Sunday, November 27, 2011


Right now, I am sitting down and writing down my homeschooling plans for the week.  Yesterday, I made a list of all the things I need "to do" for our move this week.  It's a big list.  I also have to keep up homeschooling in the midst of it.  So, I thought I'd write this post and say there's a ton of things running through my head that I wish I had time to write about.  But, I don't think much of it is going to get written before January between moving, unpacking, homeschooling, the refinance, my inlaws coming for a visit, my brother and his wife coming for a visit...  So, if you read my blog, please don't think I'm disappearing permanently.  It's just for a little while.  I'll be back in a few weeks.  

PS To whoever reads my blog:  Thank you...  I say very humbly...  Thank you for listening and reading my musings.  

PPS I'd really appreciate your prayers that I make it through all of this in one piece! ;)

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Teaching Our Children How To Pray

This week my children and I had the chance to read a new book together.  It is The Barber Who Wanted To Pray by R.C. Sproul.  

This picture book is the story of a dad having family worship with his kids.  One of his children asks how to pray.  The father tells the story of Martin Luther and his barber.  This picture book is an interesting thing.  It is written for older children, rather than younger ones.  Honestly, I think it would be most appropriate for 4-8th graders.  I think 8th graders would benefit from it  and grow from it, though they might think a picture book is young for them.  My 3rd grade daughter did enjoy the story, but I'm not sure how much she understood about Luther's explanation of prayer.  As an adult, I thought it was wonderful and it did encourage me.  Essentially, Luther explains that he prays through the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Apostle's Creed.  He meditated on the statements of each and what that meant to his heart as he prayed to the Lord.

Before writing this review, I looked up Martin Luther's book A Simple Way To Pray.  The story told in this picture book is a true one.  This book is out of print, but can be found on the web as a public file.  Now, I am looking forward to reading it.  Here's a link to it if you'd like to read it:

This book reinforces family worship, because it shows a family worshiping together.  The discussion was a bit deeper than I think my kids (3, 6, and 8) could handle right now.  I'd instead start with Jeanette Groth's book Prayer: Learning How to Talk to God for younger children.  For children grades 3-7, I would recommend this book. It is a great teaching tool of how to explain prayer.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Crossway.

ESV Bible for Children

Two years ago, I had a long conversation with a local bookstore owner about children's bibles.  It was he who explained to me the difference between the ICB (International Children's Bible) and the NIrV.  I've written several posts that reference these two translations (see  To quickly summarize, the NIrV is a simplified version of the NIV and the ICB is a thought for thought paraphrase.  After my conversation, my husband and I decided to purchase an NIrV for our 6 year old daughter.  It was a little above her reading level, but we knew she'd grow into it.  She did the next year.  We wished at the time that we could get her a copy of the ESV, but the only one available for children didn't have notes that would be helpful to her at her age.  My husband struggled though because he really wanted Autumn to read from the ESV.

Last month, Crossway published a new edition of the ESV for ages 8-12.  It is called the Grow! Bible.  I saw an ad for it and my curiosity was piqued.  For the past month, I've been looking through this Bible and have been very pleased.  The first day it arrived, Autumn was so excited.  She wanted to read the same Bible that we do at church.  Though she had never expressed this to me, I learned that she wanted to be able to follow along when the Word is read at church on Sunday morning.  Our church reads from the ESV and it was difficult for her to follow in the NIrV.

So here's what I love about the Grow! Bible:
Formatting:  The font, though 9.5, is big enough for my daughter who in 3rd grade is a strong reader.  The columns are spaced well.  The notes highlighted in a way that makes them easier to read.  Each book in the Bible begins with a helpful timeline and introduction which my daughter found interesting and easy to understand.

Features:  There are interesting notes throughout the Bible.  There are Cross Connections that address how different passages remind us of the cross and salvation.  There are notes about what God's Word means for you (the reader).  My favorites are the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How notes.  I was surprised at the interesting information children will learn when they read them.  Some examples are a note explaining "woe", another explains "the stump of Jesse", and another explains what "the end of the heavens" means.  Many of them I had no idea about!  There is also a glossary and maps located at the back of the Bible.  All of them would be perfect for an 8-12 year old and very easy for them to use.

