Monday, May 30, 2011

Review: Sunsweet's D'Lightful, D'Licious, D'Noir Prunes

I received a package of Sunsweet D'Noir Prunes to review. I've had prunes before but these outdid them all. They tasted so yummy. Just the right amount of sweetness and juiciness. Moist and fresh. I just kept eating. These prunes not only taste good but also are so good for you. They are perservative free, fat free, and packed with antioxidants and fiber. They also provide potassium, calcium, iron, and vitamin A. Perfect snack for me! Even those in my family who don't like prunes enjoyed these D'Noir prunes and all gave them thumbs up. I highly recommend Sunsweet's D'Noir prunes and we'll certainly be looking for them at the grocery store. Shall I say..I dare you to try them :)?

Contest: In celebration of D’Noir, Sunsweet recently launched the “Dare to D’Noir Challenge,” a Facebook-based video contest challenging prune lovers and prune skeptics alike to Dare to D’Noir and upload videos sharing what they think about the new product from now through June 17. Five finalists will be selected and put to a public vote for a chance to win the grand prize of $5,000.
For more information about the Dare to D’Noir Challenge, visit http://www.sunsweetdnoir.com/ or http://www.facebook.com/SunsweetGrowers .

~ I received a free sample of Sunsweet’s D’Noir Prunes for review plus a reusable Dare to D'Noir grocery bag from Sunsweet Growers via the Family Review Network. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by the items received.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday's Fave Five #47

It's time for another Friday's Fave Five (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story).

My Fave Five this week:-
1. The kids and I really enjoyed dancing with Dance Praise 2. Great exercise and great music :)!

2. Som Thum (Thai papaya salad). Oh soooooooooooo spicy! My mouth was on fire and I loved it!

3. Free audio download from Answers in Genesis: Evolution and Logical Fallacies by Dr. Jason Lisle

4. On my homeschoool-related blog, "Fruitbearers", I'm hosting the Charlie Church Mouse Super Pak Giveaway. It is a 3-game set CD-Rom that includes Preschool, Kindergarten, and Early Elementary (for ages 2-8). The giveaway ends 5/31.

5. I'd like to share two wonderful quotes I discovered this week. I collect quotes (good ones) :).
"The one thing He commands us as His branches is to bear fruit. Let us live to bless others, to testify of the life and the love there is in Jesus. Let us in faith and obedience give our whole life to that which Jesus chose us for and appointed us to—fruit-bearing." ~Andrew Murray
"The tragedy of life and of the world is not that men do not know God; the tragedy is that, knowing Him, they still insist on going their own way." ~William Barclay


P.S. I'd really appreciate if you would take a few minutes to rate my book review here. Please. I'm currently 7 votes behind the leading score. The contest ends on May 31st. Please remember to verify your email address by clicking the link in the email they send you after you rate my review; otherwise, your vote doesn't count. Thanks a bunch for your help!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Reading Plan--May2011

The books I've recently finished reading included True Courage by Steve Farrar, The Fitting Room by Kelly Minter, Love & War Devotional for Couples by John & Stasi Eldredge.

Here is the list of books I am reading or plan to read in the near future:-
  • Lead Serve Love by Gregory E. Lang
  • The Defender's Guide for Life's Toughest Questions by Ray Comfort
  • We Shall See God (Charles Spurgeon's Classic Devotional Thoughts on Heaven) by Randy Alcorn
  • Pressing into Thin Places (Encouraging the Heart toward God) by Margaret Harrell Wills
*I'd like to ask you all for a favor. Would you please click here to go rate my book review of Primal by Mark Batterson (a great book about the Greatest Commandment)? You'll need to verify your email address once for the vote to count. That means you have to click the link they email you after you rank my review. The top ranked review for this month will win a netbook. Thanks so much ♥!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday's Fave Five #46

It's time for another Friday's Fave Five (hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story).

My Fave Five this week:-
1. This year, my 17 yo daughter, Alyssa, raised $720 for Pregnancy Resource Centers. For the past 12 years, she has raised over $10,000 in total to help women facing unplanned pregnancies and their babies.

2. A devotional written by Alyssa was published (in print and online) and was broadcast on radio on May 17th (this past Tues.) at Keys for Kids website. To read/listen to her devotional, "Mixed Up", click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page and select May 17, 2011.

3. I just joined a free online Bible study through The School of Christ. There will be the chapter-by-chapter weekly webinars on the Book of Romans. Yesterday, the webinar was about the introduction to the book of Romans. It was great.

4. If you like this blog, please vote for "Living for God" to be one of the top 25 Faith Blogs by Moms here.

5. I need a favor :). Would you please click here to go rate my book review of Primal by Mark Batterson (great book about the Greatest Commandment)? The top ranked review this month will win a netbook. Thanks so much! Please remember to also click the link they email you after you rate my review in order to verify your email address; otherwise, your vote doesn't count.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Our Thoughts on Tithe

"The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it." Psalm 24:1

Everything (more than just 10%) belongs to the Lord! On earth, we are simply His stewards. He entrusts us to manage all He owns in the ways that will glorify and honor Him. We need to use our time, talents, and treasures wisely and according to His will.

We need to give all of ourselves to the Lord. Many give 10% and consider that the rest of their resources can be spent at their discretion. Let’s realize that God owns all of us, including our resources. Let’s spend them as He leads us by His Word and His Spirit. The New Testament portrays the concept of freewill sharing and equity among believers. "Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little." 2 Corinthians 8:13-15

We, as the body of Christ, are called to reach out to a lost and dying world. We need to deny ourselves, carry our crosses, and follow Jesus. We need to live lives of "New Testament" simplicity, and not in luxury and self indulgence. We believe there is a significant mismanagement of God’s money among His Church (the body of Christ) in affluent countries. The Church should not be spending billions of dollars on church buildings, church salaries, and unnecessary/extravagant personal items/hobbies/property. (Certainly, the worker deserves his wages, but his work must be in accordance with the Father’s will. The Church is not a business.) These resources should be spent on reaching the millions of people who have never heard of the Gospel even once, and on providing them with the Word of God in their own language. Sadly, we are spending the majority of our resources on the areas of the world where Christ has already been preached. "More than 95 percent of the total church budget in the United States is spent at home to maintain programs rather than to reach out in mission. Of the five percent that goes overseas to mission, less than half of one percent is used to reach the lost." (K.P. Yohannan, The Road to Reality, p. 118) It is unjust to share the Gospel of Jesus repeatedly to people who have already heard when there are those who have not heard the Gospel of Jesus even once. These resources need to be quickly redistributed so that the majority of the Church’s resources are sent to the unreached people groups of the world.

