Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Old Testament Literacy

The kids and I are continuing to work our way through Exodus in the mornings. At a chapter a day it's slow but steady going. Many of us know the Old Testament Bible stories, but as Sunday School tales. We know the gist but not the guts of the story.

Here's what I mean. We might know that God split the Red Sea, saving Israel in a dramatic way from Egypt. But we don't think about the ten plagues. How all encompassing they were. Over a period of ten months. How they affected every part of life. How the Bible says God hardened Pharaoh's heart after several of the plagues. Pharaoh hardened his own heart after the others. But God had a purpose in it all.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Help: My Thoughts

Last night I went to see the Help with some girlfriends. Since some of you have asked for my thoughts on the movie, here we go. Now I haven't read the book -- it's on my to be read list, but haven't made the time for it. So I can't comment on the book at all. Though after seeing the movie there are many things I want to clear up in the book.

First, it saddens me immensely that life in this country was like that as recently as 1962. So sadness might be my strongest emotion after the movie.

Second, it's a story of courage and one that showed church and faith as a source of strength. Loved that.

Third, my heart broke to think that so many children were raised by indifferent mothers who had been raised by indifferent mothers. That saddens me at such a deep level. The final scene broke me. I can't say more than that without spoiling it for those of you who haven't seen the movie.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Hold Me, the video

Have you discovered Jamie Grace? If you listen to K-LOVE, then you've heard this great song. We downloaded it from iTunes soon after hearing it. What a great pick-up! So sit back and enjoy the reminder of how much your Father loves you!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Social Media: the Race to Keep up...

As an author, I'm expected to have a social media presence. I started blogging years ago, because writers were supposed to...long before they were published.

Somewhere in there, a friend built my first website. Thanks, Lisa! Then last year, I hired a designer.

Then came Twitter. And Facebook.

And now Google+.

It's enough to make my head spin and keep it going for a long time. All in the name of building a brand

Monday, August 22, 2011

How Quickly We Forget...

Yesterday, our pastor started a sermon on the Exodus and how quickly we can forget God's provision.

If you've been reading this blog this year, then you know I've been studying this. Now the kids and I are reading Exodus together every morning in school. I think there is such a challenge to us when you look at what the Israelites experienced as they left Egypt...and how quickly they forgot.

It humbles me to think how easy it is to stumble into the same pattern.

The journey from Egypt to Canaan even with all the livestock and the children should have taken 14 days. Imagine 14 days to march across the desert that bridged your horrid past from the potential of the future God has for you. And you're only separated from that potential by 14 days...and you.

The Israelites experienced some of the plagues along with the Egyptians. Then they experienced the grace of not enduring others. They painted blood on their doorposts to keep the Angel of Death from entering their homes on the night of Passover. Then they left Egypt with the wealth of Egypt thrust into their arms. They reached the Red Sea, only to have God blow it apart. Then they marched across...on dry land.

But it wasn't enough.

Three days later they're thirsty and forgetful. The water they find is bitter. They want to turn back. Because they've forgotten all the miracles God just did for them.

Aren't we just like that? Humbling isn't it!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Great Research Tool:History Detectives

At our house, we don't watch much TV, but when we do watch, it's often PBS. The kids watch it in the morning with breakfast. And occasionally we catch something in the evening.

This week I came home from a meeting to find my family watching History Detectives. I think I might be hooked...or have found a fourth career.

Each show has three short episodes where someone tracks down the backstory to an artifact. Is it what the owner thinks? Can the story that's told be supported by evidence?

It's fascinating to watch the "detectives" at work. And I've been very impressed with the World War II segments I've watched. If you're studying something in history, this can be a great tool to get some fun information. There's even a website for kids.

Here's the adult version of the website. And if you're a writer or history lover, watching the episodes will have your mind spinning!

What's a website you've recently discovered that has soaked up your time?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back to School...Pray: a Guest Post

It's that time of year...back to school. And whether you homeschool or watch your kids board the bus, it's a bittersweet time. A mark of how they're getting older. Carla McDougal joins us today to talk about one thing we can do for our kids every day...

By Carla McDougal 

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
Deuteronomy 6:5,7 

Excitement’s in the air! Anticipation rises. It’s that time of year when the kids go back to school.

Who can forget watching your child go to "big school" for the first time? I remember those bittersweet moments as each of my four children kissed me good-bye. I always knew that day would arrive, but nothing prepared me for the moment.

Elementary school seemed to fly by and almost overnight they were in junior high and then high school. And in a blink of an eye, they were off to college. Where did the years go?

