visit my posts on this book regarding Lifesymbols and the actual review, if you’re interested.

Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekker
My mom recommended these books to me and I borrowed the trilogy from my sister. I read this entire 1200 page book (Black, Red and White) in less than a week. Incredible!!
Read my review here

Hard to Believe by John MacArthur
image Popular perception of Jesus Christ is that of a tempered, genteel man who walked the earth, offering nuggets of wisdom to His followers. But what we sometimes fail to recognize is that although Jesus Christ offered a message of forgiveness, He also spoke challenging, demanding words about what being a follower of Christ requires.
This book is very challenging to read, it’s point-blank and to the point. I respect John MacArthur’s honesty and no apology truth, that carries a message to Christians and churches all over America.

The Missional Mom by Helen Lee
image“Numerous Christian mothers today are living missional lives, using their gifts and abilities to further God's kingdom by engaging the world around them.  They artfully, passionately, sometimes messily, juggle multiple callings and demonstrate in their modern day contexts how they are emulating the woman of noble character in Proverbs 31.”
An encouraging, yet convicting read. This book was a God-thing for me, He put it on my nightstand at a time when I was not only ready but needed to hear what the author had to say. I wrote more in my post about how it inspired me. 

Jesus Lives by Sarah Young
A devotional I started last year, and I carried over to this year.

A Thousand Tomorrows by Karen Kingsbury
A fiction read that I finished in 5 hours.... very good, be prepared to cry.

Cross Centered Life by C.J. Mahaney
This is the best book I've read this year by far. I recommend this book to everyone. It's powerfully, honestly written and is for both the mature believer, non-believer or new believer.

Luther Gold compiled by Ray Comfort
Quotes and segments from Martin Luther’s ministry, as well as a history overview put together by Ray Comfort.

The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges
This book goes perfectly with some things God has placed on my heart so when I came across it I wanted to read it right away. It goes through God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness. The quote on the back of the book, which I LOVE is “Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.”

When the Brain Can’t Hear by Teri James Bellis, PH.D.
A book on Auditory Process Disorder, something that I suspect Treyton may have. This book was recommended by a fellow mom-blogger, it gave me some helpful insight into how Treyton thinks and helpful tips on how to teach and even communicate well with him.

Love Written in Stone  by Philip Carlson
A Review book that I really enjoyed. Written by a doctor, explaining why many of God's commands are not just commands but given for our well-being. He is a good Father and perfect God, this books just gives a few more "medical" reasons to trust Him.

Currently Reading:

"Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins we Tolerate" by Jerry Bridges
My sister and I are reading through this book together, it’s reallyimage  good. I just got through chapter 3 which is about the seriousness of sin, I’m now starting chapter 4 which has a little more about the good news :)  This book is based on the concept that though we, as Christians, believe that all sins are equal in God's eyes we often live our lives accepting some sins easier than other
My Post on: The Seriousness of Sin

Carried Over From 2010
"Sacred Marriage: What if God designed Marriage to make us more holy than happy?" by Gary Thomas
I had had this book on my "wishlist" for a while but decided to purchase it after I read Jess' review of it over at Making Home she image says "This is, bar-none, the best book on marriage I've ever read. Mr. Thomas clearly lays out God's plan of sanctification, maturity, blessing, and growth through a Christian marriage. I highly recommend it to any man, woman, married or hoping to be married. Happily married couples will find further encouragement; struggling couples will find challenge and hope; future married people will be informed about God's higher purpose. It really is the most solidly biblical portrayal of marriage and intimacy and God's plans that I've yet encountered. Read it."

"Grace Based Parenting" by Tim Kimmel
Recommended by many (including Mark Driscoll). I've had this book for so long I don't know when I got it - I read something by Mark Driscoll recommending it and then saw it on the shelf a few days later... I figured it was a sign, so I took it off the shelf and put it next to my night stand.The synopsis off of Amazon says "Parents in our post-modern world tend to be committed to but anxious about their child-rearing responsibilities. They've tried the countless parenting books on the market, but many of these are strident, fear-based books that loving parents instinctively reject, while still searching for direction.
Now Dr. Tim Kimmel, founder of Family Matters ministries, offers a refreshing new look at parenting. Rejecting rigid rules and checklists that don't work, Dr. Kimmel recommends a parenting style that mirrors God's love, reflects His forgiveness, and displaces fear as a motivator for behavior. As we embrace the grace God offers, we begin to give it-creating a solid foundation for growing morally strong and spiritually motivated children."

