"...And carries them close to His Heart."

Nine years ago today was my daddy's funeral, in the midst of the elaborate sets used in the Christmas musical the previous night.

Daddy died the night of Dress Rehearsal. That was Thursday.  The optimal day for the funeral was on Monday.  Bro. Phil, Lyndel, and Mr. Danny had one concern: there was no way they could get the sets down in time for a Monday funeral after the Sunday night performance.  We looked at each other and said almost in unison, "It's okay.  He would have loved that.  He loved the choir and musicals so much.  It will be perfect."  They agreed.

The choir he had loved so much stood in the midst of the Christmas sets and sang a simple but amazing arrangement of one of his favorite hymns, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.  It's one of those memories I cherish dearly.

There are many of those memories.  I've shared several here before (see link above).  One of  those cherished memories is Isaiah 40:11.

I was very much a Daddy's girl, and I struggled hard from the Sunday morning in the hospital that we realized that the current "sickness"...a second round of cancer on top of already complicated health issues...would be, short of a true miracle, a "sickness unto death".

The week Daddy died, we knew the end was near, and I sat on the end of his bed one night and cried as we together realized his fight and the pain that accompanied it were almost over.  Afterward, I emailed a few friends who had been faithful prayer warriors and burden bearers throughout Daddy's illness, sharing my heartache at the thought of what was to come.

My friend Jodie replied with this verse:

He tends His flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in His arms
and carries them close to His heart;
    He gently leads those that have young.
~Isaiah 40:11

Neither of us had any idea what an impact that verse would have on my life from that day forward. I clung to it throughout the days of Daddy's death and funeral. I clung to it during the 18 months of intense grieving that followed.  I clung to it during the trauma our family experienced just as we were beginning to feel that we had settled in to a "new normal" and the devastating weeks, months, and years afterward.  I clung to it again when we received a most unwelcome medical diagnosis for one of our children almost two years ago.

I've also shared it many, many times with others going through painful times.  I've prayed it for many over the years...that they would feel God holding them close to His heart, as a shepherd cradles a baby lamb.

In the days following Daddy's death, Jodie went on a "sheep hunt", searching out reminders of that verse to encourage me during those hard days: a beautiful lamb card, a calendar, and my favorite - an Isaiah 40:11 refrigerator magnet.

Today the kids and I made our annual trip to Hobby Lobby for everyone to pick a new ornament for the year.  We were late getting there this year, and the selection wasn't nearly as good as it would have been earlier in the season; however, everyone finally managed to find the "perfect" ornament.

As the kids picked out their ornaments and we all worked together to find the right one for Billy, I saw several that were cute or pretty or interesting, but none that jumped out at me as my ornament for the year.  Just as I was about to give up, though, I saw it...a simple little sheep.

The kids clamored to see what I had picked.  I think they were a bit surprised.  "It's for my verse - Isaiah 40:11," I explained, the one Mrs. Jodie sent me before Papaw died...the one about God holding us close to His heart like a shepherd holds a baby lamb."

I had thought about the date earlier in the week, but today had been so crazy that I didn't remember it was the anniversary of Daddy's funeral until I was looking at the pictures I took after we decorated the tree this evening.

"What a perfect 'standing stone'," I thought, "a reminder of His faithfulness and care always." 

I'm so thankful for that faithfulness and care.  I'm thankful that He carries us close to His heart as the shepherd carries the baby lamb.  I'm thankful for the truth of His Word, which is always living and relevant.  I'm thankful for friends who listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to encourage and remind me of His Word at just the right times.  I'm thankful for God's perfect timing, and for standing stones of remembrance.

What verse has God used to encourage you in dark days?  What "standing stones" remind you of His faithfulness? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!  


Thank you for stopping by! If you're new here, welcome! I'd love to hear from you in the comments or via the email option in the sidebar. If you'd like to keep up with future posts,  it's easy to follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest.  Or find me on Instagram as Jenbh68. You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email. . Thanks!


