In Other Words ~ "All is Well"

I'm excited to have the opportunity to host this week's In "Other" Words! We we would love to hear your thoughts on this week's quote. To join us, after you have posted on your blog, come back here and add your permalink (the link to your In "Other" Words post, not the main page of your blog, please :)) to Mr. Linky below. If you don't have a blog, you can leave your thoughts in the comments here. For more information about In "Other" Words, please visit Loni at Writing Canvas.

Believer . . .
banish your fears;
cast out all doubts;
lift up the happy head;
clap the exulting hands;
give thanks.
Your heavenly Father cannot set you in wrong place.
Your loving Savior cannot lead you in wrong paths.
All is well.

~ Henry Law

"All is well."

But is all well?

It certainly doesn't seem like it at times. In fact, it often seems as though things are as far from "well" as they can get.

The past few years have been filled with circumstances that seem very "unwell", for us and so many others we know. Not just sad things, but truly tragic, horrific things...things that rank up there as people's worst nightmares, only these aren't nightmares, they are "real life".

During these times, I have seen, over and over, people rejoicing and giving thanks~albeit often through tears~for God's sovereignty and goodness. I have seen, over and over, people acknowledging that although the circumstances they are facing are horrific, God is in control, and all is well. I have seen people choosing to "cast out all doubt", and have learned the importance of making that choice myself...although it is still sometimes a daily or even hourly struggle. During the circumstances our family has faced in the past few years, I have learned more deeply and certainly than ever before that "Your heavenly Father cannot set you in wrong place. Your loving Savior cannot lead you in wrong paths." Through the most difficult events in our lives, God's goodness and love have become more sure to me than ever.

We recently watched the movie "Last Flight Out" by Billy Graham's World Wide Pictures. (Excellent movie, by the way!) In the movie, the agnostic pilot who has gone to South America to rescue his former fiancee, who is now a missionary in a village that has been taken over by dangerous drug lords, asks Mateo, a missionary doctor in the village, why he would stay in such a dangerous place, especially since he could be living a life of ease as a physician in the States. Mateo replies, “My safety is of no concern. There is no better place to be than in the center of God’s will.”

That has been one of the prime lessons God has taught me in the past few years. "There is no better place to be than in the center of God's will." No matter how dark, how tragic, or how truly evil that place seems to be, if God has put us there, there is no mistake, He is good, His ways are perfect, and all is well.


One Imperfect Christmas review

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

One Imperfect Christmas

Abingdon Press (September 2009)


Myra Johnson


Making up stories has been second nature to me for as long as I can remember. A select group of trusted friends back at dear old Mission High waited eagerly for the next installment of my "Great American Spy Novel" (think Man from Uncle) and my "All-American Teen Novel" (remember Gidget and Tammy?). I even had a private notebook of angst-ridden poetry a la Rod McKuen.

The dream of writing persisted into adulthood, although it often remained on the back burner while I attended to home and family and several "real" (read paying) jobs along the way. Then in 1983, while recovering from sinus surgery, I came upon one of those magazine ads for the Institute of Children’s Literature. I knew it was time to get serious, and the next thing I knew, I'd enrolled in the “Writing for Children and Teenagers” course.

Within a year or so I sold my first story, which appeared in the Christian publication Alive! for Young Teens. For many years I enjoyed success writing stories and articles for middle-graders and young adults. I even taught for ICL for 9 years.

Then my girls grew up, and there went my live-in inspiration. Time to switch gears. I began my first women's fiction manuscript and started attending Christian writers conferences. Eventually I learned about American Christian Romance Writers (which later became American Christian Fiction Writers) and couldn't wait to get involved. Friends in ACFW led me to RWA and the online inspirational chapter, Faith, Hope & Love.

So here I am today, still on this crazy roller-coaster ride. Still writing. Still hopeful. Writing, I'm learning, is not about the destination, it's about the journey. My current projects are primarily women's fiction and romance . . . novels of hope, love, and encouragement. Novels about real women living out their faith and finding love in the midst of everyday, and sometimes not so everyday, situations.


Graphic designer Natalie Pearce faces the most difficult Christmas of her life. For almost a year, her mother has lain in a nursing home, the victim of a massive stroke, and Natalie blames herself for not being there when it happened. Worse, she's allowed the monstrous load of guilt to drive a wedge between her and everyone she loves-most of all her husband Daniel. Her marriage is on the verge of dissolving, her prayer life is suffering, and she's one Christmas away from hitting rock bottom.