I learned early on that when my children were away from home, praying for them comforted me. By turning them over to God I experienced a calm peace. Year after year my prayers intensified, yet remained the same…
  • Elementary School – Will he make a friend? Will he eat all his lunch, or just the cookies and chips? God help him to love You with all his heart.
  • Junior/Senior High –Will he make the right friends? Is he paying attention to the teacher? God, help him love You with all his soul.
  • College - Will he make some forever friends? Is he making the right life decisions? God, help him to love You with all his strength.
Just as our children face challenges, we as moms face our own set of challenges…
  • To pray over our children no matter where they are in life.
  • To be on our knees for those God entrusted to us.
  • To ultimately pray for each child to love Jesus with all his heart, soul, and mind!
  • Finally, to let them know we are praying for them each day! What a blessing it is to pray for our children.
I ask you to take advantage of this new season too. Do you need a fresh start? Where are you in your relationship with God? In my Bible study, Reflecting Him – Living for Jesus and Loving It, I encourage you to find Jesus in your everyday activities. He is there for us 24 hours a day, and He wants to hear our everyday prayers!

Author Bio
CARLA MCDOUGAL is founder of Reflective Life Ministries headquartered in the Houston, Texas area. Her true passion for her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, shines brightly, whether she is speaking or writing. She shares experiences from her own life to encourage women to live every day for Him. God is sending Carla around the world to speak to women from all walks of life—those living in the best of circumstances to those who have hit rock bottom. 

Carla’s book, Reflecting Him: Living for Jesus and Loving It, is a 10-week study that encourages you to open your eyes to God’s daily life lessons. The more you ask God to be in your life, the more you will recognize His hand on everything you do. For more information on a growing number of products from Reflective Life Ministries, and to see about booking Carla for an event or interview, go to

Monday, August 15, 2011

Don't Check Your Brains at the Door Review

Most of us have heard of Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler. Josh McDowell is known for books like More than a Carpenter and Evidence that Demands a Verdict. He is known for taking apologetics and making it understandable. Bob Hostetler is a writer, pastor and teacher.

Don't Check Your Brains at the Door is a book they first wrote and released in 1992. The cover alone was in desperate need of freshening :-). Guess which one is the new one.

This book is broken into short chapters of 3-5 pages that are easy to read in a few minutes, but address big questions. The ones our kids have got to be able to answer if they are going to own and defend their

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Recipes: Grandma's Porcupine Meatballs

Here's an easy dish that you can make ahead and freeze. The kids like it -- always good. And it reminds me of stopping at Grandma's house on the farm. Bon Appetit!

Porcupine Meatballs

1 c. minute rice
1 lb. ground beef

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Most Unsuitable Match Review & Giveaway

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Most Unsuitable Match
Bethany House; Original edition (August 1, 2011)
Stephanie Grace Whitson

I remember when Stephanie first started writing. My mom brought home her books because they knew each other through homeschooling. I learned so much in those historicals about Nebraska. And that flavor of making history come alive through a romance continues. This current book is set primarily on a steamboat racing up the Mississippi. The year 1869 comes to life through the eyes of Fannie, a young woman facing life alone and thrust into circumstances she doesn't know how to control. This book joins a long line of engaging fiction from a talented author!

I have an extra copy. To be considered, leave a comment with a way to reach you and your favorite body of water. Mine is probably Lake Huron because Mackinac Island sits in it.

A native of southern Illinois, Stephanie Grace Whitson has lived in Nebraska since 1975. She began what she calls "playing with imaginary friends" (writing fiction) when, as a result of teaching her four homeschooled children Nebraska history, she was personally encouraged and challenged by the lives of pioneer women in the West. Since her first book, Walks the Fire, was published in 1995, Stephanie's fiction titles have appeared on the ECPA bestseller list numerous times and been finalists for the Christy Award, the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, and ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year.

Her first nonfiction work, How to Help a Grieving Friend, was released in 2005. In addition to serving in her local church and keeping up with two married children, two college students, and a high school senior, Stephanie enjoys motorcycle trips with her family and church friends. Her passionate interests in pioneer women's history, antique quilts, and French, Italian, and Hawaiian language and culture provide endless story-telling possibilities.

An unlikely attraction occurs between two passengers on a steamboat journey up the Missouri River to Montana...

She is a self-centered young woman from a privileged family who fears the outdoors and avoids anything rustic. He is a preacher living under a sense of duty and obligation to love the unlovable people in the world. She isn't letting anything deter her from solving a family mystery that surfaced after her mother's death. He is on a mission to reach the rejects of society in the remote wilderness regions of Montana. Miss Fannie Rousseau and Reverend Samuel Beck are opposites in every way... except in how they both keep wondering if their paths will ever cross again.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Most Unsuitable Match, go HERE.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mommy Brain anyone?

Several years ago, after my youngest daughter was born, I remember reading an article in USA Today about Mommy Brain. Before you laugh too hard, there is science supporting the reality that mothers of infants and toddlers have a condition called Mommy Brain.

It is the absence of long term memory. Some days I think my short term memory has abandoned me, too!

Monday, August 08, 2011

Willing to Plead?

Saturday night our church had a prayer meeting -- in response to the Response held in Houston at Reliant Stadium.

