For the beauty of the earth, For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise This our grateful hymn of praise.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

And the Winner Is...

OK, so I thought figuring out how to run the giveaway was hard, now I have to have a winner. That means there has to be a loser. I don't know if I can handle the stress.  OK, my dh is jumbling them all up and I will draw them from the hat.

Congratulations to Michelle, whom I will be contacting via email.

OK, so that wasn't as bad as I thought. Maybe I'll do this with a "real" book some day. :)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Gift



I have received so many. It would be easy to say the greatest gift I've received was forgiveness and salvation through Christ's work on the cross. And it would be true. But there are other gifts I've received. Gifts from Him that have caused me to grow and to, hopefully, be more like Him.

The gift of peace. I live in relative peace. Most of my worries are just my bored mind having nothing better to stress about. In this peace I can take a lot of time to grow closer to Him.

The gift of prayer. I have to wonder why I have spent more time neglecting this gift than using it. The idea that we can draw near to the Creator of the universe should bring me awe and respect, instead of apathy and neglect. What an amazing thing that God hears everything we say to Him, that He condescends to our level to help us understand and believe.

The gift of pain. Yes, it's a gift. Suffering is where we see if what we believe when life is peaceful is what we really believe or if we are just pretenders. It can be a strengthening to our faith as well. Nothing that happens to us happens by accident. It is all part of God's plan. It is all a gift from Him.

Five minutes up.

PS The picture of the gift links to another article that I found "by accident" when googling for a picture of a gift.

PPS I am having a giveaway of Warrior Prayers e-book. You have until tomorrow night to enter. I will probably not have time to draw the winner until bedtime coz it's gonna be a crazy busy day tomorrow. :)

PPPS Click here for more Five Minute Friday entries.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Easter Bunny 2012

Our city had a Lunch with the Easter Bunny last Saturday and DH took Braniac. 

I love this pic. It reminds me of an old Flair (on Facebook) that had a picture of a kid coloring like this and the quote was "I freakin' love coloring!!!" :D

Dad and Braniac with the Easter Bunny, who, according to Braniac, is just a person in a costume, unlike Santa Claus. LOL.

Lots of crafts and coloring. Food too, but I don't know if Braniac ever eats it. He's such a picky eater. Just ask the Costco sample people. ;)

And, of course, the egg hunt. Braniac actually will participate in five separate egg hunts this season. I do love Easter for the fact that it gives me an even better reason to say "no" in the candy aisle. :)

Don't forget to enter my giveaway of Warrior Prayers. You have until Saturday afternoon some time. (After lunch, since that will be my first chance to do a drawing.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ski Day 2012

Sent three boys off to ski with their dad last Thursday, but not the usual three boys. The Teenager still doesn't trust his balance so he had the joy of staying home with me and cleaning house. :)

I consider myself lucky because for most of their lives, most of my kids will get up and be pretty happy about it, no matter the time. The current exceptions are The Teenager and Braniac, who considers 11:15 an early time for school. But even Braniac was up and at 'em pretty quickly this morning.

Thing 2.

Thing 1.

Braniac getting his shoes on.

He was happy, but I think he was kind of dazed.

Thing 2 doesn't look very happy to go, does he? ;)

Here's the crew ready to get into the van an get up to ski school.

It was a beautiful day. It was down here in the valley too. 80-something and sunny. I love SoCal. :)

Thing 2's snow angel.

How much alike to Things 1 & 2 look? I have to keep reminding Thing 2 that this pic is HIM, not his brother. :D

Turns out Braniac is a genius at skiing as well. The teachers were most impressed with his first time out. He advanced 2 levels in one day. And he did great staying in the class. DH said that when they went by Braniac just waved and went back to his class. Makes me think that maybe he's really serious about going into ballet after he turns five next month...I won't hold my breath. :D

Some people, who do not yet grow hair on their faces, did not get enough sunscreen, or reapply, or something. It was not pleasant for several days.

Well, with them starting school next year it will be more difficult to get a date to go up there. We might just have to "cheat" and play hooky. ;)

PS If you made it this far, I invite you to participate in my first ever giveaway

Monday, March 26, 2012

How Introverts Do Give-aways on Their Blogs

OK, I've struggled with this since I received my e-mail with my copy of Warrior Prayers and permission to pass it along to one winner from my blog. It's kind of a funny struggle, but if you're not an introvert you probably won't get it.