We need to give to native missionaries who are reaching the unreached, to organizations that are actively sharing the Gospel in unreached areas (i.e., CRU's Jesus film ministries), and to organizations that are actively translating the Bible into unreached languages (i.e., Wycliffe).

We should also generously give food, clothing, shelter, and medical supplies where possible to the neediest from among mankind. We need to give to those who could not otherwise receive the basic needs of life from anyone else. Many of us are so comfortable and wealthy compared to these needy ones. If we live simply and pool our resources together, by God’s grace there will be enough for everyone throughout the world who is in need (remember the five loaves and two fish). We need to join together in praying and giving to those in need across the world as God directs.

"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:7

"Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Luke 12:33, 34

Striving to be good stewards,
Eric and Urailak

~ To find other Spiritual Sundays participants, please visit here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Robert Pierre Music

My family and I love listening to Christian music. I was given an opportunity to review 4 songs performed by an 18 year old pop Christian musician, Robert Pierre. I had never heard of him before but I like to see young people using their gifts for the Lord. I liked what I read in his bio.

Robert Pierre's Bio:
Robert Pierre is an 18-year-old with a big voice and an even bigger heart; a talented musician and a singer-songwriter who has managed to juggle a music career with his high school honors course work. Robert grew up in a Christian home and knew about Christ all his life, but it wasn't until he was confronted by a teacher in seventh grade that he gave his life to Christ. "He looked at me and asked me one simple question," Robert explained, "He asked, 'If you were to die right now, and were standing at the gates of heaven, and God asked you why He should let you in... what would you say?' And all I could think to answer honestly was that He shouldn't..." The Spirit used that moment to bring Robert to a point of repentance and salvation that changed his life forever. It was at that time that Robert committed his talents to the glory of God alone. Soon,
the Lord began to open doors of opportunity for Robert to minister to people through music. Robert has already released two nationally distributed records, with three singles hitting the Billboard Christian AC Top 50 hit list. In addition to performing at summer festivals, Christian fund raisers, teen camps, youth groups and schools, Robert has toured nationally with the junior high "Believe" Tour, the inaugural "iShine" Tour and the nation’s largest Christian tour "Winter Jam 2010." This last year, he has spent his time writing and recording his third record, titled “I’m All In,” which is representative of Robert’s passion for not only talking about his Christian faith, but living sold out for Christ. The project has been co-written and produced by award winning songwriters and producers Matt Bronleewe and Jason Ingram. Robert not only sings on this aIbum, but wrote on 10 out of 11 songs, played guitar for the recording, and sang back up vocals.

Below are the titles of the four songs I listened online:-
1. JESUS
2. YOU HOLD ME NOW
3. BREAKING MY HEART
4. IDENTITY

Both my 17 year old daughter and I enjoyed listening to all four songs; we especially love You Hold Me Now and Identity. Robert Pierre has a nice, pleasant voice. His voice reminds me of Down Here's lead singer. All four songs have great lyrics. All of them were written by others, except Identity which has Robert as one of the writers. I'd like to share with you a YouTube video I found of You Hold Me Now sung by Robert Pierre. Note: Please turn off my music playlist at the bottom of this page before starting the video.

I am quite pleased with Robert's music and am looking forward to reviewing his full-length CD that will be released later this summer. By the way, Robert is graduating from high school this coming Friday, May 20th. Congratulations, Robert! It's encouraging to see young people reaching out to other young people with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Talking about his CD album, Identity, Robert said, “For generations, my family has been involved with missionaries to build and run Christian orphanages. But it wasn’t until I met thousands of kids right here in America who were truly hurting that I felt a calling for ministry. I want kids to understand that it doesn’t matter who the world tells them to be, it only matters who God says they are. That’s our identity and it’s the motivation behind the CD.” (taken from his Facebook info. page)

You may also preview his four songs & download for free here.
Connect with Robert on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RobertPierreMusic (he manages his own facebook page).
Visit his website at http://www.robertpierre.com/ .

One of Robert's favorite activities is playing basketball. My boys also love to play basketball so I showed my kids this fun video of Robert and his friends doing some water basketball trick shots: http://www.youtube.com/robertpierre#p/u/0/Q-MH_2YVbLE . Very impressive :)!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother of Pearl Series Wrap Up



Thank you all so much for following along with the Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. I pray you laughed, cried and were touched by the translucent stories of real life written by new moms, stepmoms, grandmoms, adoptive moms, and moms without moms. Iridescent reality. And how poignant that the translucent nacre which coats the sand stuck inside an oyster’s shell is called Mother of Pearl. Mothers surround children with their love and with God’s love so they can grow in grace. I hope you'll join us this December for the third annual 12 Pearls of Christmas series.

AND ... thanks too, to all of you who entered to win the beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. I'm thrilled to announce that the winner is ...
Jennifer (heavensent1)!
Jennifer, please email amy@pearlgirls.info with your mailing address.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit http://www.pearlgirls.info/ and see what we're all about. The purpose of Pearl Girls is to connect women so that together, we can make a difference in the world.  All proceeds of the Pearl Girls book go in full to two charities: Wings (women in need growing stronger) to help fund a safe house in the Chicago suburbs and to Hands of Hope to help build wells for schoolchildren in Uganda. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products to help support Pearl Girls.

Please stop by the Pearl Girls blog and connect with us there.

Book Review: Love & War Devotional for Couples by John & Stasi Eldredge

Love & War Devotional for Couples is the 8-week devotional for couples based on John & Stasi Eldredge's book, Love & War: Finding the Marriage You've Dreamed Of. You can read my review of that book here. If you've read Love & War, you will find the content in this devotional familiar. It's the concise version with the addition of a prayer at the end of each day's reading and an exercise at the end of each week's readings. Also, each reading starts and ends with Scriptures. This devotional can be read together as a couple or read individually. The authors offer bite-sized nuggets of wisdom to help readers grow in their relationship with God and with his/her spouse. John and Stasi Eldredge tell you upfront that marriage is hard and that we live in a love story set in the midst of a war (not against our spouse but against the devil). However, don't lose heart; God is here to help you and your spouse fight for a fulfilled marriage that glorifies Him. I enjoyed reading this devotional even though I already read the book Love & War because it's good to be reminded again of all the important stuff in marriage by focusing on Scripture. I especially loved the prayers; they're from the heart and to the point.