Junior-high basketball coach Daniel Pearce is at his wit's end. Nothing he's done has been able to break through the wall Natalie has erected between them. And their daughter Lissa's adolescent rebellion isn't helping matters. As Daniel's hope reaches its lowest ebb, he wonders if this Christmas will spell the end of his marriage and the loss of everything he holds dear.

If you would like to read the first chapter of One Imperfect Christmas, go HERE

Watch the trailer:


Simple Woman's Daybook...Back to Work!

Note: I started this post early this morning, and didn't finish it before it was time to leave for the organ concert and errands. So...here I am again. Entries from later today are in dark purple. :)

September 21, 2009

Outside my window...
Birds chirping, sun coming up (No Rain!! Yay!), cooler mornings promising that Fall is almost here, not only on the calendar, but in

I am thinking...
about today's organ concert, and planning a separate post on "The Accidental Organist." Loved her story!

I am thankful for...
Our vacation last week. It was so good to have Billy home all week and just have time together as a family. I am *so* thankful that God gave us that week with no major
interruptions or life crises. (Those have been rare here the past few years!) Even though we didn't get caught up on sleep as much as we'd planned, God's hand was obviously in all the
details, and He has brought me to where I need to be heading into this next season.

God's grace to meet *all* of our needs. I went into church last night with two very specific burdens, and by the end of the evening, God had reminded me, very pointedly
and very specifically, that although both issues are huge and not going to be "fixed" quickly, He has both situations completely under control, and He is going to provide our *every* need in both areas...just as He always has.

I am wearing...
Denim capris and a green striped shirt, but planning to change as soon as I finish this post. :)

I am remembering...
my dad. So much from this morning's organ concert reminded me of him! Years of classical music memories,
plus his silly version of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game", which I hadn't thought of in years. :)

I am creating...
plans for the rest of the semester. :)

I am going...
"out"...before noon on a Monday!! Those who know me well, don't pass out. ;-) Explanation below. :)

I am reading...
Catherine Palmer's
Thread of Deceit, which I hope to finish today, plus a whole stack of non-fiction reading!

I am hoping...
the rain holds off long enough to get my bookcase painted!

On my mind...Yesterday's sermons. So thankful for Bro. Kent and Bro. Jeff, and the ways God has used them to speak to me in the last few weeks. (And for Lyndel's music selections, which have ministered so much as well!)

From the learning rooms...
Looking foward to digging back into school this week, and hitting it hard from now until Thanksgiving! Adding a bit of study of the organ/organ music, after this morning's concert. And looking forward to incorporating more of Bro. Jeff's series on Acts 1:8 into our missions' study.

Noticing that...
my children are also getting much out of Bro. Kent's messages in the mornings, and the missions study on Sunday nights.

Pondering these words...
from Psalm 32, verses 7-8. I almost missed church last night, after working hard to get there. I was even more thankful for the service after almost missing it! As the soloist sang
"You Are My Hiding Place", I was almost in tears thinking about how much I needed to hear those words at that very moment. I pulled out my Bible and immediately looked up the verse, Psalm 32:7, after finding it in my concordance.

"You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble;You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah."

And then I was really fighting tears as I saw the next verse! The extended family situation we've been dealing with for the past few years is one in which we feel such a strong
need for Godly counsel, and yet Godly counsel experienced in this area has been very limited so far. We keep praying for God to lead us to someone
who can provide it, and it hasn't happened yet. At every point at which we have "hit bottom" with that particular worry, God has reminded us that He is our "Wonderful Counselor", and while He may lead us to
an earthly counselor at some point, HE is our true Counselor. We are not lacking anything. He reminded me of that again last night in this

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;I will counsel you with My eye upon you."

I especially love the wording of the Amplified...

"You are a hiding place for me; You, Lord, preserve me from trouble, You surround me with songs and shouts of deliverance. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you."

From the kitchen...

