Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Change Is In the Air

You may have noticed a name change above; hang in there, as I will soon be switching over to RealHeartPrints.com instead of blogspot. Nothing is changing, except for the name and address (which will forward), so I will still be right here where you can find me.:) I'll let you know when it actually changes. Thanks for reading! You all make my day!

One Lovely Blog Award

This morning I got up to find a nice surprise in my inbox. Heather, at My Red Apron, chose to give Heart Prints the One Lovely Blog Award. Thank you, Heather! That was really sweet of you.This award comes with just a few rules, though, which make it really fun.
1) Accept the award.
2) Post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, along with his/her blog link.

3) Pass the award on to 15 other blogs that you've newly discovered (Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award).

Fear Not Tomorrow, God is Already There by Ruth Graham

With everything that is going on in the world right now (and really everything that has gone on for years before our time), it's easy to become fearful and have those occasional doubts. For some of us, Satan can take those doubts and turn them into something even bigger, almost a spirit of defeat that we really need not live with, if we have a relationship with God. With Fear Not Tomorrow, God is Already There, Ruth Graham tries to show her readers Who God is and how we can acquire true comfort and peace through having a true relationship with Him.

I have to admit that I wasn't able to finish this book yet, but I plan to keep reading until I do. Already what I've read has been filled with personal stories and truths from the Bible that I can apply to my life, especially on those days when everything seems to come at me at once, whether in the news, with family, or even with personal battles/struggles.


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Fear Not Tomorrow, God is Already There: Trusting Him in Uncertain Times

Howard Books (September 29, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:





Ruth Graham is the daughter of the revered American pastor Billy Graham. She has appeared on a variety of radio and television shows and is the author of the bestselling In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart.

Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $22.99
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (September 29, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416558438
ISBN-13: 978-1416558439

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Trust at My Doorstep


Chapter 1




It had been a difficult few months. One of my children was struggling, and I didn’t know how things would play out. I was anxious, frightened, and continually preoccupied. I could imagine what might be ahead. The questions were relentless: What could I have done differently? Was it my fault? What could I do to change it? How could I protect my child? Was there another step I could take? I felt as if I were being sucked under by a whirlpool of scenes, conversations, and hypothetical outcomes. I lost weight. I battled headaches. I felt like I was constantly vibrating. The fear was overwhelming.


This particular day, the postman arrived at my door with a padded envelope. It was addressed to me in familiar back-slanted handwriting—something from Mother. Feeling the envelope, I knew it was too light to contain a book. What could it be? My birthday was still a long way off. As I tore at the flap and reached inside, I took hold of what felt like a long, narrow picture frame. Pulling it out, I stopped for a moment and stared. It was the framed print from the wall in front of Mother’s desk. In black calligraphy bordered by a flowering vine I read the familiar words: “Fear not tomorrow, God is already there.”

Instantly, I was transported back to the mountain home of my childhood in Montreat, North Carolina. My mother’s plain wooden desk flanked by a tall chest of drawers and a bookcase took up much of one wall in her room. Always lying open on the desk, surrounded by various reference materials, was her well-marked, dog-eared Bible. On the wall facing the desk hung a collection of precious photographs and artifacts: a crown of thorns woven for Mother by the head of the Jerusalem police, a slave collar given to her by Johnny Cash, a rude wooden cross fashioned by my brother Franklin, photographs of loved ones and of those for whom she was praying. Centered above these artifacts was the print I now held. I’m not sure where Mother got it or who gave it to her, only that I cannot remember a time when it wasn’t hanging there like a banner.

I imagined my mother standing on a chair in front of the desk, reaching to take the print off the wall. Sending me such a gift was just like Mother. All my life, since I left home for boarding school in the ninth grade, she had been sending me letters filled with encouragement from the Scriptures—bits of what she was learning in her own study time or wisdom for some situation I might be facing. Now here she was identifying with my mother’s heart, sending me a poignant reassurance. We had not talked much about the circumstances of my struggle. Mother just intuitively knew I might need something like this—a reminder that God was working in our lives and that he cared about our future. I appreciated her sensitivity. She didn’t blame or condemn me; she didn’t unload a lot of advice. She just sent me something that had been of value to her, something that had reassured her, no doubt, as she had mothered us. Standing on my doorstep, holding that print, I felt the words penetrate my heart and mind, almost as if I had never seen them before, as if they were a message written directly to me. I read them again slowly: “Fear not tomorrow, God is already there.”


Little Foxes

Since that day on my doorstep, I have faced quite a few threatening tomorrows, and I have battled fear and anxiety as resilient foes. Perhaps you have fought this same battle. We may experience moments of clarity, as I did reading my mother’s framed print, but then we return to daily life and to the struggle. We wonder how we’re supposed to “fear not tomorrow” in the worst-case scenarios of our lives: a frightening diagnosis, betrayal, separation from a child who has gone off to war, the loss of a job, the evaporation of our retirement, the drug addiction of a loved one, abandonment by a spouse, failure at our workplace, the loss of a home, a legal verdict that changes our lives, the death of a loved one, the exposure of a secret, the loss of our possessions to flood, earthquake, tornado, or financial disaster.

Fear not tomorrow? It is easy to say it but another thing to live it out. We drown in our questions: But what about . . . ? How will I . . . ? What if . . . ? But if I can’t even . . . ? Who will . . . ? And what does it mean that God is already there? Where? In our crises, God can seem silent, remote, or worse, even imaginary. You may feel as I have at times. I have real problems, and they are too big, too hard, too painful for me to solve. I don’t have time for theology. I’m in trouble here! I’m inadequate, and I need something real. Something practical. Something secure. Give me some solutions, some guarantees. Can’t you see that I’m terrified of tomorrow?