"A tangible way to love our spouses is to encourage them to spend time in the Word. Spend time in prayer. Seek God. He alone is the source of true life and happiness." (p. 47)

"Pressed to choose our 'top three things that would most help your marriage,' we would come down to this list: 1) find life in God, 2) deal with your brokenness, and 3) learn to shut down the spiritual warfare that comes against your marriage." (p. 76)

- Click here to download chapter one of Love and War Devotional for Couples .
- You can purchase the book here or here.
- Visit the authors' website at http://www.ransomedheart.com/ .
- You can join their social networking site at http://ransomedheart.net/main/ .

~I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

What God Desires


This Tuesday’s In Other Words is hosted by Nina of Mama’s Little Treasures.
“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6

Throughout the Bible, we can see God's heart. He wants us to acknowledge Him (see verses below), love Him (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37), worship Him (2 Kings 17:36, Psalm 100:2), praise Him (1 Chronicles 16:25, Psalm 66:8), glorify Him (Psalm 34:3, Romans 15:5-6, 1 Corinthians 10:31), honor Him (John 5:23, 1 Corinthians 6:20, Proverbs 3:9), revere Him (Deuteronomy 13:4, 17:19, Psalm 22:23), trust Him (Psalm 22:9, 37:3, 62:8, Isaiah 26:4, John 14:1), obey Him (Deuteronomy 13:4, 1 Samuel 15:22, Jeremiah 11:4b, John 14:15), and imitate Him (Ephesians 5:1, Philippians 2:5, 1 Peter 1:15-16).

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Jesus said in Matthew 10:32, "Whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before My Father in heaven."

"If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God." 1 John 4:15

People often acknowledge talents, accomplishments, hard work, success, beauty, intelligence, even luck/fortune and Mother Nature. But they fail to realize/recognize Who is the Giver of all blessings...Who created us and nature...Who is sovereign over all things, Who is behind all the miracles, etc. And we ourselves like to be acknowledged, don't we? That's why we need to be careful to remember that anything good in us is what the Lord has done for us, in us, and through us. If we fail to acknowledge God, our good deeds/service/giving/ ministries ("burnt offerings") mean nothing.

"Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but my ears you have pierced; burnt offerings and sin offerings You did not require. Then I said, 'Here I am, I have come--it is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart.' I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly; I do not seal my lips, as You know, O Lord. I do not hide Your righteousness in my heart; I speak of Your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal Your love and Your truth from the great assembly." (Psalm 40:6-10) David knew what God desires and beautifully acknowledged God!

God's mercy is so great and He desires us to extend His mercy to others. "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." Luke 6:36 (Imitate Him!)

Jesus said in Matthew 9:12-13, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

When the Pharisees complained to Jesus about His disciples picking and eating heads of grain on the Sabbath, Jesus said, "If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent." Matthew 12:7

Remember...God looks at the heart. If our heart lacks mercy and does not acknowledge God, all our sacrifice and "burnt offerings" (any form of offerings) would be detestable to Him. Don't be like the Pharisees!

~ If you'd like to know what "In Other Words" is all about, please visit here.
~ To find other Spiritual Sundays participants, please visit here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Game Review: Skunked

I love to play games with my family and friends. We actually own more than 60 games (board games and card games combined). I was pleased to receive Skunked (The Ultimate Dice Game by Marina Games) to review and add to our game collection :).
The game includes 128 game chips, 2 dice, and an instruction sheet.  It's for 2+ players and ages 8 & up. The object of the game is to accumulate a score of 100 points or more before any of your opponents and to have the most chips at the end of 3 rounds. When it's your turn, you can keep rolling and adding up your points as long as you don't roll a one or double ones. If you roll a single one, all your points accumulated in that round are void and you have to lose 1 chip to the pot (I used the box's lid as the pot). If you roll double ones, all the points accumulated up to that point in the game are void and you have to lose 4 chips to the pot. The winner of each round gets all the chips in the pot for that round. All you need for the game besides what's included in the box is a sheet of paper and a pencil or pen to keep score.

The first time I played with my 9 year old son, he won! Skunked is fun and easy to play. You don't even have to think (except adding the score :)) and hurt your brain like some games (I personally like both kinds depending on my mood); you just have to decide if you want to risk or not. The more players, the more laughter. We played this game at my mother-in-law's house when we visited her this Sat. for Mother's Day. My mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, my 17 yo daughter, my 12 yo son and I had a blast with Skunked. We enjoyed the simplicity and the skunkability of this game. We laughed, gasped, and screamed during the game. How many times can you roll without rolling a one or double ones? You never know; that's what makes it so exciting/nail-biting :). It's about probablilty but then again, we often got one the first time we rolled..hmm... what's up with that :)? Skunked is a great game to take when you travel because it's small and compact. It's also good for kids to have fun while learning math (addition) without realizing it. If you prefer non-thinking games, check out Skunked. I definitely recommend it.

~This post was written for Family Review Network & Marina Games who provided the complimentary product for review in exchange for my honest opinions.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother of Pearl #8: Each Life is Unique by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will be announced on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit http://www.pearlgirls.info/ and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

Each Life is Unique by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

“God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. II Peter 1.3 (NIV)

Moms, God wants you to know that He has given you everything you need for life --- your unique life. He does not plan to give you what you might need to live the life of your best friend, or your neighbor, or even your favorite mother-model. No, God has called you to the life that He planned. I suspect that for most of us, it didn’t turn out to be the life we thought it might be… so long ago when we were young and dreaming of ‘growing up.’

On Mother’s Day I often recall my own dreams to one day be a mother. I grew up playing with dolls and looking to my own Mama as a model for that particular role in life. However, by the time I reached my thirties I was still not a mother! God did, however, have a plan. It just wasn’t what I imagined.

My own unique life would find me becoming a mother through the adoption of my first three children who were ages 9, 7 and 4; and then much later giving birth to our fourth child. Of course I was shocked when God revealed this to me, but I was ecstatic as well. It’s as though I could hear Him saying, “Well, you’re not getting any younger so I’m just going to just give you a jump start with three at one time!”

A huge blessing! A huge adjustment! A joy and a struggle. Change is often like that, isn’t it? We finally get what we want then we have to deal with it. May I just offer a bit of advice if you just got a great answer to prayer, but perhaps not in the way or form you imagined? Just receive it. Embrace it. And be willing to move forward into a new paradigm for your life. So what if you’re not like all the other mothers you know? So what if you’re not like your own mother? So what if your family unit is different? I guarantee God has a plan.