Adam S McHugh, author of Introverts in the Church, blogged about my conundrum at his blog, Introverted Church,several weeks ago...or was it months? (See my earlier post to understand my confusion. :D) He was talking about the difficulty introverts have with self-promotion. I wish I could find the exact blog post; at any rate, I now understand it completely.

All this to say this will not be your normal blog give-away (& betcha didn't know introverts can be just as wordy as extroverts). Now, I do not have any problem with the give-away's where you have to Tweet about it or post something on your Facebook or blog. I happily and regularly participate in those. But I'm just not comfortable doing it myself. If you want to, fine, but it won't gain you anything but competition. ;D

OK, you're thinking, enough already, what do I have to do to get the darn book?

For this give-away, you need to leave me a comment telling me what your favorite Scripture verse or passage is. You get a bonus entry if you tell me why you like it. If you want, you can instead link to a blog entry if you have already written something like this on your blog. Also, leave a way for me to contact you. Either a blog address so I can leave a message, or your Twitter so I can DM you. Or, if Disqus asks for your e-mail, you can leave it there. It looks like it will send it to me on my e-mail. Being a small blog I will not do the drawing until Saturday so hopefully there will be more than one entry. LOL.

I think this post says a lot. It says, I have no idea what I'm doing. :D

Saturday, March 24, 2012

AWANA Grand Prix--Take 2

Babycakes finally got his turn to race his beloved car.  OK, so all cars are beloved to Babycakes. :)

Babycakes and Daddy with Puggle...for those of you who don't know what Puggle looks like.

The competition. Not quite as intense at this level.

Ready to race #608. How'd we come up with that number? It's his birthday. :) Yes, we won. It's not too difficult when there are only 5 other cars and 2 of the owners weren't there. :D

Now it's time to race Thing 1's car, #145. That pencil won the first round, btw.

Thing 1 with his car.

Ready to race.

Waiting at the end of the track. 

Needless to say, since we didn't really use our brains on this, we didn't win. Next year will be better. Gonna perfect our car design skill over the summer. :D

Friday, March 23, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Loud


Loud. It's always loud around here. Lots of boys playing is loud. Even the quiet ones are loud when playing. Lately it's been loud with singing. Braniac has found a new hobby...memorizing and singing songs. He sings, at the top of his lungs, everywhere we go, "God's not dead. He's surely alive. He's livin' on the inside, roarin' like a lion." :) People in the store hear him and compliment his singing. He gets bashful for a moment, says "thank you" at my prompting, then goes right back to it.

Makes me loud is my faith? No, I don't need to stand on a street corner with a megaphone declaring it. I don't have to sing in the stores like my 4yo. But is my faith acted out "loudly?" Can people tell when we are in quiet conversation that I even have faith? Is it loud enough to drown out the sounds of the world played out in people's heads all day? Is it loud enough to give people something to think about?

For too many years my faith has been so quiet that Horton couldn't hear it. ;) It's time for that to change.

Five minutes up.

Go to The Gypsy Mama to read some more, possibly more sensational, Five Minute Friday entries. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Change the world. Pray for your sons.

Well, I wasn't going to blog about this until it actually started, or ended, whenever I had something interesting to say about it. But I learned that if I blog about it today, there's an extra free book in it for me to apparently give away? As we've already established, I will do anything for a free book, even if it's for someone else, it seems.

I first learned of the 21 Days of Prayer for Sons challenge (or whatever it might have been called over the years) a few years ago...or maybe a year ago. It's hard for me to remember stuff that I don't do all the time, maybe that's why it's taken me so long to be ready to join. I had wanted to join in before but, honestly, I probably forgot the start date or something. :D

Over the last year, while my memory hasn't been getting much better, my focus has. I know, that sounds contradictory, but that's me, a bundle of contradictions. :) I started participating in Good Morning Girls last summer and that has really helped me regain some focus. This year I joined up in our new church's 40 Days of Prayer to End Human Trafficking. And I've been using a book called Seek God for the City 2012 to go along with it. (The book is also something I picked up at church.)

So a few weeks (days? who can remember? :D) ago when I saw there was another 21 Days in the plans, this time from May 1-21, I knew I was finally ready. I'm so "with it" now that I've got it on my iPhone calendar. :)

The other reason I know I'm ready is I believe it. Not it, I'm ready, it, prayer. I was going to blog about this later but since we're on the subject of prayer right now I'll go ahead and say it...