Fear and anxiety can exhaust us. King Solomon writes about the “little foxes that spoil the vines” (Song of Solomon 2:15 NKJV). Fear and anxiety are like that. Fear can wipe us out, burn up whatever energy we have, and hinder us from entering into the full experience of life that God desires for us. Certainly, fear and anxiety can become so severe they incapacitate us. But the majority of us live with fear and still function. I have heard fear compared to a jack hammer buzzing just outside the window. The noise is constantly there. When you sleep, the jack hammer quits, but when you wake up, it starts again, sapping your strength and attention until you’re no longer really living—just enduring.

Fear takes the air out of life. When we live with fear, we lose our capacity for fun and spontaneity. We can’t love others wholeheartedly. We become like that frog being boiled slowly. The water gets steadily hotter until we realize, “I’m not having any fun. I have no joy. I’m not alive. I’ve forgotten how to laugh.” During the difficult period with my child that I described above, I experienced fear in different ways. At times, I would have trouble functioning; at other times, I would be able to get up in the morning and do what was necessary. Up and down. Fear was that steady buzz or hum. I wasn’t able to hear the music of life clearly. Everything was filtered through that fear.

My mother was a master at finding ways to enjoy life despite the intense pressures she faced. She knew how to move fear out of the way and keep joy alive. Stories of her antics and pranks have become the stuff of legend in our family. As a young parent, for instance, I would tell my children, “Now don’t draw on yourselves.” Then I would leave the kids with Mother, only to find them covered in inky smiley faces that Mother herself had drawn! Once Mother made a mudslide for the grandchildren on the side of a steep embankment near our Montreat house. She turned on the hose and then promptly took her turn as the first one down. When much older, she accidently drove her car down that same steep embankment. Thinking she was stepping on the brake, she had stepped on the accelerator instead. She and her friend escaped unscathed, but afterward, Mother arranged for a stop sign to be staked at the bottom of the incline, lest other wayward drivers be tempted to take the same route!

Life is a gift from God to be enjoyed. Fear suffocates our spirits and robs us of that gift. It is human to experience the emotion of fear. Fear entered the human experience in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve rebelled against God and hid themselves from Him. But Peter describes Satan as a “roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” and I believe fear is also Satan’s paw print (1 Peter 5:8). It is true that some kinds fear can help us—the kind that keeps us from stepping into oncoming traffic, for instance, or putting our hand on a hot stove. At times, God may use fear to keep us from making wrong choices or wrong decisions in life. But these moments of fear are different from what the Bible calls the “spirit of fear,” which I might describe as the condition or attitude that takes hold when our emotion of fear consumes us (2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV). As Paul writes, the spirit of fear does not come from God.

Shifting Our Focus

God is concerned about the way fear affects our lives. The Bible says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment” (1 John 4:18 NKJV). Fear involves torment. Torment is not God’s will for us. God is committed to our peace. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you” (John 14:27 NKJV). We read of Jesus, “He Himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14 NKJV). God has ordained peace for us (Isaiah 26:12). He did not design us to live in fear and anxiety but in peace. In Scripture, we find God repeatedly urging, commanding, people not to be afraid. God is not condemning us for feeling the emotion of fear, but He doesn’t want us to get stuck there or to set up camp in torment. The question is when we are at our wit’s end, how do we “fear not”? At such moments, peace can seem nothing more than an abstraction. We struggle even to imagine the experience.

Often, when we experience fear, we have allowed our circumstances to overwhelm or alter our perspective. Our perspective has become skewed. I have discovered that defeating fear in my life begins with shifting my focus. I take my eyes off the circumstances, off the source of my fear, and put my focus on God. Instead of mulling over the “what ifs” in my future—instead of looking ahead with anxiety, trepidation, dread, or even horror—I make the choice to look at God, to consider His character, and to trust that the One who loves me is “already there.” The message on Mother’s framed print helped me to make that kind of shift as I faced uncertainty with my child. I had been focusing on tomorrow; the words on the print brought my focus back to God.

Shifting our focus is first a decision, then a process. When we turn to God, our decision opens a door for peace and reassurance to enter our hearts. The Bible says of God, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You” (Isaiah 26:3 NKJV, emphasis added). When we focus on God, peace follows. I find that as I concentrate on God, as I examine facets of His character, as I spend time with Him in prayer, sharing my heart and quieting myself to listen, as I meditate on what His Word says about Him, as I read about Jesus and observe the way He handled life—as I “stay” my mind on God—my problems begin to lose their power over me. Instead, I become absorbed in the power, the beauty, and the love of God. He is my focus now. I am learning about Him and getting to know Him. And the more I learn, the more I discover I can trust Him.

In the coming chapters, we will be doing just what the verse above from Isaiah says—staying, or fixing, our minds on God. We will examine some of God’s attributes and consider His ways. We will study the character of Jesus, for in learning about Jesus, we learn about God. Scripture calls Jesus the “express image” of God (Hebrews 1:3 NKJV). Jesus Himself told His disciples, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9 NKJV). If we want to know what God is like, we can look at Jesus. We can ask: How did Jesus deal with people? What were His relationships like? How did He respond to people’s distress? As we focus on God this way, we can expect God’s peace to crowd out the fear in our hearts.

For some of us, focusing on God, or considering that He is “already there” in our tomorrow, is not exactly a comfort. We may be afraid of God. What little we know of Him, or what we don’t know of Him, frightens us. We fear He is out to lower the boom on us, that He is looking for our faults and eager to point out our failings. We are afraid of His power. Afraid of His judgment. Afraid of being overwhelmed by Him. It is our human nature to fear what we don’t understand, and we don’t understand God. He is unfathomable. He is so much more than we can imagine—far more. He is not accountable to us. He is mysterious, and mystery can be frightening. On seeing the Lord on the throne, Isaiah said, “Woe is me, for I am undone!” (Isaiah 6:5). Isaiah saw his frailty in light of God’s almightiness; he was awed by God’s holiness and glory.