Not only did he want me to embrace my own story, but He called me as a mother to do perhaps one of the most important tasks of all --- to nurture my children to live their own unique lives. Not for me to try and squeeze them into what I hoped and dreamed they would be. Not for me to try and live my life through them. But to recognize how God made them, gifted them, and called them to their own special place.

All of my 4 kids are different from one another. Let’s take sports, for instance: I have one child who wins gold medals in international tennis competition, one who is a born equestrian, another who competes nationally in obstacle course shooting matches, and yet another who manages to dance onstage in 3 inch heels, do cartwheels and splits while singing at the same time. Now, honestly, I do none of these things. And yet they do.

I don’t remember placing my order with God for these things.  But I do remember when that tennis player turned 9 years old and I enrolled him in Special Olympics for the first time and how it changed his life… and ours. I remember getting a counselor job at an exclusive summer camp so that my daughter could take English riding classes. I remember being a Cub Scout leader (even though I knew nothing about boys) so that son could one day become an Eagle scout and pursue his love of the great outdoors. And yes, I remember enrolling my preschooler in dance lessons. Later when all the little girls were scared to go on stage for the recital, she exclaimed that she had endured a whole year of lessons just so she could go on stage.

Don’t compare yourself to someone else. And don’t live vicariously through your favorite reality show star. Live your own story. And Moms, raise your kids to embrace the unique life God has for them.
Remember, He has given us everything we need for life!

Lucinda Secrest McDowell, a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Seminary, is the author of 10 books including “Role of a Lifetime,” “Amazed by Grace,” “Spa for the Soul” and the new Bible Study “Fit and Healthy Summer.” She is an international conference speaker and enjoys being a Pearl Girl from “Sunnyside” – her home in a New England village. Visit Cindy at http://www.encouragingwords.net%20/

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother of Pearl #7: What Is a Grandmnother? by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will be announced on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit http://www.pearlgirls.info/ and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

What is a Grandmother? by Suzanne Woods Fisher

“A grandmother is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend.”
 Amish proverb

I arrived late in the night in Rhode Island, anxious to meet my two-day-old grandson, Blake, after a full day of flying. My daughter and son-in-law had just returned home from the hospital and felt like they had been in a train wreck. There was stuff everywhere.  Already, the needs of this little eight-pound bundle of joy were enormous: an all-terrain stroller, plenty of diapers, onesies, spit-up rags, an assortment of pacifiers to try out until he found the ideal one.

And he was perfect.

I know, I know. “Every mother crow thinks her own little crow is the blackest.” But this little dark eyed, dark haired boy really was perfect.

I spent the next seven days (and nights) getting to know this little guy. His schedule (he had none), his hunger cries (very similar to his every other cry). His pirate look--one eye open, one eye squeezed shut, as if he was still surprised by all that had taken place to him in a week’s time.

I felt surprised, too. How could my baby possibly have had a baby? How could I be a grandmother? I had just turned fifty-one. Shockingly young! How could a kid like me give up playing tennis three times a week to settle into knitting and crocheting and Friday night bingo? And shouldn’t I alter my appearance to fit this new label? Give up my jeans? Switch over to below knee-length calico dresses, thick black socks, practical shoes, gray hair pinned in a topknot. Think…Aunt Bee on Mayberry R.F.D.

As soon as people knew my daughter was expecting, I was bombarded with advice from my well meaning friends—even those who weren’t yet grandparents. “The best way to avoid getting on the nerves of your daughter and son-in-law is to not say anything. Ever.” Or “You’d better pick your nickname or you’ll be stuck with something hideous, like MooMoo Cow.” 

What should I be called? Granny? No…reminded me of The Beverly Hillbillies. Grandma? No…sounded like The Waltons. Grammy? No…it was already taken by the in-laws.

But no one really explained what it meant to be a grandmother. I didn’t know myself, not until I held baby Blake in my arms. In that moment, I realized that he was one of mine. He belongs to me. He will be on my mind and in my prayers, every day, for the rest of my life. There’s a bond between us that can’t be broken. He has altered my life forevermore.

I had become a grandmother. 

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Choice, The Waiting, and The Search, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Benedict eventually became publisher of Christianity Today magazine. Suzanne is the host of a radio show called Amish Wisdom and her work has appeared in many magazines. She lives in California. http://www.suzannewoodsfisher.com%20/

Friday, May 6, 2011

Review: Cardi Wrap

When it comes to fashion as I get older :), I prefer plain and sensible (beautiful, even elegant but not wild and absurd), practical and comfortable, modest and versatile (matching well with a variety of outfits). Cardi Wrap by Kymaro offers all that. It's a multifunctional garment that can be worn as a scarf, shawl, cardigan, and wrap. The Kymaro Cardi Wrap is available in 7 colors (blue, black, red, gray, pink, purple, tan) and 2 sizes (Misses and Plus size). It comes with a Style Guide (booklet) illustrating how it can be worn in 56 different ways. For this review, I chose black in Misses size. I thought black would go well with pretty much any color. I also received 3 bangles (black, silver, and gold) and 2 brooches (black bow and black flower). 




It was fun trying out different styles. I tried some of the ones I liked from the Style Guide. My husband said I looked sexy! What a compliment :)! I especially loved the feel of the Cardi Wrap. So soft. It's made from light-weight fabric (100% Viscose) and is machine washable.

I can't wait to mix and match the Cardi Wrap with my other dresses and play with different styles. It works for any season and pretty much any body type. The Cardi Wrap is a wonderful addition to any women's wardrobe.

~ This post was written for Family Review Network & Cardi Wrap who provided the complimentary product for review in exchange for my honest opinions.

Mother of Pearl #6: When Mother's Day is Difficult by Holley Gerth

Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will be announced on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit http://www.pearlgirls.info/ and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

When Mother's Day is Difficult by Holley Gerth

I have a confession (anyone surprised?). I have mixed feelings about Mother’s Day.

On one hand, I love celebrating all the women who have made a difference in my life (thanks, Mom!).

On the other hand, a long journey of infertility has left my heart with some tender places.

On May 8th, we’ll celebrate Mother’s Day once again. For many, it’s a time of appreciation and joy. For others, it can be one of the most difficult days of the year. This is often true for women facing infertility, families who have recently experienced the loss of a mother, and many other painful situations.