I have an odd assortment of food in the cupboards and freezer that I need to use this week...it promises to be a creative week in the kitchen. :)

Around the house...
Hoping to paint a bookcase today while it is not
raining...then to snuggle it into a spot we're planning just for it in the dining room/school room. Always thankful for bookcases, especially a hand-
me-down from a friend who doesn't need it anymore. :)

One of my favorite things~Good organ music. :)

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Organ concert this morning...
I have an almost unbreakable "Don't leave the house on Monday morning" policy, but I
decided this would be worth breaking it. :)
Wedding shower for a friend tomorrow night! :)
Mercy Week Family Night Friday night...the kids have looked forward to this ever since last year's event!
GA sleepover for the big girls this weekend.
And, of course, school, house, cooking, choirs Wednesday, and co-op Thursday. Busy week...no "easing back into things after vacation" here! :)

From my picture journal...
The children with Dr. Joyce Jones.

For more Daybook posts, please visit Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook.


"Every Promise"

I love hymns. (I think I've said that here a time or two before. :)) I love old hymns. I also love new hymns...especially many of the new hymns by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty. Their combination of lyrically beautiful and Biblically sound words has ministered to me often. A friend posted a link this morning to a Townend/Getty hymn I hadn't heard before, and once again, it hit me right where I am today. What a beautiful reminder that no matter *what* our situation, the answer is to "stand on every promise" of His Word.

Every Promise

From the breaking of the dawn to the setting of the sun,
I will stand on ev'ry promise of Your Word.
Words of power, strong to save, that will never pass away,
I will stand on ev'ry promise of Your Word.
For Your covenant is sure,
And on this I am secure—
I can stand on ev'ry promise of Your Word.

When I stumble and I sin, condemnation pressing in,
I will stand on ev'ry promise of Your Word.
You are faithful to forgive that in freedom I might live,
So I stand on ev'ry promise of Your Word.
Guilt to innocence restored,
You remember sins no more—
So I'll stand on ev'ry promise of Your Word.

When I'm faced with anguished choice, I will listen for Your voice,
And I'll stand on ev'ry promise of Your Word.
Through this dark and troubled land
You will guide me with Your hand
As I stand on ev'ry promise of Your Word.
And You've promised to complete
Ev'ry work begun in me—
So I'll stand on ev'ry promise of Your Word.

Hope that lifts me from despair, love that casts out ev'ry fear,
As I stand on ev'ry promise of Your Word.
Not forsaken, not alone, for the Comforter has come,
And I stand on ev'ry promise of Your Word.
Grace sufficient, grace for me,
Grace for all who will believe—
We will stand on ev'ry promise of Your Word.

~Stuart Townend and Keith Getty


In Other Words ~ Affliction

"Affliction will either warm you up toward spiritual things or turn you cold."
~Joni Eareckson Tada

We have all heard it, or some variation, probably more than once: "How can a good God allow suffering?" And we probably all know someone, or several someones, who has rejected God because "I can't believe in a God who would allow __________________." (Fill in the blank with any one of a million tragic, hurtful circumstances.)

On the other hand, there are many examples of people who have turned to God, rather than away from Him, in times of trial...people who have clung to God in the storm and come out purified and refined, knowing God in a deeper, more intimate way, and becoming living testimonies of God's power, glory, and grace.

Joni Eareckson Tada was one of those people. Paralyzed in a diving accident as a teenager, she has become an amazing testimony of God's work through suffering. God used her accident, and the quadriplegia that followed, to teach her total dependence on Him, and to give her a ministry that has impacted millions.

Our pastor and his family have demonstrated this as well. After the tragic death of their 16-year-old son last month, there was concern about his being able to preach again. He has been back in the pulpit the past two Sunday mornings, and last Sunday's sermon on God's goodness was one of the most powerful I've ever heard. It reminded me of Steven Curtis Chapman's comment after the death of his daughter in a horrible accident...that what he knew about God, he "knows a whole lot more for sure". Bro. Kent's sermon demonstrated a realization of God's goodness that was even more sure than ever, in the midst of tragedy and grief.