But Scripture also calls God “Abba,” an intimate word for Father that we would translate “Daddy” (Romans 8:15). While God is overwhelming, He is also tender with us. In the New Testament, we see Jesus touching, healing, and relating intimately with people. Bette Midler recorded a song with the lyric, “God is watching us from a distance.” That line is only half-true. God is watching us. But not from a distance. Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23 NKJV). God comes close. He makes His home with us. He longs for us as a lover for his bride. We take God for granted, we don’t develop the relationship, we ignore Him, we don’t spend time with Him, and yet He stays with us, longing for that intimacy. God makes covenant with us, and He keeps it. To me, that is one of the most reassuring truths about God. He will never give me up. Never desert me. Never leave me alone. Never (Hebrews 13:5).

As we learn more about God in these pages and spend time focusing our attention on Him, our relationship with Him will deepen. The Bible promises that when we draw near to God, he will draw near to us (James 4:8). As our relationship with God grows, so will our trust in Him. We will discover His constancy. When everything around us is unstable, God is stable. His character is consistent, unchanging. His love is secure. My prayer is that the more you learn of God and the closer you get to Him, the more you will be able not only to trust Him with your tomorrow but also to take comfort in the fact that He is the One who is already there.


Overcoming Our Misperceptions

Part of our challenge in learning to trust God involves overcoming misperceptions we may have of Him. If my view of God is not accurate, then my trust in Him will be more hesitant than hopeful. Often our picture of God is colored by our experiences with our own fathers or with other figures of authority in our lives. If your father was cold and demanding, then you may see God that way. If your father was gone, as mine often was, then you may see God as far away or busy with other things. If an authority figure was angry or abusive, then you may see God the same way and want nothing to do with Him. We are relational beings, and as such, we are hardwired to measure God by our experiences with significant people.

I did not always view God as someone with whom I could be comfortable. As I shared, my father was gone much of the time, fulfilling his calling to preach the gospel. I knew my father loved me; I knew I was important to him. But I also knew the world needed him, and for many years, I saw God as being similarly occupied with others and unreachable. I have since learned that God is not like that.

In my book In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart, I share in detail about my life, my failures, and some of the ways God met me in my brokenness and redeemed it. I tell the story of what it was like to go home to Montreat after a major personal failure. Driving up the mountain to my parents’ home was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I had no idea what they would say to me or how they would respond. I had gone against everyone’s advice. As I saw it, I had failed myself, my family, my children, and God. I felt deserving of condemnation and rejection. What would my parents do? Would they say they had told me so? That I had made my bed and now would have to lie in it?

As I approached the top of the mountain, I saw my father standing there in the driveway. I parked the car and opened the door to get out, but before I could as much as set my feet on the asphalt, my father was at my side. He wrapped his arms around me, and I heard him say, “Welcome home.” His acceptance instantly silenced my shame. I was broken, but I no longer feared. My father had embraced me at my worst and loved me anyway. I experienced grace. I would not compare my father with God, but that day my father showed me in a very practical, gracious way what God is like.

Through that experience, I was able to get a glimpse of the unconditional love God has for me. It has taken me a while to get to a point where I finally see God as “Abba,” as Daddy. Learning to know God intimately has been a process. But through the fog of doubt, anxiety, and fear, I do see Him now as warm and embracing. He loves me, enjoys me, and wants me to know His joy. He will do anything to draw me in. He wants my heart. He wants my trust.

Many years ago I taught a Bible study entitled “Enjoying God” for the women at my home church. I was convinced most of us did not enjoy God. Even the title of the study made us a bit uncomfortable. Was it sacrilegious to “enjoy” God? Wasn’t He austere and stern? Holy and unapproachable? I wanted to explore the possibilities.

The first week’s homework was to imagine crawling into God’s lap and calling him Daddy. I think many were slightly put off by the assignment. Some had to deal with the damaged image of an earthly father. Some had difficulty seeing God in such an intimate way. Each week the assignment was the same. Gradually, I began to hear reports of breakthroughs. Some people took longer than others to connect with God, but we sensed God doing something profound in the group. My own life changed over the course of that study as I too began to see God intimately—as a secure place of comfort and peace. As I focused on Him, God was chipping away at my misperceptions, helping me to open my heart to His love. And He can do the same for you.

Why, God?

Our misperceptions of God can also be formed in the trials and heartaches of life. You may have a long scar of pain running through your life—a spouse leaving, the loss of a child, bankruptcy, illness, addiction, things that take the breath out of you. Perhaps you feel that God abandoned you in those experiences. That He must not care about you. That if He loved you, He wouldn’t have let you go through all that hurt. You wonder, “Why should I trust Him now?”

Why, God? This is a real question we ask when life happens and things seem to go badly. Why are You letting my life unravel? Don’t You love me? Didn’t You promise to protect me? How could You let this happen? In the valleys of life, we can feel as if God has betrayed us. That He isn’t trustworthy, as we once thought. That we’ll never again have a stable or secure place to stand. When devastation occurs and we can’t see God anywhere, our trust in Him can crumble to dust. We may even reject Him for a time.


I’ve lived through personal events that have left me reeling. I have written about suffering in a broken marriage. As the marriage began to come apart I couldn’t “feel” God. I couldn’t hold myself together. I described the way I felt back then: “Raw. Lonely. Exposed. Like an egg without a shell.” I wanted to know why those circumstances were happening to me. Perhaps you have felt this way too.

I’ve seen loved ones suffer through crushing experiences, and I’ve asked God why. Why did my friend’s first grandchild die just hours after birth? Why did a young missionary couple’s two-year-old child drown in the backyard? Why was my friend diagnosed with lung cancer though she never smoked a day in her life? We witness or live through destruction caused by tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes. We call them “acts-of-God,” and we wonder why God would allow them. Fear not tomorrow? How can we do anything but fear after all the devastation we’ve already seen?