About 2 years ago...or, really, who we've seen, I'm not good at remembering specific dates and length of time...I started praying a simple prayer with my boys each morning during Bible. It went something like this: "Lord, Help us to honor and glorify You in all we think, do, and say." Why did I start praying that? Coz I wanted something better for my boys than what was going on right then. And I knew that was what I wanted. It's hard to explain the whole situation without turning it into a novel so suffice to say I knew that we were not growing spiritually and I had no idea why. I knew it had to do with Bible reading and prayer, but I didn't know what. So this prayer "came to me." And I've prayed it every day since.

Slowly God started answering the prayer. I will be honest, I didn't like the way He answered it. In hindsight, He took me in for Cancer surgery before I knew I had Cancer. He cut things out of my life in such a painful way that I could no longer tell up from down. I was confused and in some of the greatest emotional pain I'd ever been in my life. But He just kept cutting. It took me over a year to see it for what it was, and, until yesterday, I didn't see the catalyst.

Yesterday, I was talking with the Teenager about prayer and slowly I recalled this same prayer I have prayed every morning for 2 years, and I saw that God had truly answered it. Not only had He cut out the things that were hindering our spiritual growth, He moved us to a place where we *can* grow.

Moral of the story, The Lord hears our pleas, the Lord accepts our prayers. (Ps 6:9). Not because we are some totally on-fire Christians who have it all together. I can assure you, I didn't. I was a wreck, and, quite frankly, an embarrassment to the cause of Christ. He accepts them because we are His. If we are good parents (and I know there are some bad ones which is why I qualify it) will we ignore our child's plea for water just because he's been getting into trouble all day? God doesn't either. If we are His (and we don't know if we are until we ask) He will answer. It may not be what we like, it may hurt like crazy, but it will be an answer, and it will be pretty darned awesome.

If you had told me a year ago I'd be where I am, I would have laughed. If you ask me where I'll be a year from now, I'll admit I have no idea, but it will be a good place no matter what because now I know God really is in control of everything AND He really does answer the prayers of His people, even the weak and foolish ones like me.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Review: Charles Spurgeon: The Prince of Preachers by Christian Timothy George

First, I believe I am supposed to issue a disclaimer to the effect that I received this e-book from Christian Focus 4 Kids in return for a review. I hope that’s legal enough.

Second, this is my first review of a “dramatic” biography. I do not usually review this type of book, or fiction for that matter, so bear with me.

JJJJ (out of 5)

Charles Spurgeon: The Prince of Preachers by Christian Timothy George is a very good “dramatic” biography for children. It covers key moments in Spurgeon’s life and career and gives the reader a good understanding of one of the greatest Christian preachers of recent memory.

Spurgeon’s life story can be an inspiration to young people today who think they must wait until they are older, perhaps graduated from seminary, before they can be of any service to God. It’s also a great example of complete trust and faith in the will of God. This biography conveys these points clearly.

I think the format of a more dramatic style will help the story become more engrained in the reader's mind as opposed to a simple factual telling of things as they happened as is more common in biographies. Dramatic style helps the young reader to better connect with the characters and understand them as fellow human beings, not simply pieces of history to be researched.

After the story there are many helpful resources available to the reader, including a section entitled “Further Thinking Topics.” These encourage the reader to think more about what he or she has just read in each chapter. It is a very helpful section; however, I would have found it more useful if each of these was immediately behind its respective chapter. This is especially due to the content of the first chapter, the only chapter with which I have a major problem.

The first chapter begins the mythical account of Queen Victoria’s desire visit to the Metropolitan Tabernacle. This account is then finished in the tenth, and final, chapter. Since there is absolutely no proof that this ever occurred, I was surprised to find it written in the book as fact. There is an author’s note at the end of the book that explains that it may not have happened (and that, in fact, there is no evidence that it did), and it is also discussed in the Further Thinking Topics section. But it adds nothing to the story, and instead could possibly detract from belief in the rest of what is written. Since this is a book for children, the mythology of the visit should have been pointed out in some way immediately. If a child were to read the typical one chapter a day (what I would require of my child) with weekends off, he or she would spend nearly two weeks thinking that Queen Victoria did indeed go to see Spurgeon preach.

Aside from a few typos, the worst (or funniest) of which being “ninetieth” written instead of “nineteenth” to describe the century, the rest being rather inconsequential,  the content is good enough to make me highly recommend it with the qualification that the child be advised to read the Further Thinking Topics section for Chapter One immediately after reading the chapter. Most children will not do this sort of thing of their own accord but by and large read books sequentially from page one to page 100. This is particularly true of e-books.