Theological content of the notes:  Concordia Publishing collaborated with Crossway on this Bible.  The notes were written by Concordia, which is a Lutheran publishing house.  I wondered how this would affect the notes--particularly the "Cross Connections".  I read several of the notes very carefully--particularly the note on how we are saved.  It was very well written.  There was one note about baptism and salvation, which many denominations see differently.  I read it to my husband and although it doesn't align exactly with what we believe since the PCA practices infant baptism (but doesn't believe it's a saving baptism), he did feel that what was written didn't contradict what we believe and that it was written well.  He did note, though, that the note was written from a general reformed perspective.  I felt as I read the note that whether someone was a free will baptist or believed in predestination that the theological ideas in the note would be okay.  The wording on this specific cross connection was such that it did say we are saved by grace through a decision we make.  It didn't go into detail of how those work together--but simply that they do.  I think this is wise of the publisher and authors of the note, because it allows parents to more fully explain what their child may read in the study note.

So, what Bible might I compare this to for other translations?  Probably the NIV Adventure Bible.  The NLT Hands-On Bible is also aimed at the same age group.  My husband and I much prefer the Grow! Bible for a couple of reasons.  1) We're glad that it's the ESV translation so our children can follow what is being read in church (and they're glad too).  2) The notes are primarily purposed for instruction, not entertainment.  They are meant to be interesting and helpful, but not solely for the purpose of entertainment.  3)  The study notes are much more in line with what we believe than the other two.  I reviewed the Hands-On Bible a long time ago.  I liked it and saw it as a great fit for many families--but not for ours, primarily because we don't read the NLT.  

If you're looking for a new Bible for your child, I'd definitely recommend taking a look at this one!  It might be what you're looking for if you want an ESV Children's Bible!

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this Bible from Crossway Publishing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Just plugging along...

19 days and counting...   An update on how we're doing.  Home buying is so complicated and stressful.  This week has us trying to live "normally" while waiting for pieces to fall into place.  This week was the termite inspection.  Thankfully, it came back just fine.  

I'm trying to think about Christmas and being prepared.  I'm also trying to plan for Thanksgiving.  I'm trying be present.

What it comes down to is this:  trusting God is a simple thing to say, but not such a simple thing to do.  In some ways, I think it is easier to trust God in the hard parts of life.  It feels as if there is no other option.  It's often hard to trust God with the things we desire most.  We fear disappointment and that what we want is not what God wants for us.  Or at least I do.  

This is the place I'm in.  Taking each day as it comes.  Trying to focus on what I need to do.  Trusting that God will fit the pieces together that are not in my control.  I fear disappointment, but remind myself that Satan loves to tempt us to doubt God and his goodness.  I remind myself of the many ways God has confirmed to my husband and I that this is the path we should be on.  I remind myself of the truth.

Deuteronomy 31:8

New International Version (NIV)
8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another Christmas Story

Dan Walsh published his first novel about three years ago, I believe.  I read the first two novels and enjoyed them.  They were a bit cheesy, but I was impressed particularly by his first novel.  The second was quite predictable.  Recently he published his fourth novel, Remembering Christmas.  I sat down to read it, but found that it was a rare book that I had to pick up and set down.  You see, I never got drawn in.  Let me explain...

Storyline:  The story is about Rick and the Christmas season that changed his life.  He hadn't planned to come down and visit his mom and stepdad.  But, his stepdad, Art, had a brain aneurysm and they needed his help.  He spends several weeks at the shop which bring about a change in his heart.  (Of course there's a little romance thrown in there.)

Writing:   Mr. Walsh's writing in this book is fine.  This book didn't stand out to me, but it wasn't badly written.

Plot:  The plot revolves around the change in Rick's heart.

Why I picked it up and set it down:  It is a rare book (like Terri Blackstock's Covenant Child) that has a protagonist I like who is hard to like.  Rick's character for three-fourths of the book irritated me.  And because the first scene of the book, which sets the stage for the story being a flashback to the past, didn't give me a warm feeling for him, I struggled through the whole book.  It's hard to read a book for fun when you're so irritated with the main character for most of the book. 

It felt a little bit like something I read about the PBS Arthur series once...  Almost the entire show is spent on the conflict.  Only the last few minutes are spent on the resolution.  So, what do kids remember and mimic (according to research)?  The conflict, not the resolution.

That's how this book felt to me.  When I reached the conclusion, all I could remember was the long, drawn out conflict.

Conclusion:  I'd recommend The Homecoming by Dan Walsh instead of this one.  Or, if you're looking for a Christmas story, I'd recommend The Christmas Dog or The Christmas Bus by Melody Carlson that came out a few years ago.  They were much more lighthearted and hopeful to me. 