At one point in my life it seemed as if I couldn’t take another step. In addition to infertility, I was facing several other losses. I felt as if I were in a dark cave. But then I sensed the Lord gently and lovingly speak to my heart, “You may be in a cave, but you still have a choice. You can sit in despair or you can diamond-mine your difficulties.” I decided I was not leaving that time in my life empty-handed. I was taking every hidden blessing I could find. Of course, I still had difficult days. But choosing hope made a difference.

As a reminder, I now wear two rings. The one on the fourth finger of my left hand represents my commitment to my husband. The one on the fourth finger of my right hand is a simple silver band inscribed with the word “hope” and it represents the commitment I have made to God and myself to hold onto hope no matter what happens.

The story of an inspiring woman named Terrie also reminds me to hold onto hope. She endured the loss of four pregnancies and waited seventeen years before adopting a little girl. She told me, “I think one of the most important parts of this journey is learning to trust God. I don’t mean the flippant kind of trust. It’s easy for people to say, ‘You just need to trust God.’ It’s much harder when you’re in the middle of all this pain. But he is trustworthy. Through it all, God has given us an amazing story. I wouldn’t have chosen this road, but he has been with us. I can look back and truly say every step was worth it.”

I don’t know how my journey will end and you probably don’t know how yours will either. I also don’t know how many of you will be silently grieving your losses as we sit in church together on May 8th. But I do know that God sees each one of us. He knows how many hairs are on our heads and how many cares our in our hearts. Whatever you’re going through this Mother’s Day, you’re not facing it alone. As King David, a man who experienced many losses in his life, expressed in Psalm 34:18 NIV, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” May God surround you with love, fill you with hope, and give you strength for each moment—especially this Mother’s Day.

Excerpted from When Mother’s Day is Difficult.

Holley Gerth is an award-winning writer for DaySpring, a cofounder of the popular web site (in)courage, and licensed counselor. Holley loves chocolate, coffee, Jesus and connecting with the hearts of women through words. Her next book, a devotional titled God's Heart for You: Embracing Your True Worth as a Woman (Harvest House) will release this July. You can find Holley online through her blog Heart to Heart with Holley.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

FIRST Wild Card Tour: The Fitting Room by Kelly Minter

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

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


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

David C. Cook; New edition (April 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Karen Davis, Assistant Media Specialist, The B&B Media Groupfor sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Kelly Minter is a singer/worship leader, a recording artist, a popular speaker, and the author of two books (Water into Wine and No Other Gods) and three Bible studies (No Other Gods, Ruth, and Hannah’s One Wish). Among her CDs is one based on insights from her Bible study on Ruth. Minter resides in Nashville, TN.

Visit the author's website.


SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Kelly Minter explores what it means—in real life—to “clothe” ourselves (Col. 3:12) in Christian virtues like forgiveness, joy, patience, compassion, and more. Can we really “dress up” in the character of Christ? Kelly Minter says the answer is yes—if we let the Master Designer do the fitting. This relatable book offers insightful Scripture study with real-life stories and simple, down-to-earth explanations of tricky concepts such as justification and sanctification—stitching it all together with dry humor and down-to-earth honesty. There are no gimmicks, no guilt trips, just an irresistible invitation for women to enjoy a spiritual makeover—to put on a life that’s personally tailored by the One who knows and loves them best.




Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434799859
ISBN-13: 978-1434799852

MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW:
If you're Christ's followers, you become children of God, the King of kings. You're royalty. Last week, people oohed and aahed over Kate Middleton's wedding dress and the royal wedding. Wish more Christians would get excited over the royal outfit given to them by our King in Colossians 3:12: "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." The author, Kelly Minter, offers a Christ-centered approach to living out our Christian virtues. She invites readers to look closely at each key word (that I underlined) in that verse. She points out that first, we need to realize that we are already chosen and loved and holy (set apart as saints) because of what Christ did for us. Then we dress accordingly, not the other way around. And before getting all dressed up, you need to take off the old clothes (anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, etc.). She also addresses the topics of forgiveness, peace, and joy.  At the end of the book, you will find discussion questions which are great for small group study. I enjoyed reading this book; the author is funny, genuine, and insightful. She doesn't claim to know it all; she shares what she has learned. Do you want a spiritual makeover? Read the Bible and check out this book :). P.S. I'm sort of curious why the author chose to skip "gentleness". That's probably the one I need to work on (or put on) the most :)!

"Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature." Romans 13:14

"I would rather have a clear conscience on a rocky road than be plagued by guilt on a silver street." (p.126)

"I prayed that the people whom my church was helping would see Jesus in us....I long for them to see that, yes, this is the kindness of our church, but all this kindness originates from the kind heart of God. And if it's coming from anywhere eles, it's just human moralism that has no enduring effect." (p.136)

"My prayer for us as the body of Christ, the living organism of His kingdom, is that before the lost souls in our midst experience our dogmas, our creeds, our values, even our theology, they will first be moved by our kindness. And how much more would they see this if we showed kindness to one another within the body of Christ." (p.141)


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Where Are They When You Need Them?


The Virtues


A video shoot for a wonderful author and friend is taking place at my house this week. Stylists, cameramen, set designers, talent, and black-clad crew have been running around my home for days. The entire shebang has absolutely nothing to do with me except that twenty people are now using my bathroom. This is a girl’s recurring nightmare. I’ve decided the only true payoff is the round-the-clock

catering, which produces warm cookies every afternoon around three-ish—a routine I am trying to understand how I have lived so richly without.


This morning as the crew arrived, I feverishly applied the last few elements of makeup onto my slightly puffy and pillow-wrinkled face. I threw on my work-at-home uniform, which is made up of jeans, a

T-shirt, and socks if the hardwoods are chilled, flip-flops if it’s summertime. As I meandered through the kitchen—for the catering, of course—I ran into a stylist I knew who was working with the talent. I told her I needed help finding new boots for the winter. She agreed at an alarming rate, well acquainted with my wanting shoe collection. Her exaggerated urgency was tongue-in-cheek, but with a hint of dead-serious. After all, she is a stylist. Clothes are what she does.


If ever there was a spell in history when what we wear is paramount, I daresay it is now. Dress is a multibillion-dollar industry. The garments we drape on our backs, the hats we don on our heads, the jewelry that dangles from our necks and wrists all tell a little of who we are. Our dress is an expression of ourselves, a statement of our personalities or moods. We dress up, we dress down, we dress for comfort, we kill ourselves in high heels to dress for style, we dress for the weather, we dress for others, we dress for ourselves. But what about the dress of our souls? What about the way our character clothes us? And our character does clothe us. We give off far more than we will ever know by the way we greet the barista, drive in traffic, enter a room, answer the phone, glare at our toddler who’s having a meltdown in a non-meltdown-friendly environment. If only it were as simple as hiring a stylist for an extra bag of peace or another color of honesty. Could I get some denim patience for under $100?