Thanks to CF4K for making this offer available. I really appreciated the chance to do something I don't normally do. :) To read more reviews of this book, visit The Blog Tour entry on CF4K's blog site.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Five Minute Friday: Brave


Change is brave. Staying the same is cowardice. The man given 5 talents making them into 10 is brave. The man given one and hiding it is a coward. 

Change is terrifying. Staying the same is safe. People don't like it when you change, because that makes them uncomfortable realizing they too need to change. People like you to stay the same and keep them happy.

But we are not here to please men, are we? 

Change is good. People change their clothes, their hairdo, their shoes. But people don't like to change their attitudes and preconceived notions. It's easier to stay with the same thought patterns that our parents and grandparents had. Why think about it? It's always been this way. If we change it we don't know what will happen. If we stay the same, everything will be as it always was.

Paul changed. What if he had thought, gee, you know, all my friends are Pharisees and I really like hanging out with them at Passover and Barmitzvahs? What if he had decided the change was too much? Too radical? It was radical. But can we expect anything less than radical change when Christ takes over our lives? If we are the same as we've ever been, shouldn't we be more worried about that than we are about what might happen if we change?

Five minutes up.

Go to The Gypsy Mama to read some more, possibly more sensational, Five Minute Friday entries.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

AWANA Grand Prix--Take 1

Tonight was our first round of AWANA Grand Prix. I say first because we have four kids in the lower levels so we get to go to all the races. :)

On this first night, Braniac and Thing 2 were racing.

Thing 2 with Sparky before the race.

Braniac with Cubby and Puggle. It will be interesting to see if Babycakes lets me take his pic with Puggle next week. (Don't hold your breath.)

Checking out the awards table. (We got Honorable Mention. Everyone basically got Honorable Mention. :D)

There were a lot of cars. I thought I estimated 50, but I think I guessed wrong. :)

Braniac raced first.

His car is the second from the left.

Waiting for his car at the end of the track.

Back to the holding area for #21.

Waiting to go another round.

Rewarded for participation. That's OK, he'll get High Honors at Bible Quiz when he's in T&T. ;)

Next up was Thing 2

Racing #54.

He was sure he'd at least get something. He always does in class. But racing ain't like using your brain. So we got a nice ribbon instead. We'll have to study up on how to make the fastest car. He did come really close, in his heat, but close, well, you know. :)

All in all it was a great night. I know a lot of work went into it. I'm sure that's why I'm exhausted...I've been thinking of all the work that went into it. ;)

Just about 2 mos left of our first year of AWANA. The kids are still as thrilled as they were at the beginning (if not as obsessed. ;)). It's been a great experience. We are so fortunate to live near a church that has all the levels from Puggles through Journey. The kids think so, too. They plan out when they are going to be in each group (T&T, Trek, etc). I asked Braniac, who loves to run around the house singing Christian rock songs at the top of his lungs (current fave is God's Not Dead by Newsboys), if he was going to be a Christian rock star some day. He replied, "Yes, but I have to be in Trek first." :D

We've been making some really good friends. And have even decided to make this church our home. The whole thing has been one huge blessing and we are very grateful to God for bringing us into this situation. :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Can you really make a difference?

Tomorrow I will re-learn her name. The woman who made the biggest difference in my life, one that will matter for all eternity, not just to me, but to my family. I knew her only briefly, just a matter of weeks, once a week. But she was so different from anyone I had ever known that she has lived in my mind for years, though her name has long since gone...of course, if you know me, the name thing shouldn't surprise you. ;)

Yesterday, after I hung up from a conversation with the leader of the PSP we are joining, I realized that this woman would know her. I remember only three "facts" about her. She homeschooled through this PSP. She had long hair (I think it was blond). She moved to HI. That last thing is significant enough to make her memorable to the group, I'm sure. 

Honestly, it had been a long time since I'd thought of her, and definitely never with her significance really registering.

Last night, I listened to a rather old sermon by the pastor of our new church in which he pointed out that Christians underestimate the difference they can make in the lives of others. I thought of her. She was different. She was, absolutely, different. And that stuck with me.

I knew why she was different. She was a Christian, but more than that. Lots of people these days say they are Christians, but what difference does it make in their lives? Have they changed? Can people tell without knowing that they attend church that they are Christians? Most Christians I've known have mostly been just "nice" people who attend church and probably won't kill you or steal from you. She was different. She lived it. She meant it. Her faith rolled off her in waves. I was ashamed to call myself a Christian in her presence. I knew I didn't have faith like hers. It was in every pore of her being.