As I listened to that sermon Sunday morning, I remembered my dad's words not long before his death. He was experiencing horrible pain; although he was on powerful pain meds, they couldn't stay ahead of it. He was lying on his bed, knowing that it wouldn't be long before the cancer would shut down his body for good. I was sitting on the end of the bed visiting with him, and had laid Ammah Grace down beside him. As he looked at the tiny granddaughter for whom he had prayed so hard during her weeks in NICU, his eyes filled with tears, and he made a comment I was completely unprepared for at that moment. I was grieving the pain and suffering he had experienced for the past five years, and realizing, as I knew he did, that the worst of that was still yet to come. I will never forget the sound of his voice...on the one hand, breaking with tears, but on the other hand, as sure and certain as I had ever heard him about anything (and my dad was a pretty sure and certain person :))...as he said,

"God has been so good to me."

As Mr. James said at Daddy's funeral, and in this article, there are those who point to such suffering as a reason to doubt God. To others, as to me, God's faithfulness, goodness, and love are proven over and over again in seeing people like these go through deep suffering, and yet say with Job, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him" (Job 13:15).

The above quote was chosen by Debbie at Heart Choices, this week's hostess for In "Other" Words. To see what others have written about this quote this week, please visit Debbie's blog.


Simple Woman's Daybook...Vacation Week!

FOR TODAY...September 14, 2009

Outside my window...Cloudy and looking like it might rain again...

I am thinking... about Bro. Kent's sermon yesterday on gratefulness for the goodness of God. What an amazing God we serve!

I am thankful for...Billy's vacation this week! We have big plans...rest and relax and have fun with the kids...and NO alarm all week!

I am wearing...Jeans, pink tank top, and brown babydoll shirt.

I am remembering...my friend Andy, who was killed in a car wreck 16 years ago yesterday.

I am creating...memories with my family this week!

I am going... to finish this post, eventually! I had planned to write it this morning, and didn't get that far, and have now been working on it off and on for almost 3 hours! Obviously waaay more off than on. :-)

I am reading...in a strange twist, I actually have multiple fiction books going at once at the moment. (A stack of non-fiction is normal, but I usually keep it to one fiction book at a time. :)) If I had the stack beside me, I could name them...but, alas. ;-)

I also checked out Raising Children to Adore God, by Patrick Kavanaugh, at the library today. I know nothing about this book but the title and back cover copy (and the fact that I have two books on music by this author), but I can't wait to read this! (If anyone has read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments.:)) If you have read much of my blog, you know that I have really been convicted in the past year or so that my most important goal must be raising children who "treasure God in their hearts". I'm excited to see what Kavanaugh has to say on this topic.

I am hoping...that our week stays relaxing and peaceful as planned. :)

On my mind... Bro. Jeff's Sunday night sermon series on Acts 1:8, and pondering an upcoming blog post related to it.

From the learning rooms...We're taking a break this week from school due to Billy's vacation, but we are planning to do lots of reading and drawing with Dad this week.

Pondering these words... from yesterday morning's sermon... "Are we still going to give thanks to God, even though what happened, happened? Yes, we are! Because our God is the God of the Universe..." (Bro. Kent)

from last night's sermon...Christianity is growing on every continent but North America...it is *shrinking* in North America. (Bro. Jeff)

From the kitchen... Hoping to get a bit of bulk cooking done this week.

Around the house... Mostly basic chores and upkeep this week.

One of my favorite things~ Having Billy home during the week!

A few plans for the rest of the week: Church/Children's Choir/Adult Choir Wednesday, Homeschool Co-Op Thursday, and a trip to the Nature Center one day.

From my picture journal... I am too tired to even think about posting a photo tonight. I'll try to come back and post one tomorrow. :)

For more Daybook entries, please visit The Simple Woman's Daybook.

What the World Eats: Word of Warning

Update on last week's review of What the World Eats:

I posted last week that we have been using this book in school as part of our geography/missions work, and have really been enjoying it. A friend messaged me over the weekend and related that she had bought a copy of this book a couple of years ago that had a large photo that was *very* inappropriate for children, causing her to return the book. I have been through our copy from the library page by page 4 times since then, and have not found the photo she referred to. I am assuming that perhaps ours is a later edition or reprint with that photo removed?

Anyway, if you should want to use this book with your children, *please* go through the book carefully to make sure that there is nothing inappropriate included. The edition we have been reading is the 2008 edition of the book actually titled What the World Eats, NOT the book titled Hungry Planet, with the subtitle What the World Eats.

A huge thanks to T. for calling this to my attention, and my very sincere apologies to anyone who may have picked up the book after reading about it here and come across anything inappropriate.