 "Lord Teach Me to Study the Bible in 28 Days" Kay Arthur image
Kay Arthur, the beloved author that I can't recall reading a single book of!! I know it can't be so... but seriously, I can't think of any! This is a Bible/Study type book so I was hoping to read/complete this book in between the Beth Moore Study that I am currently in and the Beth Moore study I am hoping to take in the summer or next fall (if the one I want is offered!) 

"Say Goodbye to Whining" by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller
On the back of the book it says at the top "Help Change Kid's Hearts -Nnot Just Their Behavior"
This book is based on "an honor-based" solution and claims to teach you (1) Six ways to teach honor to your children (2) A three-step approach to deal with meanness (3) Five helpful parenting skills (4) Three Biblical solutions to sibling rivalry and (5) Loads of practical family activities
.... sounds good to me!!....

New Books I’ve Added to the List

The Reason for God by Tim Keller
image “Why does God allow suffering in the world? How Could a loving God send people to hell? Why isn’t Christianity more inclusive? How can one religion be “right” and others “wrong”? Why have so many wars been fought in the name of God?”
This book seeks to answer age old questions in an age of skepticism.

Out Live Your Life by Max Lucado
image I received this book as a gift, and I’m very excited to read it. A book about making a difference with our one-of-a-kind lives!! Someone told me that it was a walk-through of the book of acts, centered around the early church, but I’m not sure if that’s true or not… I’ll find out and let you all know :)
So there you have it, a rough trail map of what I will hopefully be reading in the next year (or so). Of course in addition to these titles I will be adding in review books and books that come up and are must-reads.
So let’s talk about it!! What is on your to-read list? Which books are you most looking forward to?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Update: Comments

For those of you that care, I removed disqus commenting for now, if you have commented, I have gotten them, though now it looks like I didn't :)
You are now able to comment through blogger (the way it used to be). 
Hope this makes it easier for everyone.

A New Year: A New Direction

Ephesians 4:7-16But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. Therefore it says, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men." (In saying, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,  so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

This morning, I read this portion of scripture and was reminded of a few Bible truths that the Lord has been faithful in trying to remind me of lately.

1. God in His grace, has given all saints gifts.

2. These gifts are to be used by believers for the equipping of the saints for ministry, to help bring unity and maturity.

3. This is particularly important (unity and maturity) to prevent any of us from being “blown about” by false doctrine. Which brings up an important issue of how important it is to be discussing, learning and teaching doctrine to one another. Knowing exactly what we believe and why we believe is important! Without a solid foundation in doctrine, we are easily led astray by false teachers and gospels – this is a Biblical warning found throughout the NT, none of us are exempt from this.

4. All of these things are to be done in love with Christ always our focus.

This Scripture Applied to My Life

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, you have probably noticed a pretty drastic change from what I once posted to what I’ve been posting. The last year has been mostly family updates and reviews, rather than my once Bible reflections and personal doctrinal studies. There are a lot of reasons for this (a lot of good reasons). And while I think stepping away was a good thing, and a season that God called me to, I also believe He is calling me back to using my blog as a ministry to share what He is teaching me and my family, and to be a place of Biblical discussion and reflection.

I would never claim to be right, 100% of the time, or even 50% of the time. I’m rarely confident enough in my self to even write a sentence without saying “In my opinion” or “I think” or “I believe”, however, God has given me a love of His Word and a gift of knowledge and research, and I am confident in Him, so right or wrong I plan to use that gift to grow into maturity and I pray encourage others to grow in a similar way.