When she moved I asked God why. I had known her just a few weeks, but I knew she was someone I wanted to be around. Someone I wanted to learn from. Someone who could change my life. But it wasn't God's time. Now it is. And now I hope that I can thank her properly for being so different that I couldn't help but be forced to think about what my faith really was. Especially what it was lacking. 

The time is now, and I cannot, will not, go back.

And it's all because one woman lived her faith so fully.

Toward the end of the sermon the pastor asked how far we were willing to go to make sure people we loved were ready to go to heaven. I wonder, how far are we willing? Are we willing to change our lives so radically that people must sit up and take notice? Are we willing to offend our "friends" who are comfortable in this world?

We can make a difference, but we must be willing to be different, be cast out, be looked down on, be gossiped about, be insulted. (Had to throw the hard part in there, just in case I started thinking this was going to be easy.)

But what is all that in light of eternity? Our eternity. The eternity of those around us.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Times They Are A-Changin'

I'm sure Thing 1 would like to point out that I stole that title from Scarecrow & Mrs. King. :)

So, I learned something this morning...searches on my phone are not the same as searches on the computer. I don't know why. You'd think if it's the same search engine it would render the same results. At any rate, after a bit of research on the big box, I found a good posting board to ask my questions at and feel much better. I will keep plugging along, and just try to stay on top of things for Braniac.

So, having a boy genius in the house is certainly something new. And, as I said about school, some kids will be going in the fall. Things 1&2 and Braniac will attend a private Lutheran school about 15 min from our house. This will give me time to help The Teenager, who will be staying home and taking classes through a local PSP. He's looking forward to it. My hope is to have him ready to take a few classes at the Christian High School by 10th grade, and work our way up to 4 classes by 11th & 12th grade.

I suppose the biggest change is that we are in a new church. And man am I happy about that. I won't go into the gory details, I have a private blog for that. :D But, as I was talking to the PSP leader today I realized that things are so different around here than they were just a few months ago, and I definitely know it's getting into our new church. We have been taking a marriage class for Sunday School which has really helped. The kids are in AWANA and are loving it. For those of you who are not on my FB and Twitter, Thing 1 took first place AND the only High Honors of the competition. The Junior High ministry is great and really helping The Teenager grow much more than anything previously did. The middles love the Elementary Sunday School and Babycakes is always thrilled to get into the nursery.

The preaching is good, convicting and encouraging. The focus is always on living our lives completely for Christ out of gratitude for the work He did for us on the Cross. The church desires to equip people to do so as well. It is a large church so there are multiple bible studies. There are opportunities to serve in many different capacities, but there is no feeling that you must serve in everything that comes up, only in what you can do and feel gifted/called to do.

I could say more but that would put this blog into the category of my other and I don't want to do that. There's a time and a place for everything. This isn't the place. :) Suffice to say we are grateful to have found this new church so quickly after only a minor bump in the road (sts) on the way.

I'm Too Confused to Think of a Title :D

OK, so I haven't been blogging lately, something I plan to change over the next few months, if for no other reason than the hope that I can find some help for my latest "malady." What is this problem, you ask? Gifted-child. Yep. I seem to have one. Not sure how gifted, haven't had him tested yet. But he's basically taught himself to read (with a little help) and is doing 1st grade math. He's 4.

Now, if I planned to homeschool him for Kindy, as I have his brothers, this would be no big deal. However, the middles will be going to school for at least a year in the fall, possibly 2. When we toured the school for open house last week and I looked at the work, I knew he'd already done most of it, what he hasn't done he will before he starts. Sure the history & science will all be new, but the reading and math, possibly the Spanish, if he pays attention when Thing 2 is working on his, will not be.

I am perfectly comfortable advocating for my LD kids. Been doing that for years. Know it inside and out. But advocating for Braniac might be problematic, not just coz it's uncharted territory for me, but because I was just like him at his age, and school killed me.  Seriously, I died in school. I knew how to read, they forced me to relearn. I knew simple multiplication, they told me I was too young to possibly know that. It's the #2 reason mine have been at home all these years.

I had hoped by sending them to private school there would be less of this, and there may be. But right now I'm at that overwhelmed stage and I can't find an online group to get info from. Sure there are lots of organizations, but no place I can simply ask, "How do I communicate with the teacher?" "What should I ask for?" "How much home supplementation is acceptable?"

Well, I will now return to my search for an active group. Wish me luck. :)