Sunday Song

We had an amazing worship service this morning. Just over a month after the tragic loss of their son, our pastor preached an incredible message this morning on gratefulness for God's goodness. He and his family have been such a testimony to God's goodness and faithfulness as they have demonstrated "Ye who long pain and sorrow bear, Praise God and on Him cast your care." This old and very familiar hymn spoke to me in a whole new way this morning...

All Creatures of Our God and King

All creatures of our God and King, Lift up your voice and with us sing
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam, Thou silver moon with softer gleam!
O Praise Him, O Praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong, Ye clouds that sail in heav'n along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising morn in praise rejoice, Ye lights of evening find a voice!
O Praise Him, O Praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

And all ye men of tender heart, Forgiving others take your part,
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear, Praise God and on Him cast your care!
O Praise Him, O Praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Let all things their Creator bless, And worship Him in humbleness,
O Praise Him! Alleluia! Praise, praise the Father praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit Three in One!
O Praise Him, O Praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow; Praise Him all creatures here below;
O Praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise Him above ye heav'n-ly host; Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
O Praise Him, O Praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

~Francis of Assisi, William H. Draper, Thomas Ken


A Wonderfully Pointless Post!

It's not a book review.

It's not for a meme or carnival.

I'm not posting photos. (Although I really, really need to...maybe later today!)

I have no deep, rambling thoughts to share.

There's no video or music.

No funny family story.

Not even a link.

This is just a marvelously, wonderfully, incredibly pointless, meaningless post just because I am celebrating the fact that it is Saturday morning and I have, for the first time in over a week (and probably even months, if I stopped and thought about it), no deadlines to meet!

Billy is at work, for what *might* be his last Saturday before the new weekend person takes over (YAY for the new weekend person. I am praying very hard for her. I want her to love her job and stay forever. :))

My children are all still asleep. I worked the Growing Kids Sale last night and Daddy let them stay up late. For once, I am glad...I'm loving the morning peace. :)

This has been one of the busiest four weeks of our year (Fall Growing Kids Sale Week, Spring Growing Kids Sale Week, and the weeks of the Children's and Adult Christmas musicals at church). This one probably gets top billing because it was also the first week of our homeschool co-op. And somehow I managed to end up with two book reviews due this week. Add in all the normal stuff (which always seems to be plenty on its own....:)), and the holiday, and we have had a crazy-busy week. (Crazy-busy for us...I know lots of people are that busy all the time...but we don't do crazy-busy well around here anymore. :))

BUT...next week is Billy's long-awaited week off. So, as of 3:30 this afternoon (or 4, or 5, or 6, depending on how many emergency patients he's dealing with at the time), we are officially ON VACATION.

We have no plans. Well, no official plans. We'll probably go to the nature center a time or two, and maybe to the park. I would like to go somewhere one day and take some fun, cool family pictures. We *might* paint a bit around the house if we feel like it, but at this point we are all so exhausted that is pretty iffy. Mostly, we are going to SLEEP. If we are up half the night for whatever reason, we can make up for it by sleeping until 7, or 8, or even 9. (Or maybe later!) We can take a nap if we need to. And otherwise, we are just going to enjoy family time.

Well...okay...so we do have a *few* things we have to do. Church Sunday, choirs Wednesday night, and co-op Thursday afternoon. And the ever-present laundry, dishes, and chores. But it's still a pretty empty week. And I'm thrilled.

But back to today.

It is a gloriously empty day.

There are dishes and laundry to catch up on from the busy-ness of the week, but those are such a constant around here they barely go on the to-do list anymore. We are going to go have lunch with Billy at the hospital...shh! That's a surprise for the kids. :) (I'm not sure what it says about my children that their two favorite places to eat in the world are the Sam's Club Cafe and the St. Edward's Cafeteria. Apparently I am not raising a family of gourmets. :))

Other than that, it probably is pretty urgent that we get in at least a quick grocery trip (a long one would be even better, but we'll see about that)...apparently we have been out of milk for a day or two and I've been too busy to notice. Ooops. I also have exactly one inch of rather flat Diet Sam's Choice Cola left...which I *also* didn't notice until this morning...further proof that this has really been a crazy-busy week! ;)

I have to *really* enjoy this week. It's the first time in a LONG time that we have had a real "break", and will probably be the last until at least this time next year. (And I am not even going to let myself THINK about the fact that it is entirely possible that something unexpected will happen and next week will end up being crazy, too.)