God is not threatened by our why. People say we can’t ask why, but we can—we should. We’re in good company when we ask why. Jesus, Job, David, Jeremiah, and many others we would call “heroes of the faith” have asked why. Asking why is part of the human experience. When we ask God why, we are expressing our innermost emotions, our hurt and disappointment, and God wants us to do that. He works with honesty. He is not threatened by our questions and doubts. He invites us to express our feelings. We’re in a relationship with Him—He doesn’t want us to shut our emotions down. While God already knows how we feel, we need to know; and often we discover what is in our hearts as we express ourselves freely to Him.

But we can also get stuck at why. While asking why can be a stimulus for further exploration, understanding, and honest grappling, sometimes it can become a defense—a way to keep God out and to keep intimacy with Him at bay. We can go round and round in circles with why, never really intending to get anywhere. We can get comfortable with why. We would rather stay where we are than do the hard work of learning how to trust God again. And if we’re not careful, some people will keep us there. They will feed our why as long as we let them. At a certain point, what we actually may need is someone to pull us forward and say, “Hey, let’s explore why you feel this way. Let’s not give up on God.”

God invites us to wrestle with our why, our questions. He wrestles with us, as He wrestled with Jacob (Genesis 32:24–32). But finally the angel of God touched Jacob’s thigh and put it out of socket. I can hear the angel saying, “It’s enough now. Let’s go forward.” My Uncle Clayton Bell, my mother’s brother, died suddenly of a heart attack at age sixty-eight. He loved God passionately and was pastoring a thriving church. Those who loved him asked God why. Why take this dynamic man at his prime? Why not leave him here to serve You? Aunt Peggy, my uncle’s wife, suffered greatly, but there came a time when I remember her saying, “I’m going to lean into the pain.” Whatever her questions, she was going to “lean,” trusting God and expecting Him to be there.

At some point, trusting God becomes a step of faith. No one can prove God. You will have to make the choice to trust Him for yourself. Making that choice doesn’t mean you have settled your questions; you may not see those questions resolved in this life. But you can make the decision to try trusting God again. You can take a step forward with all your unresolved questions and invite God to reveal Himself. It’s okay to live with what I call “unfinishedness.” I think about my mother and how “finished” she looked in her relationship with God—as if everything were settled, everything clear. But when you read Mother’s poetry, you discover she was anything but finished. She simply learned to live with her questions and to trust God anyway.

Walking Forward

Why not bring your questions along as you walk forward to discover more about God in this book? You can invite God to work with you as you read. Ask Him to help you in your battle with fear. Ask Him to help you overcome your misperceptions of Him so you can trust Him for tomorrow. God longs to reveal Himself to you. Jesus said about those who love God, “I too will love them and show myself to them” (John 14:21 TNIV). God wants us to see Him for who He really is.

We don’t have to get it all at once. Trusting God is a process. Just as there are stages of life, there are stages of faith. Trust comes bit by bit. Our part is to be willing—willing to move, willing to try. God wants our willingness. Someone once said you can’t steer a car that isn’t moving. If we can just make the choice to move, God will meet us. I want to challenge you. Open yourself up to the possibility of what God can do in your life. Let Him show Himself worthy of your trust. Walk forward into these pages and decide for yourself about God. See if His intimate love is real. See for yourself. Don’t let your questions or misperceptions be hindrances. They don’t have to stop you from moving. Let’s get to know God better. Let’s discover Him. We can bring our baggage, our questions, our “why” right along with us.

****************************************************

Fear Not Tomorrow, God is Already There:

Trusting Him in Uncertain Times

Ruth Graham


Howard Books

West Monroe, Louisiana




[Refer to P4P regarding inclusion of purpose statement.]

Our purpose at Howard Books is to:

Increase faith in the hearts of growing Christians
Inspire holiness in the lives of believers
Instill hope in the hearts of struggling people everywhere
Because He’s coming again!


[Howard Logo] Published by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

www.howardpublishing.com


Fear Not Tomorrow, God Is Already There © 2009 Ruth Graham


All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information, address Howard Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.


Published in association with Ambassador Literary Agency, Nashville, Tennessee


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data TK


ISBN-13: 978-1-4165-5843-9

ISBN-10: 4165-5843-8

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


HOWARD and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.


Manufactured in the United States of America


For information regarding special discounts for bulk purchases, please contact: Simon & Schuster Special Sales at 1-800-456-6798 or business@simonandschuster.com.


Edited by Stacy Mattingly and Cindy Lambert

Cover design by TK

Interior design by TK

Photography/illustrations by TK


Scripture quotations not otherwise marked are from the New American Standard Bible®. Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. Scripture quotations marked AMP are from the Amplified Bible®, copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission (www.Lockman.org). Scripture quotations marked KJV are from the Holy Bible, Authorized King James Version. Scripture quotations marked NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked NLT are from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked The Message are from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked TNIV are taken from the Holy Bible, Today’s New International Version®. TNIV®. Copyright© 2001, 2005 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays: Almond Bark Popcorn

With fall coming on, the air is getting a chill, and there's likely to be more Friday nights spent indoors with the family and a good movie, decked out with a couple of good snacks. This recipe is from my Aunt Nancy's kitchen, and it's a yummy snack that is sure to hit the spot. Enjoy!

Almond Bark Popcorn

2 bags microwave popcorn
3 cups rice crispies
2 cups nuts (I'm thinking this will be optional, in our case) :)
1 pkg. vanilla almond bark
3 Tbsp. peanut butter

Pop popcorn. Mix next 2 ingredients. Melt almond bark, and add peanut butter. Mix with popcorn mix. Cool on wax paper.