How to Empty a 9x13 Pan in Nothing Flat {Pecan Pie Bars}

Billy loves pecan pie.  

I love almost anything made with refrigerated crescent roll dough. 

I bought a multipack  of crescent roll dough at Sam's the other day.  I always get excited when they have them during the holidays (way cheaper than they can be found elsewhere).  I save up recipes all year. :) 

When I came across a recipe for pecan pie bars with a crescent roll crust earlier this week, I knew it was a must-try.  And I already had all the ingredients...bonus! :) 

I made them tonight.  The recipe says to cool an hour before cutting.  Little glitch there...they were gone before the hour was up. :)  I have to say, they were amazing warm.  So I recommend ignoring that part of the recipe. 

Billy said the only thing that would make them better is a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.  We'll have to try that next time.  :)  I'm not sure we could handle them being any better, though, as quickly as people inhaled them! 

Have you tried a new recipe yet this holiday season?  Share it with us in the comments, please! 

Pecan Pie Bars
1 can crescent roll dough
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
2 T butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 350. 
Press dough into a 9x13 pan. Pinch seams together, and press dough up sides slightly. 
Bake 8 minutes.
Mix other ingredients and pour over crust. 
Bake 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. 
Let cool 1 hour before cutting.  (Ha! Go ahead and try!) 
Serve with vanilla ice cream. (Billy's addition. :))
YUMMM. Enjoy! 
Thank you for stopping by! If you're new here, welcome! I'd love to hear from you in the comments or via the email option in the sidebar. If you'd like to keep up with future posts,  it's easy to follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest.  You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email. I'm also on Instagram at jenbh68. Thanks!

Linking up with Family Fun Friday this week.  Be sure to go over and check out all the wonderful ideas for family fun!



20 Authors Who Have Radically Impacted My Life {Part 2}

Yesterday I began a two-part post on authors who have radically impacted my life.  If you missed the first ten, you can catch up here.  Here's the rest of the list:

11. John G. Paton. Another oddish addition to this list, John G. Paton wasn't really an author, but a missionary. However, several years ago when our friend Andy spoke on Paton at church camp, I was hit right between the eyes with several things he shared about Paton, and I immediately downloaded his autobiography on my Kindle. This is another one that I need to devote a whole post to, but let me just say that what he writes about his parents convicted me strongly in my parenting.

12. Elyse Fitzpatrick. I haven't read nearly as much of her writing as I want to, but I have a whole slew of her books on my "to read" list. I first encountered her through a great deal of "buzz" online about her book Give Them Grace. It's one of the few Kindle books I've ever actually just paid full price for, and it was well worth it. Another paradigm-changer for me.

13. Mary Pride. I don't know how many in the current generation of homeschoolers are even familiar with this name, but in the days before the internet and the explosion of homeschooling materials over the past couple of decades, Mary Pride was a major voice in the "homeschool movement" (which thankfully has progressed past being a "movement", such as it was, to just being a lifestyle.) 

Although I don't agree with everything she writes (which would probably be true to some degree for almost everyone on this list), her books were dramatic eye-openers for me as a high school and college student. Her book The Child Abuse Industry caused me to look at the child protection field with a deeply thoughtful eye, which would be of tremendous help years later when I found myself working in that very field, and again even later when our family found ourselves dealing in a much more personal and unexpected way with that field when we were touched by a traumatic crime.

Even more than her writing on child abuse, her writing on the family, and particularly on women's roles (The Way Home, and All the Way Home), was worldview changing for me. Although I don't agree with everything she has to say on the subject, her writing was courageous and challenging in a time when few (even in Christian circles) were encouraging women Biblically in their roles as wives and mothers.

14. Elizabeth George. Elizabeth George is a prolific writer, and to be honest, I haven't read nearly enough of her books. I own several, and have a number on my "to read" list, but just haven't made it to many of them. However, her book Loving God with All Your Mind  was one that God used in a mighty way in a difficult time in my life. Her challenge to replace the false thoughts that so often fill our minds with the truth of Scripture was simple but life-altering.