Please note that I was given a complimentary copy of this book for review by Revell Publishing.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Annual Christmas Novella

For the past three years, Revell has published a Christmas novella by Melody Carlson.  I have grown fond of them.  I remember the first one I read, The Christmas Dog.  What I loved most about it was that it was an enjoyable Christian novel that wasn't just a romance.  Then came The Christmas Bus and Christmas at Harrington's.  Both were those books you curl up with a cup of tea on a Sunday afternoon.  This year Melody Carlson wrote a new one, The Christmas Shoppe.  Just like its predecessors, it was a fun read.  

Storyline:  There's all sorts of little stories in this one story woven together.  A stranger comes to Parrish Springs and purchases an old building on the main street of town.  It was desired by a coniving councilman who sets out to undermine her ability to open her shop.  There's the town manager who's divorced and raising her daughter with the help of her cantankerous mother in law.  There's the newspaper editor who's a single fellow in his 40s and a broken heart.  There's the newspaper assistant who was left by her husband for a young divorcee.  And of course, Ms. Carlson intersects all of their stories with Ms. Hunnicut, the stranger who's come to town. 

Writing:  Ms. Carlson writes very well.  Her story is very descriptive of the people and she makes the most of the words in this short book.  Simply put, it's a very easy book to read and follow. 

Plot:  This is one I don't want to give away, because not knowing what is going to happen makes this story like a puzzle you're putting together on the coffee table.  The pieces will come together.  It's a just a fun leisurely afternoon reading the story and seeing all of the pieces fit. 

Conclusion:  If you love to read and you love made for tv hallmark movies, you'll love this book.  If you've loved Melody Carlson's Christmas novels in the past, you'll love this book.  And if you're just looking for a fun book to read on a rainy afternoon, pick this one up and save it for that rainy or snowy day that I'm sure is going to come this winter!

Please note that I was given a complimentary copy of this book for review by Revell Publishing.

Continuing to Climb

When I go hiking, my goal is to keep up with my husband--at all costs.  I don't let on when I'm tired.  I am determined that I will keep up!  What a strong willed woman I am!  Thankfully, I usually can keep up.  But, when I'm hiking with him I don't rest as often as I might if I were on my own.  The past month has been a lot like hiking for me.

Last Wednesday night, I had the chance to sit down for coffee with a young gal from my church.  I shared with her all that had been going on with my family.  At the end, she queried, "All of that happened in a month?"  I replied, "Yes, my mom arrived October 7th."

It's strange to realize that it has been a marathon of a month.

First my mom arrived.  Within a few days we realized we wanted to move.  We put our house on the market.  We started looking for a new home for all of us.  We put one offer in.  We took it off the table.  We made another offer.  It was accepted.  We offered our home for rent to my mother in law.  She accepted.  We took our house off of the market.  We started the mortgage process....  I think that's it in a nutshell!

It's been a long hike uphill.  But, today... well, today is me sitting down to rest.  I faxed off the forms for our refinance and a weight lifted.  I worked hard this week.  My mom did too.  She helped by taking care of my kids so I could take care of all the things I needed to for the homes and research for my mother in law.  

But, today I am resting.  No homeschooling.  No schedule.  A phone call to follow up on one of the faxes.  An email confirmed the others.  

Sometimes we need that.  In the rest, there is beautiful scenery.  Today, that scenery came in the form of a phone call to a person I thought was a stranger.  Only she wasn't a stranger after all!  This morning my husband had a question about the neighborhood where the house is that we have a contract on.  A friend of mine had mentioned to me earlier this week that she knew someone who lived on that street.  So, I called her this morning.  I was just leaving her a message as she answered.  About 5 minutes into the conversation, I discovered that we did know each other!  She rejoiced to learn that it was my family who had a contract on the home.  She has been praying for some families with children to move into the neighborhood.  Since the house had only been on the market for a week before we had a contract on it, she had just noticed it this week.  We talked for over an hour and it was such a blessing!  I had met her through gymnastics last year when my girls attended at the local rec center.  We only talked for a few minutes each week because her daughter's class was after mine.  But, I enjoyed talking to her each week--even for a few minutes!  I look forward to living a few houses away from her family.

When I hung up the phone, I had tears in my eyes.  It confirmed to me all the more that this is the hill for us to be climbing up.  But, the phone call was also beautiful scenery that renewed my heart and gave me joy.  God answers our prayers in many ways.  What a special thing it is to be the answer to someone else's prayer!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Doing My Job

This was one of those weeks when I went from peaks to valleys.  On Sunday, we had our offer accepted on a house .   It was a huge blessing and we were so excited.  That excitement stayed for a day or two.  And then reality set in--I had to tackle the mortgage application.  I had questions and I couldn't seem to get the answers I needed from the lender we're using.  I left messages and struggled.  Thursday afternoon, I found myself throwing up my hands.  My husband had had a very hard week at work and I realized that he didn't know what to do either.  I realized in that moment that I had to do my job.