I pray that no one use or think of my blog or posts as absolute truth, but as a spring board to find truth for themselves. It may be that I am right, it may be that I am wrong, but either way I never want to stop learning and talking about God’s Word and I hope that you don’t either.

Like most blog writers, I love comments, but if at any time I feel like the comments are getting to harsh or that love for God and one another is not at the center of our discussion I will absolutely turn off comments. Please, please, feel free to comment, God has used most of your comments to encourage and strengthen me in my walk and like Ephesians 4 points to, this blog is about more than just me, it’s about you the reader, your comments help guide and direct where this thing is going so please, keep commenting – even a little something is encouraging.

So, whatever this all means for me and this blog, I pray that God will use my gifts for His glory and His glory alone, even if that means I need to apologize over and over again :) As a small disclosure, I do not plan on turning this blog into post after post of heavy, sometimes controversial issues, it will remain our family blog. I just plan on posting more scripture and devotional style reflections, however along with opening my blog back up to more reflective posts, also inevitably comes disagreement and conflict, by looking at the life of Jesus, Paul and the apostles, this seems to be expected, but I pray that it’s all in love and to the Glory of God.

What I am Learning

Okay, so for where to go from here --- I’m not really sure yet. I thought I would just tell you guys some of the things that God is laying on my heart right now and that I am learning. These may be things I talk about in the future, or maybe not, who knows where He will lead?

1. Eternal Security: I am knee deep in Eternal Security study right now which I am discussing with my sister-in-law, this has been so much fun to do a topical study viewing both sides of the argument and nailing down exactly why I believe in eternal security.

2. Covenants: In researching Eternal Security, I have also been learning about New Covenant vs. Old Covenant, and the “bigness” of what a covenant really is. Fascinating stuff.

3. The damage of religion in the Church, along with the danger of seeker friendly churches.

4. Predestination and the sovereignty of God (yes, this again :))

5. And last, but certainly not least – the severity and seriousness of sin.

So what about you guys? Let’s talk!!

What are some of the things God is teaching you right now? Where is He leading you in your studies?

What are some of the gifts God has given you, and how are you using them to build up the Church?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Finding Myself

I love talking to old friends, there’s something special about the people who knew you before you knew who you were. The people who grew up along side of you and learned life lessons with you. As adults these relationships are very eye-opening, they shine a bright light on all the ways you’ve changed since “back-then”.

It was just these kind of friends we were hanging out with recently when I realized just how much Tim and I’s life has changed. We started dating in college and while we weren’t out-of-control, rebels or anything, we did like to have a good time. Tim was this “cool guy”, my sister and I called him “Mr. Cool”; he was a fast driving, loud-music playing, man’s man, he wasn’t a slacker, but he was carefree. Tim describes me as goofy, adorable, determined and fun. (oh yeah, and hot!!)

We were a good match, Tim helped me to loosen up, I helped him focus. He brought sophistication to the table, I brought silliness.  Tim brought excitement and stability to my life, while I challenged him to become more.

Fast forward about 4 years to when we first started our family. We were given lots of well-meaning advice like “don’t lose who you are” “remember to hold on to who you once were, because after your kids are gone and grown up, you need to still know who you are.” Even as we watched other people start their family’s we heard similar concerns from them like “I don’t want becoming a parent to change who I am or who my spouse is.”

It didn’t get any better as time went on. After we had our son, and I began to visit different mom’s groups and Bible Studies, I would hear over and over how I was “more than just a mom” and how important it is to “take care of me” and I guess I get that – I know as well as the next mom how important it is to get refreshed and to fill my own cup up before I can pour into my family, but what bothers me is that it always seems to be more than that.  Women, in particular seem overly concerned with changing or losing themselves as they become a mom.

I don’t really understand this at all.

I understand that change is scary and uncertain and I can personally see how parts of me have changed over the years. And I’ll be honest, some of it I miss. I miss how carefree I was (even though it wasn’t a defining characteristic, I was more carefree then than I am now), my quick whit, and funny 1 liners. I miss how easy it was for me to go with the flow and how I wasn’t really scared of anything. I miss the ability I had to “not care” about what others thought of me when I needed to.