Hopefully I'll be back later today. In addition to reading with the kids, replying to emails and messages that I have neglected this week, mailing a card or two, and maybe even doing a bit of scrapbooking, I'm hoping to catch up on my blog a bit. I'd love to actually mark a few things off my "to post" list, and I've been trying for months to make a new blog header. We'll see how that goes. :)

Meanwhile, I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

I'm hearing "waking up" noises so I'm going to go say good morning to some small (and not-so-small) people.


Just Between You and Me ~ Jenny B. Jones

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Just Between You And Me

Thomas Nelson (September 1, 2009)


Jenny B. Jones


I write Christian fiction with a few giggles, quite a bit of sass, and lots of crazy. My novels include the Katie Parker Production series and So Not Happening. I would also like to take credit for Twilight , but somewhere I think I read you’re not supposed to lie.

When I’m not typing my heart out (or checking email), I teach at a super-sized high school in Arkansas.

My students are constantly telling me how my teaching changes their lives and turned them away from drugs, gangs, and C-SPAN.

Okay, that’s not exactly true.

Since my current job leaves me with very little free time, I believe in spending my spare hours in meaningful, intellectual pursuits such as:

-watching E!
-updating my status on Facebook
-catching Will Ferrell on YouTube and
-writing my name in the dust on my furniture

I’d love to hear about you, so drop me a note. Or check me out on Facebook.


The only thing scarier than living on the edge is stepping off it.
Maggie Montgomery lives a life of adventure. Her job as a cinematographer takes her from one exotic locale to the next. When Maggie's not working, she loves to rappel off cliffs or go skydiving. Nothing frightens her.

Nothing, that is, except Ivy, Texas, where a family emergency pulls her back home to a town full of bad memories, painful secrets, and people Maggie left far behind . . . for a reason.

Forced to stay longer than she intended, Maggie finds her family a complete mess, including the niece her sister has abandoned. Ten-year-old Riley is struggling in school and out of control at home. The only person who can really handle the pint-sized troublemaker is Conner, the local vet and Ivy's most eligible bachelor. But Conner and Maggie keep butting heads--he's suspicious of her and, well, she doesn't rely on anyone but herself.

As Maggie humorously fumbles her way from one mishap to another, she realizes she's going to need to ask for help from the one person who scares her the most.

To save one little girl--and herself--can Maggie let go of her fears and just trust God?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Just Between You And Me, go HERE

This has been one of those weeks when a busy schedule, health issues, and brain fog have conspired to make it *really* difficult for me to "focus". Usually during those times, I have a very hard time reading fiction. If it's too deep, I can't keep up with it, and if it is too light, my mind wanders and I can't concentrate on the storyline. I had none of those problems with this book. I was completely immersed in the plot and the characters within the first couple of chapters. I kept wanting to steal a few minutes here and there to read "just a little more."

Jones has a talent for getting her message across...in this case, letting go of your deepest fears and trusting God completely...as she says, "with a few giggles, quite a bit of sass, and lots of crazy." She is entertaining and challenging all at the same time. (And maybe I just feel a kinship because she's a fellow Arkansan? :))

If you enjoy contemporary Christian fiction, this is one you won't want to miss.


Fearless ~ Max Lucado

"Imagine Your Life Without Fear." That is the subtitle of Max Lucado's newest book, Fearless, which released today. In a world of uncertainties, how can we possibly think of a life without fear, much less live one? Combining his exquisite word-crafting with solid Biblical truth, Max Lucado shares that we can do exactly that, through trust in the all-powerful God of the universe. He shares with us Christ's "call to courage", pointing out that the one statement Jesus made more than any other was, "Be not afraid."

Not long after I became a Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger, I was given the opportunity to review Fearless, and participate in today's blogging event. I had no idea at the time what an impact it would have on me, and how perfect the timing of this assignment would be. In the short time it took the book to arrive, grief, uncertainty, worry, and fear were invading my corner of the world from all sides.

And here was Max Lucado's new book about fear, lying literally on my doorstep.