Most of the time my job is to homeschool my children and take care of them.  But, my job also consists of keeping on top of our budget, health care, and other paperwork tasks.  This week that included this mortgage application.

It's ironic to me that when I was a teenager, life seemed so intense.  Then, came college.  Life seemed intense in a different way.  It wasn't long before I was living on my own in Denver in an apartment with a full time job.  It seems that kids want to be adults and have the freedom they think adults have.  Adults want to be kids again--and not have to make decisions every moment of the day.  I think I fall into that camp at times.  There times when I want to throw up my hands, sit down with a cup of tea, and eat a piece of chocolate.

But, that's not the way life works.  That's what I realized on Thursday.

It was time for me to do my job.  Impatience and giving up wasn't going to help.  Everything still needed to be done.

So, I went into the homeschool room Thursday night and sat down on the phone for an hour with the mortgage company.  A few of my questions got answered, but I was left with a few more.  The appraiser accidentally called our home instead of the seller and we gave them the number of the seller.

Friday morning brought a full day of work me.  I started by mowing the backyard and weed eating it--the last time, hopefully, before winter.  Then, I got on the phone and spoke with the appraiser to make a correction.  Then, I got a phone call from a woman I'd called 3 days before.  She was able to clear up my questions--as I kept her on the phone for 45 minutes.  That afternoon I went to fax papers I needed to get off to the mortgage company.  The first time 42 of 82 pages went through.  But, I wasn't sure which ones.  So, I came home and tried on my home fax machine. I'd just finished a 29 page fax when... I got an error message.  An error message?!  Ay ay ay!  No more faxing for me.  Calmly, I set about making sure I had copies of everything and prepared to Fed Ex it.  I finished my collating and took the package to the drop off point in time for the last pick up of the week.

I was surprised that I didn't get upset.  But, I just knew it was my job.  I had to do it and getting upset wasn't going to help.  I'm thankful that the Lord reminded me of this on Thursday and prepared me for what was ahead.  

Some days, it's just not easy being an adult...

A Slow and Steady Uphill Climb

Last week our pastor preached on Psalm 23.  What struck me the most was when he pointed out that it says "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."  He pointed out that it says walk.  It doesn't say run, hop, skip, fly, or jump.  It says walk.

This week, he preached on Psalm 24.

A Psalm of David.
 1 The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof,
   the world and those who dwell therein,
2for he has founded it upon the seas
   and established it upon the rivers.
 3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
   And who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
   who does not lift up his soul to what is false
   and does not swear deceitfully.
5He will receive blessing from the LORD
   and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
6Such is the generation of those who seek him,
   who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
 7 Lift up your heads, O gates!
   And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
   that the King of glory may come in.
8Who is this King of glory?
   The LORD, strong and mighty,
   the LORD, mighty in battle!
9Lift up your heads, O gates!
   And lift them up, O ancient doors,
   that the King of glory may come in.
10Who is this King of glory?
    The LORD of hosts,
   he is the King of glory! 

The point that struck me the most was his description of what the ascension is like.  It isn't an easy road--it is an up hill journey.  It has beautiful scenery along the way, but often we simply have to put one foot in front of the other.  

After church this past Sunday, we got to see some beautiful scenery.  It came in the form of our offer being accepted for a house we wish to purchase.  It was one of those times when I so aware of and amazed by how God orchestrated things.  

The day after brought the first steps of beginning the mortgage process.  I locked in our rate and started the process.  I caught a mistake in an email I received that incorrectly listed the address.  I requested it be changed.  Through the next three days, I made probably 5 or 6 phone calls to the loan company because of different questions we had.  The last 3 were simply because the loan processor's phone message said she'd be out of the office until October 24th.  October 24th?  Hmmm...  

Finally, someone told me that I wouldn't get a call from the loan processor until 5-10 days into the process.  Ah, well that explains some things.  

Then, we got a call tonight that made us realize that we have to keep on top of this!  At the same time we have to trust the Lord and not live anxiously, while actively checking in and confirming that everything is in order.  

It's funny.  When you get a contract on a house, it feels as if the hard part is done!  And yet, it's only just beginning.  The road we're on is an uphill one.