15. Corrie ten Boom.  I'm not totally sure when my intense interest in all things World War II and the Holocaust began, but I suspect it was probably about the time our church did a massive and amazing stage performance of The Sound of Music when I was in grade school.  I devoured every book I could find on that time period.  Corrie ten Boom's The Hiding Place was one of those early reads.  I later read everything else I could get my hands on that she had written.  One of my favorites, however, wasn't written by Corrie, but about her: Corrie ~ The Lives She's Touched, by Joan Winmill Brown.  Reading about the experiences of Corrie and her family ~ suffering on a level most of us cannot even dream of ~ impacted my young life in a huge way.  God's grace and glory in sustaining their faith through such horror was and still is totally amazing. 

16. Randy Alcorn. His blog and social media posts are a regular source of encouragement to me these days, but his physically weighty book, If God is Good, tackles a spiritually and emotionally weighty topic with Biblical truth and grace. For anyone struggling with the subject of suffering...this is a must-read.

17. Bruce Ware. I first encountered Bruce Ware's books when I found myself struggling to write a book review of a book with which I had major theological differences. In researching further, I discovered Bruce Ware's book,Their God is Too Small. If you ever need a good theological answer to open theism, grab it. It's short but powerful. Around that same time, I discovered that Ware had also written (among other things) a book on doctrine for children, Big Truths for Young Hearts. We have worked our way through it as our Bible curriculum for school, finishing it just last week. Let me just say that this should be required reading not only for children and youth, but also for adults. I'm planning to review it fully soon, but for now I'll just say it is the best, most complete, most understandable book on theology in volume I've ever seen.

18. Reb Bradley. I debated adding Reb Bradley to this list. I heard him speak many years ago, listened to some of his (and his wife Beverly's) audio materials, and read some of their writings over the years. However, none of that was cause for his inclusion on this list. His inclusion on this list comes solely from an article he wrote a few years ago titled "Homeschool Blindspots". I read it when he first wrote it, and read it again just recently when it began making its way through the social media circuit again. Having been involved in the world of homeschooling for over 28 years now (how is that possible???), I think this may well be one of the most important pieces of writing ever for homeschooling parents (and maybe for Christian parents in general.) Thus his inclusion on this list. Planning a more complete post on this topic soon.

19. Scotty Smith. I have a couple of Scotty Smith's older books, written with Steven Curtis Chapman, in hard copy, and his Everyday Prayers compilation on Kindle. Scotty Smith makes the list, however, due to his daily posts on his blog, Heavenward. I can't tell you how often God has used his beautiful and Biblical prayers to encourage, challenge, and convict me.

20.  Joni Eareckson Tada.  Like Corrie ten Boom, Joni's faith and the overwhelming faithfulness of God seen in her life impacted me hugely as an older child and young adult.  Her book A Step Further was especially influential in those years. 


Missed part 1?  Find it here

Who are some of the most influential authors in your life?  Share a few in the comments, please!  


Thank you for stopping by! If you're new here, welcome! I'd love to hear from you in the comments or via the email option in the sidebar. If you'd like to keep up with future posts,  it's easy to follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest.  You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email. I'm also on Instagram at jenbh68. Thanks! 


20 Authors Who Have Radically Impacted My Life {Part 1}

Favorite books for me are kind of like favorite hymns....there are way too many choices, and other than a short...or maybe not-so-short...list of all-time favorites, the ones closest to my heart generally change depending on what is going on in my life at the time.

However, a list of favorite authors is a little easier. There are just some whose writing consistently speaks to me, and who have been used in great ways in my life over the years.