As we were sitting there worshiping and praying, I kept thinking about Abraham and God in Genesis 18. Yes, things are bad. We've got an economic crisis, a cultural crisis, wars, terrorism, natural disasters. We need God in an absolutely desperate way.

Are we willing to plead with God for our nation as Abraham pleaded with God for Sodom and Gomorrah? Do we truly believe that God will hear our pleas and respond? Do we have the faith and relationship with God to know He desires to respond when His people pray?

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Flight of Shadows Review

*Flight of Shadows* is a futuristic thriller that will appeal to those who love authors like Tom Clancy but like the scientific twists of a Michael Crichton. The story is about a genetically altered woman who is fleeing government agents and bounty hunters. They know a key about her that she doesn't -- and it's the reason she's being chased. The book started a bit slow;y for me with lots of details to catch me up on what happened in the first book. I also struggled a bit because everything happens in a post-apocalyptical world. As someone who struggles with settings I haven't seen, that was an initial stumbling block. I couldn't quite wrap my mind around the story world...but as I got into the chapters that ceased to matter. I could imagine the important pieces.

People who enjoy futuristic tales that are mixed with cautionary undertones will enjoy this book immensely. And if you life science expanded to its possibilities, then you should definitely read this book.

I received this book from the publisher to review.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Friday Recipes: Grilled Chili Lime Shrimp

I can't claim credit for this recipe, but it's amazing.

I have a subscription to Better Homes & Gardens. Every once in awhile I'll go through and pull out yummy recipes to try. This was an amazing winner. The kids inhaled it, and Eric and I loved it, too. Deveining the shrimp was a pain in the behind, but it was worth it when we turned on the grill and cooked these tasty shrimp.

Here's the link to the recipe. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Want to Help a Fiction Publisher?

Hey, all. This is a bit different -- but I think this is really important. Thomas Nelson, a company that publishes awesome fiction like Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter, Beth Wiseman and Ted Dekker, to name just a few-- is currently taking a survey of fiction readers. My husband and I both participated, and it only took a few minutes. I love that the company is asking good questions of readers. So if you'd like to help influence a publisher, pop over and give them a couple minutes of your time. 


Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Starting School Woes

We started school Monday. Because I attend a conference in September, I like to get a few extra days under our belt. I also love the added flexibility the head start gives us.

The morning went great! I am talking homeschool hall of fame awesome. We have this down! Bring me your questions because I have it all together.

Then we fell apart, Math -- it is our oldest's nemesis. She is very good at it. but she fights it...for hours! By 4:30 I was ready to quit. In fact I told my husband I couldn't sign on for another year of the same old battles. It exhausts me just to contemplate it.

Fortunately, I serve a God who loves my daughter even more than I do. So Monday night I begged Him for insight and a miracle as I walked the neighborhood. I need Him to show me how to change to make this work. I don't have an answer yet, but I trust it's on it's way.

Whether or not you homeschool how do you encourage reluctant children to dive in and cooperate on their less than favorite subject?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

CFBA Tour: Out of Control

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Out Of Control
Bethany House; Original edition (August 1, 2011)
Mary Connealy

Mary's books are a delight. The perfect blend of humor, romance and unforgettable characters. You can't go wrong with one of hers!


Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is a Christy Award Finalist, a Carol Award Finalist and an IRCC Award finalist.

The Lassoed in Texas Series, Petticoat Ranch, Calico Canyon and Gingham Mountain. Petticoat Ranch was a Carol Award Finalist. Calico Canyon was a Christy Award Finalist and a Carol Award Finalist. These three books are now contained in one large volume called Lassoed in Texas Trilogy.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Called? or Career?

I'm chuckling. Really. Right now I'm listening to a lecture from A History of Freedom from the Teaching Company. I'd been thinking about what to write about.

Since I've turned in my last-for-now contracted book, I'm back to wondering what God has for me next. Writing? Is it a calling? Is it a career? Then the professor, Rufus Fears, starts talking about the difference between a career and calling.

Career comes from a French word which means a road. A career is a road to something. But a calling? That's something more...isn't it? It's a calling from God. Something I am compelled to do because anything less is disobedience. But does that mean I'll write the rest of my life? There's the question.

I see stories everywhere I go. They hit me from all sides. I just need the time to develop them. But honestly, publishing is scary. Probably always has been, but I'm writing now. And as lines close, ebooks take off, and publishers adjust, it's an unnerving time to write.

But at church yesterday, someone talked about the fact that God has not called us to safe places to do easy things. Instead, we are called to dangerous places to do hard things. Sounds  like publishing. I've asked God to expand my reach...and that happens with writing. More people read my books than I could ever sit down and have conversations with. And stories have power. Power to communicate ideas that we wouldn't readily accept if addressed directly.

So I'm praying. Laying down my dreams and asking God to replace them with His yet again. Because if I'm going to live a faith that goes to dangerous places to do hard things, then I want to go with my hand resting firmly in His.


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