For more Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, link up with BlessedwithGrace.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Daybook for September 28, 2009

FOR TODAY, Monday, September 28, 2009...
Outside my window...it is dark, which makes me want to go back to bed.
I am thinking...that I need a day off just to sleep in and do nothing but stay in a vegetative state on the couch or in my bed (this is the early morning me talking.....I don't do mornings well).
I am thankful for...my bed:) LOL.
From the learning rooms...We're going to be studying ancient American people in history, like the Mayans and Aztecs; we're working on the books of the Bible; and we're slowly gaining speed in learning our addition/subtraction facts with lots of review. I scrapped the teacher's manual, somewhat, for math, and we are both doing so much better....(knock on wood).
From the kitchen...tonight will be cheesesteak sandwiches and salad.
I am wearing...jammies and robe for just a little bit.
I am creating...bedroom curtains; at least I measured the windows last week....LOL. I also hope to decorate our front porch this week, maybe get a couple pumpkins, depending.
I am going...nowhere today, hopefully. Usually, Jacob has Tae Kwon Do on Mondays, but since he has no soccer practice this week, he'll go on Thursday.....yea! We actually get a night at home....it's shocking, I know. I don't have to make supper at lunch today!:)
I am reading...Redefining Beautiful by Jenna Lucado; it is really good so far.
I am hoping...to be able to sit down today at some point and just read my book or maybe watch some Mary Tyler Moore.
I am hearing...nothing but silence right now (Silence is golden).:)
Around the house...have to dust, vacuum, and mop today and catch up with laundry, which is already running down the street.
One of my favorite things...is seeing Dan get excited about a project; he's fixing up his old Jeep now, says he's going to fix it up and make it beautiful again and drive it.....it will be pretty cool when he gets it done some day. I think he's going to paint it a cherry red....oooooooohhhhhh, awwwwwwww.....:)
A few plans for the rest of the week: school; Jacob to Tae Kwon Do; soccer game on Saturday; church/choir stuff; Missions Fair this weekend at church; Tae Kwon Do bonfire Saturday night; writing assignments/articles/reviews/MamaBuzz work; visit with Uncle Jerry & Aunt Glenda (not sure which day); etc. Busy week!
Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...For more Daybook, link up with The Simple Woman.

Motivate Me Monday: Making It Work

With things in such an economic crunch for a lot of people, I've really been thinking about a lot of things lately. It's so easy to get caught up in this whole organizational trend of needing to go out and get more stuff in order to get our lives organized in the chaos we call home. Believe me, I've been there. In fact, this past weekend, I was there.

I decided to dive headfirst into my boys' room this weekend and get it organized and cleaned up. At first, I sat down and looked around me and instantly became overwhelmed with thinking of things I was sure I needed in order to clean this messy room up. I thought I needed a hanging closet organizer, as well as shelves, maybe even more crates. As I sat there, though, knowing that we are in a crunch ourselves right now with rent coming up due next week, amongst other things, I told myself that I didn't need those things....what I needed was to make do with what I had and make the best out of what I had. I began to think of how hard my husband works to provide for us and of what Proverbs 31:11-12 says: The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life (NKJV). What hit me was that instead of going out and buying more stuff to organize the other stuff here at home, I needed to use things I already had, to get creative with what was already available here at home. So, that's exactly what I did.

The boys' closet really did need a shelf because I was taking the dresser out, since Dan will have our $10 bunkbeds in the room by the end of this week, and there will be more room. I was determined to put more clothes and toys in the closet, out of sight, so their room could stay a bit more organized. In our own closet, Dan and I had a shoe shelf that we didn't ever use because we keep all our shoes in the garage. So, he helped me take it off the wall, and he found a way to have it lay flat instead of tilted (as shoe shelves usually are), and now there is a huge, long shelf for storing toys and clothes in their closet.


For dress up stuff that they play with a lot, I thought I needed another crate, BUT I found an old suitcase, which is perfect for storing that stuff, plus it's small enough that it's easy for them to handle. As for finding more storage room for clothes (since Jacob will no longer have his bed drawers when the bunkbeds come in), I didn't really need to, because I put away clothes that were too small, and with the dress-up stuff being put in the suitcase, that gave us a whole other drawer in the dresser to work with.

A while back, I had found these cute fabric boxes at the dollar store for $1 apiece and was able to put a lot of their little stuff in these boxes, such as Jacob's ties and belts, diapers, portable dvd player with cords, smaller board books, etc. (Yes, I know what you're thinking, but our kids have 3 sets of grandparents, so they have no want for toys, let me tell you....we go through and purge every so often to give some away).

Now, their room looks so much less chaotic, and I didn't really have to spend a dime (besides those fabric boxes I'd gotten a long time ago). We took down the crib, and until the bunkbeds are in, Jaden is sleeping on his little mattress on the floor.

What I'm trying to get at is that you might think you need all the latest fads for organization, just as you've seen them on Martha Stewart or Oprah or any home makeover show.....believe me, I am easily persuaded that I need all this stuff too; but really, if you look around you, you probably have all you need to create calm out of chaos. It just takes a bit of creativity and ingenuity on your part. Find things you can use that you might not ordinarily think of as organizational tools, such as an old suitcase, an old trunk, old shelves in another part of the house, etc.

As moms, it's not only our job to organize and make our homes havens, but it's our job to protect that haven by making the most of what God has provided us with. We need to be careful stewards of whatever He has placed in our possession. After all, everything we have has come from Him....we're only borrowing these things while here on earth.... Make it work!:) Have a great day!

For more Motivate Me Monday, link up with Composing Hallelujahs.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Fun Fall Window Silhouettes

We just love fall in our house; it's such a fun time of year. It's starting to cool down outside, and it's getting cozy inside. With fall comes all the fun holidays, like Halloween and Thanksgiving.