I promise not to kill you with the clothing metaphor for the next several thousand words, but I want to pull from the comparison the apostle Paul set in motion in a letter to the Colossians: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (3:12). A few verses earlier he writes, “You have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (vv. 9–10). The image of clothing, the picture of slipping out of the old and sliding into the new, is an easily digestible concept because we dress every day.


The gap in the metaphor comes when we don’t know how to clothe ourselves in Christ’s character, or when we’ve given it our valiant best and come up short … really short—like we just walked out the door in our towel, and everyone is staring and mortified while we grasp for fig leaves from our ailing character-garden. The breakdown occurs when we were never taught the value of integrity, when anger

and resentment were the prominent traits our parents passed down, when we weren’t modeled the fine art of forgiveness, when sexual escapades were our solution for loneliness, when lying seemed to work better than the truth at untangling our predicaments, or when complaining became our default over contentment.


Basically, the spiritual concept of throwing off scratchy wool for designer silk sounds simply effortless, but the real-life version is another matter altogether. Many of us who have attempted such a wardrobe overhaul have come up frustrated rather than inspired, and this for many reasons we will address in the pages to come. I hope to speak to these struggles while looking at specific character qualities less from an academic view and more from the vantage point of our everyday realities. Because most of us know we’re supposed to take off old things like bitterness and anger and full-on recklessness and put on the new self, which is full of qualities such as kindness and joy and self-control. But knowing this doesn’t automatically make it so.


I can fairly easily write about what these new-life virtues are, their characteristics, and how we need more of them in our lives, but that feels just about as helpful as the book I was reading last night that appropriately told me not to eat out of boredom or past seven o’clock, which triggered the thought that I might be a little bored, which reminded me of the homemade cinnamon-raisin bread I had in the kitchen. Before I could be held responsible for my actions, I had lost my place in the book and was standing in my pajama pants eating bread.


See, I’m pretty sure most of us need more heart transformation than we need more head knowledge, whether it’s about food or far more important things like exhibiting the character of Christ. Knowledge is vitally important, but it seems so many of us in Western Christianity are just crammed with it—really important knowledge that we gain in controlled settings like Bible study—but when up against the prospect of forgiving someone who has just ripped our insides out, or needing to grab patience out of thin air after our roommate has just stepped on our ever-loving last nerve, we are left with a ton of knowledge about what we should do (don’t eat the bread when you’re bored) but have no idea how to do it.


I had the rare blessing of growing up with parents who modeled and taught the character of Christ well. They were big on the “how” of character and emphasized it over most everything else: A struggling grade on an algebra exam was more excusable than lying (which ended up working heavily in my favor … coefficients?); an off game on the basketball court was no problem compared to being disrespectful to a teacher. My parents taught my siblings and me at a young age about humility, gentleness, patience, contentment, gratefulness, purity, and so on. This doesn’t mean I’m good at all these things; it just means I had the privilege of being taught them. And now that I am past most of my adolescent outbursts and full-on temper tantrums—so often directed toward my parents’ instruction—I am ever thankful for their guidance. If only they could get paid back in stocks or something.


Still, the virtues revealed in Scripture are hard enough when you’ve been taught them. But what if you’ve never been exposed to them in the first place? Perhaps it is in response to this question that my deepest desire for the following pages is to shed fresh light on some of the seemingly shadowed and antiquated virtues in Scripture, exposing their beauty, their delicacy, and the freedom in which they are meant to tailor our lives. This is important because so many of us are plainly stuck in life, wearing the same old things and getting the same miserable results. Our character clothes are frumpy, because we’ve never been groomed and fitted from the pages of Scripture.


There are others who are all too aware of the characteristics of godliness but want nothing to do with them, because they were taught such virtues by people who didn’t actually live by those principles. For them, the notion of godly character was flaunted by hypocrites, self-righteous leaders, or possibly angry parents, and they haven’t wanted a piece of its polyester since. Yes, a lot of damage has been done in the name of God and Christian virtue; people have been clothed by reckless tailors. However, one of my greatest hopes is that if this has been your experience, you will give the discovery of authentic godliness another look, because biblical virtues are not punitive but life-giving.


If there are those who have had little exposure to what the Bible says about godly character and those who have had lots of exposure but find it legalistic and binding, then there is a third group as well: those who long to grasp hold of godly traits but find them maddeningly unattainable. Perhaps you have tried to wear godliness like you try to lose weight or work out or stick to a New Year’s resolution. You’ve dug deep but have found that things like moral purity, kindness, or humility simply don’t exist in your closet. You’ve worn the knock-off brands that faintly resemble the real thing, but after a few good washes of reality, their colors fade and their seams split. And so you find yourself not necessarily disdaining the virtues, but having given up on them.


This is a common dilemma, mostly because we mistakenly view godly character qualities as things we can accomplish if we try just a little harder. We promise ourselves we’ll hold our tongues next time or be thankful for what we have. Perhaps one day we muse we’ll graduate to stretching our reserve of patience, or we’ll respect ourselves enough to stop sleeping with acquaintances. But we can never separate the qualities of God from God Himself. True Christian virtues are not something we can slap on ourselves like cutout clothes for paper dolls. They come as a result of heart change that is accomplished through the supernatural love of Jesus. And yes, we will expound on this more, because I am challenging myself not

to offer Christian colloquialisms that are easy to throw out; even though some of them are true, most are vague and inaccessible. I have experienced the frustrating failures of trying to “do better” as a Christian. I’ve been damaged by legalistic authorities whose preaching and practicing lived in entirely different zip codes. And I’ve had times when I just didn’t know much about the heart behind godly virtue, even though my parents gave me a great foundation. Still, the authentic changes that the gentle and unyielding characteristics of holiness have brought about—and are bringing about—in my life are wholly divine and transforming. Not to mention enormously practical.


Practical, because there are relationships that need to be healed from the cancer of bitterness. There are bones that need to be freed from the incessant gnaw of anger. Hurting neighbors who need to hear an encouraging word of kindness instead of the latest morsel of gossip. Children who need to know that we’ve been blessed in our Western society and that contentment is healthier than complaining. Husbands who need peaceful wives instead of anxious ones; wives who need comforting husbands instead of critical ones. Friends who need to be given to instead of demanded from.