Lucado combines his master storytelling skills with solid Scriptural truth to create a call to faith and courage that has serious depth without seeming "deep". It is a book you can read when your mind is on overload and your soul is just plain weary, and "grab hold" of the truths it contains.

In it, Lucado addresses the "why?" of fear, the fear of disappointing God, the fear of overwhelming challenges, the fear of worst-case scenarios, and the fear of death, among others. His excellent discussions of worry, the fear of not being able to protect our children, and doubt that God is not really who He says He is were highlights of the book to me. And the final chapter, "The One Healthy Terror" closes the book with a call to see God as who He *is*, not who we want Him to be, and not only to *trust* Him, but to worship Him as well.

If you are in the midst of a storm right now...dealing with fear, worry, or doubt...or know someone who is, Fearless is a must-read, and a must-share.


Book Bits~September 7

Have I mentioned how much we love our library?? I'm actually planning a whole *library love* post soon. I don't want to steal any thunder from that post, but several recent updates to our library system have made it easier and more convenient than ever to find all kinds of wonderful reading (and watching and listening :)) material.

Here are a couple of our recent finds:

I used to hear seasoned homeschool moms say that one thing they loved about homeschooling was the chance to learn things they hadn't learned in school themselves. I never really thought I would say that myself...but I catch myself thinking it more and more often these days! I have never been a big poetry buff...I wrote a bit years ago, but wasn't ever terribly excited about reading what others wrote. In the past few years, though, I've grown to enjoy poetry more and more as I've shared some with my children.

The Bill Martin Jr Big Book of Poetry
has been a fun resource for doing that. Children's book author Bill Martin, Jr. (Brown Bear, Brown Bear) selected almost 200 of his favorite poems, which are accompanied by artwork from a number of award-winning children's book illustrators.

We have enjoyed the artwork as much as the poetry, and have had some fun discussions about art and creativity as we have poured through this book. After we finish our group time, the kids vie for who gets to take the book first to "draw with". This book has inspired some incredibly creative and fun art projects in my children. It's one we've added to our "to be purchased" list.

As an aside...did you know that Bill Martin, Jr., didn't learn to read until *college*?? He went on to earn a doctorate in education and write over 300 books. What an encouragement to struggling readers and their parents!

Geography is another subject that I was never particularly fond of when I was in school...perhaps because other than a bit of map-reading skills, I was never taught it. However, a love for missions has given me a new fascination for geography. Our homeschooling has become very mission-focused in the last year or so, and a good part of our morning group time is spent on a combined missions/geography study. (I'm hoping to post a bit more about that later this week as well. :))

I posted back in March about our baby steps back into "creative frugality" in order to be able to sponsor a child through Compassion International. We've slipped up this summer in not being as frugal as we need/intend to be, and with the beginning of the new school year, we are trying to "get back on the wagon". We're also trying to focus more on nutrition, and will be doing some study in that area this year.

What the World Eats
, by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio, has been a great eye-opener and discussion-generator for us in the past couple of weeks. It's an in-depth look at exactly what it's title implies. The authors travelled all over the world visiting families observing and photographing what they eat during the course of a week. The reader is given facts and statistics about each country represented, particularly those relating to eating habits, economics, and population. There is a full-page photo for each country showing the family profiled with a typical week's worth of food. The photos show very striking, graphic contrasts between the eating habits of various countries...not only in the amounts of food consumed and its cost, but also in the nutrition involved. There are, of course, countries in which malnutrition is a sobering and heartbreaking fact, due to food scarcity and economics; however, in some cases, the less developed countries are actually eating healthier than many Americans, due to the prevalence of junk foods and empty calories here.

There are sample photos from the book here. Hungry Planet, from which What the World Eats is adapted, can be viewed in Google Reader here.

If you are looking for more good children's reads, visit "A Path Made Straight" for Children's Book Mondays. She has wonderful taste in books, and I often find myself heading straight from her blog to our library website to reserve books she has suggested. While you're there, stop and browse her other posts...I've really been enjoying her blog lately.

ETA: Since I posted this, it has been brought to my attention that some editions of this book contain a photo that is very inappropriate for children. I have been through the copy we have from the library 4 times and have not found that particular photo included. (This is the 2008 red book.) PLEASE be cautious if you decide to read this with your children and preview carefully first! For more information, see this post.