I'd been promising Jacob for a while now that we'd make some fun silhouettes for our windows for Halloween. With needing to do art, we decided today was the day. I logged onto Martha Stewart's website today and found some great templates and printed them out. Then I cut the shapes out with my craft knife. We took the template and traced around the edges with a white crayon onto black construction paper. After that, I let Jacob cut with his scissors (since I'm just not ready to place such a sharp, razor-blade knife in his hands yet....yikes!), and I cut with my handy dandy craft knife. Voila, we had really cute silhouettes for our windows: bats, cats, and witches. We have some more templates to try out, like pumpkins and a slightly larger bat. We used double-sided, transparent scrapbooking tape to stick them up on the windows. The best part is that now we have the templates for next time. He's already wanting to do more, and since we are about out of construction paper, I think a trip to the dollar store is in order, so we can make more projects like this. Oh, and I think my artistic talent is finally looking up just a bit....:)LOL. Maybe papercrafts is my niche!

Next stop: the
Silhouette Candle Creatures.:)


Friday Funnies- Evolution of Dance

If you've ever been around me, you know I love music, and sometimes I just can't help but move with the groove....:) Yep, I'm a dancing Christian....not that I can dance, but I so dream of being able to.:)LOL Although my husband and I did take a ballet class, which was really fun and such a workout! Anyway, this guy is hilarious. I love looking for my Friday Funnies every week because I love just sitting here for those few minutes, cracking up at the hilarious stuff that's out there.:) Laugh it up, because laughter truly is the best medicine!

If you'd like to join in the laughs, head on over to Homesteaders Heart!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Silver War?

LOL According to Jacob, who is writing a story about Abraham Lincoln in writing today, Abraham Lincoln "was in the Silver wore." LOL Just thought that was something to giggle about....I love kids' imaginations....I just wonder what he was thinking about when he wrote that....:) He's too much fun.

Things I Love Thursday: My Favorite Dr.

Ok, I have a confession to make. No, I don't drink coffee; blech! I love the smell but hate the taste....but I love me some good ole Dr. Pepper.:) There is nothing like it, except for water, of course, but sometimes ya just need something with a kick. Now if I could, I'd be drinking Dr. Pepper all the time (as in, have it hooked up to my arm through an IV), but we hardly ever buy soda, seeing as how much money it wastes and how bad it is for us. Plus, I'm not supposed to have caffeine (doctor's orders a while back; a heart thing).

Anyway, look what my Dan brought home to me last night!
Yep, he brought me a whole 12-pack of it too! And it's caffeine free!!! Who could ask for more? He was thinking of everything. (I love you, Honey!) Anyway, this is something that I love....I can live without it most of the time, but there are days when that craving is soooooo strong. Mmmmm.....:) I've often envisioned a commercial for Dr. Pepper, where a mom is finally done with grocery shopping, the kids are screaming in the back seat, and she opens up her Dr. Pepper and takes one sip and is whisked away to a paradise-like setting.....yep, that's what it does for me.:)

What do you love? Head over to Diaper Diaries, and share!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

TOS Crew: Growing Healthy Homes- Nutrition 101


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Learning about nutrition can often be overwhelming; there are so many opinions and books and ideas out there on what is healthy and what is not. It can often lead to information overload because you're just not sure whose advice to follow. Nutrition 101: Choose Life! is a handy resource that basically covers everything for you in one spot.
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There's no need to run off and look something up somewhere else, because this e-book is chock full of anything you'd ever want to know. It is meant for the family to use together, and it's based on Scripture. It was written by four moms, all with education and experience in nutritional studies, who wanted to share with other mothers how they can feed their families, according to God's menu.

One of the things I really found interesting with this book is that it covers the major systems of the body, first of all. It explains how they work and gives prompts for family discussion. The book is wonderfully illustrated with pictures and diagrams to further study. It covers the following systems:
1) The Brain and Nervous System
2) The Digestive System
3) The Respiratory, Olfactory, Auditory, and Visual Systems
4) The Skeletal and Muscular Systems
5) The Cardiovascular and Immune Systems
6) The Endocrine System and Emotions

Throughout each section, there are also activities to do with your children. For example, in the section on the brain, there is an activity in which you help your kids understand the difference between left brain and right brain by simply having them brush their teeth with first their right hand and then their left hand. It helps them to see the difference when one hand works better than the other. The authors also suggest supplements for each system of the body and several recipes, or "power" recipes. In fact, last night we made the Ultimate Pizza, found in the section on Endocrine health.
Jaden loved it; it was actually really good! The sauce was a little different at first, but it grew on me.I couldn't be more thrilled about the information given on different supplements, because over the years, I've heard so many opinions on which supplements I should/should not be taking, and with all of the opinions out there, it's hard to discern which ones are going to be the best and which ones could actually be harmful. Now, I can actually sit down and read about how these supplements actually work with the particular systems in my body and if they might be beneficial for myself or my family to take.

Not only does the book break down the major systems of the body, but it also breaks down nutrition and explains the different terms, such as omega fatty acids, carbohydrates, glycemic index, fiber, etc. Certain health topics and diseases are covered, such as vaccines, diabetes, cancer, etc. It makes these topics very real within the study of nutrition and helps the reader to learn how to apply these Biblical, nutritional concepts to their everyday life.

My favorite part of the book comes toward the end, in the form of the Appendices. There are certain things that help make my life easier, such as a shopping list, vitamin chart, tips on how to select fresh produce (which I've always wondered if I'm getting the right stuff), etc. I especially appreciated the page that gave information on nutritional recommended daily allowances for not only adults, but children as well. Dan and I have been questioning how much we should let Jacob eat because we know he's growing, but it just seems like he's starting to want more and more, and we just weren't sure where we should draw the line. Now, we can kinda look at this to get an idea of how much is probably too much.

As I studied through this book and started using it to make recipes, I realized that living organically takes true dedication because not only are the ingredients a bit more expensive, but it takes more time to prepare some of the dishes in this book. If you are a mom who is dedicated to helping her family live more organically and healthy, then this book is a great resource for you. If you are a mom who wants a quick solution, then this might be a more difficult transition. I am actually hoping to use this myself, as well as with my children through the next few years to try to teach them about proper nutrition and how their bodies work. It is an awesome resource for any family.