I recently wrote a piece that included a list of several virtues, and I asked women to chime in on the virtues they found the most difficult. This was a bit of a trick question, because the virtues are probably all equally hard in their own right, but I was curious as to what their comments would include. I could not have been more delighted by one woman’s sincere reply: “I think I have plenty of each when I don’t need

them. It is only when I am in the situation that I discover that the one I need is the one that I am short of.” This is pure genius. I pondered her sentiments as a possible subtitle to this book: Clothing Yourself in the Virtues You’ve Got Plenty of Until You Need Them.


Of course the very essence of biblical virtues is that they’re only virtues when they’re being tested: Patience is not patience if someone or something is not trying it. Forgiveness is not forgiveness if there is no offense to pardon. Humility is not humility if a person never has to bow. Biblical virtues need to be studied and defined, but if we leave them in the Christian classroom, we will find we’ve got a wardrobe literally bursting with them until the moment we’re invited to the ball.


If this is has been your experience as it has often been mine—if you find that you have virtues in droves until the moment you need them—it may help to go back to the beginning. To begin with God and what He has accomplished that enables us to live all the virtues He embodies. Much of this can be summed up in the opening line of Colossians 3:12: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved …” See, we can’t really get to the virtues in Scripture until we have a good handle on the truth that we have been chosen, made holy, and are dearly loved. If we take this introductory line away, we are left with a list of dos (clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience …) without any context for them.


Once we understand the context, the way is paved for the oftenpainful work of parting with our old wardrobes, even that A-outfit from college we’re pretty sure we’d still look fabulous in. ’Cause the old and the new don’t coalesce—our human natures don’t meld with the character of Christ. But leaving the old behind can be surprisingly liberating, because it leaves us poised to wear the virtues we will explore in the pages ahead: forgiveness, peace, kindness, humility, compassion, and patience, with a sassy feather of joy in our hats. Virtues that won’t mysteriously disappear when the clock strikes twelve, ones that will actually be there when we need them.

Mother of Pearl #5: A Mother's Day Wish by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will be announced on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit http://www.pearlgirls.info/ and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

A Mother's Day Wish by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

Heads up: Margaret McSweeney deserves a medal, or at least a commendation for giving everyone a much deserved Mother’s Day rest. Okay, y’all can be seated. I’m glad you agree, but you’re supposed to be taking a load off, remember? Oh, and full disclosure—Margaret didn’t know I was going to say that so I hope she leaves it in, and no, I didn’t do it just because I’m ridiculously nostalgic about the theme of her community, although I am. As the Belle of All Things Southern, one who is southern to the bone, I have a thing about pearls.

When I was a teenager, add-a-pearl necklaces were all the rage. They may not be as wildly popular anymore as they were back in the day but I still say they’ll always be a classic concept: a gift of a single pearl on a dainty chain given with the intentions of adding other pearls on important holidays and special occasions. Today, I see add-a-pearls as a beautiful reminder of the accumulated wisdom we learn from our mamas.  Oh, sure, we snicker as young girls because not all of their advice strikes us as useful and some of it seems positively fossilized, but hopefully, over time and with the Father’s blessing, we gain enough perspective to see that these mama-isms—the important values and the silly little lagniappe— are all increasing in value with the years.  By the way, that’s my Mother’s Day wish for each of you, that we’d each take the time and the responsibility to thread these precious heirlooms into treasures worthy of bequeathing to the next generation. Mother’s Day...

May I be honest? I’m looking ahead to the annual celebration with somewhat mixed emotions. I’m not feeling very Mother of the Year. Instead of cooking dinner for my most deserving mama and enjoying her company, instead of reveling in the love of my husband, kids, and grands, (known as the Baby Czars of All Things Southern), I’ll be on the road, touring with my latest book “Sue Ellen’s Girl Ain’t Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy.” I’ve got Mama’s gift bought, wrapped, and ready to be delivered by my beloved hubby, and my grown kids understand that I didn’t choose the release date, but the facts remain:  I won’t be there. (Shameless plugs time, anyone? My daughter blogs at Kitchen Belleicious and is raising funds to build an orphanage in Rwanda at Shelter a Child http://www.shelterachild.com/ and my daughter-in-law celebrates the daily details of getting to know the Holy One at Providence, http://providence-carey.blogspot.com/). I won’t get to enjoy Mama tickling the ivory from the piano bench of Melbourne Baptist Church and I won’t be overdosing on baby sugah. Sigh.

But, then, I mentioned mixed emotions earlier, didn’t I? Well, before some sweet soul cues the violin music, perhaps I should lighten up and come clean on what Mr. Harvey would call “the rest of the story.”  It so happens that while the 8th of May will find me miles from home, it’ll also find me in Savannah, Georgia where I’ve secured myself a little reservation at that famous establishment belonging to Mrs. Paula Deen, the Queen of Southern Cooking. Indeed, y’all, I’ll be suffering for Jesus at The Lady and Sons. I know. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

Regardless of where you spend it, I wish you each a Happy Mother’s Day. I’d love to think that everyone reading my words had a mother like mine, a woman of faith who taught me from childhood of the Risen Savior who saves souls and anchors lives. But, dear reader, if that’s not your past, I hope you know it can be your future. I pray you’ll be the one that begins such a legacy, and that you’ll be moved to start building that heritage today.

I’d love to see y’all on the road somewhere. Watch for me, and I’ll watch for you. I’ll be the one with an empty glass of sweet tea looking, always looking, for a refill.

Hugs,
Shellie

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, known as the Belle of All Things Southern is a radio host, columnist, author, speaker and founder of the All Things Southern online community, http://www.allthingssouthern.com/. She loves meeting, greeting, laughing and learning with the whole wide world or as many who wander her way. Shellie once dreamed of writing great important things that changed the world, only once she started writing the world grinned and christened her a humorist. Shellie saw this as a problem at first, until she discovered that the laughter softens hearts, builds relationships, and invites her into people’s hurting hearts where she can share her own, which is exactly where she wanted to be all along. Look for Shellie’s latest book, Sue Ellen’s Girl Ain’t Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy wherever fine books are sold.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mother of Pearl #4: Adoption, A Mother's Greatest Gift by Tricia Goyer

Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will be announced on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit http://www.pearlgirls.info/ and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

Adoption, a Mother's Greatest Gift by Tricia Goyer

I held the small baby in my arms, wrapped up in a receiving blanket to keep her warm from the chill of the delivery room, and a voice spoke to me. "Congratulations, Mom."