Thankful Thursday~Godly Parents

49 years ago today my parents were married. Although I obviously wasn't there :), I have many memories of the day...stories I've heard a hundred times such as the wedding having to be moved to First Baptist because Immanuel burned just before their wedding, and how my dad set the date in September because his parents had said that whoever got married first got their piano...and his sister was getting married in December :).

I am thankful today for the gift of Godly parents. Parents who weren't perfect, but who sought to model a genuine walk with Christ in our home, and who demonstrated to me the meaning of unconditional love. Parents who sacrificed much for their children in every area. Parents from whom I "caught" a love for God's Word and His church...who taught faithfulness and dependability and servanthood by their words *and* their actions. Parents who were anything but risk-takers, but who in spite of many uncertainties stepped out in faith to homeschool their children in a time when those were very uncharted (and unpopular!) waters.

I know I've posted this link before, but today seems an appropriate day to post it again. Not only is it just a story I love, told in the way only Mr. James can tell a story...but it is such a good reminder to me about God's sovereignty and perfect timing. Today as I look at situations in our family, and in the lives of others we love that don't make sense, that seem so "wrong" or "unfair", I am reminded again that God is working for our good, always.

To see what others are thankful for today, visit Laurie. Thanks to her for hosting Thankful Thursday this month!


In "Other" Words...Sovereignty

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases. All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the Lord weighs his heart. To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”
Proverbs 21:1-3

Nina at Mama's Little Treasures selected these verses for yesterday's quote (yes, yesterday's, I'm a day behind! Our new school schedule is wonderful, but it's going to take some time for me to get in the groove, and in the meantime, my computer time is what gets bumped when I'm playing catch up. :)). Many thanks to her for hosting...please visit her to see what others had to say this week about these verses.

These three verses are verses which have each meant a great deal to me at different times in my life. As I have been pondering them in preparation for this week's In "Other" Words post, however, I was struck by the fact that they all have a common theme of God's sovereignty.

"The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He will." I love the way the ESV words this. I have been reminded of this often in the past few years as we have prayed about a specific situation and how to handle it. We have seen God work in His time and in His way, in ways completely contrary to what would be "typical" for the bureaucracies involved. I was so thankful for this reminder this particular week, as I had hit one of those points when the waiting was especially wearying and the "Is this *ever* going to be resolved?" doubts had rained down hard. It doesn't matter who is in charge, or what their opinions or beliefs are...God *is* in control, and His purposes can NOT be thwarted.

"All a man's ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs his heart." This year as I've been focused on authenticity, I've been reminded over and over again that it is so easy for us to get caught up in what "looks right" or "seems right" or "feels right", rather than having our *hearts* right. It is so easy for us to convince ourselves that we are "fine" or even "good", rather than saying with David, "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24) God knows our hearts; He alone is able to weigh them.

"To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice." I remember years ago (jr. high? high school? *years* ago ;-)) listening to a Keith Green song that impacted me greatly: "To Obey is Better than Sacrifice". I'm reminded often of that lesson now, as I repeat it to my children. :) So often when my children are being disciplined, they will protest, "But I was doing _______" (fill in the blank with any one of a number of really good, even helpful, things). And my response is, "But it doesn't matter how good __________ is; you *weren't* doing what I *told* you to do. I want you to *obey* me...not come up with a dozen other good things to do instead." And yet...how often do I do exactly that with God? Ouch. He has taught me so much about His sovereignty, and yet I still think I know better and go own down my own path.

"To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice"

To obey is better than sacrifice,

I don't need your money, I want your life.

And I hear you say that I'm coming back soon,

But you act like I'll never return.

Well you speak of grace and my love so sweet,

How you thrive on milk, but reject my meat,

And I can't help weeping of how it will be,

If you keep on ignoring my words.

Well you pray to prosper and succeed,

But your flesh is something I just can't feed.

To obey is better than sacrifice.

I want more than Sunday and Wednesday nights,

Cause if you can't come to me every day,

Then don't bother coming at all.

Lah, lah,lah….

To obey is better than sacrifice.

I want hearts of fire, not your prayers of ice.

And I'm coming quickly, to give back to you,

According to what you have done,

According to what you have done,

According to what you have done.

~Keith Green