At 448 pages, this book is basically a manual on how to have a truly, healthy home. You can order the book via the Growing Healthy Homes website. It is available as a CD-ROM for $79.95; print book for $99.95; or the combo pack of both the CD-ROM and the print book for $129.95.


To read more reviews, head over to the TOS Homeschool CREW Blog.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dawn's Prelude by Tracie Peterson

Tracie Peterson has to be one of my favorite Christian authors, so when I had the opportunity to review one of her books, I jumped. Dawn's Prelude is the first book in the Song of Alaska series. Tracie has a way of telling a story, as to capture your attention and keep you on your toes and wanting more. The story is in the Christian romance genre, with suspense and action tied in as well. There was one twist in this story that totally shocked me....even though, it really shouldn't have, but I won't give it away. Just know that you won't be bored with this story.

The story's main character is Lydia Sellers, who was married off to a very cruel man who abused and mistreated her. With both his passing and the passing of her father, she stands to inherit her stepchildren's fortune, and this is where the suspense begins. She decides to move to Alaska to live with her aunt, and while there, a tale of love, romance, tragedy, and spiritual awakenings begins.

Peterson ties in many Scriptural insights with her story, which lets the reader into the mind of the characters, as they seek to try to understand God's ways. While at times, I felt some of the dialogue was a tad bit cheesy, I still wanted to find out what happened in the end. Would I recommend this book? Yes, it's the perfect story to have on that rainy Sunday afternoon, complete with candle, blanket, and relaxation (oh, and kids napping or otherwise occupied:)).

To read more about this book, visit Bethany House.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Epitome of a Bad Health Professional

Should I say Health "Professional" up there in the title? Not sure.....didn't feel so "professional" today. Here goes with my rant; hang on for the ride....yes, I'm whining a little, but I have to rant about this one.....and I'm only keepin' it real. We think healthcare is bad now, but I think we're really in for it if a certain someone in authority gets his way....(just my humble opinion).

A bad health professional ( I say health professional because I'm not even sure who she was today; was she a doctor? No....Was she a P.A.? Still not sure....Was she a nurse practitioner? Still not sure.....Hmmmmm......health professional it is). Anyway, a bad health professional is one who leaves you in the waiting room for an hour just waiting for a simple hearing test and with a toddler under 2, no less (hang on).

A bad health professional is one who brings you in for the 5 minute hearing test only to sit you in another smaller waiting room for yet another long hour.

A bad health professional is one who has to have the receptionist room you because their nurse just can't get to it (Yes, I know, I used to work in a doctor's office, so I know it gets tough, but believe me, it was not busy today; I do have eyes and ears, and I was there long enough to know).

A bad health professional is one who can't even keep you abreast of what is going on to make her so late.

A bad health professional is one who sticks yet another one of those stupid bead roller coasters in the room for your already bored to the gourd toddler to play with (as if....um, his attention span is like 5 seconds, and he'd already played to the max with several of those).

A bad health professional is one who can't even look up the records and gets mad that she has to look them up because the harried and harassed mama is trying to remember but just can't remember every single detail of the past year and a half. (And might I add that she should have looked these up before she even stepped into the room? She had no clue who we even were. Can we say "a few fries short of a happy meal"?).

A bad health professional is one who can't even explain her reasons of why she isn't going to recommend us for the procedure.....and pretty much sits there wasting time because she has nothing to say that is of any significance, other than that he's borderline (um, ok, now I see why you were three hours behind, and wasn't this supposed to be the actual consult for the procedure? Oh, you don't know, that's right....you don't have a clue why we're here).

A bad health professional is one who talks down to me as if I am just a simpleton, someone who doesn't even know her own child.....as if statistics really don't mean a lot to me because I am not a "health professional." (Um, yes, I am; I just wasn't going to broadcast it all over because I wanted to see how you'd treat me as "just me, just a person and not a nurse.")

A bad health professional is one who has no clue what she's even talking about, which was evident in the whole 10-15 minute appointment that I waited 2 1/2 hours for, not including the doctor time. She couldn't even tell me why I had to wait that long if nothing was going to be done.

Um, second opinion???? Anyone???? Or do I just wait for him to have yet another ear infection and lose hearing like Jacob did? Oh wait, according to statistics, he could lose his hearing by having tubes put in too (which "we as healthcare professionals take very seriously"). In other words, your son needs to be puking his guts up again and running those 103 degree fevers and be put on antibiotics yet again (only to make him even more resistant to them in the future)....because he needs to have "just" one more ear infection before I'll recommend tubes.

Um, ok, there was nothing professional about you; I didn't even know your name.....maybe I was just another number, but maybe you were Mrs. Nobody.

(Whew! I feel better.....I wanted to scream when I walked out of there today; we are calling our family docs to see what is up with all of this....and why half my day was wasted by this seemingly health "professional.")

Daybook for September 21, 2009

FOR TODAY, Monday, September 21, 2009...
Outside my window...it's still dark and fairly quiet.
I am thinking...that I'm a little more prepared for this week, hopefully.
I am thankful for...a church to go to where we can learn and grow; making new friends.
From the learning rooms...we'll be learning about storms in science this week, and we get to go to KY3 with our old homeschool group for a tour and hopefully see the weather lab up close.:)
From the kitchen...tonight will be Ultimate Pizza from my review e-book, Nutrition 101. We're going to simply review in math and have some fun with it.
I am wearing...jammies and robe for just a bit more.
I am creating...hopefully making curtains for our bedroom this week; working on my blog and on MamaBuzz.
I am going...to take Jaden for his appointment with the surgeon this morning.
I am reading...finishing up Dawn's Prelude and then starting Fear Not Tomorrow, God is Already There.
I am hoping...that Jaden won't have any permanent hearing loss when they test him this morning.
I am hearing...the train in the distance.
Around the house...today have to dust, vacuum, and mop; this day rolls around so quickly. Ugh....
One of my favorite things...now is getting out with our Sunday School class; we went out on Friday all together for Parents Night Out, and it was so much fun.
A few plans for the rest of the week: school; errands/library; housework; writing assignment/articles/reviews; blog work on here and MamaBuzz; Jacob to Tae Kwon Do & soccer practice; soccer game on Saturday; church/choir practice; KY3 tour with homeschool group/maybe Jump Mania; Observatory with boys Saturday night; and our choir is singing with Joe Castillo, the sand artist, on Sunday! Woohoo! Busy week!
Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