But a lot if it I don’t miss.

I don’t miss my self-centered attitude on life, I don’t miss how loud I was, or how hard it was for me to cover up all the pain I was in most of the time. I don’t miss how easy it was to not be modest. I don’t miss all the ugly words that came out of my mouth and lived in my heart. I don’t miss trying so hard to succeed and fit in.

It’s clear to me that I’ve become a better person, and after talking to the same people who were most leery of my transition into parenthood, they too admit that I am a better person since becoming a mom. So why the fear? Why the resistance to changing after having kids?

I think what people are most afraid of is losing their personal freedoms and self-centered privileges. The resentment comes from being inconvenienced by children. Children are not viewed as the blessing they are, but a burden instead. Whether it’s a person who wants children, but just doesn’t want to make the necessary parental sacrifices or the well-meaning family member or friend that just doesn’t want their loved-one to change it all roots back to being inconvenienced.

I know that writing this article isn’t going to change the way our society views children or their parents, but I hope that maybe I can help shift the focus of even one person to realize that the process of change that a child brings, is good. It’s good for every one involved.

Becoming a mom has helped me realize, I am always being watched. Certainly my children’s eyes see me and everything I say or do has an effect on them. But in addition to that becoming a mom brought me face-to-face to the fact that God sees me ALL the time, and that every word I speak, every action I take I will one day be accountable to.

I know that I might not be as “fun” as I once was, but never in my life have I felt more fulfilled, more joy and like I was where I was supposed to be, becoming who I was meant to be. I lost me, there’s no doubt about it, ask any one of my family members, but in the process, I found me.

Changing hasn’t been hard for me, or sad for me, even the parts I sometimes miss; it’s been the best thing that’s ever happened to me (and I’m not even talking about what my kids mean to me in addition to this).

Right now, I’m a mom. I’m still Amber, but I’m a different Amber. I can’t possibly be everything everyone wanted me to be, and I have to make a choice. I had to choose to either hold on to who I was or to become the best mom I can be. I chose to become the best mom I can. And in doing that the Lord has changed who I was as a person, not for the worse but for the better.

Friday, January 7, 2011

I Love Him, Too

imageI love God.

I really do love Him. Right now, in my heart, there is actually an ache of emotion, not just devotion towards Him.

It isn’t always like this.

Some days I don’t feel love towards God, I will to love Him instead.

Today is a good day, and I don’t want it to change. I want to always love God this way. I want to remember, every day, why I love Him this way.

The Bible tells me that I love Him, ‘because He first loved me’ (1 John 4:19), so it’s probably more appropriate to say, I love Him, too. For (as Beth Moore says it) there will never be a time that I say ‘I love you’ to God, that He hasn’t just spoke the words ‘I love you’ over me.

I love God, too….

… because He knows my deepest thoughts and not only loves me anyway, but actively seeks to have a relationship with me.

… because He is a hopeless romantic and isn’t afraid to lavish His unrelenting love all over me.

… because He is dramatic and He made me dramatic too.

… because He chose me.

… because He is a God of detail.

… because He doesn’t outright kill me in my sin (though He would be fully justified if He did).

… because He inspires me to be (and not just do) better.

… because He’s believed in me when I didn’t deserve it, when no one else would have.

… because He has NEVER lied to me.

… because He is good all the time – it isn’t what He does, it’s who He is, there is none like Him.

… because I can never fully know all of Him. He is an infinite God (and I don’t even know what that means).

… because He blessed me with a husband and children I never deserved and has given me the wisdom to realize it!

My list could go on, and on, I suppose, but those are the reasons I thought of today, what about you? What are some of the reasons why you love God, too?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Quote to Ponder

“How much of your life you've invested in Jesus Christ is the issue. Have we held some back for ourselves - just in case He's not as real, as powerful, as active as we thought? Just in case He doesn't come through? Just in case He really can't be taken at His Word? Or have we banked everything we have and everything we are on the reality that Jesus Christ is Lord of all the earth? We will never fulfill our destinies until our hope is built on nothing less.”

Beth Moore in the Beloved Disciple