With the disclaimer that I may have to come back and add a few that slip my mind as I write this in the early morning darkness without access to my bookshelves to jog my memory, here's the part 1 of the list. Come back tomorrow for part 2! :)  (It's in no particular order, and I'm not including those who write fiction exclusively. That may be another post. :))

1. Anne Ortlund. I said the list was in no particular order, but this one may be the exception. If I were pressed to name an all-time favorite, it would probably have to be Anne Ortlund. When I was about 10, my mom asked for her book, Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman, for Christmas, birthday, or some such special occasion. I bought it for her. I still remember proudly paying for it at the old Christian Supply Store in Conway...one of my all-time favorite places! After my mom read it, I read it. I read it so many times over the years that when I bought a copy for myself as a young adult, I immediately noticed editorial changes between the original edition I'd bought my mom and the later edition I purchased for myself.

While I can't say I have lived all the wisdom I read in this book over the years, it did make a profound impact on my life. I had already begun taking sermon notes following my parents' examples, but Mrs. Ortlund's systematic approach to keeping up with Bible Study and sermon notes appealed to me, and I used a similar system for years. (I need desperately to get back to such a system!)

Mrs. Ortlund's book was also the first exposure Mother or I had to using a notebook as a planner. Long before DayRunners and Daytimers became available (at least in our neck of the woods), Anne Ortlund's system of making one's own planner from a 5x8 looseleaf binder revolutionized my entire life. I started my first such notebook while I was still in grade school, and for the next 20+ years was almost never seen without my notebook planner. Although my life and system have changed a great deal since then, I still utilize many of her suggestions.

More important than the organizational help from Mrs. Ortlund's writing was the encouragement in the areas of Christian growth, discipleship, and church family relationships, however. Not only Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman, but the subsequent Disciplines of the Heart  and Disciplines of the Home, as well as Love Me With Tough Love, and one of my very favorites, Fix Your Eyes on Jesus, all had huge impacts on my life.

I'm planning a future blog post on some of the best advice I ever read from her books: to find a church that preaches the truth of the Word, get involved, and then hang around. The fact that my parents did that...that we were often some of the last to leave the church after services and activities...was a huge factor in my developing a love and appreciation for church family that continues on today. Billy and I have carried on in that tradition...and I am so thankful that my children are developing a love for the church and a habit of "hanging around." I'll stop there and save the rest for that future blog post. :)

One of the great joys of my life was hearing Anne Ortlund speak and meeting her in person as a young adult. What a beautiful lady who totally exuded the grace of God.

2. Edith Schaeffer. Like Anne Ortlund, Edith Schaeffer is one of the greatest heroines of the Faith to me. I read her books,Tapestry and With Love, Edith, as a young adult, and I have read bits and pieces over and over again since then. I was able to find used copies of both in excellent condition a few years ago, and I was so delighted to add them to our home library. I'm planning to read both again this school year. With Love, Edith, made a particular impact on me as it is a collection of letters that Mrs. Schaeffer wrote to her extended family as she and her husband Francis were in the early years of their ministry at L'Abri. I love biographies and autobiographies, but I think there is something so special about reading journals and letters, as through them we can see what was actually going on in the mind of the writer at the time, rather than what they remember later.

Forever Music: A Tribute to the Gift of Creativity is another favorite. I wrote a paper on this book in high school. A must for any piano lover or anyone interested in the subject of creativity.

I can't leave Edith Schaeffer without mentioning her book,The Hidden Art of Homemaking ~ another book that had a profound effect on shaping my whole life paradigm.

I've been greatly blessed to meet a number of my favorite writers/heroes of the faith in person over the years. I was blessed to meet Edith Schaeffer and her husband, Francis, as a 1st grader during a trip to Dallas with my family. I had no idea at the time what an impact they would have on my life, but what a treasure to remember that brief meeting, even if my greatest memory of it was Dr. Schaeffer's fascinating style of dress... knickers and long socks which looked to this Heidi lover to have come straight out of the Swiss Alps (which I suppose they had! :))

3. Having already mentioned Francis Schaeffer, I'll go ahead and add him to the list here. Although I have not read many of his books straight through, I've been exposed to much of his writing in various contexts, and he is not only one of my personal favorites, but simply one of the all-time greats, in my opinion. I'll be reading through a great deal of work with my high schoolers over the next few years. I can't wait!