When It Rains, It Pours

FRUSTRATED MOM Pictures, Images and Photos
This is especially for all those homeschooling mamas out there....or the mamas who have had days that seem like the old saying: "When it rains, it pours." You know who you are.:) My husband said I needed to post about this and call it, "Just My Luck," or talk about how anything that's going to happen, is going to happen to me (as he was laughing). BUT I've found that with most moms, we all have those days. AND we all have to stay in the fight and muddle our way through.

Yesterday, was one of those days for me. Literally, I could feel something just weighing on me all day. It started out the night before when I hit the grocery store while Jacob was in soccer. Every stinkin' sale item I was after, they were out of. Urggg...:) Then I go to pay, and well, we all know how that is nowadays: it's hard to swallow when you see those numbers keep climbing and climbing and climbing. I finally get out and load all the stuff in the car, and I'm getting ready to pull out, and this guy jumps right in front of me with his car.....so, muttering under my breath because there were 10 parking spaces closer to the store he could have gotten rather than in front of me, I backed out (yes, I know.....I'm lazy). Then yesterday hits. Jacob had probably one of the worst days in school that we have had so far with homeschooling. If you know me, you know that math is one of my least favorite subjects to do, let alone teach. And, of course, it's Jacob's most difficult. When we started school, I was emotional anyway, had a ton of stuff on my mind. As we were doing the math (and it took 2 hours yesterday, by the way), and we were shedding many tears over it, all I could think of was the negative thoughts and negative comments I've ever gotten about homeschooling.....such as, "How do you know what to teach? How do you know he's getting a good education? He needs to go to school, where he can be with other kids." And of course, my own voices inside, "You are failing; he is never going to get this unless you put him in school; you are a failure." Come on, admit it, if you're a mom, you have had these thoughts yourself, whether it be about math or discipline or whatever it may be. The emotions just kept building and building.....to the point where I finally sat Jacob down with the dictionary (with the D section, in fact, since he had made a D on his history test too:)LOL; don't worry; the one before he made a 100, so yesterday was just one of those rare, bad days; and he needed to work on spelling skills anyway).

Anyway, I reached out and emailed a fellow homeschooling friend for support....and she was wonderful enough to sit down and type out a really long email filled with encouragement and tips and experience. I can't tell you how much that lifted my spirits and just helped to take that weight off. You know what else I should have done immediately, but because I'm not perfect, I didn't do right away? I should have prayed.....Prayer is our weapon, Moms. You know what those negative voices are in your head? They are the devil's lies. Moms, be encouraged today by reading this. I hesitated to write it because I didn't want to sound all negative, but for the sake of keepin' it real and hopefully encouraging you, I am bearing my heart to you. Don't listen to those negative voices.....in fact, fight them with prayer, fight them by just taking a break to read some Scriptures, fight them by reaching out to a friend for support and encouragement. We need each other. You can do this, Moms; don't ever give up....on your kids or yourselves. If you feel that God has put you in the position of homeschooling, remember that calling, and don't give up! If you are a Mom who doesn't even homeschool, still, don't give up! We are changing the world, one tiny heart at a time. If you fail, if you lose it, if you get angry.....pick yourself back up, ask forgiveness, and move on. Believe me, I have had to ask both God and Jacob for forgiveness when I've "lost it" and yelled a few times.....I'm not perfect, and you aren't either. Nothing draws you closer to each other than to humble yourself in that way.

Don't give up, Moms! You CAN and WILL succeed!:)


Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Funnies- Mr. Monk

In honor of the final season of Monk, one of our favorite shows, I felt the need to post this....we will miss Mr. Monk when he's not solving mysteries on our tv anymore.:( Being a partial overcomer of OCD myself, I can totally empathize with him....but he still makes me laugh.:) Laugh it up!

For more Friday Funnies, link up with Homesteaders Heart.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Things I Love Thursday: Minis

Michael's has to be one of my favorite all-time stops....it's one store I could spend hours in, truly, especially right now with all the fall decor and crafts out. I don't know what it is about fall, but it makes me want to go to the craft store and smell all the yummy holiday scented candles and ooohhh and awwww....LOL. The other night I was able to make a quick stop there, and I found the cutest little mini loaf pans in all different colors. They had Thanksgiving colors and Halloween colors, so I mixed and matched. They even had them in the shapes of bats or pumpkins. Then they had some that were white with painted designs on the outside for fall. The best part is that they were only $1. I scooped four of them up, one for each of us; that way, we could each have our very own mini loaf of whatever kind of bread.:)

Then this morning, I made my Aunt Betty's recipe for Banana Bread, and it was delicious....

Banana Nut Bread (I make it without nuts, though.:))
From the kitchen of: Aunt Betty

2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
3 or 4 ripe bananas, mashed
4 tbsp. sour milk (add just a little vinegar to milk, and let set for about 5 minutes)
1 tsp. vanilla
Chopped Nuts

1. Sour milk.
2. Sift flour and soda together.
3. Mix sugar, oil, and eggs together.
4. Add vanilla.
5. Add mashed bananas.
6. Add dry ingredients with sour milk.
7. Add nuts.
8. Pour into two greased loaf pans (or 4-5 mini loaf pans). You can use Pam or Crisco spray.
9. Bake at 375 degrees until toothpick comes out a little moist with crumbs. Around an hour.

Turn out on towel covered rack to cool.


For more Things I Love Thursday, link up with The Diaper Diaries.

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