The congratulations came from an unlikely source--the grandmother of this child, the mother of the sweet birth mother who chose adoption for her baby girl.

To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement. Thankfulness filled my heart--to God who'd answered my prayers and to the birth mom who'd chosen our family for her daughter. I also ached that my joy would be another's heartache. Working with teen moms for ten years, I was often an advocate for the young mother. I knew that while the weeks and months ahead would be a time of celebration for our family, they would be ones of heartache and grieving for this woman.

Adoption is a wonder and the beauty, and the sacrifice of it is never so clear as on Mother's Day. My new daughter is one-years-old now and she huge is a part of my heart. Her life is a gift to my days and her smile can make even the most dreary afternoon bright. I can honestly say there is no difference in the love I feel between her and my three other children. If anything the love feels even more special because she was an unexpected gift. John and I learned about her life just 2 ½ months prior to her being born. The years of prayers to expand our family were answered quickly and beautifully.

The sacrifice of adoption makes my heart ache, for I know on this Mother's Day another woman will be thinking about my daughter—her daughter. As I rejoice, I'll be crying tears for her. I'll also be sending up prayers that God will wrap His arms around her in a special way.

This Mother's Day I cannot help to think about Christ's sacrifice to make our adoption into God's family possible. Maybe it's because just a few weeks ago we were celebrating Easter, but I'm reminded anew that my gain required His loss, His pain. The greatest love, it seems, is not shown with flowers, chocolate or a diamond bracelet. The greatest love is shown when, because of your love for another, your desires and comfort are laid down for the greater good of someone else.

As Ephesians 1:3 says, “How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He's the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth's foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son” (The Message).

Perhaps you know an adoptive mother. Take time this Mother's Day to let her know that the beauty of her gift is not missed by you. Also, take time to thank God for adopting you into His forever family, thanking Jesus Christ for His sacrifice. I wouldn't be the mother I am without this Gift of Love.

Tricia Goyer is the author of twenty-six books including Beside Still Waters, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer's Conference in 2003. Tricia's book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife. http://www.triciagoyer.com/

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Our Choice Matters

This Tuesday’s In Other Words is hosted by Kathy of In Love W.I.T.H. Jesus.

“Nothing irritates Satan more than us choosing God over our pain and suffering. We can endure everything if we know Jesus is sitting next to us." (Joni Eareckson Tada)

I personally want to always choose to trust God and focus on God's power, faithfulness, and sovereignty over my pain and suffering whether it would irritate satan or not. I believe that when Jesus is our Life, we can endure anything because we no longer live but Christ lives in us (Galatians 2:20). "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) And we do know that Jesus never leaves us nor forsakes us and we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.

What then shall we choose when facing pain and suffering? Sadly, some people choose to blame God and turn away from Him. But think about it....which is worse: suffering without God or suffering with God on your side? I know which one I'd choose. Here are other things I also choose:
  • Fixing my eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith
"Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." Hebrews 12:3
  • Embracing an eternal perspective
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Romans 8:18
  • Praying for God's will
"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of Him." 1 John 5:14-15
  • Resting in God's Word/promises
"I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
  • Bringing honor and glory to God
"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31) "Whatever you/I do" includes how we react to our pain and suffering. May God be glorified through it all!

~ If you'd like to know what "In Other Words" is all about, please visit here.
~ To visit other Spiritual Sunday participants, find the list here

Mother of Pearl #3: A Merry Heart by Megan Alexander

Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will be announced on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit http://www.pearlgirls.info/ and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

A Merry Heart ... by Megan Alexander

Sometimes family is really all you need. This was reinforced to me when my Mother shared a story a few days ago about her mother, my Grandma. You see, when my Grandma was a very young girl, around age 10, she was diagnosed with polio. This meant long hospital stays, extremely limited interaction with children her own age and lonely days staring out the window from her hospital bed. In those days, with polio, they felt keeping the children very subdued and quiet was best, and this particular hospital was as drab as can be. It was also during the time of the Depression, which meant money was tight and life was tough. Day in and day out, she was given the best medicine and treatment, but she wasn’t thriving and recovering. Daily visits from adult doctors and specialists is not exactly stimulating for a young girl. Her health was so poor, at one point, a Catholic Priest had administered the "last rites" at her bedside.

One day, her older brother and sister decided to sneak some brand new baby kittens into her hospital room. Their cat Fitzy had just had babies, and the cute kittens were small enough to put in a basket. Upon entering her room, my mother says they quietly took off the lid and showed my Grandma the sweet little kittens and let her cuddle with them. Her mother, my Great Grandmother, observed my Grandma’s mood instantly lift. Her eyes sparkled and she squealed with delight at the cute kitties! Her whole demeanor changed and she came to life.

My Great Grandma took all this in and made a decision that day. She decided that my Grandma would heal much better at home. She promptly checked my Grandma out of the hospital and brought her home with her family. My Grandma did gradually recover, among the love and warmth of her family. You know what Proverbs 17 says “ A merry heart does good like a medicine.” Also, I can imagine that she healed emotionally and physically and spiritually as well and that combined strength wouldn't have been possible in the hospital alone.

When they left that day, the hospital instructed my Great Grandmother to massage my Grandma’s legs everyday, something she promised the hospital she would do, and she did. My Grandma was one of the few people we know who did not have a limp or shortened leg due to polio. And perhaps most importantly, the entire family was always praying for my Grandma.

I’m not saying that medicine is bad or not necessary. But there is no cure quite like the warmth of your family. Its like milk, it simply does a body good. As a pregnant Mom about to give birth to a baby boy, I am inspired to provide this same love to my child. May he feel the same warm love from his family that my Grandma felt from her’s.

And in this same way, we are called sons and daughters of God. Galatians 4:1-7
“Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

God claims you and I as his children. This is a wonderful gift and identity that is good for our heart and soul, and something that is more powerful than all the medicine in the world.
 
Megan Alexander can be seen nightly as a television correspondent for the top rated news magazine show “Inside Edition”.  She also appears on the CNN program “Showbiz Tonight”. She especially enjoys reporting on stories with a heart. She graduated from Westmont College with a degree in Political Science. She loves speaking to youth and works with Girls Inc and National American Miss. She and her husband reside in the New York City area and attend Redeemer Church of Manhattan. For more on Megan, go to http://www.meganalexander.com/. Megan’s mother, Mary, resides in Seattle and provided insight into this essay.

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