4. C. S. Lewis. This one just almost goes without saying. I know that there are issues with some of his theology, and as I'll be reading through much of his work with my high schoolers soon as well, we'll be exploring some of that. However, Lewis was a phenomenal crafter of thoughts and words, and many, may lives including my own have been enriched by his writings.TheScrewtapeLetters was influential in my life as a high schooler; I still have the paper I wrote on it, in fact. :)

From childhood on, I read the Chronicles of Narnia until I practically had them memorized, and then later, God used a co-op class I taught on Narnia to hit me squarely between the eyes and help in my healing from one of the most difficult periods of our life with the truth that "Aslan is not a tame lion. He is good, but He is not a tame lion." Wow. (Read more on that here.)

5. Steven Lawson. Although I have enjoyed reading Steven Lawson in recent years, and his book When All Hell Breaks Loose (You May Be Doing Something Right) was a major influence on my life during a difficult time, Dr. Lawson's greatest impact in my life came before I ever read any of his writing. Seven years ago, during one of the most difficult times our family had ever gone through, Dr. Lawson came to our church to do a Bible Conference. I don't remember what his official topic was that week, but his teaching on the sovereignty of God radically changed my life. That sounds rather dramatic, but it's nonetheless true.

6. David Platt. It's stirred up a bit of controversy in the years since it's release, but David Platt's Radical made a radical impact on my life. I was an early reviewer for the book (you can read my review here), and it was one of those paradigm-shifting reads for me. I don't think we all need to give away everything we own and live in the jungles of Africa for the rest of our lives (and I never understood that as Platt's message), but I do think that we in developed countries...especially the United States...need to stop and re-examine our worldview (particularly the "American Dream" that most of us in the U.S. hold so dearly.) My oldest is reading this book right now, and it will definitely be required reading for all my children.

7. Mary DeMuth. Promo alert. *Big Grin* I am currently on the Launch Team for Mary's latest book, The Wall Around Your Heart, which released on October 15. You need to read this book. (Read a bit about how it has impacted my life here.) Then you need to read her book Everything. Life changing reading. (Read my review here.)  

Although she writes on many other subjects as well, Mary is one of the few Biblically-based voices speaking out on the issue of sexual abuse today. God has used her in a mighty, mighty way in my life in the last 7 years as we've begun to heal as a family from trauma we never expected to experience. (Read more of what I have to say about Mary's writing and ministry here.)

8. Justin Holcomb. Justin Holcomb and his wife Lindsay are two others who are leading the way in ministering to those who have been touched by sexual abuse from a solid Biblical foundation. Their book Rid of My Disgrace didn't come out until several years into our journey, but it is the book I prayed for from the day our world exploded. (Read more of my thoughts on the book here. )

9. Sally ClarksonEducating the WholeHearted Child, co-written with her husband Clay, is one of my all-time favorite books on homeschooling (and one I recommend to all parents, homeschooling or not. It has much valuable information for all Christian parents, not just homeschoolers.)

10. Josh Harris. Josh Harris is perhaps an odd addition to this list. I don't know that I have ever actually read a complete book he's written, although I have a couple on my "to read" list, including Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God. However, I've read many short articles he's written, and I think he is a young man to watch. I saw Josh Harris and his family many years ago and heard them speak at a homeschool convention...way back in the mid-80s, when they weren't nearly as well-known and Josh was just a young boy. They made an impact on my life then, and they have continued to through the years.

So...there are the first ten.  Come back tomorrow for the rest of the list. :)  Who are some of the most influential authors in your life?  Please share a few in the comments!  

Edited to Add: Part 2 can be found here


Thank you for stopping by! If you're new here, welcome! I'd love to hear from you in the comments or via the email option in the sidebar. If you'd like to keep up with future posts,  it's easy to follow via  Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest.  You can also sign up in the sidebar to receive new posts by email. I'm also on Instagram at jenbh68. Thanks!